London After Midnight's official blog

This is the blog for Sean Brennan and London After Midnight. For more information please see the LAM website at


Shop at the LAM store

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Violence on the Right; Glenn Beck Incites Violence; Olbermann Silenced; Media Becomes Even MORE Conservative; Obama Abandons Green Agenda; Poor Starve While Banks Profit; more

- Glenn Beck Incites Violence; Keith Olbermann Departs
    Even as the rightwing shouters get more extreme, with Glenn Beck inciting death threats against liberal academics, MSNBC got rid of its leading progressive voice, showing Keith Olbermann the door on Friday. These are ominous signs.
- Obama's Climate Adviser, Carol Browner, to Depart White House
    The White House energy and climate adviser is due to step down in the next few weeks, in a departure seen as the collapse of Barack Obama's ambitious green agenda. 
    Reports of Browner's exit reinforced concerns expressed by environmental groups that he was preparing further compromises on his once-ambitious green agenda to try to build a working arrangement with Republicans.

    Obama has also come under pressure from the main business lobby, the Chamber of Commerce, which opposes environmental regulations.

    But Browner's exit also recalled the extent to which Obama failed to realize his sweeping campaign promise of weaning America off fossil fuels, and making the transition to a new clean energy economy.
- Mega-Mega-Merger: Meet the New Media Monopoly
    Since Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, our government has tried to ensure that monopolistic business practices don’t destroy fair pricing and consumer choice.
    That should worry you. 
    Why? Because when one company, motivated solely by profit, can choose what news to cover and how to cover it, you may not be getting the full story. When it can exclude competing ideas or perspectives, whether for political or economic reasons, you may be denied a full hearing on the issues. And that’s bad for democracy.

    Then how can it justify the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, which the Federal Communications Commission approved on January 18? The FCC is supposed to reject any media merger that doesn’t advance the public interest. But Comcast’s takeover of NBC will give one mega-corporation control of too much of what we watch and how we watch it.
- US Can’t Link Julian Assange to Bradley Manning
    One avenue by which the United States could press charges against Julian Assange appeared to have closed Monday, with US military officials' admission that they can't find a link between the WikiLeaks founder and PFC Bradley Manning, the alleged source of WikiLeaks' State Department cables.
- Overuse of Antibiotics
    Stop buying soaps, handwipes and cleaning agents whose vendors lure you with the label "antibacterial" - Wrongful or overuse of antibiotics has a perverse effect-causing the kinds of bacteria that these drugs can no longer destroy. The World Health Organization has cited antibiotic resistance as one of the three most serious public health threats of the 21st century.
- The "New Centrism" and Its Discontents
    There is no ideology of the "center." What is called a "centrist" or a "moderate" is actually very different - a bi-conceptual, someone who is conservative on some issues and progressive on others, in many, many possible combinations. Why does this matter? From the perspective of how the brain works, the distinction is crucial.
- Papers Reveal How Palestinian Leaders Gave Up Fight Over Refugees
    The documents have already become the focus of controversy among Israelis and Palestinians, revealing the scale of official Palestinian concessions rejected by Israel, but also throwing light on the huge imbalance of power in a peace process widely seen to have run into the sand.
- Vermont Measure Calls for Revoking Corporate Personhood
    In Vermont, a landmark measure has been introduced to revoke the granting of personhood rights to U.S. corporations.
- Food Speculation: 'People Die from Hunger While Banks Make a Killing on Food'
    It's not just bad harvests and climate change – it's also speculators that are behind record prices. And it's the planet's poorest who pay.

Violence on the Right: More Evidence
by Thomas Schaller
Published on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 by the Baltimore Sun

In my previous column I argued that radical, even violent rhetoric coming from the political right is more incendiary and aggressive than that coming from the left. I received a lot of angry e-mails claiming both sides deserved equal scorn.

Really? Well then, let's move beyond mere rhetoric to action - from talking the talk, to walking the walk. Before proceeding, again let me clarify that the overwhelming majority of conservatives neither engage in nor incite violence. However, it is almost always conservatives who use violence, even murder, to express political anger.

In 2009, David Neiwert published "The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right," a book detailing the language and actions employed by right-wing radicals. Mr. Neiwert continues to track politically motivated crimes committed by those expressing anger about taxes, abortion, racial minorities or liberals. I previously mentioned the May 2009 murder of abortion doctor George Tiller and tax protester Joseph Stack's crashing of a plane into an IRS building in February 2010. But readers might not recall other, similar incidents:
  • In July 2008, after writing a manifesto complaining about how left-wing liberals are destroying America, Jim Adkisson walks into a Unitarian church in Knoxville, Tenn., and shoots and kills two churchgoers.
  • White supremacist Richard Poplawski, who claims President Barack Obama wants to take away his guns, shoots and kills three Pittsburgh police officers in April 2009.
  • In July 2009, anti-tax zealot and Holocaust denier James von Brunn opens fire inside the national Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.
I don't have space for the rest, but Mr. Neiwert chronicles 18 incidents like this from the past 21/2 years - that's one incident roughly every 40 days - involving militia members, so-called "sovereign citizen" anarchists, white supremacists or anti-abortion radicals who killed or were caught plotting the murder of innocent people, local law enforcement officials and, of course, President Obama.

Now consider two incidents from last week, neither of which garnered much national attention.

On Jan. 17, a bomb later defused by authorities was found in a backpack at a Martin Luther King Day rally in Spokane, Wash. Also inside the backpack was a "Rally For Life" T-shirt from a 2010 anti-abortion event held in a nearby county. The next day, 200 sheet metal workers and painters union members burst into a Washington, D.C., hotel to protest a meeting of homebuilder executives whose companies benefited from nearly a billion dollars in federal tax breaks at a time when millions of Americans were losing their homes to foreclosure.

These incidents typify the glaring difference between how political anger is expressed by most on the left and the small but growing number on the radicalized right. Yes, sometimes environmentalists, Code Pink protestors or union members trespass or disturb the peace; what they don't do is try to kill their political opponents or innocent civilians.
Let me offer two final observations, and a challenge to my critics.

First, for decades, conservatives have insisted that culture influences action. Violent or sexed-up video games, television shows and movies, though fictional, are routinely blamed for contributing to drug use, promiscuous sex, illegitimacy, gang violence and other social ills. Yet somehow the daily rants by conservative radio and television personalities about tyrannical government, evil liberals and murdering abortionists, though not fictional, are wholly unrelated to the actions of a supposedly isolated, mentally disturbed few? Culture warriors want it both ways.

Second, imagine the reaction of Glenn Beck and his ilk had Muslim radicals, post-Sept. 11, shot police officers, killed churchgoers, bombed the Salt Lake City Olympics or flown planes into corporate headquarters. America would be put on Orange-level alert, and rightly so. Yet, despite an April 2009 report issued by the Department of Homeland Security warning that, amid rising economic insecurity and following the election of the nation's first African-American president, "lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat" in America, there will be no such alerts for domestic terrorism.

To my critics, I pose a simple challenge: Produce a comparable list of violent acts or attempted acts during the past two years perpetrated by those who support economic fairness, reproductive choice, universal health care, environmental protection, animal rights or any other liberal cause against corporate executives, pro-life organizers, small business owners or white evangelicals.

If you can, I'll retract this column and the previous one. Good luck.