Friday, July 09, 2010

Tom Tancredo: Like The Civil War And Soviets And Al Qaeda, President Obama Is 'The Greatest Threat To The United States Today'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

You can always count on Tom Tancredo to say all kinds of insane things, but sometimes it's hard to tell if he just says them to get attention, which he obviously craves, or if he really believes the things he says.

Well, the other day at a campaign event for his pal, Republican Senate candidate and renowned Tea Partier Ken Buck (a favorite of Erick Erickson, too), Tancredo seemed quite aware of this confusion, and did his best to clear it up for us all:
Tancredo: What could be more important for you to do, really, if you think about this? Everything is at stake here. Everything.

I firmly believe with all my heart, you guys, although we have had many threats to our nation -- and we have gone through a whole lot of things, and survived many things. We -- I always say, you know, we survived the Civil War, we survived the Depression, we went through all -- we survived Bill Clinton, for heaven's sake!

But nothing -- I do not believe -- not the Soviet Union, when we were in, you know, that thirty-five year period leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union, thanks to Ronald Reagan, God bless him. [Applause]


But we had that threat, we survived it. Later, we found out we had another threat to our way of life, and that was Al Qaeda, and we found that out on 9/11.

But I firmly believe this -- it's not just, you know, some dramatic statement a person would make to get press or something or ink. I believe this with all my heart -- that the greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life, everything we believe in, the greatest threat to the country that was put together by the Founding Fathers, is the guy that is in the White House today.
It's actually a bit scarier to realize that people like Tancredo (and Beck, and Limbaugh, and Weiner Savage, and Palin, et al et al) really believe the things that come out of their mouths.

And you'll notice that everyone applauded.

After The Barrage Of Hate They Generated, Will The 'Climategate' Accusers Cop To Their Hoax And Apologize?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I've been monitoring Fox News to see what mention of the the independent report exonerating those climate scientists in the so-called "Climategate" brouhaha -- mainly because Fox so avidly promoted the now-acknowledged fake scandal, both on its supposed "straight news" shows as well as from such Climategate stalwarts as Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

So far, nary a peep from those quarters. The only mention I've found comes from the mid-afternoon "Special Report" on Thursday, above. As you can see, it's just a blip, and hardly begins to cover how thorough the exoneration actually is.

That's typical of Fox, especially considering its role in whipping up a torrent of hate directed at these climate scientists:
Schneider described his attackers as "cowards" and said he had observed an "immediate, noticeable rise" in emails whenever climate scientists were attacked by prominent right-wing US commentators, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

"[The senders] are not courageous people," said Schneider. "Where are they getting their information from? They just listen to assertions made on blogs and rightwing talkshows. It's pathetic."

Schneider said the FBI had taken an interest earlier this year when his name appeared on a "death list" on a neo-Nazi website alongside other climate scientists with apparent Jewish ancestry. But, to date, no action has been taken.

"The effect on me has been tremendous," said Schneider. "Some of these people are mentally imbalanced. They are invariably gun-toting rightwingers. What do I do? Learn to shoot a Magnum? Wear a bullet-proof jacket? I have now had extra alarms fitted at my home and my address is unlisted. I get scared that we're now in a new Weimar republic where people are prepared to listen to what amounts to Hitlerian lies about climate scientists."
Decent human beings, not to mention journalists with a shred of ethics in their bodies, would cop to the hoax and apologize to their misled viewers.

Of course, we can rest assured that not only will Fox never apologize, they'll continue to treat "Climategate" as a real thing.

After The Latest Bloodshed, 'Sovereign Citizens' -- And The Threat Of Right-wing Violence -- Rise On Media Radar

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Earlier this week, NBC Nightly News ran a smart, concise segment on the case of Jerry and Joe Kane, the two right-wing extremists who killed two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, and then were themselves gunned down in a hail of police bullets.

Mind you, it came a month and a half after the incident itself. And it actually didn't tell you anything readers of Crooks and Liars would have learned back in May.

But it's important and noteworthy when the mainstream media notice these stories, because too often they're buried in the daily deluge of Foxian garbage. (Of course, Fox has not reported on this story at all.)

I was a bit more struck, actually, by the superb and insightful reportage of Trevor Aaronson, Kristina Goetz, and Cindy Wolff (not to mention some unsung city editor) at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, following up the story they covered so well at the time:
Like father, like son: Three families' lives intersect in West Memphis shootout
It looks at the three families destroyed by this tragedy, and all needlessly. I was struck by this passage about Jerry Kane:
"You were always looking over your shoulder to make sure he wasn't there," said Forest Mayor Dave Hankins.

"You never knew what he was going to do. I always thought he was an unstable individual."

Joe Kane went to a church-run preschool with the mayor's son and once invited his classmate to go on a family field trip.

"I wouldn't have trusted him (Jerry Kane) with my dog or my cat if I had one," Hankins said, adding Joe Kane was "coerced in everything he did."

Kane told the police chief more than once he'd shoot him if he came back on his property.

"He'd say, 'The next time you come on my property, you're a dead man,'" Rickabaugh said. "... He thoroughly believed the government had no authority over him."
Though actually, the most striking portrait in the story is that of Joe Kane, the 16-year-old who turned killer at his dad's behest -- how he got twisted, and why:
Yet, at 16, Joe Kane was a boy. And 10 days later, in West Memphis, he acted on his father's words.

This "skinny kid" -- as one witness describes him -- bounds toward Bill Evans with rifle blazing.

He turns the AK-47 on Brandon Paudert and drops the officer with a quick flurry. Then, in a chilling few seconds seen by at least one witness, the young killer stands over Paudert's body as blood gushes onto the roadway.

"For the officer involved, this may be something incredibly routine -- speeding, taillight out," said Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League.

"But to the sovereign citizen, the officer isn't a human being. He's the symbol of this government that has been oppressing him or her.

"Sometimes they just decide this is it, this is my line in the sand, and this is where I'm finally going to stand up for my rights."
As Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress observes:
While the sovereign citizen movement has existed for some time, its popularity appears to be growing in a climate where the anti-government rhetoric of the tea party movement has become commonplace. Former President Clinton, speaking at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in April, “drew parallels” between the anti-government tone that preceded the Oklahoma City Bombing “and the political tumult of today.”

Sadly, several recent incidents of right-wing extremist violence — including the West Memphis shootings — suggest he may be right.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

David Vitter Says Disgraced Aide Worked On Abortion Issues, But Not 'Women's Affairs'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sen. David Vitter has been having to answer a lot of uncomfortable questions about Brent Furer, the legislative aide who was arrested for attacking his girlfriend with a knife after he found other men's phone numbers on her Blackberry.

So yesterday, he denied heatedly to reporters that Furer had worked on women's issues:
Reporter: Senator, why was he assigned to women's issues, even after you knew about his arrest?

Vitter: He was not.

Reporter: He was not assigned.

Vitter: Correct. And that's just one of several issues that have been completely misreported.
Yet later in the day, at another campaign stop, he answered a similar question thus:
Vitter: That's absolutely incorrect. He handled issues including abortion issues, including several other issues, but not women's affairs.
Apparently, in the land of wingnuts, abortion issues are not a "women's affair." Women are just the accidental participants.

Makes you wonder what a "women's issue" is for Vitter. Mebbe helping make sure the diaper fits?

Beck Thinks He's Connected Obama To The Racist New Black Panthers. But He's Not Even Close

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Someday, Glenn Beck's chalkboard conspiracy theorizing is going to land him in serious legal trouble. Yesterday's show was a prime example: He spent the entire hour of his Fox News program trying to connect President Obama to the racist New Black Panther Party.

His main connection is a Harvard prof and NAACP lawyer named Charles Ogletree, who in his youth was an avid supporter of the original Black Panthers and radical Angela Davis. Yet even Beck admits that the New Black Panthers have nothing to do with the original Black Panthers, who have in fact forcefully denounced the fringe group as a racist ripoff.

In other words, he tried to connect not just Obama but Ogletree with a racist hate group. That sort of thing can actually be the grounds for a multimillion-dollar libel suit, especially when the reckless-disregard-for-the-truth standard is so clearly in play.

And isn't it interesting that Beck wants to make this connection, when in fact the connections of various Republican politicians in Arizona -- several of whom appear regularly on Fox -- to actual white-supremacist racists is very real and substantial?

Beck has been working for a long time building the case that President Obama is indeed a black racist radical who hates white people and "white culture." That's why he never apologized for the remark -- even his "sorry" to Katie Couric made clear he really meant it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fox News Runs Incendiary Video Of New Black Panther's Racist Rant. Here Are Some Other Racists They Don't Show You.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As part of its campaign to promote their phony story claiming that Obama's Justice Department is shunning cases of voter intimidation by nonwhites, Fox News yesterday devoted a great deal of attention to the New Black Panthers Party, a couple of whose members are at the center of the hue and cry over GOP operative Christian Adams' absurd claims about the DOJ.

At one point, they actually ran an incredibly incendiary video showing one of the two men in question ranting at length about how much he hates white people. Mind you, to most folks in mainstream media, this is normally considered an irresponsible sort of clip to run because it is needlessly incendiary and racially divisive and, moreover, gives these otherwise fringe figures far more attention than they deserve -- not to mention that some of the people who absorb these rants will be persuaded by them.

But when it helps underscore the long-running Fox theme that Obama is a black radical racist who secretly hates white people, they'll run anything, apparently.

Now, it's worth understanding something that only Trace Gallagher briefly mentions here: The New Black Panther Party has long been recognized as a real anti-white hate group, both by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Read these reports in full to understand just how ugly and vicious they are.)

And indeed, Glenn Beck later in the afternoon compared the NBPP characters hanging outside a voting station to the Ku Klux Klan -- a fair comparison, but one that is more revealing than Beck thinks.

Because while the Klan of the Civil Rights era indeed indulged in voter intimidation tactics -- one of the main reasons the DOJ's voter-rights section exists in the first place, in fact -- it did so on a massive, and horrifically violent, scale. From Wikipedia:
In states such as Alabama and Mississippi, Klan members forged alliances with governors' administrations. In Birmingham and elsewhere, the KKK groups bombed the houses of civil rights activists. In some cases they used physical violence, intimidation and assassination directly against individuals. Many murders went unreported and were not prosecuted by local and state authorities. Continuing disfranchisement of blacks across the South meant that most could not serve on juries, which were all white.
The site goes on to detail some of the notorious murders committed by the Klan in their campaign of terror against black voting rights, including Medgar Evers and Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman.

Meanwhile, what have the New Black Panther actually done? Sent a couple of shady-looking dudes to stand outside a mostly black precinct and where no one reported that they were intimidated by their presence. That's it.

So a little perspective is perhaps helpful here: There are indeed black racist hate groups (the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors is another). However, they are dwarfed both in size and in sheer numbers by white racist hate groups. Check the SPLC's compendium of hate groups and you'll see what I mean: they outnumber anti-white racists by about 99 to 1.

Oddly enough, we never get any reporting about these hate groups from Fox News -- except when they want to attack the Department of Homeland Security's bulletin warning about the rising likelihood of violent terrorism from right-wing extremists. Then, they're all too eager to simply whitewash away the very existence of white supremacists and far-right terrorists.

Well, for our readers' edification, we've compiled some of the haters that Fox News won't show and the things they say:

Leading off the pack is a fellow named Roy Warden. Roy is a well-known Latino-hating racist who is fond of threatening to kill his critics and anyone who opposes him -- and as you can see from the video, in fact packs a holstered pistol to all public events.

Warden is especially noteworthy because, just like those New Black Panthers, Roy Warden was in fact the subject of a DOJ voter-intimidation investigation -- and they indeed decided not to prosecute him based on a lack of evidence, just as in the NBPP case. Media Matters has more:
In his May 14 testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ's civil rights division, highlighted a case that completely undermines the notion that the DOJ's decisions in the Black Panthers case were unprecedented or racially motivated. Perez testified that in 2006, the DOJ "declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" "when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish." [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 5/14/10]

Anti-immigrant activist in 2006 case reportedly had "9mm Glock strapped to his side" at polling place.
A November 8, 2006, Austin American-Statesman article reported (from the Nexis database): "In Arizona, Roy Warden, an anti-immigration activist with the Minutemen, and a handful of supporters staked out a Tucson precinct and questioned Hispanic voters at the polls to determine whether they spoke English." The article continued:
Armed with a 9mm Glock automatic strapped to his side, Warden said he planned to photograph Hispanic voters entering polls in an effort to identify illegal immigrants and felons.
Arizona Daily Star: "[A]nti-immigrant activist" "stood by with a firearm in a holster." A November 8, 2006, Arizona Daily Star article reported (from Nexis):
A crew of anti-immigrant activists, meanwhile, visited several South Side polling places in what one poll-watch group called a blatant attempt to intimidate Hispanic voters.

Anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove circulated an English-only petition, while a cameraman filmed the voters he approached and Roy Warden stood by with a firearm in a holster.

Diego Bernal, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), said the trio was trying to intimidate Hispanic voters. "A gun, a camera, a clipboard before you even get to the polls - if that's not voter intimidation, what is?" he asked.

Bernal said his group encountered the men at the Precinct 49 polling place at South 12th Avenue and West Michigan Street and began documenting the scene with their cameras. "There was an interesting period where they were taking pictures of us taking pictures of them."
Tucson Citizen: Incident "reported to the FBI." A November 8, 2006, Tucson Citizen article (from Nexis) reported that Mexican American Legal Defense Fund lawyer Diego Bernal "said he reported the incident to the FBI." The article also reported that Pima County elections director Brad Nelson said: "If intimidation or coercion was going on out there, even though it might have been outside the 75-foot limit, it's something we take very seriously, and we'll be looking into it."
We've rounded out the video with a selection of rantings from Minutemen, Joe Arpaio fans, and the pack of Arizona neo-Nazis led by J.T. Ready. All of these people, it should be understood, have longstanding associations with Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio -- two of Fox's favorite spokesmen for the nativist, pro-SB1070 contingent.

Interesting double standard there, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Citizens United Promotes Latest Fantasy On Hannity: Economic Crisis Was A Product Of Spoiled '60s Hippies' Ethos

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Yesterday was a classic post-holiday broadcast at Fox News. Bill O'Reilly couldn't be bothered to come in for work, so his producers cobbled together an entire hour of his moronic "News Quiz" segments. And on Sean Hannity's show, they simply reran a segment from February -- though, oddly enough, Fox promoted the rerun all week.

Since Hannity chose to just rerun the show, we're going to just rerun our post about it:

One of the more disturbing -- and little noted -- aspects of the Supreme Court's execrable ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is the way it legitimized, if inadvertently, the far-right operatives at Citizens United.

These are, after all, some of the sleaziest and most mendacious political operatives in business in America today. Citizens United has a record not only of peddling fabrications, distortions, and baldfaced lies, they are one of the more significant transmitters of far-right extremist beliefs into mainstream politics.

Remember that David Bossie, the longtime head of the organization, was fired by Republican Rep. Dan Burton in 1998 for distributing doctored audio tapes of prison conversations with former Clinton aide Webster Hubbell that purported to demonstrate Hillary Clinton's complicity in corruption, but which in unedited form clearly demonstrated the opposite.

This is an organization that should have no credibility on any level, except among the fringes of the right where any concocted smear is gobbled up like cotton candy.

Yet there was Bossie, along with his cohort from CU, Stephen K. Bannon, getting an entire hour of Sean Hannity's Fox News show last night to promote their latest fabrication, a pseudo-documentary titled Generation Next.

The film's subject is perhaps Citizens United's biggest lie yet: It claims that the current economic crisis is not the product of misbegotten conservative governance, but rather is the product of Dirty F--king Hippies and their degenerate "Me Generation" ethos.
Bossie: Look, the Greatest Generation, the World War II generation, it would never dawn on them to take the type of risk that these people did. The people who were the '60s hippies, the people at Woodstock in the '60s, who became the yuppies of the '80s and really the barons of the 2000s, and really are the leaders around the country that helped cause this. It really is a remarkable thing.
In other words, Bossie and Co. have concocted the perfect fantasy for right-wingers in denial over the complete, fully manifested failure of their approach to governance -- one that lets them, once again, blame those dirty hippies for everything wrong with America. No wonder it was so popular at the National Tea Party Convention and at CPAC.

Bossie has been in the business of peddling lies for a long time (and I've been writing about him quite awhile too). In the '90s, he was one of the sleaziest of a remarkably slimy collection of characters peddling anti-Clinton conspiracy theories, teamed up with Floyd "Willie Horton's Godfather" Brown. Brown himself resurfaced in the last election peddling "Obama is a secret Muslim" smears and racially incendiary ads in the guise of an "Expose Obama" outfit run by a far-right nutcase.

Eric Boehlert compiled a rundown of Bossie's sleaze
for Salon back in 2004:
Bossie has engaged in such questionable or downright slimy tactics on many occasions. Here are some of his more famous misses:

# During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bossie got into a fistfight with a Little Rock, Ark., private investigator, Larry Case, who said he had damaging information on Clinton. Bossie told police that Case had punched him after Bossie refused to pay Case a $10,000 advance as they were preparing to board a flight at Little Rock National Airport.

# That same year, Bossie set out to prove that a young pregnant woman named Susan Coleman had committed suicide in 1977 after having an affair with Clinton. Coleman's mother told CBS that Bossie hounded her relentlessly with his false story, even following her to an Army hospital in Georgia, where she was visiting her husband, in recovery from a stroke. Bossie and another man "burst into the sick man's room and began questioning the shaken mother about her daughter's suicide," CBS reported.

# Also in 1992, President George H.W. Bush, repudiating Bossie's tactics, filed an FEC complaint against Bossie's group after it produced a TV ad inviting voters to call a hot line to hear (almost certainly doctored) tape-recorded conversations between Clinton and Gennifer Flowers.

# In 1994, Bossie traveled to Fayetteville, Ark., with an NBC producer, where the two allegedly "stalked" and "ambushed" Beverly Bassett Schaffer, a former state regulatory officer and a lawyer who had played a small role in the so-called Whitewater conspiracy. The two confronted Schaffer outside her office and, after she refused an on-camera interview, reportedly chased her across town, until she found refuge in the lobby of an office building.

# In February 1996, Citizens United mailed out a fundraising letter bragging that it had "dispatched its top investigator, David Bossie, to Capitol Hill to assist Senator Lauch Faircloth in the official US Senate hearings on Whitewater." Another mailing reported that Bossie was "on the inside directing the probe." Democrats subsequently cried foul that a federal employee was actively raising money for a partisan group, so D'Amato forced Bossie to submit an affidavit proclaiming his independence from Citizens United.

# In November 1996, Bossie improperly leaked the confidential phone logs of former Commerce Department official John Huang to the press. And he did that by deceiving other GOP congressional aides, according to an account published in Roll Call, which quoted one Republican aide comparing Bossie's deceptive presence to "Ollie North running around the House."

# In July 1997, James Rowley III, the chief counsel to the House Government Reform Committee, which was investigating allegations of campaign finance wrongdoing by the Clinton administration, resigned his position after committee chairman Burton refused to fire Bossie. In his one-page resignation letter, Rowley, a former federal prosecutor employed by Republicans, accused Bossie of "unrelenting" self-promotion in the press, which made it impossible "to implement the standards of professional conduct I have been accustomed to at the United States Attorney's Office." (Bossie's habit of self-promotion paid off; during one four-week stretch in early 1994, Bossie and Brown were profiled by the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times and the Washington Post, each marveling at the power the activists were wielding.)

The breaking point came in May 1998, when Bossie, then 32, oversaw the release of the doctored Hubbell tapes. As Roll Call reported at the time, "At Bossie's request, Burton sat on the tapes for nearly a year until word started to leak that Hubbell might be indicted by [Kenneth] Starr for tax evasion. Bossie, who supervised the tapes along with investigator Barbara Comstock, oversaw the editing of Hubbell's prison conversation[s] and decided to release them the day before Hubbell was indicted." According to Roll Call, Bossie enjoyed unusually close working relations with Starr investigators.

The tapes were edited for "privacy" considerations, according to Bossie. But they were also edited to completely omit key exculpatory passages, including one in which Hubbell exonerated Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing. Gingrich ordered a reluctant Burton to fire Bossie.
Bossie also heavily promoted the anti-Kerry "Swift Boat" story in 2004, as Joe Conason reported then, and produced an embarrassing valentine to George W. Bush at the same time.

Then there was the extremism. In the 1990s, Bossie and Citizens United were inordinately fond of peddling anti-Clinton conspiracy theories claiming the president was part of a plot to enslave Americans under a "New World Order". Check out, for instance, this archived version of the Citizens United front page from 1999.

In addition, naturally, to a bevy of Monica-related impeachment screeds, you could find screaming exposes of the Clintons' alleged involvement in the United Nations one-world-government plot. A streaming banner on the site shouted: "Secret United Nations Agenda Exposed In Explosive New Video!" (The video in question prominently featured an appearance by then-Sen. John Ashcroft.) A little further down, the site explains: "This timely new video reveals how the liberal regime of Bill Clinton is actively conspiring to aid and abet the United Nations in its drive for global supremacy." These are tales lifted straight from the conspiracy theories of the 1990s militia movement.

What makes Bossie's latest fabrication so outrageous is that it blames "liberal hippies" for the very policies and legal positions long championed by conservative ideologues, as embodied by the very Supreme Court ruling that seemingly just legitimized him. Oliver Willis points this out at Media Matters:
In the segment ... Hannity and the filmmakers lay blame for the crisis on baby boomers (or "'60's hippies," in the words of producer David Bossie) moving away from conservative ideas by taking advantage of corporate personhood in order to avoid personal responsibility for the risks they took with the funds their banks controlled ...

This denies reality. It is in fact the conservative movement that has regularly supported the power of personhood for corporations, and the resulting dissolution of personal responsibility for corporate decisions. In fact, one of the producers of this very film is David Bossie. Bossie is behind Citizens United, the conservative activist group who recently won a Supreme Court case that affirmed the power of political speech for coporations like Citizens United (the case was decided 5-4 with the justices regularly categorized as conservative voting in the affirmative).
Hannity also claims that Generation Next "debunks the myth that deregulation caused the economic crisis"? Oh, really? None of the clips they showed last night did. I haven't seen the film whole, but if what they showed last night was their best evidence, they have a long way to go before they can "debunk" what is a well-established reality.

Of course, someone like Bossie would naturally reject the findings of the "New World Order" United Nations report on the causes of the global economic crisis:

The Global Economic Crisis: Systemic Failures and Multilateral Remedies contends that the systemic failures – driven by financial deregulation, large-scale financial investments on commodity futures markets, and widespread currency speculation – have deeper roots that call for in-depth analysis and need to be approached through recognition of their multilateral dimensions.

Well before the crisis erupted, we were being warned that it was coming, by people like Paul Krugman, who particularly points to Reagan-era deregulation as a leading cause of the crisis.
Or you could consult Kevin Phillips, whose book Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism predicted the crisis well before it erupted, and consider the factors underlying his prediction:
The focus of Phillips’ concern this time out is the overweening dominance of the financial-services sector in the 21st-century American economy — how their growing power inside the halls of government has led to rampant abuses, dubious practices that have hollowed out the real-estate bubble they’ve created this decade, while simultaneously building a massive economy founded on debt. This has occurred, as Phillips explains in studious detail, even as shifts in the global economy — particularly the changes in the oil market, which have wrought a rapid deceleration in the value of the dollar — threaten to expose that economy for the hollow thing it has become.
We’re now living in an economy, as Phillips explains, in which financial services — banks, credit and loan services, real estate, and the like — now constitute fully 21 percent of our gross domestic product. Americans’ public and private debt combined now stand valued at three times our GDP. It now takes about 20 cents of debt to create a dollar of the GDP.

The financial-services sector is the real locus of this bubble (the increase in government debt, though substantial, was comparatively minor), which has been inflated steadily by the expansion of leverage and what Phillips correctly describes as "reckless innovations" — CDOs, SIVs, and various other fast-money devices. This house of cards is about to collapse, Phillips warns, in a "credit implosion" whose consequences will be felt globally. A run on the dollar, he says, is a fair possibility, noting that this would wreak havoc within the context of the current economic downturn.

Bad Money is a thorough and carefully documented — as well as carefully thought-out — examination of our current economic position. Phillips explains in detail how the financial-services sector came to be seen within the Beltway as "the winner" for politicians to back as the nation’s economic workhorse, fueled in no small part by the ongoing activities of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, even as the nation’s manufacturing capacity was slowly being gutted.

He goes on to explore how this was facilitated by Republican governance this century, particularly from a Bush White House that favored the familial oligarchical approach to economics, and rapidly accelerated during the post-9/11 push to expand credit. This was manifested in the "securitization" mania that took root in the context of a "Wild West" mania for all kinds of moneymaking devices, especially low-interest adjustable-rate mortgages. The invasion of Iraq, coupled with the emerging power of nationally owned oil producers and the increasing manifestation of "peak oil" prophecies about falling supplies, left the United States isolated diplomatically and increasingly vulnerable economically.
The reality check, for conservatives, ultimately comes down to results. When the "dirty hippy" Bill Clinton left office, we had a federal surplus and the economy was robust. When George W. Bush, who followed the conservative prescription to a T, left office we had nearly collapsed the global economy.

That's a reality they really hate being reminded about.

Rep. Ron Paul Defends Michael Steele: 'Republicans Ought To Have A Right To At Least Say That Maybe This War Isn't Going Well'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Ron Paul went on CNN with Don Lemon on Sunday and actually defended Michael Steele for his bizarre comments attacking Obama for the war in Afghanistan:
LEMON: And before we misconstrue everything, you are coming out in support of the comment, right?

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Not in the entirety. I come out in support of Chairman Steele because I think it was overkill. He made a casual comment. He wasn't setting policy and all of a sudden people jump on him like we're not allowed to have a discussion?

As a matter of fact I did like what he said so I enjoyed the fact that we're willing to have a discussion about the popularity of this war. And truly it is Obama's war, even though it was started during the last administration. Obama said this is the good war. He's expanding the war. The American people aren't with him.

The majority of the American people are tired of the ward and they'd like to see it ended; they'd like to see our troops come home.

I mean this idea that as soon as somebody has a discussion, even if it's not in the discussion, people are clamoring for him to resign? I don't think that's quite fair.

LEMON: Congressman, you have to let me get in on this because it seems like, you know -- I understand what you're saying -- you want people to talk about the war. But it seems like he wasn't factually correct. Very little of what he said, if anything, was correct factually in those comment. And he came back himself --

PAUL: What I'm saying --

LEMON: Hang on one second. He came back himself and clarified them. Why are you supporting him for a comment that he had to clarify?


PAUL: Well, he -- I didn't hear his clarification. But if he clarified his statement because -- he wasn't making a policy statement. If he came back and said, I'm not stating policy, that is not exactly my position --
LEMON: But he wasn't telling the truth.

PAUL: Pardon me?

LEMON: He wasn't telling the truth.

PAUL: Well, I think you're not telling the truth right now yourself.

LEMON: He said that this war -- he said that this war was started by -- or basically saying the war was started by the Obama administration. No one even wanted --

PAUL: No, he did not say that.

LEMON: That no one wanted to go -- let me finish -- no one wanted to go into this war. In fact, when we went into the war, most of the country supported it and it was started, again, under President Bush. So most of what he said if not all of it was not factually correct.

PAUL: That's right. But he's saying politically this is Obama's war. Even in the last campaign -- as a matter of fact, I thought Obama was more hawkish on this war than McCain was because he was calling for increasing troops in Afghanistan before the Republicans were.

So I think in many ways, at least politically, this is Obama's war. And it is a political issue. The Republicans really suffered from the fact that the Iraq war continued for so long and hurt us at the polls.

So, I think that Republicans ought to have a right to at least say that maybe this war isn't going well and not blindly support every single thing that is being done. And then all of a sudden, if an individual does -- you know, people accuse you, oh, you're un- American, you're unpatriotic.
You know, they pile on and then they pressure somebody like Steele -- like Chairman Steele that he has to back off.

He didn't have a policy statement. He was merely making a casual statement. And when he said, for over 1,000 years and even longer, nobody's been successful in invading Afghanistan, he is telling the truth.
Paul wants to have his cake and eat it too: He admits that Steele was just flat wrong when he claimed that Obama got us into this war. But he then wants to claim that Steele is right that it's "Obama war".

Republicans are such lovely creatures. If Obama were to play the consummate pacifist and immediately withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, the attacks would be even more savage. They're going to attack him no matter what he does.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sheriff Joe: Because Of Obama's Speech, 'We're Going To Get More And More People Crossing That Border'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Lots of Arizona politicians were upset by President Obama's speech on immigration last week, but apparently none more so than Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio:
Arpaio: Right now, because of that speech, we're going to get more and more people crossing that border. They want to get here quick so they become U.S. citizens if we have amnesty. So stay tuned for more people coming in because of the president speaking out.
Yeah, because all these people are coming here not for jobs and work but for citizenship and freebies and handouts, right?

Fact is, the economic downturn and the lack of jobs has dramatically slowed immigration rates for over a year now -- and it won't be rising because people watched Obama's speech. No doubt Arpaio is perfectly aware of this, but he has to keep coming up with justifications for his Bull Connor policies.

One hopes that DOJ investigation into his racial-profiling practices wraps up soon -- along with the FBI's abuse-of-power probe. He's been forestalling the inevitable for too long now.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Glenn Beck Defends The Minutemen: 'Zero! None! No Violent Episodes From The Minutemen!' Oh Really?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I guess some people are noticing that we're seeing a spike in vigilante violence on the border, largely associated with white "Minuteman" patrols. Rep. Pete Stark fired back at one of the Minutemen at a public meeting last week, and it stirred Glenn Beck's ire:
REP. PETE STARK (D-CA): The Minutemen want to have something to say? Who are you going kill today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are we going to kill today?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would just like to know — actually, American citizens are being killed right now. That's what's going on.

STARK: That's right.
This really set Beck off:
Let me just clear up a few of the stark raving lies here. Even though Stark has some sort of minutemen shoot everybody on sight smear campaign going on, the fact is there has never been a border shooting involving a Minuteman, not one! Zero! None!
No violent episodes from the Minutemen. I mean, this guy doesn't let a single fact get in his way.
We have a "single fact" or two for Glenn Beck, though, that might kind of get the way of his claim.
Indeed, we'd like Glenn Beck to meet someone.

Brisenia Flores_0df9d.jpg Her name was Brisenia Flores. She was nine years old and lived near the border with her parents and sister outside the town of Arivaca, Arizona.

On May 30 of last year, a woman named Shawna Forde, who led an offshoot unit of Minutemen who ran armed border patrols for patriotic "fun". Forde's gang had decided to go "operational," which meant they concocted a scheme to raid drug smugglers and take their money and drugs and use it to finance a border race war and "start a revolution against the government".

They mistakenly chose the Flores home, which had neither money nor drugs; first they shot the father in the head and wounded the mother, and then, while she pleaded for her life, they shot Brisenia in cold blood. (Her sister, fortunately, was sleeping over at a friend's.)

You can listen to the wounded mother's 911 call here:

It's not as if Shawna Forde was a renegade Minuteman, either, though she did run an offshoot (which is how the majority of Minutemen are organizing these days, the large national organizations having gone kaput). Indeed, Forde served as a spokesperson for FAIR and was closely involved with Minutemen leader Jim Gilchrist right up to the time of her arrest. (In fact, we're going to learn at her trial this fall just how close -- including whether or not Gilchrist tipped her off that federal authorities were looking for her).

That's just one incident. Others are beginning to manifest themselves even now.

Maybe if Glenn Beck were a little better informed about just what his pet Minutemen have been up to, he might avoid these kinds of mistakes. But we doubt it.

"100% Americanist" J.D. Hayworth Attacks Obama On Immigration; Joe Arpaio Chimes In With Slam Of McCain

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was only a few years ago that J.D. Hayworth was out there selling Henry Ford's anti-Semitic "100 percent Americanism" schtick (which may have played a role in him losing his seat in Congress). Nowadays he's pitching Birther conspiracy theories and going so far to the right that, of course, he's giving John McCain a run for his money in the Arizona Senate primary, and making things a bit uncomfortable for Sarah Palin in the process.

Of course, this means he shows up a lot on Fox News, too, which gave him airtime Saturday on the Geraldo Rivera show (with Jeanine Pirro filling in), along with his pal and avid supporter, Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. Trying desperately to inject some sanity into the conversation was Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza -- but the Crazy Train was too busy tooting and rolling to notice.
Hayworth: And Jeanine, I have to tell you, when I heard our president speak earlier this week, I was struck by the fact that it seems that he was unilaterally declaring surrender -- that he is not interested in enforcing the law.
See, J.D., it's called comprehensive immigration reform for a reason -- Obama (and millions of other Americans) wants to enforce laws that actually work. He is not interested in continuing to shovel billions of taxpayer dollars trying to enforce laws that clearly don't work. You know, laws that create only 5,000 green cards to deal with 500,000 unskilled-labor jobs created every year by the American economy.

Along the way, of course, Crazy Joe gave J.D. lots of love in his quest to unseat John McCain as Arizona's senator -- particularly by attacking McCain:
Arpaio: I don't seem to get much support, especially from some U.S. senators or politicians.

Pirro: Well, you are certainly supporting J.D. Hayworth in his race against John McCain.

Arpaio: And I'm proud of it.

Pirro: Why, sheriff? Why?

Arpaio: Because he's been around for five years, he's been talkin' about this. It's not politically expedient for him to do it now, like some other politicians -- it's a political issue. And that's what the problem is with illegal immigration. So J.D.'s been doing it five years, and he's gonna continue to fight this problem.
Pirro, however, was eager to treat the two extremists, while simultaneously trying to paint Clarissa Martinez in a corner. Martinez, fortunately, was up to the task and made compelling points that left them unable to respond -- so of course, Pirro quickly switched back to boosting Hayworth.

And this was on Geraldo Rivera's show. Rivera is one of the few sane voices at Fox on immigration -- but you sure would never have known by watching this weekend.