Conservative Media Bias

Ezra’s right; this has got to be the most biased poll question ever:

Should the National Security Agency be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States?
Yes 64%
No 23%

Wow. As long as we’re clearly taking a side, why doesn’t Rasmussen ask these questions:
Should the United States give every individual free health insurance, or do you want sick people to die slowly and painfully?
Should a woman have the right to choose what she wants to do with her own body, or do you want women to be mutilated by coat hangers in back alleys?
Should free daycare be put in place for the underprivileged, or do you hate children?
Just a few choices. I wonder which Rasmussen will use…

Ten Worst Americans

Bob Farley has his list here. I’ll take my shot:
1. Jefferson Davis – Calling this a no-brainer would be an insult to the brainless. He committed treason of the highest order, in order to advance the most reprehensible cause. As his own vice president put it, “Our new [Confederate] government is founded … upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.” I can’t think of a position more reprehensible.
2. Andrew Jackson – I know putting an American president, especially one as well respected as Jackson, on this list is controversial. But Jackson is a special case. He organized one of the first, and one of the largest, genocides in human history – that against American Indians. It didn’t end during his tenure, but he laid the foundations for it to continue for decades.
3. Nathan Bedford Forrest – Founded the KKK. Enough said.
4. Minor Keith – Founder of United Fruit. Bane of Central America’s existence, for very good reason.
5. Richard Nixon – not as bad as Jackson, but not far off. Showed a complete disregard for civil liberties, expanded American involvement in Indochina, continuing the killing that began under Johnson, planned a hit on a critical journalist. And the list goes on.
6. J. Edgar Hoover – no one should have been surprised when Joe McCarthy began his hearings. Hoover had been doing the exact same thing for decades, and continued for a couple more. Additionally, the FBI, under his leadership, did more to cripple the civil rights movement than any other force.
7. Robert Byrd – that said, Byrd was the most influential segregationist politician. George Wallace is the obvious choice, but he wasn’t in the federal government, and thus couldn’t have as much of an effect as Byrd. Byrd, on the other hand, used his power to lead the filibuster against the Civil Right Act. Scum of the highest order, the continuing support of whom is disgusting.
8. Phyllis Schlafly – when the feminist movement presented a chance, finally, for the equality of half of America, Schlafly did all she could to destroy that opportunity. There’s been undeniable progress since the ’70s, but Schlafly sure retarded it.
9. Father Coughlin – the worst demagogue in American history, both in terms of his tactics and his message. In his later years, he turned to violence.
10. Timothy McVeigh – um…yeah. I don’t think I need to explain this one.


Ezra is skeptical of rumors of Trent Lott’s retirement:

Nobody knows Mississippi’s politics better than Lott. Which is why this story likely came from him — he’s not going to read Novak’s column in order to get a read on his constituents. Instead, he’s hoping Elizabeth Dole and Bill Frist will scan the piece, fear a loss, beg Lott to run, and accept his eventual reentry into the leadership as the cost of retaining the seat.

This is a good argument, and I’d believe it – if Lott had raised more than $26,690 last quarter. If his plan was to run again, even in a seat as safe as his, he’d need to be raising more than that. Because when it comes down to it, money says more than logic. Lott clearly isn’t going through the motions necessary for another run. Therefore, lacking further information, I’m assuming he’s going back to Mississippi.

Evangelists in the Military

Oh, come on:

There will be no Christmas ham today for chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt. The Navy lieutenant has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 20 and says that nothing but water will pass his lips until President Bush “gives me back my uniform and lets me pray in Jesus’s name.”
Klingenschmitt, 37, held prayer vigils in front of the White House at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day last week, attracting small crowds even though the Navy forbade him from wearing his uniform. He has gained a larger following on Christian talk radio programs and in Congress: More than 70 lawmakers signed a letter to the president calling for an executive order to guarantee the right of military chaplains to pray publicly as they wish.
Klingenschmitt’s three-year Navy contract expires Saturday, and his commanding officer has recommended against renewal. The chaplain says his troubles stem from his insistence on praying specifically to Jesus rather than to “God,” “the Father” or “the Almighty.”

Look, this isn’t a religious liberty case. Klingenschmitt is supposed to lead mandatory prayers for all sailors, not just Christian ones. Praying to Jesus leaves out Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu soldiers, to name just a few. It seems to me, though, that the very idea of mandatory prayers lead by a chaplain leaves out a certain sector of the population: atheists and agnostics. Why doesn’t the armed forces stop violating the Establishment Clause, get rid of the chaplain program (as James Madison would have wished) and let the troops attend whatever services they wish off-base?

The Problem With Conservative Blogs

I initially posted about the racist history of the National Review as a fun jab at conservatives. But, thinking about it, this bigotry is being repeated in the modern age by movement conservatives, and in a big way. Yesterday, Neil linked to a genuinely frightening RedState post advocating – and I’m serious, this is what the post said – genocide of all Muslims. This isn’t uncommon among conservative blogs. Time‘s “Blog of the Year”, Powerline, whose Bush apologism probably makes the president himself sick, repeatedly sarcastically refers to Islam as the “Religion of Peace”. Little Green Footballs, perhaps the most notorious hate site other than Stormfront, does the exact same thing on a regular basis. Michelle Malkin affectionately calls Islam the “Religion of Throat-Slitters”. La Shawn Barber calls “spread of Islam, radical or otherwise… the most urgent crisis facing all of us.” Notice that she couldn’t just stop at militant Salafists – all Muslims must be converted, by her standards.
What’s so scary about this is that it’s accepted. Widely. Unlike the KKK or other, more established hate groups, this rag-tag coalition of Islamophobes denies being racist, repeatedly. Even the RedStater calling for genocide fashions himself as a analyst, not a bigot, saying that

There is a qualitative difference between Patrick Moynihan’s critique of African-American urban society and David Duke’s; and there is a similar difference between a sober analysis of the role of the Koran in abetting an ideology of evil, and the declaration that it — and inevitably, its admirers — are evil per se.

These sorts of denials make Islamophobes feel comfortable, normal, not bigoted. And the fact that it’s coming from popular sites like RedState makes them feel like they have company. The echo chamber of the conservative blogosphere makes this idea pervasive, and lets the ever larger readership of blogs gradually grow bigoted.
I don’t know what is to be done about this growing hatred in the blogosphere, just like it is hard to know what to do about more conventional bigots. But I think that groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center owe it to the country to get on the case. There is an urgent need to SPLC and co. to crack down on sites like these like they’ve cracked down on white supremacists in the past. They shouldn’t stop the free exercise of the First Amendment, of course; but they should do what they can to delegitimize the sites.

Happy Holidays!

It would have made more sense to title this “Merry Christmas!”, but as Hanukkah begins today as well, Kwanzaa starts tomorrow, and it’s always good to annoy John Gibson and Bill O’Reilly, I’ll stick to “Happy Holidays.” As someone who’s not a big fan of Christmas music, I’ve been sticking to the most non-Christmas-y stuff around. That’s right, The Velvet Underground. I got Loaded and White Light/White Heat today. And both are awesome. So if you share my desire to go against all of the holiday’s musical trends, pick ’em up.