The Starting Line – Desperation on the Right: Where is All This Extreme Rhetoric Going?

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By Doug Porter

Having lost the November elections and (for the time being) the vaunted fiscal cliff budget/debt ceiling showdown, GOP politicians are acting increasingly frantic.  Polls show that public support for the party and its policies is continuing to drop.

Is this behavior simply irrational venting or is it a desperate attempt to stir up acts outside the normal bounds of the political process?

Exhibit A today is House Speaker John Boehner, who told a group of Republicans on Tuesday he believes the primary goal of President Obama’s second term is to “annihilate the Republican Party.” From The Hill:

“Given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said in a speech Tuesday to The Ripon Society. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.

“And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal — to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

The ‘Gentleman from Georgia’ Speaks

Georgia GOP Congressman Paul Broun has managed to take the rhetoric a step further, claiming in an Atlanta Journal Constitution interview on Tuesday the President is actually defending the Soviet Constitution. From Think Progress:

“I think my role is to uphold support and defend our Constitution,” he said. “…The Constitution I uphold and defend is the one I carry in my pocket all the time, the U.S. Constitution. I don’t know what Constitution that other members of Congress uphold, but it’s not this one. I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one. He has no concept of this one, though he claimed to be a constitutional lawyer.”

As the AJC noted in a brief summation of the congressman’s remarks, the last Soviet constitution was ratified in 1977 and disappeared along with the Soviet Union before Obama graduated from law school.

The Local Spin on KFMB

ObamaTerroristThen we have local commentator Roger Hedgecock, the one-time San Diego Mayor forced out of office by felony charges, who told his radio audience last month President Obama “has switched sides on the war on terror.” Full text from WCWatch:

Barack Obama has switched sides in the war on terror. He is, with your money, or with your great grandchildren’s money, arming our enemies in Libya, in Egypt, in Syria, and he is making it impossible for us to defeat our enemies in Afghanistan…”  

A minute later: “This president has switched sides.  Now, it may be–according to the email I got–that he was never on our side, but at least now, I can tell you, that the evidence is overwhelming.”

Where is this Leading?

I’m glad that Hedgecock raised the subject of terrorism, because it leads me to today’s hypothesis.  Since none of these moves by rightward leaning politicos address the non-party faithful, I would like to posit that something more sinister is at play. It’s easy to dismiss each of these (and there are tons more) declarations as babble or ignorance or just extreme rhetoric.

Or, taken collectively, perhaps they add up to (new word alert!) Stochastic terrorism. The best tract on this I’ve been able to find appeared at Daily Kos last year:

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.  

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. “given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such”), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).  

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: “Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I’m not responsible for what people in my audience do.”

The author of that piece goes on to point out three lone wolves responsible for one dead doctor, two dead churchgoers (Unitarian shooting), seven wounded churchgoers, three dead police officers and four wounded police officers, all of who were clearly motivated by over-the-top right wing rhetoric.

Mind you, I’m NOT alleging a conspiracy here.

Fear and Loathing in the Right Wing Hive

red_state_blogIn closing on the subject, I’ll point to Eric Erickson, who runs a very conservative platform over at Red State.  He had the nerve to point out that all this extreme speechifying was probably counter-productive towards the end goal of winning over hearts and minds from outside the right-wing hive. From his “From the Mailbag” post, he shared:

I’m getting a lot of these.

From our side.

In reference to RedState’s January 22, article No. 1, “The Loyal Opposition”:

How do you, Mr. Erickson, not understand, that to give money and arms to our avowed enemies (Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, PLO, drug cartels, etc,) is an act of treason? How do you not understand that to deliberately destroy the U.S. dollar is an act of treason? How do you not understand that to allow Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to illegally prosecute innocent “white” citizens” and allow obviously guilty “black” citizens operate free of prosecution while at the same time announcing that no black people will be prosecuted for crimes against whites is not an act of treason?

The destruction of Habeas Corpus, the destruction of Posse Comitatus, the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Amendments, what about these acts by Obama do not strike you as treasonous? How is putting armed military drones flying over the skies of America, spying on American citizens not treasonous?

Do you really believe that Obama is just “misguided”?

What is wrong with you?

You and so called conservatives like you will be the death of America because you really do not see what is happening right in front of you and therefore will not fight to save this country.

You call me crazy for being frightened and angry – – – you, sir, are blind, deaf and dumb.

And that’s one righty talking to another.

Hedgecock Jumps the Shark

sharkActually, that was a couple of days ago, when he went on the air blaming increased shark attacks on the “crazy environmentalist mentality”. But if you’re tired of Roger’s radio loony tunes, there is something you can do.

This pretender to the Rush Limbaugh throne of intolerance and inanity holds forth regularly on a variety of media outlets, from San Diego’s talk radio KFMB to the UT-San Diego to the tin foil-lined hallways at

If you’re interested in supporting an email campaign to point out to Hedgecock’s local radio advertisers that they’re not doing themselves any favors by supporting this sort of unpatriotic poppycock contact This kind of campaign has cost ole Rushbo plenty of advertisers and even diverted SuperPAC money from buying right wing ads elsewhere.

Of course I firmly support Mr. Hedgecock’s right to say whatever pleases him. And I’d like to point out that the First Amendment only talks about “government” vis-à-vis speech. That doesn’t mean we can’t tell his advertisers what we think. (h/t WCWatch)

Human Rights Film Festival Starts Tonight

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival arrives in San Diego today for its third annual screenings scheduled at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) through January 28, 2013.

Declared the “cinematic conscience of the world” by the New York Times, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival realizes the power of film to make a difference. The festival includes six films covering a wide range of current human rights issues, from the perils that reporters face on a regular basis in Tijuana to an uplifting story of a women’s basketball team in Iraq.

Here’s the line up:

callmekuchu2_filmstill_highres_300Call Me Kuchu

Film at 7PM tonight, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Katherine Fairfax Wright, and Boris Dittrich, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender program advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

In an office on the outskirts of Kampala, the veteran activist David Kato works to repeal Uganda‘s homophobic laws and liberate his fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, or “kuchus.” But Kato’s formidable task just became more difficult. A new “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” proposes the death penalty for HIV-positive gay men and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual. Kato is one of the few who dare to speak out publicly against the bill. 


Friday, January 25, 7pm, followed by a moderated discussion with film protagonist Sergio Haro.

Reportero follows a veteran reporter, Sergio Haro, and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana, Mexico-based weekly, as they work  in what has become one of the most deadly places in the world to be a journalist. Despite the attacks, the paper has continued its singular brand of aggressive investigative reporting, frequently tackling dangerous subjects that other publications avoid, such as cartels’ infiltration of political circles and security forces.

putins_kiss._marsha_at_moscow_skybar._photo_by_lars_skree Putin’s Kiss

Saturday, January 26, 3pm, followed by a Q&A with Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Meet Masha, a 19-year-old who grew up in the Putin era, on her journey through the Kremlin-created Nashi youth movement. This coming-of-age tale focuses on Masha’s personal political struggle and paints a grim picture of the Russian political climate.

elle_helmer_credit_james_helmerThe Invisible War

Saturday, January 26, 7pm, followed by a discussion with film protagonist, Allison Gill and Women’s Rights division director at Human Rights Watch, Liesl Gerntholtz.

The Invisible War is a groundbreaking investigative documentary about the underreported epidemic of rape within the US military. With stark clarity and escalating revelations, The Invisible War exposes the rape epidemic in the armed forces, investigating the institutions that perpetuate it as well as its profound personal and social consequences.

salaamdunk_still1Salaam Dunk

Sunday, January 27, 3pm, followed by a discussion with filmmaker David Fine and film protagonist, Sally Merza.

With plenty of pop music and “girl power,” Salaam Dunk delivers a tale of hope and inspiration, about a winning group of Iraqi women basketball players at the American University in SulaimaniIraq. Through interviews and personal video diaries, viewers learn about the women, their families and their experiences since the US invasion in 2003.

arrivaltuolsleng_vannnathpaintingBrother Number One

Sunday, January 27, 7pm, followed by a Q&A with James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch.

Through New Zealander Rob Hamill’s story of his brother’s death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Brother Number One explores how the regime and its followers killed nearly 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

TICKETS: Single screening tickets for the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival are $4 for MOPA Members, $6 for students, seniors and military service members and $8 for the general public. Festival passes are available for purchase and cover admission to all six festival films. Festival passes are $15 for MOPA Members, $25 for students, seniors and military service members and $35 for the general public. 1649 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101 | T: 619.238.7559 | F: 619.238.8777 |

On This Day: 1848 – James W. Marshall discovered a gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in northern California. The discovery led to the gold rush of ’49.  1935 – Krueger Brewing Company placed the first canned beer on sale in Richmond, VA.  1992 – Greg McPherson, a music professor at the University of Massachusetts, filed a $21 million lawsuit against New Kids on the Block manager Maurice Starr. It was alledged that he was not paid for his work on the group’s “Hangin’ Tough Live” album. McPherson also charged that the group only sang 20 percent of the album and lipsynched in concert.

 Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmer’s Markets: Carmel Valley (Canyon Crest Academy 5951 Village Center Loop Road) 3:30 – 7:00 pm, Chula Vista(Downtown, Center St. & Third Ave.) 3 –7 pm, Linda Vista  (6900 Linda Vista Road Between Comstock & Ulric) 2 – 7 pm, North Park (CVSPharmacy parking lot 3151 University & 32nd St.) 3 – 7 pm, Oceanside Market & Faire (Pier View Way & Coast Hwy. 101) 9 am – 1 pm,Oceanside Sunset (Tremont & Pier View Way) 5 –9 pm, San Carlos (Pershing Middle School 8204 San Carlos Drive) 4 – 7 pm, SDSU Farmers’ Market (Campanile Walkway btw Hepner Hall & Love Library) 10 – 3 pm, University Town Center  (Genesee Ave. at UTC Westfield Shopping Plaza) 3 – 7 pm.

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarbob dorn says

    Limbaugh and Hedgecock Inc. have reached their apogees, along with the party they belong to. The strategy of undoing Social Security and New Deal regulation of industry (successful with the banks, less so in the marketplace) and social programs initiated during Lyndon Johnson’s administration (Medicare) and voting rights was aimed at nothing less than reducing government to its military and intelligence and policing powers. In other words, in order to save government the Republicans have for decades been trying to eliminate it.
    That intense cynicism can’t win elections any more. People have seen what’s wrong.

  2. avatar says

    The extreme right is just taking a page out of the Klu Klux Klan’s playbook, e.g. the Grand Wizard never got in trouble for lynching. He inspired others to act in such a way based on his rhetoric. The guy who wrote the Turner Diaries never got in trouble, but he inspired Timothy McVeigh who did do his dirty work. The conservative entertainment complex including Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Roger Hedgecock and others are making millions inspiring others to acts of violence. They are the stochastic terrorists. Some unpaid yahoo with mental issues will eventually act on their rhetoric. Ain’t free speech wonderful?

  3. avatarMaria Medina says

    Let’s not forget about the Creationists. They are using stochastic tactics as well. . .and through their many charter schools they have managed to get their hands on federal funding vouchers, so really, THEY are the ones guilty of committing treason against our government. I have always thought that the creationist philosophy injected into secular politics by many right wing conservatives is simply this: a thinly veiled message that it is preferable for many to remain ignorant rather than try to gain a better understanding of our changing world and environment. Creationism: keeping people ignorant for the benefit of a select few. They figure by teaching non-knowledge in schools (from the trigger side of a gun) they can go back to the era of slavery, oppression and subjugation they so glamorize in their warped fantasies of the way things used to be. Some people just think they are better and more entitled than others. Last I checked. . .that is not a Christian perspective. What WOULDN”T Jesus do?