Saturday, April 17, 2010

Right-Wingers Think The President Has Gotten Himself All Uppity By Not Showing Those Obama-Hating Tea Partiers Enough Deference

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

In case anyone was wondering where Fox News gets most of its talking points, Chris Wallace last night held up a copy of the GOP's talking points responding to President Obama's apparent diss of the Tea Partiers the night before.

All the other Fox talkers in sight were no more imaginative, a Village chorus pronouncing the president "arrogant" for saying this:
"In all, we passed 25 different tax cuts last year,'' he said. "And one thing we haven't done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year -- another promise that we kept.

"So I've been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes,'' he said at the end of a day, Tax day, on which the TEA Party Express had carried a cross-country protest to the National Mall in Washington and staged rallies around the nation. "You would think they would be saying thank you,'' Obama said. "That's what you'd think."
This deeply offended everyone at Fox, not to mention the wingnutosphere, where Michelle Malkin could be found vowing revenge.

Chris Wallace, while trotting out those GOP talking points, declared it "the height of condescension."
Maybe the most amusing was the apoplectic Charles Krauthammer, who sneered:
Krauthammer: I think it was Obama with his usual condescension, except that he ratcheted it up to Code Orange into snootiness, that's where he is now, when he looks down his nose at the gun and God crowd, the lumpen proletariat, as he sees it. And he ridicules them because they're not grateful enough to him.

And look -- it's quite obvious what he's talking about here. He thinks that they are stupid because they don't recognize that he hasn't raised their taxes.
Of course, the word that really springs to mind for these folks is most likely "uppity" -- but they probably know better than to say it on TV. So they find synonyms like "condescending" and "arrogant" and "snootiness."

Most amusing, though, was their shared insistence that the president shouldn't be dissing the Tea Partiers, because they're just normal working-class folks.

Yes, that's true: They're just normal working-class folks who carry signs denouncing Obama as a Marxist/socialist/fascist and believe he needs to produce his birth certificate and are certain he is a radical intent on destroying capitalism and grabbing their guns.

It's also true that they are people motivated primarily by an animus toward him and liberals in general, and will do anything to oppose him, including believe all kinds of things that are provably untrue.

Things like birth certificate theories and FEMA concentration camp theories and the certainty he's a radical Marxist. Oh yes, and they believe he raised their taxes.

One of the signs of insanity, you know, is the insistence on believing in things that are provably untrue, even when the proof is presented clearly and irrevocably.

So why, exactly, should President Obama show any deference whatsoever to insane people who spread the nastiest and most ridiculous smears about him on a daily basis, people who never in a million years would vote for him? People who almost certainly did not vote for him in 2008, and now refuse to accept the verdict of the election they lost?

He's supposed to show these people deference exactly why?

Foxheads Are Shocked, Shocked We Tell You, That Bill Clinton Would Suggest The Tea Parties Are Linked To The Militias

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As part of an event designed to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City, former President Bill Clinton made some remarks yesterday [PDF file] that got right-wingers all upset again:
Before the bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever in America in the early 1990s. First, it was a time, like now, of dramatic upheaval. A lot of old arrangements had changed. The things that anchored peoples’ lives and gave a certainty to them had been unraveling. Some of them, by then, for 20 years. ... And there were more and more people who had a hard time figuring out where they fit in. More and more people who had a very difficult time living with confidence and optimism in the face of change. It is true that we see some of that today.

... But what we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or reduce our passion from the positions we hold -- but that the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike. And I am not trying to muzzle anybody.

But one of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have.

Look, I'm glad they're fighting over health care and everything else. Let them have at it. But I think all you have to do is read the paper everyday to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled. We know, now, that there are people involved in groups – these “hatriot” groups, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, the others – 99 percent of them will never do anything they shouldn’t do. But there are people who advocate violence and anticipate violence.

One of these guys the other day said that all politics is just a prelude to the ultimate and inevitable civil war. You know, I’m a southerner. I know what happened. We were still paying for that 100 years later when I was a kid growing up, in ways large and small. It doesn’t take many people to take something like that seriously. So I don’t want the whole story of this retrospective just to be about this, and trying to turn everything into politics.

And I guess that’s na├»ve, me being in Washington and all. I still have some memory of it. (Laughter.) But I think that the point I’m trying to make is, I like the debate. This “tea party” movement can be a healthy thing if they’re making us justify every penny of taxes we raised and every dollar of public money we spend. And they say they’re for limited government and a balanced budget; when I left office, we had the smallest workforce since Eisenhower and we had four surpluses for the first time in 70 years.

... Yes, the Boston tea party involved the seizure of tea in the ship because it was taxation without representation. This fight is about taxation by duly elected representatives that you don't happen to agree with and can vote out at the next election -- and two years after that, and two years after that, and two years after that. That's very different.

... By all means, keep fighting. By all means, keep arguing. But remember words have consequences as much as actions do. And what we advocate commensurate with our position and responsibility, we have to take responsibility for. We owe that to Oklahoma City.

We owe it to keep on fighting, keep on arguing. They didn’t vote for me in Oklahoma in 1996. It was still a Republican state. But I loved them anyway, and I will till the day I die, because when this country was flat on its back mourning their loss, they rallied around the employees of the national government and they rallied around the human beings who had lost everything, and they rallied around the elemental principle that what we have in common is more important than our differences. And that’s why our Constitution makes our freedoms last – because of that bright line.
Naturally, such eminent reasonableness upset the talking heads at Fox News very much indeed:

Charles Krauthammer: "I think it's disgusting. ... This is really disgraceful."

Stephen Hayes: "But to link it to Tea Parties, to suggest that there's some bridge, that there's some connection, I think is grossly irresponsible."

Chris Wallace: "Why is he bringing up the Tea Party and Oklahoma City in the same sentence or the same paragraph in the first place? And again, it seems to me to be an effort to marginalize these people."

Byron York: "I think this is more of an effort to sort of pre-tar the Tea Party movement with the label of being violent when, uh, nothing in fact has actually happened."
Gee, we wonder where Clinton could have gotten the idea that the Tea Parties were connected to the militia movement of the 1990s.

You don't suppose it could have had anything to do with the saturation of Tea Party events with Patriot movement ideas and agendas, as well as its many conspiracy theories, embodied in all those Patriot movement and militia leaders appearing at Tea Party events, do you?

I wonder if the reports from traditional conservatives at the Nashville National Tea Party Convention could have influenced that view:
Within a few hours in Nashville, I could tell that what I was hearing wasn't just random rhetorical mortar fire being launched at Obama and his political allies: the salvos followed the established script of New World Order conspiracy theories, which have suffused the dubious right-wing fringes of American politics since the days of the John Birch Society.
And the massive revival of the militia movement almost certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with the Tea Party movement -- even though all you have to do is spend a little time at Tea Party websites like Tea Party Patriots and ResistNet to get your daily dose of Patriot/militia conspiracy theories, as well as your daily news about upcoming Tea Party events (which of course were similarly promoted heavily at Patriot/militia websites).

As the SPLC noted in its report:
The anger seething across the American political landscape — over racial changes in the population, soaring public debt and the terrible economy, the bailouts of bankers and other elites, and an array of initiatives by the relatively liberal Obama Administration that are seen as "socialist" or even "fascist" — goes beyond the radical right. The "tea parties" and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.
Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League observed:
What characterizes this anti-government hostility is a shared belief that Obama and his administration actually pose a threat to the future of the United States. Some accuse Obama of plotting to bring socialism to the United States, while others claim he will bring about Nazism or fascism. All believe that Obama and his administration will trample on individual freedoms and civil liberties, due to some sinister agenda, and they see his economic and social policies as manifestations of this agenda. In particular anti-government activists used the issue of health care reform as a rallying point, accusing Obama and his administration of dark designs ranging from “socialized medicine” to “death panels,” even when the Obama administration had not come out with a specific health care reform plan. Some even compared the Obama administration’s intentions to Nazi eugenics programs.

Some of these assertions are motivated by prejudice, but more common is an intense strain of anti-government distrust and anger, colored by a streak of paranoia and belief in conspiracies. These sentiments are present both in mainstream and “grass-roots” movements as well as in extreme anti-government movements such as a resurgent militia movement. Ultimately, this anti-government anger, if it continues to grow in intensity and scope, may result in an increase in anti-government extremists and the potential for a rise of violent anti-government acts.
Of course, the folks at Fox have steadfastly denied that either they or the Tea Parties they fomented have had anything to do with the extremist rhetoric, and resulting violence, that has erupted in tandem. But then, conservatives have been trying to whitewash out the existence of right-wing extremist violence for a long time now.

Thus you had Chris Wallace telling Bill O'Reilly last night, describing the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville: "This is America, Bill. ... They're not extremists. It's like a meeting of the Rotary Club."

That's true only if your local Rotary Club indulges in an endless array of far-right conspiracy theories, such as the one about the president's birth certificate. Here's one of the speeches from the National Tea Party Convention, by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily:

Of course, Bill O'Reilly has been among the most adamant in insisting that associating the far-right kooks with the Tea Parties is unfair. As we observed then:
The cold hard fact is that the Tea Parties are a giant magnet for kooks because so many leaders in the movement, from Glenn Beck on down, regularly tell their audiences that provably untrue things are true. They foist nuttiness upon their mass audiences, and the nuttiness then manifests itself in violent extremist groups rising and coalescing with mainstream-right groups.
More to the point, supposedly mainstream talkers like Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto help promote Patriot conspiracy theories on Fox News, including the classic New World Order theory.

All of the Fox talkers refer to the apparent normality of the Tea Partiers -- but that is, in fact, not appreciably different than what the militia folks were doing in the 1990s. That's because these movements are all about mainstreaming extremist beliefs in the first place:
The hyper-normality is a kind of intentional camouflage. The Patriot movement, and militias in particular, were a very specific and intentional strategy adopted in the 1990s by the white supremacists and radical tax protesters of the American far right -- and the whole purpose of the strategy was to mainstream their belief systems and their agendas. The tactic was to adopt the appearance of normal, "red-blooded" Americanism as a way of pushing out the idea that their radical beliefs are "normal" too.

In the process, they often adopted time-worn "patriotic" sayings and symbols, such as the "Don't Tread On Me" flag Beck wears, as their own -- though with a much more menacing meaning.
Bill Clinton isn't fooled by the camouflage. But because the Tea Parties are so much a creature of Fox News' invention, they're invested now in protecting them from efforts like Clinton's to strip it away.

The worst thing that could happen to the ideological programmers at Fox is for the public to wake up and realize the nature of the beast they've created. So they did their duties Friday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

O'Reilly Doubles Down On His 'Jail Time' Lie, Says Earlier 'Reports' On Fox Were Legit -- Then Lectures His Critics About Lying

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

OK, so now Bill O'Reilly is just acting bizarre.

Remember how, on Tuesday, O'Reilly invited on Sen. Tom Coburn to demand he explain his recent criticism of Fox's health-care coverage (particularly the claim that failure to obtain health insurance will now result in jail time), and then proceeded to lie blatantly about what had been said on Fox News in that regard:
O'Reilly: OK, but can you tell me one person on Fox News, just one, who has told this audience that they'll go to jail if they don't buy health insurance.


O'Reilly: Well, why then was it legitimate to bring in Fox News in the discussion, when, No. 1, you don't know anybody on Fox News -- because there hasn't been anyone -- that said people will go to jail if they don't buy mandatory insurance.


O'Reilly: Well, tell me, what -- because it doesn't happen here. And we researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it.
Note the language: O'Reilly is clearly insisting that NO ONE at Fox had EVER said any such thing. Not "had said it after the health-care bill had passed." Just EVER.

Because on his show last night, rather than admitting the error and moving along, O'Reilly instead doubled down and insisted that he was still right and Coburn was wrong -- even though we (and many others, most notably Media Matters and MSNBC's Countdown) were able to show plenty of video of plenty of Fox talkers in fact saying "you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance," perhaps most notoriously Glenn Beck on O'Reilly's own show.

Here's what O'Reilly claimed in his opening Talking Points Memo segment:
O'Reilly: Once again -- once again! -- NBC News has highlighted dishonest propaganda from the far-left Media Matters outfit. Sadly, Time Magazine also participated in the sham.

... Now Senator Coburn admitted he may have made a mistake, but to be fair, the mistake is understandable. Because last fall, when jail time was on the table, Fox News reported it, as we should have! Listen to these sound bites:
[Video clip: ABC News interview with President Obama, Nov. 9, 2009]
Jake Tapper: Do you think it's appropriate to have the threat of jail time for those who refuse to buy insurance?

Obama: You know, what I think is appropriate is that, in the same way that everybody has to get auto insurance, and if you don't you're subject to some penalty.

[Video clip: Nancy Pelosi press conference, Nov. 9, 2009]

Reporter: I'm just trying to understand -- if you don't buy health insurance, you go to jail?

Pelosi: Well, there is -- I think the legislation is very fair in this respect.
All right, as we all know, the prison option was taken off the when the final Obama-care bill was being debated. And that's what we were talking to Senator Coburn about! The final bill debate! Not all that stuff! So what I said was absolutely true and nobody at Fox News reported inaccurately about the Obama-care prison situation. Nobody!
Sure, Bill. And your dog ate your homework, right?

It's a fact: O'Reilly claimed, pure and simple, that "nobody [at Fox] ever said" that you'd go to jail for failing to buy health insurance -- and plenty of people at Fox in fact said just that.

Indeed, O'Reilly compounds his original lie here by lying about whether there was a "prison option" in the Obama-care bill at all in the first place: There WAS NEVER A 'PRISON OPTION.' Watch those clips he runs carefully: Neither Obama nor Pelosi support the concept of jail time, but instead claim that the legislation treats people fairly. The questions asked in the clips themselves were based on a false premise: The penalty for failure to buy insurance in that legislation, just like the final version that passed, is a not imprisonment or arrest, but simply a tax -- and failure to pay taxes is a matter for the civil courts. The claim that "jail time" was on the table was an utterly false smear back then -- just as it was even more provably false after health-care reform passed.

Indeed, O'Reilly is simply fabricating when he tries to claim that "we all know" a "prison option" was "taken off." Does anyone know WTF he's talking about?

But that, believe it or not, is not even the most bizarre thing O'Reilly did in this segment. He followed this up by lecturing sternly -- without even a hint of irony or self-awareness -- on the threat posed to the health of the nation by news media who blatantly and nakedly lie, without remorse.

That's right, projection's not just for theaters:
O'Reilly: The importance of this is that you, the everyday American, are now being lied to on a regular basis by people working for huge corporations -- and nothing's being done about it. A voter-driven republic -- a voter-driven republic -- cannot survive if lies supersede the truth.

Bottom line on this story is that Senator Coburn -- again, a good man -- made an honest mistake. But that mistake was picked up by NBC News and used to hammer Fox News, which is kicking their butt all over the place in the cable-news ratings. The good news is that NBC News will soon be taken over by Comcast, an honest corporation, and perhaps changes will be made.

The American people deserve an honest government and an honest media, do we not?
This is such an obvious inversion of reality that the simplest conclusion is that these people have just gone insane. One can't help but wonder when BillO is just going to start shouting: "F&@k it! We'll do it live!!!!"

It reminded me of something Dan Cooper, who helped launch Fox, wrote a little while back:
Lots of people have dissected the Fox News Channel for evidence of bias. They're all missing the point. Of course it's biased. ... This is the point: Fox News is about indoctrination, not bias. The indoctrination was always hidden, as it is in the best advertising.
At Fox, they really don't care if they lie, or even if they're caught lying. The main thing is to present a plausible narrative that will satisfy the Konservative Kool-aid Kids, preferably one that makes right-wingers out to be victims of liberal perfidy. This one fits the bill, and then some.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pentagon Decides It's Time To Clamp Down On The Right-Wing Extremists Infiltrating Ranks Of U.S. Military

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Janet Napolitano is probably getting some satisfaction from the fact that reality has proven the bulletin issued by her Homeland Security department last year -- warning that the nation was about to be hit by a fresh wave of right-wing extremism and its attendant violence -- all too prescient.

Especially the part where it warned that these extremists were working hard to recruit military veterans:
Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.
At the time the bulletin was issued, the right-wing media put up a hue and cry claiming that DHS was smearing veterans as potential terrorist threats, and demanding Napolitano's head. And even though Napolitano rebutted their nonsense, the conventional-wisdom talking point out of the affair was that DHS had unfairly smeared folks in the military.

Now it's clear that the Pentagon is aware that it has a problem: From Stars and Stripes:
The Pentagon is cracking down on extremism in its ranks with a new set of rules restricting servicemembers from participating on the Web sites of supremacist groups.

A new Defense Department directive on dissident and political activity issued on November 27 — the first since 1996 — says servicemembers “must not actively advocate supremacist doctrine, ideology, or causes.” This includes writing blogs or posting on Web sites.

... Last July, Stars and Stripes reported that 130 members of, a social networking Web site affiliated with the National Socialist Movement, had listed “military” as their job in “Facebook”-style user profiles. Swatsikas, Nazi symbolism and militant imagery emblazon the site.


Army and Defense Department officials said at the time that extremist activity was not considered “an Army-wide issue.” And there was confusion, Potok said, about what defined “active participation.” Previously, membership alone in an extremist group was not enough for disciplinary action, though banned activities included distributing materials and demonstrating.

“The one worry here is that enforcement of these regulations may be very uneven. It leaves the decision up to local commanders and we’ve really yet to see how that’s going to work,” Potok said. “The hope is that this clarifies that even advocacy of these kinds of ideas is not consistent with being in the military.”
The arrests of the Hutaree militia made clear that the concern was full grounded in reality. As Newsweek observed in its report on the rise of right-wing extremists:
The rambling rants of the Hutaree might seem funny, in a sick sort of way, but they are far from harmless. The FBI busted nine members last month for allegedly plotting to trigger an "uprising" against the government by assassinating a local police officer and then ambushing colleagues who attended the funeral by blowing up improvised explosive devices. They may have had some professional instruction: one of the men in the group, Michael Meeks, is a Persian Gulf War veteran who served four years in the Marines and was a decorated rifle expert, according to Marine Corps records. Another member, Kristopher Sickles, is an Army vet (discharged "under other than honorable conditions," according to prosecutors).
After all, as we explained at the time, the DHS report's assessment of the situation vis a vis veterans was if anything understated:
This is, in fact, precisely accurate -- and as we pointed out from the get-go, this is the view not merely of DHS, but of the FBI. A July 2008 assessment of the situation by the FBI (titled White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11) found that the numbers of identifiable neo-Nazis within the ranks was quite small (only a little over 200), but warned:
Military experience—ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces—is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement. FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color.

... The prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.

... Military experience—often regardless of its length or type—distinguishes one within the extremist movement. While those with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, FBI investigations indicate they frequently have higher profiles within the movement, including recruitment and leadership roles.

... New groups led or significantly populated by military veterans could very likely pursue more operationally minded agendas with greater tactical confidence. In addition, the military training veterans bring to the movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes.
This is underscored by a Wall Street Journal story today outlining the FBI work that both produced this assessment and the operation that followed:
The FBI said in the memo that its conclusion about a surge in such activities was based on confidential sources, undercover operations, reporting from other law-enforcement agencies and publicly available information. The memo said the main goal of the multipronged operation was to get a better handle on "the scope of this emerging threat." The operation also seeks to identify gaps in intelligence efforts surrounding these groups and their leaders.

The aim of the FBI's effort with the Defense Department, which was rolled into the Vigilant Eagle program, is to "share information regarding Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans whose involvement in white supremacy and/or militia sovereign citizen extremist groups poses a domestic terrorism threat," according to the Feb. 23 FBI memo.

Michael Ward, FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said in an interview Thursday that the portion of the operation focusing on the military related only to veterans who draw the attention of Defense Department officials for joining white-supremacist or other extremist groups.

"We're not doing an investigation into the military, we're not looking at former military members," he said. "It would have to be something they were concerned about, or someone they're concerned is involved" with extremist groups.
It's important to understand how FBI investigations into these kinds of activities take place: The FBI is constrained by DOJ guidelines that do not allow them to investigate organizations merely because of incendiary rhetoric or politically worrisome beliefs. They only open investigations into the activities of members of such groups when there is evidence of actual criminal activity.

And it's at that time that the presence of an extremist with a military background becomes not merely relevant, but potentially important. This is especially so considering one of the realities of the extremist right -- namely, that the vast majority of its members are incapable of anything remotely resembling a terrorist act; what they actually specialize in is the Verbose Bellyache. Yet simultaneously they have developed over recent years a decidedly militaristic culture that prizes actual military background.

So when investigators begin dealing with potential criminal or terrorist activity by right-wing extremists, the presence and involvement of people with military backgrounds -- particularly with skill at armaments -- is a huge red flag. Because these kinds of people transform these groups from Verbose Bellyachers to potentially competent -- lethally competent -- extremist cells.

The most famous example of this, of course, is Timothy McVeigh. But -- contrary to what the right-wing talkers have been saying this week -- McVeigh is hardly the only example of what happens when an alienated veteran is radicalized by these kinds of belief systems -- he's just the most famous. There have, in fact, been a number of veterans who have played significant roles in the radical right in recent years, including acting as terrorists. Besides McVeigh, for instance, there is also Eric Rudolph, who spent two years in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, attending the Air Assault School there, and earning the rank of Specialist/E-4.

Then there was our old friend Col. James "Bo" Gritz, ex-Green Beret and Special Forces veteran:


Though he adamantly denied harboring such beliefs much of the time he was promoting militias back in the 1990s, Gritz is now a full-fledged adherent of Christian Identity.

More recently -- and certainly more relevant to the point here -- there's the case of Kody Brittingham, recently of the U.S. Marines:
Brittingham, 20, was with Headquarters and Support Battalion, 2nd Tank Battalion, when he allegedly made the threats against Obama, president-elect at the time. Brittingham was administratively separated from the Corps on Jan. 3.

Brittingham’s legal troubles began in mid-December, when he and three other Lejeune Marines were arrested by Jacksonville police in connection with attempted robbery. He was charged Dec. 16 with attempted robbery, breaking and entering, and conspiracy. His bond was set at that time.

After his arrest, Naval investigators found a journal allegedly written by Brittingham in his barracks room, containing plans on how to kill the president and white supremacist material, a federal law enforcement official told The Daily News of Jacksonville.
This points to a significant dimension of the problem: The recruitment of young men into the military who already harbor white-supremacist beliefs.

It's been long reported that hate groups and other extremists, including neo-Nazis, have been making actual inroads into the ranks of the military in recent years. A July 2006 report by the SPLC found this infiltration occurring at an alarming rate. Neo-Nazis "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard-core," Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield told the SPLC. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," he added. "That's a problem."

The source of the problem, as the report explained, was the extreme pressure military recruiters were under to fill their recruitment quotas. "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces," said Barfield, "and commanders don’t remove them . . . even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members." The military downplayed a neo-Nazi presence in the ranks, Barfield added, "because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they’ll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

Papers Please: In Attacking Illegal Immigration, Arizona Transforms Itself To A Police State

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, you gotta figure that if crypto-fascist Sheriff Joe Arpaio loves it, and if it's authored by another neo-Nazi-loving guy, Sen. Russell Pearce, Arizona's newest legislative attempt to crack down on illegal immigration is probably not going to be very good law.

And indeed it is not
Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday passed one of the toughest pieces of immigration-enforcement legislation in the country, which would make it a violation of state law to be in the U.S. without proper documentation.

It would also grant police the power to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being illegal.

... Under the measure, passed Tuesday by Arizona's lower house, after being passed earlier by the state Senate, foreign nationals are required to carry proof of legal residency.
Papers, please! You can hear the officers now.

From the L.A. Times report:
"It's beyond the pale," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "It appears to mandate racial profiling."

... Opponents ... raised the specter of officers untrained in immigration law being required to determine who is in the country legally. They noted that though the bill says race cannot solely be used to form a suspicion about a person's legality, it implicitly allows it to be a factor.

"A lot of U.S. citizens are going to be swept up in the application of this law for something as simple as having an accent and leaving their wallet at home," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
Law enforcement officers are blanching as well. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank remarked, "This sets law enforcement back 30 to 40 years."

As Mario Solis-Marich put it:
Arizona is the Alabama of the new century and Maricopa County is the new Selma. America and the world should boycott GOP Governor Jan Brewer’s red state.
I know I will. Of course, Arizona was already the subject of a travelers' advisory by Arthur Frommer over the gun-toting nuts who show up at presidential political rallies there.

Isn't it odd, really, how these right-wingers complain about government tyranny and how liberals are imposing a police state, yaddah yaddah yaddah, yet in the states where they have full control, they eagerly institute a police state themselves?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

O'Reilly Lies To Coburn: 'Nobody's Ever Said' At Fox You'll Go To Jail If You Don't Buy Health Insurance. Oh Yes They Have.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Evidently, Bill O'Reilly's idea of defending his network's journalistic honor is to lie blatantly -- not just to his national TV audience, but to a U.S. Senator to boot.

Last night on his Fox News show, BillO -- incensed by Sen. Tom Coburn's suggestion that Fox News' coverage of the health-care debate was misleading and biased -- tried to claim that no one on Fox had ever suggested that you'll get thrown in jail if you don't buy health insurance.

O'Reilly claimed it three times in the course of the interview, each time with escalating falsity, culminating with the claim that his staff had carefully researched the question and found that no one at Fox had ever said it.

Oh really? Because as you can see, we have the video that demonstrates clearly otherwise.

Glenn Beck
, as a matter of fact, said it on his own Fox News show -- and he said it on Bill O'Reilly's program too, directly to O'Reilly's face. And O'Reilly made a joke about it.

Nor was Beck alone among Fox anchors saying it.

Here's how O'Reilly put it to Coburn:

O'Reilly: OK, but can you tell me one person on Fox News, just one, who has told this audience that they'll go to jail if they don't buy health insurance.


O'Reilly: Well, why then was it legitimate to bring in Fox News in the discussion, when, No. 1, you don't know anybody on Fox News -- because there hasn't been anyone -- that said people will go to jail if they don't buy mandatory insurance.


O'Reilly: Well, tell me, what -- because it doesn't happen here. And we researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it.
Of course, none other than O'Reilly's sometime stagemate, Glenn Beck told his audience on Nov. 12, 2009:
Beck: But if you don't play by their new rules on health care, oooh, here's a new little twist. Have you heard this? You're going to be looking at a fun little stint in jail.

... But if you don't play ball with them now, if you don't get into their government health care, there will be jail time. And that of course was fair.
The next day, Nov. 13, in his weekly appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, chatting over his then-recent appendectomy, Beck repeated the line, and O'Reilly responded by asking Beck if he intended to go to jail over health insurance (transcript courtesy Media Matters):
O'REILLY: Couldn't they do [liposuction] at the same time [as your appendectomy]?

BECK: No, they wouldn't. No. I don't have universal health care.

O'REILLY: Well you will soon.

BECK: Or I'll go to jail.

O'REILLY: Are you going to be a conscientious objector to health care?

BECK: You know, this is the first time in history in our country where, just to be a citizen, just to not go to jail, you have to buy something.
That's some crack research squad O'Reilly has there -- they can't even rustle up the times this lie was repeated on O'Reilly's own show.

No wonder the fact that not only did they miss the Beck claims, they missed that Sean Hannity made the same claim (citing Dick Morris), as did Judge Andrew Napolitano. All on the Fox News Channel.
O'Reilly clearly got away with lying to Coburn to his face.

But as for defending Fox's honor, well, let's just say that it worked about as well as it should.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Al Gore Says It All To Fox's Jesse Waters: 'I Don't Like Ambush Journalism'. Not To Mention The Lying.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Everyone in the journalism business knows that Bill O'Reilly's ambush crews are among the more outstanding examples of the gaping lack of anything resembling journalistic ethics at the Fox News Channel.

But no one wants to talk about it. So like clockwork, we can count on Jesse Waters and his intrepid crew ambushing various people -- some of them public figures, some of them private citizens.
Their most recent victim was Al Gore, who knows a thing or two about journalism. He recognized what Waters was up to and told him flatly at the outset: "I don't like ambush journalism."

Finally, Gore had to get in Waters' face to explain to him he had no intention of being interviewed under those circumstances. O'Reilly seems to think that this was some sort of coup.

But notice that Waters does get off two questions. And they're very revealing, because both are predicated on falsehoods. In other words, Waters' questions are lies.

In order:

A. "What's your reaction to the fact that the Arctic ice is increasing?"

Actually, the Arctic ice cap is indeed shrinking dramatically, with 2007 being the worst year on record. However, things got slightly better in 2008 and 2009: they were only the second- and third-worst ice-cap melt years on record.

See, for folks on the right, that constitutes an "increase." But only for folks on the right.

B. "Are you embarrassed at all by Climategate, sir?"

Hmmm. I dunno about Al Gore, but since the scientific work and the scientists involved have been completely exonerated and the entire "Climategate" dustup revealed as a right-wing hoax that served double duty as propaganda and a smear campaign, it sure would be tempting to answer this one:
"Not at all, Jesse. And aren't you embarrassed at all for having promulgated a hoax and a smear?"

Of course, that is much wordier than the simple, handy, universal answer to any and every question we recommend for anyone ambushed by Jesse and his pals:

"Andrea Mackris."

The Lessons Of History Seem Not To Have Stuck For Tea-Partying Oklahomans

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was just last week that Oklahomans proudly announced that they were incorporating lessons about the domestic-terrorist bombing of the Murrah Federal Building into their high-schoolers' history texts, because "it's important that every Oklahoman learn what April 19th 1995 really meant to our state."

Someone needs to make sure the adults get those lessons too -- especially the Tea Partying kind:
Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

Tea party movement leaders say they've discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.
One of the key players in this, you'll note, is an Oklahoma legislator named Charles Key. Here's Key being interviewed last May by Neil Cavuto:

Not only is Key one of the progenitors and national ringleaders of the current "state sovereignty" schemes now popular with right-wing Legislatures around the country, but, as we explained awhile back, he was a major player back in the 1990s in trying to translate Patriot movement "constitutionalist" theories into actual law:
For instance Key was heavily involved in promoting conspiracy theories in the 1990 that claimed that the federal government was actually behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that was in reality perpetrated by an adherent of Patriot movement ideology. He even convened a grand jury to investigate the matter, and when the resulting investigation completely debunked his theory, he denounced it:
The county grand jury orchestrated by a conspiracy-minded former state legislator and the grandfather of two bombing victims has concluded that there was no evidence of a larger conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Even before the report was made public in December, former state Rep. Charles Key was attacking the body he helped to create by leading a petition drive, claiming jurors had ignored evidence of a government coverup. The grand jury found no evidence that federal agents had prior knowledge of the plot; that members of a white supremacist compound in eastern Oklahoma were involved; or that two bombs, rather than one, were used — all key conspiracy theories.

The state attorney general and the local district attorney, who both had opposed formation of the grand jury, welcomed the results, as did the grand jury's presiding judge, William Burkett.
As it happens, these activities were underwritten by a rich right-winger who subscribed to the conspiracy theories.

Now, it's one thing to point out the radical origins of these "constitutional theories." But it's also important to understand where they want to take us -- to a radically decentralized form of government that was first suggested in the 1970s by the far-right Posse Comitatus movement.

They essentially argue for a constitutional originalism that would not only end the federal income tax, destroy all civil-rights laws, and demolish the Fed, but would also re-legalize slavery, strip women of the right to vote, and remove the principle of equal protection under the law.
Frankly, a lot more people than Oklahomans need to be reminded of the lessons of Oklahoma City.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Hutaree Militia: At The Crossroads Of Christianity And Terrorist Violence

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Prosecutors late last week, at a bail hearing for members of the Hutaree militia, played tape recordings of the kinds of things the Hutaree leaders were telling their followers. As I suggested back when the busts occurred, the evidence makes clear that these "Patriots" were telling the public one thing to present a "good citizen" face, while they were telling their followers quite another.

CNN has the audio, and it also presents a portrait of an apocalyptic religious cult that believes it's up against the forces of Satan, embodied in government workers, law enforcement officers, and United Nations soldiers:
"In this nation, we think we are free, but you need a certificate to be born, a license to drive, a permit to build, a number to get a job and even a paper after you die," says David Bryan Stone Sr., 45, the alleged head of the Hutaree militia, accused of conspiring to overthrow the government and plotting to kill police officers.

"These are permission slips from the terrorists organization called the new world order," Stone says in the tape, which was recorded clandestinely by an FBI agent who infiltrated the militia and obtained exclusively by CNN.

... "People in this nation as well as some around this world are waiting for those individuals like you see sitting in this room to actually make the decision to go to war against this evil, greedy new world order," Stone says on the tape.

"They need leaders who are not afraid to stand up and actually mean, 'No more.' We are free and we should not be afraid or ashamed to admit that we are the American militia. We outnumber them. As long as we let them terrorize any American through fear and intimidation, then they are winning this battle and we should step up to the fight that they have started and finish it."

... "Every day, we watch ever so close for those evil blue helmets to appear on our streets -- but as long as through Interpol, law enforcement mercenaries called the brotherhood working for the new world order are doing such a great job, then we don't need to watch for these foreign armies to come to our shores. They are already here," Stone says.
The striking aspect of the audio is the way Stone's rhetoric is essentially a logical outcome of basic Patriot-movement rhetoric about the "new world order" and "sovereignty" -- rhetoric that is nowadays gaining wide currency at Tea Party rallies and on their websites. Indeed, as we've been reporting for some time, the Tea Parties are fundamentally a revival of the '90s Patriot movement, this time with the blessing of official conservative-dom.

We've frequently discussed the political dimensions of this trend, but there's also an important religious component to it as well, an apocalyptic one brought into stark relief by the Hutaree folks. Frederick Clarkson at Religion Dispatches has a good piece examining this dimension in detail:
In the 90s other terms were used to describe what we might now call Christian militias. The most famous militia group at the time, The Michigan Militia, had views similar to those of the Hutaree. It was founded and led by a Baptist minister named Norm Olsen and a deacon of his church and they’d made an indoctrination video of its chaplain addressing new recruits explaining that abortion necessitated the founding of the militia.

Nevertheless, it was typically described as “anti-government.” And while that was certainly fair, (as it would be to describe the Hutaree militia as anti-government), it also tended to obscure the indisputable religious motivations of this and many other militia groups large and small. Reporting on these groups at the time also tended to downplay their religious eschatology.

... RD contributor Chip Berlet, correctly I believe, wrote that the ideas of the Hutaree are analogous to those of such Christian Right leaders as Tim LaHaye and Pat Robertson. But if we follow Robinson, shall we say that LaHaye and Robertson are not followers of Christ? Or do people stop being Christians only when they commit or are alleged to have planned to commit violent crimes? If so, having appointed ourselves as the arbiters of apostasy, we then cannot describe such people as Christian terrorists or Christian militias because by definition they have auto-excommunicated themselves.
Meanwhile, as David S. Bernstein in the Boston Phoenix observes, the Hutaree are almost certainly on the tip of the domestic-terrorism iceberg:
Now, a year later, as we approach the same dangerous date, things have only grown worse. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a rise in militia and “patriot” groups. Mother Jones and the Progressive have described well-armed, conspiracy-soaked extremist groups like the Oath Keepers, which exist on the edges of the conservative movement. The FBI last month arrested nine members of the religious Hutaree militia in Michigan, accused of plotting mass murder of law-enforcement personnel. And passage last month of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act triggered people to throw bricks through Democratic office windows and send death threats to elected officials, prompting extra security measures for not only members of Congress, but even the nonpartisan Senate Parliamentarian.

The April 15 Tax Day Tea Parties will undoubtedly ratchet the anti-government rhetoric even higher — followed, incredibly, by large pro-gun demonstrations on the hyper-charged 19th itself. (Organizers say they are commemorating the Battle of Lexington.) One of those events, near the nation’s capital, features among its speakers an Alabama militia member who called for the brick-throwing, and who later explained it as a warning to Democrats about the likelihood of greater violent resistance — “a thousand little Wacos,” as he put it.

Given all this, it would almost be surprising if there are not any “lone wolves” or “small terrorist cells” preparing to strike.

The fact is, there are millions of Americans who genuinely believe — based on information they receive every day from television and radio, and from elected officials and “respectable” organizations — that we have an illegitimate (by virtue of his foreign birth) presidential usurper, installed to power through a fraudulent election, who, with his Marxist allies in Congress, are running an unconstitutional government and pushing our nation irreversibly on a path to a secular, despotic regime.