Saturday, May 08, 2010

Ron Paul's Inner Far-right Extremist: We'll Have 'Riots In The Streets' Like Greece Because The U.S. Dollar Is 'Counterfeit'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Somewhat predictably, the professional fearmongers at Fox News have been hosting all kinds of segments about the currency riots in Greece suggesting that "America could be next!" (Of course, the corollary to this is "it's all Obama's fault".)

So of course the situation was ripe for Rep. Ron Paul to bring his own unique brand of wingnuttery to the airwaves, which he happily did Thursday for Megyn Kelly on Fox's America Live program:
Kelly: You know, it's really scary to see what can happen in a society when the overspending comes home to roost -- you know, when you see the consequences of years and years of overspending. Obviously people here are very worried about our debt and our deficit. Congressman Paul, could this kind of thing happen here? Could what we're seeing in Greece and California happen on a nationwide basis here?

Paul: Oh yeah. Absolutely. There's going to be anger, and there's going to be riots in the streets as well.

But this is all a consequence of the fact that why and how do governments spend like this? It's because they don't have sound money. When we run up deficits, we tax, but never enough. We can't tax, it would ruin the economy. Then we borrow, and we get away with that for a long time. But we rely on the printing presses from the Federal Reserve to create the money, and that's where the problem is.

This is why we have to look at the Federal Reserve, we have to get an audit of the Federal Reserve, we have to look at the monetary system and the dollar system, because you can't have fake money. This is counterfeit! And we've been operating like this since 1971. At no time in the history of the world has the whole world been on fiat money for so long -- building up these financial bubbles, distorting the economies and running up all this debt. And it has to be paid for.
Now, Paul manages to sound reasonable in all this, but this is really quite a display of far-right extremism: after all, he just called the American dollar counterfeit. And though he never utters the words "gold standard" here, that's what he's talking about: The United States removed the dollar from the gold standard in 1971.

This extremism is at the root of his advocacy for an audit of the Fed, and why he joined up with Alan Grayson in his efforts to get a bill requiring an audit of the Fed through Congress. It's also why he's so furious at the compromise hammered out by Grayson and Sen. Bernie Sanders to get answered the questions about some of its decisions after 2007 -- because it doesn't give Paul the broad perennial tool he sought for destroying the Fed altogether.

DDay had a powerfully insightful post on this:
Now I know Ron Paul and some libertarians are angered by this deal. But understand that Ron Paul doesn’t want an audit of the Federal Reserve. He wants to end the Federal Reserve. The best-selling book “End the Fed” that he wrote tipped me off to this. He wants to go back to hard-money policies and a return to the gold standard. Now, you can argue that this would end the cartel of central bankers scheming with their monetary policy, or that it would turn US monetary policy into the inflation-uber-alles laissez-faire mess we’re seeing in Europe that is threatening a global depression. The consequences for Paul’s favored end-state would be catastrophic if implemented in real time. This Fed is failing in different ways – and their actions should draw more scrutiny – but eliminating it would return us to the Stone Age.

And so you should probably know who you’re dealing with. There’s no good reason for the restrictions on this particular audit, but in its streamlined form, it seeks to answer one question – what did the Fed do on an emergency basis with two trillion dollars in taxpayer money. Not only does the Sanders amendment force an answer to that question, it opens it up to public scrutiny in ways that Paul-Grayson didn’t. As Baker says, this is a beginning and not an ending for transparency and accountability.

David Vitter may offer the original proposal for a vote and more power to him. But an audit really is just an audit. Ron Paul wanted to use an audit as a tool to destroy the Fed.
What Digby says:
Ron Paul, a fake libertarian, Goldbug John Bircher, has a very different agenda than progressives on almost everything and his support for auditing the Fed is based upon different goals. Therefore, when the legislation changed in ways that don't advance that goal he is unhappy.


Progressive economists call the compromise a "big victory." Paul's balking because the legislation no longer fits his agenda. That's fine. The senate came on board because of the changes and the conference will probably change it again. This is just plain old sausage making that benefits the progressive side for once. Unless one actually agrees with Ron Paul's kooky Fed obsession, there's no reason to care what he thinks about it.
I've written a great deal over the years about Ron Paul and his deep background as a far-right extremist, including his fetish about the Federal Reserve:
Along the way, Paul developed as one of his major ongoing themes the extremist belief that the Federal Reserve is an illegitimate authority, that our current monetary system is built upon a house of cards and is due momentarily to collapse, and that to avoid such a fate we must return to the gold standard and abolish the Fed.

Notably, Paul makes only passing reference to this at his campaign Web site:
In addition, the Federal Reserve, our central bank, fosters runaway debt by increasing the money supply – making each dollar in your pocket worth less. The Fed is a private bank run by unelected officials who are not required to be open or accountable to "we the people."
He's much more explicit about all this in his book The Case for Gold, which takes old far-right theories about the legitimacy of the monetary system and launders them of their sometimes explicit anti-Semitism and presents them as devout and reasoned patriotism.

These arguments, in fact, have had some currency on the extremist right for some years now, having been a favorite theory of the Posse Comitatus and various tax protesters, including the Montana Freemen, who themselves picked it up from other conspiracy theorists, and then used it for creating fictitious monetary systems of their own. As I explain in Chapter 5 of In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest:
The Freemen justified this with an argument straight out of Roy Schwasinger's seminars: The federal government was bankrupt and illegally printing bogus money anyway, money that no longer had any basis, since the government took the dollar off the gold standard in 1971. So the Freemen were free to create their own money out of equally thin air -- not only that, but by basis of the "constitutional" nature of the common-law courts that issued the liens, their system was more legitimate than the federal government's.

The alternative-universe notion that the Federal Reserve system prints "funny money" based on no real foundation has floated about on the far right for years, and is a key component of some cult belief systems like Lyndon LaRouche's. In reality, the modern international monetary system is based on the economic engine behind each kind of currency -- the levels of supply and demand that a nation produces. It is, like all economic systems, essentially a mental construct, but it has very real grounding in the work of producing goods and services within each nation. The American dollar's continuing strength abroad is a reflection of our nation's output; indeed, it is still considered the basis of most international currency rates.

Those who argue that money must be based on some hard commodity -- usually gold and silver -- ignore the fact that when a currency is based on gold, the value given to gold is as essentially arbitrary as that assigned to paper currency. That is, the value of gold would rise and decline according to the value of the output behind the economic system using it as a standard. Indeed, since gold is still used in manufacturing and jewelry-making, the crossover between gold as a commodity and gold as an expression of currency had the tendency to destabilize the currency system, which is why the United States went off the gold standard in 1971.
These tax-protest theories extended to other beliefs, including the notion that the Internal Revenue Service is an illegitimate agency and the federal income tax a scam. As the ADL explains in this report, have been circulating on the fringe right for some time now, mostly in the guise of the tax-protest movement. And Ron Paul has been one of their leading figures in the past decade.
I'm frankly baffled by progressives who believe that Ron Paul is the kind of politician who potentially could be part of a "transpartisan" politics. Paul in reality -- judging by his behavior, his support, and his actual record in Congress -- is someone far out on the right, a leader of a faction whose primary fuel is an animus toward all things progressive.

Progressive alliances with Ron Paul need of necessity be short-lived and of limited scope, because his entire long-range purpose is the destruction of our values: women's reproductive rights, civil rights for minorities, public education, environmental protections, public health care -- all of which Paul has a demonstrated animus towards. Anyone deluded enough to believe Ron Paul represents a long-term opportunity for progressives is in the end naively selling out the values they supposedly espouse.

Hannity's 'Little Idea': 'The Iraqis ... Need To Pay Us Back For Their Liberation. Every Single Solitary Penny'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sean Hannity was on quite a roll last night. First he suggested President Obama step down. Then, in a later segment, he actually contended that Iraq owes the United States all the money we spent on invading and occupying it for the past seven years:
Hannity: I've actually had an idea -- no one listens to little ol' Sean Hannity. But I'm like -- I think the Iraqis, with all their oil resources, need to pay us back for their liberation. Every single solitary penny. Because we really need --

Johnson: I really thought that from the beginning. I thought that that was kind of, part of the equation.

Hannity: It should have been part of the deal.

Johnson: Should have been part of the deal.

Hannity: I think it should be now. I think they owe us a lot for that.
Yeah, I bet the families of the estimated 100,000-plus innocent civilians who we "liberated" from their existence on the planet would be more than happy to "pay us back."

Especially considering that no one in Iraq asked for us to liberate them -- we just did it on our own, illegally and under false pretenses.

It's true that Dick Cheney and Co. envisioned using the proceeds from the oil money they believed would soon be flowing through American auspices in Iraqi oil fields would cover the costs of the war -- and of course, that money never materialized, leaving American taxpayers holding the bag.

Funny how Hannity developed a case of amnesia regarding those facts.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Fox News Grotesquely Smears Immigrants By Blaming Them For Over 2,000 Deaths Annually -- Based On Wild Speculation

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Remember how Lou Dobbs got in trouble for touting phony statistics linking immigration to leprosy?
Well now Fox News is doing the same thing -- with only a slightly different angle.

Yesterday on Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson interviewed a fellow named Ed Kowalski, who is a board member of the group 9/11 Families for a Secure America, about Arizona's new police-state immigration law. It produced this exchange:
Carlson: According to you, politicians seem to be more concerned about the illegals' rights than the rights of the Americans, some of whom end up dead.

Kowalski: That's correct, that's correct. As best as we can estimate, 2,200 Americans a year are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. That number is staggering.
Several times the chryon read: "FSM: 2,158 Killed By Illegals Every Year."

It's a completely phony statistic. As Media Matters explains:
The immigrant murder rate cited by Fox News is based on a 2005 Human Events article by Mac Johnson. In the article, Johnson said he attempted to locate statistics on "illegal alien murders" but was told "that no one kept track" of those numbers. Johnson then "arrived at my own approximation of the number," which he called "crude." After admitting that "the murder rate among illegal aliens in America is unknown," Johnson assumed that the rate at which "illegal aliens" murder would remain consistent with murder rates from the immigrant's home country.
Here's how Johnson's piece read:
I assumed that 3,871,912 Mexicans in America kill at the same rate as 3,871,912 Mexicans in Mexico, then did the same for 336,717 Salvadorans, 77,000 Brazilians, 226,886 Chinese and 39 other categories of illegal alien -- as totaled in a Census Bureau estimate of the illegal alien population in 2000. The report's total figure was that 8.7 million illegal aliens are in our country.


So the upshot, for the journalism majors that just rejoined the article, is that a simplistic good-faith estimate is that illegal aliens kill between 1,806 and 2,510 people in the United States each year.
It's not surprising that Family Security Matters is indulging in this kind of unethical chicanery; as MM notes, it has a history of bashing immigrants with dubious statistics and old-fashioned scapegoating. As for its standards and credibility, well, FSM has also endorsed the Birther conspiracy theory.

And now Fox News is running their garbage as fact. Nothing new there, either, really -- except that this particular smear paints 12 million people as potential murderers and criminal thugs.

As Walter Ewing at Immigration Impact observes:
In fact, empirical research over the past century has demonstrated repeatedly that immigrants to the United States, including the unauthorized, are far less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. And no amount of grandstanding by Fox and Friends will change that simple fact.

The notion that unauthorized immigrants bring the murder rates of their home countries with them when they enter the United States is not only inherently absurd, but has no basis in reality. For instance, a detailed study of incarceration rates in the United States using data from the 2000 Census found that foreign-born Mexicans, more than half of whom are unauthorized, “had an incarceration rate of only 0.7 percent in 2000—more than 8 times lower than the 5.9 percent rate of native-born males of Mexican descent.” If unauthorized Mexicans were actually committing murders in the United States at the same pace as the Mexican murder rate, one would expect many more foreign-born Mexicans to be behind bars. But that is not the case.

Findings such as these should come as no surprise. Immigrants in general are a highly motivated, “self-selected” group. That is, they made the difficult decision to uproot themselves from their home countries in order to create better lives for themselves in the United States. This is not an undertaking for the lazy or feint of heart. Moreover, given the harsh realities of U.S. immigration law, immigrants have a great deal of incentive to not get in trouble with the law. Even legal immigrants can be deported for relatively minor infractions, let alone unauthorized immigrants who are nearly assured of deportation if they fall into the hands of immigration authorities. But the bottom line is the evidence—and the evidence shows that the vast majority of immigrants do not commit serious crimes, regardless of their legal status.
Knowing Fox News, they will neither correct this nor apologize for it. But every Latino immigrant on the planet should know that Fox News is now openly smearing them.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Enough With The Whining! 'Teabaggers' Actually Introduced The Term They Now Claim Is A Slur

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

There's nothing quite like those moments on Fox when Megyn Kelly and Monica Crowley share the set, because nobody kvetches louder than these two. Yesterday they had a special segment where they whined about President Obama reportedly referring offhandedly to the Tea Party movement as "teabaggers."

The whole segment, as usual, was rife with disinformation. Crowley tries to characterize the DHS bulletin describing right-wing extremists as a potential terrorist threat as an attempt by the administration to demonize ordinary conservatives -- a simply risible (not to mention deeply irresponsible) claim. Kelly tried to claim that this was the supposedly the "second time" Obama had been caught using the term -- even though, in fact, he didn't actually say it to Earl Blumenauer.

Crowley was especially comical:
Crowley: He ought to really apologize for this vulgar and vile comment referencing the American people, and also try to give some sort of speech -- I know a lot of us have heard enough from the president already -- but he should try to put out some words that are going to make up for this kind of thing.

... But you know, Megyn, even if he were to go out and say this, I would encourage him to do it, but he's got a credibility problem now because it seems that every time there is a movement or an individual or an institution or an organization that disagrees with his policies, he personalizes it. He singles them out, whether it's Fox News, or Sergeant Crowley of the Cambridge police department, or the entire state of Arizona for supporting this new immigration law, whether it's the Tea Party movement, he has this willingness that's very unbecoming of the American president, to go out and single out the American people.
Of course, neither of them get around to explaining exactly why the president needs to show deference to a movement explicitly organized around opposing him and any and every policy he might try to enact, a movement embodied by people who call him a Marxist and a fascist and depict him as a witch doctor with a bone in his nose.

But most amusing of all is the notion that calling Tea Partiers "teabaggers" is a horrendous, unforgivable slur. As Dave Weigel says, it's clear that Tea Partiers find it offensive now, so that's probably reason enough not to use it if you're interested in conversing with them. That's a big if, though.

Moreover, as Jay Nordlinger at National Review admits, the term "teabagger" was introduced to the political lexicon by Tea Party movement leaders:
The first big day for this movement was Tax Day, April 15. And organizers had a gimmick. They asked people to send a tea bag to the Oval Office. One of the exhortations was “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” A protester was spotted with a sign saying, “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.” So, conservatives started it: started with this terminology. But others ran with it and ran with it.
Tommy Christopher at Mediaite has it about right:
The origin of the term is relevant in determining the relative size of the Tea Party’s violin. What wasn’t pointed out to Tapper is the fact that the Tea Partiers not only invented the term, they did so in order to inflict a similar double entendre onto the President, the Democrats, and liberals in general. Hence, it’s a violin so small, you need an electron microscope with a zoom lens to see it.

Now, they’re trying to re-cast the term as a slur, on a par with the “n-word,” hurtful to all the Tea Party members who are just ordinary moms, dads, sons, and daughters. The latter point has some resonance, but the former is ridiculous in the extreme.

In emails, protest signs, t-shirts, and online, early Tea Party literature urged protesters to “Tea Bag the White House,” and to “Tea-bag the liberal Dems before they tea-bag you.” The suggestion is that the metaphoric “tea-bags” be shoved in the mouths of the President, Democratic members of Congress, and even ordinary citizens who identify as liberal Democrats. The idea that they just didn’t know the term’s only (at that time) meaning is belied by the fact that they obviously knew it was negative (and non-consensual), since they didn’t want it done to them, and also because it only had one meaning.

It was only after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and David Shuster, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, turned the tables on the term that Tea Partiers objected. They were perfectly satisfied to advocate the metaphoric mouth-rape of liberal men, women, and children, but had the nerve to become indignant when the insult boomeranged on them.
Here's a video of Griff Jenkins urging viewers to "Tea Bag the White House," plus Charles Krauthammer last November referring offhandedly to the "Tea Bag protests":

And then there was Neil Cavuto in May:


I understand Tea Partiers want to get people to stop using a word they now find embarrassing. But can we please stop pretending that it's an unconscionable slur?

Rupert Murdoch Says Fox Is Winning The Ratings Wars Because All The Other Media Are So Liberal

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Rupert Murdoch believes Fox News is handily winning the cable ratings wars because all the rest of the media are so liberal.

He was on Neil Cavuto's show to brag about his newest reports on quarterly profits, and explained his company's success can be explained thus:
Murdoch: Well, I think as far as Fox News goes, it's very simple. You know, ah, it's very powerful, it's very good, and it's very balanced. And everybody else, every newspaper other than ours, and every -- it may be an overgeneralization, but by far most newspapers -- and certainly the other television networks sort of are, um, on one side, the liberal side of things, we're -- I think the population of this country is pretty worried about its direction, and you know, they turn to Fox News.
But only a few breaths before this, Murdoch bragged about all the money being brought in to Fox by James Cameron's Avatar -- about $200 million this quarter alone, with more on the way (apparently the DVD/Blu-Ray release is really raking it in).

I dunno about you, but having watched Avatar a few times, one cannot describe its political POV as anything other than "liberal." Certainly there's no question that Cameron himself is one.

So if Fox News is winning because it's conservative, why are most of his company profit's actually being generated by a liberal movie?

I think a better explanation of Fox's success is equally simple: Murdoch has discovered that news sells better as entertainment, and partisan propaganda is infinitely more entertaining than straight news. But YMMV.

O'Reilly And Co. Want Everyone To Declare Islam 'The Enemy'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly's been on a tear lately in pushing the notion that Islam itself is the Enemy of America. Last night -- while sneering that "the media" gave Muslims a break by not blaming Islam for the failed Times Square bombing attempt -- he declared that there are "millions of jihadists" out there
"Millions of them!" he shouted.

Well, no doubt there are large numbers of radical Islamic jihadists -- and more every time O'Reilly opens his mouth on the subject. But millions? I don't know of any expert on the subject who would put the numbers that high.

This continues a recent theme for O'Reilly of demonizing Islam generally. The night before, he had this segment with Monica Crowley and Alan Colmes:

O'Reilly: Why is it important? The goal of the United States should be to protect its citizens, No. 1, and to defeat the enemy, No. 2. Why is it important to pinpoint that it's Islam? Why is that?

Crowley: Because when you have this inability to call the enemy what it is, then there's no hope of defeating that enemy.
O'Reilly added that "I wanna name Islam", but wasn't sure it would do any good.

Alan Colmes brought some sanity to the discussion by pointing out that Islamic fundamentalist radicals are no more representative of Islam than the Hutaree Christian Militia are representative of Christianity.

Of course, this blew the minds of O'Reilly and Crowley, who promptly short-circuited and dismissed Colmes as "babbling".

What O'Reilly and Crowley can't seem to understand is that it's not only a crude, bigoted smear to declare "Islam" the Enemy, it flies in the face of our many Islamic allies who play critical roles in the "war on terror" (e.g., Turkey and Pakistan).

Oddly enough, a visibly angry Crowley wraps up by explaining: "We're not in a war against a religion, but we are in a war against terrorists who are acting in the name of Islam."

Um, yeah. And that would differ from what Obama has said exactly how?
We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.

And we've made progress. Al Qaeda's leadership is hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners, including Yemen, to inflict major blows against al Qaeda leaders. And we have disrupted plots at home and abroad, and saved American lives.

And we know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda. But it is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations not just in the Middle East, but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding. That's why I've directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that's why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death –- including the murder of fellow Muslims –- while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

'Oath Keeper' Under Arrest After Driving To Tennessee To Take Over Courthouse, Conduct 'Citizens Arrests' Of Public Officials

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

To listen to right-wingers in the wake of the arrest the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shazad, you'd think that every "liberal media" outlet on the planet had tried to pin the attempt on Tea Partiers. (The whining from Stuart Varney on Sean Hannity's show last night was especially high-pitched.)

I mean, where would anyone get the idea that right-wing Tea Partying extremists might potentially be involved in violent domestic terrorism?

Meanwhile, no one is reporting much on the arrest earlier this week by the FBI of Darren Huff, an Oath Keeper from Georgia who was upset by the arrest a few weeks ago of another "Patriot" believer who tried to conduct a "sovereign citizens" style arrest in Tennessee:
A Georgia man has been arrested in Tennessee--authorities say he headed to Madisonville, armed and prepared to take over the courthouse.

Darren Huff stands charged of traveling in interstate commerce with intent to incite a riot and transporting in commerce a firearm in furtherance of a civil disorder.

The FBI says Huff traveled to Tennessee armed with a pistol on his hip and an assault rifle in his truck, intent on carrying out citizen's arrests of 24 federal, state, and local officials, and on seeing that another man did not face trial for trying to do the same.
In the video above, you can see what happened on April 1: A Freeman-style "sovereign citizen" named Walter Francis Fitzpatrick -- after drafting "citizen's arrest warrants" for state, local, and federal officials -- had entered the Madison County Courthouse and attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Grand Jury Foreman Gary Pettway. (Fitzpatrick, as the WBIR story noted, "had previously tried to get the grand jury to indict President Barack Obama on charges of treason, with no success.")

Instead, deputies wound up arresting Fitzpatrick, and he was charged with disorderly conduct, inciting to riot, disrupting a meeting, and resisting arrest.

This outraged Huff, a loud and proud member of the Oath Keepers who posted the video of Fitzpatrick's arrest with a rant demanding that his fellow Patriots leap into action to defend him. So on April 20, Huff headed to Madisonville with his big black pickup truck emblazoned with the "Oath Keepers" logo. In the back, he had ammo and several weapons, including a semiautomatic "assault" rifle.

Huff was pulled over in Sweetwater and detained, as you can see on the video, and later released on his recognizance. As the story explains:
The FBI interviewed a bank manager who said Huff told him on April 15 that Fitzpatrick had been falsely arrested, that Huff was in the Georgia militia, and that 8 or 9 other militia groups were headed to Madisonville on April 20 to "take over the city." The bank manager said Huff told him he'd see Huff's actions on the noon news.

FBI agents interviewed Huff at his home on April 19, and Huff said he would be traveling to Tennessee to help Fitzpatrick get the charges against him dropped. Huff told agents there would be no violence unless they were provoked into violence.

Still, he told agents he planned to travel with his Colt .45 handgun and AK-47 rifle.

Then, on April 20, officers in Madisonville reported numerous individuals in possession of openly displayed and concealed firearms, in the area around the courthouse.

FBI agents had observed Huff leaving his home around 6:15 that morning. Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers pulled him over in Sweetwater for traffic violations of traffic control device, registration law, and following too closely.

The troopers said Huff volunteered that he planned to travel to Madisonville to take over the courthouse, to arrest the people on Fitzpatrick's warrants--who he termed "domestic enemies of the United States engaged in treason"--and to turn those arrested over to state police to place in jail.

The troopers said Huff told them if they didn't have enough people on April 20 to do all they planned on that day, they'd be back in 1-2 weeks.

The troopers said Huff also told them he was ready to die for his rights and what he believed in, and that he would not consent to a search of his truck.

Then on April 21, Huff recorded a radio broadcast, talking about his traffic stop and saying he did have weapons and ammunition with him.

As a result, the FBI believes Huff had both the intent and means to carry out threats of violence.
The FBI arrested Huff in Tennessee; it appears Huff may have gone to Pettway's home on Saturday and effected his own "citizen's arrest," though details of the arrest are not clear. Huff is now out on bond.

Gee, where would anyone get the idea that white Tea Partiers might get indulge in an act of domestic terrorism?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How About That 'Law Enforcement Approach' To Terrorism: NYC Bomb Suspect Caught Boarding Dubai Flight

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, that's what you would call some nifty police work:
Authorities arrested a U.S. citizen in connection with the failed bombing attempt in New York's Times Square as he tried to leave the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday.

Faisal Shahzad was arrested at 11:45 p.m. Monday night by Customs and Border Protection agents as he attempted to board an Emirates airlines flight to Dubai at New York's JFK airport, Holder and other officials said.

"It is clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans," Holder said.
The next time you hear some right-winger (most notably Dick Cheney) sneer at the Obama administration's "law enforcement approach to terrorism," remember this.

The Gulf Oil Spill Makes Right-wing 'Drill Baby Drill' Fans Look Like Idiots. So Of Course, It's A Liberal Conspiracy

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The Gulf oil spill is such a disaster of monstrous proportions -- one that makes the right-wing "drill baby drill" chants look, you know, ugly and moronic and short-sighted -- that you knew that somehow, the right-wing talkers would find a way to blame it on liberals. Because they always do.

Sure enough. Of course, they had to scrape down to X-Files Conspiracy Land to get there, but yesterday on Fox & Friends, ex-White House secretary Dana Perino and Fox talker Eric Bolling took turns at promoting a conspiracy theory that, somehow, the Obama administration had delayed attacking the leak because they wanted it to, as a way to shut down the offshore drilling that Obama had just announced the month before.

Or something like that.
Perino: But we don't know what happened. And it will be interesting to me -- I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate? You know, you have to wonder -- yeah, if there was sabotage involved.

Bolling: The question is -- and I saw Dana Perino earlier on the show saying, you know, why the delay in the response. You guys were pointing out, nine days before it was even addressed, 12 days before he made a formal comment. The question is: Did they let this thing leak? I mean, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to five thousand. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy I don't know. The conspiracy theorists would say, 'maybe they'd let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue. ...

That would be a humongous accusation and probably the net result would be no different, but if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it.
The weren't alone. Limbaugh the Hutt was saying the same thing, only more explicitly:

Yep, El Rushbo believes "environmentalist whackos" may have blown up the oil rig to "head off more oil drilling".

Just wait till that slick hits. These people should need places to hide then. Because really, this is going to transcend dumbass partisan gotcha games. Yes, it's a product of conservative governance, and we know who to look for when it comes time to assess blame. But there will plenty of time for that later.

Waaaahmbulance, Stat! Glenn Beck Whines That 'The Press' Doesn't Take His Conspiracy Theories Seriously

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I'm sure most of you will find it heartbreaking that "nobody in the media even cares" that Glenn Beck has been jumping up and down with a conspiracy theory about radicals plotting to destroy America in a "coming insurrection" being aided and abetted by Obama and the eeeeevil "progressives." Glenn seemed mighty distraught about it last night.

Let's all join hands and say: "Awwwwwwww. Poor Glenn."

Anyway, the main thing I've noticed is that Beck's show is just getting BORING. The chalkboard schtick is getting old and it's now just dry and confusing (not to mention confused). He needs to come up with something new, like blowing stuff up or something. That would be more interesting.

Because, you know, his ratings are completely in the tank these days. According to Business Insider, "Glenn Beck's total number of viewers are down by almost 30%, from 2.9 million in January to 2.1 million in April."

Beck, meanwhile, blames the weather. What, it's not caused by the progressive cancer destroying America?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Next Up From Arizona: How About Governor Joe Arpaio?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

If you think things are getting crazy in Arizona, just wait. They're just getting started.
As Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones reports, Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio is getting set to run for Gov. Jan Brewer's seat.
And he's already the runaway favorite for the GOP nomination:
He made arresting Latinos fashionable and, after many run-ins with the feds over such practices, was likely the main inspiration behind Arizona's new immigration code. In short, Brewer felt she had to sign last week's immigration bill, because she felt Arpaio's breath on her neck. She had to appear as tough on brown people as Arpaio does, lest he decide to challenge her in the GOP primary.
So she signed it. And guess what? Arpaio's still going to run against her. Sources in the sheriff's department, which will likely double as his campaign staff (no new thing there), say his paperwork's filed. And on his Twitter account - where you can read about his Washington Post interview today, or his "crime suppression/illegal immigration" operations briefings, or his anger about "out of town critics" - he recently tweeted that his wife wants him to run. And he's already the frontrunner in Arizona Republicans' minds.
So why not run? What does he have to fear? Latino turnout in the Phoenix metro area? Problem solved!
Here, then, is to Arizona: one of the prettiest states in the union, soon to be the first breakaway republic in the new confederacy of Inner America.
According to the Tucson Sentinel, current polling shows him handily beating Brewer:
Although Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff, is not running for governor, he is by far the most popular Republican in the state.
Likely primary voters view him favorably at 70 percent, to only 22 percent with a negative opinion, and he leads Brewer 33-25 as a prospective candidate.
All this news was put in perspective, perhaps, by the neo-Nazis from the National Socialist Movement who showed up today at an Arpaio press event -- he was announcing his handpicked nominee for the county prosecutor's spot -- and told reporters:
"Sheriff Joe is endorsing this candidate, and we feel strongly to support Sheriff Joe and his actions," the man said, "particularly with the illegal immigration situation here in Maricopa County and in our state."
As you can see from the report, Arpaio plans to announce his intentions in the governor's race today.
Both Arpaio and his puppet denied having anything to do with the NSM's presence; Arpaio even hinted that they had been sent out by opponents to try and discredit him politically.
But that doesn't exactly wash, particularly not in Sheriff Joe's case. Because Arpaio has been all too happy to court support from outright neo-Nazis in the past. Check out the video below, from a year ago:

As you can see, Arpaio can't claim ignorance: the men he posed with were displaying neo-Nazi flags and symbols. A little further down the road, he did the same thing with a group of people openly waving a Confederate flag.
Indeed, Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times uncovered a working relationship between Arpaio's office and a clutch of local neo-Nazis.
Meanwhile, if you want to get an idea of the Arpaio approach to governance -- a preview of his governorship, as it were -- all you have to do is look at his record:
-- As Sheriff, his emphasis on immigration has gutted his office's ability to enforce the law, especially when it comes to investigating violent crime.
-- His office has been under steady legal attack (which has proved extremely costly) for rampant racial profiling and assorted civil rights violations, such as the time he forced a legal immigrant to give birth in shackles.
-- If you have the audacity to criticize him at public meetings, his deputies will arrest you.
-- Indeed, all of his critics, both in the press and in public office, have found themselves arrested by Arpaio's deputies -- a practice that has produced an FBI corruption investigation into his practices.
-- The ongoing DOJ investigation into all of these matters finally prompted ICE to strip him of all immigration enforcement powers.
Yep, looks like Arizona Republicans have another winner on their hands. A Governor Arpaio -- who does a mighty fine George Wallace imitation -- will complete the transformation of Arizona into an Old South segregationist state.

Sheriff Joe Decides Not To Run For AZ Governor -- As A Way To Ensure He's Not Indicted Shortly

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[Via Arpaionews at YouTube]

Awwwwwww. But it would have been so much fun!
PHOENIX—Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for hard-line stance on illegal immigration, announced this afternoon that he will not run for Arizona governor this year.

"It was a tough decision, especially because this time around even my wife encouraged me run and I'm pretty convinced I would have won," Mr. Arpaio said in an interview on Monday. In a statement, Mr. Arpaio added that leaving his 18 years as sheriff didn't "make sense right now" because of the situation in Arizona. "We are standing in the cross-hairs of history in this state and as Sheriff of the most populous county in Arizona, there is much work yet to do."

Arizonans have speculated for months over whether Mr. Arpaio, who calls himself "the toughest sheriff in America," would seek a nomination in the Republican primary. The 77-year-old lawman has flirted with the idea of running for years, but has never thrown his hat in the ring. "This was the time I considered it most seriously," said Mr. Arpaio. "But you never know in politics, never say never. I could run in four years."

An Arpaio run would have injected fresh fuel into the immigration debate raging across the state. Immigration has been the top political topic here since Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial immigration enforcement law last month. Widely considered of the toughest measure of its kind, the new law makes it a crime for people in the U.S. illegally to be in Arizona, and requires police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop whom they suspect might be in the country illegally.

"My office has been enforcing federal immigration law for three years," said Mr. Arpaio. "In that time, we have investigated arrested and detained 38,000 illegal aliens, without any problems. The new law just gives us a little extra tool to continue enforcing the illegal immigration law."

Mr. Arpaio first drew national attention in the 1990s when he adopted get-tough measures such as forcing the prisoners in his jail to wear pink underwear, a policy intended to be humiliating. He has also routinely conducted crime sweeps and crackdowns on illegal immigrants, often in areas that are heavily Hispanic. Though he retains strong support among voters in Maricopa County, where he has won reelection by wide margins, others insist his tactics are excessive.
But but but ... why not? Especially when he's favored to win the GOP nomination? Could it have something to do with this note?
Had he chosen to run for governor, Arizona law would have forced him to resign his post as Maricopa County sheriff.
Longtime Phoenix news anchor Brahm Resnick has some insights as to why this might be a problem for Arpaio:
Try this thought experiment: Joe Arpaio announces Monday he's running for governor, he then leaves office (as he must under the resign-to-run law), and his enemies at the Maricopa County Board, likely on the advice of their hand-picked new county attorney Rick Romley, get to pick Arpaio's successor.

We saw what Romley did after he took over from Andrew Thomas, who left to run for attorney general. Romley decapitated the top staff in the county attorney's office, then went about launching investigations to see what really went on under Thomas, who is reportedly being investigated by a grand jury.

Imagine the same scenario should Arpaio depart, only with potentially more dire consequences for MCSO, Arpaio and the commander who really runs the department, David Hendershott -- also reportedly under grand jury investigation along with Arpaio.
With the legal stakes so high, Arpaio cannot allow an outside set of eyes to peer into the heart of the department he has run for almost two decades.

Arpaio will say he's staying put out of loyalty to the people in his department. The truth is, he doesn't dare leave.
As predicted, you can see in the video above that Arpaio does indeed claim he's staying out of loyalty, yadda yadda yadda. You can also see on Arpaio's face as he made the announcement that it was like passing kidney stone: He's really not happy that he doesn't get to run. He could taste it, but he knows the lid will come off sooner rather than later if he does it.

Resnick also explains why he doesn't think Arpaio would have won in the general election, which is a more than plausible analysis.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

What Our Immigration Laws Have In Common With Our Drug Laws: Rooted In White Xenophobia, Both Needlessly Criminalize People

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck thought he was making a great point earlier this week when he held up a bag of pot and a bottle of prescription pills and compared illegal immigration to the pot:
Beck: Let me be clear -- what I have said in the past is, there is a difference between legal and illegal immigration. There's a difference between legal and illegal. This is Allegra D -- or so, this is actually crack cocaine, but I get it from a doctor, so it's OK -- Allegra. Drugs? Pot! Drugs! 'I have a problem with drugs!' No no no -- I have a problem with illegal drugs. Not prescription drugs. I don't want to ban all drugs! Prescription drugs are good for you when used by prescription and follow the advice of the doctor. Bad otherwise. Got it?

Immigration -- good! Illegal immigration -- bad!
This was, of course, a classically dishonest Beckian analogy. Because in many states, it's already perfectly legal for people to obtain marijuana by prescription, particularly if they are cancer patients using it for treatment relief.

In a more honest analogy, Beck would hold up not a bottle of Allegra but a bottle of Jack Daniels. Because the reality is that marijuana is illegal largely for its recreational use. No one is taking Allegra recreationally.

And then the analogy is actually somewhat useful. Because it sheds a very interesting light on the nativist argument -- favored by the Glenn Becks and Tom Tancredos, but also echoed frequently among many "moderate" Democrats -- that "all we really need to do is enforce the laws we have on the books."

Because I think a lot of people are perfectly aware that, when it comes to illegal drugs and the "War on Drugs," taking the "enforce the laws we have on the books" approach is a dead horse we've been flogging for the better part of thirty years, and it's getting more rank and fetid with age. The marijuana laws in particular are a classic case of an antiquated approach in which merely "enforcing the laws on the books" has failed miserably and is fueling a drug war on the Mexican border. It is a situation that really calls for an overhaul of the laws themselves, one in which drug users are treated medically instead of criminalized, and the black market and its attendant drug kingpins scattered to the winds.

A lot of progressives and libertarians in particular are well attuned to this reality. But it's surprising how few of them -- at least the non-Latinos -- apply the same logic to our immigration laws.
And the truth is that there are 12 million human reasons not to just "enforce the laws on the books" when it comes to immigration, as well. The first and most important of them is that our current system of immigration laws are so outmoded, antiquated, and misbegotten that they too need a complete and thorough makeover.

It's worth remembering that our current immigration system is built on the bones of the Immigration Act of 1924, the law that first created the concept of "illegal immigration" by cutting off all immigration from nations whose citizens were "ineligible for citizenship" -- namely, all Asians. That law was passed in a milieu of extreme xenophobia, and was ultimately a manifestation of eliminationist eugenics in American politics.

Perhaps not surprisingly, our current drug laws are built on nearly identical bones. Like the immigration laws, they were largely enacted in the same kind of milieu: predicated on defending white privilege and keeping a law-enforcement thumb on nonwhites, including immigrant Latinos:
When marijuana was popularized in the 20s and 30s in the American jazz scene, Blacks and Whites sat down as equals and smoked together. The racist anti-marijuana propaganda of the time used this crumbling of racial barriers as an example of the degradation caused by marijuana. Harry Anslinger, head of the newly formed federal narcotics division, warned middle-class leaders about Blacks and Whites dancing together in "teahouses," using blatant prejudice to sell prohibition. In 1931 New Orleans officials attributed many of the region's crimes to marijuana, which they believed was also a dangerous sexual stimulant.

During the Great Depression, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act came into law, again using racism as its chief selling point. The same Mexicans who were vying with out of work Americans for the few agricultural jobs available, it was said, engaged in marijuana induced violence against Americans.
Certainly, the results of the War on Drugs -- and particularly its "racially disproportionate nature" -- bear a powerful resemblance to the ultimate outcome of our misbegotten and dysfunctional system of immigration laws.

Both immigration laws and drug laws needlessly criminalize millions of hard-working Americans, citizens and immigrants alike, and produce solutions that militarize our police forces and draw us nearer all the time to a police state -- Arizona's new immigration law being the most vivid recent example.

It's always more effective, in my experience, to outsmart problems with solutions instead of beating them over the head with a blunt object, which never seems to work. Americans need to wise up -- both in their never-ending "war on drugs," and in dealing with immigration. For once, a Beck analogy is not that far off the mark -- though predictably, Beck embraces the wrong side, even then.