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The GOP's fear-based agenda

Adam Serwer is a staff writer for The American Prospect, where he writes his own blog.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Republican politicians and advocacy groups benefit by ginning up tall tales about massive numbers of Democratic voters casting fraudulent ballots, a phenomenon so statistically rare you're more likely to be struck by lightning.

In the aftermath of the fight over a proposed Islamic Community Center in Murfreesboro Tennessee, the Tennessean newspaper has undertaken an investigation of the anti-Islam industry in America -- and how groups and individuals rake in cash by concocting Islamophobic conspiracies about American Muslims planning to take over the United States and institute Taliban-style Sharia law.

Yesterday, NPR revealed that Arizona's SB 1070, supposedly necessary because of a tidal wave of unauthorized immigrants flooding the state and causing an outbreak of violence, was essentially written by private prison companies eager to make a buck in the immigrant detention business. Nevermind that Arizona's undocumented population is down and crime along the border has been flat for a decade.

The facts haven't gotten in the way of Republican candidates demagoguing these issues, whipping up conservative voters into a frenzy over "stolen elections," scary looking "illegals," and scapegoating Muslims.

While all the horserace coverage this week has been understandable,it's worth paying attention to the way conservative groups manipulate the facts to frame public policy debates prior to elections. The number of eligible voters who will be disenfranchised by restrictive voting laws will always be larger than the number of fraudulent ballots cast, Muslims Americans are "middle class and mostly mainstream," and there simply is no way to solve the problem of illegal immigration through immigrant-focused enforcement alone. Yet far too many people believe the opposite.

But the implications of this fact-free fearmongering is larger than just a misinformed electorate.  Should they win the House, Republicans are likely to push an even harsher Arizona-inspired enforcement-only immigration agenda than the one the White House has already put in place -- Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who has called illegal immigration a "slow motion Holocaust," would chair the immigration subcommittee. Rep. Darrell Issa, who would be chair of the Government Oversight Committee, still has his sights set on the now-defunct ACORN. Rep. Peter King,  who, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, called for an investigation of the finances of the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, would again be chair of the Homeland Security Committee.

After November, it's likely that the fear-based nonsense that has dominated conservative discourse and cable news chatter will be more than just talk -- these flawed premises will provide the ideological basis for a Republican legislative agenda. If you ask me, that sounds pretty scary.

By Adam Serwer  | October 29, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Foreign policy and national security, House GOPers  
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Next: Minority of Democrats say Congress accomplished more than usual this year

Comments

Spot on. Wrap those fears in a flag and suddenly they take on a "patriotic" tinge.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | October 29, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh really? They have a fear agenda? I didn't notice. /sarc

It doesn't matter one bit at this point. The only thing that DOES matter is getting Democrats to the polls.

GOTV!

Support last-minute GOTV efforts!

Do it now!

http://www.actblue.com/page/plcommunity

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 29, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse


Kevin

I am actually working on earphones for liberals - which will eliminate all conservative ideas from being heard.

Also, under development are contact lens which prevent any reasonable thought from being read - on the internet or in any printed material.


I am also working on a filter for your television - any conservative thought will immediately be replaced with demand for the gay agenda agenda to be implemented immediately.


I'll let everyone know when these important advancements are ready.


.

Posted by: SolarEnergy | October 29, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Adam

"the anti-Islam industry in America"

__________________________


Are you serious? They just arrested someone who wanted to bomb the Metro system in Washington DC

They arrested someone in Chicago recently who wanted to bomb a crowd of people in Wrigleyville.


They arrested a person who put an SUV-bomb in Times Square in New York


There was a Fort Hood shooting in which servicemen were killed.


They tried to bomb a plane over Detroit.


_____________________________


All these people were motivated by their version of Islam


THEY are the anti-Islam industry.


.

Posted by: SolarEnergy | October 29, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"After November, it's likely that the fear-based nonsense that has dominated conservative discourse and cable news chatter will be more than just talk -- these flawed premises will provide the ideological basis for a Republican legislative agenda. If you ask me, that sounds pretty scary."

This is great intentional yet unintentional irony. Democrats' argument always comes down to scaring people about what will happen to them without more big government, scaring them about theocracy and plutocracy, scaring them about blowing up the world, scaring them about the newest environmental threat, scaring them about their fellow citizens, etc.

Posted by: quarterback1 | October 29, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

It seems that being a liberal means one must believe that white men are the most dangerous threat to America and that muslims who want to kill us are just an aberation.

Yeah right.

The NPR story is laughable. Just laughable. It is small wonder that so many right thinking people wish to make sure that no tax dollars to go support any part of this liberal ideologue's wet dream. Mark Krikorian stated that the allegations of "big prison" involvement in drafting the Arizona legislation "...borders on trutherism"

It is just plain stupid. Only the gullible, or those who are so dogmatically programed that they must believe what NPR says would give this any credence at all. It's like Mr Sargent calling every group that disagrees with him "shadowy".

Eat your heart out village voice or mother jones. Just don't expect taxpayers to fund this stupidity.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | October 29, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

KEEP FEAR ALIVE

Posted by: clawrence12 | October 29, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I seem to recall a lot of talk about mushroom clouds over American cities if you opposed GWB's policies.

Posted by: cao091402 | October 29, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"It seems that being a liberal means one must believe that white men are the most dangerous threat to America and that muslims who want to kill us are just an aberation."

Give me a break. How you can even type that with any sort of seriousness is beyond my comprehension. This is exactly the kind of irrational and grievously distorted "logic" that scares many many people about Republicans, including me.

Why shouldn't we be scared of Republicans when THIS is how they often think?

There is nothing even remotely true about what Skip just said.

And, frankly, as someone who is a native NYer and one who witnessed the attacks on 9/11 first-hand, this type of over-the-top rhetoric is profoundly insulting and designed with the sole purpose of hurting fellow Americans just for the sake of doing so.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 29, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

And Fox News is also hyping the fake voter fraud case. Conservatives wake up and look at real facts, not your own power and self interest.

Posted by: Brainny | October 29, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

aanother absolutely laughable bit from Mr Serwer:
"Rep. Darrell Issa, who would be chair of the Government Oversight Committee,..."

So let's get the context right. Any investigation done by Henry Waxman the taxman is completely appropriate. But any questioning done by Republicans or conservatives is just a waste of tax dollars.

Hmmmm. Let's recall Mr Waxman's demand that certain targeted businesspeople. This is from the committee website:

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak today announced that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on April 21, 2010, regarding claims by Caterpillar, Verizon, and Deere that provisions in the new health care reform law could adversely affect their company's ability to provide health insurance to their employees. These assertions appear to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs.

Chairman Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Stupak sent a letter to the Chief Executive Officers of Caterpillar, Verizon, Deere and others requesting their testimony at the hearing as well as information and documentation from each company on the law's projected impact."

Here's snip from the letter waxman and stupak sent to Deere's CEO:
"After the President signed the health care reform bill into law, your company announced
that the new law would adversely affect its financial outlook for Fiscal Year 2010, stating, "As a
result of the legislation, the company's expenses are expected to be about $150 million higher on
an after-tax basis."

another snip:
"To assist the Committee with its preparation for the hearing, we request that you provide
the following documents from January 1,2009, through the present: (1) any analyses related to
the projected impact of health care reform on Deere & Company; and (2) any documents,
including e-mail messages, sent to or prepared or reviewed by senior company officials related to
the projected impact of health care reform on Deere & Company. We also request an
explanation of the accounting methods used by Deere & Company since 2003 to estimate the
financial impact on your company of the 28% subsidy for retiree drug coverage and its
deductibility or nondeductibility, including the accounting methods used in preparing the cost
impact released by Deere & Company this week."

and now Mr Serwer is complaining that Mr Issa might, you know, investigate some things?

I don't think Mr Serwer is ready for the kind of anger that Americans are now expressing. Stupidity like this "do as we say not as we do" nonsense won't propel him off the back bench of hack writers any time soon.

enjoy obscurity Adam.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | October 29, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Fascism will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible." ~ Sinclair Lewis 1935

Posted by: rukidding7 | October 29, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

skipsailing28 - If you believe the NPR piece about the Arizona law is false, then you should put up some evidence to the contrary instead of blaming the messenger. NPR isn't the source of the problem, they just reported it.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | October 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Hey skipsailing,
Waxman was actually hodling big business accountable, If the GOP had their way then Obama would be impeached, deported and we would have even more Deepwater Horizions and Upper Big Branch Mine disasters. Big Busisness gives way more to the GOP who are lackeys for companies that do not care about their workes or customers.

Posted by: Brainny | October 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"Are you serious? They just arrested someone who wanted to bomb the Metro system in Washington DC"

Go back and read about that. The FBI set the whole thing up. Entrapment much?

Posted by: NoVAHockey | October 29, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Ethan this is just another fact free load of vitriol from a reliable source of same.

I know what your opinion is. I know that you are little more than a foul mouthed New York Blow hard. Got anything new to add? I didn't think so.

If you have some facts, by all means post them. If all you've got is nastiness, save it for your next Schumer rally. I'm not impressed.

Basically you have nothing to offer. People have the nerve to disagree with you, and the number of such people grows every day.

Muslims are killing people by the thousands. Stories of new depravity come to light every day. Treating this as a valid threat is little more than simple prudence. So spare me the crap boy. you got nothing I'm interested in.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | October 29, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@Solar Energy re your 11:06AM post.

This is probably the dumbest thing I'm going to do today..which is waste five minutes of my time trying to get through your incredibly rude cement head.

NOBODY is trying to filter or eliminate conservative opinion of thought. We are simply trying to eliminate YOU! Not because you think you are conservative but because you are unable to THINK critically.
You have no thoughts to post because you are thoughtless. The drivel you do post is frequently triple spaced and repeated, much of it is cut and past BS. It's not that the "liberals" on the post are trying to eliminate Conservatives..it's JUST YOU!

Can you comprehend this S.E.? Can you read? Are you so arrogant that you think you are the sole spokesman or representative of conservative thought!

AGAIN..see if you can understand this Solar Energy. Normally I would hate to become so personal or harsh but your rudeness and IGNORANCE have earned this.
NOBODY wants to cleanse or purify this "progressive" blog of conservative thought.
Virtually everybody wants YOU and your myriad sock puppets to disappear.

I completely disagree with Scott C. Yet I respect his posts immensely. He post cogent thoughts and links are provided when he needs to identify sources...and not just links to the latest opinion poll that happens to look good for his side.
I could say this about tao, Kevin, sold2u..well there are simply too many to list here...all conservative...all thoughtful..all willing to provide links to back up their assertions.

And so S.E. why do you suppose me and many other progressives enjoy reading Scott, tao, Kevin and others? If we're trying to rid the blog of conservatives why isn't ANYBODY asking for THEM to be banned while sooooooo many of us are asking you to move on? Can you possible explain that for us?

Did I space enough for you STRF/S.E whatever you wish to call yourself...answer this simple question.
Why doesn't anybody call for conservatives like Scott/tao/Kevin or any others to be purged while soooo many folks want YOU TO BE BANNED? Is it really so hard to figure out?

Posted by: rukidding7 | October 29, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Stunning new Gallup number: Only a minority of Dems thinks Congress accomplished more than usual this year:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/10/minority_of_democrats_say_this.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | October 29, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of fear-tactics:

Conservatives have been especially wary since the 2008 presidential election, when the community organizing group Acorn announced it had registered 1.3 million voters, only to have third of those tossed out for various reasons, including fraudulent submissions.

Arrests for voter fraud are few, however, and convictions are even rarer.

Although the Bush administration began a stepped-up program in 2002 to crack down on people who cast ballots fraudulently, fewer than 100 people were convicted in the first 4 1/2 years of the program. And according to an analysis by Weiser's center, most cases of alleged fraud in recent years have turned out to be mistakes in the voter rolls that do not result in actual faulty votes cast.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/29/AR2010102902923.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 29, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey Brainny, he was abusing his position. He was attempting to silence dissent. The reaction was so strong that the moron withdrew the subpoenas.

Spare me the smarmy self righteousness. The Democrats are power hungry and waxman is among the worst. The sooner he's relegated to the second tier the better. He's a menace to American commerce and freedom. No wonder you love him so much.

yeah midway sailor? doesn't NPR have an obligation to provide some facts when it makes its allegations? Show me those and I'll show you mine.

Liberalism is about to be repudiated in America. And not a moment to soon. Neo-Marxist People's Radio is about to show itself, yet again, as little more than the PC driven party apparatchiks we on the right have believed them to be all these years.

Here's the full quote from Krikorian:
"This borders on trutherism. This supposed conspiracy was hatched at “a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council,” or ALEC. ALEC is a group of state legislators, businesses, and scholars devoted to implementing conservative principles at the state level, and noted for preparing model legislation on just about every topic you could name. It’s so “secretive” that its website lists all the members of its various boards and committees, its events and initiatives and publications, its state chairmen, staff, model legislation — if that’s secretive, I’m Kemal Ataturk. What the reporter seems to mean is “ALEC, a group I’d never heard of…,” which ignorance, if true, is a pretty bad sign for a journalist."

So the group is so secretive that they list their members on their website. This is sheer stupidity and only and dogmatically thoughtless leftie would swallow this hogwash without asking a few questions.

here's a question: why is it OK for Barry O to meet with Mr Stern frequently but not OK for Arizona legislators to meet with ALEC?

Hmmmm?

You guys NEED this kind of nonsense to help you continue to dwell in denial. you are denying the fact that America doesn't want your philosophy. And I know why: It doesn't fricking work.

The CEO's statement about Juan Williams was nothing but class, eh pal?

let's try this: We're moving this vessel over from port tack to starboard.

Ready about?

Helm's alee!!!

Posted by: skipsailing28 | October 29, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

You want a fact?

Here's a fact:

I've never even remotely said anything like: "muslims who want to kill us are just an aberation."

And, actually, I've never seen anyone say such a thing, EVER!

But hey, I guess I'm just a New York Blow hard like the other 3,000+ New Yorkers and New York area residents (Americans, if that matters to you at all) who were killed by terrorists in New York on that day.

And you are just an unhinged liar whose sole intent in posting here, as far as I can tell, is to insult Americans who disagree with you for no other reason than because they don't share your bizarre sentiments.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 29, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The Right Wing and especially certain posters here, keep making that falacial (but nicely scarey) argument that an entire religion is at fault-not abherrent elements of it.

This is truly disgusting and is an insult to Muslims everywhere.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | October 29, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

rukidding7

You should read quarterback's comment from this morning.

You would not believe what I have endured with that cast of characters.


Your attitude is hostile - and you are really bordering on harassment at this time. But the truth is that I have had to endure all the hostility coming from you too. Chalk that up.

Posted by: SolarEnergy | October 29, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Despite the 111th Congress' passage of major legislation, including healthcare, 37% of Americans say it has accomplished less this year than in the past few years, and a smaller 23% say it has accomplished more. Democrats are the most positive about Congress' accomplishments, but less than half say it has done more than usual.

This is easy to interpret.

The legislation passed is not the legislation that is of the utmost importance to most people. Therfore it doesn't count.

If Barack and the Obamatons had passed that which is crucial to Americans, they would be heros instead of heels.

Simple deduction.

Even LESS than half of DEMOCRATS think the Obamanation is anything special.

Obamacrats are hapless dupes. I think they are becoming aware, too late!

Posted by: battleground51 | October 29, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@Solar Energy

You can't answer a basic question can you.
My attitude is hostile? Perhaps from your perception...towards you perhaps.

But again Solar Energy a SIMPLE QUESTION.
I don't agree with Scott/Q.B./tao/Kevin too many others to mention. I've NEVER called for one of them to be banned...I've never suggested I wouldn't read THEIR comments.

I am not ALONE in this assessment. Why do you suppose sooooo many people have called for your departure and NONE of the other Conservatives?

Simply stated...many people wish STRF/S.E. whatever would disappear...NONE of those same posters have EVER suggested ANY OTHER conservative poster disappear. Wonder why it's ONLY YOU?

Posted by: rukidding7 | October 29, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Repubcorps fear-based politics works; and, yes, it will dissipate after the November election. It is how Bush won in 2004: he had his Homeland Security guy post Al Qaeda red alerts weekly. Then, after he was surprisingly elected, the alerts were canned.

Posted by: dozas | October 29, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Rukidding

I saw Save The RainForest the other night - he was waiting in line right in front of Elvis.

He ordered a Big Mac.

Posted by: SolarEnergy | October 29, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Brainny:

Here are some FACTS, posted on our very own "The Plum Line" (in an earlier thread):

"I've already voted twice via two separate mail in ballots - both fraudulent - and will be voting in person next week a third time."

Posted by: equinoxranch | October 27, 2010 12:26 PM

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/10/the_voter_fraud_racket_returns.html

Possible federal crimes:

* Persons must not vote more than once in any election that includes a federal candidate (note: this does not include voting a replacement ballot after a spoiled ballot was invalidated).
[ CITE: 42 U.S.C. 1973i(e) ]

* Persons must not procure or submit materially false, fraudulent or fictitious voter registration applications in any election that includes a federal candidate.
[ CITE: 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-10(2)(A) ]

* Persons must not submit false information as to name, address or period of residence in a voting district for the purpose of establishing eligibility to register or vote in any election that includes a federal candidate.
[ CITE: 42 U.S.C. 1973i(c), 15544(a); 18 U.S.C. 608(b) ]

* Persons must not procure, cast or tabulate materially false, fraudulent or fictitious ballots in any election that includes a federal candidate.
[ CITE: 42 U.S.C. 1973i(c),(e), 1973gg-10(2)(B); 18 U.S.C. 242 ]

* Persons must not pay, offer to pay or accept payment for voting, registering to vote, withholding their vote, or voting for or against any candidate in any election that includes a federal candidate.
[ CITE: 42 U.S.C. 1973i(c), 18 U.S.C. 597, 608(b) ]

Only a few of these cases have been prosecuted, that's true. But how many more are not being discovered?

VOTE fraud is a non partisan effort to manipulate our system in order to keep or place less than principled individuals in office. The criminals on both sides of the left right paradigm will do “whatever it takes” in their attempts to gain power.

You want change…find an honest way to count votes and verify voters

Daytona Beach, Florida City Commissioner Derrick Henry and his campaign manager, Genesis Robinson, have been arrested for committing absentee ballot fraud.
http://law.rightpundits.com/?p=2416
http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/local/102710-City-Commissioner-Arrested-for-Voter-Fraud

http://www.wftv.com/news/25536806/detail.html

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 29, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

That's not a fact. That's what someone typed into an online message board, most likely in jest.

Posted by: cao091402 | October 29, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Which is why I said it was evidence of a "possible" crime -- I did ask said person if he / she was joking, but no response -- nonetheless, it is still a FACT, just as the arrests of Daytona Beach, Florida City Commissioner Derrick Henry and his campaign manager, Genesis Robinson, are FACTS (relevant to Brainny's post, so maybe you can just butt out now).

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 29, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Joke needs to re-read this factual reporting from the wapo if he wants to talk about voter fraud and be taken seriously:

"""Arrests for voter fraud are few, however, and convictions are even rarer.

Although the Bush administration began a stepped-up program in 2002 to crack down on people who cast ballots fraudulently, fewer than 100 people were convicted in the first 4 1/2 years of the program."""

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/29/AR2010102902923.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 29, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

No, no, it's not a fact. You said "Here's a fact" and copied and pasted something, presenting it as a factual occurence. And lack of a response to your oh-so-thorough investigative skills is not evidence either. And I'm obviously not going to butt out either.

Posted by: cao091402 | October 29, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

More Fear and Loathing (gawd I miss Hunter S....)
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/10/az_house_candidate_dems_are_busing_mexicans_in_to.php?ref=fpblg

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | October 29, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

If anyone else wants to discuss how an ARREST is not a "fact" please let me know (gee, here I thought that the left was supposed to be the reality-based crowd ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 29, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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