Rachel and Lawrence deliver the bait!


The Two Flags Amusement Park: Last night, Rachel Maddow opened her show with an intelligent, informative segment.

The segment concerned the debt ceiling crisis. It involved an interview with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

As a reward, we got a treat right in her second segment. As other hosts on her channel had done, Maddow engaged in a race-baiting nut-pick concerning the guy with two flags. Here's the background:

Helped along by Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, tea party folk had staged a protest about the shutdown of DC’s World War II memorial. This has been treated as a giant issue in the last few weeks so on Fox.

The outrage has been silly, although not quite as silly as Maddow wants you to think. You live at a time when highly paid people are clowning from all directions.

At any rate, an overwrought protest occurred in DC last weekend. Sarah Palin was even there, offering overwrought comments about the outrage involved in barricading the WWII memorial.

Some overwrought citizens behaved rather badly, dragging those barricades up to the White House and dumping them there. Pathetically, Larry Klayman (Judicial Watch) even took the bullhorn at one point and said this:
KLAYMAN (10/13/13): We are now ruled, quote/unquote, by a president who bows down to Allah. I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience and to demand that this president leave town, to get out, to put the Koran down, get up off his knees and figuratively come up with his hands out—up.
Klayman has been a giant public buffoon since the Clinton era, when he filed 18 lawsuits against the administration. Last year,he filed a lawsuit to keep Obama off the Florida ballot, claiming he wasn’t a “natural-born citizen.”

We’ll guess that Klayman is less a nut than a devoted chaser of money. Whatever his motives, there you see the pitiful comments he offered at the protest.

Klayman has been well-known for a very long time. Then too, there was that other guy at the protest, the one guy with the two flags.

Last evening, Maddow aired Klayman’s remarks but didn’t mention her name. (Inevitably, he has sued her too, in 2011.) Then, like everyone else on her channel, she gave us our racial treat, our Pleasing Outrage Bon-Bon.

On the one hand, she was nut-picking fairly hard. She had found the dopiest guy at the rally and she was letting us vent. On the other hand, she was playing the condescending white defender of blacks.

Rachel has condescending, “high white” racial politics, although most people who watch her show are too dumb to notice:
MADDOW (10/14/13): Vaguely threatening but incoherent is a patented thing with these folks. It’s never held them back, like say this guy, who brought the Confederate flag to the rally to wave it in front of the White House.

Yes, an African-American family lives in that house now.

Beyond the menace of the Confederate flag, there was also the awkwardness and thematic incoherence of waving the giant Confederate flag alongside the other flag he was holding, which was the Marine Corps flag. That is a particularly awkward choice, to be holding the Confederate flag and Marine Corps flag at the same time, since the U.S. Marine Corps was part of the fight against the Confederacy in the civil war.

But hey, I think the idea here was more about waving a Confederate flag in front of house where a black family lives than it was about anything specific related to the marines. This weekend, at the railing against the shutdown that they demanded rally, it felt less like anything specific to our politics right this second and more like old times, kind of. The crowds may be smaller now, and yes, everybody wonders now what Sarah Palin is doing there. It’s no longer self-evident.

But with the Obama-is-a-Muslim stuff and the totally unveiled racial stuff, it kind of feels like the Tea Party heyday all over again, doesn’t it? Who’s ready for another round?
Rachel didn’t name this guy either. As it turns out, he was Michael Ashmore, 23, of Hooks, Texas.

Why was Ashmore at the protest with his pair of flags? In a quick review, we can’t find any sign that he has been interviewed on the subject. That said, Rachel was able to intuit why he had his Confederate flag. Using her flawless mind-reading skills, she “thinks the idea here was more about waving a Confederate flag in front of house where a black family lives than it was about anything specific related to the marines.”

It was “totally unveiled racial stuff,” she was later able to tell us. As she did, she slimed the whole tea party for engaging in such unveiled stuff.

How do you think she knows these things about what Ashmore meant? Simple! This was your nightly racial treat, complete with massive condescension toward that family she kept mentioning. Rachel simply makes this stuff up! On the business side, it’s the little bon-bon we get for sitting through an interview on a dry subject.

Did Michael Ashmore, 23, bring his Confederate flag to serve as a “menace” in front of house where a black family lives? It’s certainly possible, especially since everything is! It’s also possible that he has some other idea he could explain, or fail to explain, depending on your outlook.

It’s also possible that he could explain how the marine flag goes together with the Confederate banner—or not. In the end, there’s a dumb guy in every crowd. Last night, as a special bonus, there was also at least one very dumb person on every MS show but one.

Give Chris Hayes some credit. He let several guests challenge the instant focus on Ashmore’s menacing flag. For himself, he said this to Robert George, a guy we like from twelve years back, about the general practices of nut-picking and guilt by association:
GEORGE (10/14/13): That’s just a nut-ball, Larry Klayman. He is not a serious individual—

HAYES: But he was a nut-ball who had a microphone at the same event where Ted Cruz, who engineered the shutdown, spoke. I mean that is the point, right? It is like if you do not—

I am, as someone who is a product of the American left and who has been to a lot of protests and has been surrounded by people who have all sorts of ideas that I find totally nutty and abhorrent, I hate the kind of guilt by association game as a matter of just—a sort of general matter. And yet, Ted Cruz knows what he’s doing when he goes there. He knows the folks he is stoking.
George said Cruz may not have known that Klayman would talk that crap.

Hayes was speaking about guilt by association with respect to Klayman and Cruz. His remarks were far more apt with respect to Ashmore, the fellow with two flags.

All over Our Own Liberal Channel last night, we liberals got to enjoy the fact that Ashmore showed up with those flags. It was amazing to see how many people pluralized this event:

It wasn’t Ashmore who had those flags. It was “they” who had them. In this way, these horrible people teach you to hate millions of folk at a time.

For what it’s worth, Lawrence O’Donnell went even one step farther. Knowing that Cruz had mildly rebuked Klayman for the things he said, he pretended to have misplaced Cruz’s statement. In that way, he was able to tell us that Cruz had done no such thing.

This is truly skillful work from an extremely bad person:
O’DONNELL (10/14/13): Dorian, we had a statement from Ted Cruz, which I have misplaced, which we might be able to put up on the screen. But he basically said about Larry Klayman’s statement— He did not denounce it. He just said it’s unfortunate that the media is distracted by, you know, these other speakers at this event instead of me. He did not denounce it in any way.
Actually, that isn’t true. But it was a very skillful play by a very bad person.

Maddow, O’Donnell, Matthews? These really aren’t good people. They’ll kiss your ass in every way hoping to sew up your business. To them, you are a chance to earn. They’ll fawn to you in tribal ways, the best ways to fawn of them all.

Their racial politics begins and ends with the delivery of R-bombs. You couldn’t make them discuss the needs and interests of black kids if you took all their children away. After all, they could always have more kids. At worst, they could always adopt!

Shrieking, screeching, dissembling, nut-picking, the very bad people of this bad channel played their most glorious card. As they did, they dug our tribal divisions deeper. And make no mistake:

That is what the other side wants. The true crackpots of the other aside want division, meltdown and stasis. They want the society to break apart into 83 little republics.

Alas! When Rachel and Lawrence play their most glorious card, they are serving the ultimate goal of the other tribe’s biggest crackpots! They are also playing you blue:

Research shows that we the rubes simply love being played in this manner. All through history, we the rubes have ardently longed for the tribe.


  1. The extremely frustrating thing is that THIS is what all of 2014 and 2016 will be about.

    Gaffs, what received audience applause in primary debates, signs and flags during marches, racist and sexist dog whistles, bad hair days, and conservative candidates deep-throating corn dogs.

    And media defenders will abjure us to watch PBS and the foreign press when we complain!

    1. "And media defenders will abjure us ...."

      abjure: to recant solemnly; to renounce under oath.

  2. So what did Cruz say that mildly rebuked Klayman?

    1. Yes, what was it? A few pages worth of Google hits seems to turn up nothing. It's irresponsible to say something this important effectively saying O'Donnell was lying without a specific quote -- indeed, not even a source.

  3. This reminds me, last night Chris H ran a story titled something like "Who's Running Congress" featuring the guy representing OK's 2nd district (the part of the state most likely to get its own reality show). Apparently Markwayne Mullin (or is that "Mullet"?) is one of the two or three dozen Reps who have Boehner by the short hairs. He's the real Joe the Plumber, Chris H said, really a plumber and actually elected to something. A clip from a town hall meeting had him telling folks what a shame it was to be living in a time when people are wondering whether the President is a natural-born citizen."

    What does that mean? Did he mean it's a shame the President's origins are so mysterious? Or did he mean it's a shame there are people wasting time thinking about such things? Or is this plumber a real politician being deliberately cagey?

    It just seems Oklahoma is showing up way too often in this mess. James Lankford of the 5th District (essentially OKC) has been featured on MSNBC, possibly as one of the near sane conservatives actually participating in talks. Tom Cole (my guy from the 4th) has had shouting matches with Chris over his Wonderland characterizations of the day's events (good ol' boy takes on wussy New York socialist). Then there's Sen. Coburn sneaking scissors into the Senate well and wrestling with a giant credit card on C-SPAN. Who's on 1st (Tulsa tea partier who primaried the incumbent)? Who's on 3rd (the godforsaken part so who cares)? They're probably at the WWII memorial lusting after Sarah. No wonder crazy Sen. Inhofe (one plane crash too many) seems to be sitting this one out. He's got all this help from the younger generation and can afford the rest.

    Is MSNBC trying to paint OK as the Crazy Republican State? Other states have crazy conservatives, too. Lay off a little.

  4. When I first read comments on liberal message boards I was under the impression that this huge mass of people showed up in front of the White House and planted the confederate flag. Turns out one dude did it. Yes, we are getting blinded by our bias more and more every day.

    1. Yes and who thinks its impossible that a Democratic political operative put him there? I remember one Democratic congressman who was active in the Vietnam protest movement saying the way they knew an FBI agent was at their meeting was that he was the one trying to get everyone to go blow up a building.

    2. Are you a 9/11 Truther, Lionel?

  5. What exactly was Ted Cruz doing at a rally like this in the first place, however small the turnout (in proportion to the hype that the rally's organizers and participants themselves generated)? Recall that the rally focused on the"outrageous" closure of the WWII monument that resulted from the shutdown caused by people like...Ted Cruz! For the real outrage here, see:

    On the Confederate flag, since Bob S. is so hesitant to worry about its being waved in connection with this rally, in front of the White House, no less, people might check out Ta Nehesi-Coates:

    Reading Bob Somerby's posts that involve racial issues leaves me feeling slightly soiled.

    1. Here's a quote from the piece by the uniquely-named Ta-Nehisi Coates:

      But the Confederate flag does not merely carry the stain of slavery, of "useful killing," but the stain of attempting to end the Union itself. You cannot possibly wave that flag and honestly claim any sincere understanding of your country. It is not possible.

      OK, so the flag wasn't really much of a threat to the well-protected black family living in the house surrounded by the fence at which the protesters assembled. And OK, it was one guy, and no one really knows what he was thinking. But I think it's fair to say we know what everyone at the rally was not thinking: "Hey, let's not have that symbol of treason and sedition represent our cause."

    2. As the child (well, great-grand-child) of both sides in the Civil War, I'd say this. You do have to choose. It doesn't mean you no longer love your grandmother from the Confederate side. As for me, I was in fact much much closer emotionally to my Virginia than my Pennsylvania-Minnesota abolitionist grandmother, whose father fought for the Union. Doesn't mean I have to agree with the Virginia side, much as I love her/them. I think most sentient adults understand and appreciate that sort of complexity.
      If only Ted Cruz et al. were sentient adults.

    3. And I would add: even my Virginia grandmother, born in the 1890's, was light-years ahead of Bob S.on racial issues. Just sayin'.

    4. Obama is wrong to close those monuments. It shows his contempt for the public, the ordinary public.

      I believe he also never reinstated White House tours for the public. It would be nothing for him and his backers to raise the money to reinstate those tours or to fund whatever security is required for open air monuments and the Lincoln Memorial.

      If you follow the news, you know there is a tremendous amount of racial separatism preached by black leaders. It far outweighs whatever significance anyone wants to put on the Confederate flag. What kind of people are so dainty that they are outraged and offended by one person with a flag nowadays? Its absurd. We live in an age of tramp stamp tattoos and people with tattoos on their necks and heads. It makes me cringe but its their right and I'll get used to it.

    5. "What kind of people are so dainty that they are outraged and offended by one person with a flag nowadays? "

      Nowadays? Or when the Mexican flag showed-up at immigration protests in Los Angeles?
      Nexis the entire right-wing media (or as we call it, "the media") if you want to see people outraged and offended over a flag. And keep in mind, the Mexican flag isn't even a symbol of sedition.

    6. I don't even have an image of the Mexican flag in my mind, that's how much outrage theres been in media about the Mexican flag.

    7. Lionel,


      Just because it's called "paying" attention, doesn't mean there is a monetary charge.

  6. How does the tea party compare with those hordes of Obama voters who tore up the Walmarts in Louisiana the other day when they thought they were going to get the stuff free on their food stamp (EBT) cards?

    Yes, they are Obama voters. Does anyone think there was one Romney voter in that crowd.

    The "Tea Party" people are just Americans voicing their opinions, using their First Amendment right of free speech. It says a lot about politicians and pundits - a lot of bad - that they go after the Tea Party with such disdain. I don't have a gun or want one but the attacks on Tea Party First Amendment rights make me a gun rights supporter. The mentality on the other side is totalitarian; those are the bad people.

    Has Obama ever had to comment on Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley business? Obama has had meetings with Sharpton, not just that he showed up the same place Sharpton showed up. Obama should have to say something about the Tawana Brawley business. New York State spent millions of dollars "investigating" an obvious hoax that they knew was a hoax from Day One (the "N" word written on her forehead was mirror image). Why did they do that? Fear of the race opportunists, Sharpton a big player.

    MSNBC and NBC as a whole discredit themselves every day by employing Sharpton.

    1. "The "Tea Party" people are just Americans voicing the opinions of their Republican astro-turfers, using their First Amendment right of free speech.

      Fixed it for you.

      BTW, in case you're slow on the uptake, the Tea Party is nothing more than the Republican party with a name change.
      I can say this, because I'm not a media hack paid to make believe this isn't so.

    2. Oh come on. The "Tea Party" is hardly a big presence. If what you mean is "Tea Party" people voting and their votes having an impact on members of Congress, that's not because those folks are being taken to the voting sites in buses as happens with Democratic "get out the vote," including incentives like free cigarettes.

      You don't agree with their opinion.

      My take is that people are hyped up to worry about deficits and debts by the reporting and politicians who describe everything in "crisis" terms/themes. The financial situation is described as a world-coming-to-an-end crisis every time they turn around and then what happens? They borrow more money and make things worse. The extreme rhetoric of crisis upsets people.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. The Tea Party is one of America's two parties in their 2-party political system. They elected Reagan twice, Bush once, and Junior twice (and that last one they HATE to be reminded about--in fact, that's why they changed their name).
      So, how is that not a big presence?

  7. Coates is right about what it signifies to display the Confederate flag at an anti-Obama rally outside the White House, and Somerby is wrong. That flag is a symbol of treason, of a failed effort to dissolve the United States of America in the service of maintaining human chattel slavery. If someone who carries the flag doesn't know or understand that, he is just as contemptible as someone who does know/understand and chooses to carry the flag anyway.

    Pretending there isn't a toxic element of racism embedded in the TP movement is foolish. It may not be the dominant element - outside the South, anyway - but it is not absent. Sadly, the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is not absent from any aspect of US politics and government anywhere, anytime.

    1. You miss the point of the First Amendment, sorry to say.

  8. Lots of Tea Party people have been waving the "Don't Tread on Me" snake flag from Revolutionary times. They have co-opted the graphic and now it doesn't mean what it once meant. No doubt it means something different to people from New England than it means to the Tea Party.

    Bob said that someone should have asked the guy with two flags what the Confederate flag meant to him and why he was waving it at a WWII memorial. You, like the TV commentators, have simply assumed that it means to everyone what it means to you. Those of you whose sole purpose here is to say negative things about Bob have been using that as an excuse to call him a racist (the good old R-bomb).

    To some people, the confederate flag has little to do with race and now has a lot to do with states rights and a stubborn insistence in pride in the South's heritage. To others it is an assertion of White power, but from the perspective of people who are poor and feel neglected by those with compassion for minority poverty but not their own. So, there can be more complex reasons for carrying that flag than simply "The KKK rides again," which is the knee-jerk liberal reaction to the flag.

    To know what it meant to that guy, someone should have asked him. But that would be too much like actual reporting.

    1. Obama's statement "If I had a son he'd look like Trayvon" was the most racist incident in my lifetime. When he justified Martin trying to beat Zimmerman to death as Martin "standing his ground" was No. 2 racist statement. Then came Holder statements on the list, some with regard to Zimmerman-Martin and the "my people."

      And that is the God's honest truth. The most racist. More racist than anything out of Bull Connor or George Wallace because of the power of the president and attorney general. With regard to Zimmerman it was the power of the federal government attacking the right to a fair trial and purely for racist reasons on the part of Obama and Holder.

      There are hundreds of justified self-defense shooting every year. They are investigated by local authorities as Zimmerman's was initially and they don't go to trial just to appease relatives of the person who was shot and killed. Because Martin was black and looked like Obama's imaginary son, Obama and Holder attacked Zimmerman's constitutional rights.

    2. Lionel, you are very wrong on your characterization of the murder of Martin by Zimmerman. Martin was not trying to beat Zimmerman to death. In fact Zimmerman was barely touched. This is evidenced by..........yep, the evidence!

  9. I can understand why an Obama supporter would focus on something symbolic, since reality isn't doing very well, under President Obama. With the economic recovery so mediocre, enormous deficits, no budget agreement and the Affordable (sic) Care Act being not affordable and not even working, it's more comfortable for an Obama supporter to change the subject and focus on a single person with a Confederate flag,

    The striking thing is that much of the media is also focusing on this non-story. My conclusion is that much of the media are Obama supporters, who are allowing their partisan political passions to affect their reporting.

    1. David, you are so wrong on ACA (also everything else, but later on that). I just signed up in California and it is good stuff. I will be paying the same as I am now, but will be getting much better coverage. There's an anecdote you can stick in your hat!

    2. Seriously, DinC. Are you the last person in the world to realize the GOP wants to kill (or at least delay) the ACA, because they know it will work and once it does there is no getting rid of it?

    3. And before you ask, Why would they want to kill something that works?", let me explain.
      Once it works, it will show the government is good at something and not a total waste. Next thing you know, people will want the government to regulate business more, because the government can do things to benefit the people. And won't the GOP/ Tea Party be in the shit then.

    4. you are delusional

  10. True dat.
    Obama and the media should be focusing on imprisoning the bankers whose fraud crashed the world's economy.
    There is NOTHING that could do more to help bring back the economy.

  11. I guess you don't have the nutballs in your face all the time,the way I do.I don't mind looking down on them.

    1. You have no evidence that Bob Somerby holds the same political views held by Tea Partiers.

    2. I see no reference in Hattie's comment that even remotely refers to Somerby's political views.

      What a maroon!

  12. Maddow's back slapping, log rolling cutsie poo on air fawning to Matthews is worthy of derision.

    And that's about it, or, we might say "Daily Howler, is that all you got?"

    Larry Klayman has been around forever. He has been a big part of the hard right in this country for years. He got up and made open racist statements about the President, ugly is just about every possible way. Not only does The Daily Howler ignore the racist element, he pretty much makes every excuse he can for good old Lar. He's just after the money, you understand.... funny how mercenary instincts are not so easily dismissed when it's Maddow or Matthews. Whatever! While maintaining (rightfully) that liberals have become lazy race callers, Bob has now shown he is no position to make that call, because he will rather glibly turn away from white racism at it's ugliest, provided it's based on the right. I guess we still haven't gotten an answer on Cruz's distancing himself from Klayman. Like it much matters. Why bother to on, just shameful, shameful work from the blog here.

    1. In point of fact, Mr. Somberby is not simply ignoring the request that he tell us what Cruz said which mildly rebuked Klayman. He misrepresenting what O'Donnell did.

      Somerby would have you believe O'Donnell deliberately "pretended" that he misplaced the statement from Cruz so he, O'Donnell could falsely claim Cruz did not denounce Klayman.

      In truth, as Somerby's quote notes, O'Donnell said he hoped they could get Cruz's statement on screen, which they did. In that statement, which was by Cruz's press secretary, no mention was made of Klayman or his statements. The press secretary said it was unfortunate the media focused on "one person's misguided actions." That unnamed person could have been Somerby's unfortunate misunderstood fellow with the Stars and Bars for all anybody knows.

      Telling the truth should be expected from the Howler. But that would make his tale less thrilling. So we get him reading O'Donnell's mind "pretending" to have misplaced something to tell a lie when in fact his show later put what he misplaced on the screen.