Friday, January 20, 2006

Hate speech and mass death 

I assume a lot of you have been following the latest spat between would-be readers and the flaming assholes that run the Washington Post. But in case you haven't, I wanted to tell you about it. I'm not going to come up with a list of relevant links because it would take a long time. But this is what's happened, briefly:

1) Background: when Abramoff was indicted, mainstream TV reporters positively fell over themselves in their eagerness to declare that it was a "bipartisan" scandal. CNN's Ed Henry and MSNBC's Chris Matthews said over and over again that the Democrats wouldn't be able to avoid the "culture of corruption" tag that they were trying to stick on the Shitlickers. Over and over and over and over and over again on television reports, vague language was used connecting Abramoff with both parties.

In a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented turn of events, DNC chair Howard Dean was asked by CNN's Wolf "My throat is a constipated large intestine" Blitzer how the Democrats could accuse the Fascists of corruption when the Democrats themselves were implicated in the Abramoff scandal. Dean said forcefully (and truthfully, too!) that no Democrat has ever received a single penny from Abramoff. Blitzer looked like the asshole that he is.

In response to this moment of revelatory truth-utterance and word-emission by Dean, the Killers and the media Zombies began repeating, ad nauseam, a new talking-point: both parties had received money from "Abramoff-clients." What this means is that the Indian tribes gave money to members of both parties.

At this point (at least one week ago) bloggers like Jane Hamsher at firedoglake and the people at Wampum (a blog associated with Indian issues) began pointing out the obvious: receiving money from Indian tribes is not in any way bad; Indian tribes can give money to whomever they please, and it is hardly surprising that they give money to Democrats who have represented their interests consistently. Indian tribes do not deserve to be tarred with Abramoff's bad reputation--especially when it is understood that the Indians were in fact Abramoff's victims.

Abramoff was--perhaps some human beings in the United States have had occasion to learn this via the mediation of one of the diverse news outlets offering them certified news information--taking money from his Indian-casino clients and fraudulently and criminally passing it over to anti-gambling Christ-killing fundamentalist "Christian" organizations. It is not the Indians' money that is bad; it is money stolen from Indians that is bad. Abramoff was stealing their money and giving it to the likes of the Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed and other Christ-killers.

So, anyway, Hamsher and Wampum and Atrios and others were pointing all of this out, and in addition asking their readers to note the racist implications of this way of thinking: is something "dirty" about "Indian money"? Are Indians so stupid and drunk that they can't decide to whom they give their money, so that if they hire Jack Abramoff to represent them, it should then be understood that Abramoff had absolute control over all of their donations, and therefore that all "Indian money" is as "dirty" as money from Abramoff himself?

4) The "Abramoff-client" talking-point has taken hold over the course of the last week and is now lodged in the assholes of the media shitters. No one says that Democrats got money from Abramoff, and everyone says that they got money from Abramoff clients. But the new obmudsman at the Washington Post, a humanoid effigy or simulacrum named Deborah Howell, who has been utterly atrocious from day one, apparently did not get the memo about how exactly to tar Democrats with the line about "money from Abramoff's clients." So she made the mistake of saying that Abramoff gave money to the Democrats in one of her columns.

Jane Hamsher alerted her readers to this mistake, and we went to one of the Post's open forums to voice our discontent. I scrolled through the list of comments. I saw hundreds of letters, each individually written. Of the many that I read, none featured profanity, though of course many were angry and frustrated, as the authors of these letters knew in advance that writing to Howell was like spitting in a sewer.

There was no response or acknowledgment from Howell for several days. Howard "I am so dead that I'm flaccid and the loose skin on my face hangs in something resembling a smile" Kurtz brilliantly proclaimed that Howell had "inartfully worded" her sentences about Abramoff and the Democrats.

Media Matters publicized Howell's illegal slander and contacted her directly. She wrote back to them saying that the main point was that both parties were involved, even if Abramoff gave no money directly to the Democrats, because the Indians gave money to the Democrats. Media Matters explained that this was nonsense, and Howell wrote an internal memo to her colleagues explaining that because Media Matters had not been satisfied with her response, she would never respond again. Media Matters was referred to as "they" throughout the memo, so it seems as if Howell was saying that she would never respond directly to querulous readers, of any kind, again. But this remains unclear...

5) Finally, Howell wrote a column in which she acknowledged that she should have said that Abramoff "directed clients" to give to both parties. Jane Hamsher alerted her readers, and we went back to the Post forum and pointed out that this is nonsense, that Indian tribes give money to lots of organizations, etc., etc., etc. Again, I examined the comments and they were angry, but they were not form letters and they were not profane, at least for the most part.

But at 4:30 yesterday, the comments were shut down. The Post announced that there had been too many, and also that there were "personal attacks" and, of course, "hate speech."

6) The shut-down has now become a pretty big story, the subject of discussions on CNN and C-SPAN. The "hate speech" canard has been trucked out by Post editors against concerned readers on national television. A new forum run by Jim Brady (the Post's online editor) was opened today to discuss the shut-down. He started it by quoting from a profane and nasty message in order to show why the shut-down was necessary. As I said, this sort of thing was not typical of most of the complaints. And in any case, as Atrios and Jane have pointed out, it's easy to find and delete inappropriate messages.

Of course, the larger question is Howell's criminal slander, which has still not been acknowledged, let alone corrected or retracted. Also: no one should be surprised when criminal slander makes some people angry, causing them even, perhaps, to curse.

On CNN today, Kyra Phillips said this:

"The Washington Post turned off the reader comments feature on post.blog after it was flooded by what the Post describes as personal attacks, profanity, and hate speech. Post.blog is a site dedicated to sharing news by and about the newspaper. What set off readers was a Sunday column by Post ombudsman Deborah Howell who wrote that corrupt former lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans. That's true but most of the money went to Republicans."

8) Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported that all of the tribes that ever hired Abramoff had given money to Democrats for years, on a long-standing basis, before Abramoff was ever hired. In fact--surprise!--they gave much more money to Democrats before they hired Abramoff. They still gave some money to Democrats after hiring Abramoff, but much less. This is what Deborah Howell was apparently referring to when she said that Abramoff "directed" his clients to support members of both parties. I have not seen or heard reports of this story in any of the big assholes/outlets (Post, Times).


So, to sum up: we have racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and at least one murder (probably more) being commissioned and performed by the leaders of the Republican Party machine. This is reported widely. But no mainstream media sources will acknowledge any of it.

Everyone should be clear that there is nothing--not a single fucking thing you can possibly imagine--that the MSM zombies will feel obliged to report in a straightforward way to the public. There is no line that the Killers have to worry about crossing. They will always--always--be able to concoct bullshit and stuff it down the throats of the MSM zombies. And the zombies will always--always--take it. This will not stop until the Killers stop. And they won't stop.

Just a brief reminder: George Bush presided over the televised destruction of an entire major American city this fall. He oversaw the murder of thousands of American citizens on television. We all saw it happen. People dying, Bush telling jokes, his henchmen saying that the dying people weren't dying, or weren't people, or weren't there...while we were shown images of the dying people on live television. Thousands are still unaccounted for.

This happened on live television. No one stopped lying. They won't stop.

Addendum: In this post, Josh Marshall quotes from an AP story, published yesterday, that says: 1) the Abramoff scandal "threatens to ensnare at least half a dozen members of Congress of both parties," and 2) "Democrats have tried to link Abramoff to Republicans."

Marshall points out that, of course, not a single Democrat is even under investigation for ties to Abramoff, let alone "threatened" by such an investigation, and that Abramoff is, of course, a card-carrying Republican. This is really an understatement, as I'd bet the AP reporter himself would tell you when not wearing his "professional reporter" hat. Abramoff was the center of the financial mechanism of the Republican Party as such. He was the party. That is simply not an exaggeration. The party is a machine. He greased the wheels and made it run.

Addendum 2: Lou Dobbs said this evening on CNN:

"The Washington Post has shut down one of its blogs after a Washington Post executive wrote that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans. The comments weren't well received by many Washington Post blog readers, in fact using the blog to launch highly personal attacks against ombudsman Deborah Howell. For the record about a third of the money from Jack Abramoff and his clients did in fact go to Democrats and 2/3 to Republicans. That's the reality. Don't blog me! It's the fact."


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