Sunday, March 05, 2017

13.4 - Clown Award: Bill O"Reilly

Clown Award: Bill O"Reilly

Now for one of our regular features, the Clown Award, given as always for an act of mertitorious stupidity.

There were a couple of nominees this week.

I thought about giving the award to Rep. Louis Gohmert, the man who puts the Gomer in Gohmert.

He has been refusing to hold in-person town hall meetings with constituents - and has referred to the shooting of former representative Gabby Giffords as justification for it.

Gohmert, it develops, is afraid of getting shot - or something, it's not clear - by someone "from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology," who are "preying on town halls." Because yeah, look at all those GOPpers who have been shot or physically beaten during their town halls of late.

And as a reminder, Gabby Giffords was one of 19 people shot at a public event she held in January 2011 by right-wing paranoid schizophrenic Jared Lee Loughner.

Rep. Louis "Gomer" Gohmert
So the assailant was both a rightwinger and mentally ill, but, yeah, it was at a public meeting, so Gomer says that's all he needs to be terrified of lefties coming to a town hall armed with questions.

Gohmert is a true clown, but this seemed more a case of gutless cowardice than clownishness, so we move on to the next nominee.

I was going to give the award to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who attended a so-called "listening session" with leaders of historically black colleges and universities - founded because for many years most institutions of higher learning would not admit blacks.

After that meeting she released a statement in which she called those institutions "living proof" of the importance of her program of promoting taxpayer supported private, profit-oriented schools because those historically black institutions were "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." Because, you know, it's like they had one.

She desperately tried to walk that back the next day after doubling down on it earlier, but the fact is, this was no off-the-cuff-remark-that-came-out-wrong, the kind of goof that any of us might make, this was a prepared press release. They thought about this. They said exactly what they meant to say. Trying to walk that back just makes it all the more clownish.

Betsy DeVos
But then I decided that, no, I couldn't do that, not after racist graffiti was found the next morning scrawled on a main sidewalk at Howard University, one of those historically black institutions.

The "message" read "Welcome to the Trump plantation. Overseer: Wayne A. I. Frederick." Wayne A. I. Frederick, as you knew or likely guessed, is the president of the university.

And I thought no, this is too important, the sort of off-handed, ignorant racism DeVos displayed, that sheltered, privileged ignorance where the meaning of your own words never occurs to you, the reality your words ignore, of which you remain unconscious even though it's obvious once someone points it out, the kind of casual bigotry that the entire TheRump campaign and administration has empowered, emboldened, and encouraged, is too important to toss off with the mockery of a Clown Award.

So again we move on. This time to our winner, and old champion making a return visit to reclaim the title. So this week, the Big Red Nose goes to the man with the world's most perfect initials, Bill O'Reilly.

You likely heard about TheRump declaiming at his campaign rally and yes that is what they called it, a campaign rally, in Florida last Saturday about "look at what's happening last night in Sweden! Sweden! Who would believe this, Sweden!"

Well, of course nothing happened that night in Sweden and it turned out that he had seen a Tucks Carlson interview with some rightwinger on Fox who has a quote documentary unquote claiming there is an immigrant-driven "surge in gun violence and rape" in Sweden which authorities are deliberately hiding, a piece TheRump apparently took to be breaking news.

Interestingly, since then there have been repeated attempts on Fox and other parts of the rightwing media swamp to cast Sweden as some sort of crime-ridden hellhole - because TheRump must be proven right! It is our duty!

Which brings us to Mr. B.O.

On his show on Fox on February 23, he had as a guest one Nils Bildt, billed as "a Swedish defense and national security advisor," there to engage in the predictable xenophobic slam of Sweden's immigration policies, touching on all the usual highlights about crime, "deviant activity," and "no-go areas."

Bill O'Reilly
Here's the problem: Neither Sweden's Defense Ministry nor its Foreign Office had any idea who the heck Nils Bildt is. They had never heard of him.

So who is he? It turns out this expert on Sweden moved out of that country in 1994 and changed his name from Tolling to Bildt in 2003. He says he is "based" in the US but Sweden says the last address they have for him is in Tokyo.

In 2015, he was one of the founders of a consulting firm called Modus World LLC, which according to its website specializes in "operations and management of possible kidnap and ransom situations" - not terrorism - and the website is now "unavailable."

Oh, and he is one other thing: a convicted felon, having been sentenced to a year in prison in 2014 for assaulting a cop, obstruction of justice, and just to make it a triple play, being drunk.

So let's see: Hasn't lived in Sweden for 23 years, has no connection of any kind to Swedish defense or national security, runs - or maybe ran - a business with only a tenuous connection to the issue of terrorism, and has no, not even a claimed, expertise in immigration.

That is who Bill O'Reilly thought would be the perfect guest to discuss immigration in Sweden.

Still in championship form, is Bill O'Reilly - clown.

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