conservative victimology

Heritage Foundation whines, "It all started when he hit me back!"

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Jan 11, 2011 at 10:30

Conservatives never take responsibility for anything: slavery, segregation, racism, coddling Hitler, Central American death squads, pollution, mass incarceration, three decades of budget-busting deficits, 9/11, Katrina, the Iraq War, the Wall Street meltdown & the Great Recession--the list goes on and on. So why would their reaction to the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords be any different?  And it's not, as the Heritage Foundation whines, "It all started when he hit me back!"

Libel is No Path to a Civil Society

All of us at The Heritage Foundation were profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred this past Saturday morning in Tucson, Arizona. We mourn all of those who lost their lives and are praying for a full recovery by all of the surviving victims. As Speaker John Boehner said Saturday, "An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve."

Unfortunately, some have chosen to use this tragedy for political gain. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the Democrat who refused to enforce SB 1070, told FOX News' Megyn Kelly this weekend that the shooting was caused by an "atmosphere" created when "one party trying to block the attempts of another party to make this country better. " In case there is any doubt in your mind who Sheriff Dupnik was talking about, one veteran Democratic operative, who, like Sheriff Dupnik, blamed overheated rhetoric for the shooting, told Politico that President Barack Obama should "deftly pin this on the tea partiers."

Pressed by Kelly to identify ANY evidence linking the shooter to the tea party, Sheriff Dupnik admitted he had zero: "That is my opinion. Period."

Of course, Dupnik's original claim wasn't that Loughner was a Tea Party member, but that the same incendiary rightwing rhetoric used to fire up the Tea Party--some of which directly targetted Giffords, who had been the target of violence in the past--also played a role in inspiring and directing Loughner's murderous rage.  So, the Heritage Foundation is lying, as usual.  But that's just the starter lie.  The hum-dinger is here:

Americans like Sheriff Dupnik, who claim that they are interested in creating a more civil discourse, ought to think long and hard about pointing their fingers at other peoples' words before making completely unsubstantiated accusations. Those who blame the rhetoric of their political opponents for these heinous crimes, when no such evidence exists, only further coarsen our civil discourse.

Why, heavens!  We'd hate to see anyone coarsen a civil discourse characterized by "death panels", "Second Amendment remedies," nooses, swastikas, spitting on congressmen and the like.  This is the sort of "civil discourse" the Heritage Foundation wishes to preserve?  Where, exactly has Heritage been all these years?  

Here's a hint: In the 1990s,  Heritage fought tooth and nail against the Democrats' attempt to pass comprehensive health care.  Before conservatives siezed on the idea of all-out obstruction, Heritage crafted a conservative alternative.  Just over a decade later, their plan became the basis for "RomneyCare" passed in Massachussettes, and a couple of years after that, it became the basis for ObamaCare as well. But in the battle over ObamaCare, Heritage was vehemently opposed to its own abandoned brainchild, and had no problem at all allying with other conservatives who attacked ObamaCare for its non-existent "Death Panels" (actually reimbursements for end-of-life counseling sessions, originally a GOP amendment).

Indeed, the first week of August, as Tea Party mobs raged in what we now know were orchestrated, pre-planned disruptions of townhall meetings (not good-faith participation), which used the mythical, non-existent "death panels" as their center-piece, perhaps the Heritage Foundation's highest-profile op-ed writer, Thomas Sowell, wrote an op-ed, "Utopia Versus Freedom," that didn't use the exact phrase, but expressed the same lie:

do not be surprised when life-and-death decisions about you or your family are taken out of your hands - and out of the hands of your doctor - and transferred to bureaucrats in Washington.

No single political battle was more politically beneficial for conservatives, more mendacious, more incendiary, and more directly responsible for inciting threatening words and actions than the battle over healthcare reform last year.  And if Heritage had had any moral and intellectual integrity, it would have stood with Barack Obama, who was, after all, fighting for Heritage's own brainchild.  Go ahead, laugh.  I agree, it's ludicrous idea that laughter is the only appropriate response.  But remember, what you're laughing at is the notion that Heritage has an ounce of moral or intellectual integrity.  That's a laughing matter, because Heritage obviously does not.  Instead, they were all on board for death panel lies, and whatever else it took to stop Obama and the Democrats cold.  They stopped at nothing.

Neither did Jared Loughner. I wonder where he got that idea.

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Conservative victimology and the courts

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 16:30

There's a growing recognition of the long-standing problem with Obama getting judicial nominees approved. Rachel Maddow, among others, has started to focus some attention on this.  Today, an article in Salon's "War Room", "The GOP's secret, successful judicial war" by Joe Pace, added to the growing attention.  Like most political stories, it's multifaceted and overdetermined, but I'd like to focus some attention on the presence of conservative victimology as part of the mix.  "Poor victimiized Republicans are just giving Democrats a taste of their own medicine!"


Here's the beginning of Salon's story:

At present, 104 of the 876 federal judgeships -- almost 1 in 8 -- lie vacant. Some openings have persisted for so long and some caseloads have become so unmanageable that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has declared 49 "judicial emergencies." In districts once known as "rocket dockets," civil litigants can expect to wait two to three years before they get a trial. According to Carolyn Lamm, the president of the American Bar Association, the problem is "fast approaching crisis proportion."

The efficiency of the federal courts isn't an issue that tracks with partisan divisions. Nor does either party have a monopoly on politicizing the confirmation process. Seven years ago, in 2003, it was George W. Bush who complained that a "vacancy crisis" and delays in confirming judges were endangering American justice. Now it's the other way around.

Republicans claim that the Democrats are reaping what they sowed during the Bush years. But if that's the case, theirs is a vengeance disproportionate and compounded. GOP opposition to Obama's nominees is markedly different in its success rate, its indiscriminateness and the secrecy enshrouding its tactics. Unlike the noisy, targeted "judge wars" of the Bush years, what's transpiring now is a covert campaign of wholesale obstruction.

Let the data begin:

Here are some startling data points. At this point in his presidency, a Democratic-controlled Senate had confirmed 59 percent of Bush II's nominees. President Clinton, whose party had a six-vote majority in the Senate, had confirmed 72 percent by his second September in office. But despite enjoying the largest Senate majority since 1977, President Obama has gotten a meager 47 percent of his nominees confirmed -- the lowest rate since Richard Nixon. As a result, the rate of vacancies in the federal judiciary has doubled since he took office. Obama's confirmation rate is so bad, in fact, that due to retirements, the percentage of Republican-nominated district judges has actually gone up on his watch.>

And then there's the details, which prove even more devastating to conservative claims:  They won't even let up for GOP-supported nominees, or nominees who are evntually confirmed with overwhelming GOP support.  In short, it's not ideological, it's just sheerly obstructionist for the sake of being obstructionist:

Nor can they seem to explain why they are rejecting the judges. Agree or disagree with their justifications, Democrats at least told us why they opposed a Bush nominee. (A rare but notable exception was the declaration of Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow that they would block Bush's candidates for Michigan's courts due to his refusal to re-submit Clinton-era nominations.) Democrats opposed Miguel Estrada because of his Scalia-esque judicial philosophy, Peter Keslier because he was a Federalist Society co-founder and a Bork acolyte, William Myers because of his anti-environmental views, and so on.

But, with just two exceptions, Republican opposition to Obama's nominees seems to have little to do with their qualifications or ideological temperament. On the contrary, it's liberals who are grumbling about the president's moderate picks. The left never generated much enthusiasm for Joseph Greenaway, Alito's solidly centrist replacement on the Third Circuit. Or Albert Diaz, who spent a decade representing Big Tobacco. Or even David Hamilton, who was recommended by Indiana's Republican senator and endorsed by the local Federalist Society chapter. Even those credentials didn't stop the Republicans from filibustering his nomination for five months.

AHd here's the kicker:

Few cases illustrate the indiscriminate nature of Republican obstructionism better than Obama's nominee for the Fourth Circuit, Barbara Keenan. After clearing the Judiciary Committee without dissent, her nomination languished for half a year under the threat of a filibuster. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally filed for cloture and brought Keenan's nomination to the floor, she was confirmed 99-0. In other words, the very Republicans who maneuvered to block her up-down vote ended up voting for her. This is a story that repeats itself with disturbing regularity. In fact, despite Republican stonewalling that has extended the average confirmation time to an unprecedented five months, all but five of Obama's 42 successful nominees have been confirmed unanimously.

Once again, so much for the conservative victimology narrative.  It doesn't bear the least bit of empirical scrutiny, any more than Rick Warren's absurd claims of hundreds of thousands of Christian martyrs per year, or the constant GOP claims of massive voter fraud that even the Bush DOJ could never quite manage to find.

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Dick Armey's conservative victimology shtick adds data point for "conservative victimology ratio"

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 09:00

Dick Armey's on a bit of a tear of late.  First he weighed in on Glenn Beck's impeccable scholarshipearning "Quote of the Day" from Kevin Drum at MoJo with this:

One of the things that we see as we look at Glenn Beck's work that's been fascinating to me, is we see a more true and accurate history of the United States, and we see it documented at levels of rigor that, in fact, one would expect out of Ph.D. dissertations - it is serious, scholarly work....[Liberal critics] don't have to argue with Glenn Beck. They have to argue with his documentation and they can't match that level of rigor.

Then a few days later, Think Progress noted, he weighed in with some heavy knowledge of his own;

Dick Armey Advances Bizarre Voter Fraud Theory: 3 Percent Of Democratic Voters Are Dead People

At a meeting with "well-heeled" Republicans at the GOP Lincoln Club in Irvine, CA yesterday, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) promoted his book, "Give Us Liberty - A Tea Party Manifesto," and outlined many of his familiar political arguments. But he also shared an odd conspiracy theory:

    Armey bashed Barack Obama and Democrats even harder - the former economics professor said the president was "economically ignorant" and accusing Democrats of widespread voter fraud, saying it bad votes accounted for 3 percent of elections. "I'm tired of people being Republican all their lives and then changing parties when they die," quipped Armey, 70.

The idea that dead people are voting Democratic is even more of a reach than popular and well-debunked ACORN conspiracy theories. While it's true that many states have dead people on their voter rolls, it's simply an administrative problem that is easily resolved by checking voter rolls against the Social Security Administration's national death list. While some far-right outlets like CNS News scare-monger over supposed "zombie voters" being used in fraud schemes, there has been no evidence of any widespread practice of voters pretending to be dead people.

Armey seems to believe that not only does this happen, but that it accounts for 3 percent of votes cast during elections. In the 2008 general election, 132,645,504 people cast a vote, which means that if Armey's theory is correct, almost 3.8 million of them were dead.

It's an instructive pairing: first collective ego inflation out the wazoo.  Then collective victimology.  Because, of course, if you are so brilliant and wonderful, the only way you can be beaten is by trickery and guile.  But this particular form of victimology has a familiar ring to it:  it's yet another example of conservative victimology that helps justify voter suppression, which I wrote about quantifying last January.  And Armey has now added another data point.

Let me review.  

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Quantifying conservative victimology--my new project kicks off w/ a first look at voter suppression

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 15:30

As I explained in my earlier diary, "Quantifying conservative victimology--my new project needs your help & advice", I'm starting a new project (beginning as a series of diaries, but hopefully turning into a book at some point) devoted to quantifying conservative victimology.  The idea of doing a series occurred to me almost simultaneously with the identification of several examples, one of which was was a topic that I've been writing about for quite some time--the conservative fear of virtually non-existent voter fraud, as an excuse for voter suppression.

According to Barnard polisci professor Lorraine C. Minnite, in "The Politics of Voter Fraud":

Voter fraud is extremely rare. At the federal level, records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year. The available state-level evidence of voter fraud, culled from interviews, reviews of newspaper coverage and court proceedings, while not definitive, is also negligible

Even that level of fraud, however, is an exaggeration of what conservatives fear, since none of it has been due to organized efforts by groups like ACORN.  Properly speaking, therefore, the victimology ratio for voter suppression compared to voter fraud is infinite (or, technically, undefined).  But let's give conservatives the benefit of the doubt, and treat this handful of cases as if it were the sort of thing that they fear. With an average of one election cycle per year (a primary and general election every other year), that's an national fraud rate of 8 cases per election cycle.  Our next challenge is to come up with figures for voter suppression.

This is not an easy task, since we first need to define what we mean by "voter suppression," and there are several different credible sorts of definitions that produce vastly different sorts of figures. Then, having decided on a definition, we need to gather the relevant data--which may well be very fragmentary. Because of these two factors, and because I've written about voter suppression a number of the times over the years, I take this issue very seriously and really want to do it right.  So this diary is just a preliminary sketch of what sort of results a serious inguiry would produce.

If we return to our underlying concern, conservative victimology, that will help guide us in clarifying how we might define voter suppression.  The conservatives fear expressed in their panic over alleged "voter fraud" is that they will be politically overwhelmed by the wrong sorts of people, people who shouldn't be voting, people voting illegally.  While the primary focus is on the threat of outright illegal voting--because who can argue that that would be wrong?--the actual fear is simply that they will lose political control, a fact that's quite clear from the historical record.

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Quantifying conservative victimology--my new project needs your help & advice

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 13:00

Gather ye political pet peeves, people, and plug them into my new project.

Usually people can disrupt a comment thread by talking about something that's totally off-topic.  This diary is a bit different.  Sure you can disrupt it by being an asshole, or by talking about irrelevant non-political issues.  But if you're simply fixated on your own particular issue, that's not a problem this time out.  I'm looking for as many different issue-area ideas as possible that I can deal with under a unified framework: the framework of quantifying conservative victimology.

I'll explain about what I'm looking for more specifically at the end, but first let me talk about the broad outlines of what I'm up to, by way of how I came to it.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a few diaries about the cultural theory of risk, and a particular version of it known as cultural cognition.  (Here, here, and here.) What attracted me to it was trying to answer the question of why people deny global warming.  The answer provided by this view is that people adopt facts that fit with their values/worldviews and threat perceptions.

At one level, I find this argument persuasive.  And yet, there's a real problem with it: it treats everyone more or less equally, whether the threats they perceive are quite real or almost entirely imaginary.  It also ignores the influences of hegemonic discourse.  Now, I'm the first to admit that there are unrealistic people all across the political spectrum.  But that's not the same as saying there are equal numbers of equally unrealistic people all across the political spectrum.  There are real differences, and one of the most noticeable examples of this is the general phenomena of conservative victimology.

I've written a few diaries about it recently.  First, I wrote one about the mythology of Christian martyrs--the apparently widespread belief touted by Rick Warren, among others, that hundreds of thousands of Christians are martyred for their faith each year.  Despite this apparently widespread belief, the Warren spokesperson I talked with had in mind the same site I did, which actually names specific martyrs, but couldn't even fill its 5 five featured slots with martyrs from last year.  Given this evidence, in a followup diary I estimated that the fear of Christian martyrdom was inflated on the order of ~10^5 times. (Actually closer to 29,000, but I was feeling generous at the time.)

Then, after the Citizens United decision, when conservatives started the meme that it would "level the playing field" with, I calculated the ratio of MoveOn's 2008 contributions to total US corporate profits.  This, too, turned out to be inflating MoveOn's fearsome power about 29,000 times, and I reported on both ("Rightwing victimology ratio: More than 10,000-to-1").

So I began to think that I was onto something and that I should try to look at other ways to quantify conservative victimology.

There's More... :: (47 Comments, 466 words in story)

The Conservative Culture of Complaint

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 09:30

Yesterday in my Morning Maybe diary, I quoted from  Talking Points Memo on Frank Ricci, about his history of filing lawsuit--"Ricci was for 'special rights' before he was against them," I wrote, referring to the fact that he was hired in the first place only after he sued to take the place of someone who scored better than him.  Why?  Because he was dyslexic.

And this poor sideswitching professional "victim" is the GOP's silver buller witness against Sonia Sotomayor?

But that was only part of the story, as Dahlia Lithwick points out at Slate.  Ricci's sued his employers on other occassions as well.  Heck, one might even say he had a penchant for frivilous lawsuits, that is, if he was a woman, or a Puerto Rican....

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Movement Conservatism As Mental Disease: Bill O'Reilly & The Murder of Dr. George Tiller

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 18:00

On Sunday morning I put up a diay, "Conservative First Amendment Victimology On Parade--Bill O'Reilly Edition", featuring this the following video clip, which Media Matters had highlighted without comment, under the headline, "Lawyers try to explain to O'Reilly that his 'rights' aren't violated by private criticism":

O'Reilly kicked off the segment with this statement:

I'm a big boy with a big megaphone, and I can defend myself.  But many of you can't. If you're labeled a bigot, or punished in the marketplace for holding holding a non-liberal opinion, you can't right that wrong.  

And this far-left fascism is very wrong.  It must be called out.  Fair-minded Americans can disagree on issues, but our freedoms must be protected.

To which I retorted:

So, it's wrong to be labeled "a bigot", even if you are one, but it's fine to accuse people of "far-left fascism".  Good to know!

But then Dr. Goerge Tiller was murdered, and yesterday Jed Lewison put up the following video at DKos:

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Conservative First Amendment Victimology On Parade--Bill O'Reilly Edition

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun May 31, 2009 at 09:30

Media Matters highlighted this without comment, under the headline, "Lawyers try to explain to O'Reilly that his 'rights' aren't violated by private criticism":

Biil-O kicks things off with this statement (onscreen wording varies slightly), under the banner "Civil Rights Watch":

I'm a big boy with a big megaphone, and I can defend myself.  But many of you can't. If you're labeled a bigot, or punished in the marketplace for holding holding a non-liberal opinion, you can't right that wrong.  

And this far-left fascism is very wrong.  It must be called out.  Fair-minded Americans can disagree on issues, but our freedoms must be protected.

So, it's wrong to be labeled "a bigot", even if you are one, but it's fine to accuse people of "far-left fascism".  Good to know!

And this is vital to protecting "our freedoms", which of course, do not include the freedom to marry, if you happen to be gay or lesbian.  This is all par for the course, of course.  And there's nothing terribly new about it.  After all, the slaveholders of Virginia were fierce defenders of "liberty" and "freedom".  So we should be used to this by now, right?

Well, not so much, actually.  The two lawyers in this clip try ro set O'Reilly straight on the fact that he doesn't have a constitutional right to be free from criticism, but what's going on here is really much deeper than that, and cuts right to the core of the movement conservative mindset, which is basically not just that they have a constitutional right to be free from criticism, but a God-given right to do whatever the hell they want to do without any opposition whatsoever.  This is, in short, the rationale of theocracy--but they conceive of it, and try to express it in the language of American secular democracy.

Their goal here is quite Orwellian, to make it impossible to express--much less defend--the actual meaning of free speech for all, and to rewire that language to instead mean the right of conservatives alone to speak without contradiction.  And anything short of this total domination means that they are victims.

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