For Americans who get their history primarily through postage stamps, a startling trend has emerged recently: stamps have become "childish, silly, and racist."
That's the concern of American Thinker writer Alan Fraser, who reports that while "for years we would use stamps with the figures of Lincoln, FDR, Washington represented," a "5 minute cruise of the USPS website shows that these kinds of men have been erased."
What has taken their place? According to Fraser, "Polar bears, lots of women and blacks no one has ever heard of."
Take it away, Alan:
There's Julia de Burgos (who?), Mother Teresa (an Albanian saint), Oscar Micheaux (a black guy I never heard of), Kate Smith, Katharine Hepburn, Love, Pansies in a Basket, the Year of the Rabbit (Forever, a Navajo necklace, Anna Julia Cooper (a black woman I never heard of), Adopt a Shelter Pet, Butterfly, Tiffany lamps, Chinese bracelets, Kwanzaa, Mary Lasker (who?), Richard Wright (another black guy), playing cards, balloons, daisies, cherries, all the NFL Teams, Hollywood personalities, the Simpsons, and don't forget...you guessed it...the all-important-never-thing-that-one-cannot-know-too-much-about...wait for it... Negro Baseball Leagues.
Oh, and there is a stamp of the U.S flag and one of the Liberty Bell as well as one of Reagan and a white cartoonist.
That's it. Oh, and there's also some kind of Muslim stamp. No stamp that reminds us of September 11th, nothing of the landing at Normandy (everyone's including even Hollywood's favorite war), none of our aircraft carriers or the fighter jets of today, no Eisenhower, Grant (who liberated more black Americans than any black man ever did), Audie Murphy, Thomas Edison, George Patton, Lewis and Clark, or Chesty Puller.
It's almost as though a law had been enacted to prevent the intelligent representation of American History through its postage stamps.
And before you dismiss American Thinker as merely a collection of fringe conservatives complaining about accidentally learning something about black people from their postage stamps, keep in mind that it remains an influential conservative website.
Rush Limbaugh regularly cites articles from the Thinker on his radio show, and even promoted their conspiracy alleging Obama secretly skipped his daughter's soccer game last year to do unsavory, unspecified things while the press wasn't looking. Limbaugh has said [subscription required] that it is "one of my favorite and most thoughtful blogs."
As we've repeatedly documented, the line separating Fox's news from its opinion program is an illusion.
For those of you lucky enough to not spend much of your waking hours immersed in the world of Fox News, in can be hard to concisely capture the extent to which their news programming just functions as a slightly toned-down version of the over-the-top GOP boosterism of their "opinion" shows.
But in a tease for today's America's Newsroom, Bill Hemmer managed to do exactly that:
After framing the budget battle as "not a question of cutting, it's a question of how much," Hemmer announced the guests for today's program:
HEMMER: Our lineup: Karl Rove, Stephen Hayes, Mike Pence, Maria Cardona. John Bolton tackles the battles in the Middle East, Frank Luntz on the union battles at home, and Peter King on the trial at Gitmo for KSM. Wow, we'll see you in ten minutes with Martha and me here on America's Newsroom.
For good measure, in the opening minutes of the program, Hemmer's co-host Martha MacCallum announced that GOP Rep. Paul Ryan would also be a guest today. (Based on Hemmer's previous praise of "serious," "smart" Ryan, I'm not predicting a hard-hitting interview.)
So, for those keeping track, that is three Republican members of Congress (Ryan, King, Pence), two former Bush administration officials (Rove and Bolton), a Weekly Standard columnist (Hayes), and a conservative pollster/messaging guru (Luntz). For balance, there's one Democratic strategist (Cardona).
As Jon Stewart said in last week in his segment highlighting Fox news exec Bill Sammon admitting to lying on-air about then-candidate Obama, "[w]e're all smart enough to discern the line between hard news and opinion on Fox, much in the way that you can taste all the individual ingredients that go into soup."
Any claim Fox News has to being a legitimate news organization is premised on the supposed wall that separates their "news" and "opinion" programming.
When Fox execs or network personalities are challenged on the conservative tilt of the network, they often trot out this defense. Writing in October 2009 about the then-blossoming feud between the White House and Fox News, the New York Times' Brian Stelter reported that, "Fox argues that its news hours -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays -- are objective."
In the article, Fox News senior vice president for news, Michael Clemente, is quoted as saying: "The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page."
Special Report anchor Bret Baier spent much of his interview with Jon Stewart last week championing the supposed division between Fox's news and editorial content. Similar to Clemente, Baier said that Fox "respect[s] the viewers' ability to discern the difference" between their news and opinion programming.
The problem, of course, is that the division between the news and opinion programming at Fox is a farce. In addition to regularly promoting dubious stories and supposed scandals that damage liberals or benefit conservatives, Fox's Washington news bureau is run by a political hack.
It's not realistic to think that all journalists are automatons that have no political leanings -- they are human. A problem arises when their politics infect their news coverage, and that's what has clearly happened in Fox News' Washington bureau under the heavy hand of Bill Sammon.
So, for the sake of argument, let's set aside the fact that Sammon has fundraised for conservative groups and organizations. Ignore that he wrote numerous fawning books about the Bush campaigns and administration, which were published by a company that exists to prop up the conservative movement. And pay no attention to his Fox News colleagues saying he is "conservative" and "coming from that point of view."
What matters is whether Sammon lets his political leanings infect his supposed "journalism," and over the course of the past few months, that has become undeniably clear.
Last year, a source with knowledge of the situation at Fox's Washington bureau told Media Matters that Sammon shapes the network's news coverage in an "often brutish way." A separate Fox source told Media Matters that they "keep hearing things from staffers about Sammon," and that "when news is being tampered with, you have to worry."
As evidenced by the series of internal Fox emails Media Matters has released over the past several months, Fox's news is certainly being "tampered with."
In the pantheon of insane anti-Obama conspiracy theories, few hold a candle to the idea that former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers secretly wrote Barack Obama's autobiography Dreams from My Father.
This particular bit of crackerjack analysis was popularized by WorldNetDaily writers Jack Cashill and Aaron Klein, who have based their theories on "evidence" like the frequency of nautical terms in Obama's book, despite the fact that "Obama gives little indication that he has any real experience with the sea or ships beyond bodysurfing at Waikiki." (Slightly less unhinged conservatives like David Freddoso have labeled Cashill's work on this "a lot of crap, all conjecture and no concrete evidence.")
The Ayers ghostwriter theory has been back in full force this week, thanks to some conservative bloggers' inability to detect sarcasm. Speaking at Montclair State University last week, Ayers responded to a question from an audience member by joking that he "wrote" Obama's autobiography, and saying, "if you help me prove it, I'll split the royalties with you." Ayers was quite clearly kidding, and, as Jim Newell explains at Gawker, he's used this same joke before.
Numerous conservative websites like NewsBusters (which exists to lecture places like the New York Times on how to properly conduct their journalistic activities) promoted the Ayers comment as an admission that he wrote Obama's book. The story does seem to have caused a bit of a rift in the conservative blogosphere, however, with Dan Riehl writing that people running with the supposed admission look like "a bunch of Kool-Aid inebriated Right Wing nut jobs."
And while it's always good sport to point and laugh at the clownishness of certain corners of the conservative media, it's important to point out that conspiracies theories like this are actually not out of the conservative mainstream - they are the bread and butter of the movement.
In his upcoming book, which Media Matters obtained in advance of its release, Andrew Breitbart asserts that Ayers wrote Obama's book. Twice.
In a chapter titled, "Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Revolutionaries," Breitbart discusses the rise of conservative "citizen journalists" and purports to enumerate their various accomplishments. Apparently unfamiliar with the words "proved" and "reasonable," Brietbart lists among citizen journalist accomplishments that they "proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father, was ghostwritten by domestic terrorist Bill Ayers." From Breitbart's Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save The World:
In the past few years alone, citizen journalists have deposed Dan Rather for his scurrilous and baseless attacks on George W. Bush; exposed John Kerry's true war record during the 2004 election cycle; debunked Reuters's photography fraud in the Middle East; proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father, was ghostwritten by domestic terrorist Bill Ayers; gotten rid of communist Van Jones; and the list goes on. [Righteous Indignation, pg 149-150]
On the next page, advising activists to "Be open about your secrets," Breitbart again references Obama's "Ayers-written autobiography":
3. Be open about your secrets. If you're going to go out in public, be absolutely open about what you've done in the past. Take a page from Barack Obama, who revealed in his Ayers-written autobiography that he had done a bit of blow, hung out with commies and racists like Jeremiah Wright, and hated whitey. Once it was out there, there wasn't much the right could do with it - he'd already admitted it. [Righteous Indignation, pg 150]
We'll have more on Breitbart's book closer to the release date, but this seemed as good a time as any to remind people that he shouldn't be taken seriously.
Update: Proving yet again that there is nothing too absurd for conservative media outlets to promote, Fox & Friends hosted Cashill this morning to discuss his various conspiracy theories about Obama, including the idea that Ayers wrote Obama's book.
Update 2: In contrast to the review copy we were sent, Breitbart's endorsement of Cashill's theory is somewhat toned down in the retail version of the book.
Whereas in the version we were sent Breitbart says citizen journalists have "proved beyond a reasonable doubt" that Ayers wrote Obama's autobiography, it now says that citizen journalists have "raised the question whether Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father, was ghostwritten by domestic terrorist Bill Ayers."
Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon boasted that he repeatedly lied during the final days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism." Sammon has repeatedly used his position at Fox to slant the network's news coverage to the right.
Glenn Beck is not not saying it's the end of the world.
As we've documented extensively, Beck has made a habit of dabbling in end-times soothsaying over the years, hosting a rotating cast of hucksters warning about impending doom and often openly suggesting that we are (maybe, probably) living in the end times right now.
Though Beck likes to dance along the line of yelling, "The world is ending!" his chosen experts on the subject are less coy about it.
Take, for example, the upcoming Insider Extreme "documentary" Rumors of War II (which I strongly suggest they subtitle "Judgment Day").
Here's the preview on Beck's website, featuring a variety of talking heads saying things like, "It's coming -- Israel knows it, we know it"; proclamations that "all three major monotheistic religions believe increasingly that the signs of the last days are in motion and that we're getting close to a very cataclysmic moment, or series of moments"; and onscreen text subtly hinting at "UNTHINKABLE EVENTS PREDICTED IN THE BIBLE":
We'll have plenty more to come on this guy shortly. But here's a teaser.
Tonight, Beck's lead guest is G. Edward Griffin, a 9-11 truther (and John Birch Society member) whom Alex Jones has called a "trailblazer" and a "legend in the alternative media New World Order resistance movement. One of the last living icons, the great-grandaddies in the fight." Here's a fawning 90-minute interview Jones conducted with Griffin:
If Glenn Beck wants to know why "the media" doesn't take his conspiracy theories seriously, the fact that he hosts people like G. Edward Griffin is a good hint.
Among many, many other bizarre conspiracies, Griffin has written a book alleging that cancer can be cured by the B-17 vitamin, but this has been covered up due to "the hidden economic and power agenda of those who dominate the medical establishment."
Oh, and according to Griffin's website, Glenn Beck's dismissal of birthers is evidence that Beck's "role as a controlled opposition leader is becoming more obvious."
Sometimes, it's hard to tell if birther central WorldNetDaily is joking, or if the writers there are truly as untethered from reality as they appear to be.
WND has been one of the driving forces of the "birther" nonsense over the past couple years, with its writers trotting out a series of often-hilarious conspiracy theories about the president (my favorite perhaps being Jerome Corsi claiming Obama stole someone else's Social Security number).
Today, WND published an op-ed by Larry Klayman explaining how "evil Hillary" Clinton will seek to "finally obtain proof positive that President Obama was born in Kenya." According to Klayman, this would save her the inconvenience of having to kill him. No, really.
Over the past week, Fox News and other conservatives have been caterwauling about a video of Wisconsin students participating in an anti-Walker protest.
Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft declared that for liberal "loons," it is "never too early to indoctrinate the children." And, in his usual understated and classy fashion, he included the following photoshopped image in his post:
This morning on Fox & Friends, the weekend crew hosted Fox employee and potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for some Obama/Democrat bashing. During the segment, they discussed the video of the Wisconsin students protesting.
After playing the clip, guest host Peter Johnson Jr. asked if this video was like "something out of, I don't know, Red China or something?" He added that he had "never seen kids used in that fashion."
Huckabee announced that he has a "problem with indoctrinating these kids," and said that the students likely have "no idea" what Walker has done to spawn these protests. While he said that he had no problem with the actual kids, he "blame[s] parents, who would use their children in a way for such a overtly political game without them having any context at all." Watch:
As we've pointed out, right-wing media outlets like Fox had no problem with kids being involved in numerous tea party and pro-life rallies.
But the hypocrisy is actually much worse than that. In 2009, Fox spent weeks relentlessly hyping the first round of "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." On the day of the events, they carried live coverage from around the country.
In Boston, Fox Business host Cody Willard interviewed a group of children at the tea party event. He announced that he was here with the "next generation of taxpayers." After asking some protesters chanting "end the Fed!" to quiet down since he was "on [their] side," Willard kneeled down and engaged the sign-holding kids. He asked one girl if she was "worried about [her] taxes going up," and a young boy if he was "worried about me stealing your money, dude?"
In the opening moments of his radio show on Monday, Glenn Beck informed his audience that "today's show may be a little apocalyptic, but that's only - no, that's only because Japan has moved eight feet."
Over the next fifteen minutes, Beck led a meandering discussion with his cohosts involving the destruction from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, shaky bond markets, and unrest in Libya (with an aside about his apparently frustrating new diet).
During the discussion, Beck explained that he was "not saying that Jesus is coming, I'm just saying things are changing. The world, I mean literally, the world is moving under your feet. I mean, could there be a bigger sign than -- oh, by the way, I mean, in casual conversation somebody said, 'did you hear the earth moved off its axis?' No."
After relaying a story about a man who was killed when trying to photograph the tsunami in California and a family at Yellowstone Park that had ignored warnings not to feed the animals, Beck lamented that "we can't see the connections here."
He then explained that "he's not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes," and clarified that he was "not not saying that either":
BECK: We can't see the connections here. Now look, I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well -- I'm not saying that he -- I'm not not saying that either.
God -- what God does is God's business, I have no idea. But I'll tell you this: whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus -- there's a message being sent. And that is, 'Hey, you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.' I'm just sayin'. And -- yesterday I got home and I was thinking about all the messages that I could bring in, all the things that I could tell ya, and oh I've got stuff on Hezbollah. Oh, I have stuff on radical Islam in America that'll make your eyes fall out. Or I could just tell you the answer, and the answer is: Buckle up. Buckle up, 'cause it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Make sure you keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Because, things are gonna get bumpy and, just a few reminders there at the beginning as this rollercoaster takes off, always a good safety tip: Keep your arms and legs in. Don't do anything stupid, what do you say we follow the big top ten. You can call them Moses' ten commandments, or ten rules of thumb. What do you say we start doing those things? Because the things we are doing really suck and they're not getting better.
[Hear the full opening segment from Beck's Monday show here: http://mediamatters.org/blog/201103140010]
Responding to the controversy over these comments on his radio program today, Beck sought to further explain what he was trying to say on Monday.