Current Events and the Psychology of Politics
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Feb 28th, 2011

Summary: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual report on hate and extremism in the United States, titled “The Year in Hate & Extremism, 2010.” The report claims that more than 1,000 hate groups are now active in the United States, the most the SPLC has tallied since it began track these groups in the 1980s. In addition to “hate groups,” the SPLC also catalogued 824 anti-government “Patriot” groups and 319 “nativist extremist” groups. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 28, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Pope Benedict XVI, saying “I pray for the victims,” urged survivors of Chile’s devastating earthquake to be courageous and asked the Catholic Church to play a role in relief efforts.



Summary: “Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary with Chris Matthews” — Part 6: How the New Right Exploits the Media. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on July 12, 2009 Aubrey Immelman reported that six Baghdad-area churches were bombed within 24 hours on July 11-12, 2009, killing at least four people and wounding 32. Iraq has lost more than half of the 1.4 million Christians who once called it home, mostly since the war began in 2003, and few who fled have plans to return.



Summary: “Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary with Chris Matthews” — Part 3: The Tea Party Movement. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on July 9, 2009 Aubrey Immelman reported that declassified notes of FBI interviews with Saddam Hussein in 2004 proved Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003, but that Saddam falsely allowed the world to believe Iraq had WMD because he feared revealing his weakness to Iran, the hostile neighbor he considered a bigger threat than the U.S.



Summary: “Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary with Chris Matthews” — Part 2: A Deep Dislike for Barack Obama. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on July 8, 2009 Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly report of U.S. military deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), compiled from U.S. Department of Defense News Releases.



Summary: “Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary with Chris Matthews” — Part 1: Don’t Tread on Me. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on July 7, 2009 Aubrey Immelman reported that seven U.S. troops died in three attacks in Afghanistan, on the same day that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, issued new guidelines limiting the use of airstrikes against residential compounds and other locations likely to produce civilian casualties, alienating Afghan villagers and causing loss of support for the Afghan government and the international mission.


Jun 16th, 2010

Summary: The growing fear among some citizens of losing their rights and freedoms has created a political backlash toward the U.S. government and manifested itself in violent rhetoric and anti-government groups who want to “take their country back.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews takes a hard look at the recent surge of anger on the political right in “Rise of the New Right: A Hardball Documentary with Chris Matthews.” In this blog entry, Aubrey Immelman chronicles the rise of rightwing extremism in America following the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States in November 2008. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on June 16, 2009 Aubrey Immelman reported that North Korea threatened a “fire shower of nuclear retaliation” if provoked by the U.S., but that U.S. officials were downplaying any imminent threat to the United States of a North Korean missile strike or confrontation between the two countries at sea.


Apr 5th, 2010

Summary: The Associated Press reviewed tea party operations in almost every state, interviewing dozens of local organizers as well as Democratic and Republican strategists to produce a portrait of the movement to date — and its prospects for tilting the November 2010 midterm election. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on April 5, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that North Korea had fired a multistage rocket over Japan, defying Washington, Tokyo, and other world leaders who suspect the purpose of the launch was to test its long-range missile technology.


Mar 25th, 2010

Summary: Unrest over sweeping federal health care legislation has turned to vandalism and threats, with bricks hurled through congressional Democrats’ windows, a propane line cut at the home of a congressman’s brother, and menacing phone messages left for lawmakers who supported the bill. Against this background, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s longstanding pattern of incendiary rhetoric (such as calling on citizens to be “armed and dangerous”) is particularly disturbing, considering its potential for propagating violent extremism and inciting acts of domestic terrorism in a time of grave economic uncertainty. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 25, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that Baghdad had been much calmer since sectarian violence peaked in late 2006 and the first half of 2007, but that the calm was achieved in part because the city became ethnically divided, with Shiites predominating and Sunnis largely having fled.


Mar 5th, 2010

Summary: John Patrick Bedell, who opened fire at the Pentagon entrance and was killed in a shootout with Pentagon police, was fascinated with conspiracy theories, computer programming, libertarian economics, and the science of warfare. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 5, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that top Democrats believed they had struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party.


Mar 3rd, 2010

Summary: The number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, anti-government conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 3, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that according to some economists, a Depression doesn’t have to be Great, with bread lines, rampant unemployment, and a wipeout in the stock market; the economy can sink into a milder depression — the kind spelled with a lowercase “d” — and it may be happening now.