THE BLOG
05/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Con Games: Conservatives Tea It Up on Tox News

Like a flabby man consigned to dark chocolate, I've lost my native ability to assuage my sweet tooth with cable news even as I succumbed to an unauthorized visit to the blowhard buffet on tax day 2009.

I used to think that America under Barack Obama was turning a corner after eight years of Bush-Cheney yielded nada in the way of real achievement. Instead, on the day the tax bill came due for Americans, I learned the harsh truth from people in the know.

-Millions who railed and rallied across the country on tax day say they're mad as all get-out.
-We are buying guns like crazy for fear Obama-Clinton will take them away.
-The Government is using the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to persecute conservatives.

And oh yeah: the Governor of Texas wants to secede from the Union.

In point of fact, according to the political site FiveThirty Eight http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/how-many-attended-tea-parties.html, only 111,000 to 250,000 people attended the Anti-Tax Tea Parties across the country, considerably less than a groundswell. Obama has expressed no interest in curbing gun use other than assault rifles, and the Homeland Security Department issued a report about Leftist extremists that was not unlike the one proffered about the Right -- the report that had nothing to do with mainstream conservatives and everything to do with fringe groups like the neo-Nazis.

No matter: the conservative pot must be stirred and their anger about pretty much everything, seasoned to the taste. My particular favorite salt-in-the-wound moment was not the grandstanding Glenn Beck last-standing in front of The Alamo -- there's no crying in conservatism -- but rather the appearance on-air of the Fox News senior judicial adviser Andrew Napolitano, not to be confused with Janet Napolitano, the Director of Homeland Security. On the table: DHS's "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."

Here comes the (retired) Judge from the Tox News web site: "The summary (unclassified) document is terrifying. One can only imagine what is contained in the classified version. This document runs directly counter to numerous U.S. Supreme decisions prohibiting the government from engaging in any activities that could serve to chill the exercise of expressive liberties. Liberties are chilled, in constitutional parlance, when people are afraid to express themselves for fear of government omnipresence, monitoring, or reprisals. The document also informs the reader that Big Brother is watching both public and private behavior."

Napolitano said much the same on-air as he berated the Homeland Security report. The Fox anchor -- reasonable, intelligent, and (natch) unnaturally blonde -- pointed out in passing that there was a "leftwing" report and many other DHS reports on extremism of all kinds. But for to do an actual report that showed DHS was agnostic would run counter to Tox balance and fairness. As Napolitano put it on the Web site:

The writers of this abominable report are particularly concerned with the expression of opinions that might be used to fuel ideas that challenge federal authority or favor state and local government over the federal government.

That's right: in case you missed it, the Department of Homeland Security is in the business of taking their guns away and putting conservatives in the hoosegow.

"My guess," Judge Napolitano writes, "is that the sentiments revealed in the report I read are the tip of an iceberg that the DHS would prefer to keep submerged until it needs to reveal it. This iceberg is the heavy-hand of government; a government with large and awful eyes, in whose heart there is no love for freedom, and on whose face there is no smile."