Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Perfect Storm Forming In The Ideation Of Killing Threatens Destruction In Many Parts Of The United States.

A Perfect Storm Forming In The Ideation Of Killing Threatens Destruction In Many Parts Of The United States.

A 'perfect storm' of factors including non-white immigration, concern over the economy and new restrictions on firearms have conspired to make such an attack inevitable, analysts claim. There is no question but this nation is nearing being armed to the teeth with a populous that has a tighter grip on their firearm than they do on their normal sensibilities. The old cliché always attributed to the NRA crowd: “You will have to pry my gun out of my cold dead hand!”has lost its exclusivity as we as a nation are looking in the wrong direction for answer, and like the 60s denial reigns, the Ostrich Syndrome dominates the intelligentsia who are forever given to” It can’t happen here; It can’t happen again.” Gun mania is now left center and right, blue, purple and red!

No Government lasts forever. No Constitution is eternal. There comes a moment in many lives where one must protect him or herself, to kill or be killed. There comes a time, as history has provided more than ample example when the citizens of a nation must take up arms as “citizen soldiers” in Revolution. Without the right “”To Keep and Bear Arms” we become victims and slaves. This I shall never accept.

It has become commonplace for writers to ask, repeatedly: “What is wrong with America?” In most instances it is throw away rhetoric. Everyone has a grasp of at least the basics to answer the question. We have an economy that has gone down the corporate financial golden plated commodes. One side wants a rapid fix with controls and the other side wants a bail out fix without accountability, re-regulation and factual exposure.

The auto industry has all but collapsed in the wake of years of complacent do-it-the-same-way mentally and the workers are taking in on the chin in the unemployment ranks and give back benefits and salary reductions. This makes the corporate piranhas happy as, by their own assertions: “those people shouldn’t be making anymore than teachers.” They have that ass backwards, as usual. Teachers ought to be making the same wage as the automaker whose kids they are responsible for and upon whom they are expected to work miracles.

Merciless foreclosures are driving people to desperation, and instead of applying a tourniquet to stem the bleeding the right wing hate groups and financial money baggers spend their time blaming folks for entering contracts they could never afford avoiding as much as possible the fact that is was the banking community that trained its lending officers in one of the greatest sideshow huckstering shell games every devised in America. Boy have we got a deal for you today.

Those who have led the world, yes the global economy, into what in reality is now a managed depression, not a recession in traditional parlance, are doing everything they can to escape accountability, everything they can to protect their right to resume every power, abuse and excess once the world has been reconstructed. They do not want their books opened, their salary packages or business practices regulated. The damage has been too great for the financial powers that be to pull that agenda off. Initial legislation to cope with credit card company thuggery, though imperfect can yet be perfected in subsequent legislative actions.

The world is not going to emerge from this disaster as it was before, not for you, not for them and sooner of later the people of this nation will rise up and force the congress to act in accordance with their oaths and the interest of this nation. We all know the congress has a first duty to be reelected, in their eyes, and given that fact we the people can attack and exploit that vulnerability for the general good.

We are not engaged in the repair of the economy; we are engaged in the reconstruction of the world economy, and while it will be built on the rubble and ashes of the old economy; what emerges must not be a layer of band-aids but a new structure that is highly controlled and regulated. There will be resistance. The words: “it’s too big to allow its failure” should be a guiding principle of the new structure and controls.

Those measures will surely be labeled as economic socialism. Our answer to those who level the attack in the demonization of words should be a very simple retort: “we prefer this course of action to your plundering financial anarchy”. Yes fight back on and equal field. You call me a Socialist and I will call you a financial rapist and anarchist bent on control of everything on your terms and willing to risk another collapse down the road which you are already schooled in imposing on our backs and ruining our financial lives for your resurrection. See how they like that. And is not only the corporate financial world that needs to be revamped…in a capsule…

There has not really been a time in which the United States has had her financial foundation questioned until now. However, it was the Reagan tax laws in the early 1980’s which substantially increased the amount of debt that government, industry, and individuals took on in order to keep the “Reagan Revolution” going. It was then that America began to rely more heavily on foreign countries to carry our debt.

The debt has continued to climb, and as a result of the 2008 Credit Crisis has caused our lenders to question our ability to repay. By the end of 2008, the federal debt grew to 41% of GDP. Both Russia and China have said that it is time to make other arrangements for the dollar. Recently, astute Chinese students laughed when our globalist treasury secretary stated that the $768B China has lent America was safe since 82% of its $2T in foreign reserves is in dollars.

As the credit crisis has continued, there has been a noticeable revolution of debt from the books of the international bankers onto the backs of the American tax-payers. At every turn, this rotation of debt has spread to include the credit card industry, the student loan industry, mortgages, the automobile industry and the commercial mortgage industry. The idea of piggybacking debt onto the backs of the American taxpayer began with the same type of financial maneuvers that occurred in the late 18thC.

The credit crisis has also allowed us to see how the position of Treasury Secretary has become one of change agent and facilitator for the Federal Reserve as that position shifts power away from Congress at every turn to the Federal Reserve. Even The Washington Post on May 30 discussed how the Federal Reserve was given vast emergency powers in 1991. These powers have been used 19 times since March, 2008 to expand its power.

Because it is a private corporation, many are “concerned that an institution not accountable to voters is risking vast amounts of public money and choosing which companies get help.” The Post article stated concern over the Fed’s rescue programs "that are outside the reach of Congress" and their recent agreement to “spur up to $1T in new lending by funding the purchase of securitized loans.” Congress is not thinking twice about the large amounts of power that they have vested in the Federal Reserve… powers which they are not and will not be able to “reign back in.” In other words, we may be reaching a time when Congress is no longer necessary as they have transferred their power to a private corporation, the Federal Reserve.

And then there are those who sound like old Nazi Germany, prepared to delve into the matter in this fashion: Anti-Semitism And The Economic Crisis. Truly we are watching a witches brew caldron of hate and confusion reaching a roaring boil in tinderbox politics.

There Is Nothing More Dangerous In Politics As Unfulfilled Expectations And Nothing As Powerful As An Idea Whose Time Has Come.

Dealing as we must with the economic and social collapse surrounding us daily there are many expectations and hopes that Americans long to see fulfilled and as we build anew our nation and prepare a new foundation for our future and future’s of those yet unborn the idea that the world must change is before us. The challenges at our table are immense, but never have the opportunities to emerge from the current darkness into a new day fashioned from revolutionary changes been so attainable.

We must reject hatreds and rote ritual worship of past notions of national greatness and fashion new great realities and restore both the integrity of this nation and the road of opportunity to continue our great experiment. Hatred, bigotry, exclusiveness, rejection of acceptance of and respect for individual differences, intolerance, willful attempts to impose our will and values on our brothers and sisters, neighbors have no place in a healthy society. Rejection of scientific facts and advances is not ideological stubbornness; it is insanity.

We have in our greed and apathy, in generations lost in “I, Me, And Mine” allowed this nation to decay physically, morally and yes, spiritually.

The 2009 Infrastructure Report Card gives the greatest nation on Earth a (D). There is enough to be accomplished in infra structure alone to re-employ, reenergize and renew this nation. For those who would continue to shriek against paying for anything; it is about time that be given a two by four wakeup call that every cent spent is an investment in ourselves and future of this nation. I cannot tell you, cannot convey my level of contempt and disgust, or express the anger and rage that wells up within me every time I hear yet another account of local school district fighting for ballot approval of a school levy, and having done so repeatedly hurl, the ultimate weapon, after having deleted the curriculum and staff of art, music, etc., cancellation of busing and all extracurricular activities. Parents jump to the cause with money to pay to play sports. Ah ha, maybe there is a message here in what’s wrong with education as defined by all the skewed tests and self-anointed experts. Let me let you in on a dirty little secret, one of those unsaid things. It is more cost efficient for corporate America to let America’s public education system go to hell and import foreign talent paid for by some other nation. We can set up private and voucher schools where able and moderate income folks can ship their sons and daughters off to on their road to scholarship funded higher education down the road, while the great vast majority are warehoused in schools that cannot serve as they should and schools who have a clientele whose parents are more interested in babysitting services and a school that never calls them to complain about student performance but find some way to pass these kids down an assembly line of mediocrity.

Education is the most important investment a nation can make and when this nation has states that invest more in prisons than their schools something is very wrong. When a nation spends more on beer and hard liquor than it does on the total of education; l have to insist that this nation has a serious problem! Someone paid for my education and I accept and expect to pay for someone else’s in return, just think of it as paying dues to your society.

The Greening of our society is necessary for our very survival and that is a fact. I shall resort to the buzz word carbon foot print only once as it is being worked to meaninglessness by the daily deluge. If we do not address this matter we are fools. Yet there are those who vehemently oppose taking any action related to Global Climate change, dismissing all science and human concerns out-of-hand; declaring all things to simply be uncontrollable natural, normal phenomenon. One has to have an intellect as shallow as a cheap veneer to dent that man does not have an impact of the environment and welfare of our little planet.

We pump all manner of gases into the atmosphere from the most obvious daily tail pipe assault on our atmosphere to manmade industrial chemicals poured willy nilly into our rivers, streams and lakes, chemicals that earth is never going to be able biodegrade and digest. We drill, detonate, build immense structure that compress and stress the earth. We hammer the earth with the weapons of war, detonate nuclear underground explosion so great in magnitude that anyone, anywhere in the world with measuring equipment can detect and examine them. That is no little hiccup. We deforest, chop, grind burn up our world and dump all manner of undisclosed matter into the oceans of the world, and we have no impact…right! Even if the flat-earthers were right and all of the changes taking place were “merely natural” we still have a responsibility to not only prevent or slow down the most threatening, but to prepare for those changes and just sit idly by awaiting the inevitable catastrophes that will be visited upon human kind. That preparation is constructive and economically productive.

It is now widely accepted that those gas belching polluting autos that we love have to be changed into a new configuration that eliminates, at least, that component of environmental poisoning. And what more propitious moment in time than now to make changes revolutionary in nature, visionary of the future and beneficial of the moment.

I have questioned:” Are we willing to say to the auto industry we can and will save your asses if you produce the true, no-hybrid, no plug in electric car and kill off 90% of our oil needs...No.” Can you simply imagine the paradigm step a true electric vehicle would constitute? There are all manner of electric engine designs extant and being further perfected at the moment. And I cannot believe that we do not possess the talent, the genius to perfect the battery component and build the on board battery recharging system and regulator that will give birth to a true, fuel less, emission less, no plug in, no recharge electric engine. Whoever gets there first will have produced the engine that will rule the world for centuries to come.

We need to take the stand, the position that hybrids are not acceptable. You have to recharge them with a plug and wherever that electricity comes from is savaging the environment. The game of smoke and mirrors, oil and gas, smoke belching from some stack somewhere is the shell game has got to stop and we have the opportunity the need do it now. That is change; that is reconstruction; that is stimulus.

While the threat of spreading hatred spawned violence increases, and the lawlessness of our government continues in the form of refusal to move obliquely on holding the Bush administration to account for the single greatest number of unconstitutional and criminal acts; America festers in frustration to the breaking point. With five New England states leading a new revolution of same sex marriage, bell weather Iowa on board, California in strife over prop 8 and DC squabbling over ballot or no ballot thet nation is becoming an armed camp with hand gun supplies unable to meet demand in some regions, ammunition shortage plaguing gun outlets; the anti-war, peace and Impeachment advocates remain resolute in peaceful efforts that have proven time and time again to lead to naught but being mocked, ignored and branded as political theater of left over hippies. And yes, we’re about to embark on yet another wave of weekend protests that will be every bit as impotent as those of the last eight years; years in which money has changed hands, all manner of button and banner sales on the malls have given a festive cast to the assemblies all but totally ignored by the media. Need I remind you that the most successful demonstration this town has seen in years was when the teamsters rolled into town with their 18 wheelers in gas price protest. The police powers in DC were fearful that this was the big one. Well, for mu money the Iraian peole are doing what this nation’s citizens will have do sooner or later, and that my friends is a fact!

We’ve all seen them; those internet flyers and messages calling us to rally somewhere in America in the name of Justice and Accountability with the closing notations that” “This is a no risk event”, or “There may be a small risk”, or the really “radical” disclaimer “There will be a risk involved”. As there will be some future reference to bird droppings in this essay; these are from Chickenshit impotent political theater bills of announcement!

Just let you imagination work for a moment; you might find it refreshing. Imagine Paul Revere, Joe Warren, Sam Adams and John Hancock walking into the office of The Massachusetts Spy (Boston) “Thomas’s Boston Journal” and having a conversation with Editor, Isaiah Thomas, and in that conversation they relay the facts that they have some dubious intelligence gathered by a bunch of the local bar flies who have over heard drunken Redcoats mumbling something about big doings coming any day now in Boston…like we’re going to clean this place out and “DISARM” (take away their guns…GOD NO!). (That always seems to get folks really upset!)

And further we have information that General Gage’s old lady Maggie (Margaret Kemble Gage) has told Joe Warren, over here, earlier today that her husband intends to raid the armories at Lexington and Concord and arrest our asses tomorrow. What? Well she’s a home grown gal from East Brunswick Township, New Jersey, and she is really sympathetic to our cause and not her old man’s crap.

Now Isaiah; we know this is a rush job, but what we need is some simple flyer to tell people to be alert tonight, and that if anything happens they should come to the Bridge between Concord and Lexington. We have a couple of fellows who are going to be up in the Belfry of the Old North Church keeping watch and a few us are going to ready to gallop around yelling the alarm: “The Red Coats are coming!” Make sure to tell them to wear appropriate clothes that blend in with woods, and to bring their guns. Don’t forget, to protect our asses, we will need to include the disclaimer that “there may be substantial risk at this rally”.

Isaiah; can you have the stuff ready by noon so as we can put it out in the taverns?

The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington.

Now you know that’s not quite how our forefathers handled things, and maybe, just maybe we ought to review that time period and just how things were done!

Having Said That We Need To Take A Look At The Basics Of Just What The Hell Is Wrong With Country Today.

People are running around assassinating one another in churches, museums and on the sidewalks of America. This gets a bit more complicated. Most folks can grasp the concept that the gunmen are a group of extremists, off-their-rocker bigoted lunatics. You can’t stop there! There are people in this nation who understand full well the full dynamic of the rash of act-outs. This nation is changing demographically.

This weekend none other than Bill Clinton spelled it out in Gin-clear words what I have been saying for a long time. Washington (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton said Saturday that Americans should be mindful of the nation's changing demographics, which led to the election of Barack Obama as president.

He told an Arab-American audience of 1,000 people that the U.S. is no longer just a black-white country, nor a country that is dominated by Christians and a powerful Jewish minority, given the growing numbers of Muslims, Hindus and other religious groups here.

Clinton said by 2050 the U.S. will no longer have a majority of people with European heritage and that in an interdependent world "this is a very positive thing."

There are a large group of folks who driven to frenetic frenzy by that fact, one that may haps do not fully grasp as regards the numerical data, but nonetheless they see a black President in the White House a female Hispanic nominee for the Supreme Court, a woman suspect by the right because she did not rise from the privileged class and she is one of the “new endangering minority”. It is more than they can bear. They see “THEIR” America slipping away. They see the demise of WASP rule in America and they are scared to death, scared to death because they fear losing control, fearful because they know the hates and prejudices that they harbor in the darkest corners of their minds, terrified because they cannot escape their guilt and the belief that a new majority would do unto them as they have done unto minorities and would like to do unto them before it is too late. It is call hate! From them it is not part of new and positive vision for America. They are venom-filled with “Stamp-It-Out”.

Like so many other things we fail to take into account that the miscreants of racial hatred have a long and evolving history in this nation. In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the deeply-held religious beliefs of an assortment of white nationalists became the scaffolding for a broad, and often violent, movement of racists and anti-Semites.

How do the religious beliefs of the movement’s different constituencies—the Christian patriots, neo-Confederates, survivalists, white power skinheads, Holocaust deniers, scientific racists, and others—manifest themselves?

When the Cold War ended, traditional conservatives helped birth a new white nationalism, most evident now among anti-immigrant organizations. With the dawn of a new millennium, they are fixated on predictions that white people will lose their majority status and become one minority among many. The book concludes with a look to the future, elucidating the growing threat these groups will pose to coming generations.

For some, religion is simply a way of expressing group identity. That is most obviously true among the pagans and Odinists in the skinhead scene, where the invocation of the old Norse gods is not about theology or even ethics, but about style and promoting their subculture. In a similar sense, there are neo-Confederates and white nationalists who believe that “Christian-ness” is one aspect of their Western civilization—along with respect for tradition, authority, and whites-only citizenship rights. For this wing of the movement, best exemplified by a now-deceased Washington Times columnist Sam Francis, opposition to abortion is less a theological imperative and more a program plank alongside support for gun rights and opposition to immigration.

Then there are the so-called Christian patriots and Posse Comitatus-types for whom a specific theological strain known as “Christian Identity” defines their notions of themselves as white people, and their ideas of national identity and governmental power. They hold Bible camp retreats for families where they teach each other how to live and what to believe. They also promote their belief that the United States is a white Christian republic rather than a multiracial democracy. And in a number of cases they turn their conviction that white Christians have superior civil and political rights—over those they deem “Fourteenth Amendment” citizens (everybody else)—into fraudulent schemes with fake money. In other instances, they establish “Christian” courts and militia groups that act as if they are legitimate arms of “lawful” government.

In this belief system, whites from northern Europe—the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Teutonic and Lombard peoples—are the real descendents of the biblical people of Israel. As such, Jews are fakes and considered either satanic by nature or Satan himself incarnate. In this schema, black people and other people of color are considered “pre-Adamic,” that is before Adam: not fully human in the way white people are. In this telling, interracial marriage is a sin akin to bestiality, and the presence of Jews in their Christian society is a crime against their God. While such ideas may seem ridiculous on their face, Christian Identity followers derive their entire belief system from their Bible.

Further, the white nationalist movement today is organized around the notion that the power of whites to control government and social policy has already been overthrown by people of color and Jews, rather unlike the Klan of the 1960s which sought to defend a system of racial apartheid in the South. But given the present escalation of hate groups in America and the media cheer leading squad with which have to contend we must consider them A Clear and present danger. Frank Rich of The New York Times makes the point with sniper accuracy in his most recent Ed-Op piece: The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers. (READ IT!)

The entire Immigration issue has been politically framed in the negative and has been manipulated as one of the devises of political misdirection and redirection by the political right. Beyond the polite, self pat on the back rhetoric that we open our doors to everyone, and our egotist expectation that everyone wants to come here to enjoy the better life, the fact is that we encouraged the flood of immigration from South of our borders for purely economic reasons…a pool of cheap non-union labor.

It wasn’t until the Bush Administration needed a new popular internal enemy to demonize and to shift the focus away from other growing problems that it turned on the non-documented residents of this nation. Notice I did not say “illegal aliens” the demonizing emotionalized frame; the “Illegal Aliens” who are sucking up our money and government provided benefits at the tax payer’s expense while stealing jobs from white Americans. Cherry picked statistics that would flunk in any college class room as a classroom paper have been internet circulated as fact and reiterated by right wing media sources as Gospel fact in Goebbels Propaganda fashion.

Corporate America welcomed the influx; the government sat on its hands and turned a blind eye to the buildup. The expediency of corporate greed dictated and the unintended consequences were not foreseen. What began as migrant worker field hands who were transient in residence produced a need class of permanent residents. The utter nonsense of massive deportation is one of the most silly, folly-filled efforts to break the residency status. The immigration laws of this land, library filling in volume serve no one any longer but the attorney’s of this nation. They are a sham. The question really is not one of reform; it is as so many other things in our land long unattended in constructive and timely fashion, now a matter of renewal and massive reconstruction anew. The codes are irrelevant to the times and conditions. And yet Congress continues to deal with the issue as a game.

The continued political opportunistic exploitation of this issue in local communities has not been without “those unexpected/incalculable consequences”. Local right wing politicos have exploited and fed the xenophobic fears and uncertainties generated in the Bush years, a fear fed in the main by its champions Tancredo, Dobbs and Limbaugh. In local elections candidates have ridden into office on anti-immigrant platforms and while subsequently successful initially in passage of “popular” punitive policies; with rather rapid results; those communities have experienced the withdrawal of non-documented residents from those communities with disastrous financial impacts that have resulted in failing local tax bases, school personnel cutbacks, business layoffs and closures.

So much for the notion that non-documented residents are a leech-like drain of the economy; they have been political misdirection scapegoats for the bigots and insecure to demonize in relief of their accumulated personal financial frustrations.

Escalating the issue, giving it continued legs with an American pride twist has been the absolute nonsense of the popularization of the “Make English Our Official Language” crowd. Many of our parents, Grandparents and Great Grandparents who fashioned large portions of this nation and served in World Wars I and II did not speak English initially. They learned and their children learned the tongue.

We need to be reminded on a fundamental fact that folks of this disposition seem to be prepared to trample all over in the name of some sick pride spouting political rubbish.

This nation is “The Great Experiment”; America is an abstract that is not defined by a language, an official religion or a hereditary monarchal family leadership. At times it appears that a couple of those lines have been blurred.

Add to social ferment brewing pot older and still extant racial issues and have a volatile brew. Anti-black and anti-Semitism still flourish, both given current accentuation by economic and political events in the nation and the Middle East. Racially, issues of inter-racial marriage, affirmative action and political/social/economic advancement are the fire fodder of aroused white supremacists. The election of Barack Obama has been both a sign of progress and a clarion call to the most rabid of hate groups.

This nation is rapidly becoming war-weary, weary of Iraq, wary of Afghanistan and disgusted with Israel, Palestine, Iran and North Korea. We are a country well aware of sham diplomacy and at some level aware of the realities. Iraq will implode to some degree upon our withdrawal and we will be both horrified and blamed for whatever bloodletting atrocities follow.

Only the crazed flock-followers of the Cheney-Bush regime will bleat and repeat all of the vitriol that follows the “my country right or wrong” mindless cliché; that those of us who press on to end an illegal war, demand justice in terms of full disclosure of the truth and prosecution in every appropriate jurisdiction: Congress via Impeachment, Civil Court via Imprisonment, and the Hague via the gallows are treasonous, unpatriotic, anarchistic, atheist slime that ought to leave this country.

Those who demand the truth and full accountability are those who represent the best that America can and should be. They are the citizens who have not been beaten into submission by the Bush-Cheney whips of fear, the fear that “terrorists” will roar our streets, rape our women, frag our kids in school yard play grounds, demolish our buildings and burn this nation to the ground bent on killing all of us as Infidels in house to house combat. We are un-American if we do speak of Muslim people with utter disrespect and contempt and paint them all with the broad brush of crazed blood lust. This must stop. How many enemies will they offer up at the altar of their hatred?

We have extremism in our politics since the day this nation was born and some very ugly Presidential campaigns, but the current virulent violence begging of the right causes me to wonder if this is a new chapter in American history leading to an inevitable catastrophe, a revolution.

I can see where this is going and where it might end up at. An otherwise strong nation with a inexhaustible intellectual prowess will morph into a 1920's Germanic state where law and respectful debate is no longer applicable.

Is It Any Wonder That This Nation Is Basically Insecure And Paranoid Of Character?

The recent shootings of Stephen T. Johns in the Holocaust museum shooting, and George Tiller, abortion doctor shot to death around 10 a.m. inside his church, The Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita have awakened America to the serious possibility of a new home-brewed terrorism in this nation, the terrorism of hate and bigotry groups and/or those who identify with them and the messages they spew out daily, messages fueled by hate radio and TV.

In both instances the assassins are depicted as demented, deranged isolated lunatics and not a part of a larger picture, a larger malaise infecting this nation, an infection of hatred as virulent a strain as we have witnessed in our lifetimes.

Admittedly both men fall outside any definition of mental normality, however, that is not to say that they cannot be identified as belonging to a group or classification of mentally unstable malcontents who are a danger to society. They were both known to authorities before their recent actions.

Are a lot of us potential militant extremists?...a post on militant extremism by Lee Sigelman on June 1, 2009 0 speaks directly to Scott Roeder, the assassin of George Tiller. Can social science tell us anything about why he did this (or, conversely, why people who feel similarly didn’t do this)? Keep in mind that the point of social science is not to explain every individual occurrence of a phenomenon but direct inquiry toward more or less fruitful avenues. Below: a non-exhaustive set of ideas.

Clearly, there are attitudinal foundations, in particular Roeder’s vehement opposition to abortion. Other research on extremism and hate crime finds that its perpetrators are distinct from the general population. For example, this paper by Don Green,Robert Abelson, and Margaret Garnett interviewed 25 hate-crime perpetrators or white supremacists — gleaned from the archives of North Carolinians Against Racial and Religious Violence and then questioned via phone under the guise of a survey. These two groups were more likely than the general public to favor decreased immigration, to favor a law against interracial marriage, and to be uncomfortable with those who seek to ban the Confederate flag. We would expect Roeder to be similarly different from the population.

But attitudes alone aren’t enough. Roeder has expressed extreme attitudes for some time. And Tiller’s clinic has been open for decades. So why commit this act now?

What about the economy? A popular theory of violent action (whether crime, hate crime, etc.) is that it’s aggression born of frustration.

So an economic downturn leads to unemployment, anger about job prospects, or some combination of these and other factors, and the frustrated persons take out their anger through violence. This theory re: Roeder — is probably less relevant. One piece of evidence comes from the Green et al. study: hate crime perpetrators and of the economy were a bit worse, but not much. See also this post.

Is there some other situation cue? Green et al. suggest possibilities:

…no psychological explanation can make sense of hate crime without considering the mechanisms by which people are spurred to action. A great many social psychological forces come to mind: pressures to go along with, or prove oneself among, a group of bigots looking for action; the blandishments of a charismatic leader; community norms concerning attacks against minorities; to name but a few.

To date, there is no evidence of a charismatic leader driving Roeder’s actions. However, there is evidence that he was a member of one militant group, the Montana Freeman, and also frequented anti-abortion rallies and websites. This may not mean that he was “pressured” or felt he needed to “prove himself.” But it may be that these networks of like-minded individuals helped sustain and nurture his feelings — even, in some sense, normalizing them, at least in his view.

Research on genocide and terrorism emphasizes the important role of social networks. Perhaps additional evidence will turn up that such networks directly encouraged his actions against Tiller.

However, I’m not sure what the threat is in the case of Roeder and Tiller. It has been widely suggested that Bill O’Reilly’s criticism of Tiller is to blame. Again, the timing seems a bit off. O’Reilly has been criticizing Tiller for several years. And we don’t know whether Roeder even watched O’Reilly. And if he did, what was O’Reilly saying that Roeder didn’t already believe? It more likely that his acts stem from a combination of driving forces and a pent up built up of rage.

Others have suggested that Tiller became newly salient because he was a controversial part of Kathleen Sibelius’ nomination at HHS. That seems tangential at best. If one is as single-minded as Roeder apparently was about this issue, it’s probably not the case that he needed to be reminded of Tiller’s existence.

Again, explaining Roeder’s actions is difficult. There may never be a clear answer. And, ultimately, we would want to base our understanding of this kind of violence on a systematic inquiry, not on a single case. But we can perhaps identify factors that are likely to matter more, or at least ones that are likely to matter less.

A more likely and a more direct explanation in this particular case: Roeder was very interested in Tiller’s trial, which ended in an acquittal. Consequently, it’s very likely that he decided to rid the world of this “mass killer of babies” himself. A crazy idea, but Roeder seems to have some sort of mental illness — even his brother admits this.

It is also possible that this is just the first violent act of his that succeeded. It takes time to plan and research any particular act of violence - you need to know things like the fact that Tiller wore a bullet-proof vest, which church he attended, when he’ll be ushering, etc. It’s not quite as simple as just walking up to the man and shooting him.

It also may have taken Roeder some time to psych himself up to commit murder, since he doesn’t seem to have had experience with direct violence before (he’s not, for example, ex-military or a serial killer).

Roeder had been arrested before with bomb-making materials, and Tiller’s clinic routinely found evidence of various efforts to get through the security system. One gets the feeling that he was trying for something more dramatic, and decided he couldn’t to pull it off.

The types of violence described are committed by groups of people, either acting together (genocide), or varying at an epidemiological level (hate crimes - do hate crimes increase when the economy is bad?).

What one should probably ponder about Roeder is what causes variation in the general level of violence against abortion providers - especially since Roeder’s success is pretty obviously biasing us to consider his act of violence more significant than the many situations where people have tried to kill Tiller. What causes attempts? We might be able to use data on harassment, which will vary over a larger range than murders, to get some kind of handle on this.

And I don’t know how much stock is put into the idea of things being timed to various anniversaries, but, IIRC, the day Dr. Tiller was murdered was the 6th anniversary of the arrest of Eric Rudolph, a known domestic terrorist who had bombed abortion clinics. Timing of violent events tends to be more closely associated with the Birthday of Adolf Hitler…those types.

The Kansas assassin, Scott Roeder, involved with Operation Rescue was sentenced to sixteen months in state prison for parole violations following a 1996 conviction for having bomb components in his car trunk. Roeder, a sovereign citizen and tax protester, violated his parole by not filing tax returns or providing his social security number to his employer. From that site, contemporaneous to events:

You are invited to join Operation Rescue on May 17-20 in Wichita, Kansas, the “Nation’s Abortion Capital,” to pray for an end to George R. Tiller’s late-term abortion business and for all pre-born babies everywhere to once again come under the protection of law.

Tiller was charged with 30 criminal counts related to the commission of illegal late-term abortions only to have them dismissed by pro-abortion politicians on dubious jurisdictional grounds.

Scott Roeder Says:
May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm
Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp. Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

We know that those who know Roeder have reported that he “believed that killing abortion doctors was an act of justifiable homicide”. While trying to keep this discussion “fair and balanced”, one cannot escape making note of the fact that as late as the week before Bill O'Reilly who has repeatedly called "Tiller the baby killer" reiterated that phrase. We’ll never know with pristine certainty the trigger for the assassination and I would reiterate that these things build up on multiple causations. What should concern everyone, however, is: are the events of the past year indicators of an American fabric stretched strained and now tearing in what many foresee as even more violence of the nature down the road and with increasing frequency. This one has to examine.

Further Roeder has stoked that fire by claiming from his jail cell Sunday that similar violence was planned around the nation for as long as the procedure remained legal, a threat that comes days after a federal investigation launched into his possible accomplices.

A Justice Department spokesman said the threat was being taken seriously and additional protection had been ordered for abortion clinics last week. But a leader of the anti-abortion movement derided the accused shooter as "a fruit and a lunatic."

Scott Roeder called The Associated Press from the Sedgwick County jail, where he's being held on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the shooting of Dr. George Tiller one week ago.

"I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal," Roeder said. When asked by the AP what he meant and if he was referring to another shooting, he refused to elaborate further. Time will tell whether there is substance to his claims or that they are simply egomaniacal lunatic press-grabbing rants and raves.

Although much of the previously mentioned studies apply, there are fewer questions as regards The attack by James Whittaker Von Brunn at the U.S. Holocaust Museum. It is easier for people to grasp given the age and record of the attacker and particular brand of bigotry and hatred. We all know a few anti-Semites.

When James Whittaker Von Brunn stepped across the threshold of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last Wednesday and began shooting, he did more than terrorize a city, strike out against a particular community and end the life of a brave security guard. He also entered into and violated Washington's much larger memorial landscape, one that has shifted dramatically over the past century. Assassin Von Brunn remains hospitalized in critical condition after being shot by security officers

Museum officials identified the dead guard as Stephen T. Johns, a six-year veteran of the facility. In an e-mail, director Sara Bloomfield said he "died heroically in the line of duty."White Supremacist Von Brunn’s car was found near the museum and tested for explosives. The killing weapon was a century old Winchester Model 6, .22 caliber rifle -- not possible for authorities to trace to the original purchaser -- a type of gun manufactured between 1908 and 1928 -- long before records were kept on gun purchases. Authorities continue checking to see if the weapon has been used in any other crime, a source said.

Again the perpetrator is no stranger to law and order officials. In 1983, he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.

Von Brunn had a racist, anti-Semitic Web site (, www.holywesternempire.org...now shut down) and wrote a book titled "Kill the Best Gentiles," alleging a Jewish "conspiracy to destroy the white gene pool." Writings attributed to von Brunn on the Internet say the Holocaust was a hoax and decry a Jewish conspiracy to "destroy the white gene pool."

Von Brunn, who lives in Annapolis, was known for decades to fellow white supremacists who read his elaborate conspiracy theories on his Web site and met him through a network of radical racist groups. He was smart enough to join Mensa, but even admirers considered him a loner, a hothead and a man consumed with hatred.

"At Auschwitz the 'Holocaust' myth became Reality, and Germany, cultural gem of the West, became a pariah among world nations," it said.

The attack was the third in a recent wave of unsettling shootings that appeared to have political underpinnings.

A 23-year-old Army private, William Andrew Long, was shot and killed outside a recruiting office this month in Arkansas and a fellow soldier was wounded. The suspect, a Muslim convert, has said he considers the killing justified because of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East.

Late last month, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in his church.

Johns, the security guard killed Wednesday, was black.

The greatest irony in this attack at the museum, which opened in 1993 and has drawn nearly 30 million visitors, houses exhibits and records relating to the Holocaust of more than a half century ago in which more than six million Jews died at the hands of Nazis, is that the museum "teaches millions of people each year about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide."

The real question that has finally front-paged itself is: Have things deteriorated so much in this country that we are spiraling down in massive civil unrest and murder in our streets.


Was Barack Obama’s visit to the site of a German concentration camp at Buchenwald in Germany where he noted, "There are those who insist the Holocaust never happened." He added, "This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history."; the last straw for Von Bruun and how many more such straws are there in the bail of hate hay in America?

At the outset of their portion of the discussion I said: “When James Whittaker Von Brunn stepped across the threshold of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last Wednesday and began shooting, he did more than terrorize a city, strike out against a particular community and end the life of a brave security guard. He also entered into and violated Washington's much larger memorial landscape, one that has shifted dramatically over the past century. It is a Washington perspective but I suspect the changes and celebration of the changes I will now briefly explore have embittered more than a few of our hate and raged filled citizenry.

While many have observed and written in so many different ways of the fact that change comes hard, that our species by-in-large instinctually opposes change; it is one of the only indisputable facts of life that: “The only constant in life is change.” and that those who would resist change inevitably fail as the hands of time are driven by a powerful mechanism that cannot be reversed.

Some of what I have to say may strike you as symbolic, however, it is such things that unnoticed weave themselves into the fabric of this nation and worm their way into the disturbed minds of extremist lunatic advocates of ideas and attitude best left only as memories and lessons in the pages of our history books.

Washington's streets and squares once only celebrated the triumphs of great white heroes who "made history" -- men such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, individuals who won the battles and made the laws that set the nation on a path of expansion and achievement. But in the early 20th century, these statues of powerful men astride horses or standing on pedestals began to give way to new kinds of memorials. First, the capital started honoring ordinary soldiers who had simply done their duty -- whether in the Civil War or World War I or Vietnam. Later, the memorials extended to civilians caught unwillingly in history's traumas -- victims of shipwreck, genocide, mass internment, land grabs and other major disasters and crimes.

Victim monuments such as the Titanic Memorial in Southwest Washington, the Holocaust Museum, the Japanese American Memorial and, most recently, the Victims of Communism Memorial, are now so common that it is hard to imagine the capital without them. Yet though we like to think that the nation's monuments reflect our history and heritage back to us, the changes have run ahead of what many are able to grasp. "Think about what you saw," declares a panel on the outer wall of the Holocaust Memorial. That is hard to do, especially when heroes and victims mingle together, shifting back and forth, within the Holocaust Museum and across the Mall and the city.

Men like von Brunn, who once would have seen themselves reflected and validated in the old white male heroic landscape, now see themselves as the nation's victims, dispossessed by the very "outsiders" -- Jews, African Americans and others -- who have gained symbolic territory on the National Mall. As von Brunn's hateful writings and alleged actions tragically demonstrate, this claim to victimhood goes hand in hand with the victimization of others.

In the 19th century, monuments in Washington's streets or public squares never commemorated victims. Victimization is powerlessness; monuments celebrated its opposite.

The statues of commanders and politicians that spread through the city's parks and traffic circles reaffirmed the power of great men to take decisive action, to transform the nation or to rescue it from peril -- even if their actions created victims. Andrew Jackson, gazing at the White House on his rearing bronze horse from Lafayette Park since 1853, ordered the expulsion of the Cherokee on the infamous "Trail of Tears," leaving thousands dead.

But not even his political opponents dreamed of acknowledging this in the forum of the public monument. Ordinary citizens of the era -- namely, the white men who had a monopoly on full citizens' rights -- looked up to these statues, quite literally, and also saw themselves reflected, even if dimly, in the hero's glory.

In the first decade of the 20th century, an American protégé of the great French sculptor Rodin won a design competition for a monument to Commodore John Barry, an Irish-born hero of the Revolutionary War. Instead of simply depicting him on a pedestal, as expected, the sculptor surrounded the hero with a huge frieze of nude, writhing figures that told the long, painful history of the Irish people's dispossession and their exodus to America.

The Irish American sponsors of the monument were aghast and went all the way to President William Howard Taft to stop it. They succeeded in replacing the design with a banal effigy of the hero above a female figure of victory. Today the pair stand forlornly in Franklin Park on 14th Street in Northwest Washington.

If the original Barry memorial was ahead of its time, by 1922 a new kind of monument appeared. That is when the huge memorials to Lincoln and Grant were finally finished, at opposite ends of a Mall that was still only in the making.

Lincoln and Grant were hero monuments, of course, but they marked major shifts not only in subject matter but also in the emotional experience they evoked.

The Lincoln Memorial is so familiar today that it is hard to imagine what a departure it must have seemed at the time. Compare it to its once famous predecessor, the high Victorian monument to Lincoln in Lincoln Park, which has the 16th president standing with the Emancipation Proclamation in hand, sundering the chains of a slave crouching at his feet.

Leaving that world of moral certainty and entering the inner precincts of the Lincoln Memorial, viewers confront a brooding figure with empty, restless hands surrounded by his own complex thoughts engraved on the walls to either side -- a pregnant space of history, resonant of hard choices.

On the other end of the axis, at the foot of the Capitol, the monument to Grant is no ordinary equestrian one like those in the traffic circles, but a meditation on the ordinary soldiers who fought and suffered under his command. These heartbreaking figures of warriors huddled in the cold or trampling a fallen comrade are spread out in clusters on an enormous platform, inviting visitors to peer into the maelstrom of combat. With Grant and Lincoln alike, there is a deliberate absence of comforting historical closure and a call instead to observe the full tragedy of history.

These psychologically charged, introspective memorials were instrumental in recasting the Mall as a space of national soul-searching. The Lincoln Memorial became the place where Jimmy Stewart questioned his ideals in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and where Martin Luther King Jr. would challenge a racially segregated nation to recommit to emancipation and justice.

Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, while brilliantly original, was at the same time an outgrowth of these developments. Her critics on the right, who found the sunken black wall anti-heroic, may have won a small tactical victory in adding Frederick Hart's soldier statues, but they failed to turn back a tide that had long been coming.

The sponsors of the original monument justified it by drawing attention to the uniqueness of the soldiers' suffering. The opponents were right to sense that this was a point of no return; the floodgates would be open to many more such "unique" victims of disastrous wars, racist ideologies and unjust policies.

If accident victims could be engraved on Lin's wall, why not those who died of Agent Orange exposure or as a result of post-traumatic stress? If a museum for the victims of the Nazi Holocaust could be erected on the edge of the Mall, why not memorials addressing home-grown oppression -- the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, or the confinement of American Indians on reservations, or the enslavement of African Americans?

All these new memorial recognitions have come to pass, emerging one after another in what some critics on the right have characterized as a virus of victimization. Other see all this as a reminder of the truth!

"Here we admit a wrong," ring out the unlikely words of President Ronald Reagan, permanently fixed in stone on a fountain at the Japanese American Memorial at Louisiana Avenue and D Street Northwest.

Admitting historical injury does not reveal an evil at the nation's core, as some seem to think: It is a positive step thanks to which many Americans have come to see themselves reflected for the first time in the nation's memorial landscape.

Yet the words unwittingly beg us to square our many wrongs with one another and with the triumphal story of national destiny that still rears its head, in hero monuments to Jefferson, World War II and, ironically, Franklin Roosevelt -- the very man responsible for the wrong that Reagan was forced to redress.

We may be ready for a change in this landscape, a move beyond victim and victimizer. It is time for the nation's monuments to make connections across these boundaries of suffering, instead of pitting one group's pain against another's. In the aftermath of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum -- a place that is dedicated to the tragedy of the Jewish people but also seeks to spotlight genocide in Darfur and elsewhere -- impromptu memorials appeared to Stephen Tyrone Johns, the African American security guard who was killed in the attack.

Such gestures make explicit the connections we already knew were there, but we could do much more to show what all these stories have in common and how we must reckon with collective responsibility.

There is room in Washington for a commemorative landscape that, in the words chiseled on Roosevelt's memorial, "recognizes that the whole world is one neighborhood and does justice to the whole human race."

The question of the moment, however, is there room in the American psyche for such a sentiment?

I am preparing myself for the comments to this post and am not expecting to feel good about what I read. However, I welcome this exercise in free speech and will read and think about even the most hateful comments. I would hope that all who read this post will approach it in that same spirit.

The shooting at the Holocaust Museum, and killing of Stephen Tyrone Johns is a horrid event and a reminder that words do occasionally lead to deeds.

While it is good to see so many voices condemning this bigoted and twisted act of violence, much of the analysis of this incident seems to skirt a more troubling and confounding question.

That question is whether or not it is possible to reconcile our anger and disgust about this incident with the constant drumbeat not so much of anti-Israel rhetoric, but of the suggestion of, for lack of a more delicate way of saying it, a Jewish cabal driving American foreign policy, that one often finds in the comment section of so many "progressive" websites?

The rhetoric of anger and hatred is not confined to the right. We on the left have found our way into the invective and we have a nation lined up on two sides of the field screaming at each other, threatening each other.

I recognize that this is a confrontational, not very pleasant, and perhaps even rude, question, but the point should not be ignored. You can't have it both ways, expressing righteous indignation when a white supremacist attempts to shoot visitors to the Holocaust Museum, while no longer being startled by the suggestion that the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States as well as millions of hard working, tax paying and voting Americans somehow don't have America's best interest in mind and are disloyal to their country, because of their support for Israel. Nonetheless, these suggestions are made almost daily in this nation.

I am so often driven to to a quote from Albert Camus on occasions such as this. In the first “Letters To A German Friend”, Albert Camus wrote: “No, I didn’t love my country, if pointing out what is unjust in what we love amounts to not loving, if insisting that what we love should measure up to the finest image we have of her amounts to not loving.” When, as now, pointing out injustice and appealing to hope is labeled as treasonous, the pendulum has come to rest at the Fascist end of the arc.

We are so dangerously close to end of that arc. It is anti-Semitic to disagree with the policies of the nation of Israel; it is unpatriotic and treasonous to oppose decisions and actions of our own government. That rhetoric, those sentiments define the retreat from sensible discourse and yes while it is an exercise of free speech; is anyone listening; is anyone thinking?

The notion that one can be critical of Israeli policy without being anti-Semitic is, of course, true. Many, if not most, American Jews are critical of various aspects of Israeli policy while being far from anti-Semitic. However, the logic of this must end somewhere because too often this truism is interpreted to mean that anti-Israel sentiment can never be anti-Semitic.

When it is suggested that Jews are subverting or controlling American foreign policy, putting what is good for Israel ahead of what is good for the US, or hoodwinking good Christians into supporting Israel, the criticism is no longer targeted at Israel.

While one can criticize Israel without being an anti-Semite, suggestions of Jewish conspiracies or that Jews are not loyal citizens cannot so easily be made without being anti-Semitic. Historically, these have been at the core of the very definition of anti-Semitism

It is not just criticism of Israel that is the issue here. It is the regularity with which, in these comments and elsewhere, virtually every foreign policy issue is related back to Israel and somehow the Jews are blamed. This is an obsession that is not healthy and goes beyond simply garden variety criticism of Israel.

Obviously the people making those comments are not going out and trying to kill Jews, but it is both a symptom and a contributing cause of a climate which facilitates, and which will very possibly continue to facilitate, violence of the sort we saw Wednesday.

This is an issue which should be of concern to all of the readers, bloggers, commenters and others who consider ourselves part of “the rational “community. Many are guilty of something, possibly hypocrisy; neglect or moral cowardice when they permit these types of comments go unanswered and then loudly condemn acts of violence targeted at Jews.

The connection, while not direct, is real. Those who call themselves progressives have a special responsibility to speak out against bigotry in all forms, even when it starts out as being against Israel and seeps into anti-Semitism. There is not much moral courage on display in this nation today and many would say that our moral compass has been blown to hell on some battlefield somewhere in the Middle East.

While we may be relieved that the shooter was a right wing white supremacist, we should ask ourselves how we would feel if the shooter was a left-wing anti-Israel fanatic.

Do we have the integrity and honesty to recognize the future possibility and danger of that happening? Do we have the integrity to admit that it not only the hands of the right that are reaching for their guns; the left has its share prepared for a show down.

But let us start down the path to the truth, as dark as it may be. The attack marks at least the third recent shooting involving a gunman with ties to the white nationalist movement.

Fact: The shooting by 88-year-old James Von Brunn, a Holocaust denier with ties to neo-Nazi groups, came just five days after Mr. Obama toured the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.

Von Brunn was charged with murder after shooting a security guard on Wednesday. He was prevented from causing any further bloodshed when he was critically wounded in a gun battle with other guards.

'It's hard to ignore the timing of this incident,' said Brian Levin, a professor from the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

'Maybe von Brunn feels his country is slipping away', he added. 'So he sees a black president at Buchenwald, remembering the Holocaust, and decides to attack the biggest symbol of the Holocaust in the United States.' “My country is slipping away.” These are the very words that would send a devotee of The Declaration Of Independence to the gun cabinet on his way out the door to a new Revolutionary war.

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centre which monitors hate groups, said the shooting was the most high-profile of a string of violent incidents by fanatics in recent months.

Three police officers were killed in Pittsburgh in April, and last month an abortion doctor was murdered in Kansas.

Mr Potok said: 'We know that immediately after Barack Obama's election the computer servers of several major white supremacist websites collapsed because they got such a huge amount of traffic.' And please look at the perspective that these folks have even after the bloodshed.

An acquaintance of von Brunn’s, John de Nugent, “who describes himself as a white separatist,” told the Post that von Brunn had been paranoid recently that “someone in Washington” cut his Social Security after “looking at his Web site.” De Nugent also tried to distance von Brunn from what he deemed the responsible white separatist community”:

De Nugent Called Von Brunn A Genius But Described The Shooting As The Act Of “A Loner And A Hothead.”

“The Responsible White Separatist Community Condemns This,” He Said. “It Makes Us Look Bad.”

The immediate aftermath of this shooting produced a rising media chorus that conservatives are dangerous. If this were a school play ground it would be no stretch to say that the media and the blogosphere rushed to choose up sides.

Nobel Prize winner and Times columnist Paul Krugman dubbed his latest effort “The Big Hate” and claimed “whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.”

Krugman went on to attack FOX News, and The Washington Times. He followed with almost a complete list of right wingers he can’t stand: Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, actor Jon Voight as people who are much of the reasons “right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.” He didn’t have the column space to include other much deserving hate peddlers including: Anne Coulter, Michael Savage, Patrick Buchanan, Joe Scarborough, Neal Boortz, Neil Cavuto Mancow Muller,Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, Laura Ingraham, Mike Gallagher, Don Imus, Bob Ney, Tucker Carlson, G. Gordon Liddy Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin..

Krugman claimed FOX News and the Republican National Committee incited violence, Then he follows that by blasting O’Reilly for calling Dr. George Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” and “that he had ‘blood on his hands.’

According to Michael Rowe, prominent conservatives are “pop culture equivalent of necrotic carrion beetles, crawling with insectile determination from one infected open wound in the American psyche to another.” He concluded that there was no “Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue” but that conservatives are responsible for “widows, orphans” and “carnage.”

The Thursday feeding featured– CNN’s Rick Sanchez, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and others. On ABC, reporter Pierre Thomas painted a terrifying picture of hate: “A cold-blooded murder at the Holocaust Museum by a white supremacist. An abortion doctor gunned down in a church two weeks ago. January 21st, Brockton Massachusetts, a day after inauguration, a man who police say had a plan to kill as many blacks, Hispanics and Jews as he could, rapes a minority woman and kills two.”

According to Thomas, issues that rile conservatives are the dangerous ones, telling viewers about “radicals of the ultra-fringe, filled with rage about illegal immigration, fear of losing their guns, abortion and race.”

Markos Moulitsas of the DailyKos blog was especially strident in his attacks on the right. In one comment on Twitter, he claimed “right wingers went to bat for neo-Nazis and extremists in DHS report, and now they reap the rewards.”

The Daily Beast reporter Benjamin Sarlin took the route, saying “to the nation’s horror, a much-maligned Department of Homeland Security memo on right-wing extremism is looking more accurate by the day.” And Dallas Morning News’s Wayne Slater told CNN that the attack was linked with “anti-tax secessionists in Texas,” or Tea Party protesters.

Fact: As an avowed white supremacist and anti-Semite, von Brunn was tracked by civil rights groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, has kept an eye on him since 1981. Lately, it has focused on his Web site, www.holywesternempire.org . Von Brunn, 88, worked at Noontide Press, a California-based distributor of books on the "Jewish Question." The Southern Poverty Law Center reports Von recently transferred the domain name of his racist Web site to a man in southwestern Michigan.

Internet domain registration records show James Von Brunn created his website ,
www.holywesternempire.org in October 2000.

The hate-crime watchdog group said Thursday that Steve Reimink acquired the domain name around the first of this month. The
Montgomery, Ala.-based organization designated it as a hate Web site in 2003.

The site was taken down Wednesday, after the shooting.

Reimink lives in Ottawa County's Grand Haven Township, about 25 miles west of Grand Rapids. He has not responded to phone messages and e-mails seeking comment.

An Associated Press reporter identified himself to a man and woman outside the house on Wednesday. The man said, "I don't know what you're talking about. All I know is, you're trespassing."

The Southern Poverty Law Center also said Reimink's e-mail address ,
steveo1488@hotmail.com, includes a symbolic number, 1488. Among white supremacists, 14 refers to a 14-word statement attributed to neo-Nazi David Lane: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

The letter H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, and 88 often stands for "Heil Hitler," the watchdog group said on its Web site.

Contacted by phone at his home, Floyd Reimink brushed off inquiries about whether his son, Steve, had a relationship with von Brunn.

"I'm not responding to that kind of question," said the elder Reimink, who lives near his son.

Pressed further, he said, "Just get your facts straight," before hanging up on a reporter.

A neighbor, Jo TenBrink, defended Steve Reimink when told of the possible connection with von Brunn.

"He is a great neighbor and a nice man," TenBrink told The Grand Rapids Press. "He comes from a very Christian family and is very helpful.

"We wouldn't be talking with him if we believed he had any part of this. I don't believe he has anything to do with (von Brunn)."

TenBrink said Reimink worked extensively with computers, although she was unsure of his profession.

"He's been in my house, been a nice guy," she said.

Phone messages seeking further comment from TenBrink were left Thursday at her home.

Reimink lives in Ottawa County's Grand Haven Township, about 25 miles west of Grand Rapids. He has not responded to phone messages and e-mails seeking comment.

An Associated Press reporter identified himself to a man and woman outside the house on Wednesday. The man said, "I don't know what you're talking about. All I know is, you're trespassing."

The Southern Poverty Law Center also said Reimink's e-mail address,
steveo1488@hotmail.com, includes a symbolic number, 1488. Among white supremacists, 14 refers to a 14-word statement attributed to neo-Nazi David Lane: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

The letter H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, and 88 often stands for "Heil Hitler," the watchdog group said on its Web site.

Contacted by phone at his home, Floyd Reimink brushed off inquiries about whether his son, Steve, had a relationship with von Brunn.

"I'm not responding to that kind of question," said the elder Reimink, who lives near his son.

Pressed further, he said, "Just get your facts straight," before hanging up on a reporter.

A neighbor, Jo TenBrink, defended Steve Reimink when told of the possible connection with von Brunn.

"He is a great neighbor and a nice man," TenBrink told The Grand Rapids Press. "He comes from a very Christian family and is very helpful.

"We wouldn't be talking with him if we believed he had any part of this. I don't believe he has anything to do with (von Brunn)."

TenBrink said Reimink worked extensively with computers, although she was unsure of his profession.

"He's been in my house, been a nice guy," she said.

Phone messages seeking further comment from TenBrink were left Thursday at her home.


A burst of rage from a geriatric assassin hardly matches Adolf Hitler's systematic slaughter of 11 million people, most of them Jews. But it is a reminder of how pervasive hate remains in dark corners of America, where the elections of the first African-American president and the first black Republican Party chairman feed anger and paranoia on white supremacy websites.

While the media and cyber space invective has been shrill and flirting with the edges of irrationality at times, there are solid facts that must be addressed and that the people of this nation must become aware of.

Hate Group Numbers Up By 54% Since 2000

The number of active hate groups in the United States rose from 602 in 2000 to 926 in 2008 -- an increase of 54 percent -- according to the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. http://www.splcenter.org/




The number of hate groups operating in the United States continued to rise in 2008 and has grown by 54 percent since 2000 — an increase fueled last year by immigration fears, a failing economy and the successful campaign of Barack Obama, according to the "Year in Hate" issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report released Spring 2009.

The SPLC identified 926 hate groups active in 2008, up more than 4 percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000. A list and interactive, state-by-state map of these groups can be viewed here.

As in recent years, hate groups were animated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise in hate groups has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics.

Two new factors were introduced to the volatile hate movement in 2008: the faltering economy and the Obama campaign.

"Barack Obama's election has inflamed racist extremists who see it as another sign that their country is under siege by non-whites," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right. "The idea of a black man in the White House, combined with the deepening economic crisis and continuing high levels of Latino immigration, has given white supremacists a real platform on which to recruit."

Several white supremacists have been arrested while allegedly plotting to kill Obama, and following the election he received more threats than any previous president-elect. Scores of racially charged incidents — beatings, effigy burnings, racist graffiti, threats and intimidation — were reported across the country after the election.

Extremists are also exploiting the economic crisis, spreading propaganda that blames minorities and immigrants for the subprime mortgage meltdown. Tough economic times historically provide fertile ground for extremist movements.

As this issue of the Intelligence Report points out, minority-bashing propaganda can spread rapidly through the media, even when it has no basis in fact. The issue examines the widespread media reporting of a false claim that undocumented immigrants held 5 million bad mortgages and were, therefore, responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis.

The hate groups listed in this issue include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other groups target gays or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights law firm, identified 926 hate groups in the USA in its most recent study this spring. The numbers have been steadily edging up since 2000, when it counted 602. The rise is driven, the group says, by the intense reaction in some quarters to an influx of illegal immigrants.

The hate groups include neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan organizations and several other categories. By the center's estimate, roughly 100,000 people participate on a single Internet forum for white supremacists called Stormfront.org.

This is, of course, a tiny fraction of the people involved in such groups when bigotry was openly tolerated and segregation was imposed in Southern states by force of law.

Even so, the shooting shows how bigotry continues to fester in the shadows, only to emerge in a sudden act of violence. And it is reason to be wary — more so now that the Internet gives formerly isolated racists, whether individuals or small groups, a means to stoke one another's smoldering anger. With the ready availability of weapons, even a single person can do enormous harm.

There is something terribly self-reinforcing about someone killing at a place designed to honor those who have died. It is almost as if the accused killer, a convicted criminal named James von Brunn, who has spent decades writing and publishing racist and anti-Semitic material and whose hatred burned late in life, wanted to make a point that people like him need to commit violence to get noticed.

This is just the type of domestic terrorism that the DHS pointed out in their recent report and that the right-wing was crying foul over, even though the Bush administration actually commissioned it.

(Daily Beast reporter Benjamin Sarlin - “to the nation’s horror, a much-maligned Department of Homeland Security memo on right-wing extremism is looking more accurate by the day.”)

DHS REPORT April 2009

Extremism Report 2009 -

Conservative Media Freaked Out Over DHS Report On Right Wing Extremists (Video)


DHS Left Wing Report -

In a segment on the June 11 edition of Fox News' Your World, about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that alerted law enforcement that "rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans," host Neil Cavuto asserted, "we never say 'left-wing extremists,' you know?" Later during the broadcast, Cavuto stated: "I always wonder if the prior administration had said the exact same thing, you know? How differently that might have been treated." However, at no point during the broadcast did Cavuto note that DHS did write an assessment of "left-wing extremists" on January 26 called, "Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade."

Additionally, the DHS assessment on right-wing extremists cited a 2008 FBI report -- authored during the Bush administration -- which noted that "military veterans" have "joined extremist groups." Further, Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge reported on the April 15 edition of Fox News' Studio B: "I would point out that both of these assessments, [host] Shep [Smith], were commissioned under the Bush administration. It takes some time to do them. They only came out after he had left office."

In the July 2008 FBI report, titled, "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11," the FBI's Counterterrorism Division determined with "[h]igh confidence" that "[m]ilitary experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement as the result of recruitment campaigns by extremist groups and self-recruitment by veterans sympathetic to white supremacist causes."

Media Matters for America has documented a pattern of Cavuto and others on Your World making false and misleading claims about the DHS report.

Chorus of Protest Grows Over Report Warning of Right Wing ...

Apr 15, 2009 ... The report follows a similar report released in January by DHS that ... Thereport prompted a harsh and swift reaction for the American ...

The Ultimate Reaping Of What One Sows: Right-Wing Edition

Right-wing polemicists today are shrieking in self-pitying protest over a new report from the Department of Homeland Security sent to local police forces which warns of growing "right-wing extremist activity." The report (.pdf) identifies attributes of these right-wing extremists, warning that a growing domestic threat of violence and terrorism "may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration" and "groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority."

Conservatives have responded to this disclosure as though they're on the train to FEMA camps. The Right's leading political philosopher and intellectual historian, Jonah Goldberg, invokes fellow right-wing giant Ronald Reagan and says: "Here we go Again," protesting that "this seems so nakedly ideological." Michelle Malkin, who spent the last eight years cheering on every domestic surveillance and police state program she could find, announces that it's "Confirmed: The Obama DHS hit job on conservatives is real!" Lead-War-on-Terror-cheerleader Glenn Reynolds warns that DHS -- as a result of this report (but not, apparently, anything that happened over the last eight years) -- now considers the Constitution to be a "subversive manifesto." Super Tough Guy Civilization-Warrior Mark Steyn has already concocted an elaborate, detailed martyr fantasy in which his house is surrounded by Obama-dispatched, bomb-wielding federal agents. Malkin's Hot Air stomps its feet about all "the smears listed in the new DHS warning about 'right-wing extremism.'"

It's certainly true that federal police efforts directed at domestic political movements -- even ones with a history of inspiring violence in both the distant and recent past -- require real vigilance and oversight, and it's also true that the DHS description of these groups seems excessively broad with the potential for mischief. But the political faction screeching about the dangers of the DHS is the same one that spent the last eight years vastly expanding the domestic Surveillance State and federal police powers in every area. DHS -- and the still-creepy phrase "homeland security" -- became George Bush's calling card. The Republicans won the 2002 election by demonizing those who opposed its creation. All of the enabling legislation underlying this Surveillance State -- from the Patriot Act to the Military Commissions Act, from the various FISA "reforms" to massive increases in domestic "counter-Terrorism" programs -- are the spawns of the very right-wing movement that today is petrified that this is all being directed at them.

When you cheer on a Surveillance State, you have no grounds to complain when it turns its eyes on you. If you create a massive and wildly empowered domestic surveillance apparatus, it's going to monitor and investigate domestic political activity. That's its nature. I'd love to know how many of the participants in today's right-wing self-victim orgy uttered a peep of protest about any of this, from 2005:

Eye Opener: Does Holocaust Shooting Validate Homeland Security Report?

Happy Thursday! Did that controversial Homeland Security report on right-wing extremists (pdf) get it right? Several bloggers, commentators and news reports suggest it did, accurately predicting the deadly shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

"Civil rights activists say a string of recent attacks blamed on right-wing extremists, including Wednesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum, show that conservative critics were too quick to fault the Department of Homeland Security over an April report warning about the potential for such violence," reports Politico.

(Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.)

Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis distributed thereport (pdf) to state and local law enforcement on April 7. It regularly publishes intelligence analyses on domestic and international threats to the nation’s borders and infrastructure.

Though the report did not cite specific threats, it suggested that “The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

Secretary Janet Napolitano later apologized directly to veterans' groups, admitting the report's language unfairly characterized military servicemembers.

Yesterday's shooter, James W. von Brunn, was a military veteran and professed white supremacist with elaborate conspiracy theories and an active Web site. An acquaintance said von Brunn thought his Social Security benefits had been cut as a direct result of government officials tracking his activities.

The DHS report explicitly addressed white supremacists, writing that, "Threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn -- including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit -- could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past."

"In the past two weeks, the country has seen the bombing of a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City, the arrest of four men for allegedly plotting to blow up synagogues and shoot down planes, the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruitment center in Arkansas, the assassination of a doctor inside a Kansas church, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum," writes Alex Kingsbury of U.S. News and World Report. "Although these are not all cases of right-wing extremism, each is an example of domestic terrorism."

As CBS' Charles Cooper wrote yesterday afternoon, "Connecting the dots is guaranteed to be a contentious, if not fraught exercise. But as the news filtered out, some liberal bloggers did not hesitate to draw conclusions."

A sampling:

"I hope that everyone who mau-maued the Department of Homeland Security for expressing concern about this kind of thing feels appropriately ashamed of themselves," Matthew Yglesias wrote.

"The Republican hysteria over the DHS report -- which was, by the way, initiated by a Bush administration official -- was always based more on a partisan scheme than reality, but the incessant complaints look especially misguided today," writes Washington Monthly's Steve Benen.

Talking Points Memo took a more fact-driven path, lining up evidence it suggests validates the report's findings.

But blogger Matthew Vadum called these allegations "the worst kind of smear" and "par for the course for the left."

"None of this changes the fact that Napolitano's politically motivated directive was wrong then and remains wrong now," he wrote, stating later that the report "was a malicious un-American smear calculated to ridicule and intimidate opponents of the left's policy goals."

Still, one wonders what it will be like around the Office of Intelligence and Analysis today.

And Just Where Did Right Wing Media Shake Out On Events, Other Than A Screwball Attempt to Label Brunn A Left Wing Assassin?

(Media Matters)Right-Wing Media And The Fringe: A Growing History Of Violence (And Denial)


This week, the country's attention was captured by the horrific shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, allegedly by James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old man with ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations. The fatal shooting came just two months after an April 7 Department of Homeland Security report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism.

As Media Matters for America documented, the DHS report was immediately and vehemently rejected by numerous conservative commentators, such as Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, and David Asman, who portrayed it as an illegitimate and politically motivated assault on conservatives. (Media Matters Senior Fellow Karl Frisch puts the attacks in even broader perspective here.)

Following the Holocaust Memorial Museum attack, these commentators faced criticism for their earlier dismissiveness. Some have since unconvincingly (and in the case of Joe Scarborough, inaccurately) defended their past assessment, and a handful of reporters and analysts are still engaging in falsehoods and inconsistencies in criticizing the DHS report. But on Fox News, Shepard Smith took a different position -- for which he was attacked by conservatives -- saying that the report "was a warning to us all. And it appears now that they were right."

The day before the Holocaust Memorial Museum attack, Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert wrote that Fox News and its hosts "will have more right-wing vigilantism to explain." He added that "militia-style vigilante rhetoric has become a cornerstone of the conservative media movement in America, and it's now proudly championed by Fox News on a nearly hourly basis." (He also appeared on CNN this week.)

While right-wing media are certainly not legally culpable for any recent attacks, they are responsible for promoting a culture of fear, paranoia, and violence that is anti-government in the extreme -- a culture in which extremists, including von Brunn and Richard Poplawski, who fatally shot three Pittsburgh police officers, were apparently immersed. Poplawski was convinced that the Obama administration was going to take away his guns. Even though no evidence of such a policy exists, right-wing commentators and news organizations made the claim repeatedly before the shooting and have continued to do so since.

Predictably, conservative media figures responded to the museum shooting by attempting to shift attention away from themselves and onto political liberals and even President Obama himself. On June 10, the day of the museum shooting, financial analyst and radio host Jim Lacamp said on Fox News that "we have an administration that's really done a lot of class warfare, a lot of class-baiting. And so, it sets the stage for social unrest." That same day, conservative Tammy Bruce wrote that the Obama administration's "increasing anti-Israel rhetoric and the pandering to the Jew-hating world Arab world ... encourages all the beasts among us." Newsmax.com published an op-ed, cited on Friday by Michael Savage, claiming that Obama "is most certainly creating a climate of hate against" Jews. Colorado radio host Bob Newman even raised questions about whether Obama's recent visit to a concentration camp, or his statement about Israeli settlements, were factors in the shooting.

But as always, the most virulent reality-denier was Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh claimed that von Brunn "is a leftist if anything." He said that Obama is "ramping up hatred for Israel" and that "anti-Jew rhetoric comes from the American left." He claimed that MSNBC broadcasts "hate 24/7." Despite the right wing's repeated use of violent, revolutionary rhetoric, Limbaugh said that it was actually Obama who "thrives and needs chaos" to succeed. And in response to Shepard Smith, he remarked that the "claim that the atmosphere is somehow more violently anti-Obama is simply preposterous."

Indeed, Smith's remarks were the exception for the right. Despite its love of fearmongering, Fox News spent the 24 hours after the von Brunn shooting downplaying it. And on his broadcast that night, Bill O'Reilly, who hypocritically and incorrectly criticized the media for a supposed lack of coverage after the shooting death of Army recruiter Pvt. William Long, and who stokes the anger of viewers whenever it suits him politically, barely mentioned the shooting and instead featured what he called a "very important story" on gay penguins. "Do they wear tight T-shirts?" he asked, laughing. During the two shows after the shooting, Hannity barely mentioned it.

Other major stories this week:

Newt in the news

This was a big week for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is clearly attempting to position himself as the new (aka, old) voice of the GOP. (And according to USA Today, he's in the running.)

Newt, who had previously backed off of referring to Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a "racist," began the week by modifying his argument and repeating the dubious claim that she "clearly supported racial quotas" in the Frank Ricci case.

He followed it up at a congressional Republican fundraiser by proudly declaring that he was "not a citizen of the world," saying that "the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous." CNN's Candy Crowley and CQ Politics' Jonathan Allen reported Gingrich's statement without noting that President Ronald Reagan made similar remarks while addressing the United Nations in 1982. (You would think that Gingrich, a former history teacher, would have known better.) AfterMedia Matters documented the oversight, MSNBC's David Shuster and Keith Olbermann, as well as by NBC's Brian Williams, subjected Gingrich's remarks to scrutiny.

Newt closed the week by reacting to a Weekly Standard article discussing the ongoing U.S. practice of reading Miranda rights to detainees. On Fox News' Hannity, Gingrich said that it was "unimaginable. It's worse than anything Jimmy Carter ever did. It's worse than anything that President Bill Clinton ever did." In doing so, heignored the part of the article reporting that the FBI also Mirandized people at "specific bases" during the Bush administration.

Newt's factually challenged analysis has come to be so legendary that even MSNBC's Mike Barnicle felt compelled to ask, "[W]hy would anyone pay attention to anything he says?" It's a good question. Perhaps it's because networks like Fox News do whatever they can to make Gingrich, who hasn't held any office or official position since 1998, relevant.

Health care reform is coming, and the news is already making me sick

All three national networks covered a Thursday town hall meeting that Obama held in Wisconsin, during which he laid out his health care proposals in detail. And yet, not one of them reported on the substance of his remarks, focusing instead on a note he wrote for a 10-year-old girl who was skipping school.

On Friday, NPR's Mara Liasson claimed that the American Medical Association opposes a public plan as a component of health care reform, even though the AMAhad backtracked the same day, stating that it was "willing to consider other variations of a public plan that are currently under discussion in Congress." Flaws in a New York Times story the day before about the AMA's position were the subject of Media Matters Senior Fellow Jamison Foser's column this week.

And during a Wednesday interview with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell freely editorialized, lecturing him on how current proposals seemingly would "drive the deficit into these stratospheric numbers" and complaining that senators were engaging in "gobbledygook" on the issue.

The need for accurate and impartial reporting on impending legislation is made all the more acute by the long history and prevalence of misinformation from media conservatives on the issue. On Thursday, Limbaugh began pulling out the stops, sounding not unlike O'Donnell in the process. "And it's all about control," he said. "It's not about cost. This man's not worried about the cost of anything. He doesn't care what anything costs: a trip to New York for a date -- $12 trillion in debt over 10 years? He doesn't care what things cost." He went on to hypothesize that "exercise freaks ... are the ones putting stress on the health care system" because they keep getting injured.

Buchanan continues to test how much MSNBC will tolerate

Media Matters has already documented Pat Buchanan's racially charged and often sexist campaign against Sotomayor. Despite his recent (and past) behavior, however, MSNBC has provided Buchanan with a prominent platform from which to spew his invective. This week, Foser asked a question MSNBC -- which in the past has had tofire Michael Savage and Don Imus for their remarks -- should answer: just what would Pat Buchanan have to say to be fired from the network?

Well, during this past week, Buchanan was curiously absent from much of MSNBC's commentary. Was it a sign that the network might be re-evaluating its relationship with one of its favorite "analysts"? If so, it should take note of the fact that Buchanan is set to host what the Southern Poverty Law Center called a "prominent white nationalist" at the upcoming conference of The American Cause, a Buchanan-led organization.

Conservative Misinformation U

Here now, for your enjoyment, is the graduating class, whose standouts are too numerous to name, of Conservative Misinformation University, 2009.

It would be funnier if it weren't true. For America's sake, they should have been held back.

This week's media columns

This week's media columns from the Media Matters Senior Fellows: Eric Boehlert prophetically details why O'Reilly and Fox News will have more right-wing vigilantism to explain; Jamison Foser explains why AMA reporting needs a second opinion; and Karl Frisch has something to say about that DHS report.

The extremist right wing echo chamber has decided to sow unrest by characterizing left wingers and their positions as anti-american, Anarchists, atheists ,murderous, traitorous, thieving, criminal, family-threatening, communist, socialist, perverted, deranged... the Goebbels propaganda techniques of popularized fox violence is working. This is more than sowing unrest. It is sowing ideation-- ideas of killing.

What's So Threatening About Sotomayor's Real Life to Her Right-Wing Critics?

By Emily Badger, Miller-McCune.com. Posted June 12, 2009.


For over 120 years, the idea that a judge's background would influence how they approached cases was conventional wisdom. Why isn't it now?

Sonia Sotomayor's critics and backers have spent recent weeks parsing one line of a speech she gave in 2001 during a conference at Berkeley on Latino representation on the judiciary. "I would hope," she said, "that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

The quote prompted cannon fire from Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, who equated the sentiment with a kind of racism (although Gingrich later dialed back his rhetoric). Equally telling has been the reaction to the reaction — the White House and Sotomayor's Democratic supporters have backtracked on the seemingly simple idea that what she would bring to the Supreme Court is not just her Yale law degree, but also her Bronx-Puerto Rican life narrative.

"What she said was, of course, one's life experience shapes who you are, but ultimately and completely — and she used those words 'ultimately and completely' — as a judge you follow the law," Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee,recounted to the media after he met with Sotomayor last week. "There's only one law. And she said 'ultimately and completely,' a judge has to follow the law no matter what their upbringing has been."

Leahy's comments, as much as Limbaugh's, put life experience and faithfulness to the law on opposite ends of a spectrum of judicial influence, suggesting a judge can draw from one or the other, but not both. In fact the opposite view — that justices inherently sift cases through their varying worldviews — prevailed throughout the last century (and even in a Supreme Court decision this week), prompting a couple of questions ahead of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings this summer:

Why is this idea suddenly so thorny? And don't we want a Supreme Court staffed with jurists who have a common deference to the Constitution but a varying set of backgrounds from which to approach it?

From the 1880s until about 2000, said Harvard law professor and Supreme Court historian Mark Tushnet, the idea that a judge's background would influence how he or she approached cases — and that this was desirable — was conventional wisdom. The court for years even followed a kind of enforced diversity, drawing justices from the geographic regions that captured some of the country's biggest disagreements, with plantation owners in the South, industrialists in the Northeast and ranchers to the West.

Other types of biography weighed heavily, too. Michal Belknap, a historian and law professor at California Western School of Law, is writing a biography of Justice Tom Clark, who was appointed to the court in 1949 after practicing oil and gas law.

"As far as I'm aware," Belknap said, "nobody ever asked him whether his background as an oil and gas lawyer would influence his thinking in oil and gas cases. The reason they gave them to him was that he was the only person who could understand those cases."

That a similar concept would apply now to a justice with a personal understanding of issues of immigration, racism or poverty — "It seems to me like something that's fairly obvious," Belknap said. "And probably the only difference between (Sotomayor) and other people is she actually said in a fairly prominent public context something that I think most lawyers, judges and law professors would think is obvious and self-evidently true."

The idea that justices should mechanically apply the law through a lens in no way colored by their own experience Tushnet chalks up to a successful conservative political strategy. Opponents say the view ignores two complications: Language is inherently ambiguous, and if the Constitution or statutes held indisputable answers to these cases, they wouldn't be in the Supreme Court in the first place.

Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, also sets the shift inside a broader debate around originalism, the idea that the Constitution is a fixed document judges must read through the eyes of its creators and not with a view toward contemporary society.

"The idea of originalism makes the notion of a judge relying on anything other than the historical record verboten," she said. "And in fact judges who interpret the Constitution in conjunction with anything else other than the historical record are called judicial activists. What you're really seeing here is the morphing of that debate on judicial activism."

'A Mathematical Fact'
Scott Page, a professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan, has been explaining through math this same concept that Belknap accepts as self-evident: that problem-solvers are inherently influenced by their background, and that a multitude of backgrounds helps a group more often arrive at the right answer.

Sotomayor's supporters — and Sotomayor herself, in the full text of her Berkeley speech — aren't suggesting that she'll apply some Latina brand of law, just as justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Thurgood Marshall didn't read the Constitution differently as a woman and an African-American. Rather, they may have read the facts of a case differently, emphasizing a factor it might not occur to another judge to examine.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently illustrated this in the case of a 13-year-old girl who had been strip-searched at school. The girl's humiliation weighed heavily on Ginsburg but not, she criticized, on her male colleagues, who didn't recognize what such an event might feel like: "They have never been a 13-year-old girl," Ginsburgsaid of the other eight justices.

"There's strong evidence that based on ethnicity, training, education, age, we're going to parse things differently," Page said. "I'm likely to say, 'this is like a Brady Bunch episode.' Someone else is likely to say, 'this is like There's Something About Mary."

Page has tried to study the value of
diversity when people with different ways of parsing things work together. No one person can be diverse, he starts by explaining; you can only be diverse relative to other people. Much empirical work on the benefits of diversity have the flaw, he said, of measuring activities people work on side-by-side but not together. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, is the perfect example of a kind of collective problem-solving group where the blind spots of one individual may be filled out by another's expertise.

"This isn't like the mantra 'two eggs are better than one,'" Page said. "It's a mathematical fact; it's like the Pythagorean theorem, a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared. You can show the group's error equals the average error of the people in the group minus their diversity, which is just the differences in how they predict outcomes."

The more highly dimensional the problem, he says — i.e., Supreme Court cases — the more the theorem has bite.

"The formula says, 'How different is your prediction than my prediction?'" Page said. "That's mathematical fact. The empirical question is: What would cause us to see the world differently?"

Belknap might point out that, obviously, it's our different backgrounds — Sonia Sotomayor's childhood raised by a single mother in a Bronx project compared to John Roberts' childhood as a boarding-school student and the son of a steel plant manager.

In Sotomayor's original quote, she was stressing more the value of her experiences than the novelty of her ethnicity.

"What's really important about that quote — and I think many of us do this automatically — we assume a false parallelism she was actually not making," Guinier said. Sotomayor was not comparing a wise Latina to a wise white man, although many assumed the word appeared twice in the quote. "She's comparing someone who has a rich set of experiences and can use them to someone who is not wise."

"You could read into her quote," Guinier added, "the Scott Page view of diversity."

One Kind of Homogeneity
That view emphasizes not just the differences apparent in a photo of the potential new Supreme Court, which will have one African American, two women and a Hispanic if Sotomayor is confirmed. Equally important are all the ways in which their biographies differ, contributing to the collective breadth of life experience.

Sotomayor would actually be contributing to one kind of homogeneity on the court: It is increasingly dominated by former Circuit Court of Appeals judges with Ivy League law degrees. Conservatives championed these criteria during the Bush Administration, in dispatching nominee Harriet Miers and confirming John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

"The great irony here is they set up these de facto credentials for being a Supreme Court justice that don't exist in the Constitution," said University of Maryland law professor Paula Monopoli. "(Sotomayor) meets now all of the criteria they set up, and they're not talking about it."

Page's research suggests that as Americans may celebrate later this year the first Hispanic seated on the high court, they should remember the value of all kinds of backgrounds. When Sandra Day O'Connor retired four years ago, for example, she took with her the last remaining perspective of someone who had once been an elected official, one of many lost views Belknap laments.

He blames Roe v. Wade, a decision that has remained so divisive for the last three decades that he says no president could effectively nominate anyone other than the safest bet who resembles everyone else already sitting on the court. Law professors and politicians — two groups widely represented in the past — today come with a trail of opinions that would likely bar them from confirmation in a climate where Sotomayor has stirred controversy on a single sentence uttered eight years ago.

In the earliest days of the republic, Monopoli recalls, the court sought geographically representative perspectives to give its opinions legitimacy throughout a diverse country.

"We still need that," she said, "we just need it in a different way now."

Kyl Threatens GOP Boycott of Sotomayor Hearing

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) told Roll Call yesterday that he and his Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee may boycott Judge Sotomayor’s hearings if Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) does not cave to right-wing demands to delay the hearings:

“As the hearing time approaches we will evaluate whether we can make that deadline,” Kyl said, explaining that if Republicans do not feel they can adequately question Sotomayor they will try to meet with Leahy to make a plea for more time.

However, Kyl, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, did not explicitly rule out the use of delay tactics, including a Republican boycott of the confirmation hearings, if an accommodation cannot be made.

But Kyl is not entitled to any more accommodations than what he has already received. Far from expediting Sotomayor’s confirmation process, Leahy set a schedule which is virtually identical to that enjoyed by Bush appointee John Roberts, even though Chief Justice Roberts’ record was more difficult to investigate because it was necessary to track down thousands of pages of documents Roberts produced while he worked in the Reagan and Bush I Administrations, and even though thousands of new documents relating to Roberts were uncovered just two weeks before his hearings began.

Kyl’s threat to take his ball and go home if he doesn’t get his way is unfortunate, but it is hardly surprising. Earlier this week, all seven GOP members of the Judiciary Committee signed a letter demanding that Sotomayor complete a series of irrelevant or even impossible tasks before her nomination may be considered.


Bill Clinton had the Vince Foster "murder." George W. Bush had 9/11 Truth. And the new administration has brought with it a new culture of conspiracy: The Birthers.

Out of the gaze of the mainstream and even the conservative media is a flourishing culture of advocates, theorists and lawyers, all devoted to proving that Barack Obama isn't eligible to be president of the United States. Viewed as irrelevant by the White House, and as embarrassing by much of the Republican Party, the subculture still thrives from the conservative website WorldNetDaily, which claims that some 300,000 people have signed a petition demanding more information on Obama's birth, to Cullman, Alabama, where Sen. Richard Shelby took a question on the subject at a town hall meeting last week.

Their confinement to the fringe hasn't cooled the passion of believers; the obscure New York preacher James Manning turned up at a National Press Club session in December to declare the president "the most notorious criminal in the history not just of America, but of this entire planet."

Read more:

Krugman wrote that "right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment" and went on to state that "the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. ... have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House." Media Matters for America documented numerous examples of such rhetoric in an April 13 report titled "Emerging Culture of Paranoia."

Emerging Culture of Paranoia

Personal issues, short comings and insecurities..Over compensation desperation, Republican fractured in house warfare

In recent months, the violent, doomsday, and anti-intellectual rhetoric that has long been a staple of conservative media has taken a notable turn in at least three significant ways: previously confined to the right-wing media fringe, the rhetoric is now a constant across the full spectrum of conservative media; it is louder and meaner, with conservative media figures appealing overtly to feelings of anger and paranoia in their audience; and it is focused, tied to the specific political aim of undermining the Obama administration and the Congress. the over-top-hysteria in response to the first months in office of our new president." Horowitz calls this "hysteria" "Obama Derangement Syndrome."

Indeed, the rise of anti-government speech -- and the explosion of anti-Obama rhetoric -- on right-wing radio, Fox News, and among conservatives in other media outlets tracks directly with the arrival of the new administration and its broad efforts to address the myriad and interlocking problems confronting the country. Rather than engaging in substantive policy analysis and critique, the Glenn Becks, Sean Hannitys, and Rush Limbaughs of radio and television insult their audience with simplistic attacks on Obama and his administration's initiatives.

Far from informing the public, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, and numerous others on Fox News and elsewhere launch attacks at Obama, progressives, and their policy proposals with accusations of any one or more "isms" that bear no relationship to reality or even to each other. They warn darkly of purported efforts by the Obama administration to cede U.S. sovereignty to a world order rather than engaging in meaningful discussions about the United States' role and image in the world. They scapegoat vulnerable groups, encouraging the perception that undocumented immigrants, the poor, and racial and ethnic minorities are to blame for economic problems in this country. During a time of numerous high-profile acts of gun violence, they claim with alarm that Obama intends to seize their guns. Fox News has adopted the Tax Day "tea parties" as its own, urging its audience to organize and attend what it characterizes as protests of Obama administration tax and economic policies; the network's promotions of these tea-party protests have been largely devoid of meaningful and truthful discussion of the actual merits and flaws in the administration's proposals for reform -- and of little substantive attention to the question of whether Fox News' audience would be better or worse off under those proposals the network is encouraging its audience to protest.

On his show, Beck has gone so far as to purport to imitate Obama pouring gasoline on the American public to light it on fire.

The demagoguery in the conservative media could have real consequences for the country and for efforts by law and policymakers to address serious problems. It is a disservice to the conservative media's audience and to the country, involving distortions of issues with falsehoods and with rhetoric and imagery that incite anger rather than encouraging citizens to engage meaningfully in political and legislative debate and process.

Media Matters for America is tracking this explosion of anti-government rhetoric in the conservative media and has published the following:

Since President Obama's inauguration, numerous conservative media figures have called for a "revolution" or have invoked violent rhetoric while discussing the Obama administration or government in general. In addition to encouraging violence, such violent rhetoric has also included suggesting Obama's policies were doing violence to the American people and depicting Obama as a rapist, spousal abuser, or mobster.

Media Matters for America has previously noted that since Obama's inauguration, conservative media figures have made ominous, even apocalyptic claims about the impact policies pursued by Obama and other progressives might have on the United States; warned of impending socialism, fascism, communism, Nazism, McCarthyism, or Marxism under the Obama administration; asserted or suggested that under Obama, U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government; and warned their audiences that Obama's administration will seize their guns. Media Matters has compiled the following examples of revolutionary or violent rhetoric:

  • During the April 9 edition of his Fox News program, Glenn Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic."
  • In an April 9 NewsBusters.org post, associate editor Noel Sheppard repeatedly used the acronym WACO -- which he wrote stood for the "War Against Conservative Opinion" -- in discussing how "liberal bloggers blamed right-leaning media members -- in particular, Fox News's Glenn Beck -- for the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
  • On the April 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity, nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin said of "the Obama plan" for the economy: "I view it as economic child abuse. I've been calling it that for the longest time because our children are being compelled to work for generations that will be dead for money that's already spent. Their opportunities will be limited. Their liberty will be limited. And we're enslaving them to a future that our ancestors didn't create for us."
  • In a March 31 post on RedState.com, while discussing a Washington county's ban on certain kinds of dishwasher detergent, managing editor Erick Erickson wrote of politicians: "At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?" Erickson later added: "Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation."
  • During the March 31 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, while discussing Obama's foreign and economic policies, Fox News contributor Dick Morris said: "Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case."
  • During the March 30 edition his Fox News program, Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and Democrats as vampires and said, "The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy." Beck then suggested "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers."
  • On the March 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson hosted Michael Franzese, the former caporegime of La Cosa Nostra's Colombo crime family, to discuss similarities in the way Democratic leaders and progressive figures are "operating" and "the way we used to operate on the street." Kilmeade began the segment by asking, "So, is this a big stretch to think that, all of a sudden, the Washington, D.C., has become our Godfather?" Asked by Carlson what he would "call" Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Franzese replied that Geithner is "like an underboss to me. I mean, he's doing the work of, you know, the whole family, and he's kind of the guy out front, and looking to exercise control." When Kilmeade later asked how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) would fit "in the mob," Franzese replied that Pelosi and Frank are like "the lady and the guy that Obama is kind of stuck with to appease the rest of the family," and he also referred to Obama as "the boss."
  • During the March 25 edition of Sean Hannity's radio program, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) toldHannity she is calling for "an orderly revolution" so that Democrats can't "achieve their ends any longer." In response to Bachmann's statement, Hannity said: "Well, I'm inspired by what you're saying, Congresswoman, and I only hope that your fellow Republicans get as energetic and as outspoken as you are here." From Hannity's radio program:

BACHMANN: At this point, the American people -- it's like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And by that, what I mean -- an orderly revolution, where the people of this country wake up and get up and make a decision that this is not going to happen on their watch. It won't be our children and grandchildren that are in debt. It is we who are in debt. We will be bankrupt in this country inside of 10 years if we don't get a grip. And we can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer.

HANNITY: Well, I'm inspired by what you're saying, Congresswoman, and I only hope that your fellow Republicans get as energetic and as outspoken as you are here.

Bachmann later stated: "[W]e can never forget that the Founders were rebelling against a governmental authority that abused their taxation power. And that was the tyranny. That's exactly what's happening right now. And we have to -- we have to rise up and say, 'No more. Not on my watch. No more.' " At the conclusion of the interview, Hannity encouraged Bachmann to "keep going, and I promise you, as they attack you, you're going to have conservatives like myself in your corner, I promise you." Hannity then added: "Boy, that was inspiring."

  • In a March 12 column for the conservative news site WorldNetDaily.com, Erik Rush wrote that Obama is a "closet communist" and "pathological liar." Rush then compared Obama to a rapist, writing: "A few weeks ago, a television commentator in the alternative press suggested that Obama seemed to be attempting to 'ram it through,' in reference to the urgency with which he promoted the stimulus bill. Indeed -- like the proverbial cellblock rapist, our president is 'ramming' as much of his Marxist agenda down our collective throats as quickly as he can. One would think he fears that someone might come around the corner at any second and catch him." Rush's column was notedon Media Matters editor Terry Krepel's ConWebWatch blog.
  • In a March 9 post on FoxNews.com's Fox Forum, Sheppard defended Rush Limbaugh's repeated statements that he hopes Barack Obama fails by invoking secessionists during the Civil War, writing:

Is it really wrong or even unpatriotic to want the president and/or his policies to fail? Hasn't this likely been the case in this country since its very birth?

It is an indisputable, historical fact that many Colonists did not support independence from England, and were hoping with all their heart and all their soul that President George Washington would fail.

Less than a century later, likely half the nation hoped President Abraham Lincoln didn't succeed in defeating the Confederacy.

The argument today is that wishing ill upon President Obama is unpatriotic because of the fragile condition of our economy -- but it is a metaphysical certitude that Washington and Lincoln presided over a much weaker nation than what we are facing in 2009.

  • In his March 9 column for WorldNetDaily, actor and political activist Chuck Norris wrote: "How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution? We the people have the authority according to America's Declaration of Independence." Norris also wrote, "OnGlenn Beck's radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, 'I may run for president of Texas.' That need may be a reality sooner than we think."
  • Interviewing Norris on the March 3 edition of his radio program, according to a transcript posted on his website, Beck stated: "Somebody asked me this morning, they said, you really believe that there's going to be trouble in the future. And I said, if this country starts to spiral out of control and, you know, and Mexico melts down or whatever, if it really starts to spiral out of control. ... Americans will, they just, they won't stand for it. There will be parts of the country that will rise up. And they said, where's that going to come from? And I said Texas, it's going to come from Texas." Beck then asked Norris, "Do you agree with that, Chuck, or not?" to which Norris replied, "Oh, yeah. You know, Texas is a republic, you know. ... [W]e could break off from the union if we wanted to." Beck responded, "You do, you call me," adding: "Seriously, you do. I don't mind having that lone star on my flag. I really don't mind it. I've been out with a seam ripper looking at my flag going, I don't know, California could go."
  • In his March 4 WorldNetDaily column, Burt Prelutsky compared Obama to a spousal abuser, writing: "Frankly, I don't know why anybody continues to hold Obama in high esteem. Maybe it's like those women who marry charming fellows only to discover after the vows have been exchanged that he's an abuser. In spite of the black eyes and split lips, the ladies are just too embarrassed to call the cops and have their friends and relatives discover what a dunderhead they've been."
  • In his February 25 WorldNetDaily column, Ellis Washington compared Obama to a mobster, writing:

How does the legend of Faust apply to [Republican Louisiana] Gov. [Bobby] Jindal's refusal to accept all of the $100 million dollars Obama is offering the state of Louisiana as part of it's share of stimulus package money. President Obama, like the suave, cosmopolitan Mephistopheles, has not only crafted and passed the largest wealth confiscation in the history of the world, but upon closer examination of the 1,000-plus pages of this bloated, complex and convoluted text, the devil is truly in the details.


It's like the wedding scene of "The Godfather," Part I, where Michael Corleone recalled his father (Vito Corleone) doing business through his muscleman, Lou Cabrachi: "Either your signature on this contract, or your brains on this contract." President Barack Corleone's so-called $787 billion economic stimulus package has offered America a deal with the devil.

  • During the February 20 edition of Clear Channel's The War Room with Quinn & Rose, a caller discussed a proposed "insurance bill for gun owners":

CALLER: I don't feel -- it doesn't matter if they pass an insurance bill for gun owners or not. They're not getting the guns, flat-out. I mean, that's just how it is. And they'll find out what a sizable force is once they encounter a group of citizens that own guns. I think that's one reason they're attacking the First Amendment is to stop you guys from warning the rest of the public.

Co-host Jim Quinn replied: "Oh, sure, sure. I mean, it's the crux of all the amendments. As a matter of fact, the Founding Fathers argued that the Second Amendment should have been the first. Because without the second, there is no first. Thanks, Travis. Yeah, when you hear that Quinn's guns have been confiscated, you will know that Quinn is dead."

  • The slogan for RightWingNews.com -- a conservative blog run by Townhall.com columnist John Hawkins -- is: "Kneecapping Barack Obama at every opportunity."

The storm I've been warning about
is coming in faster now. It is time for the right to stand up against the escalating tide of violence fueled by its own rhetoric.

To get a sense of just how fast, you only need to take stock of what's been happening on the right wing since President Obama's inauguration:

Wednesday, January 21 -- the day after the inauguration -- 22-year-old Keith Luke goes on a violent spree in his Boston neighborhood. He rapes and kills one woman, and also kills the sister who tries to help her. He then goes out onto the street and shoots a passing homeless man. Police intercept him on his way to a local synagogue, where he tells them he intended to "kill as many Jews as possible during bingo night." He also says that he was fighting the extinction of the white race, and had stockpiled 200 round of ammunition to that end.

Tuesday, February 10 -- In Belfast, Maine, radioactive "dirty bomb" materials are found in home of James Cummings, who had been shot and killed by his wife after years of domestic violence. Cummings was an admirer of Adolf Hitler, and a large collection of Nazi memorabilia and a filled-out application for the National Socialist Movement were found on the scene.

Thursday, February 26 -- In Miramar Beach, FL, 60-year-oldDannie Baker walks into a neighboring townhouse where 14 Chilean students -- all in the US legally -- are gathered. He fires, killing two and wounding five. Those who know Baker describe him as a mentally ill man obsessed with fear that immigrants are taking over the country.

Sunday, April 5 -- Budding white supremacist and recently discharged veteran Richard Popalowski shoots and kills three police officers following a standoff in Pittsburgh. They were responding to a domestic disturbance call. He believed they had been sent by the Obama Adminstration to take away his guns.

Tuesday, April 28 -- US Army Reservist Joshua Cartwright shoots and kills two sheriff's deputies in Fort Walton Beach, FL. His wife escaped from him after he beat her, and called police from the emergency room. In the incident report, she reported that her husband believed the US Government was conspiring against him, and was severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President.

Wednesday, May 6 -- Stephen P. Morgan of Middletown, CT kills former NYU classmate Johanna Justin-Jinich, whom he had been harassing since at least 2007. A diary found in his belongings included an entry: "I think it's ok to kill Jews and go on a killing spree" and "Kill Johanna. She must Die." Justin-Jinich was Jewish, and the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.

Sunday, May 31 -- Dr. George Tiller is shot to death while ushering at his Lutheran church in Wichita, KS. His killer, Scott Roeder, is captured by police within hours. Roeder is found to have ties to several violent right-wing groups, including the Montana Freemen and the Sovereign Citizen movement. He had also been committing acts of vandalism against abortion clinics for years, most recently just days before the assassination.

Wednesday, June 10 -- Well-known anti-Semitic blogger James Wenneker von Brunn walks into the national Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and opens fire. Two security guards are shot; one is dead and the other still guarded as of this writing. Von Brunn himself was killed in return fire. He had been prominent in Holocaust denier circles for several decades, and considered Holocaust museums to be a crime against white history.

Eight episodes of right-wing extremist violence in four-and-a-half months. We haven't gone four weeks since February without some deranged soul—always with a long history of mental illness; usually with a record of military service and/or domestic violence; and invariably jacked up on a toxic cocktail of white male privilege; us-versus-them enemy-seeking; fury at women, blacks and/or Jews; and a belief that the world as he knew it was ending unless he took up arms—taking out his gun and killing innocent Americans in a suicidal bid for glory.

For the record: This is not business as usual. True, there have always been occasional events, usually dismissed by the corporate media as "isolated incidents," the work of "lone wolf shooters" acting for reasons all their own. But you have to go back a long, long way in American history before you come to a place where you find incidents like this happening an average of once every two weeks. And the chattering classes are finally beginning to realize what those of us who've been faithfully watching the right wing for years have been telling them for a long while now: there's nothing isolated about any of this.

In fact, this is exactly how full-scale terrorism begins.

The thing that worries me most about this rash of shootings isn't just the threat to public safety posed by domestic terrorism -- though that's becoming a more serious consideration on the American home front with every passing week -- but where this kind of thing historically leads. Regular readers know I'm always stepping way back to get the big picture and look for the long-term patterns. This escalating level of violence is adding data points to a potentially emergent pattern that we need to be looking at and preparing for. So far, there are at least five things I'm particularly concerned about.

1. More and Faster. First, there's just the bald statistical increase in frequency of these attacks. Between January and April, we were seeing shootings on an average of once every 27 days. In May, the last three episodes came at an average interval of once every 15 days—a 40 percent drop. This is hardly a comforting trend, and it points to the likelihood of a long, hot summer.

2. Lone Wolves Join Packs. One of the things that's striking about the last two shooters is that they're not lone wolves. Scott Roeder was packed into the same extensive network of anti-abortion co-conspirators that successfully hid Eric Rudolph for over five years (and may have been counting on them to hide him, too). James von Brunn was at the core of the anti-Semitic movement in America. Their actions don't just speak for themselves; they're supported by a larger community of people who might not have pulled the trigger themselves, but facilitated their crimes and consider them heroes. This is new. And it should worry us.

As I've noted before, groups heading toward major acts of violence always inch up to it by degrees. As shootings become a more common—and by some twisted reckoning, more acceptable—form of political protest, the psychopaths are joined in arms by more rational rebels who feel that they don't have any other options left. (We saw some of this on the left during the 1960s, as the more psychopathic members of activist groups goaded, indoctrinated, or simply led others into committing acts of domestic terrorism that they might have contemplated, but probably would never have undertaken on their own.) As things accelerate, acts by lone wolves give way to coordinated actions pulled off by small packs acting together. Later on, these packs work in concert with other teams to commit bigger acts. Successes build, confidence grows, skills improve -- and before long, you've got Al Qaeda. Or the IRA. Or any of a dozen other terrorist organizations that started out walking this exact same path.

3. An Intention to Expand Operations. Plans are already afoot to expand into just this kind of group action. Back in February, the right wing went squealing nuts over this report by the state of Missouri, warning that state's law enforcement of the threat posed by right wing extremists. It's a useful read on where the militia movements are right now; but the most interesting part is the section titled "Training," which outlines specifically what militia groups are doing now to hone their individual and group fighting skills for domestic terrorism attacks.

And the resurgent militia movement isn't the only group making these kinds of plans. On the Dominionist fringe, Joel's Army is sending its sons to Iraq to give them the skills they'll need for a Christian takeover of the nation. Eric Rudolph was supported by the anti-abortion tactical Army of God. There are all kinds of large and small militant groups groups out there, each one arming and training up for their own unique reasons.

4. Making Common Cause. Another thing that's alarming those of us who watch the right wing is that the historical silos that divided the various right-wing extremist movements are morphing and crumbling. As the Missouri memo notes, the major strains in the past have included the Neo-Nazis; Christian Identity, the religious arm of white nationalism; the Sovereign Citizen movement; the militant anti-abortionists, the tax resistors and the anti-immigration movement. There's always been some cross-pollination between them, but the Web has made it possible for a broader fusing of all these ideologies into a common culture. Increasingly (as we saw with Roeder, for example), a terrorist who takes up arms for one of these causes may be just as willing to serve another as well.

5. The Tim McVeigh Finishing School. Dave Neiwert coined this phrase for the Iraq War, based on the fact that the most effective domestic terrorists (including McVeigh and Rudolph) have always been those with extensive combat training and experience. The right wing raised holy hell in early April when the Department of Homeland Security released its infamous report pointing out that right-wing extremist groups were aggressively recruiting veterans; but there was no need for DHS secretary Janet Napolitano to apologize. The facts are squarely with the DHS on this score.

As noted above, many of the right-wing groups saw the war from the very first as an opportunity to gain valuable combat skills that could be applied to domestic terrorism at home. In recent decades, the military has been very aggressive about identifying and ejecting these kinds of extremists, since their religious and racist excesses tended to devastate unit cohesion—and the last thing we need is well-armed nutcases running around our home towns with combat skills.

But this war was different. In part because of a growing fundamentalist takeover of the officer corps and in part because recruiters were desperate for warm bodies, the military has been looking the other way and letting these recruits stay and serve for the past several years now. The upshot is swastikas on the walls in Baghdad—and a new corps of well-trained, committed militia members who are also in prime position to seek out new recruits among the young kids who are far from home and overwhelmed.

Those seasoned veterans are coming home now. As with every war, most of them will successfully rejoin civilian life and become some of our most productive citizens. But, as with every war, there will be a handful who come home, struggle for a while, and then start applying everything we've taught them to the home front. That's what's got DHS worried. And today, even FOX News' Shepherd Smith admitted that DHS's concern might not have been wrongly placed after all:

Where does this end? One way that this could play out is that the extremist commandos go a bridge too far and finally succeed on a scale that scares the rational rebels into putting down their guns and bombs. This leaves the really crazy actors without their posse, busted back to the level of lone wolves. Oklahoma City was absolutely that event for the 1990s' militia incarnation. There's even a possibility that 9/11 may have been that event for Al Qaeda, but it's still too early to tell.

If the conservative movement does not take a stand against these extremists, they may find that their silence will give permission to actions that are far worse. Given the number of Americans, both left and right, who are understandably and thoroughly disgusted with the corporatocracy and increasingly convinced that Congress is too corrupt to deliver even the basics to anyone who's not rich enough to write their problem on the back of a check, it is possible to imagine a right-wing populist movement that sucks large chunks of the frustrated, desperate working and middle classes into more and larger terrorist acts.

Either way, the storm is upon us now. And it probably will be for at least another couple of years. The best thing progressives can do right now is stay in close touch with our base, and keep pressing for a progressive agenda that will restore average Americans' faith in their government. Now that the shooting has started, it's more important than ever that we stick together, and stand for the rule of law.

Yesterday's tragic shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, by an "88-year-old white supremacist," is the latest in a string of right-wing extremist attacks. The number of hate groups such as the "Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and Black separatists" operating in the United States is at an all-time high, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Moreover, gun purchases since President Obama's election surged. However, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declassified a report "detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism" in April, right-wing commentators and Republican politicians decried the report as a politically motivated attack on all conservatives. They claimed that "the Obama administration is targeting conservatives and others simply because they disagree with administration policies and proposals." Ignoring that the report -- like a similar one describing the threat of left-wing extremists -- was commissioned by the Bush administration, conservatives called for the resignation of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Media Matters Action Fund's Matt Finkelstein asks, "Will Republicans admit that their partisan 'outrage' was misplaced?"

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: The declassified DHS report warned, "
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely." The report further warned, "The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment." This description reflected recent extremist violence, including the July 2008 shooting spree in a Knoxville church "because of its liberal teachings," a thwarted attempt to assassinate Obama in October by two neo-Nazi skinheads, and "a racially motivated rape and murder spree in Brockton, MA" by a 22-year-old white supremacist the "day after Barack Obama was inaugurated." Since the report was issued last April, the trail of death has continued. "We have seen not only the murder of an abortion physician by a member of the radical right, but the murders of five law enforcement officers -- three police officers in Pittsburgh, two sheriff's deputies in Florida by radical right-wing extremists," SPLC's Mark Potok told CNN. "It's really been quite an extraordinary period." The Pittsburgh shooter "feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns," and the Florida killer was "severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President." In an incident earlier this month, a "lone wolf" American Muslim extremist "shot and killed Army Pvt. William Long" outside a Little Rock, AR, mall in anger over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

CONSERVATIVES VS. EXTREMISTS: Conservative politicians led the attack on the DHS report. Both House Minority Leader
John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called it "offensive." Others went further: Gun advocate Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) claimed "the report has no intelligence value and only serves to blur our constitutional protections, such as the Second Amendment," and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) argued that "it looks like the extremists are those running the DHS." "What is the Department of Homeland Security calling us now?" Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) asked at an April 15 tea party protest. "Extremists? Well, give me a button." "Now if you disagree with that liberal path that President Obama's taken the country down," Fox News' Sean Hannity claimed, "you may soon catch the attention of the Department of Homeland Security." Texas Rep. John Carter (R-TX), after demanding Napolitano's firing on the House floor, told Politico, "Singling out political opponents for working against the ruling party is precisely the tactic of every tyrannical government from Red China to Venezuela." As Mother Jones's James Ridgeway observed, "Conservatives haven't been branded dangerous extremists by DHS or the Obama administration; they've branded themselves."

'WARNING US FOR A REASON': Following the Holocaust Museum shooting, two Fox News personalities,
Shepard Smith and Catherine Herridge, suggested that critics of DHS's report on right-wing extremism should re-think their objections. "The right went absolutely bonkers" over the report, said Smith, adding that DHS was "warning us for a reason." Though some conservatives have concluded that the recent string of right-wing violence has "vindicated" the DHS report, many othersdisagree. Blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, who led the charge against the DHS report, approvingly linked to a military blogger that called Smith and Herridge "pathetic." Malkin's Hot Air colleague, Ed Morrissey, defended the criticism of the report by claiming that it didn't "mention anti-semitism at all." But as Huffington Post's Sam Stein points out, the DHS report "warned specifically about an upswing of anti-Semitic behavior." "At this point it's little consolation," CBS News's Charles Cooper observes, "but Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano turned out to be more prescient about domestic extremism than many of her critics."

Whether or not Barack Obama is a Marxist is one of the most prevalent philosophically-related questions asked about him. Yet, if we are to go by the reaction of current Vice President Joe Biden when he was confronted with the question on the campaign trail by Orlando television reporter Barbara West—"Are you joking? Is this a joke?"—the question isn't even legitimate and is a "ridiculous comparison."

But the Vice President never gave that particular reporter a good reason why the question is ridiculous. He merely attacked her for asking it.

Many studied philosophers, including myself, think the question is far from ridiculous and can not be dispensed with by mere Ad Hominem attacks against those who ask it. We will deal with it by asking two more questions over the course of the next two Philosopher's Stone columns: "Can we tell that he is a Marxist from his associations?" and "Can we tell that he is a Marxist from the principles he adopts?"

Attempts to argue that Barack Obama himself is a Marxist, given his past connections with known Marxists, have abounded on the Internet and on conservative talk radio, especially prior to the November election. That those connections do exist is hardly a matter for debate.

Abundant evidence has been cited to show that his long-time mentor and father figure in Hawaii, Frank Marshall Davis, was a full-blown, active member of the Communist Party. After coming to Chicago, Obama for years attended the church of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an ardent and vocal advocate of Black Liberation Theology, a movement with its roots planted firmly in Marxism.

Obama also had extensively documented contact in Chicago with Bill Ayers, former member of the Marxist-influenced Weather Underground, and a self-identified Marxist:

In an interview published in 1995, Ayers characterized his political beliefs at that time and in the 1960s and 1970s: "I am a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist ... [Laughs] Maybe I'm the last communist who is willing to admit it. [Laughs] We have always been small 'c' communists in the sense that we were never in the Communist party and never Stalinists. The ethics of communism still appeal to me. I don't like Lenin as much as the early Marx."

Obama's defenders characterize the above charges as mere "guilt by association." They contend that his connections with known Marxists do not necessarily imply that he shares their views. They claim we can draw no legitimate conclusions about Obama's own beliefs from the above facts concerning his associations.

In so doing, they are in effect charging his detractors with committing a reasoning error logicians call a "Circumstantial Ad Hominem Argument." They thus gainsay his opponents' claims that because of his own special circumstances—in this case that Obama has had ongoing relationships with many known Marxists—he must share certain specific views (namely, Marxist). They argue that these relationships are, in fact, utterly irrelevant to his actual beliefs and should not be cited as evidence of them.

One who commits the above fallacy wrongly assumes that there is a necessary logical connection between Being an A and advocating a particular view. As a textbook example, I would be doing so were I to contend that, because you are a Democrat, you cannot be Pro-Life. Here, I would be assuming wrongly that being Pro-Abortion (or as they would prefer, Pro-Choice) is a necessary aspect of being a Democrat, when it in fact is not. There is no necessary logical connection between your being a Democrat and your abortion views, and it would be wrong for me to assume that there is just because so many with whom you associate are Pro-Abortion.

But, in philosophical terms, the connection claimed to exist between Obama and his Marxist associates is not merely logical, but causal. His life-long, self-selected connections with known Marxists are claimed to have had a causal influence on his own beliefs. And that is a vital distinction when examining one's resultant behavior patterns.

It is probabilistic, not deductive, reasoning that best deals with causal relationships. While we cannot conclude with certainty from the truth of documented facts concerning his Marxist associations that Barack Obama himself is a Marxist, it is reasonable to conclude that there is a significant probability that he is and doing so commits no logical fallacy. So his associations are not, as his defenders maintain, irrelevant as evidence of his own beliefs. They are, in fact, determinant.

Yet, all of the above might be a moot point when another of his associations, rarely discussed, is considered: that of his relationship with his own Marxist father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. Guessing whether he was influenced significantly by the Marxism of his father is utterly unnecessary here for, in his first book Dreams from my Father, the younger Obama clearly states that it was his deliberate intention to build his own life in his father's likeness: "It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela."

Others have speculated that part of that image involved carrying out his father's Marxist dreams. In view of this president's nationalization of the banking and auto industries—and his impending nationalization of health care—it's hard to seriously gainsay such speculation. Next week we shall see that a major means of his doing so involves adopting the Marxist principle that his father championed most: that of wealth redistribution.

The Terrorist Threat: Right-Wing Radicals and the Eliminationist Mind-Set
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Understanding the dangerous worldview that led to the murder of an innocent doctor and an attack at the Holocaust Museum.
Read more »

Bird Cage Droppings right wing rag tabloid posing a a news paper in the guise of The Washington Examiner. “time to stop the flood of federerAL REGULATIONS.” Speaking of the competive enterprises Institue’s list of “Ten Thousand ommandments”..eliminate them, fire the eforcers save the money and heel deregulate everything.

The Scope of the SSCI Investigation and Where It Leads

Honest. I was going to write this post today or yesterday or tomorrow even before Rachel Maddow said people would be parsing her interview last night with Sheldon Whitehouse closely (here's the full interview).

Back in February, I was very skeptical whether a DiFi-led SSCI investigation into torture would be a rigorous investigation. I owe DiFi an apology, because by all appearances this investigation is time-consuming, demanding, and productive. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been maintaining an unbelieveable pace of closed hearings this year--often two a week--many of which must deal with this investigation (though some clearly deal with other intelligence issues such as the warrantless wiretapping program). At least per Rachel's comments in her interview with Senator Whitehouse, the committee won its squabble with CIA to get unredacted cables from the field. And as a result of the hearings, Sheldon Whitehouse has come out and said "no further actionable intelligence" was gotten through waterboarding Abu Zubaydah. Thus far, this is not the weasely whitewash we've come to expect from SSCI (though it remains to be seen whether Kit Bond and friends can politicize whatever report we get out of it--and whether we get a report at all). So I apologize to DiFi for my doubts.

I wanted to look at the scope and the direction of this investigation--at least what we know. Bothat the beginning, and now, SSCI has said the investigation covers three things:

  • Whether detentions and interrogations complied with DOJ authorizations
  • Whether the interrogations gained valuable intelligence or not
  • Whether SSCI was kept properly informed

Here's how Whitehouse described the questions they're asking in his Senate speech the other day:

I see three issues we need to grapple with. The first is the torture itself: What did Americans do? In what conditions of humanity and hygiene were the techniques applied? With what intensity and duration? Are our preconceptions about what was done based on the sanitized descriptions of techniques justified? Or was the actuality far worse?

Were the carefully described predicates for the torture techniques and the limitations on their use followed in practice? Or did the torture exceed the predicates and bounds of the Office of Legal Counsel opinions?

[snip--Whitehouse basically interjects the same argument I made here, that Panetta's declaration makes it clear the torture did exceed OLC bounds]

The questions go on: What was the role of private contractors? Why did they need to be involved? And did their peculiar motivations influence what was done? Ultimately, was it successful? Did it generate the immediately actionable intelligence protecting America from immediate threats that it had been sold as producing? How did the torture techniques stack up against professional interrogation?

Well, that is a significant array of questions all on its own, and we intend to answer them in the Senate Intelligence Committee under the leadership of Chairman Feinstein, expanding on work already done, thanks to the previous leadership of Chairman Rockefeller.

As I noted, both Whitehouse and I have pointed out that Panetta's declaration by itself makes clear that the torture exceeded the authorizations it had gotten from OLC--but we already knew that from the CIA itself. And as Whitehouse has made clear, and I have made clear, we already know the program was ineffective--but we already knew that from the CIA itself. And (though Whitehouse doesn't focus on this aspect of the investigation), we know that CIA did not brief SSCI the way it said it did--nor in the manner it was legally obliged to do. We know that, too, from the CIA itself.

So where does that lead us? That's why this exchange from Rachel's interview with Whitehouse last night is so important.

Maddow: The way you've described that makes me want to ask a question that no one's been able to tell me--and I've been asking a lot of people. The remit of what the intelligence committee is looking at right now--looking at what happened to High Value Detainees, millions of pages of documents, succeeded in getting agreements to get stuff completely unredacted. We know it's going to be a big comprehensive look at what happened to those High Value Detainees. Does it only look at what the CIA did, or will it look at the chain of command, whether or not instruction came from the White House, the Office of the Vice President beyond the Intelligence Agency?

Whitehouse: We're not at the stage yet, in the investigation, where those chain of command issues are yet raised. I hope very much that it will. I believe it implicates chain of command issues. And I think that that's a critical question.

Maddow: But it's not what the intelligence committee is looking at right now and we should not expect that will be in the intelligence committee's report when it comes out in six months or so?

Whitehouse: I would not go that far. You have to sort of ... investigations are step by step. They're iterative. And you have to get to a certain place before you go on and we're not quite at that place, so that decision hasn't been made. I hope it gets made, I think it will be made. There is, I think, justification that it be made. But it does raise the issue of getting beyond the purview of the intelligence committee and into what the Bush Administration contended was protected by executive privilege.

Maddow: Right.

Whitehouse: So conceivably, other investigations, executive branch investigations, might have gotten under way by that point. And against an executive branch investigation, executive privilege doesn't apply. So, I guess, stand by.

Maddow: What you just said is very important, it is going to be parsed a lot by a lot of people including me, and it clarifies what we should be expecting and not expecting about this and what accountability is going to look like in this country on this issue, actually more than anybody else I know has said before, so thank you.

[Rachel moves to close the interview, Whitehouse interrupts]

Whitehouse: One other important question is, what were the private contractors doing, and why did they have so much access that they could interrupt what was probably the most productive, intelligence interrogation yet done in the global war on terror--not once but twice, even though they were unproductive. What enabled them to have that power to interrupt such a productive interrogation.

Maddow: Yeah, who were they calling in Washington when they were getting those interrogations?

Whitehouse: Good questions to be asked.

This is Sheldon Whitehouse, former Rhode Island Attorney General and US Attorney, explaining how you build a case. This former prosecutor is thinking clearly of establishing a case, and then either pursuing it in SSCI--or referring it, as he suggested with his reference to an executive branch investigation. And in both this exchange and in his speech the other day, Whitehouse told both viewers and his colleagues to stand by.

As I said, I was skeptical about this investigation. But Whitehouse, at least, seems to think that after the questions we already know the answers to--did the interrogators exceed guidelines, did it produce worthwhile intelligence, did the committee get fully briefed--it will lead in other directions, including, potentially, forcing a DOJ investigation.

Time to give kudos where they're deserved. If you're so inclined, why not give Senator Feinstein a call--(202) 224-3841--and thank her for leading this investigation (it's not often we give DiFi thanks around here, but it appears deserved, and carrots often work much better than sticks)

Naomi Klein: The Financial Crisis Presents a Huge Opportunity for Change -- We Can't Let Obama Blow It

By Naomi Klein, AlterNet. Posted June 13, 2009.


There is nothing undemocratic about pushing through a set of radical policies that will actually solve the crisis.

The above is the text of Naomi Klein's speech to the Momentum Plenary at the America's Future Now conference in Washington. It has been edited for length and clarity.

“Guns” - a single word, but one that is powerfully packed with controversy, and with social and political meaning. In America’s culture wars, that word is as capable of stirring up emotions as is the word “abortion” or the simple phrase “gay rights.” Americans have been arguing about access to guns since before they had a national government and a federal Constitution. And their English forebears were at odds over that issue even before the reign of Charles II in the middle 1600s. It is part of the American heritage, and of the American national psyche, to be agitated over guns.

Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet has written that “the fights over the Second Amendment are really about something else…about * how we understand ourselves * as Americans.” The Supreme Court will not even attempt in District of Columbia v. Heller to supply such an understanding. At most, it will provide only a legal - a constitutional - definition. It has the option of ruling on a grand scale, or on a quite modest one. Whatever it may be able to do — and however divided a final decision might be — that review could shape in a significant way what it means to talk of, or legislate about, “gun rights.”









Yes we have a lot of social ills and far too many people are killed violently everyday…by guns, knives and so many other instruments of destruction. I am mindful of a self defense class I once took that had as a thesis: “Everything Is A Weapon”. It is true, and we can’t ban everything, but we can if we choose banish much of what drives one person to kill another…so don’t “Blame It On The Gun”!

In a First, High Court Affirms Gun Rights



The Court got the history right
, spending 54 of 64 pages in the Scalia majority opinion to analyze the history behind the Second Amendment. Specifically, the court recognized the fear that a despotic federal government could disarm the people was a central purpose of the amendment -- and it specifically overturns the trigger lock requirement out of a recognition that self-defense is a protected right envisioned by the amendment.

In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place. The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed. It said that issuing a license to a handgun owner, so the weapon can be used at home, would be a sufficient remedy for the Second Amendment violation of denying any access to a handgun.

The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis is the conclusion of Frederick Jackson Turner that the wellsprings of American exceptionalism and vitality have always been the American frontier, the region between urbanized,civilized society and the untamed wilderness. In the thesis, the frontier created freedom, constantly named as civilization, "breaking the bonds of custom, offering new experiences, [and] calling out new institutions and activities." Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," delivered to the American Historical Association in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

In The End of American Exceptionalism, Wrobel illustrates more than just how the perceived demise of the frontier brought about a longing for wilderness and the pioneer spirit. He emphasizes how it influenced debate on public land and immigration policy, expansionism, and the merits of individualistic and cooperative political systems. In addition, he relates how it affected and was affected by such diverse social and political issues as racism, industralization, irrigation, tenant farming, class struggle, government intervention, and the naturalist movement.



One must remember that our attitudes in part are dictated by own history, our upbringing and the fact that, though we may the highest developed civilization, nation, society of this Earth, our level of technological prowess does not equate with our level of “civility”. It does not. Our historical memory is colored by the often over looked fact that we are not far from our frontier experience and the American affection for that time period and its simple codes of justice, be they real, myth or legend, we carry them around as surely as they were a well tuned Colt Peacemaker strapped to our leg equalizing all men on all matters. Oh yes, just be honest with yourself!

No Government lasts forever. No Constitution is eternal. There comes a moment in many lives where one must protect him or herself, to kill or be killed. There comes a time, as history has provided more than ample example when the citizens of a nation must take up arms as “citizen soldiers” in Revolution. Without the right “”To Keep and Bear Arms” we become victims and slaves. This I shall never accept.

The First Letter: Letter No.1: These Are Dangerous Times

These are dangerous times, made so not only by technologies that can reduce our world to a barren charcoal briquette floating silently in the icy void of space, and those that can persuade our species to alter their perception of their existence in such fashion as they are reduced to, and succumb to, the opiate like futility of a submissive surrender to fear, but, by those who are all to willing to gamble and employ both those technologies for their interest.

History tells me; my innate instincts tell me; my self sense of hope, though I be in the presence of the those who given themselves over to hopelessness and the sickness of despair tells me that in the midst of the greatest of perils there is inherent the possibility for the greatest of achievement; the restoration of right, justice and the renewal of liberty, if we are but willing to confront circumstances and ignore the machinations of those who would be our oppressors.

At such a juncture we find ourselves. We have choices that must be made. We have actions that must be taken, lest we are willing to see our way of life and the dreams that this nation has been founded upon, nourished by the blood of every generation, to simply, silently drown in the sea history awaiting generations hence to document and dissect our desertion of those dreams and the demise our democracy.

In this nation it has become common place to be critical of all, to fault everything, to blame someone else for every problem, to expect corruption and an uneven application of law and justice, to accept passively any dictum of government with the attitude that nothing can be or will be changed, as we assume our impotence and inability as individuals to either alter the direction of this nation, or to regain command of our human condition.

We are treading water, at this point, in the pages of history, contemplated our own drowning demise, and seemingly unwilling, or unable to shed the paralysis that will take us down in the inevitable fatigue of the continued flailings of failure.

The Black Quill Letters: Letter No.2: The Neocon Menace
No idea, however powerful and seductive, is enough on its own.

“Onward Christian Neocons, marching as to war!” There is more truth here than my frivolous paraphrasing. That which the American people must understand regarding the “Neocons” is that they have as a group a delusional unrealistic vision of the world and goals that are:

(1) INCONSISTENT with traditional American traditions,

(2) PREMISED on faulty base assumptions,

(3) CATAPULT this nation into “Aggressor Nation” status internationally,

(4) IMPERIL world peace by converting the Middle East into a tinder box for the ignition of a world wide conflagration,

(5) REALIZABLE only if the democratic structure and governance systems of this nation are subject to massive corruption, destruction coupled with a Fascist-derivative form, under mining the basic legal structures and principles of this nation,

(6) ACCOMPANIED by the establishment of an Imperial Executive branch that empowers itself sufficiently as to render the Legislative branch powerless to the point where its’ actions are meaningless and the Judicial machinery of the nation is ignored with impunity, or is co-opted as an instrument of its’ actions,

(7) CHARACTERIZED by wholesale ignorance of the public’s most serious needs, allowing those issues to become sources of dissatisfaction, dissatisfaction manipulated to their advantage by shifting the onus of blame to other entities, organizations, or individuals they wish to isolate, demonize and busy with their own self defense, thus neutralizing any impact they might have or the policies, programs and actions of the administration, and

(8) FLAWED in terms of real world considerations and their “understanding” of human nature and the human condition.

The Black Quill Letters No.3: When Fascism Comes To America: It will All Seem "Normal".

The Rise of Fascism in America; A Little Repeat Reminder and Review

Fascism in America won’t come with jackboots, book burnings, mass rallies, and fevered harangues, nor will it come with black helicopters or tanks on the street. It won’t come like a storm—but as a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: Everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality will have taken its place. But it will all seem “normal”.

All the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns—plenty of bread and circuses. But “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small and privileged group who rule for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.The change in America is taking place as I write, and Sinclair Lewis prophetically said” “That when Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

The rulers will act in secret, for reasons of “national security,” and the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name.

Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, state murder of “enemies” selected by the leader, undeclared wars, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security structures” targeted at the populace.

In time, this will be seen as ““normal”,” as the chill of autumn feels “normal” when summer is gone. It will all seem “normal”.

But then again the drift downward will be in a comfortable proper patriotic, flag wrapped, Christian, Family Values fog will all seem so “normal”…except, sooner of later the fog lifts and reality become clear. Its sort of like mowing the lawn on a hot summer day and having one or two too many beers. You lay down on the sofa for a few minutes with a fan blowing on you to cool down, and sleep comes quickly, a sleep broken by the rudeness of your neighbor ringing your door bell to report you left you mower running and it is now at rest against the side of his house….

Or you’ve had a good party with friends and your pitchers of Martinis were good and gone, and you awake to find yourself on that sofa again, and as you stumble in the Martini haze through the darkened house, you discover the bedroom door locked. You don’t know what you did, but you know you are in trouble, and at that moment you don’t know what you are going to have to do.

The arrival of Fascism is like that, seductive, intoxicating, and comfortable because your leaders have assured you that they are strong enough and have the answers to keep you safe and happy, and then comes the political hang over that can last for generations!

I on the other hand have no question as to where I stand, for the following words are, and will be, my refuge and resort when everyone has failed and the Fascist Flag Flies; I will be on the other side ready to begin anew the fight to regain what we all once knew before we succumbed to the intoxication, woke up in a fog pondering: “What do we do now, or as was written on the original book jacket of Sinclair Lewis’s, “ It Can’t Happen Here: “What will happen when Dictatorship comes to America?”

The Geneva Conventions Define The War Crimes Of George Bush

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

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