Friday, June 17, 2011

Rep. Luis Gutierrez At Netroots: Latinos Want To Vote For President Obama, But Being Taken For Granted Will Kill Their Turnout

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I took part in a small-group discussion at Netroots Nation this morning with Rep. Luis Gutierrez organized by the fine folks at America's Voice, and afterward I managed to squeeze in a brief interview kind of summing up the discussion.

The upshot: President Obama's political team may well be endangering his ability to gain re-election by deferring action on immigration -- not merely in passing comprehensive immigration, but in providing administrative relief for DREAM Act-eligible students, and laying off its draconian "Secure Communities" initiative -- because it wants to tackle these issues in its his second term.

As the congressman said:
GUTIERREZ: That's what he doesn't understand, I think, is that people just won't show up. And you know what? There's nothing more, I believe, that the Republicans want, than to see us just kind of sit on our hands. 'Cause guess what -- they're voting. They're not staying home. You can say in the polls they're 10 points behind, but they're still going to show up the next day. Our folks? We need to be fed.

C&L: Well, if you're being taken for granted ...

GUTIERREZ: And we have been. And unfortunately, we have an administration who made us a promise about bringing about comprehensive immigration reform. Now, are there challenges this president -- are there challenges the president of the United States could have been defeated on? Yeah. But you see, what they want is someone who goes down fighting.
I would say that the congressman is talking about a lot of progressives from across a wide spectrum.

But this is a significant case of short-sightedness. Latinos delivered the vote for Obama and Democrats in 2008. They saved the Senate for Democrats in 2010. And now the administration's inaction threatens to wash all that down the drain -- along with their own re-election chances. That's plain stupid.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Right-Wing Violence: Notorious Montana Militiaman Takes Shots At Cops, Disappears Into Woods

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[Videos from KPAX and KECI.]
Militiamen are really a bunch of bad pennies who just keep popping back up:
LOLO - A former militia leader who went on the run Sunday after allegedly shooting at Missoula County sheriff's deputies seems well-equipped for a long sojourn in the woods, given the caches of weapons, food and gear already discovered, Undersheriff Mike Dominick said Monday.

Some 65 county, city, state and federal authorities combed a 30-square-mile area west of Lolo on Monday for David Burgert, who once led Project 7, a Flathead County militia group accused of plotting to assassinate judges and law enforcement officers in hopes of provoking a war with the federal government and NATO.

Burgert holds intense anti-government views, and has survivalist skills, Dominick said.
"He has that type of mentality where he believes in training, in preparation," he said. "... This guy seems to have had a plan."

Authorities discovered ammunition in the Jeep Cherokee in which Burgert originally fled on Sunday and also located a second car, loaded with ammunition, food and camping gear, that they believe belongs to Burgert. They're searching for yet another that Dominick described as a tan or red Jeep Wagoneer-type vehicle dating to the 1980s.
I reported on Burgert's original spree back when it happened:
Kalispell made the news last year when a militia outfit called Project 7 was broken up by local police. Its leader, a 38-year-old named David Burgert, was arrested for jumping bail on an earlier conviction for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest; when captured, officers uncovered him in possession of an arms cache of about 30 weapons and some 30,000 rounds of ammo.66

What was even more disturbing was the simultaneous discovery of his plans for this materiel: To run amok in a killing spree against local authorities. Burgert had organized a team of about 10 people to target some 26 city and county officials, including some of those same police officials, mayors and judges who came out for the potluck last summer.

Burgert, who received support from the usual far-right suspects, eventually pleaded guilty to federal firearms charges in the case, and faces a maximum 10-year prison term when he's sentenced in September. But no one has ever been charged in the alleged conspiracy, partly because any evidence that the plot extended much beyond Burgert's fantasies was not very strong. He has countered by filing a lawsuit against the FBI and Montana's state Division of Criminal Investigation.
Of course, we've been reporting for quite some time now that the Patriot movement of the 1990s is fully resurgent in 2011, thanks in large part to its close associations with the Tea Party movement. Indeed, we've reported that places like Montana are significant hotbeds for this kind of extremist revival.

David Holthouse at Media Matters observes
that Burgert's fugitive run is occurring in the context of a fully resurgent extremist right in western Montana:
This coming Saturday for example, the Montana-based militia group Flathead Liberty Bell, which Cox helped get off the ground in 2009, is sponsoring a survivalist "Preparedness Expo" at the Valley Victory Church in Kalispell, Montana.

Scheduled workshops include Political Structures, Wild Foods and Herbal Remedies, Home Schooling, Animal Care, Self-Defense...and much more.

Also featured will be Special Presentations by radical right luminaries including Ruby Ridge icon Randy Weaver, who will be autographing copies of The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge, and Stewart Rhodes, ex-Ron Paul aide and founder of the Oath Keepers, a national organization of police and soldiers who've sworn to disobey orders they deem unconstitutional.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Glenn Beck Suggests Americans Need To Get A Gun To Deal With Obama And Sunstein

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[H/t Media Matters.]

Apparently Glenn Beck is planning on going out the door at Fox News with a deep, lingering slime trail behind him. He reached a new low on his show yesterday:
BECK: By the way, the U.N. is also working on a small-arms treaty -- which purports to fight terrorism, but if implemented, Second Amendment proponents like me believe that it will only enforce rougher licensing requirements, create more red tape, and possibly an international gun registry. As if terrorists give a flying crap about registering their gun or their machete before they kill you.

This will do nothing but make it harder for you to get a gun. Why would you get a gun? [Points to picture of President Obama and adviser Cass Sunstein.] To prepare for tough times. That's why.
He then went on to explain that Sunstein and Obama were apparently destroying America's energy infrastructure by regulating coal-fired power plants out of existence -- while referencing Dan Froomkin's HuffPo piece on Sunstein ... a piece that actually is all about how Sunstein has hardly been a slash-and-burn environmental regulator.

Naturally, Beck will laugh this off as just a coincidental timing thing. But given his track record, that deniability is simply no longer plausible.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our Degraded Discourse: Fox News' Eric Bolling Goes Flat-out Racist -- And The Rest Of The Media Yawn

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

You know that we've reached an important juncture in the degradation of our national discourse by the American Right when a white anchor on Fox Business can skip the company's ample supply of dog whistles and go right for the David Duke bullhorn in a segment attacking the presence of leading black figures visiting the White House, renaming it the "White Hizzy" -- and hardly anyone blinks an eye.

Fortunately, Media Matters is calling it out:
During the opening of Fox Business' Follow the Money on Friday, Eric Bolling teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
As you can see, the segment went on for several agonizing minutes as the overwhelmingly white panel indulged in the most crude and noxious kind of racial stereotyping we've seen since cruising through the Stormfront Website. Bolling was joined by Fox's platinum-blonde Sandra Smith in calling it "the White Hizzy":

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): There are good guys. There are bad guys out there. We've got to stay engaged. SMITH: We don't have to have them at home, though.

BOLLING: Thank you, Smitty.

SMITH: We don't have to have them in our White House and entertaining them.

BOLLING: Where? Where? Where? Go ahead, say it. Where?

SMITH: In the hizzy.

BOLLING: In the hizzy. Thank you, Smitty.

SMITH: Do we really have to have them in the White Hizzy?
We've observed previously that Bolling appears to be trying to out-crazy Glenn Beck in an attempt to win his soon-to-be-vacated 5 pm EDT slot. Guess that means, at Fox News, doing your best George Wallace imitation.

Eric Boehlert has some more thoughts on that.

But most disturbing is that this isn't raising any eyebrows anywhere else in the so-called liberal media. Guess that envelope has been pushed so far that this is now the new normal.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Albert Gaxiola On Trial In The Flores Family Murders: A Special Kind Of Depravity

[Albert Gaxiola, left, in the courtroom, with his attorney, Steve West]

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The case of Shawna Forde and her killer Minutemen -- who in 2009 broke into a home in rural Arizona and killed a 9-year-old girl and her father -- is really, as you'd imagine, a story featuring a cast of depraved characters, led of course by Forde, who was convicted in February and now sits on Arizona's death row. Likewise, the gunman in the case, Jason Bush -- a onetime Aryan Nations member and general nutcase -- is now awaiting execution.

But if the case prosecutors presented holds up -- and the evidence, frankly, is powerfully damning -- there was a special level of depravity reached by Albert Gaxiola, the third defendant in the case, whose trial I have been covering this week under the auspices of the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute. That's because Gaxiola had been a longtime friend of the Flores family and was adored by their two little girls, Brisenia and Alexandra -- and yet he evidently not only set them up for murder, he accompanied the gang of killers inside as they ransacked the home and Brisenia lay dying on a couch.

I knew some of this from having talked with people in Arivaca in February. But it all came out in court this week, when the mother and only survivor of the home invasion, Gina Gonzalez, testified to that effect.

Dave Ricker, the Green Valley News reporter who really has owned this story since it happened, has the details:
After hearing a recording of a 9-1-1 emergency center call made by the surviving victim in the fatal home invasion the jury heard Gonzalez relive for the third time from the witness stand the night she was wounded and her husband and daughter were shot to death before her eyes.

After she had been shot, Gonzalez decided to play dead in hopes of surviving. “I laid on the floor very scared,” she said. “I heard Junior taking his last breaths.”

Eventually, the tall male, Jason Bush, who was doing the shooting of the victims, addressed Brisenia, who by now had awakened. Bush asked her about the location of her older sister. “He was telling her that nothing was going to happen to her and that everything was going to be okay,” Gonzalez related. “She was crying a lot. She was scared.”

Brisenia told the Bush that her sister was staying with her grandmother’s house. Brisenia was asked if the body on the floor in front of the love seat was her sister. “At first she said yes. Then she tips over and looks and says ‘that’s my mom; why did you shoot my mom?’” Gonzalez said.

At that point, Bush paused to reload his weapon as Brisenia watched. “I could hear him put the bullets in the gun,” Gonzalez said. “She was begging him not to shoot her.”
What followed were two more blasts from his gun in the direction of her daughter. “He shot her. I saw her fly back. He shot her twice,” Gonzalez said.

By that time the female intruder told her compatriots that they had to leave, but they paused first to search the Flores home for money and drugs. After they left, Gonzalez did what any mother would do. “I sat up and grabbed Brisenia. I was telling her not to die on me,” she testified. “She was shaking really hard.”

Gonzalez was able to get to a portable phone on an ottoman close by, thus she call 9-1-1. “I asked them what I should do,” she recalled.

At that point, Gonzalez notice that the female leader of the home invasion crew, Shawna Forde, re-entered the home with a big smile on her face. “I’m panicking; I’m freaking out; a million things are going through my head,” she said.

Gonzalez decided to try to get to her husband’s gun in the kitchen, as she made her way to the kitchen her leg snapped. Eventually, she retrieved the gun and used it to exchange gunshots with the tall male shooter, who had reentered her home, wounding him in the leg.
As you can imagine, this was truly gut-wrenching testimony in a week full of such moments. One of the more damning pieces of evidence was the fact that Gaxiola's DNA turned up all over an AK-47 the perpetrators idiotically left behind at the scene, sitting on top of the kitchen stove. Defense attorneys, as you can imagine, tried their damnedest to cast doubt on that particular piece of evidence, and spent the better part of Friday afternoon in that attempt. Whether they succeeded or not remains to be seen, but it was a highly technical bit of arguing and did not sound terribly convincing -- especially considering that the kitchen is where, as it happens, Gina Gonzalez happened to earlier testify she thought she had heard a voice like Albert's speaking while the house was being ransacked.

We also had a brief flurry of concern yesterday involving one of the potential witnesses in the case, Laine Lawless -- an extremist nutcase who was involved in the post-murder logistics between Forde and Gaxiola. Lawless had previously tried to enter the courtroom in disguise, even though she had been barred. One of yesterday's witnesses bore an unfortunate resemblance to Lawless and some of the deputies were concerned that she was about to try the same stunt -- but it was, of course, a false alarm.

Be sure and read Ricker's complete coverage of the case, as well as that of my friend and colleague Terri Greene Sterling, who was also in court this week.

Unfortunately, I have to return home this week and will be relying on my colleagues, including the superb Kim Smith of the Arizona Daily Star (who also has a good wrapup of this week's trial), to keep you updated.

Coming up: We'll hear from the dubious Oin Oakstar again, and we'll probably learn more about that Border Patrol uniform they found in Gaxiola's home. (Gonzalez testified that the "Mexican" man she saw poke his head in the door briefly -- the one she thought looked like Gaxiola -- was wearing a Border Patrol uniform.)