The right-wing website Daily Caller yesterday published an article by Jim Pontillo, the firearms manufacturer they have partnered with for their controversial gun giveaway promotion. The publication drew criticism last week following the revelation of Pontillo's past racially offensive and insurrectionist writings.
Pontillo's article for the "Guns and Gear" section is a list of the "Top 10 Guns You'll Find at the Neighborhood Liberal Gun Store" and disparages a wide range of Democratic politicians. Pontillo's list includes the "Pelosi Clinton Mini Derringer" ("Pull the trigger and this pocket pistol shrieks and cackles. No man can stand to be in the vicinity when this thing goes off.").
The Daily Caller's decision to publish Pontillo's political musings comes only a week after the website said his views were irrelevant, telling the Washington Post, "All that's germane to the contest is that he's a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant." The Caller's decision to feature Pontillo's work follows their "Guns and Gear" section editor's disclosure that he and Pontillo came up with the idea for the Caller gun promotion together.
This is not the first time Pontillo has written for the Caller. In December he authored a rambling piece for the site criticizing "those who lament America's cultural evolution toward secular society" for "devoid[ing] the moral absolutes that served our Founding Fathers" and attacking "the political class and by the main stream media" for supposedly disparaging his customers.
During an interview on NRA News, Mike Piccione, editor of Daily Caller's "Guns and Gear" section, and host Ginny Simone spoke of "a team effort" between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Caller to promote gun ownership. During the interview Piccione said he hoped to expand his online publication's controversial gun giveaway promotion by giving away a firearm to a Caller email list subscriber who signs up for an NRA membership.
MIKE PICCIONE, DAILY CALLER GUNS AND GEAR EDITOR: Check back though because we're going to do a few things. One thing I want to do is I want to give a gun to somebody that joins the National Rifle Association from the Daily Caller.
GINNY SIMONE, HOST: Alrighty.
PICCIONE: Absolutely. Join the NRA and we'll support you.
SIMONE: It's a team effort.
Piccione also admitted that the gun giveaway promotion was the result of a brainstorm session with far right-wing gun manufacturer Jim Pontillo.
The Caller at one point distanced themselves from Pontillo's political views when confronted with extreme and racial comments about President Obama made by prize gun manufacturer Pontillo, telling The Washington Post, "All that's germane to the contest is that he's a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant." But the next day, Piccione told NRA News host Ginny Simone that he came up with the idea for the promotion with his "friend" Pontillo in order to "remind people" that Caller is "pro-Constitution" and "pro-gun."
Republicans in Congress are attempting to prevent the military from purchasing alternative fuels, which Senator Inhofe (R-OK) believes are merely "perpetrating President Obama's global warming fantasies and his war on affordable energy." And conservative media are backing the attacks on climate change and clean energy programs, suggesting that these investments come at the expense of national security. But experts across the political spectrum agree that climate change poses a serious threat to our national security, and that transitioning to alternative energy will enhance military effectiveness. Here are 15 current and former national security officials in their own words on the threat of climate change:
The Pentagon recognizes that our dependence on oil is problematic not only because of the threat of climate change, but also because of volatile oil prices and supply disruptions that can threaten the military's energy supply. It's Operational Energy Strategy states:
The Daily Caller wants to give you a free gun. A free gun with the Bill of Rights inscribed on the slide, presumably so that not all of your patriotism has to go downrange.
These weapons are made by Jim Pontillo, the owner of FMK Firearms. In addition to making guns, Pontillo moonlights as a lunatic conservative writer. We pointed out yesterday that he's written a smattering of columns for Human Events, one of which extolled the patriotic ardor of modern-day secessionists. And it turns out that, until recently, Pontillo blogged enthusiastically at his website, ForMyKountry.com.
Pontillo's writing bears all the hallmarks of fringe right-wing craziness, to include:
I am looking forward to [Obama's] inaugural address where the "coolest" "rock-star" Commander-In-Chief we've ever had wows us all by doing a fly-by around the newly repainted "Black House" and lands softly at the podium using nothing but those big ears for the flight.
As for Obama, I cannot see how he can expect to get any kind of majority among white America when his most fervent supporters hate white America.
Barack Obama will do very nicely for himself as a politician who represents a narrow and prejudiced group, he'll make lots of money and probably enjoy a long life in public service, but he will never be President of the United States; that job requires he represent all Americans, not just the angry black ones.
For president, he's done.
Poorly considered defenses of the Confederacy:
The American character, from the pilgrims on, has been defined by a special reverence for individual independence and individual right. Recalling the Civil War, the slave issue aside, it is natural to understand the Confederate rebellion. A resistance to government power is integral to the American DNA.
Favorable comparisons of Arizona's SB 1070 to the attack on Fort Sumter:
Arizona's SB1070 is a preemptive strike; a warning to a despotic administration that the American people are only going to tolerate a limited amount of assault on their sovereignty, it is a precursor revealing dissatisfaction turning to action.
Whether or not SB1070 is proper or right is really not the point. The question is...
Are Americans beginning to feel as intently in 2010 that its government has unjustly pushed them, as did the Confederate citizens of 1860?
Pontillo has also published some creepily bizarre stuff that transcends mere fringy-ness and is actually pretty alarming. Like his one-act play about the Virginia Tech massacre (written from the point of view of the murder weapon). And his belief that "we should send the U.S. Military down to Mexico, seize their oil fields, and confiscate the proceeds until the Mexican government changes its policy of encouraging their population to come here for work and send money home, all subsidized by American taxpayers."
This kind of conspiratorial and extremist thought permeates American gun culture, from small-time gun nuts like Pontillo to the highest levels of the NRA, and is enabled by the Daily Caller, which is handing out dangerous weapons just to get a little bump in traffic.
UPDATE: Slate's David Weigel asked Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson about Pontillo's column calling Arizona's SB 1070 "a warning to a despotic administration that the American people are only going to tolerate a limited amount of assault on their sovereignty." Carlson responded to Weigel, "A little rebellion once in a while isn't a bad thing."
UPDATE X2: Erik Wemple of the Washington Post contacted the Daily Caller about Pontillo's "racier opinions." The Caller responded: "All that's germane to the contest is that he's a fully licensed firearms manufacturer. If we were giving away iPads, the political views of Apple would also be irrelevant."
UPDATE X3: The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released a statement condemning the Daily Caller for promoting Pontillo, given his "inappropriate and dangerous" commentary: "That Tucker Carlson and the Daily Caller would promote a man like firearms manufacturer Jim Pontillo to their readers is a testament to how far the American Conservative movement has moved to the right in the last several years."
Right-wing news site The Daily Caller has come up with an innovative new method of attracting people to sign up for their email updates: Each week through Election Day new registrants will be eligible to win a free handgun. And not just any handgun; the weapon in question is "engraved with the Bill of Rights."
The gun's manufacturer, Jim Pontillo, has attacked American progressives for supposedly seeking to promote communism in America and claimed that "people calling for secession" are not "fanatics who hate America" but are instead acting "in the Founding tradition."
This ad is currently running on the website's NRA-sponsored "Guns and Gear" page:
Clicking on the image diverts readers to the landing page for "The Daily Caller Gun Giveaway," which states:
The Daily Caller will be giving away one gun per week until Election Day -- November 6, 2012.
The FMK9C1 is an American-made high capacity 9mm designed by Jim Pontillo and manufactured in California. Each gun is engraved with the Bill of Rights and comes in one of three colors.
To enter this week's contest, simply sign up below to receive updates from The Daily Caller. Our DC Morning emails are an informative and amusing way to keep up with the latest news.
For many American citizens who embrace a political philosophy which swings left, collectivism, socialism, and ultimately communism is the idealist utopia they aspire to capture and promulgate across America. For these people, For My Kountry, means to ridicule excellence, to fear prosperity, and to blame others for individual failures.
It is an ideology which springs from mankind's weakest tenets...jealousy and envy. It is an ideology which attempts to tear all down to one low and "equal" or "fair" level. It is an ideology incapable of raising anyone or anything upward. Most of all, it is an ideology without any understanding of American culture or our American Founders' dream of creating a country free from government tyranny, open to individual initiative, and most important, insuring to all citizens those inalienable rights guaranteed to mankind by God.
Right-wing media responded to President Obama's May 21 high school commencement speech in Joplin, Missouri, by claiming that Obama "preache[d] socialist BS," called for "military-style community action during crises," and that he "uncorked a campaign speech."
The Daily Caller recently reported that "$3.1 billion in DOE loan guarantees" to First Solar "created mostly overseas jobs." In fact, the chairman of First Solar testified before Congress that "all the jobs directly created with the loan guarantees" are American.
The Daily Caller embedded video of his testimony in its report, but apparently didn't watch it all the way through. Neither did right-wing news aggregator Weasel Zippers, which ran with a similarly misleading headline.
In a House Oversight Committee hearing, Chairman Darrell Issa attempted to make hay of the fact that First Solar, which is based in Arizona and employs thousands in the U.S., also has solar projects and employees overseas. But Michael Ahearn, the chairman of First Solar, clarified that the loan guarantees only support projects in the U.S.:
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA): OK, so jobs created with loan guarantees, stimulus, and others, basically not American.
MICHAEL AHEARN, FIRST SOLAR: No, no, all those jobs are American and all the jobs directly created with the loan guarantee.
During the May 16 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News "straight news" anchor Martha MacCallum and Fox News contributor and The Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson echoed complaints from the Republican chaired House Oversight Committee about the documents the Justice Department has released responding to their subpoena of files related to the failed Fast and Furious operation:
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well there were 22 questions in the last subpoena. 13 of them remain unanswered. The Justice Department hasn't forwarded documents that the House Oversight Committee has requested. And by the way some of those questions, that's the majority of questions, remain unanswered, some of them pertain directly to Attorney General Eric Holder. The Justice Department's position appears to be we can investigate this internally and so we don't need to comply with Congress. I think this is a collision course. Remember this subpoena was issued in October. It's been more than six months now and they have refused to comply. And they have not invoked executive privilege by the way. So it's not even clear on what grounds they are refusing to comply. I don't think there is any question, at least at this point, that there is going to be a contempt citation.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Well we'll see. And it feels like stalling and feet dragging to a great extent on the part of the Department of Justice.
MACCALLUM: Because they are saying they can't fire anybody, they are doing their own investigation. That is going to take quite some time, most likely until after the election is over and that until they finish that investigation--snicker snicker--and until that investigation is over they feel it wouldn't be right to come out and talk about who they think knew more than they say they knew or exactly when Eric Holder became aware of this program that saw a law enforcement agent killed.
Carlson's comments echo the reporting of his employee, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle, who has written numerous articles about Fast and Furious over the past few months. His pieces almost invariably include the line, "Holder has failed to comply with Issa's Oct. 12, 2011, subpoena," or some variation thereof and often include the claim that DOJ has been nonresponsive to 13 of the subpoena's 22 questions.
These reports minimize the fact that DOJ has released extensive and detailed information about what documents the agency has released to Issa. According to DOJ, responsive documents to 16 of the 22 questions contained in Issa's subpoena have been turned over to the House Oversight Committee or been made available for viewing by Oversight Committee staff. DOJ has stated that no responsive information exists to one of the questions. Additionally, DOJ has stated it does possess documents responsive to the five remaining questions in the subpoena and additional documents responsive to the other categories, but that it is unable to release this material because it is either relevant to ongoing criminal investigations or prosecutions or is deliberative and therefore protected by executive privilege.
But Fox News and The Daily Caller would rather regurgitate Republican talking points than admit that there are two sides to this story.
The Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle is claiming that the Department of Homeland Security has hired "at least four senior staffers and advisers" with "no law enforcement experience into senior law enforcement positions." Boyle went so far as to call them "mini-czars" in a tweet. But the individuals Boyle targeted either do not hold senior positions at DHS or are not involved in law enforcement. By contrast, former President George W. Bush appointed people who lacked relevant experience to head agencies that are currently within DHS.
Boyle attacked the experience of four current or former DHS staffers: Jordan Grossman, Vladimir Skoric, Chris Stelmarski, and Nate Snyder.
Skoric, who began his civil service career in 2008 during the Bush administration, is a special assistant to the deputy under secretary for cybersecurity. In 2011, Skoric was listed as being compensated at a "GS-11" rate, which translates to a mid-level civil service position.
Snyder, who started at DHS in 2009 as a deputy White House liaison, is a special advisor for community partnership and strategic engagement. In 2011, Snyder was compensated at a GS-14 level, higher than Skoric or Stelmaski, but not at the level of the Senior Executive Service, which constitutes the top-level federal civil servants.
And Grossman, who has since left DHS to attend Harvard Law School, was a special advisor and deputy to the deputy chief of staff.
In contrast to the individuals that Boyle identified, Bush really did appoint people without relevant experience to top positions at DHS.
Right-wing media have rushed to dismiss the Washington Post's report that Mitt Romney held down a high school classmate and cut his hair, claiming that "the source" for the story "wasn't actually there." In fact, the Post story relied on accounts from five separate sources, four of whom were named, and as the Post's ombudsman noted, their "accounts remain unchallenged." Romney himself said that he's "seen the reports" about the incident and that he's "not going to argue with that."
A story bubbled up in the right-wing media suggesting that the White House requires "that unborn children get security clearance" if their parents want to tour the building. The reporting was based on an email from the White House that instructs potential visitors about "how to enter security information for a baby that has not yet been born."
The Daily Caller, Washington Free Beacon, Drudge Report, National Review Online, and Fox Nation all highlighted this story and presented it in the context of President Obama's support for abortion rights.
However, a closer reading of the email shows that expecting parents are required to fill out security information for a child who is not yet born only if they anticipate giving birth by the time they want to visit the White House. The email clearly refers to "newborns" and gives instructions for what to do once "the baby is born."
The Huffington Post spoke to a representative from the Secret Service who said that "all White House guests are required to provide information at the time of their request for the tour, including for children and infants, and those expected to be on the tour once born."
So, no, the White House does not require pregnant visitors to register their fetuses as people for security purposes.
From the April 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The right-wing media continued their pattern of encouraging people to fear Muslims by hyping a thinly sourced column in an Egyptian newspaper about a supposed proposal to legalize necrophilia. Al-Arabiya has reported that members of the Egyptian parliament are denying that any such law was ever proposed.
James O'Keefe's Project Veritas has unveiled the latest chapter in its ongoing "voter fraud investigation": a video that purports to show a young man nearly obtaining the ballot of Attorney General Eric Holder. Like O'Keefe's past "voter fraud" videos, however, this video fails to show actual voter fraud being committed, and it doesn't prove the existence of a widespread conspiracy to throw an election. That's because both are extremely rare.
The video shows the man entering a polling place in Washington, D.C., then cuts to the man asking a poll worker, "Do you have an Eric Holder?" After the O'Keefe associate confirms Holder's address, which is censored, the poll worker offers him the voter roll and says, "Please sign your name there." The fake Eric Holder then says he left his ID in the car and leaves.
The video's accompanying blog post on Breitbart.com claims that Project Veritas has "proven" that "voter fraud is easy and simple -- and may be increasingly common in the absence of voter ID laws." A Daily Caller article on the video claimed that Holder "could have himself been disenfranchised by white men because there is no federal voter ID law to protect voters in D.C." from fraud.
This video doesn't prove any of these things. What it shows is a man coming close to committing a serious crime. But even if the man had fraudulently cast a vote under Eric Holder's name, D.C. and federal laws provide a number of protections against fraudulent votes.
First of all, if the imposter had fraudulently cast Holder's ballot, and the real Eric Holder then had shown up to vote and been told his name was already crossed off the list, the real Holder almost certainly could have still voted. Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, any voter who is told by an "election official" that he or she is "not eligible to vote" must be allowed to "cast a provisional ballot."
Citing a recent study by the government of Nunavut in Canada, conservative media are claiming that the number of polar bears is "increasing." The takeaway, according to these media outlets, is that concerns about the fate of polar bears in a warming world are overblown. But polar bear scientist Steven Amstrup says these commentators are mistaken.
The polar bears located west of the Hudson Bay are one of 19 polar bear subpopulations, and one of 8 subpopulations that are thought to be shrinking, according to a comprehensive review conducted in 2009. (One population was found to be increasing, three are stable, and there isn't enough data to assess the other seven). Amstrup and others previously analyzed bears captured from 1984-2004 and found that the West Hudson Bay population declined from 1,194 in 1987 to 935 in 2004.
But a new survey by the government of Nunavut, a largely Inuit territory in Northern Canada, puts the population size as of last August at 1,013, according to a widely circulated article in Canada's Globe and Mail. This new estimate is derived from a plausible range of 717 to 1,430 bears and, importantly, comes from an aerial survey, unlike the previous studies which involved capturing and recapturing bears.
Amstrup said media outlets claiming the aerial survey shows an increasing population are mistaking a single point estimate for a trend. "The population size is just a number. It is a valuable number to have, but from the standpoint of population welfare, it is the trend in numbers that is critical," he wrote in an email. Because previous estimates used a different methodology, and covered a different geographic area, they cannot be easily compared to the latest figures, contrary to the media narrative. When the aerial survey is repeated in later years, it will then be able to tell us more about how the population size is changing. In the meantime, the Canadian government is expected to release its latest capture-recapture data next month.
Population estimates are used to determine how many polar bears can be killed each year. Hunting polar bears is a significant source of income among the Inuit, who have been skeptical of dire predictions of popopulation decline.
Amstrup emphasizes that "in the bigger picture, whether any one population is currently declining, stable or increasing is beside the point," adding, "it is criticial to remember that our concern about polar bears is focused on the future." The scientists who spend their lives studying polar bears have been unable to envision how the population numbers can withstand the long-term decline of the sea ice.
More detailed responses from Amstrup below: