Saturday, October 25, 2008

'B'-grade hoax reveals Republicans' inner race-baiter

-- by Dave

Fox exec John Moody has it precisely right: the "Obama fan attacked McCain worker" hoax in fact does "forever link" the McCain campaign to race-baiting -- especially with news emerging of Team McCain's role in pushing this story out in the first place.

However, it's not just McCain. The entire Republican Party this year has been revealed as the Party of Racial Fear. Nor is it anything new: Republicans for years have tried to make hay off of racially incendiary cases that turn out to tell us more about the motives and worldviews of the torch-bearing mob than anything they might be chanting.

Pam Spaulding nails it:

It's like Susan Smith and Charles Stuart all over again -- a disturbed person blaming a non-existent black man for a crime, fomenting the fear of "the Other" based on our country's inability to acknowledge and deal with race, difference, and stereotypes. That this perpetrator of a hoax was a McCain campaign worker underscores the whole whipped up race frenzy of the McCain mob that we've seen in the last several weeks. It's time to flush this toxic sludge away.

What's equally remarkable, we might add, is the eager role played both by the McCain campaign and by the wingnutosphere -- led by Matt Drudge -- in whipping up a frenzy around this case without considering the potentially incendiary nature of the charges, not to mention the actual credibility of the storytellers.

This is particularly the case with the Matt Margolises out there, furiously clinging to their belief that the story is true, and claiming that the attack heralded the onset of "Nazism 2.0" under Obama: "God help us if Obama wins."

Along with John McCain, their credibility has just sustained a serious body blow. Couldn't be happening to a nicer bunch.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[H/t to Hume's Ghost for the Margolis link.]

Friday, October 24, 2008

Memo to Palin: Here are some other domestic terrorists

-- by Dave

Ari observes that Sarah Palin refused to acknowledge the existence of right-wing domestic terrorists in her NBC interview that aired last night:

Brian Williams: Back to the notion of terrorists and terrorism, this word has come up in relation to Mr. Ayers -- hanging out with terrorist – domestic terrorists. It is said that it gives it a vaguely post uh 9-11 hint, using that word, that we don’t normally associate with domestic crimes. Are we changing the definition? Are the people who set fire to American cities during the ‘60’s terrorists, under this definition? Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist under the definition?

Sarah Palin: There is no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was um one who sought to destroy our US Capitol and our Pentagon -- that is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or um facilities, that uh, it would be unacceptable -- I don’t know if you could use the word terrorist, but its unacceptable and it would not be condoned of course on our watch. I don’t know if what you are asking is if I regret referring to Bill Ayers as an unrepentant domestic terrorist. I don’t regret characterizing him as that.

Williams: I’m just asking what other categories you would put in there. Abortion clinic bombers? Protesters in cities where fires were started, Molotov cocktails, were thrown? People died.

Palin: I would put in that category of Bill Ayers anyone else who would seek to destroy our United States Capitol and our Pentagon and would seek to destroy innocent Americans.

Well, just in case Mrs. Palin forgot, there was a running spate of domestic terrorism in the United States in the 1990s created by the far-right "Patriot" movement, much of it revolving around abortion and hatred of the federal government.

The signature event, of course, was the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. But that was hardly the end of it. Indeed, by the end of 1999, we were able to document over 40 such cases -- many of which were nipped in the bud before they reached fruition. Some were not.

It seems Palin needs a refresher course. The Jed Report video above mentions two abortion-clinic shooters, Paul Hill and Michael Griffin, who were among the murderous terrorists who inspired the federal law that protects abortion providers -- a law John McCain twice voted against.

But that was hardly all. Below, a rundown of other significant domestic terrorists:


Eric Rudolph:

Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American radical described by the FBI as a terrorist who committed a series of bombings across the southern United States which killed two people and injured at least 150 others.

Rudolph declared that his bombings were part of a guerrilla campaign against abortion and what he describes as "the homosexual agenda." He spent years as the FBI's most wanted criminal fugitive, but was eventually caught. In 2005 Rudolph pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges and accepted five consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding a trial and the death penalty. Rudolph was connected with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. Although he has denied that his crimes were religiously or racially motivated, Rudolph has also called himself a Roman Catholic in "the war to end this holocaust" (of abortion).


James Kopp:

James Charles Kopp (born August 2, 1954) is an American citizen who was convicted in 2003 for the 1998 sniper-style murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, an Amherst, New York physician who performed abortions. Prior to his capture, Kopp was on the FBI's list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. On June 7, 1999 he had become the 455th fugitive placed on the list by the FBI. He was affiliated with anti-abortion group "The Lambs of Christ." He has been referred to as a terrorist by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.

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The Phineas Priesthood:

Letters left at the scene of an April 1996 bank robbery/clinic bombing in Spokane, Washington, contained Identity propaganda, diatribes against the banking system and were signed with the symbol of the "Phineas Priesthood." [At the time of the robbery, a bomb was set off at a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic as a diversion, with death threats toward abortion providers contained in the note left with that bomb.] The three men arrested, Charles Barbee, Robert Berry and Jay Merrell, were linked to white supremacist and "Identity" groups and were also charged with setting off bombs at a newspaper office and a Planned Parenthood clinic. All three were convicted.

[More here.]


Tim McVeigh:

Timothy James McVeigh (April 23, 1968 – June 11, 2001) was a United States Army veteran and security guard who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on the second anniversary of the Waco Siege, as revenge against what he considered to be a tyrannical federal government. The bombing killed 168 people, and was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.


Buford Furrow:

Buford O'Neal Furrow, Jr. (born November 25, 1961) perpetrated the August 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting on August 10, 1999, when he attacked a day care center at the North Valley Jewish Community Center. The shooting injured three children, and a receptionist. He also shot dead US Postal Service carrier Joseph Ileto who was Filipino American. Furrow was a member of the white-supremacist group Aryan Nations in 1995.

On January 24, 2001 Furrow pleaded guilty all of the counts against him. In exchange for pleading guilty, Furrow avoided a possible death sentence, but was instead sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to the indictment, Furrow expressed no regrets for any of his crimes.

This is just a sampling. There were many more such cases in which clinics were bombed, government officials and offices threatened or attacked.

These activities slowed considerably in the past eight years, but continue to bubble along. There was, for instance, the case of Demetrius "Van" Crocker, who was caught trying to buy explosives he planned to bomb Congress with. Or William Krar, who put together a cyanide bomb he planned to set off in a public venue. Or Chad Castagana, the self-described Coulter/Malkin worshipper who sent various liberal figures fake anthrax threats. There have been many others.

And they haven't gone away. As recently as last year, bombs were being left at an abortion clinic in Houston, and Alabama militiamen were being arrested for plotting to commit a massacre of Latino immigrants.

But we understand why Sarah Palin may not want to acknowledge the existence of this kind of domestic terrorist.

After all, every one of them proceeded out of the ranks of the far-right "Patriot" movement. The very movement whose members she "palled around with" in Wasilla -- and indeed empowered them at every turn.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why do Republicans hate democracy?

-- by Dave

Sometimes you have to wonder what Republicans have against democracy.

Because that's what this whole "voter fraud" foofara is about. John McCain and Sarah Palin and Lou Dobbs and the rest of the right-wing torch brigade that have been after ACORN and the Ohio Secretary of State aren't concerned about protecting people's right to vote -- and in fact, their efforts largely go toward directly stripping citizens of their legitimate voting rights.

Or more precisely, this is all about building a post-election narrative aimed at delegitimizing a Barack Obama presidency by claiming he won fraudulently. It's not just a handy excuse for the ass-kicking they deserve -- it's a whole right-wing conspiracy-theory cottage industry in the making that will nurture their paranoia and rage for years down the road.

This weekend, Sarah Palin was out whipping up a fine froth among the McCainiacs about ACORN's activities:

Palin demanded answers to “unanswered questions about his connections with ACORN.”

The fans screamed “Booo!” at least 10 times when Palin mentioned Obama’s name.

“ACORN is under investigation for rampant voter fraud in 13 states. ACORN received over $800,000 from the Obama campaign,” Palin said. All 13 are swing states like Indiana.

“Booo!” Palin’s supporters shouted. Obama has said the $800,000 was for voter canvassing during the primary election, not for voter registration during the general election.

Palin, of course, is just following her the lead of her boss, who claimed in Wednesday's debate that ACORN "is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." And we're already seeing the violent results on the ground emanating from this kind of demagoguery.

And it's demagoguery on a massive scale. After all, everywhere that ACORN has been seriously examined -- from Indiana to Seattle, whenever issues have arisen they have been the result of individual canvassers trying to cheat ACORN, not with the organization itself.

And let's be clear: there is no evidence whatsoever that an actual voting fraud problem exists. Just in regards to ACORN, the bogus registrations have largely been flagged and caught. Moreover, there simply is no evidence that people actually register to vote illegally on anything more than an infinitesimal scale.

As Deborah Hastings at the AP reports:

Voter fraud is rare in the United States, according to a 2007 report by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Based on reviews of voter fraud claims at the federal and state level, the center's report asserted most problems were caused by things like technological glitches, clerical errors or mistakes made by voters and by election officials.

"It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than he will impersonate another voter at the polls," the report said.

Alex Keyssar, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, calls the current controversy "chapter 22 in a drama that's been going on awhile. The pattern is that nothing much ever comes from this. There have been no known cases of people voting fraudulently."

"What we've seen," Keyssar said, "is sloppiness and someone's idea of a stupid joke, like registering as Donald Duck."

No, what's been happening instead is that Republican-sponsored "voter purges" have been stripping people of their legitimate voting rights. They show up expecting to vote on Election Day and are turned away, and nothing is rectified for months, if ever.

The Brennan Center for Justice conducted an in-depth study of these purges and found:

Purges rely on error-ridden lists. States regularly attempt to purge voter lists of ineligible voters or duplicate registration records, but the lists that states use as the basis for purging are often riddled with errors. ... Voters who are eligible to vote are wrongly stricken from the rolls because of problems with underlying source lists.

A classic case of this was in the wake of the 2004 election in Washington's King County. The GOP attempted to challenge the registration of several hundred Seattle voters -- and quickly found that its lists had been drawn up based on bogus information. Later, it was discovered that the GOP had illegally modified its voter-challenge forms.

The Brennan Center study also found that voters are purged secretly and given no notice; and that the purges are frequently subject to crude manipulation.

I don't know about you, but I happen to be one of those people who considers the right to vote the cornerstone of republican democracy: the political enfranchisement of the citizen is embodied in it. Indeed, it's a sacred right in a democratic society, one that should be revoked only under the most careful of circumstances.

Now, it is problematic that the few people who do vote fraudulently dilute the legitimate votes of the rest. But considering how infrequently it actually happens, the frenzy into which the right regularly whips itself over supposed "voter fraud" is beyond any proportion to the actual problem.

If you accept the primacy of the right of citizens to vote, then these attempts at preventing ineligible votes have to be as close to perfect as possible; an error rate of even more than 1 percent is too great. Because anything more than that means you're violating the inviolable -- taking away the most fundamental political right of the American system.

What's more telling, perhaps, is the Republican predilection for deriding and undermining citizens' legitimate voting rights. After all, no less an authority than Antonin Scalia himself declared, in the Bush v. Gore travesty, that "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States."

No, it should be obvious to any adult observer of the Republican melodrama that they're not serious about protecting people's voting rights. Rather precisely the opposite: Blocking the registration and participation of larger numbers of voters (particularly Democratic-leaning voters) has been a cornerstone of GOP strategy since at least Florida in 2000, if not before (their antipathy to the Motor Voter Law extended back to the early 1990s). It played a significant role in Ohio in 2004 as well. And it was the very engine that fueled the entire U.S. Attorneys firing scandal that brought down Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

In other words, if you're a Democratic voter, or simply from a demographic group that leans Democratic, Republicans are hoping to prevent you from voting at all.

The best part of this scam is that they get to play as though they are the folks protecting your vote -- when in fact they're doing their best to take it away. And when it's all over, they get to use it to fraudulently beat Democrats over the head with it while getting the torch-bearers' flames stoked up all nice and hot.

So why do Republicans hate democracy? Maybe because they are the party of Oligarchical White Privilege. And democracy is about to kick them in the ass.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Right wing: rights are for them, not for you

-- by Dave

Ever notice how the wingnuts start a-flapping whenever someone remotely suggests that some far-right nutcase or other ought not to be speaking on the public dime (see particularly Ann Coulter), or when a right-wing hack winds up getting his show cancelled because he hacked up a ratings hairball? Censorship! they cry.

But when it comes to left-wing figures, especially the targets of their fury, well, such scruples vanish like the little bubbles they always were.

So yesterday the University of Nebraska gave in to the wingnutosphere's onslaught against cause celebre William Ayers, who was scheduled to speak there next month.

Mind you, they did so not because they agreed with the claim that Ayers shouldn't speak, but because the frothing has reached the point that officials feared for the safety of Ayers as well as the attending public:

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln rescinded its speaking invitation tonight for 1960s radical-turned-educator William Ayers.

University officials cited "safety reasons" for canceling Ayers' Nov. 15 appearance.

Spokeswoman Kelly Bartling declined to elaborate on what safety concerns would keep Ayers from addressing a College of Education and Human Sciences event.

Earlier today, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman strongly condemned the invitation and called on the NU Board of Regents and President J.B. Milliken to block it.

The earlier version of the story reports:

University officials said in a news release Friday evening that “the university’s threat assessment group monitored e-mails and other information UNL received regarding Ayers’ scheduled Nov. 15 visit and identified safety concerns which resulted in the university canceling the event.”

Of course, leading the torchlight brigade to block Ayers' appearance was our old friend Michelle Malkin, who earlier this week descended even farther into self-parody by complaining that poor Joe the Self-Promoter's Plumber's ordinary rights as a citizen were being trampled upon by the "deranged" liberal bloggers and reporters who decided to look into his background.

So what does she have to say about the reasons for the Ayers cancellation?

“Safety concerns.”

Whose safety?

Gee, I wonder.

Waiting for someone to scream “RAAAAACIST” or something.

How about "fascist"? That oughta work. Not to mention fit.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]