Thursday, May 03, 2012

Ticking Time Bomb Goes Off: Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready Massacres His Own Family In Arizona

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We've been saying for a long time that ardent neo-Nazis like J.T. Ready of Arizona are ticking time bombs, walking violent atrocities waiting to happen. Yesterday, he proved the point in a horrifying way:
A border militia leader on Wednesday shot and killed four people at a Gilbert home, including a toddler, before committing suicide, sources said.

Sources identified the shooter as Jason "J.T." Ready, a reputed neo-Nazi who made headlines when he launched a militia movement to patrol the Arizona desert to hunt for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

Authorities have not identified the other victims, but reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Hugo Mederos said the victims were his ex-wife, Lisa; their daughter, Amber; Amber's boyfriend, whose name The Republic is withholding until his next of kin could be notified, and Amber's 18-month-old baby, Lilly.

Mederos, who lives in Tampa, said Ready lived at the home with his girlfriend, Lisa.
Ready was a former Marine who headed the U.S. Border Guard, a militia-style group that routinely performed armed patrols in the southern Arizona desert. Early this year, Ready had formed an exploratory committee for a run as Pinal County sheriff.
In recent years, Ready has been grabbing headlines by organzing vigilante border patrols. Ready's onetime political ally, Russell Pearce, was just chased out of public office by Mesa's voters.
J.T. Ready (left) with former state Sen. Russell Pearce

What's striking about the saga of J.T. Ready is how he represents the most telling feature of right-wing extremist movements: like Shawna Forde, Jason Bush, Tim McVeigh, Scott Roeder and Jim David Adkisson before him, he has proven to be a violent and unstable personality capable of inhuman atrocities.

These kinds of movements attract these kinds of personalities because so many of their leaders are also unstable and violent personalities, and the rhetoric their movements employ to attract followers so closely replicates the impoverished interior life of the psychopath, one in which any kind of rationale works to justify naked bigotry.

I was reminded of this watching old video of Ready complaining that calling National Socialists like himself "Nazis" is an unkind smear:

I'm also reminded, once again, that perhaps Arizonans ought to pay a little more attention to the problems caused by the white supremacists in their midst instead of fretting about brown people.

Hannity Hijacked As Angry Kirsten Powers Confronts Jesse Lee Peterson's 'Little Whores' Misogyny

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

You have to wonder when people will begin to notice that Sean Hannity's incessant attempts to paint Barack Obama as a flaming radical by associating him with various supposed extremists is actually a classic case of projection.

After all, there's no one in the mainstream media who has quite the array of running associations with far-right nutcases that Sean Hannity has—going back to the days when he palled around with white supremacist Hal Turner, and continuing through his ongoing sponsorship of wackos like Birther extraordinaire Jerome Corsi. Most notably, Hannity continues to promote and support another WorldNetDaily nutcase, Jesse Lee Peterson.

Last night, however, even a Fox Democrat like Kirsten Powers found it too hard to contain herself when seated next to Peterson. As Ellen at NewsHounds points out, Powers completely derailed Hannity's planned Obama-bashing segment by turning to Peterson and demanding he explain himself for his recent declaration that most women are "little whores".

KIRSTEN POWERS: There is a little dispute over what you are saying whether or not the intelligence was necessary. But I do agree that what he is doing isn't right. However, I don't normally do this. I don't normally hijack you --

HANNITY: You are going to hijack me.

POWERS: But I didn't know I was going to be sitting here with Reverend Peterson tonight who I have been very serious issues with in terms -- some of the misogynist things have you said about how women in your sermon about how women have created a shameless society.

And most women are littler whores and that it was OK to call Sandra Fluke a slut and that should you put women in powerful businesses and then you leave women alone in the family, they destroy the family --

PETERSON: I don't know if you have noticed or not, but the liberal Democrat women are calling themselves whores. There is a so-called group of women within the Democratic Party and they are -- admitting -- they are admitting that they are whores --

HANNITY: Are you talking about that group --

POWERS: That's a completely different thing.

PETERSON: I am OK with that. I just don't want to pay for it. If the liberal women want to have sex out of wedlock --

POWERS: You say that women are creating a shameless society and they are destroying the family and they shouldn't be put in powerful positions - - address that. Women shouldn't be in powerful businesses.

PETERSON: Most Americans know that liberal women are destroying the family. They hate men. They hate society --

POWERS: That is absolutely false. Sean, do I hate men?

HANNITY: I hope not. You started this.

PETERSON: -- public school system --

POWERS: You are not addressing what you said. You are a pastor, distorting God's word for misogyny. What do you mean -- when you say women -- you leave a woman alone in charge of a family and she destroys the family?

PETERSON: We allowed the National Organization of Women who hate men -- the women in their group. We left them alone -- we left them alone -- there it is. We left them alone. Look at the condition we are in today, out of wedlock -- abortion.

HANNITY: All right, I have to step in --

PETERSON: I'm telling the truth.

HANNITY: I gave you -- this is not one of the topics that I planned on. You are hijacking the show.

POWERS: I didn't know I was going to be on with him.

HANNITY: Why did you come in --


PETERSON: If you believe what you believe --

POWERS: I saw him on --

HANNITY: We have another guest, to be fair. Let me ask you --

PETERSON: Why are you upset at me? I am not upset at you --

POWERS: You are a pastor using God's word to teach misogyny.

PETERSON: No. I have a responsibility to tell the truth. You are on the side of lies. Why should I not be on the side of truth? The truth is going to make us free. Somebody got to tell the truth. I tell the truth. There is an order to life -- liberal women policies are bad for family, bad for the country.

HANNITY: I have to take a break.
In case you're wondering, here's the video of the sermon that Rev. Peterson recently gave:

This version has been heavily edited, so that the most offensive remarks have been removed. Ellen at NewsHounds managed to transcribe most of them while they were still available:
Not all, not all, not all, but most (women) turned into little whores. (He cited Sandra Fluke as an example).

Who in the world is having that much sex? …What are these women doing having that much sex? …She had no shame.

Rush Limbaugh called her a slut and she didn’t realize that she looked like a slut sitting there making that type of confession…

How did we get to a point where women think we should pay for them to have sex?
They want to force us to buy them birth control.

No one’s saying, ‘Where’s your shame, woman?’

Rush Limbaugh called her… “a whore and a slut” and I agree with him.
And yes, Hannity not only brings Peterson onto his show as a regular guest. He also sits on the board of directors of Peterson's nonprofit organization.

Since Hannity obviously thinks it's a big deal to associate with radicals, perhaps he ought to explain his own associations.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Paul Ryan Tries Keeping Up With Etch-a-Sketch Mitt By Pretending His Ayn Rand Fandom Is An 'Urban Legend'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Paul Ryan is trying out for the job of being Mitt Romney's running mate by completely rewriting his own history. Which would make him a nice match with Romney. Guess he's trying to prove that he can keep up with the boss's Etch-a-Sketch approach to history.

We saw last week that Ryan now wants to pretend that he never really was a big Ayn Rand fanboy, since he figured out that Rand doesn't go down very well with the Bible thumpers who comprise the GOP's most reliable base. But even after he was called out as a liar, he's still trying to run away from his Randbot past -- most recently in Jonathan Weisman's profile of Ryan for the New York Times:
Ryan likes to dispel two "urban legends" around him. First, he said, he is not a disciple of Rand, the strident libertarian. Second, he never drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

In fact, there is some truth to both. In a 2009 Facebook video, Ryan said the "kind of thinking" in the Rand epics "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" was "sorely needed right now."

As for the Wienermobile, one summer as he was pressing Oscar Mayer Lunchables and turkey bacon on meat buyers in rural Minnesota, two "very nice young ladies" who were driving the hot-dog-shaped vehicle did let him "take it for a spin," he confessed.
This is classic NYT Beltway-style soft-pedaling: Ryan didn't merely say a few nice things about Rand in that 2009 video, which you can watch above. Here's the whole transcript:
RYAN: You know, it doesn't surprise me that sales of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have surged lately with the Obama administration coming in, because it's that kind of thinking, that kind of writing, that is sorely needed right now. And I think a lot of people would observe that we are living right in an Ayn Rand novel, metaphorically speaking.

But more to the point is this: The issue that is under assault, the attack on democratic capitalism, on individualism and freedom in America, is an attack on the moral foundation of America. And Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most. It is not enough to say that President Obama's taxes are too big, the health-care plan doesn't work for this or that policy reason, it is the morality of what is occurring right now and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will, to produce, to achieve, to succeed, that is under attack. And it is that what I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on, and we need that kind of comment more and more than ever.
Contrast that with what he tried to claim last week:
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
As Blue Texan noted, Ryan spoke at a big event honoring Rand back in 2008:
"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
And in 2003, he was chirpily describing for the Weekly Standard how he forced Rand's turgid prose upon his benighted employees:
“I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”
Of course, as Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress observes, there are plenty of reasons why someone with Republican presidential aspirations might want to rethink their love of Ayn Rand, considering that she was a flaming atheist who despised Christians.

Mike Lux has more.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Is Climate Change Behind Those Killer Storms? Foxheads Eagerly Denounce Such Notions

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Hey, folks in the South -- you'll be happy to know those unusually nasty tornadoes that just blew through your towns and killed hundreds of your neighbors aren't any kind of serious long-term problem. At least not according to Fox News.

Because to think so would be to perhaps admit that climate scientists might be onto something to suspect that climate change might have had a hand in these extreme storms. Perish the thought!
Filling in for Neil Cavuto yesterday on Fox, Connell McShane invited on Marc Morano of ClimateDepot, fondly remembered by some of us as wingnut Republican Sen. James Inhofe's ex-communications chief. (I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that his outfit is primarily funded by money from corporate sources like ExxonMobil and Richard Mellon Scaife.)

Morano was appalled that environmentalists might connect this week's devastating tornadoes to scientists' warnings of climate change and global warming:
MORANO: Well, this is following them blaming the tsunami on climate change, the record cold on climate change, the blizzards and record snow on climate change. This is them blaming record ice in Antarctica on climate change. This is them blaming any weather event on climate change. It's the latest incarnation. The problem is, this time it's even more absurd than the previous times.
Actually, Fox News probably isn't the place you want to be making this charge, considering that Fox anchors have a long and colorful history of using extreme winter storms to claim that it's evidence global warming is, in Sean Hannity's words, "the biggest scientific fraud in our lifetimes". Indeed, one of the more notable such cases involved Neil Cavuto.

And of course, Morano also repeats previously debunked falsehoods about the weather. For instance, it is a a lie that Antarctica as a whole is getting record ice: "Antarctica is losing land ice as a whole, and these losses are accelerating quickly."

To claim that the tornadoes had nothing, nussink! to do with climate change, Morano cited previous tornado data and claimed they showed "absolutely no trend" to increasing tornadoes. So don't worry about it, folks! Nothing to see here! And anyone who thinks so is just like those primitive Aztecs who cut out people's hearts to make it rain:
MORANO: So any way you cut it, tornadoes are not a crisis. For them now to use this is yet another example of climate astrology. They're trying to peddle the idea that our SUVs are causing severe tornadoes and our light bulbs and our industry and our way of life. It's no better than in 1450 when Aztec priests encouraged people to sacrifice to the gods to end a drought. We actually are going back to a primitive culture where we actually think that we can affect the weather to this level, like a tornado is caused by our cars.
Yes, because being encouraged to drive a hybrid car in place of your gas-hogging SUV is just like having your heart cut out and sacrificed to the gods.

Morano then wrapped up by attacking discussions of the tornadoes in the context of climate change as "purely a propaganda tool" without even a hint of irony.

In reality, the trends aren't clear, as Bryan Walsh at Time explains, but there is unquestionably change in the patterns afoot:
And the answer is... Scientists really don't know. It's true that the average number of April tornadoes has steadily increased from 74 a year in the 1950s to 163 a year in the 2000s. But most of that increase, as A.G. Sulzberger reports in the New York Times, comes from the least powerful tornadoes, the ones that touch down briefly without causing much damage. Those are exactly the kind of tornadoes that would have been missed by meteorologists in the days before the Weather Channel and Doppler radar—scientists today would almost never miss an actual tornado touchdown, no matter how brief or weak. That makes it very difficult for researchers to even be sure that the actual number of tornadoes is on the rise, let alone, if they are, what might be causing it. The number of severe tornadoes per year has actually been dropping over time.

It is true, however, that as the climate warms, more moisture will evaporate into the atmosphere. Warmer temperatures and more moisture will give storm systems that much more energy to play with, like adding nitroglycerin to the atmosphere. This month's possibly record-breaking tornadoes are due in part to an unusually warm Gulf of Mexico, where as Freedman reports, water surface temperatures are 1 to 2.5 C above the norm. The Gulf feeds moisture northward to storm systems as they move across the country, and that warm moist air from the south meeting cool, dry air from the Plains often results in some powerful weather. But at the same time, other studies have forecast that warmer temperatures will reduce the wind shear necessary to turn a routine thunderstorm into a powerful system that can give birth to tornadoes. So in a hotter world we could see more frequent destructive thunderstorms, but fewer tornadoes—although some researchers think we could still end up with both.
Moreover, as at ThinkProgress reports, a number of scientists think that climate change is obviously part of the picture here, and ignoring it not only won't make it go away, it's profoundly irresponsible:
In an email interview with ThinkProgress, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, one of the world’s top climate scientists, who has been exploring for years how greenhouse pollution influences extreme weather, said he believes that it is “irresponsible not to mention climate change” in the context of these extreme tornadoes. Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, added that the scientific understanding of how polluting our atmosphere with billions of tons of greenhouse gases affects tornadic activity is still ongoing:
It is irresponsible not to mention climate change. … The environment in which all of these storms and the tornadoes are occurring has changed from human influences (global warming). Tornadoes come from thunderstorms in a wind shear environment. This occurs east of the Rockies more than anywhere else in the world. The wind shear is from southerly (SE, S or SW) flow from the Gulf overlaid by westerlies aloft that have come over the Rockies. That wind shear can be converted to rotation. The basic driver of thunderstorms is the instability in the atmosphere: warm moist air at low levels with drier air aloft. With global warming the low level air is warm and moister and there is more energy available to fuel all of these storms and increase the buoyancy of the air so that thunderstorms are strong. There is no clear research on changes in shear related to global warming. On average the low level air is 1 deg F and 4 percent moister than in the 1970s.
Climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, explains further that “climate change is present in every single meteorological event”:
The fact remains that there is 4 percent more water vapor–and associated additional moist energy–available both to power individual storms and to produce intense rainfall from them. Climate change is present in every single meteorological event, in that these events are occurring within a baseline atmospheric environment that has shifted in favor of more intense weather events.
But then, at Fox News "profoundly irresponsible" isn't anything unusual. It's part of their business model.