Saturday, May 28, 2011

As The Minutemen Break Apart, They're Moving Into The Tea Party Woodwork

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Back in August of last year, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the folks from Tea Party Nation exercised their inner Nativists by holding a big rally near the border in Cochise County. What was little noted at the time was where the rally was held: On Glenn Spencer's ranch. The same ranch where, a year before, Minuteman leader Shawna Forde had been arrested for the murders of a nine-year-old girl and her father.

David Holthouse at Media Matters has the whole story -- including the big picture:
Grinning on the sidelines behind mirrored sunglasses was Glenn Spencer, the leader of the border vigilante group American Border Patrol and the owner of the Tea Party Nation rally site.

Spencer's founding of American Border Patrol in 2002 pre-dated the first Minuteman "civilian border patrols" by three years. Before his ranchland became a Tea Party rallying point it served as both meeting grounds and temporary housing for high-ranking members of various border vigilante factions. Minuteman American Defense leader Shawna Forde lived on the property in an RV owned by Spencer in the summer of 2008.

Over the past two years, more than a dozen former border vigilante leaders have taken on key roles in the Tea Party movement. Some, like Spencer, continue to maintain their hard-core nativist personas. Others have sought to separate themselves from their Minuteman identities in pursuit of mainstream political legitimacy.
Spencer's border-watching activities well predated 2002; he was actively organizing such vigilante action back in the early 1990s, when his American Patrol outfit was a player in the Patriot/militia movement, and his vicious rhetoric earned his organization a hate-group designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Spencer is no bit player in the Nativist movement. He has, in fact, been the wellspring of many of the most cherished lies about immigrants, Latinos and the immigrant-rights movement over the years, including the time he spread false rumors that immigrants were carrying the Ebola virus into the USA. Spencer is the original source of the false claim that MEChA is a racist organization, as well as the accompanying phony Reconquista! conspiracy theory.

Above all, Spencer was one of the first people organizing vigilante border patrols -- serving in many ways as the original inspiration for the Minuteman movement, and he indeed continued to play a major leadership role in the movement until its sudden demise at the hands of Shawna Forde. Her conviction in February for the murders in Arivaca signalled the death knell for a movement already on its last legs, splintering into renegade subgroups like Forde's with no accountability, no restraints, and no conscience.

These border watch groups don't call themselves "Minutemen" anymore. Now they use newer, Tea Party-friendly monikers with lots of Patriotic references.

As Holthouse explains:
"The Forde killings really made the whole movement sordid and these guys [Minuteman leaders] needed to find somewhere else for their ambitions," said Heidi Beirich, co-director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which tracks extremist groups. "Rebranding themselves as Tea Party figures is their effort to stay relevant. They saw the rising populism as a good thing to latch onto, so they just toned down their anti-immigrant messaging a bit and synced themselves with the larger Tea Party agenda."

Internal rivalries and financial scandals had already crippled the anti-immigration vigilante movement by the time of the Arivaca murders. The murder of a child begging for her life at gunpoint by Shawna Forde generated massive negative publicity for the entire Minuteman movement and hastened the decline of once-powerful vigilante outfits like the Minuteman Project and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

The Tea Party offered a broader political agenda that appealed to rank-and-file Minutemen. Their concerns over border security and non-white immigration had been equaled if not displaced by distress over the financial meltdown and the election of President Obama.

As Spencer explained, "Many of the so-called Minuteman groups died off, mainly due to lack of focus of the organizations. Sitting on the border in a lawn chair does not fire the hearts of men. Those who were drawn into the political arena by the border issue naturally gravitated towards better organized groups of people concerned with the overall failure of our government to work in the interests of the people, of which the failure to secure the border is just one example."
Be sure to read the whole thing.

Of course, the Minutemen tried desperately to distance themselves from Shawna Forde, even though she had been closely associated with Spencer for over a year, and was also tight with Minuteman Project cofounder Jim Gilchrist right up to the day of her arrest.

Unsurprisingly, the talking heads at Fox lapped up these laughable claims, but reality kicked in. The Minuteman brand name has been permanently tainted.

This has never stopped these folks, however. They just change their stripes and find new ways to worm themselves into the mainstream. Look for Glenn Spencer to turn up alongside Sheriff Arpaio sometime soon on Fox.

'Hannity Primary' Debuts With A Hannity Job For Rick Santorum

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

They really aren't disturbed in the least over at Fox News to be in the position of actually appearing to control the presidential primaries for one of the nation's two major political parties. Last night, Sean Hannity debuted his 'Hannity Primaries' segment, which supposedly will be all about vetting the Republican candidates, at least according to Hannity:
HANNITY: And tonight, on a special edition of Hannity, we are kicking off the 2012 campaign with our very own Hannity Primaries. Now, throughout the campaign, we'll give each candidate a half-hour, right here on the show, to share his or her views with our audience.
But if the first segment is anything to go by, there won't be much actual vetting going on -- or at least, it will resemble the fine job the McCain campaign did on their veep choice in 2008. No, these segments will be about promoting and cheerleading the GOP field and letting everyone else sort it out, because this one was just a classic Hannity Job: "one of those appearances where Sean strokes you, tosses you a bunch of softballs, and lets you promote your campaign and issue non-answers whenever you like."

This became abundantly self-evident when Hannity tried out a "tough" question: Asking Santorum about his boneheaded remark that John McCain "doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works". Hannity got this out of him, and was obviously satisfied:
HANNITY: As we looked into this, recently you had talked at length that you said Senator McCain was wrong, or doesn't understand enhanced interrogation techniques. And there was a backlash, because obviously he had been a prisoner of war for five and a half years. He himself, I believe, had been tortured.

SANTORUM: Which of course I knew. What I was talking about was the enhanced interrogation program that he has opposed for a number of years. And I have supported it. And so there's a policy difference between Senator McCain and I and he got up and wrote an article which I just think was wrong. And I, so that's why I said he obviously doesn't understand that this program actually worked to produce leads that led us to Osama bin Laden as well as other things.

And so it was obviously -- not gonna comment on John McCain's heroism and his withstanding torture and all the things that John did to serve our country. I think he's just wrong on this public policy matter and I said so. And I may continue to say so. I think that our enhanced interrogation program was vital. It is not torture. I don't believe it's torture. Now, John may have a different opinion, but I don't believe it's torture.
This is, of course, incredibly LAME (which is the word that springs second to mind when I think of Rick Santorum, the first being "Santorum"). If you read the McCain op-ed in question, it factually destroys the false claim that these interrogations had anything to do with capturing bin Laden. Indeed, outside of Fox News and Republicanville, these facts are clearly established.

So, for that matter, is the more significant point -- namely, that even if torture did work, it's still not something Americans should ever indulge. The torturer, after all, is the enemy of all mankind.

Which puts Rick Santorum and Sean Hannity in some interesting company, when you think about it. Especially because these "Hannity Primary" segments look like they will be a version of torture to watch.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Republican Favorite: None Of The Above

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It may seem like Sarah Palin's suddenly resurrected candidacy is catching the fancy of Republican voters again, since the latest Gallup poll shows her only a couple of percentage points behind the clear leader, Mitt Romney -- but well ahead of everyone else.

Or at least, everyone else except the clear leader -- Anybody Else?
Mitt Romney (17%) and Sarah Palin (15%) now lead a smaller field of potential Republican presidential candidates in rank-and-file Republicans' preferences for the party's 2012 nominee. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain essentially tie for third, with Cain registering 8% support in his initial inclusion in Gallup "trial heat" polling. Notably, 22% of Republicans do not have a preference at this point.
That's right, the clear leader in the Republican race, with 22 percent of the vote, is "None/No opinion."

Somewhere out there is a handsome young Reagan-in-waiting who just needs to be found, no doubt.

That seems to be what Republicans are waiting for, anyway.

Andrew Breitbart Channels Glenn Beck: Jesse Lee Is Doing George Soros' Bidding For The White House

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The Fox freakout over the White House's new rapid-response media team headed by Jesse Lee picked up a head of steam last night on Sean Hannity's show, when Andrew Breitbart came on and sounded like his nemesis, Glenn Beck, for a bit, as he debated the token liberal, Democratis strategist Steve Murphy. All that was missing was the chalkboard:
BREITBART: Jesse Lee was at the forefront of the antiwar blogging movement, a point in time in which the same media that is out there saying that you can't criticize the president, Barack Obama, were out there saying 'dissent is patriotic' and so Jesse was protected by the media. Now he wants to go after Fox News, AM talk radio, Andrew Breitbart, and what he's doing is adding an extra protective layer to George Soros -- all the media that he's buying, and now Media Matters, which is a --

MURPHY: This is the Hannity show, not Beck.

BREITBART: This is a $15 million a year operation to try and shut up dissent. This is exactly what they do in totalitarian leftist nations like Venezuela. They try to shut people up.
At this point, Murphy thankfully jumped in and pointed out that Breitbart was being absurd -- this was a standard political media operation, only with more sophisticated media technology to work with. But Breitbart was intent mainly on smearing Jesse Lee:
BREITBART: He's a hit artist.

MURPHY: So are you!
Bretibart didn't really have much of a response to that one. He knew it was true.

Rush Limbaugh Loves Sarah Palin's Presidential Prospects, Says Obama Should Fear Her Most

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As we mentioned, the fanboys are all excited that Sarah Palin is finally making it obvious that she indeed is going to follow her delusions and run for the White House. That includes Rush Limbaugh, who was interviewed about Palin last night on Greta Van Susteren's Fox show:
LIMBAUGH: Well, it's interesting. That poll, that result shocked me. The way the Gallup people wrote it up, they say since Governor Daniels out, since Trump is out, he was never in, and since Huckabee is not running. This has opened it up to launch her to number two. Only two points behind Romney, I think that was -- that was startling.

But, Greta, you've asked the question of the day. You've asked the question of the campaign. The Republican Party is really royal right now inside the Beltway intelligentsia power base is not oriented toward conservatism. Conservative Republicans make them nervous.

The inside the Beltway ruling class the elites more oriented toward candidates they can attach the word serious to, which is another way of saying somebody that's boring, somebody that doesn't ruffle feathers, somebody that exudes an air of formal education and sophistication. She doesn't exude that. And I think she'll shake a lot of people up.
And who does he think President Obama -- who he declared is "easily beatable" -- should most fear? Why, Palin, of course:
VAN SUSTEREN: If you were President Obama, who would be the Republican you would not run against -- not want to run against, and why?

LIMBAUGH: If I were Obama, I would not want to run against Palin. Contrary to what everybody says -- I don't want her to run. You know, when they tell us that's what they hope for, it's opposite. I wouldn't want to run Chris Christie if I were them. I wouldn't want to run against Santorum. I wouldn't want to run against Rick Perry.

I think, the truth of the matter is, in the White House, the truth of the matter is, if you could get hold of their internal reelect polls, I will bet you that they are bad. And I think what they believe is, they've got to do everything they can to make sure that whoever the Republican nominee is not a conservative.

They think they can beat a moderate Republican. They know they can beat a liberal Republican. They know they can beat a Republican who is afraid to be a Republican.

But they are mostly afraid of a genuine, full-throated, passionate, articulate conservative.
Yeah, Rush, we're quaking in our boots. Quaking, we tell ya.

There's no doubt Palin CAN capture the GOP nomination -- the Republican Party has gone completely over the cliff at this point and really doesn't look salvageable. Palin has the Religious Right and the Tea Party votes locked up, and that's halfway there already.

On the other hand, can someone as dangerously ignorant as Sarah Palin win the White House? I don't know about you, but I still have more faith in American voters than that. For now.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fanboys Get All Excited As Palin Raises Their Expectations Of A 2012 Run

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Well, we've been saying all along that Sarah Palin -- riding on the wings of her own narcissistic religious delusion -- would of course be running for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2012. And now, it appears, the confirmation is getting closer:
Ms. Palin has reshuffled her staff, rehiring two aides who have helped plan her political events. And she is expected to resume a schedule of public appearances soon — perhaps as early as this weekend — to raise her profile at a moment when the Republican presidential field appears to be taking final form.

The drumbeat intensified on Tuesday night when the conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon was quoted on RealClearPolitics, a political news site, as saying that he was releasing a feature film he made with Ms. Palin’s acquiescence about her tenure as governor of Alaska. The film is to be shown next month in Iowa, whose caucuses open the nominating contest.

Taken together, the moves are at odds with conventional wisdom — if not wishful thinking — among establishment Republicans in Washington that Ms. Palin has decided not to run. That thinking has been voiced increasingly as the party’s professional political class, which Ms. Palin has railed against, has sought to declare the field of candidates closed.

Ms. Palin would undoubtedly be able to raise substantial campaign financing and attract constant media attention if she ran. But she is a divisive figure in the party, and would have to overcome what polls have consistently suggested is skepticism and even opposition to her among some fellow Republicans.

Still, supporters of Ms. Palin say that her constituency beyond the Beltway remains eager, and aides and associates have said she is receptive to their calls of “Run, Sarah, run.”

“All indications are that she will be in — her supporters have an intuition about it,” said Jeff Jorgensen, chairman of the Republican Party of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, where Ms. Palin came in second in a straw poll last week. “People are looking for somebody, a Ronald Reagan reincarnate, who does not seem to be out there yet.”
Indeed, the forthcoming Palin movie is what has the fanboys really worked up the most. Sean Hannity ran a clip of it last night, hinting that it was a preview of her entry into the race.

And then, as TBogg observes, there are the uber-fanboys over at Conservatives4Palin, who are practically moaning in religio-military ecstacy:
Some things on my mind at this hour:

1. This is a masterstroke. Everyone has been caught off guard. The Lefties are totally flummoxed. They expected to dominate the news with Bailey and the Caller story, now its SARAH IS COMING.

2. Washington will be in complete turmoil. They thought they might get Sarah to reconsider. and stay out. She's not. She's coming in. The Donor Class now knows that she will be in the game. This frustrates Mittens, TPaw, and most of all, the Bush Family.

3. This tells me something else: Palin has her TO&E almost ramped and ready. There is more behind the scenes than we know. State by state websites are probably ramped up, using O4P as the skeletal front. The fundraising machine is probably amped and ready. The FEC papers are filled out and ready to file.

4. Her position papers, some of them genuinely radical, are ready to go.

5. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, prepare for genuine, on the ground, protracted infantry warfare. This will be All Eastern Front, All The Time.

Expect this to be an extremely long and protracted effort that will take up the next 18 months of our lives. The Country is Worth It.

Remember, people gave their lives so we could bang away on a computers and vote our consciences. McCain spent five years in a box so we could do this stuff.

Do not forget who made the next 18 months possible. Men who laid down their lives at places like Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Belleau Wood, Midway, Peleileu, the Chosin Resevoir, Khe Sanh, and Fallujah, made it possible for us to fight for the life of our country.

Oh, and don't forget to seek God's guidance and fortification in prayer. I intend to do that. Haven't done much of it lately. That's a part of my life that needs to change. Sarah's example is a good one.

The road ahead for Palin, her family, her team, and for us, is a long and bitter one. But there have been tougher, blacker days. Mr. Churchill spoke to the King's Subjects for the first time as Prime Minister on May 19, 1940 on the BBC. The British Expeditionary Force had just been unceremoniously expelled from the Continent, courtesy of the Panzertruppen. France was well on its way to becoming a German satrapy. And all of England would come under the ferocious assault of the Deutches Luftwaffe within a month.

Chruchill was stern in his address. He did not mince words. He told his fellow subjects of the enormity of the task at hand, and of the apparent imminence of invasion of the British Isles. Having made his speech, he finished with a peroration that has come down to the ages and I believe applies here:

"Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: 'Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.'"
I suspect Joe McGinniss is basically right:
Her people are out there, they are numerous, they are angry: and there is not another credible Republican candidate in the race.

Up to this point, Sarah has laughed all the way to the bank.

Now she hopes to laugh all the way to the White House–swept there by a tidal wave of “real” Americans who don’t like elitist liberals (i.e. for a start, anyone with a college education) portraying them as racist, pitchfork-carrying buffoons.

Neither Romney nor Pawlenty can active them, but Sarah can.

And she plans to. Because God is telling her to do so.

Oh, man, this makes what I’ve written in THE ROGUE about how steeped she is in Christian Dominionism all the more relevant. She truly believes her “prayer shield” will keep her invulnerable to attacks between now and election day 2012.

After that, she’ll lay down the shield and pick up the sword of fire with which she’s waiting to smite all of us who do not see her as Queen Esther.
Mind you, I'm not in the least persuaded that Palin could ever win the presidency. But I think you can make an easy case for her winning the GOP nomination. No one else can capture the religious-right bloc the way Palin can -- and that's a more significant start than any of the other candidates have.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Conservatives Circle The Wagons Around Paul Ryan And His Disastrous Path To The Poorhouse

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

One of the reasons conservatives are so incompetent at governance is that they are so rigidly ideological that they're congenitally incapable of responding to changing facts and realities on the ground -- as we witnessed in the leadup to the Bush Economic Meltdown of 2008. They prefer clinging to their disproved and debunked oligarchical fantasies (they still adhere largely to "trickle down" economics, after all) than deal with the set of cards that the real world hands them. That's why we're still stuck with the Bush Tax Cuts, too.

So of course, in the wake of last night's win by Democrat Kathy Hochul in New York's 26th District -- a resounding repudiation of Paul Ryan's Medicare plans, as well as Republican overreaching generally -- the conservative punditry was out circling the wagons around their latest Randian hero. Ryan was on Joe Scarborough's show this morning where everyone was wringing their hands over those nasty Democrats and their demagoguery, better known in the real world as Democrats' mastery of the political facts of Medicare. It was the same story on Fox & Friends too.

Now, if these people were competent in the least, they'd realize that their ideological rigidity had taken them out onto political thin ice and it was cracking away underneath them. Newt Gingrich showed a flash of this when he tried to distance himself from the Ryan plan -- and then, of course, came quickly to whimpering heel. So onward they plunge. Indeed, Newt is now sturdily defending Ryan even in the wake of the NY-26 disaster.

Earlier this week, Charles Krauthammer and Jonah Goldberg were on Bret Baier's "All Star Panel" extolling Ryan's many virtues and pleading with him to get in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Both of them thought Ryan should be drafted if he didn't run on his own. (Jonah has penned a column to this effect, too.)

And even after this disaster, their tune will not change one iota. Because they cannot budge from the ideological corner into which they've painted themselves. Ryan's Path to the Poorhouse is not just an economic and social disaster in the making for Americans, it's one that ordinary, common-sense voters can see coming a mile away. Democrats don't have to "demagogue" to make a clear case that it would be disastrous.

Well, at least one conservative -- David Frum -- can see the disaster coming for the GOP, too:
The political dangers in the Ryan budget could have been predicted in advance. In fact, they were predicted in advance – and widely. Yet the GOP proceeded anyway, all but four members of the House putting themselves on record in favor. Any acknowledgment of these dangers was instantly proclaimed taboo, as Newt Gingrich has painfully learned.

Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer have enthusiastically promoted Paul Ryan as a presidential candidate. And this morning, as the reckoning arrives, the denial continues. Here’s Jonah Goldberg in a column arguing that “perhaps the only guy who can explain the GOP budget should run.”

In reality, Ryan is very unlikely to accept this draft. He declined the opportunity to run for US Senate in Wisconsin, likely because he sensed he could not win a state-wide election in which his budget would be the main issue.

Now we’re likely headed to the worst of all possible worlds. The GOP will run on a platform crafted to be maximally obnoxious to downscale voters. Some may hope that Tim Pawlenty’s biography may cushion the pain. Perhaps that’s right, at least as compared to Mitt Romney, who in the 2008 primaries did worst among Republicans earning less than $100,000 a year. And yes, Pawlenty is keeping his distance from the Ryan plan. But biography only takes you so far. The big issues of 2012 will be jobs and incomes in a nation still unrecovered from the catastrophe of 2008-2009. What does the GOP have to say to hard-pressed voters? Thus far the answer is: we offer Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, and tighter money aimed at raising the external value of the dollar.

No candidate, not even if he or she is born in a log cabin, would be able to sell that message to America’s working class.

The Many Rewards Of Bigotry: Why Right-Wing 'Libertarianism' On Race Is A Lie -- And A Cover

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We've all heard any number of right-wing "libertarians" who cling to the fantasy that the magic of the marketplace would eventually magically erase racial discrimination as a business practice, if only we would let it work.

That's why you'll hear Ron Paul ardently contend that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was bad law, since it forced private business owners to cease discriminating on the basis of race. It's how a guy like John Stossel can argue with a straight face that if there hadn't been any government loans at all, black farmers wouldn't have been discriminated against.

Of course, what really happens when modern business owners engage in open displays of bigotry is a very different dynamic:
  • First, they attract attention to their previously anonymous business.
  • When news gets around, they are interviewed by right-wing talk-show hosts and their story featured by all varieties of right-wing apologists, employing a variety of shopworn rationales (i.e., they are pals with all kinds of minorities, it's not intended to discourage minorities, it's just a straight business practice, blah blah blah).
  • -- Then their business gets a huge boost from white customers who flock to the place in support as a kind of racial political statement.
  • Eventually they get an appearance on Fox News and perhaps CNN and become mini-national celebrities, and their businesses prosper even more wildly.
You can see that dynamic at work in the case of the Reedy Creek Family Diner in Lexington, N.C., where the owner -- frustrated by some failed and angry interactions with Latino customers who spoke no English -- post a sign declaring: "No Speak English, No Service".

Sure enough, soon its owner -- an amiable-seeming fellow named Greg Simons -- was being interviewed by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and putting the sign back up after initially taking it down. Then writers like Esther Cepeda chimed in, describing it all as just a misunderstanding:
He says he never meant to imply that people who don't speak English fluently are not welcome in his restaurant or that such diners would be denied service if some other language was spoken at the table. He just wanted patrons to know that his staff is monolingual.

Simons' story is that a few weeks ago, on separate occasions, two different groups of Spanish-only speakers came into his Southern comfort food restaurant. Despite his best efforts at pointing and miming, he could not take their order. In both cases, the frustrated diners left in a torrent of Spanish-language cussing, which Simons recognized as a snub because, as the great-grandson of French Canadian and Swedish immigrants, he knows “enough French and Spanish to know when I'm being insulted.”

That's when Simons put up the sign. First, ironically, just in English and then in the five other languages, so as to not single out any particular ethnic group in a state that has seen its Latino population explode by 111 percent in the last decade to total 8.4 percent.

Once the media firestorm began, Simons, who describes himself as a multiculturally aware guy who dates women of other races and maintains friendships with Latinos and other minorities, says he got a handful of nasty calls, including a bomb threat. He was then humbled by an outpouring of support from people who were angered that anyone would be labeled a racist for demanding communication in English.
I'm sorry, but a sign declaring "No Speak English, No Service" is a sign declaring non-English speakers unwelcome in any language -- and no amount of mealy-mouthed weasel words can alter that fact. Nor can a handful of the most stereotypically vapid excuses -- "Some of my best friends are Latinos".

But notice how the libertarian "post racial" fantasy doesn't exactly work out? Instead of this business owner being shamed and suffering a loss of business, the right-wing need to declare that liberals are "waving the bloody shirt" any time they attempt to hold people responsible for their bigoted speech actually ensures that these people not only won't be hurt, they will prosper tremendously for it. (Tim Wise has another example of this.)

Moreover, such is the state of modern conservatism that it thoroughly embraces these libertarian "post-racial" fantasies about how all would be swell if we just let capitalism work its magic, now that everyone knows that ethnic, religious and sexual bigotry are bad things -- even in the face of overwhelming factual evidence, both historical and current, that just the opposite is true: Bigotry can be very a lucrative way of doing business.

It can also be a very powerful political strategy when tendered with dog whistles and subtle racial appeals -- particularly to white Americans' fears that they are being racially overwhelmed. An anonymous member of Congress who writes for Huffington Post under the nom de plume "Anonymous Radicalized Marginal Democratic House Member" expressed this vividly the other day when explaining why Democrats have been so impotent when it comes to moving any kind of immigration legislation forward:
"Easy: because desperate Republicans two years ago had to swap dog whistles for bull horns to reach their virulent nativist base voters, and now nativism has become a litmus test for Republicans.

"Anti-immigrant groups were building blocks of the Tea Party. Tea Party Republicans foam at the mouth when they have to press one for English.They want to arrest and deport anyone buying Tecate beer with cash at WalMart. It's the culture, stupid."
Indeed, just the other day, Science Daily reported on a study finding that whites now believe they are the victims of racism more than blacks!
Whites believe that they have replaced blacks as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America, according to a new study from researchers at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School. The findings, say the authors, show that America has not achieved the "post-racial" society that some predicted in the wake of Barack Obama's election.

Both whites and blacks agree that anti-black racism has decreased over the last 60 years, according to the study. However, whites believe that anti-white racism has increased and is now a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

"It's a pretty surprising finding when you think of the wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as income, home ownership, health and employment," said Tufts Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Sommers, Ph.D., co-author of "Whites See Racism as a Zero-sum Game that They Are Now Losing," which appears in the May 2011 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Sommers and co-author Michael I. Norton of Harvard asked a nation-wide sample of 208 blacks and 209 whites to indicate the extent to which they felt blacks and whites were the targets of discrimination in each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s. A scale of 1 to 10 was used, with 1 being "not at all" and 10 being "very much."

White and black estimates of bias in the 1950s were similar. Both groups acknowledged little racism against whites at that time but substantial racism against blacks. Respondents also generally agreed that racism against blacks has decreased over time, although whites believed it has declined faster than blacks do.

However, whites believed that racism against whites has increased significantly as racism against blacks has decreased. On average, whites rated anti-white bias as more prevalent in the 2000s than anti-black bias by more than a full point on the 10-point scale. Moreover, some 11 percent of whites gave anti-white bias the maximum rating of 10 compared to only 2 percent of whites who rated anti-black bias a 10. Blacks, however, reported only a modest increase in their perceptions of "reverse racism."

"These data are the first to demonstrate that not only do whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality -- at their expense," note Norton and Sommers. Whites see racial equality as a zero sum game, in which gains for one group mean losses for the other.
You can read the entire study here. [PDF]

This is part of a mindset that has been cultivated by -- indeed, it seems endemic to -- conservatives: namely, that race is a zero-sum game. It was expressed perhaps most succinctly by Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions when he was accusing Sonia Sotomayor of being prejudiced (with nary a whiff of irony):
Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it's not law. In truth it's more akin to politics, and politics has no place in the courtroom.

... That is, of course, the logical flaw in the empathy standard. Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.
As long as one of our major political parties is the host and breeding ground of this kind of worldview, there's going to be a racial divide in this country. And liberals who want to grasp onto the starry-eyed fantasies of "post racial" politics had better figure that out too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Herman Cain Gets A Hannity Job: Softball Interview Lets Him Admit He Was Clueless About Issue He Attacked Obama On

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tea Partying wingnut candidate Herman Cain -- who was caught looking like an idiot this weekend for wading into the Israel-Palestine debate and demonstrating his utter cluelessness with Chris Wallace -- got to have a Fox News do-over last night by getting himself a Hannity Job: "one of those appearances where Sean strokes you, tosses you a bunch of softballs, and lets you promote your campaign and issue non-answers whenever you like."

It was a nice try, of sorts. Basically Cain admitted he was stumped by Wallace's question and caught flat-footed. But hey, he's all studied up on it now. (And from a reliable source, no doubt.)
CAIN: The thing that you gonna learn about Herman Cain, if he doesn’t know something, he’s not going to try and fake it or give an answer that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Now here’s the thing that I have learned about the right of return since Sunday. It wasn’t that they were kicked out of Israel by the Jews, no. Their Arab leaders asked them to leave… So yes, I still stick by my answer – it is the responsibility and the decision to be made by Israel.
As Ellen at NewsHounds points out, that's the kind of lameness we've come to expect from this Republican field of stiffs, blowhards and half-wits:
Well, the thing we really learned about Herman Cain is that he’s a knee-jerk pro-Israel supporter willing to attack President Obama’s Middle East policy without knowing what he’s talking about.

Before he asked about right of return, Wallace noted that Cain had accused Obama of throwing Israel “under the bus” with his suggestion that Israel return to 1967 borders. Cain reiterated that stance, saying he’d offer nothing to the Palestinians “to make peace.”

And yet, when asked about the right of return, Cain said, “That’s something that should be negotiated.” He also said, “Yes, they (Palestinians) should have a right to come back, if that is a decision that Israel wants to make.”

If Cain knew anything about Israel’s policies, he’d have known that that’s a decision Israel has already made – against the right of return. So, the Cain campaign issued a statement last night trying to walk back and recast his answer to make it look as though Cain knew what he was talking about.


Now on Hannity, Cain was arguing that he originally knew nothing about a long-standing key point of contention between Israel and Palestine but 24 hours later had gotten up to speed on the whole thing.

Not surprisingly, none of these contradictions were explored by Hannity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sheriff Arpaio May Be Tough On Immigrant Workers, But Sex Criminals? Eh, Not So Much

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

While Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been busy arresting Latino car-wash workers and hapless mothers at roadblocks in his Ahab-like pursuit of undocumented immigrants, he's also been looking the other way when it comes to rape and other sex crimes, and letting criminals escape justice.

It's not exactly news that Arpaio's anti-immigrant fetish (not to mention his publicity-hound style) has meant that other kinds of crime in Maricopa County have not received the full attention of the Sheriff's Office. But now it's produced a particularly ugly and telling twist:
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases, including dozens in El Mirage, over a two-year period because of poor oversight and former Chief Deputy David Hendershott's desire to protect a key investigator from bad publicity, according to documents pertaining to a recent internal investigation released by the Sheriff's Office.

The errors led to interminable delays for victims of serious crimes who waited years for the attackers to be brought to justice, if they were ever caught.

More than 50 El Mirage sex-crime cases, most involving young children reportedly victimized by friends or family, went uninvestigated after police took an initial report.

The lack of oversight was so widespread in El Mirage that it affected other cases: roughly 15 death investigations, some of them homicides with workable leads, were never presented to prosecutors, and dozens of robberies and auto-theft cases never led to arrests.

Concern about the handling of the cases dates back several years. However, a recently concluded investigation by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu revealed that an internal probe to get to the root of the problem was blocked by Hendershott two years ago because it would have reflected poorly on an investigator he considered crucial to a separate case.

Hendershott, according to investigators, killed the internal probe to protect Sgt. Kim Seagraves, because she was potentially needed to testify in a corruption case he was pushing.

The Pinal County investigation not only found fault in the El Mirage case, but it illustrated a larger problem with agency investigations.

"It wasn't just El Mirage PD cases," Deputy Chief Scott Freeman told Pinal County investigators. "As they started to look into that, they found that there were a lot of cases that hadn't been worked properly, hundreds of cases."

The Sheriff's Office would not comment on the mishandled investigations, which are the subject of an ongoing internal probe that began after Hendershott was placed on administrative leave last fall.
This reflects something the conservative Goldwater Institute reported three years ago:
The Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Office is responsible for vitally important law-enforcement functions in one of the largest counties in the nation. It defines its core missions as law-enforcement services, support services, and detention.

MCSO falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission in all three areas. Although MCSO is adept at self-promotion and is an unquestionably “tough” law-enforcement agency, under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared, both in absolute terms and relative to other jurisdictions.
It has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in reducing crime generally, and to extensive trips by MCSO officials to Honduras for purposes that are nebulous at best. Profligate spending on those diversions helped produce a financial crisis in late 2007 that forced MCSO to curtail or reduce important law-enforcement functions.

In terms of support services, MCSO has allowed a huge backlog of outstanding warrants to accumulate, and has seriously disadvantaged local police departments by closing satellite booking facilities. MCSO’s detention facilities are subject to costly lawsuits for excessive use of force and inadequate medical services. Compounding the substantive problems are chronically poor record-keeping and reporting of statistics, coupled with resistance to public disclosure.

Our focus in this paper is exclusively on effective law-enforcement. We find that MCSO’s effectiveness has been compromised for the past several years by misplaced priorities that have diverted it from its mission.
There are now an increasing number of calls for his resignation. So at least some of the taxpaying voters of Maricopa County are wising up and realizing they're being had:
Now the community group Living United for Change in Arizona, better known as LUCHA, has launched an online petition calling for the Maricopa County Attorney to investigate and Sheriff Joe Arpaio to resign.

The petition states: “$100 Million ‘Misspent’ and 400 Uninvestigated Sex Crimes…End the Corruption and Abuses Now!”

In the body of the petition it reads, “On Sheriff Joe’s watch, 400 sex crimes against CHILDREN went uninvestigated. Victims—children from 2 to 16 years old—were not helped and sexual predators were left unchecked, free to abuse more children.”

Monica Sandschafer of LUCHA wrote in an e-mail, “Sheriff Joe Arpaio stood by and let these children and women be abused. By not investigating the crimes against these 400 people, he sent a message to all predators that Maricopa County is a "sanctuary" for them."
You can read the full report on the independent investigation into Arpaio's office by Pinal County here. The report also revealed that Dave Hendershott used his power to intimidate Arpaio's political foes on the County Supervisors' board and elsewhere.

Mother Mags at DKos has more.