Saturday, September 04, 2010

Maybe Arizonans Should Worry About Their White-Supremacist Problem

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It's more than a little ironic, isn't it, that Arizonans will work themselves into a frenzy -- to the point of passing a police-state ordinance like SB1070 -- because of a single case like the murder of border rancher named Robert Krentz, even though the crime is being widely blamed on Mexican drug cartel activity, which is actually a distinct issue largely separate from "illegal immigration". (Indeed, it's not even clear that in fact Krentz's murder came at the hands of Mexicans.)

And yet when a white supremacist drives up next to a mixed-race couple and opens fire with a shotgun because of their races, as happened last October, the case is greeted with a yawn. As was the man's arrest this week:
A man suspected of killing a 39-year-old woman in Phoenix in October was arrested in Livingston, Tenn., on Wednesday, a Livingston Police Department spokesman said Thursday morning.
Aaron Schmidt
Schmidt is suspected of opening fire on the woman and her friend last October in what Phoenix police believe could have been a racially motivated crime.
Aaron Schmidt, 28 waived his extradition rights Thursday and can be picked up by the Phoenix Police Department, said Greg Etheredge, chief of the Livingston Police Department. Authorities believe Schmidt has been in Livingston since June.

The woman and a friend, Jeffrey Wellmaker, 48, were walking in Palma Park, on 12th Street and Dunlap Avenue about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 3 when a heavily tattooed, bald White man confronted them.

Wellmaker, who is Black, said the tattooed man yelled, "What are you doing with that White woman," according to Phoenix police at the time of the shooting.

The friends didn't respond and kept walking.

The tattooed man followed the pair for a couple blocks, police had said. By the time the couple reached Fourth Street and Puget Avenue, Wellmaker saw a white four-door newer model sedan with tinted windows drive past them.

In the passenger seat was the tattooed man. That's when Wellmaker said the passenger pulled out a shotgun and shot two blasts at the couple, according to police. One struck the woman and the second blast missed them.
The story was largely buried in the Phoenix newspapers -- perhaps because Wellmaker and the unidentified woman who was killed were homeless, instead of middle-class ranchers.

It's the same way that the case of Shawna Forde and her gang of killer Minutemen has been downplayed by the Arizona media, not to mention the national media, particularly Fox News.
It's the same way that report of camo-bedecked vigilantes firing on Latino border crossers received zero attention in any media beyond a handful of blogs:
Sheriff Antonio Estrada said that according to his department’s incident report, five undocumented migrants had crossed into the United States and were walking through a canyon around 5 a.m. on Friday when two unidentified males wearing camouflage clothing shot at them with a high-powered rifle.

“The victims claimed no demands were made. They were just walking and fired upon,” said Estrada, who added that the group had not been robbed. Estrada said that when the group ran, one of the men, Manuel Esquer Gomez, 45, from Nogales, Sonora sustained a gunshot wound to the left forearm.

As the group continued, the men stumbled upon skeletal remains of what they thought were two people.

While little is known about the attackers, Sheriff Antonio Estrada has stated that “[i]t’s perturbing to hear of people with high-powered rifles and camouflage. It raises some real red flags.” He also told KVOA that the shooters might have been U.S. citizens. “I hate to think that is what we’re looking at but we’re not going to dismiss any possibilities,” Estrada stated. “They may be individuals who may be hunting illegal border crossers. That’s really a big concern for us.”
Arizona has a white supremacist problem -- one that has been exacerbated by the nativist immigrant-bashing that has been part and parcel of the right-wing approach to the issue in Arizona. Instead of inverting the reality, at some point they're going to have to face up to it -- especially because, eventually, Latinos and homeless white people are not going to be the only victims.

Um, Rabbi, Do You Really Think It's A Good Idea To Label People You Disagree With 'Parasites'?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Um, do you think maybe someone should point out to Glenn Beck's guest on his show Friday -- Rabbi Daniel Lapin -- that, even though it may feel good to condemn all atheists as "parasites" in a "moral society," it's a profoundly irresponsible thing to do, particularly for someone claiming the title of Rabbi? After all, there is an important historical precedent for what happens when you single out an entire sector of the populace as a "parasitical element."

It's not even worth the time to point out that atheists can propose precisely the reverse claim -- that organized religions are a parasitical element on society -- with probably an even better rationale. Because this kind of rhetoric is a classic example of eliminationism.

Not that Lapin is any stranger to wielding eliminationist rhetoric:
"I am absolutely convinced that God is far from finished with the story of the United States of America," he said by way of summation. "First of all, [there's] the matter of the little battle that must be fought, just as it was in the 19th century." There were, and are, "two incompatible moral visions for this country. We had to settle it then. We're going to have to settle it now. I hope not with blood, not with guns, but we're going to have to settle it nonetheless. The good news is that I think our side is finally ready to settle it. Roll up its sleeves, take off its jacket, and get a little bloody. Spill a little blood. We'll settle it. And we'll win. And then there's no holding us back."
Indeed, this Rabbi Lapin is also known for his long associations with Jack Abramoff, as well as for being the Rabbi who David Duke loves to quote.
Lapin continued:
The sad fact is that through Jewish actors, playwrights, and producers, the Berlin stage of Weimar Germany linked Jews and deviant sexuality in all its sordid manifestations just as surely as Broadway does today. Much of the filth in American entertainment today parallels that of Germany between the wars.
"Indeed, it does," Duke writes glowingly, "It is interesting to note that there a few Jews in America who are concerned about the destructive influence of many powerful Jews. He [Lapin] is concerned not only because he believes that such evil is against his own morality but that it also inevitably brings down Gentile wrath upon Jews. The amazing thing is that there are so few honest voices like that of Rabbi Lapin."
No wonder he now shows up as a "religious authority" on Glenn Beck's show. He fits right in.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Buck-Buck Bakaw! Jan Brewer Won't Be Doing Any More Debates, Thankyouverymuch

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

After her horrendous performance the other night in her debate with Democrat Terry Goddard, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is doing what she does best: Running from tough questions ... you know, what most folks call accountability:
Arizona voters won't be seeing any more debates between the top gubernatorial contenders.

Incumbent Republican Jan Brewer said Thursday she has no intention of participating in any more events with Democrat Terry Goddard. She said the only reason she debated him on Wednesday is she had to to qualify for more than $1.7 million in public funds for her campaign.

"I certainly will take my message in a different venue out to the people of Arizona," she said.
Yes, we can imagine what that venue will be. After 20-plus appearances on Fox News and none with any local TV journalists, we're getting the idea. (When she adds later in the piece that she will "be available for interviews," we're sure she will ... with Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity.)
Anyway, Brewer said, she believes the debates help Goddard more than they benefit her.
"Why would I want to give Terry a chance to redefine himself?" she said.
Translation: why create another situation where I would just be destroyed at my own hand?
Brewer conceded that her performance in Wednesday's debate, and her refusal to answer a question from reporters afterward, was not well-handled. That includes an opening statement when she lost her train of thought and went silent, and walking away after the event rather than answering questions about her prior statements about headless bodies in the desert.

Brewer blamed part of her post-debate activities on her gaffe in her opening statement. The governor also said she presumed reporters would want to talk to her about some of the issues raised during the hour-long, televised debate.

"All you guys were doing and talking were beheadings, beheadings, beheadings," the governor said. "That is something that has stuck with you all for so long, and I just felt we needed to move on."
Actually, Jan, the issue is that you have refused to retract those remarks, even though (a) they have been proven utterly false, and (b) they have helped kill the state's tourism economy.

And the fact is, you just don't want to answer that question. Because you can't without admitting you're a crappy governor.

Beckapalooza-Goers' Racism Barely Out Of View -- Kinda Like The Paranoiac Bulletproof Vest Just Under Beck's Shirt

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sam Seder has another superb episode of "That's Bullshit" featuring the fine folks attending GlennBeckapalooza last week. One of the more interesting interviewees opines that black people should love coming to Beck events and Tea Parties -- because, after all, when they do, they're fawned all over by white people eager to prove they're not racist.

Me? I'm with Sam and the flag vendor.

Meanwhile, Jason Easley at PoliticsUSA has evidence that Beck was wearing a bulletproof vest under his shirt that day. (I wondered about this myself at the time.)

That raises the question: Did Martin Luther King wear body armor on Aug. 28, 1964? Answer: No. Because he was about love, not fear.

Tea Partiers Lose Another Candidate: Colorado's Dan Maes Being Forced To Step Aside For Lying, Cheating

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Gee, no irony in this video from "the friends of Dan Maes", is there? "Last man standing," indeed:
Top Colorado Republicans are attempting to convince gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes to drop his bid for governor by the end of Friday, a well-placed Republican in the state tells POLITICO.

In a meeting Friday morning, party chairman Dick Wadhams and other members of the state GOP executive committee met with Maes to present what one called “damaging evidence” that hasn’t yet been made public but would further erode his standing as a candidate, according to the source.

A second Republican consultant confirmed the account and said while there was no explicit ultimatum presented by the chairman to Maes, the message was clear.

“It was: Do you really want to put your family through this? If you stay in the race, you’ll have to endure this and this,” said the Republican, citing potential reports by the Denver Post.

Wadhams did not respond to a call for comment and another Republican aide said he did not expect the chairman to address the media until Maes came to a decision.
A Maes spokesman indicated that the candidate was meeting with those who want him out of the race.

“Dan is listening to the concerns of those who believe he should stay in the race, as well as those who believe he should step aside. He has no plans to exit the race at this time,” said Maes spokesman Nate Strauch.

Since upending Rep. Scott McInnis in the GOP primary last month, Maes has run into a string of problems and questions about his own credibility. Earlier this week, the Post reported that Maes falsely claimed he did undercover police work in Kansas before being terminated. He lost the endorsements of former Sen. Hank Brown and former state Senate president John Andrews.

Early Friday afternoon, GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck also withdrew his support for Maes, the latest signal that his time as a candidate may be limited to days, if not hours.
Of course, no matter who they replace him with, it's over. Democrat John Hickenlooper is far ahead in the polls anyway.

How come we keep hearing about the Tea Partiers' occasional successes -- like Joe Miller in Alaska (now there's a good national barometer) -- and ignoring their multiple failures?

It will certainly be interesting to learn what these papers were about to report. Sounds like there were some juicy skeletons in Maes' closet. But then, right-wing authoritarianism does bring out the best in people, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Jan Brewer Refuses To Answer Questions About 'Headless Bodies' -- Even After The Debate To Reporters

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

We pointed out awhile back that Gov. Jan Brewer's fearmongering about immigration in Arizona -- painting the state as the nation's kidnapping capital, a violent place where "headless bodies" were being left in the desert -- was effectively destroying the state's economy.

Last night, it came back to bite Brewer in her televised debate with Democrat Terry Goddard -- and afterward with reporters, too:
Goddard accused Brewer of damaging Arizona's image and business prospects by portraying the state as a violent place because of border-related crime.

Goddard said that's untrue and outrageous and she should admit she's wrong. "There are no beheadings that was a false statement and it needs to be cleared up right now," he said.

She responded, "Terry I will call you out, I think you ought to renounce your support of the unions that are boycotting our state." He dismissed her demand, saying he opposes the boycott.

Afterward, reporters asked her why she didn't answer Goddard about the beheadings. They said, "About the headless bodies? Why won't you recant that… do you still believe that?" She turned on her heel and left the post-debate news conference -- and the reporters were left grumbling.
Of course, as scarce observes, it wasn't exactly Brewer's best night anyway.

So even the local Fox station was trashing her astonishing performance.

Yeah, you have to wonder how well it's going to sit with Arizona voters that Brewer will make herself into a national celebrity by appearing on the propaganda channel, Fox News, 20-plus times, but won't even talk to local reporters at all. Wonder how well that 20-point lead is going to hold up.

Joe Arpaio's Stonewalling Clock Runs Out: DOJ Files Lawsuit To Force Him To Turn Over His Records

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

After Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio steadfastly stonewalled the Department of Justice in its investigation of his racial-profiling practices -- all while appearing on Fox numerous times to bash and taunt the investigators, and having his minions do likewise -- his clock ran out today:
The U.S. Justice Department sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday, saying the Arizona lawman refused for more than a year to turn over records in an investigation into allegations his department discriminates against Hispanics.

The lawsuit calls Arpaio and his office's defiance "unprecedented," and said the federal government has been trying since March 2009 to get officials to comply with its probe of alleged discrimination, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and jail policies that discriminate against people with limited English skills.

Arpaio had been given until Aug. 17 to hand over documents the federal government first asked for 15 months ago.

Arpaio called the Justice Department actions harrassment at a news conference Thursday morning in downtown Phoenix. His office has said it won't hand over additional documents because federal authorities haven't said exactly what they were investigating.
Last week, Arpaio announced he was challenging the request for the records -- nearly a year after it was filed.

Bet he won't be able to stonewall the FBI quite so easily.

America's Voice has the complete record on Arpaio.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Mr. Humble N' Pious: My Big Rally Was A Historic Event Like The End Of Slavery

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The mark of the truly fanatical propagandist is their fervent insistence on hyperinflating the value and importance and size of everything they're connected with -- even when they can be factually proven wrong. Like Glenn Beck yesterday, continuing to hype his incredibly boring rally Saturday in D.C. beyond whatever marginal entertainment value it might have had.

Beck continues to insist -- in the buildup to comparing garbage after his rally with the garbage left after Obama's inauguration -- that 500,000 people showed up on the Mall Saturday. But the folks at CBS News who counted only 87,000 have released their hard data so you can look at it for yourself.

I thought this in particular was interesting:
In a blog post, Doig, writing from Portugal, noted that he estimated the crowd at Mr. Obama's inauguration at roughly 800,000 - a number critics assailed as too low.

"Crowd counting, particularly of political events, always is controversial," he wrote. "The organizers of the event inevitably hype their crowd estimate -- often grossly -- to demonstrate the popularity of their cause, and opponents inevitably underestimate to fit their own agenda. Because of the wild pre-inauguration predictions of how many would attend in person -- up to 5 million! -- my reality-based estimate was ignored by many left-wing commentators and embraced by those on the right."

He added: "The frothing underscores the problem with hyped predictions of crowd size. Organizers and supporters are forced to insist loudly that the actual crowd met or exceeded their expectations, for fear that the realistic estimate will be painted as a disappointment. The time-honored way to dismiss scientific estimates that don't reflect the pre-event hype is to claim political bias on the part of those doing the estimate. I am amused to see that those who embraced my Obama inauguration estimate as soberly realistic are now attacking the Beck rally estimate, produced using exactly the same methods, as deliberately biased."
So the reality is that there were about ten times the number of people at Obama's inauguration that were at Beckapalooza -- which may have something to do with why the garbage count was higher.

At any rate, as if hyperinflating the numbers of his rally wasn't enough, Beck a little later described its significance:
Beck: This is the third Great American Awakening. There have been two. One started by George Whitfield, and it led to the American Revolution. The second one happened in the 1840s and '50s, and it started with people of faith, of all faiths, and it led to the freeing of the slaves. This one is going to restore our Constitution. It's going to restore individual responsibility. It's going to restore faith, hope, and charity.
This much hubris is going to produce quite the spectacular comedown.

Murkowski's Concession To Miller Reveals The Nasty Tea Party Rift That Republicans Don't Want To Talk About

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

As the news was breaking last night that Lisa Murkowski was conceding to Joe Miller in their fight over the GOP's Senate slot in Alaska, Greta Van Susteren asked Karl Rove what he thought. Rove, to no one's great surprise, basically said nothing beyond vague generalities: "End of an era" was the best he could come up with.

Because beyond demonstrating the attraction of the Tea Party movement in places like Alaska, the race also demonstrated clearly the rift between traditional Republicans and their nutty populist counterparts -- a rift that may ruin all their hopes for November. As the ADN story notes:
Murkowski did not endorse Miller in her concession speech. She took no questions.
Miller said Murkowski called him early this evening to say she was conceding.

"I thanked her for the hard-fought contest and wished her the best and asked for unity," Miller said in a telephone interview from his hometown of Fairbanks.

Miller said he thinks Murkowski will end up supporting him in the general election. "I'm going to give her some time and we're going to talk more about it later," he said.
Yeah, no doubt she's eager to do that after you called her a hooker, Joe.

But this has Erick Erickson all upset:
Murkowski did not endorse Joe Miller. This is getting to be a trend among beaten Republicans that they don’t endorse their more conservative challengers. See e.g. Bill McCollum.
Actually, it works the other way, too: Here in Washington state, where establishment Republican Dino Rossi easily knocked off his Tea Party challenger, Clint Didier, it's been the "more conservative challenger" who has refused to endorse his fellow Republican, after Rossi politely declined to adopt Didier's positions after he won. Which resulted in an eruption of nastiness all around, as Josh Feit reported:
After Dino Rossi refused to “submit to a list of demands” from Tea Party candidate Clint Didier today to win Didier’s endorsement in the general election race against U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Didier told PubliCola:
“It’s not a list of demands. It’s what the people want to hear from Dino. They want to hear some specifics instead of generalities.”
Didier’s spokeswoman, Kathryn Serkes was more candid with us:
“So is Dino saying, ‘Fuck you’ to those people [who supported Didier]? ‘Fuck you, I don’t need your votes? I can win with 33 percent.’”
The question now is: Will Democrats get smart and get behind Scott McAdams, the lonely progressive who up till now has been pretty much ignored by the Democratic establishment? Chris Cilizza had this:
Democrats nationally will use Murkowski's defeat as yet more evidence of the tea party movement's growing power within the GOP. (Miller ran with the backing of national tea party groups.)

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will spend anything more than rhetorical fire on the Alaska race this fall.

Little known Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams won the Democratic nod and was immediately engulfed in speculation that he could drop out of the race and be replaced by a more highly regarded candidate. (He is staying in the contest.)

And, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a poll Monday showing Miller with a 16 point edge over McAdams -- a warning shot meant to make clear to Democrats (and the national media) that this race isn't a toss up.
What Cilizza doesn't bother to mention is that the NRSC's polling is not what you'd call independent or particularly credible. Another independent poll found Miller with only an eight-point lead -- which means that, effectively, this race is a toss-up within striking distance for McAdams.

Meanwhile, Miller's mentor, Sarah Palin, seems not to be wearing so well with Alaskans these days herself:
If Sarah Palin runs for President in 2012 she can't count on a whole lot of support back home. 62% of Alaska Republicans are opposed to her making a White House bid and she gets only 17% in a hypothetical 2012 primary in the state tying for her second with Mike Huckabee behind Mitt Romney.
Seems like that Vanity Fair piece is on the money -- and the people close to her know it all too well.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Deeper Import Of Beck's Rally: Wedding The Tea Parties And The Religious Right

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Philip Elliott of the AP is convinced that this past weekend's GlennBeckapalooza in D.C. is a sure sign of trouble for Democrats -- though his evidence for that is almost based purely on the crowd size -- and a lot of bad presumptions about just how this is going to play with the broader electorate.

Hell, even the crowd size is far from a certain thing: There have been wildly conflicting reports, ranging from Michele Bachmann's nutso assertion that there were at least a million people there, to the far more credible and scientific estimate from CBS News that put it at about 87,000, give or take a few thousand. (Be sure to read Jed Lewison's take on it, too.

I can tell you this: Having been at the pro-immigration reform March for America last spring, where the crowd was at least twice the size of the one that was on the mall Saturday -- it was considerably more dense a crowd, and it ate up more than twice the amount of acreage (the final estimate was 200,000) -- the Beck people really haven't got a lot to brag about.

Which raises a question: How can a rally that was endlessly promoted on the most popular cable network and discussed throughout the news, yet only drew less than a hundred thousand in the end, actually indicate a more significant trend than a march that received NO advance promotion or news discussion and yet drew a crowd twice the size of Beck's?

However, given the content of Beck's rally, something significant did happen Saturday, and it will affect our discourse going forward: Beck officially and publicly married the Tea Party movement to the Religious Right.

Previously, most of the Tea Party debate focused on secular matters -- taxes, health care, immigration.

As Digby points out, the religious elements were always present as an undercurrent, but they had been mostly suppressed as the movement initially attempted to sell itself as a "spontaneous" and secular response to Obama's policies. Now, they're out in the open.

That is a deeply disturbing development, and one that will bear heavily on the direction this metastasizing madness takes.

Peter Montgomery at AlterNet
has much more.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Palingenesis: Just Whose 'Honor' Was Being 'Restored' At The Big Glenn Beck Rally?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sarah Palin's speech at yesterday's big GlennBeckapalooza, aka the "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial, was really a pretty tawdry piece of typical right-wing agitprop, whereby they wrap themselves in the glory of veteranhood and the sacrifices of our young veterans in the name of Republican wars. Can you say, "Jingo", boys and girls? I knew you could! You betcha!

But I was especially struck by the way she attacked President Obama along the way:
Palin: I must assume that you too, knowing that no, we must not fundamentally transform America as some would want, we must restore America and restore her honor!
Yeah, so much for this being "nonpolitical." And there's a funny thing about this. Why, only the night before, Glenn Beck went onstage at the Kennedy Center and declared:
Beck: We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America. [applause] And it has nothing to do with this city or politics! It has everything to do with God almighty!
So, is Palin disagreeing with Beck? Or did she just not get the memo that he was now adopting "fundamental transformation" as his own theme, after castigating President Obama endlessly for having suggested it? I'm guessing the latter.

And really, someone needs to ask the question: Exactly when did America lose its honor? How did we lose it?

Over at The Illiterate Electorate, Pierre Ross went out and asked exactly that question. The results are about what you'd expect:

As you can see, this rally was very much a political event for a lot of the people who turned out. They just left the kooky signs at home, mostly. But these Tea Partiers are agitated about abortion. Hey, I thought the Tea Parties were just about government spending and preserving freedom, right?


Which brings us to the final facet of Palin's formulation here: She opposes transformation and instead demands restoration. And we know, too, what they hope to restore: the "principles" of the "Founding Fathers" and other colonial-era political thinkers. While basking in the reflected light of wounded veterans.

There's a word for this kind of politics: It's called, appropriately enough, Palingenesis. And we really don't want to be going down that particular path -- no matter how much Sarah and Glenn may try to push us there.