Rightwing Extremism/Violence

The Terrorist You Won’t Hear About

A terrorist armed with guns and a thousand round of ammunition failed in his attempt to go on a shooting spree in America, killing and wounding unknown numbers.

You don’t about this story, because he failed in his attempt.

And also, because the terrorist is a right wing white guy:

The FBI arrested an alleged right-wing extremist who had amassed 1,000 rounds of ammunition and was said to be plotting a mass shooting.

A complaint filed in federal court and obtained by the Statesman on Monday stated that a search warrant was executed on the home of 50-year-old Steven Thomas Boehle after a confidential informant said that he was planning a shooting spree.

According to the complaint, Boehle “exhibits sovereign citizen extremism ideology.”

Although Boehle is prohibited from owning firearms due to a 1993 assault on a intimate partner, three guns were found in his home.

He was charged with making false statements about his criminal history while trying to buy additional firearms from gun dealers in the Austin area.

When people factor their sense of national security and views on firearms, they don’t factor in stories like this because these stories don’t get widespread coverage. The FBI doesn’t take a bow. Maybe they should.

What Happens If Trump Loses?

Prepare for a meltdown from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump if he loses the election.

He has repeatedly told supporters that he fears the election could be rigged, an indication that even if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins, Trump might not accept it.

“First of all, it was rigged,” Trump said of the Democratic primary during a recent rally in Columbus, Ohio. “And I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.”

In Pennsylvania, Trump also made the same argument on the campaign trail.  Trump is well behind Hillary Clinton in polls. No Republican has won the state in a presidential election since 1988.  But he made that statement anyway.

And let’s not forget what Trump said at a campaign rally in Wilmington, North Carolina — he said that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, she will “abolish the Second Amendment” and “if she gets to pick her judges,” there’s “nothing you can do”, adding, cryptically, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is…. I don’t know.”

That all went away when the polls tightened, but now that Hillary has returned to her earlier lead, expect to hear more of this “rigged” language. Maybe not from Trump, but certainly his supporters in the media.  Bill O’Reilly is scheduled to do an expose on about voter fraud tonight.  Other conservative pundits prop this up in fact-free articles with misleading “scare” headlines.

The on-again off-again conspiracy of a rigged election is confusing to Trump supporters who live in their own fact-free bubble.  They insist that Trump is going to win AND that the election is rigged, which…. uh… well, watch:

Aside from Trump, you have scarier voices in the not-so-hidden underbelly of the GOP.  People like Matt Bevin, who was elected governor of Kentucky last year after expressing “absolute” support for marriage-refusing county clerk Kim Davis.  Last month, he said this:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

That’s Timothy McVeigh shit, right there.  That’s calling for “patriots” to spill blood (or have their own blood spilled).  And the triggering event?  HRC’s election.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope leveler heads prevail.  But Trump could easily incite violence if he loses.  And who can honestly say that he would never do that?

P.S.  Unrelated, I guess….. A humiliation.

“It Was Better In The Original German”

Many people are saying that last night’s “Immigration Policy” speech by Trump in Phoenix Arizona was historical.  I’m one of those people.  Just WHY it was historical is a point of contention.

To me, the speech was historical because it contained the 21st century version of some of the worst ills of the world’s past.  Divisiveness and demagoguery.  Mad red0faced ranting.  I really felt like this was somewhere in Germany in 1939.

The country has heard this nationalistic refrains before.

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Trump spun a dystopian tale that painted all immigrants as people to be feared, people to be rounded up and hauled out of this country.

He said immigrants would need an “ideological certification” that confirms they “share our values.”  I mean… fuck, that’s some scary Big Brother shit.

He again approvingly referenced President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s deportation program “Operation Wetback,” a cruel and deadly disaster from the 1950s, suggesting that Trump’s version of that program would be even tougher.

The crowd cheered.

He claimed there are 2 million “criminal aliens” in America and then said, preposterously, “Day one, my first hour in office – those people are gone!”

Saying that some think the word “deport” is not politically correct, Trump mocked: “You can call it whatever the hell you want, they’re gone.”

Loud. Spewing insults and absurd claims. Red-faced and nationalistic. It was Trump as we know him to be.

It was a hate speech. You could see the hands of Steve Bannon, who runs the far-right “news” site Breitbart and is now CEO of Trump’s campaign, all over it, as if Trump was barfing out the comments section under one of the site’s white nationalist screeds.

Moderate Republicans who have been praying daily for their nominee to grow into a plausible candidate had to be sickened by what they saw Wednesday night.

That wasn’t a speech on immigration policy, as the campaign had promised. That was Donald Trump thumbing his nose at the establishment and at all the pundits who suggested he was “softening” his stance on immigration.

That was an angry man catering to a base that shares his anger, a base that mistakenly believes it constitutes an electoral majority.

Trump’s swoop from supposed statesman in Mexico to manic hate-monger in Arizona was jarring. Truly.

How bad was it?  High-profile Hispanic supporters of Donald Trump have pulled or are considering pulling their support after last night’s raging speech:

Jacob Monty, a member of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council, has resigned, and Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said in an interview that he is “inclined” to pull his support.

“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” said Monty, a Houston attorney who has aggressively made the Latino case for Trump. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”

He withdrew from the board following Trump’s speech in Phoenix, which was heavy on calls for border security and emphasized that all immigrants in the country illegally were subject to deportation.

We need to start talking — not about the damage that a Trump presidency would do to this country — but about the damage Trump’s candidacy is doing to this country.  Some media outlets are trying to break down Trump’s with all sorts of seriousness, and — for fear of looking biased — are afraid to do what needs to be done: an outright condemnation of Trump’s words.  This wasn’t policy — it was hate.  As the New York Times editors noted today:

To mock him for emptiness is almost too easy. But the fear and loathing that he has tapped into, that so easily won him the nomination, are real. . .  Tornadoes are hollow at the center, too, and they do a lot of damage.

Indeed.  This is a blood soaked white nationalist politics that has caught fire with a significant minority of the electorate. There’s no reason to imagine that changes before November.  Or after.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

With Trump in control of the golden door, that lamp goes dark.

Is The “Second Amendment People” Comment Trump’s Worst Gaffe?

As we all know by now, Trump yesterday hinted that gun lovers could (or should? or would?) shoot Hillary Clinton and/or a Supreme Court nominee as a response to Hillary Clinton selecting judges for the Supreme Court.  Here’s the comment and campaign responses in a nutshell:

The spin from the Trump campaign is laughable.  Today, his campaign surrogates received the following talking points at 9:24 a.m. today:CpgN1kgUsAEicIv

The first point is simply “blaming the media”.

The second point spits right in the face of what everyone can see for themselves.  And as for the people in attendance?  Look at the reaction of the bearded old man sitting behind Trump (to the right of him from our standpoint).  He says, “wow”.  He knew what Trump was saying.

The third point is simply pivoting away from the subject.

As Trump’s words spread, Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, where a troubled young man massacred twenty-six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, took to Twitter. “This isn’t play,” he wrote. “Unstable people with powerful guns and an unhinged hatred for Hillary are listening to you, @realDonaldTrump.”

Gabby Giffords, an actual target of political assassination, issued the following statement via the New York Daily News:

“Donald Trump might astound Americans on a routine basis, but we must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence. Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed. What political leaders say matters to their followers. When candidates descend into coarseness and insult, our politics follow suit. When they affirm violence, we should fear that violence will follow. It must be the responsibility of all Americans – from Donald Trump himself, to his supporters, to those who remain silent or oppose him – to unambiguously condemn these remarks and the violence they insinuate. The integrity of our democracy and the decency of our nation is at stake.”

Joe Scarborough wrote that a line has been crossed and the GOP must now dump Trump.

Tom Friedman reminds us:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.

His right-wing opponents just kept delegitimizing him as a “traitor” and “a Nazi” for wanting to make peace with the Palestinians and give back part of the Land of Israel. Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible.

But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.

Elizabeth Warren went for, and received, the Internet Win:

Over at Breitbart News, which I won’t link to, they were a little more honest about what Trump was saying, and agreed with it:

Trump did not suggest violence. Rather, he spoke in a way that reveals he recognizes the role an armed citizenry plays as a check on tyranny. This is James Madison 101. In Federalist 46, Madison observed that Americans are exceptional because armed and the benefit of being armed is the ability to repel tyranny. Repelling a tyranny is a defensive action, not an offensive one.

So, in Breitbart’s view, a president appointing judges you don’t like is “tyranny” which American are compelled to repel using guns.  Uh, as a defense. (Not for nothing, but Federalist 46 relates to well-regulated state militias, commanded by officers, tossing off a tyrannical federal government, not armed citizen guerillas

But I digress.

IS this the worst thing Trump has ever said?  Probably not.  We probably don’t know the worst thing he has ever said.  But during the campaign?  It’s gotta be pretty high up there.  Fortunately, Bloomberg came out with results of a poll which asked people how put off they were by the various Trump statements of this campaign.  The results:

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The mocking of the disabled reporter offended the most people.  Followed by the Khan statements, followed by “I alone can fix it.”

I don’t think Trump’s “Second Amendment” solution is as offensive as the disability comment, although it is clearly more dangerous and disconcerting.  I also don’t think it will move many minds.  At this point, if you can swallow everything that Trump has said so far, you can swallow anything.  Some people are just never going to come off that mark.

UPDATE:  Trump implies that he meant to do that — the controversy helps him.  Really.  He subscribes to the theory that there is no such thing as bad press.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Tuesday night he’s benefitting from the controversy he created earlier in the day by suggesting “the Second Amendment people” might forcefully stop Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices. […]”I have to say, in terms of politics, there is few things, and I happen to think that if [the media] did even bring this up, I think it’s a good thing for me,” Trump told Sean Hannity.

“Because it’s going to tell people more about me with respect to the Second Amendment … because Hillary Clinton wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”

Which is another one of Trump’s outlandish conspiracy theories that has been debunked multiple times over.

Imprisoned Bundy Brothers Are Upset Their Second Amendment Rights Have Been Taken Away

Ryan Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, was one of several participants in the month-long standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge back in January, which ended up with one dead.  Ryan and his co-horts, which include his brother Ammon, all surrendered to federal authorities and are now in prison awaiting trial.

And apparently, they are not happy in prison.  According to a report (PDF), Bundy writes:

My rights are being violated. My right to life is being violated. All of my First Amendment rights are being violated. My right to freedom of religion is being violated. I cannot participate in religious activities and temple covenants, and wear religious garments. I could wear them at Henderson, but MCDC is depriving me of the right to wear them. My right to freedom of speech is being hampered by monitoring and recording. My right to freedom of assembly is being violated; I am not allowed to see my brother and move about.

Yesterday, I attempted to discuss these issues with the U.S. Marshals, and they said that these were simply the jail rules. I asked them specifically about if there was any reason for the ‘keep separate’ orders. In Henderson, my brothers and father were housed together. Up here, they make efforts to keep us separate. This violates my right to freedom of assembly. My Second Amendment rights are being violated. I never waived that right.

Yyyyeah.  They don’t let you keep guns in prison, Ryan.  You probably should have thought of that before you decided to seize federal property and claim it as your own.

The Yahoos Get Their Day In Court

Remember that 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that finally ended with one dude getting killed?

Yeah, it’s still a rallying cry for the lunatic right, who love to carry around the Constitution but haven’t bothered to have it read and explained to them (except by other lunatics).

Seven men are facing federal charges of conspiracy, weapon, theft and damaging government property charges in Portland, Oregon.  Five of them appeared in court Friday and not surprisingly, it was a circus.  I guess they don’t recognize the authority of the court over them.

Two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three other men refused to enter pleas in federal court in Las Vegas to charges in an armed confrontation with government agents two years ago.

Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. entered not guilty pleas on behalf of each man during a sometimes contentious arraignment that featured cat-calls and cheers from about 30 Bundy backers and defendants’ family members, under watchful eyes of about a dozen U.S. marshals.

“We don’t need any outbursts,” Foley warned from the U.S. District Court bench Friday. Twice he told the restive audience, “This is not a show.”

Oh, it will be.  Here’s how I know (emphasis mine)

His brother and co-defendant, Ryan Bundy, professed to understand his rights but not the charges against him. He also said he wants to serve as his own lawyer.

Yup.  Bundy is going to put The United States Government (a federal corporation) on trial!!

“You’re out of order!  You’re out of order!  This whole country’s out of order!”

Payne told the judge it was “preposterous, sir,” to have to defend himself against federal charges in two jurisdictions at the same time.

“I don’t understand the pretense of this level of government to bring forth such charges,” he added.

Brian Cavalier finished his arraignment — “I will not be entering a plea today,” he said — by offering federal prosecutors a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Jesus wept.  Madison too.

 

Hate Is The New Black

Whole Lot of Hatin’ Going On:

The number of hate groups on the American radical right expanded from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015 – a 14 per cent increase, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The SPLC released the statistics Wednesday in a new report, The Year in Hate and Extremism.

With the increase in hate groups came an increase in domestic political violence in the U.S., both from the radical right and from American jihadists.

“They laid plans to attack courthouses, banks, festivals, funerals, schools, mosques, churches, synagogues, clinics, water treatment plants and power grids,” writes Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the SPLC.

“They used firearms, bombs, C-4 plastic explosives, knives and grenades; one of them, a murderous Klansman, was convicted of trying to build a death ray.”

Using statistics from a year-end report from the Anti-Defamation League, the SPLC said a minimum of 52 people died from extremist violence in the U.S. in the past 12 months.

That was the most in a year since 1995, the year of the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 men, women and children dead.

The SPLC reports a growth in Klu Klux Klan chapters from 72 in 2014 to 190 in 2015 and attributes the rise in the 364 pro-Confederate battle flag rallies last year.

Those took place after South Carolina took down the battle flag from its Capitol grounds following the June massacre of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist flag enthusiast in Charleston, S.C.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, black separatist hate groups also gained strength, going from 113 chapters in 2014 to 180 in 2015. The SPLC says the growth followed the explosion of anger fostered by highly publicized incidents of police shootings of black men.

“But unlike activists for racial justice such as those in the Black Lives Matter movement, the black separatist groups did not stop at demands for police reforms and an end to structural racism. Instead, they typically demonized all whites, gays, and, in particular, Jews,” Potok writes.

“Conspiracy-minded anti-government ‘Patriot’ groups rose from 874 in 2014 to 998 in 2015 as well.

Potok notes that terror can breed hate crimes. After a jihadist couple in San Bernardo, California murdered 14 people in December 2015, it triggered a string of physical attacks on mosques and Muslims.

“Several political figures have harnessed that fear, calling for bans on mosques, Muslim immigrants and refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East,” Potok wrote.

To be sure, the report offered less than flattering portrays of the Republican presidential front-runners when it came to fanning the flames of dissent.

Partly fueling the new rise in hate groups are such Republican presidential candidates as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, experts contend.

The SPLC went so far to use Trump’s image on the cover of its report.

Inside, the SPLC makes no apologies, noting: The armed violence was accompanied by rabid and often racist denunciations of Muslims, LGBT activists and others — incendiary rhetoric led by a number of mainstream political figures and amplified by a lowing herd of their enablers in the right-wing media.”

The group says that the right-wing politicians are fostering a sense of polarization and anger in the U.S. that might be unmatched since the political upheavals of 1968.

“Donald Trump’s demonizing statements about Latinos and Muslims have electrified the radical right, leading to glowing endorsements from white nationalist leaders such as Jared Taylor and former Klansman David Duke,” writes Potok.

“White supremacist forums are awash with electoral joy, having dubbed Trump their ‘Glorious Leader.’ And Trump has repaid the compliments, retweeting hate posts and spreading their false statistics on black-on-white crime.”

The report noted that Donald Trump described President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s brutal “Operation Wetback” as a “very humane” way to accomplish mass deportation, and responded to the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally by saying, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”

You can read the report here

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Oregon Standoff Update [It’s Completely Over]

Despite the fact that most of the leaders and participants have surrounded or been, in one case, killed, the Oregon standoff continues…. barely.   The remaining four diehards at the Malheur National Wildlife Center have re-dubbed it “Camp Finicum”, named after the armed protester who was killed a couple weeks ago.

National attention on the standoff has waned since Finicum’s death, but things have continued to get weirder. Franklin Graham, the minister, has gotten involved at some level to try to bring an end to the standoff. Ammon Bundy, the main leader who is now jailed in Portland, reportedly in solitary confinement, has been making regular statements to the public via recorded messages released by his lawyers, and police have tightened the cordon around the refuge even as the handful of militants holed up inside ​have sounded the call for their supporters on the outside to “stand up” in their defense.

A Facebook page for his ranch announced that Cliven Bundy, who came to the national spotlight in a fight with the federal Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights for his cattle in 2014 (and father of the two Bundy brothers who led the Oregon protest), was heading to Oregon yesterday.  After landing in Portland, Oregon, Bundy was taken into federal custody by the FBI.  He reportedly faces weapons charges and a conspiracy charge to impede federal officers relating to the 2014 incident (only took 671 days).  It’s essentially the same charge faced by his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, in connection with their takeover of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Yesterday, before the elder Bundy’s arrest, the remaining four protesters in the Wildlife Center said they would surrender today.  It is unclear how the arrest of Cliven Bundy will change that.  But it looks like it might finally be over.

To be sure, the crackpot right will hold this up as further proof of an invasive government, and Finicum will continue to be eulogized as a martyr.  I don’t think it will get wide play outside the crazy circles.

UPDATE — Live stream of the crazies (warning: contains paranoia and self-righteous preening… and even bagpipe music):

UPDATE – 12:50 pm.  This livestream above (which may be over by the time you read this) is amazing.  Sandy and Sean Anderson and Jeff Banta  have all surrendered. On the phone are KrisAnne Hall, “Constitutional Attorney, Author, Speaker, Radio Host” [and worst suicide hotline operator on earth], and Gavin Seim, “Pictorialist, Portraitist, Civil Liberty Activist, Speaker, Christian”. Also Michelle Fiore and Rev Graham.  They are trying to get a guy named David (David Fry) to walk out with his hands up, and David is FREAKING out that he will be shot.  He says he is suicidal.  And he just said: ““I declare war against the federal government right now.”

12:57 pm: David Fry is not going to come out until his grievances are met.  What are those grievances?  His “first amendment rights”, meaning that he doesn’t want his taxes going to pay for the death of babies (abortion).  Don’t think that’s going to happen.  He doesn’t understand why his grievances are not being met — his negotiators don’t have the heart to tell him that he lives in a democracy.

1:15 pm:  Background on David Fry

1:58 pm:  He’s given up.  The siege is over.

Unedited Video Of the Oregon Standoff and Arrest and Showdown

There have been conflicting stories about how militant LaVoy Finicum.  Occupants of Finicum’s car say he was “executed” with his hands up.  Law enforcement accounts say that he was reaching into his left jacket pocket and not keeping his hands up (and a loaded gun was found in that pocket later).

To me, in this video, a couple of things are quite clear:

(1)  Finicum’s car was trying to flee law enforcement after he was stopped.  This all happens within the first minute of the video

(2)  When the car goes into a snowbank, Finicum comes out and his hands are raised.  However, he is not standing still.

So clearly, he was not complying with the police officers.

But did he reach for the gun.  I see it in the video.  When the video is enlarged to fullscreen, I see his hands come down and toward his pocket and that’s when he gets shot by the federal agent behind him.

You be the judge. This is the complete video footage of a joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This footage, which has only been edited to blur out aircraft information, was taken by the FBI on 01/26/2016 and released by the FBI on 01/28/2016. Note regarding date/time stamp in the left corner of video: Pilots use Zulu Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), when they fly. Zulu time is eight hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Therefore, although this footage was taken on January 26, 2016 in Oregon, the date/time stamp on the video shows just after midnight January 27, 2016.

If the video provides some sense of how the shooting went down, it still doesn’t offer much indication of why. Did Finicum think he could make it through the snow? Was it his decision alone to drive ahead, or did the other passengers agree? Did he expect police would fire? (He’d previously said he would rather die than be arrested.) Why did all the other passengers in both cars surrender without incident? These questions seem likely to remain unanswered at least until the others describe the moment.

The shooting and arrests seem to have effectively sapped the occupation of its energy. Ammon Bundy, arrested in the Jeep behing Finicum’s truck,  made a statement through his lawyer, called on the remnant to leave, and police surrounded the refuge and threw up road blocks. Several militia members have been arrested as they leave. There are now just four people left, and they are demanding that police agree not to arrest them in exchange for leaving.

“We’re asking, just drop the charges and we’re willing to go. But if they’re not willing to do that, we’re all just willing to stay here and see what happens,” one man, tentatively identified as David Fry, says in a video from the refuge posted Thursday. Fry told the Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce that three of them have been told they’re free to go, but a fourth faces a criminal charge. They also don’t want authorities to check their guns. If it’s hard to imagine police agreeing to such an exchange, it’s also true that the occupation’s demands—including release of two men imprisoned for federal crimes and federal surrender of the refuge—also always seemed wildly unrealistic.

Oregon Standoff Loosing Steam

Kudos to law enforcement.  Looks like their tactic worked.  A lot of lefties, including me, thought they were ignoring the armed occupiers when this thing began, but the feds knew what they were doing:

Oregon Standoff Has Arrests, A Shootout, and A Death

… but it continues.

There had been no visible law enforcement presence around the refuge as the situation stretched on for days and weeks, and occupiers came and went as they pleased, though they said they remained on guard. The group’s leaders had felt comfortable enough to move freely, leaving the refuge’s headquarters to attend meetings with residents and law enforcement officials.

On Tuesday afternoon, with the group’s leaders away from the refuge and traveling on a highway, FBI agents and the Oregon State Police moved to arrest them on federal charges. Five occupiers were arrested on the highway, including Ammon Bundy, the group’s leader. Three other people tied to the situation were later arrested in Oregon and Arizona.

All of the people arrested on the Oregon highway surrendered to authorities except for one man, later identified as LaVoy Finicum, a spokesman for the group who had previously said he would rather die than go to jail. Another official familiar with the encounter said Finicum refused to surrender and was fatally shot; authorities said Wednesday they were investigating the shooting.

The FBI and state police staked out a spot along the route to John Day to stop the caravan. At first, both vehicles complied with an order to pull over, but then the lead vehicle took off, the law enforcement official said.

It didn’t get very far, hitting a snow bank. Finicum, the official said, jumped out of that vehicle “brandishing a firearm.”

There are a couple of firsthand accounts of what happened yesterday out in Oregon and how Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum wound up getting shot and killed. The accounts differ substantially.

Finicum was a Mormon rancher with 11 children, 19 grandchildren and a wife of 23 years. He told NBC News three weeks ago that he would rather die than be taken into custody as part of the occupation.

It is unfortunate that that Mr. Finicum lost his life regardless of whether he’s wholly responsible for his death or not. I think the guy was disturbed and needed help. And I don’t think anyone was in a real position to give it to him except the other folks who were occupying the refuge with him, and they all seem to be nearly as far gone as he was.

Today, federal agents sealed off the Oregon wildlife refuge occupied by the remaining armed protesters. They up checkpoints and roadblocks around the refuge, saying that people who tried to travel inside would be arrested and calling for the armed people remaining there to leave. But also suggested that the situation at the refuge would not continue indefinitely and placed blame for the fatal encounter a day earlier on those occupying the refuge.

The bios of those arrested are here.

Lurking in the background since the beginning of the Oregon standoff was the possibility of violence and bloodshed, but the feds’ hands-off approach combined with the occupiers’ sometimes goofball circus antics helped keep that mostly below the surface. Last’s night violent confrontation has now changed the equation considerably, and the remaining occupiers are ramping up their rhetoric and are taking a more confrontational and aggressive pose, as is law enforcement.

The FBI has warned journalists this morning that it cannot guarantee their protection at the refuge, so many of them have gotten out of Dodge. Occupiers are issuing calls for supporters to rally to the refuge in their defense.

I don’t think this is over.  And already, it will be invoked by the rightwing extremists as another “Waco”.

Y’All Queda: The Oregon Standoff – Day 5

First, this:

Ammon Bundy, a leader of the armed protesters who took over a federal building in Oregon, and his family are known for battling the federal government.

But Bundy told CNN on Tuesday that he’s not opposed to government and said that taking a six-figure loan from theSmall Business Administration doesn’t conflict with his political philosophy.

Bundy borrowed $530,000 in 2010 for his company, Valet Fleet Service LLC, according to public records on usaspending.gov. Valet Fleet Service is a truck maintenance company in Arizona.

“I am not anti-government,” he said when asked about the loan while standing outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, adding that he thinks “there is a role for government and that the federal government’s role is to protect the states from the outside world.”

“And the state’s role is to protect the counties from the federal government — and the county’s role is to protect the people from the state so the people can go about freely using their lands and resources and their rights. … So there’s a role, but all government’s role is to serve the people. Whenever those governments step out, then that’s when we step in.”

Bundy denied he was being hypocritical about the loan because it “was an effort in assisting the people in using their rights.”

Well, I guess he’s not being hypocritical under his view of how our country is structured.  Which is 100% incorrect according to the U.S. Constitution.

Anyway, these guys are hunkering down for a long standoff:

Yet as the militia prepared for their fourth night on Tuesday, a tense energy infused the surrounding community, where federal agents set up office in the local school district headquarters and held courthouse meetings with US prosecutors and others on how to solve the lingering occupation.

Harney County sheriff David M Ward told reporters the FBI was pursuing trespassing charges against the protesters and implored residents not to offer militia members as much as “a Snickers bar”.

Despite that request, and after seemingly arriving with fewer supplies than might have been expected, it appears the militia are well-stocked and preparing for a long, cold winter.

***

Six lumbering men sat around a TV in an adjacent lounge room, jeering at a Fox News TV report on their standoff. They insisted that a federal government plan to cut power only steeled their resolve. They have enough propane and generators, they said, to last the winter.

Neil Wampler, a 68-year-old retired woodworker from central California, had been awake since 4am to help cook breakfast. After answering an internet call for support by the Bundy family, he said, he planned to stay here to the end.

“These are excellent conditions compared to other standoffs I’ve taken part in,” said Wampler, whose wool cap bore the slogan “State of Jefferson”, signifying a move for northern California and southern Oregon to secede and create a new state.

These hicks are more hicky than usual.

Domestic Terrorism Update

Busy day today, so I have little commentary.  I recommend an article in The New Yorker for a slightly different, but valuable, perspective than mine:

American vigilantism is never racially innocent. Its two parents are self-mobilization on the frontier, usually against Native Americans at a time when homesteading was reserved to whites, and the racial terror of the Ku Klux Klan in the South during and after Reconstruction. It is too much to call the occupiers “domestic terrorists,” as the Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh or the Klan were, but it is also obtuse to ignore the special comfort that certain white men have using guns as props in their acts of not-quite-civil disobedience. After all, guns were how they acquired their special sense of entitlement to public lands in the first place.

The latest news seems to be that the “protesters” have said they will leave if the locals there want them to.  That’s good news.

A leader of the activists occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon’s snowy back country said he and others would agree to stand down and leave if local residents ask them “directly” to end their campaign.

Ryan Bundy, who along with his brother has emerged as a leader of the activists and protesters holed up in a compound of federal buildings in southeastern Oregon, pledged to organize a meeting as early as Tuesday to let Harney County residents speak with them directly.

But on Tuesday, Bundy renewed his vow that there was no end in sight for the occupation.

Residents in the county’s largest towns – Burns and Hines – have said they agree with the activists’ message but take issue with their tactics, such as the armed occupation of government-owned buildings.

In Burns, signs have gone up asking the occupiers to leave. Some residents said they are fearful of a violent confrontation if federal agents were to descend on the refuge.

That sounds to me like Bundy thought he has the support of the local community when he said he would leave if the local residents wanted him to.  And now he’s finding out, uh, maybe not.  The article continues:

He said the occupying group has made “no direct demands,” but the participants have stated that they will leave if the federal government gives up control of the nearby Malheur National Forest.

Well, that’s not going to happen.

Armed Terrorists Seize Federal Property

You would think this would be 24/7 headline news, but it isn’t.  The terrorist takeover began Sunday morning, but the regular news outlets barely covered it.  Only on Twitter was it discussed at any length, thanks to the hashtag #OregonUnderAttack.

Now that it is a regular non-holiday workday, the media is starting to report it.  Before then, the only real outlet covering the story was The Oregonian.

What’s at the center of this issue is the federal land management, and two people: Dwight Hammond, age 73, and his son Steve Hammond, age 46.  These men are ranchers in Oregon.  Strap yourselves in.

Hammond Ranches owns about 12,000 acres in the Diamond-Frenchglen area. They use this ground to run cattle during the winter. Until two years ago the Hammonds used 26,420 acres of land belonging to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for summer grazing (the U.S. government gives out grazing permits).

Now, when it comes to ranching, fire is an important tool. It is used to burn invasive species that crowd out native grass and other plants.  Fire can kill those pests, leaving plenty of grazing (on the non-burned grass/plants) for the cattle.

The problem is, fire is also a threat. Recent wildfires have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in this territory, putting the ground off limits for grazing. Cattle have been killed in the runaway blazes, and lives endangered.

In 1999, Dwight Hammond got a stern letter from the local manager for the federal land bureau saying that Steve Hammond had set a fire that spread to federal ground. The letter said Steve told officials in a subsequent meeting that he “did not believe there was any way to control fire behavior or where it would burn, and that he did not take any action to prevent the fire from burning.”  Nevertheless, the Hammonds got off with a warning.

The problem started with two more fires set by the Hammonds — one in 2001 and one in 2006.

The fire in 2001 was a simple prescribed burn.  According to Steve and Dwight Hammond, it was intended to take out invasive juniper.  But federal prosecutors said the men’s real motive for starting the blaze, which consumed 139 acres and forestalled grazing for two seasons, was to cover up evidence of an illegal slaughter of deer. The government presented evidence that Steven Hammond called an emergency dispatcher to ask if it was OK to burn — roughly two hours after they already lit the fire. His attorney said in court that Hammond called the land bureau beforehand.

The government acknowledged that the next fire, in 2006, was intended as a defensive move. Steve Hammond set backfires to keep a lightning-caused fire from burning onto the Hammonds’ ranch and hitting their winter feed.  But the government said Steve Hammond lit up on the flanks of a butte, despite a countywide burn ban and the knowledge that young part-time firefighters were camped up higher. Their crew boss spotted the fires, which were set at night, and moved the crew, but campers and others were in danger.

The two men were indicted and convicted in 2010 on federal arson charges. On top of sentencing for arson, they also faced sentencing under the federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which reads in pertinent part:

SEC. 708. ENHANCED PENALTIES FOR USE OF EXPLOSIVES OR ARSON CRIMES.

    (a) In General.--Section 844 of title 18, United States Code, is 
amended--
            (1) in subsection (e), by striking ``five'' and inserting 
        ``10'';
            (2) by amending subsection (f) to read as follows:

    ``(f)(1) Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to 
damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, 
vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or 
possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or 
agency thereof, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not 
more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.

Hammonds’ lawyers argued that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 did not apply to the Hammonds — after all, they weren’t terrorists.

But the government argued that it didn’t matter.  The portion that dealt with enhanced penalties for explosion and arson crimes did not say the defendant HAD to be a “terrorist”.

You can understand why this was part of the law.  Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, including children.  The assumption behind Section 708 of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (quoted above) was… well, if you are blowing up or setting fire to federal property, you must be a terrorist.

To his credit (in my opinion), U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan opined that although Section 708 applied to the crime committed by the Hammonds, Congress did not intend it to apply to people like the Hammonds.  A five year prison term would be unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment, the judge said.  “It would be a sentence which would shock the conscience,” Hogan added before sentencing Dwight to three months and Steve to one year.

The two men served their time, but the District Attorney appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit.  The Ninth Circuit reasonably ruled (in my opinion) that Section 708 set out a mandatory sentence of “not less than five years”.  The words “shall be” (which I emboldened above) are not “may be”.

So, the Hammonds were ordered back to prison to serve a five year sentence each.  They are supposed to start serving today.

But believe it or not, this has little to do with the Hammonds’ sentence.

Federal agencies own and regulate huge chunks of land in western states like Oregon and Nevada.  The United States of America holds deed to three-fourths of Harney County. Ranching done for a century and more is under pressure from environmentalists, recreationalists, and hunters.

fed_landuse

As such, those with anti-government views, particularly in western states, often focus on the federal government ‘s land-use policies.  The plight of the Hammonds has become a rallying call for one militia and patriot group after another. Men who see tyranny in federal acts are standing for the two men.  The Hammonds’ case — and the change to their sentencing, just further fed into views of a tyrannical federal government out of control.

For example, the federal government sued the Hammonds for $1 million the costs of fighting the fires that they set.  In late 2014, the Hammonds settled the lawsuit, agreeing the federal government $400,000. That has been paid.

But the settlement also required the Hammonds to give the land bureau first chance at buying a particular ranch parcel adjacent to public land if they intended to sell. For some, this is evidence that the government was going after the Hammonds in order to increase its property holdings — a “land grab” the “militia” members would say.  There is little evidence to support that.

So how did the yahoos get involved?  Well, on Saturday, members of the militia attended a demonstration in Burns, Oregon.  The purpose was to protest the Hammonds’ case. After the protest, the militiamen drove to the wildlife refuge and took it over.

It seems that the militiamen may have initially planned to seize the wildlife refuge headquarters in order to establish a “sanctuary” where the Hammonds could go to evade prison.

One of the most outspoken of the militia-terrorists is Ammon Bundy, whose father Cliven Bundy became a Fox News star in 2014 for his armed standoff in Nevada with the federal government over cattle-grazing rights. (see earlier postings about that controversy).  His brother Ryan is another occupier.

What do they want?  Ammon talked to some press people:

The group is demanding that the Hammonds be released and that the federal government give up control of the Malheur National Forest.

As Ammon Bundy sees it, the locals are “not strong enough” to stand up for themselves, so the militia must act as the “tip of the spear” and lead the fight on behalf of the locals.

Thus, Bundy and his fellow militiamen have seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — located in a remote area some 50 miles southeast of the city of Burns — in hopes of creating a “base” where “patriots” like themselves can come, with their guns, to live and make their stand against the “tyrannical” federal government.  Several pickup trucks blocked the entrance to the refuge Sunday, with armed men wearing camouflage and winter gear stationed outside.  The exact number of armed men is unknown. It’s worth nothing that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitors’ center is probably one of the least critical spots to occupy in all of the United States.

So far, it’s not going well for these “patriots”.  It turns out that the Hammonds don’t actually want the militia’s help — or at least, not anymore.

At first, according to the Oregonian, the Hammonds “accepted the militia’s offer of help to avoid prison.” But they “changed their minds after being warned by federal prosecutors to stop communicating with the militia” and have now “professed through their attorneys that they had no interest in ignoring the order to report for prison.”

Ammon also tried to recruit residents from the surrounding area, reportedly meeting with 10 or so locals, but they all turned him down.

The Oregonian interviewed some locals who expressed sympathy for the Hammonds and for the militia’s “constitutional arguments” but ultimately rejected the militia for its extremism.

The militia, the local fire chief told the newspaper, “seems like a bunch of people ready to shoot. I don’t want that in my county.”

Chatter on right wing blogs about the story is muted.  Breitbart News hasn’t touched it, except for one transitional paragraph at the start of a story recapping the Cliven BBundy matter in Nevada.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he hoped that the protesters would step aside, adding that “our prayers right now are with everyone involved in what’s happening with Oregon, and especially those in law enforcement that are risking their lives.”

“Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds. But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others,” he said. “And so it is our hope that the protesters there will stand down peaceably, that there will not be a violent confrontation.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio decried the occupation as “lawless” and urged those involved in the standoff to pursue what they wanted through more lawful, constructive means.

But that’s not what they intend to do.  According to an Oregonian reporter…

Is the situation dangerous?  Not last night.  There was virtually no law enforcement presence of any sort.

But now, as the sun comes up, the FBI has arrived and set up a briefing center.  The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and local schools in the area are closed today.  I feel bad for The City of Burns Police Department which has three officers – the Chief and two officers – and an administrative assistant.

All told, this appears to be an act of terrorism.  When it comes to the Hammond arsons — yes, I can easily see why that was NOT terrorism.  But armed men taking over a federal building and demanding land — that’s insurrection, if not domestic terrorism.

And needless to say, the disparity in news coverage as well as law enforcement response, which compared to — say — Ferguson (where protesters had no guns and took no federal property) is astounding.  Also, they are being called “protesters”, rather than terrorists.

It is unclear how this will play out.  But soime people are serious.  Here’s one guy saying the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a tyrannical agency so he has made a suicide video and has promised to die for “the constitution.”

P.S.  Most of Oregon used to be Indian land.  Now we see a bunch of white guys complaining about a tyrannical oppressive government.  Irony.

To be continued….

UPDATE:  The terrorists want you to join them “to prevent bloodshed”…

UPDATE:  This is a slow-moving story.  I guess the government tactic is to wait them out until they get bored.  Which means no developments for days, weeks, or maybe even months.  But….

I guess “Patriots For God and Freedom’s Constitution of Citizens Together United for American’s Constitutional Second Amendment Crusaders and OathKeepers” was taken.

Anyway, the posted some signs and it looks like they are running low on the letter n.

ZZ2C6EEF92

ANOTHER UPDATE: HuffPo says the “militia” wants a standoff with the FBI, but the FBI isn’t taking the bait:

The FBI is working closely with state police, and FBI officials are busy establishing a public information office in Burns. But due to a number of factors — the crisis is unfolding in a remote part of Oregon; it doesn’t appear to be a life-or-death situation; and there are no hostages involved — law enforcement officials want to avoid unnecessarily escalating the standoff, the source said. The FBI instead hopes to get a better handle on the situation over the next few days.

The FBI will not be releasing specific information about law enforcement movements, but it is working with local law enforcement agencies to “bring a peaceful resolution to the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” officials from the bureau said in a statement.

***

For now, there are no sirens, no police cars zooming to the seized building and no SWAT teams arriving in armored vehicles. In the parking lot of the refuge’s headquarters building, journalists mingle freely with activists. The 30-mile stretch of road between Burns and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where the militants are holed up, is snowy and barren.

Below the fold…. The Onion summarizes everything

Trump May Have Hit The Ceiling

Donald Trump has defied political pundits for months now.  When he first attacked John McCain, the thought was that it would kill him in the polls, but then he went up.  And that’s been the story for over four months now.  He keeps on appealing to the worst-of-the-worst conservative base and his numbers go up.

But many are now saying what I have always said.  Yes, he has a strong base, but he has a low ceiling.  I have put that ceiling on mid-30% of Republicans.  I don’t think he can get much higher than that.

Yesterday, Trump crossed a line.

Donald J. Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on” after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., an extraordinary escalation of rhetoric aimed at voters’ fears about members of the Islamic faith.

A prohibition of Muslims – an unprecedented proposal by a leading American presidential candidate, and an idea more typically associated with hate groups – reflects a progression of mistrust that is rooted in ideology as much as politics.

Mr. Trump, who in September declared “I love the Muslims,” turned sharply against them after the Paris terrorist attacks, calling for a database to track Muslims in America and repeating discredited rumors that thousands of Muslims celebrated in New Jersey on 9/11. His poll numbers rose largely as a result, until a setback in Iowa on Monday morning. Hours later Mr. Trump called for the ban, fitting his pattern of making stunning comments when his lead in the Republican presidential field appears in jeopardy.

Saying that “hatred” among many Muslims for Americans is “beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said in a statement that the United States needed to confront “where this hatred comes from and why.”

“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump said.

That was too much, even for Republicans who have avoided taking shots at him.  Every GOP candidate spoke against this.  Jeb Bush called it “unhinged”.  Others called it “unamerican”. The former vice president, Dick Cheney, said Mr. Trump’s proposal “goes against everything we stand for.” And others.

Cruz, who rarely distances himself from Trump, took a small step away, saying “I do not believe the world needs my voice added to that chorus of critics” referencing the large group of Republican and Democratic presidential candidates who have criticized the plan, adding “I commend Donald Trump for standing up and focusing America’s attention on the need to secure our borders.”  But then he tweeted how he will always defend religious liberty.  So… a VERY small step away — small enough to still pat The Donald on the back.

But Cruz stands alone in his weak condemnation.

GOP lawmakers have gone to the House floor telling Trump to drop out of the race.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman (D) tweeted late Monday that he was barring Trump from his city “until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps.”

Some are concerned and saying that, even as a candidate, Trump is a threat to national security.  There’s a lot of truth to this.  Trump’s rhetoric is the best recruitment tool that ISIS could have.

Trump is also getting burned overseas. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, said: “The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

Then there is the media.  The Philly Daily News:

CVtm-aYWEAE2HoJ

Trump’s rationalization for this is pretty bizarre.  He keeps using the “what’s going on” phrase:

Here’s something else that’s telling: In an interview with ABC News this morning, Trump repeated various formulations designed to express generalized uncertainty and anxiety, over and over: “What is going on?” “We don’t know what is going on.” “We have to figure things out.” “What the hell is going on.” “We have to figure out what’s going on. Something is happening that’s not good.” “Until our country’s Representatives can figure out what is going on, we have no choice but to do this.”

The details don’t matter in the least. What matters is that Trump is speaking to a basic sense among his supporters that something is going on, thatsomething is wrong. He is willing to admit this and speak to the need to do something about it, even something drastic or “frankly unthinkable.” If that offends the politically correct and corrupt media, which is probably complicit in this American decline in any case, all the better.

Details, indeed, don’t matter. On the radio this morning, I heard a CNN interviewer ask exactly how banning Muslims from entering the country would be done, since religion does not appear on passports.  Trump, obviously speaking off the cuff, said in essence, that the customs people would ask them “Are you Muslim?”

Right.  I see a few flaws in that.approach.  From a practical standpoint (they will lie) and, oh by the way, can it get MORE unconstitutional?  I think not.

Trump compares his policies to Roosevelt’s during WWII, but unfortunately for Trump, most people view Japanese internment as a BAD part of our history.  And Trump is getting compared to Hitler today, more than Roosevelt.

Will it deter Trump die-hards?  Of course not.  CNN and NBC News interviewed a number of Trump supporters in South Carolina, and asked them to react to the new “plan.”.  Here’s what they said:

“I don’t want ’em here. Who knows what they gonna bring into this country? Bombs? ISIS? What?”

“That’s a very prudent idea. I think that he’s done due diligence when he makes that statement. We have to protect our American citizens first.”

“We just let terrorists into this country.”

“Somebody just needs to go in there and take control of this. It’s going rampant, and I’m worried about America. Worried about our safety. They’re getting in. They need to be stopped.”

“I think it’s a good idea. With everything that’s going on in the world right now — it sounds harsh, but reality is reality.”

“I’m a veteran paratrooper. Been in three different campaigns and two different wars. Both Iraq and Afghanistan. And I’ve had too many brothers and sisters lost over there in those two wars to just let them come here free range in our country now. It’s a kick in the face to every veteran there is that’s fought in those wars, to us trying to protect our homeland from them coming in.”

As CNN’s reporter put it: “No one here we spoke with had a problem with the plan.”

It’s too soon to see if this has any effect on his polling numbers.  But given the VERY LOUD outcry, I don’t expect him to go up, as he usually does.  I think this propels him into the ceiling.

Actually, it might be polls that drove this.  According to one poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers, Ted Cruz is on top in Iowa at 24%, followed by Donald Trump (19%), Marco Rubio (17%), and Ben Carson (13%).

The real issue isn’t Trump, but the GOP’s reaction to it.  So far, the party spokesmen have said nothing.  (Reince Pribus simply has said, “I don’t agree”).  But White House press spokesman Josh Earnest said it best:

“The Trump campaign for months now has had a dustbin of history-like quality to it, from the vacuous sloganeering to the outright lie to even the fake hair—the whole carnival barker routine we’ve seen for some time now… The question now is about the rest of the Republican party and whether or not they’re going to be dragged into the dustbin of history with him.”

Planned Parenthood Shooting Is Domestic Terrorism

I’ve been vacationing and the holidays and yada yada, so there’s been light blogging lately.

Colorado Springs shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina is seen in undated photos provided by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. A gunman burst into a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 and opened fire, launching several gunbattles and an hourslong standoff with police as patients and staff took cover. By the time the shooter surrendered, at least three people were killed, including a police officer and at least nine others were wounded, authorities said. (El Paso County Sheriff's Office via AP)

The big news that I missed was a terrorist attack here on the United States, although whether to call it a “terrorist attack” seems to be arguable.  I’m talking of course about the shooter at Planned Parenthood.  On Saturday, November 27, a shooting and five-hour standoff with police occurred at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A police officer and two civilians were killed; five police officers and four civilians were injured. Police convinced the suspected shooter, identified as Robert Lewis Dear, to surrender. He was taken into custody after a standoff that lasted five hours. Yesterday, Dear was charged with murder in the first-degree, and was ordered to be held without bond.

It wasn’t hard to surmise his motive or political leanings, especially when he told the police “no more baby parts” and was known to have passed out anti-Obama literature.  Obviously, when you are trying to affect political or social change through the use of violence, that is the definition of terrorism — yet Republican candidates seem to have a hard time calling it this.  When a reporter told Ted Cruz that the suspect in the Colorado Springs killings is alleged to have mentioned “baby parts” after his arrest, the Texas senator responded, “Well, it’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist, if that’s what he is.”  Cruz was likely citing a report from The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing blog, that uncovered a Colorado state voter registration form which lists Dear’s gender as female.  (Occam’s Razor suggests it was likely a clerical error — and it was).

On Fox News Sunday, Carly Fiorina called alleged killer Robert Lewis Dear “deranged’ and lamented that the shooting took place on a “holiday weekend,” before zeroing in on the real tragedy: the unfair treatment of Carly Fiorina by pro-choice activists and the left. Host Chris Wallace asked Fiorina if she saw a link between overheated anti-choice rhetoric and violence by abortion opponents. Fiorina, who at the second GOP debate regaled viewers with a grisly and entirely false story about Planned Parenthood workers yanking the brain out of a “living, kicking” fetus, failed to see how her words might inspire someone to take drastic action, adding:

“This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing the messenger because they don’t agree with the message…. Anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or opposes the sale of body parts is … this is typical left-wing tactics.”

The link was made, however, not by the leftwing, but by the gunman himself. Fiorina advanced the inflammatory lie that Planned Parenthood makes a profit from trafficking in fetal body parts. In fact, the fetal tissue is turned over for medical research, with the attendant fees used to cover expenses.

Ben Carson responded to the attack by wishing everyone would be a little more polite. He then politely blamed Planned Parenthood for the shooting.  Asked if extremist rhetoric emboldens domestic terrorists, Carson argued that “both sides” are to blame for vilifying each other. A fair point, perhaps, although nobody is shooting up Focus On The Family.  Personally, I think it is okay to villify terrorists.

Donald Trump briefly approximated humanness on Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press Sunday, calling the shooting “a terrible thing.” Seconds later the GOP candidate returned to form, denouncing Planned Parenthood and essentially blaming the organization for making Trump supporters angry.

Mike Huckabee had the guts to call the shooting an act of domestic terrorism and mass murder. “There’s no legitimizing, there’s no rationalizing. It was mass murder. It was absolutely unfathomable,” he said. But then he went on to equate what happened with abortion, which is legal.  He accused Planned Parenthood, which provides health services to low-income women, of mass murder, engaging in exactly the kind of extreme rhetoric that might convince an unhinged person the group is deserving of violent attack. “And there’s no excuse for killing other people, whether it’s happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die, or whether it’s people attacking Planned Parenthood,” he said.

The point is that what happened in Colorado Springs is just an extreme example of a long line of terrorist actions against Planned Parenthood, which include threats, murders, and bombings.  Back in September, CBS reported that the FBI had noticed an uptick in attacks on reproductive health care facilities since the first video was released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP). There were nine criminal or suspicious incidents (including cyber attacks, threats, and arsons) from July, when the videos first came out, through mid-September.

An FBI Intelligence Assessment at the time found these attacks were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement.” Moreover, the report said it was “likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities.”

Less than two weeks after CBS reported that, another abortion clinic was firebombed in California. It was the fourth arson at a Planned Parenthood location in as many months.

Since 1977, there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons against abortion clinics and providers.  Even today, a hospital in Colorado Springs was put on lockdown because of a “suspicious person” making threats to shoot one of the victims from Friday’s deadly Planned Parenthood attack.

So the Richard Dear shootings are not an isolated incident, just an extreme one.  Stay tuned.

Fox News Moron Doubles Down With Dr. Carson: Stupid Jews Could Have Taken The Nazis

Yes, the European Jews were just a bunch of pants-wetting pansies back in the thirties:

Dr. Ben Carson recently asserted that if guns had not been confiscated from Jews then Hitler would have had more trouble orchestrating the Holocaust.

Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the Anti-Defamation Leauge, quickly objected, stating that there were few firearms available to Jews in Germany in 1938 and that surrendering them did not measurably contribute to the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.

Ben Carson is right, and Jonathan Greenblatt is wrong.

For the record, I have hosted a fundraiser for Dr. Carson, but I was also born a Jew and have studied the Holocaust. And I have spoken before the Anti-Defamation League in the past.

The wisest answer to a government that insists its citizens disarm is, “Over my dead body.”

What Greenblatt fails to account for is that the surrendering of firearms by Jews when required to by Nazi authorities was not merely the surrender of guns and ammunition. Those material items would not have been sufficient to defend against the Third Reich’s military.

The mindset that Jews surrendered with their guns is far more important than the hardware they turned over: They surrendered the demonstrated intention, at all costs, to resist being deprived of liberty. If Jews in Germany had more actively resisted the Nazi party or the Nazi regime and had diagnosed it as a malignant and deadly cancer from the start, there would, indeed, have been a chance for the people of that country and the world to be moved to action by their bold refusal to be enslaved.

Yes, that would have required immeasurable courage. Yes, that would have required unspeakable losses. But is that not the lesson of the Old Testament? Does not Abraham bind his son Issac to an altar, willing to sacrifice his son’s life to God’s Word—to the truth? Must not we all be ready to sacrifice ourselves to stand in the way of evil?

Granted, I was not there. Granted, hindsight is 20/20. But it turns out it was a bad idea for any Jew to have turned over a gun. It was a bad idea for any Jew to have boarded a train. It was a bad idea for any Jew to have passed through a gate into a camp. It was a bad idea for any Jew to do any work at any such camp. It was a bad idea for any Jew to not attempt to crush the skull or scratch out the eyes of any Nazi who turned his back for one moment. And every bullet that would have been fired into a Nazi coming to a doorway to confiscate a gun from a Jew would have been a sacred bullet.

To me, Jonathan Greenblatt seems to have forgotten those iconic words, “Never Again.” Thank God that men like Ben Carson remind us of them.

The wisest answer to a government that insists its citizens disarm is, “Over my dead body.” It would seem to be the end of any discussion and the beginning of active, heroic resistance. Because it is very hard to imagine that disempowering citizens by having them render themselves defenseless can lead to anything good. It is very likely a sign that the culture has fallen ill and that an epidemic of enslavement of one kind or another is on the horizon.

No, Dr. Ablow, you weren’t there, and yes, Dr. Ablow, hindsight is 20/20.  And let’s remember that thousands of Jews resisted in Germany, in the Warsaw ghetto, in France, and everywhere else.  And while brave and heroic, it simply resulted in expediting their deaths, and the death of others.  Hell, Kristellnacht happened ostensibly because an armed Jew shot and killed a German officer.  As a result, 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.  Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers, Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.  Over 100 Jews were killed.  From one Jew with one gun.  I don’t care how many handguns you and your friends have — you simply cannot rise against a superpower that has machine guns, aircraft, and — you know — tanks.

Truthfully, we do not have to wonder what would happen if Germany’s Jews had guns and numbers and a tradition of organized violence. Nazis hardly started with the Jews. First they had to deal with the German Communist Party.

Where Jews were for the most part a random selection of middle class Germany, the Communists were a different story. German Communists had an organization and violent ruthlessness that rivaled Hitler’s gang during the Weimar era. In fact the entirely legitimate threat of a revolution in Germany (they tried a few times and nearly pulled it off once) goes a long way to explaining why German nationalists and business leaders would play ball with an obvious nut like Hitler in the first place.

So yes, the Communists were spoiling for a chance to make the brownshirts come take their guns from their cold, dead hands. When the brownshirts got ahold of state power, first in Bavaria and then everywhere, they did exactly that. And then there were no more Communists in Germany.

So much for arming yourselves against the Nazis.

But this is the conservative myth, and wet dream.  They want to rise against their own government some day — at least, that is the fantasy.  So if you have that mindset, you have to blame the Jews for their own demise.

Trumps Reaction To Hate Crime — He Hits A New Low

This turns my stomach:

The homeless man was lying on the ground, shaking, when police arrived early Wednesday. His face was soaked, apparently with urine, his nose broken, his chest and arms battered.

Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed the 58-year-old as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic. One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

***

Trump, told of the alleged assault, said “it would be a shame . . . I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Those ellipses might mean anything, but one thing is clear — Trump’s pivot from discussion of a hate crime to the passion of those who follow him, is nothing short of sick.  No, Donald Trump isn’t explicitly saying it’s okay to beat people up because of how they look (but at least two men have interpreted it that way).  The correct thing to do is to tell them, and the rest of his followers, that that interpretation is unequivocally wrong.  Instead he frames the abhorrent crim as a moderately regrettable downside of his movement’s “passion.”

UPDATE — Over 24 hours later since he was first asked….

Even The Gun Nuts Don’t Want A Piece Of This

A few days ago, I mentioned the presence of armed white people — the Oath Keepers — present on the streets of Ferguson during the racial tensions.  They were there, they said, the protect a reporter from the ultra-right wing website, InfoWars.

Except now we learn that Infowars denies knowing these guys or what they’re doing.

Maybe that’s true, maybe not.  But many gun nuts are thinking this is a bad idea.  A typical example… from the blog “BEARING ARMS, Guns & Patriots Saving Liberty and Lives“:

It seems quite clear that the four white Oath Keepers self-deployed to a black neighborhood in which there is considerable racial tension, in what many regard as nothing more or less than a show of force. They interjected themselves into a community where they were neither wanted nor requested, and raised tensions instead of assuaging them as the prior group of Oath Keepers did in December of 2014.

Our continuing fight to not only retain but reassert our Second Amendment rights after years of abuse at the hands of an increasingly statist government is one that requires a deft touch, and I’m proud to say that the vast majority of gun owners clearly understand this. As a result, we’re attracting more shooters, across wider cultural lines.

***

And we’ll continue to create a more inclusive “gun culture 2.0″ as long as we act intelligently.

I don’t know anything about the individual Oath Keepers involved in this most recent appearance of the Oath Keepers in Ferguson, but then again, their intentions and pedigrees are all but irrelevant. The public perception of what they were doing, and why they were there, is what matters.

They did us no favors.

Of course, that blogger (if you read further) is only concerned about the reputation of the pro-gun crowd and not the fact that people might get, you know, killed.

But…. it’s progress.  Right?

Has Ferguson Gotten Better?

One year after the arrest and killing of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man, Ferguson seems to be in deeper trouble than ever.  Several investigations, including one by the DOJ, found that the police officer did not act improperly in the shooting of Michael Brown.  BUT the DOJ found that the police department was ethically un-diverse (compared to the general population) and was systematically targeting the minority community for everything from major offenses to traffic violations.  One year on, political leaders have changed or been replaced, but

A year after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown sparked a firestorm in Ferguson, the city is still pumping out thousands of new arrest warrants and jailing people over minor offenses, according to an exclusive CNNMoney analysis.

This practice continues despite a scathing report from the Department of Justice in March that found that Ferguson’s police department and municipal court were unconstitutionally targeting low-income and minority residents with tickets and fines for minor offenses — often in pursuit of revenue. The report noted that there were more than 16,000 people (residents and non-residents alike) with outstanding arrest warrants as of the end of last year, equivalent to around 75% of the town’s population.

While the police were the ones giving out the tickets, the DOJ slammed the city’s court for using arrest warrants to squeeze money out of the people least able to afford the fines. Even though there need to be repercussions for people who break the law and ignore their tickets, the DOJ says jail time is far too harsh a punishment for infractions that rarely pose a major threat to public safety.

But in the wake of the DOJ report, CNNMoney found that Ferguson is still at it. The city has issued more than 2,300 new arrest warrants so far this year and thousands of older warrants continue to haunt people — even as neighboring municipalities are wiping out old tickets or warrants entirely.

The court clerk fired over racist emails that surfaced during the DOJ investigation has a new job with another Missouri court… six miles away from Ferguson.  That’s not progress either.

And this weekend saw violence as well as a shooting.  However, reports suggest that a black man was shooting directly at police cars, and police shot back and seriously wounded him.  If those are the actual facts, I don’t think that can be pinned on police.  People like that…. #nothelping.

But according to news reports, little has changed within the police department.  And it doesn’t look like their tactics have changed much.  On the radio, I heard someone describe the protests this week compared to those from one year ago.  He said, “One year ago it was like 1955; this weekend it was like 1965”.  Meaning… much more chaos.

And speaking of #nothelping, this happened….

As St. Louis County Police stage mass arrests of black protesters for suspicion of possessing weapons, tonight in Ferguson, Missouri, the extreme right wing militia Oath Keepers are stalking the streets openly carrying assault rifles.

oathferg

Why were they there?  They were sent by conspiracy lunatic Alex Jones to protect his “reporters.”  To get a sense of what these guys are about… see the guy in the picture above?  Watch him in the video below:

The race problem meets the rightwing extremism problem.  This has disaster written all over it.

UPDATE:  I read over at Mother Jones this:

During the same time last year, Oath Keeper members took it upon themselves to guard the city’s rooftops with assault rifles. Police officials eventually ordered the group to leave, saying their presence was inciting fear and suspicion in an already tense situation. However, no members were arrested.

I did not know they were there last year as well.  However, I wonder what the police would have done last year (or this year) if it was an armed black militant group on the streets for the same reason.  Would the police simply have “ordered” them to leave…. with no arrests?

Good Ol’ Boys Shooting At The U.S. Military

For the second day in a row, shots were reportedly fired Wednesday near a Mississippi military facility where part of the “Jade Helm 15” training exercise was expected to take place.

Soldiers training at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg reported shots fired into the air around 8 a.m. local time, according to a news release obtained by local TV station WJTV. The release noted that the shots were reportedly fired in the same location where two soldiers reported being fired upon on Tuesday.

Authorities said the suspect in Wednesday’s incident was a white male driving a maroon pick-up truck, according to WJTV. The news release noted that is the same suspect description given in Tuesday’s shooting. The news release described Camp Shelby as being in a “heightened state of alert.” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said in a statement that he’s in communication with the head of the state’s Department of Public Safety to locate and arrest the suspect, according to WJTV. “The soldiers at Camp Shelby and across the state can and should take appropriate steps to defend themselves as necessary,” Bryant said in the statement. “This is one of the reasons I signed an executive order directing certain National Guard personnel to be armed.”

UPDATE:  They got him maybe. He fits the description.

I Venture In The Loony Bin So You Don’t Have To

This Jade Helm thing that I wrote about a couple of months ago is still going strong.  For those of you still unfamiliar with “Jade Helm 15”, it is the name of a US military operation, or a series of operations actually, that is taking place throughout the Southwest, and a little bit of the South.  Nothing new about that — it’s been done before.  But many right wing conspiracy nuts are convinced — convinced — that it is a US military coup and actually the military is… oh, I don’t know… coming to take your guns and put you in a FEMA camp.  Because Obama.

According to conspiracy theorists, Jade Helm starts today.

Anyway, I found THE site for all your loony right wing news that the mainstream media won’t tell you about because they’re scared or maybe even part of the Jade Helm operation.  It is link-a-riff-ic, so I will put the front page in below the fold (“Read More”).  But I especially like how the front page is segregated into a “News” column of stories, and an “Alternate News” column of stories, and the stories in both columns are pretty much the same (Jade Helm).  I’m not sure what the distinction is, but it must be pretty fine.

Here’s one my favorite photos from the All News Pipeline site.

nwo2nwo1

The point, I guess, is that new malls have been built in America using. . . the designs from Nazi concentration camps . . . because . . . um . . . if you want to build a concentration camp, by God, it better look like the concentration camps from 70 years ago.  (None of this Japanese internment camps with their measly barbed wire fences — OUR concentration camps must have towers with triangle things on top.  And an Orange Julius!)

Don’t believe it’s happening. . . well if THIS VIDEO doesn’t convince you, NOTHING WILL!

And I uncovered this little piece of information — proof positive that something funny is happening.  I’ve edited it a bit, but you’ll get the gist:

UPDATE!!! Blue Bell Ice Cream ‘Refrigerated Morgue Trucks’ Join Military Convoy In Colorado Weeks After
Listeria Outbreak Shuts Down Ice Cream Production

bbimc.jpg

By Stefan Stanford – All News Pipeline – Live Free Or Die

UPDATE!!! A customer service representative from Blue Bell has asked us to update our story with this official statement.:

The trucks you refer to in the post below, are trucks we are relocating from our closed branches to those that remain open. It just so happened that our trucks were traveling on the same highway as the military convoy, but there is no relation to their activity. Can you please update your story to reflect the correct information?

Thank You,

Jenny Van Dorf
Public Relations Market Specialist
Blue Bell Advertising Associates
1101 South Blue Bell Road
Brenham, TX 77833
979-830-2180

Only weeks after declaring that it will be several months before Blue Bell Ice Cream begins producing ice cream again after a multi-state listeria outbreak linked to them, a dozen or so Blue Bell Ice Cream trucks were seen participating in a military convoy on Colorado roads as shared in the new videos below from DAHBOO777. We know from Bundy Ranch that the government uses vehicles such as the Budweiser truck seen in the image below to transport clandestine cargo. Why has Blue Bell suddenly gotten into the convoy business with the US military? Several rather disturbing possibilities are discussed below and the sudden timing of these events along with the unfolding of Jade Helm 15 in America leads us to believe that Blue Bell being shut down, forcing thousands to be laid off and furloughed, may be related to the closings of Wal Marts across America – simply, the US military needs what you have, and now. Blue Bell’s customer relations, reached at  979-836-7977, has totally danced around this subject when asked and in fact, has totally contradicted themselves with their explanation.

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One theory that’s emerged is that these trucks are being used as ‘hidden in plain sight’ refrigerated morgues which can be used to carry bodies ‘out of sight out of mind’ and that theory ties right in with a recent disturbing email received by ANP just days ago in which we were warned that there is a very real possibility that US troops might soon have to kill American citizens. Back in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, the East Valley Tribune published a story called “New Orleans Left To The Dead And Dying” in which they tell us “the dying goes on – at the airport and an airport triage center where bodies are kept in a refrigerated truck”. A September 2014 story tells us that refrigerated trucks were used as portable morgues after 9/11.

“By the afternoon the school had been identified as a potential site for a temporary morgue. Refrigerated trucks were lining up outside, along Hudson Street.”

The precedent for use of these vehicles as portable out-of-site morgues has clearly been set.

With military exercises taking place across the country this summer and evidence that preparation is being made at the top for economic collapse, warnings have gone out that this could be a ‘summer of rage’ with more rioting across the country as the elite have contrived the perfect conditions for mass unrest across America.

While rare, listeria is the 3rd ranked cause of death from food poisoning in the United States and the fact that so many of these refrigerated Blue Bell trucks are taking part in a military convoy in Colorado with Jade Helm soon approaching is causing a lot of people to wonder ‘why,’. . .

[H]istory clearly tells us that these units can be used for nefarious purposes and, at this particular moment in time in the history of the United States, we should take nothing for granted. The question remains.:

Was that whole poisoning story a psy op done for the purpose of freeing up mobile refrigeration units (morgues) for the military’s Jade Helm 15 exercise, which targets Texas as hostile territory?

It’s only a question, not a claim. But if you watch the video below and you’re like me, it seems a little creepy to see so many ice cream trucks traveling with a military convoy.

Oooookay.

RIP Confederate Flag (In South Carolina)

After a contentious and often emotional debate in the SC House, with a lot of political wrangling (and attachments of bill-killing amendments, all of which failed), Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill yesterday, and the flag came down today

Well, that only took 5+ decades.

Here in North Carolina, they took down the Confederate flag from inside the state capitol building after complaints from civil rights leaders…. back in April 2013.  There wasn’t a lot of hullabaloo about it.  A couple of weeks ago, the NC Governor urged the legislature to pass a law to end the official designation of “civic club” for the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization and to stop issuing plates with the C.S. flag emblazoned on them.

But as of now, you can still get a license plate with the confederate flag on it.  Well, not RIGHT now.  There’s been a rush in the past couple weeks and the DMV is sold out (for the moment).

And there are other movements in other Southern states.

Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from a monument on the state’s capitol grounds last week — a move that came after a Democratic lawmaker filed a bill that would have done just that.

But 1,000 flag supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Saturday, flying hundreds of Confederate flags and claiming its removal is an affront to their southern heritage.

Georgia

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration late last week halted the use of specialty license plates created by the state for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that featured the Confederate flag.

Mississippi

State House Speaker Philip Gunn said last week that the state’s current flag — which features the Confederate stars and stripes in its upper left corner — should be changed. But Mississippi voted in a 2001 referendum to keep the Confederate flag in place as part of its state flag. Lawmakers are unlikely to change it until a new legislative session begins in January.

Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam has said the Confederate flag should be removed from Tennessee’s Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates. But proposals to end the specialty plates, at least, won’t be discussed until the state legislature meets again early next year.

Haslam has also called for the state to remove a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Ku Klux Klan founder and slave trader, from the Capitol.

Virginia

Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an end to Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates that, like Georgia’s and Tennessee’s, featured the Confederate emblem.

Roof’s Sister Asks For Donations

From a Charlotte TV station:

The sister of the suspected Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, is asking the public for donations — but not for her brother.

In a “Go Fund Me” post, Amber Roof is asking for $5,000 to pay for her and her fiance’s wedding, which was originally scheduled for June 21.

They canceled the wedding after her brother was accused of the shooting at Emanuel AME church just three days earlier.

In a post on the Go Fund Me page, Amber said canceling the ceremony cost them thousands of dollars and brought sorrow, pain and shame to her wedding day.

“Our wedding day was suppose to be the most important and special day of our lives. It was suppose to start our lives together with our new family. Our day was the exact opposite. Our wedding day was full of sorrow, pain, and shame, tainted by the actions of one man,” Amber said in the post.

Amber said she will donate 10 percent of the money raised to Emanuel AME.

So far, the couple has not rescheduled their wedding.

Must suck to be the sister of a racist mass murderer.  She seems to disavow her brother, referring to him as “one man”.

And it is nice the she intends to donate some of the money to the church.

Anyway, if you click on the link, the GoFundMe page is gone.  But here is a screenshot someone obtained before it was taken down.

roof3n-2-web

I just hope she wasn’t bombarded with hateful messages.  On the other hand, maybe the whole thing was a scam.  Or maybe some nice person came alone and offered to pay for the wedding.  In any event, if the comments on this Facebook page are any indication, people are coming down pretty hard on her.

Who Is Burning Black Churches?

If you could give out an award for under-reported stories these past few weeks, this is it.  Granted, it has been a very busy series of news cycles, with gay marriage and confederate flags and mass murder and a million GOP candidates, but this is more important than, say, shark attacks.  And to be sure, if ISIS so much as set a trash can on fire, the news would be all over it.  But so far, there’s been very little on what is clearly a pattern of racist arson.

Fortunately, the media is starting to take notice, like the New York Times today:

02zionGREELEYVILLE, S.C. — Another predominantly African-American church has burned in the South, the latest in a string of fires that has put congregations on edge.

Investigators on Wednesday morning were in Greeleyville, S.C., north of Charleston, where an African-American church caught fire overnight 20 years after the Ku Klux Klan burned it down.

It took over two hours to extinguish the fire that burned through the roof and gutted the predominantly black Mount Zion A.M.E. Church. Lightning storms were reported in the area overnight, and Mark Keel, the chief of the South Carolina Enforcement Division, said that it was too early to determine the cause of the fire.

Tuesday night’s fire came as the authorities in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee investigated blazes at other churches, most of them predominantly black. Although the authorities have concluded that some of those fires were arson, officials have not yet described any of the episodes as hate crimes. Investigators also said there was no evidence that the fires at the churches were linked.

But here in Greeleyville, a town of about 400 people, speculation was already circulating, particularly along the two-lane road where Mount Zion sits and where federal and state investigators were working early Wednesday. The latest blaze drew investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

“Do I think God is now burning down only black churches, and only wiring in black churches is going awry? I take issue with that,” said Dimas Salaberrios, a pastor from New York who was in South Carolina in the wake of the June 17 shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, a drive of less than 90 minutes from Greeleyville.

James Montgomery, an occasional attendee at Mount Zion whose grandparents are buried in the cemetery behind the charred church building, urged caution. “It’s just a shame,” he said as he gazed at the building, where access was restricted by yellow crime scene tape. “I hope it’s an accident. I hope it’s nothing else.”

[UPDATE: CNN reports that “federal investigators suspect lightning may have caused the fire at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina, senior officials in the FBI said Wednesday morning. The FBI has been working with the National Weather Service to determine whether the heavy storms in the area contributed to the fire. A forensics report of lightning strikes by CNN meteorologists shows four strikes occurred in the immediate vicinity of the church, all at 7:18 p.m. ET Tuesday night.  Okay, maybe.  It’s still suspicious though.]

Unfortunately, this is what the New York Times wrote only two days ago, before the Wednesday fire:

After a deadly racist attack in South Carolina and heated debates about Confederate symbols, a string of fires at black churches in the South has put congregations on edge. But officials say they have found no evidence that the blazes were hate crimes.

Fires struck five predominantly black churches last week, and investigators say that at least two were arson. So far, investigators say, there are no indications that any of the fires were connected, or that racism was behind them.

“The idea that this could be about hate, by someone who had no hope, no outlet but to do something so tragic — we were devastated, I mean heartbroken, terrified,” the Rev. Rhonda Kinsey, a pastor of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., said Monday.

Investigators have concluded that while the fire in Charlotte, and one two days earlier in Knoxville, Tenn., were certainly arson, they were probably acts of vandalism. Of the four structures at Briar Creek Baptist, only a youth activities building in the back of the complex burned, while the sanctuary was untouched.

I’m not sure how vandalism which ends up with a burnt church is different from arson.  And even if it is technically (or legally) different, I think that misses the point.  Clearly, black churches are being targeted.

Below the fold is a complete chronology of what we know about the burnings, all of which occurred after the shootings in Charleston.

Charlestown Shooter Was A Product Of The Left Wing: Fox News

Wow, this spin is laughable.

The REAL Guilty Party Is Located In Charleston Church Massacre

Charles Cotton is a member of the NRA’s board, and he knows who killed those people. No, not Dylann Storm Roof, the alleged gunman who has since confessed, silly!  It was Rev. Clementa Pinckney, state senator and pastor at Emanuel AME Church, according to Cotton. How did Pinckney manage that? By voting against a bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed guns in church, of course!

CH4c6t3WUAAIPfM

UPDATE:  Also blameworthy?  Caitlyn Jenner.  Here’s rightwing Erick “Eric” Erickson:

Everyone and everything gets blamed while ignoring the actual person who killed.

I realize now why that is. I realize why we will never have the conversation we should have.

A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and “a new normal” cannot have a conversation about mental health or evilbecause that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good. Our American society has a mental illness — overwhelming narcissism and delusion — and so cannot recognize what crazy or evil looks like.

 

The Prescient NYT Column

Excerpts from “The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat”, in the New York Times, written June 16, 2015, one day before the Charleston church shooting:

… But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.

In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.

***

An officer from a large metropolitan area said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism. One officer explained that he ranked the right-wing threat higher because “it is an emerging threat that we don’t have as good of a grip on, even with our intelligence unit, as we do with the Al Shabab/Al Qaeda issue, which we have been dealing with for some time.” An officer on the West Coast explained that the “sovereign citizen” anti-government threat has “really taken off,” whereas terrorism by American Muslim is something “we just haven’t experienced yet.”

***

Law enforcement agencies around the country are training their officers to recognize signs of anti-government extremism and to exercise caution during routine traffic stops, criminal investigations and other interactions with potential extremists. “The threat is real,” says the handout from one training program sponsored by the Department of Justice. Since 2000, the handout notes, 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a “fear that government will confiscate firearms” and a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”

***

Public debates on terrorism focus intensely on Muslims. But this focus does not square with the low number of plots in the United States by Muslims, and it does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion. As state and local police agencies remind us, right-wing, anti-government extremism is the leading source of ideological violence in America.

Deadly History of Attacks on Progressive Houses of Worship

Last night, in a horrific act of hateful violence, a white gunman shot and killed at least nine people at the historically black Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime, immediately sparked outrage, with many wondering aloud how someone could commit such an act — especially in a church, were the victims were attending a Bible study.

It’s not the first time Emanuel A.M.E. has endured violence. The historically progressive church, which was founded in 1791, was burned to the ground in 1822 by white supremacists for its connection to an attempted slave revolt.

And it’s hardly the first attack on a progressive house of worship:

Sunday, September 15, 1963: 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is bombed using 16 sticks of dynamite, killing four girls and injuring 22 others.

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July 27, 2008: A lone gunman opens fire on a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two and wounding seven. The shooter said he targeted the church because of its liberal teachings.

According to the Associated Press, Jim D. Adkisson, a 58-year-old truck driver “on the verge of losing his food stamps,” entered Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church while parishioners were gathered to watch the congregation’s youth perform the musical “Annie.” He then pulled out a shotgun and opened fire, leaving behind a note that police officials said expressed hatred of “the liberal movement … as well as gays.” A longtime acquaintance said he also hated “blacks, gays and anyone different from him.”

Adkisson eventually pled guilty to killing two and wounding six others, telling the judge, “Yes, ma’am, I am guilty as charged.”

I blog about it here.

May 24, 2015: A pastor is shot outside a church in Hartford, Connecticut, in what police described as a possible hate crime because of the church’s pro-LGBT views.

According to BuzzFeed, Rev. Augustus Sealy, 54, was shot outside Hartford First Church of the Nazarene around 6:30 a.m. while placing flags in front of the sanctuary in honor of Memorial Day. Police reports say that a vehicle slowly rolled up alongside Sealy before someone in the car fired five gunshots. Sealy survived the shooting, but one bullet struck him in the shoulder, and two hit his leg.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley told BuzzFeed: “Some language used in the incident — and given where it was, in front of a church known to be accepting of our LGBT community — it led us to have concern that this is a hate crime.”

August 5, 2012: An armed white supremacist storms a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, shooting six people and wounding four others before committing suicide.

Wade Michael Page, 40, entered the Sikh gurdwara armed with a semi-automatic pistol, where he killed one woman and five men, including an assistant priest. Page, an Army veteran with ties to several white supremacist groups, also wounded an officer before turning his gun on himself.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the incident as an example of domestic terrorism, and then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder later declared the attack to be “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.”

I blog about it here.

April 13, 2014: A Neo-Nazi shoots and kills three people in two separate shootings outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom, a nearby Jewish retirement community.

The first shooting occurred outside the community center, where people were auditioning for a singing competition and staff were preparing for a performance of To Kill a Mockingbird. The gunman, 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., fired several shots at the building and bystanders before escaping by car to Village Shalom. There, he fired a shotgun at Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson Reat Griffin Underwood. Both men succumbed to their wounds, as did another woman, Terry LaManno, who was also shot.

Miller, who was also a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, later said that while none of his victims turned out to be Jewish, he launched the attack “for the specific purpose of killing Jews.” The American Jewish community consistently reports more religiously-motivated hate crimes than any other faith group in the country, according to statistics collected by the FBI.

1995-1996: A series of church fires rock the South, with 37 black churches falling victim to “suspicious fires” in 18 months.

According to a June 16 Washington Post report on a federal investigation of a string of arsons in the mid-1990s, “The people burning down black churches in the South are generally white, male and young, usually economically marginalized or poorly educated, frequently drunk or high on drugs, rarely affiliated with hate groups, but often deeply driven by racism, according to investigators and a review of those arrested or convicted in the burnings.”

The ATF also noted that 23 predominantly white churches were burned during this same time period. The sheer volume of the incidents collectively spurred the House of Representatives to pass legislation to assist federal officials wishing to prosecute the arsonists. The House made it a federal offense to damage religious property simply because of its “racial or ethnic character,” and then-President Bill Clinton also asked Congress for an extra $12 million for investigations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014: A gunman fires five shots at the mosque in Coachella, California.

At 5:01 a.m. on November 4, an unknown gunman fired several shots at the Islamic Society of Coachella Valley mosque near Los Angeles. The FBI investigated the attack as a possible hate crime, and while no one was hurt, the incident was part of a steadily increasing wave of attacks and suspicious fires enacted against Muslim houses of worship in the United States. This included the murder of a Muslim teen in Kansas City, and at least two mosque burnings over the last two years.

*******

And I’m not even counting the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller while he attended church in Wichita, Kansas, and the shooting of Alberta King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother, while she played the organ in 1974.

Mass Murder Hate Crime Leaves 9 Dead In Charleston Church

I may have been one of the first 1000 people to know what happened in Charleston last night.  I was at rehearsal for a play I am in (barely), and backstage, I checked my phone.  Nothing on the Breaking News app, nothing big on Twitter.  I opened Periscope, and there was a guy working in some Charlotte newsroom who was periscoping (sorry, but that’s the verb) about a shooting and killing of 8 people in Charleston, SC.  I tuned in — there were already about 200 watchers.  He was getting reports off of a Charleston police/fire scanner.  The watchers were typing in that there was nothing on MSNBC, CNN or FOX.  Even the local Charleston TV channel had nothing.  That was around 10:15.

I had to pay attention to rehearsal, so I wasn’t able to periscope for very long, but by the time rehearsal was over (at 11:30 — ugh!) and I was in my car, with MSNBC, CNN, and FOX all on my Sirius radio, I thought I would find out more.  By that time, they had reported the story, but had returned to regular earlier-recorded programming (Chris Hayes on MSNBC, O’Reilly on FOX, etc.).  I was stunned.  When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, that was the only story.

To be fair, there wasn’t a lot to report.  There had been no official statement, no confirmation of anything.  The only “official” thing was the Twitter feed of the Charleston PD, which mentioned the shooting and the fact that the shooter was on the loose.  But it did not say anything about fatalities or injuries.

Even when I woke up today, the Charleston news was the “top story”, but the big three cable network news were focusing on other things.  I suspect there will be some third-day stories about the lack of media interest.  Maybe.

Anyway, here’s the skinny:

The shooting took place last night at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston during a bible study group.  The killer attended the group and was with them for an hour.  The EAM Episcopal Church is an historic church:

  • The church sits in an area of Charleston densely packed with houses of worship and well-preserved old buildings
  • Congregation was established in 1816
  • African-American members of Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal Church formed their own congregation after a dispute over a burial ground
  • Also known as “Mother Emanuel”
  • It’s the oldest AME church in the South
  • It’s also one of the oldest African-American churches in the United States
  • It was involved in the Underground Railroad, according to The Washington Post, which calls it a “symbol of black freedom” (http://wapo.st/1J5Pj7G)
  • The newspaper also reports that the church’s prominent speakers include Booker T. Washington (1909), the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (1962) and Coretta Scott King (1969)
  • It has the most seats of any African-American church in Charleston
  • It was burned to the ground at one point, but rebuilt; it was also destroyed by an earthquake
  • The church hosts a Bible study in its basement every Wednesday evening

Three males and six females were killed at the church, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen said this morning. Eight died at the scene, the ninth died at a hospital.  Among those killed is the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

There were a total of 13 people inside the church at the time of the shooting: the shooter, nine victims that were killed, and three survivors. Of the three survivors, two were unharmed.

The gunman was there for about an hour attending the meeting with the eventual victims, before he began shooting, the police chief said.

A woman who survived the shooting says the gunman told her he was letting her live so that she could tell people what happened, according to Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott. Scott said she heard this from the victims’ family members, and stressed she did not speak to the survivor directly.

There are also reports that a little girl also survived by “playing dead”

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina are opening a hate crime investigation into the Charleston shooting. The investigation is parallel to the state’s investigation, although it should be noted that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have a hate crimes law.

According to a relative of a survivor, church members tried talking to gunman. The gunman said “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Surveillance photos from the church:

droof

Charleston, we should remember, is that place of the Walter Scott shooting.back in April.

10:30am EST:  The shooter has been identified as Dylann Storm Roof (a memorable name), age 21.  I found his Facebook page.  Not much there.  He’s just Dylann Roof (did he give himself “Storm”?)  This picture and 89 friends (some black).  No likes or posts or anything.  He’s from Columbia, SC.  Police say he may be driving a black Hyundai with the license plate LGF330, police say. If you know him or have information about him, call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

dylan roof

One of those patches is a a Rhodesian flag patch when it was white-ruled (Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe).  The other is an apartheid-era South African flag.  This is no casual racist, this one. Wearing those flag patches is the stuff of hardcore, Stormfront-reading white nationalists.

Here’s a concept: in a state that still flies the Confederacy’s battle flag over public buildings, pointing out that there was an organized effort to teach a young white kid about those two lovely countries when he’s the prime suspect in the murder of nine would kind of be a tacit admission that we still have a gigantic problem with race and racism in America.

10:50am EST: The Daily Mail is reporting:

Roof’s uncle told Reuters that his nephew had received a .45 caliber pistol as a birthday present in April. He called the 21-year-old ‘quiet, soft spoken’ and said he recognized him in the photo released by police.

Also….

While other flags are at half mast, the confederate flag is still at full mast at the South Carolina capital.

11:15am EST:  On Fox, a pro-gun pastor thinks that the “hate crime” designation means it was a “hate crime” against religion not black people.  This despite the report that the shooter said “”You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”  He was referring to Christians?  I don’t think so.  (More at Raw Story)

11:20am EST:

11:55am EST:

Christian conservative radio host Bryan Fischer, a former director of issues analysis for the right-wing American Family Association, knows what the real problem is: a lack of guns in churches.

1:00pm EST:  I didn’t think he would, but he did.  Obama spoke out against easy access to guns.  I don’t expect any legislation to come of this (if Newtown couldn’t stop the gun lobby, then this won’t), but it was good of Obama to keep promoting gun control.

3:00pm EST:  Ugh. This…

Short Takes

Yeah, I’m playing catch-up.  Been very busy since last week.  I have a little to say about a lot of things, so now comes a slam of quick posts.

(1)  As for the clash in Phoenix between Islamophobes and would-be terrorists, the Islamophobes went home disappointed.  No violence. No anything, really:

Protesters at Friday’s “Freedom of Speech” rally outside a Phoenix mosque were met by counterprotesters.

The two groups lined both sides of the street in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix and yelled at each other, with a line of police officers standing in the middle of the street to keep them separated, CNN affiliate KNXV reported.

***

“When we see these two things … then obviously it becomes more of a concern,” [Imraan Siddiqi with the Council on American-Islamic Relations] said. “We’re advising people … it’s better to stay clear from the event, don’t engage with these people.”

Good advice.

(2)  Who has joined the 2016 presidential race since I last blogged:

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (D)
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D)
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (D)
U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina (R)
Former New York Governor George Pataki (R)
Current Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) (just this morning)

That’s four Dems total.  And on the clown car side, that makes ten total (and we haven’t included Bush, Walker, Trump, Jindel or Christie)!

Religious Bigots Use First Amendment Protections To Spew Hate…. Again

Another crazed anti-Muslim right winger — this one in Phoenix — is planning to hold a ‘Draw Muhammad’ Contest right in front of the Islamic Community Center.

The organizer of the event, Jon Ritzheimer, has held two protests in Phoenix since the Texas shootings. The chants and slogans at the protests are brash and hateful. Some supporters wear t-shirts that state, “(expletive) Islam.” Ritzheimer says he is using provocative methods to draw attention to a religion he believes at its core promotes violence.

“I want this to be about pushing out the truth about Islam,” said Jon Ritzheimer. “I’ve read the Koran three times… [Sure he has. – ed.] the ones flying the planes into the tower, those are Muslims following the book as it is written.”

A Facebook page dedicated to the event titled “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II” states: “This will be a PEACEFUL protest in front of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix AZ… Everyone is encouraged to bring American flags and any message that you would like to send to the known acquaintances of the 2 gunmen.”

What this article at KPNX doesn’t mention is that Ritzheimer is actually leading a gang of bikers to stage this protest — and they intend to bring guns.

Ritzheimer anticipates possible problems because of the rally and says people should bring their guns.

“People are also encouraged to utilize (their) second amendment right at this event just (in case) our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack,” the event’s Facebook page says.

Bikers will be there too, according to the post.

600 protester/biker/haters are expected in can properly be called a perfect storm of islamophobia, gun culture, and assholes.

To give you an idea of what kind of person Ritzheimer is, here’s a picture he proudly posted of himself at his Facebook page:

jerk

Geller: Blaming Me For Texas Shooting Is Like Blaming A Woman For Her Own Rape

Bill O’Reilly says he would have done it “another way”.  But that’s not the worst of it.

Greta Van Susteren — also on Fox — editorialized against Geller:

Van Susteren said that while the group has the right to exercise free speech, they should not have knowingly endangered police officers by doing do.

“It is one thing for someone to stand up for the First Amendment and put his own you-know-what on the line. But here, those insisting they were defending the First Amendment were knowingly putting others’ lives on the line,” she said. “Everyone knew this event would unglue some who might become violent and the police had no choice but to do their jobs and be there to protect against violence.”

“Was it fair to the police, to knowingly put them at risk by this unnecessary provocation?” Van Susteren asked. “I say no.”

The Mayor of Garland, Texas says Pam Geller’s anti-Islam event “invited” the attack:

Mayor Douglas Athas told the Dallas Morning News that he wished anti-Islam activist and conspiracy theorist Pam Geller had taken her business elsewhere.

“Certainly in hindsight, we as a community would be better off if she hadn’t [held it in Garland],” Athas told the newspaper.

“Her actions put my police officers, my citizens and others at risk. Her program invited an incendiary reaction,” he said, according to the paper.

Geller had a harsh response to this:

Geller — who previously compared what she called her defense of free speech to civil rights icon Rosa Parks going to the front of the bus — equated Athas’ remarks with rape victim-blaming.

“How ridiculous,” Geller told BBC Radio. “I mean, that’s like saying that the pretty girl was responsible for her own rape. The mayor is going after the defenders of free speech and clearly giving a free pass to the savages who came with guns to kill innocent people because of a cartoon.”

“It’s ridiculous in its face,” she added. “Shame on the mayor.”

The rape analogy initially has merit until you, like, think about it.

For one thing, a pretty girl — let’s even put her in a short skirt going about her own business — is doing just that: she’s going about her own business.  That is not a provocation to be raped.  By comparison, Geller was putting on a “draw Muhammad” exhibit specifically directed at Muslim extremists.

Geller knew she was risking the appearance of violence, and we know that because she hired extra security for the event.  By comparison, pretty girls in short skirts going about their business don’t routinely hire security to accompany them (nor should they) because they know they are not doing anything that should be consider provocative, dangerous, or risky.

I agree with Geller that she is not “responsible” for the shooting.  I agree that the fault lies with the shooters.  That goes without saying.  When it comes to legal culpability, the only guilty party is the terrorists.

But that should not be the end of the inquiry.  Very little in life can be reduced to such black-or-white thinking.

If the Westboro Baptist Church people storm a funeral with their “God Hates Fags” signs, and one of them gets punched out by a funeral-goer, the funeral-goer has committed assault.  But yes, the Westboro Baptist Church person was being provocative.  He/she was seeking the result that occurred, or at least daring a response.

Same with, say, a pro-choice doctor who decides to perform an abortion on the steps of the Vatican.  Free speech?  Sure.  Being a dick?  You bet.

Geller’s organization that put on the event, Stop Islamization of America, is recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center has a hate group.,

And unlike some people on the right, I find it VERY easy to support free speech while simultaneously condemning the speech that is being said.  Geller bears some responsibility for her blatent, NON-INNOCENT provocation.

And not for nothing, but the event really wasn’t about free speech.  Geller, after all, wants to censure Al Jazeera in American.  Her guest speaker at the event, Geert Walders, wants to ban the Koran in his country.

But even if we concede that the exhibit in Texas was “free speech”, the more accurate phrase — the one used in First Amendment law — is “incitement”.  And just like yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater, incitement is not protected as free speech.  It is a borderline call, but Geller’s exhibit is incitement, or very close to it.  It is incitement targeted to a specific group. And that is what distinguishes the Texas event from a pretty girl wearing a short skirt just going about her business in a short skirt.

Let me put it another way:  you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with Jim.

How Abhorrent Is Pam Geller?

Want a good measurement of the toxicity level of Pamela Geller, whose American Freedom Defense Initiative worked so hard for so long to attract the sort of violence that struck its Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Texas on Sunday? Two survivors of theCharlie Hebdo murders went on Charlie Rose’s show to make it clear they want nothing to do with Geller (per a report from Mediate‘s Matt Wilstein):

“To be honest, I can imagine the kind of comparison you can make between theCharlie Hebdo attack of January 7 and this event, but there is nothing to do [with one another], there is no comparison, absolutely no comparison,” Jean-Baptiste Thoret said in a clip of a longer interview set to air tonight.

While he described the group that put on the event in Texas as part of an “anti-Islamic movement” against the “Islamization of the U.S.,” Thoret said the motives ofCharlie Hebdo are “absolutely not the same.” For the magazine, he said it “was a question of criticizing” all religions, not Muslim people “in particular.”

“We don’t organize contests, we just do our work,” Gerard Biard added. “We comment on the news. When Muhammad [pops up] in the news, we draw Muhammad. But if he didn’t, we didn’t — we don’t.”

How far off the reservation is Pam Geller?  She’s on another planet.  The Hebdo rejection is like MLK saying about Rosa Parks, “Uuuuuuuh…. that girl is nuts!”

Extremists Attack Extremists

So this happened yesterday evening:

A cartoon contest featuring controversial images of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed turned deadly Sunday night when two men pulled up in a car and opened fire. Police returned fire, killing both men after one wounded a security guard.

None of the approximately 200 people attending the event were hurt.

A federal law enforcement source told CNN’s Susan Candiotti that one of the two men was a Phoenix resident who was convicted in 2011 of a terror-related charge. Elton Simpson is thought to have sent a tweet before the attack that read, in part, “May Allah accept us as mujahideen,” the source said. It bore the hashtag, #texasattack.”

This morning, the news is reporting that one of the attackers has been identified, and sure enough, he was arrested and convicted of a terror-related charge in 2011.

Now, I shouldn’t have to say this, but apparently stupid people think that unless you give a full-throated condemnation of the terrorists, you are siding with them.  So let me be clear: I condemn the attack.  I condemn the terrorism.

But yes, there is more to discuss beyond that.  And that is the event itself.  Many people are asking this:

Yes, it is a legitimate question.  And before we answer, let’s keep in mind one thing:

The keynote speaker at the event in Garland was right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was placed on an al Qaeda hit list. It was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative — considered an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

Geller and the AFDI are not First Amendment crusaders, seeing as how they have called for the “surveillance of mosques and regular inspections of mosques in the U.S.” (clearly violating the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment).  They are a hate group.

So basically, we have one hate group attacking another hate group. Don’t fall for the lie that this is about the First Amendment.  Many on the right are lining up to praise the anti-Mohammed cartoon contest and its organizers (including bigot Pam Geller).  I cannot condone that.  Pam Geller is a cancerous presence in the US political conversation; same with her pal Geert Wilders, the flamboyant and parodic far-right, racist Dutch parliamentarian she brought for her Muhammed cartoon event down in Texas. Political violence is the greatest corrosive of free and ordered societies. But a hate group is a hate group the day after someone takes a shot at them just like it was the day before.

The Bizarre Story Of The U.S. Military Takeover of Texas

Look, if I wrote about nothing but crazy right wing conspiracies, I would be writing all the time.

But this crazy right wing conspiracy is unique — the state of Texas is taking it seriously.  Here we go, from the Associated Press:

Jade Helm 15AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15” amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover.

imrsThe request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said “conspiracy theorists” and “fear mongers” had been in a frenzy.

Pape thanked Abbott for the letter to the Texas State Guard, which he believed helped emphasize the benefit of the military training rather than further fuel theorists.

“It’s a sad when people’s greatest fear is their own government,” Pape said. “Think about the ramification of that. If Americans go to sleep at night worrying whether their own government is going to sell them out before morning, it’d be hard to sleep.”

Suspicions about Jade Helm intensified on some conservative websites and social media after a map labeled Texas, Utah and parts of California as “hostile” for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July. Such war simulations aren’t unusual, though the Army has acknowledged that the size and scope of Jade Helm makes it unique.

Texas and six other states are hosting the exercises on public and private lands. The Army says the terrain and topography in the areas selected are ideal to replicate foreign combat zones.

No other governor had so publicly addressed the training exercise.

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria told the crowd in Bastrop on Monday that the exercise will involve 1,200 soldiers and all four branches of the military, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He said people with a “personal agenda” about the exercise had been spreading misinformation.

Lastoria spoke for two hours, but some left the meeting still unconvinced.

Pape told The Associated Press that some came from as far as Houston and Dallas to attend the meeting. He said the county could reap as much as $150,000 in economic activity from the exercise, which in Bastrop is set to include 60 soldiers, two Humvees and a helicopter.

Bastrop County is home to Camp Swift, the largest base for the Texas National Guard, and Pape said most people likely won’t even notice.

“There’s been a lot of dust thrown in the air, a lot of haze,” Pape said. “Those who wanted to raise concerns on the one hand succeeded. They’ve raised a lot of attention about this. But the fact is the message is clear: Jade Helm is a well-designed and a well-constructed training operation.”

Now, it’s the first paragraph that makes this story peculiar.  The governor of Texas is taking this story as if it is actually something that might happen, rather than a stupid conspiracy theory.  And he’s not alone:

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) posted a video to YouTube on Thursday applauding Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for ordering the State Guard to monitor the upcoming military training exercise that will be taking place in Texas and six other western states.

The exercise, known as “Jade Helm 15,” has sparked multiple conspiracy theories, including one that speculates the military will use shuttered Wal-Mart stores to stage its takeover of western states.

During the video, titled “Jade Helm: A Military Takeover?”, the former congressman speculated about why Abbott had ordered this monitoring.

“You know it sounds like he’s sort of sympathizing with people who have great concern about federal takeovers,” Ron Paul said. “And, we don’t know what his personal position is but at least legally he’s saying that he’s gonna send the guard in and sort of watch over what the feds will be doing this summer you know in this so called ‘training.'”

Even the current presidential nominee, RAND Paul said he would “look into it”.

It all stems from misunderstanding of some leaked military documents, which I insert below:

Jade Helm Martial Law WW3 Prep Document 1 by All News Pipeline

Do the really believe that the United States government is going to “take over” Texas, or are they just appeasing the crazies in their party?

Assuming the latter, Paul Weldman writes:

Every politician encounters nutballs from time to time, and it isn’t always easy to figure out how to respond to them. But what’s remarkable about this is that we aren’t talking about an offhand remark Abbott made, or an occasion in which a constituent went on a rant to him and he nodded along to be friendly instead of saying, “You, sir, are out of your mind.” This is an official action the governor is taking. He’s mobilizing state resources, at taxpayer expense, because of a bizarre conspiracy theory that has some of Texas’s more colorful citizens in its grip.

It’s really hard to keep people from believing outlandish things. But you don’t have to indulge them. And that’s what so many Republicans do with the crazies on their side: They indulge them. Doing so doesn’t reassure them or calm them down, it only convinces them that they were right all along and encourages them to believe the next crazy thing they hear.

I guess I should assume the latter as well.  I mean, nobody rises to be governor of Texas if they are the type to believe conspiracy theories about the federal government declaring martial law via Walmart, right?  Right?

Twenty Years Ago Today

Carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, causing at least an estimated $652 million worth of damage. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

 

Trouble Brewing In Them Thar Hills

There is a dispute regarding property rights to gold mine in Oregon between the owners and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

If only we had a mechanism to resolve land disputes in this country.

Oh yes.  The court system.

But the allure of an armed conflict with federal agents has still proved irresistible to self-styled militia members who have flocked to Oregon to stir up trouble.  At issue is a disagreement over how to interpret records of the mines’ ownership:

(BLM spokesman) Jim Whittington said it boils down to there being two different types of rights to the land: mining rights and surface rights. He said the two men involved in the dispute own the mining rights to the land, but not the surface rights. The BLM’s records, Whittington said, show that the surface rights at the Sugar Pine Mine were ceded to the agency in 1961 by the party that owned the claim at that time. He said the BLM in March served the Sugar Pine Mine with two letters saying as much.

Co-owners Rick Barclay and George Backes have argued, however, that they still possess the surface rights on the Sugar Pine Mine claim. Barclay said Thursday night on local television station KDRV that the BLM had served him with a “cease and desist letter” despite having showed him no proof that the agency retained the surface rights to his land.

“It’d be like somebody coming to your house saying ‘This is mine now. You got 14 days to take your house out and 30 days to take down your fences and everything you own,'” Barclay told the news station. “The average person’s going to say well, where’s your proof? I want my day in court before they destroy or force me to remove any of my property from my mine.”

Whittington said that the agency does not plan to take such drastic action.

“We’re not at all disputing that there’s a valid mining claim there,” he told TPM, adding that the dispute over who owns surface rights on the Sugar Pine Mine claim could be hashed out through what it likely to be a lengthy administrative appeal process.

Barclay, being suspicious of the federal agency, told KDRV that he’d enlisted the help of a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, a loose-knit national organization of current and former military and law enforcement officers who pledge to defend the Constitution against government overreach, to provide security on the property while he goes through the appeal process.

A call for volunteer personnel on the Josephine County Oath Keepers’ website quickly made the rounds this week among self-styled militia members on Facebook and YouTube:

Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Josephine County Oath Keepers, has been fielding phone calls from interested volunteers from all over the country. At least one activist was turned away from the property because he had outstanding issues with law enforcement, Emerick told TPM in a phone interview.

“I am aware that people are just literally getting in their cars,” she said. “However, we also know that some of those people are on sort of a list and are not going to be welcomed at the camp.”

Since both sides of the dispute are anticipating a lengthy administrative hearing — and these things can last months or ever years — the gun nuts might actually get bored and leave Oregon since there isn’t any actual action to shoot at.

But you never know.

Suicide Or Lynching?

Byrd, 54, enjoyed going to casinos every so often before he went missing, a family member toldlocal television station KMBC. He reportedly attended church regularly and held down various jobs, including work on an oil rig.

He also had a criminal history: Byrd did over 25 years in prison for the 1980 murder of Lucille Trimm, whom he killed during a robbery, according to the Clarion-Ledger. He was released on parole in 2006.

On March 8, Byrd’s family filed a missing person report with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department, and his disappearance was reported shortly after.

On Thursday at about 10:21 a.m., the body of a black man was discovered hanging from a treeabout a half mile Byrd’s residence. KMBC reported that the man had a bed sheet tied around his neck, and that his hands were untied.

To be continued…..

This Bundy Thing

The story of the Bundy ranch has slowly made its way into mainstream media circles.  It started out on the absolute fringes of the far right, then worked its way to Fox News.  And now, others are picking it up.

It's troubling, not so much for what is actually going on, but because it shows the absolute lack of morality of the right wing — yes, even the "reasonable" right wing, who caters to the fascist right.

For those not in the know, the story isn't complicated.  For 20 years the federal government has fined Cliven Bundy for grazing his cattle on protected federal land. And for 20 years Bundy has refused to pay. Last month this dance came to an end when the Bureau of Land Management sent Bundy a letter informing him that it intended to “impound his trespass cattle” that have been roaming on federal property. It closed off hundreds of thousands of acres, and earlier this month, moved to round up Bundy’s cows.

Protesters challenged the BLM, and Bundy’s son was arrested for “refusing to disperse” from the area in question. Bundy’s cause caught fire on right-wing blogs, egged on by Fox News and conservative outlets like the National Review, which have held the confiscation as a dangerous intrusion on private property rights, despite Bundy’s lawbreaking. Defending his decision, the rancher told one right-wing radio host that he’s ready to take drastic steps beyond refusing to pay:

I told you that I did the legal thing and the political thing and the media thing and it seems like it's down to “we the people” if we're going to get it done. You know the things like militias. You know, I haven't called no militia or anything like that, but hey, it looks like that's where we're at.

To that end, hundreds of people from outside Nevada—including “militia” armed with rifles and ammunition—have joined his protests, going as far as to set up camp and confront federal officials with brandished weapons. The federal government blinked, and the Bureau of Land Management announced an abrupt end to its cattle roundup, hoping to avoid violence and further confrontations.

This story amazes me. 

What we have here is, quite simply, a lawbreaker.  He's also one of the peope who can rightly be called a "taker" in Mitt Romney language — someone who literally lives off the federal government and contributes nothing.

Other ranchers pay their grzaing fees.  What makes Bundy special?

The notion that Fox News and others (Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul) would embrace this guy is scary. Right-wing media ought to be condemned for their role in fanning the flames of this standoff. After years of decrying Obama’s “lawlessness” and hyperventilating over faux scandals, it’s galling to watch conservatives applaudactual lawbreaking and violent threats to federal officials.

And to those who say there isn't racism on the right, does anyone think this would be happening if the ranchers were black?

Anyway, for the crazed nutjobs on the right (some of whom were wishing for a Waco, you can tell), this is only the beginning [AFTERTHOUGHT: I neglected to mention how these guys put women and children up front in the hopes that the U.S. federal government would shoot and kill them].  Let's hope that before they start bombing federal buildings, etc., Fox News and others realize that we are a nation of laws.  Some of which, yes, you might dislike.

Calling It Quits

Jimmy LaSalvia co-founded political action group GOProud to prove to America that the Republican Party is a safe home for gay conservatives. But he no longer believes his own arguments. On Monday, he announced on his blog that he could no longer take his own party’s refusal to stand up to bigotry: he was leaving the Republican Party and had registered as an Independent. “I am every bit as conservative as I’ve always been, but I just can’t bring myself to carry the Republican label any longer,” he wrote.

His condemnation of the GOP was even stronger when he explained his decision to TIME on Wednesday. The Republican brand, he says, is so tarnished that he no longer believes it is salvageable. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to pull the plug on the patient. It’s been brain-dead for a long, long time.”

He adds:

I spent my career working to create an atmosphere in the conservative movement where gay conservatives can be open and honest and live their lives and work within the conservative movement. I wanted it to be a place where straight conservatives could publicly support gay Americans and even eventually come to support civil marriage for gay couples.  I feel like I have accomplished that. I had hoped that would be enough to melt the anti-gay bigotry that runs through the ranks of some in the Republican Party. I’ve come to realize that it is not, and that the leadership of the party tolerates bigotry, not just antigay bigotry, but anti-Muslim, any people who are not like us it seems like, because they are afraid of losing that sliver of their base who are anti-gay. And the truth is they are turning off millions more Americans by kowtowing to a group that frankly is losing and who most Americans think are wrong.

I could have told him it wouldn’t make a difference.

White Mans’ Paradise Ruined By Gubmint Intervention

Sigh.  It's so hard to be a bigot these days:

BISMARK, N.D. – An order giving white supremacist Craig Cobb five days to come up with a plan for installing running water and a sewer outlet into his home in Leith expired Monday and it’s possible the house could be declared uninhabitable.

The order was written by the Custer District Health Unit’s environmental health practitioner Aaron Johnson, who said Cobb owns two other structures in town that possibly will be removed next month.

Johnson said Cobb was given time to show the health unit that he will have potable water in his home and a way to remove it to a sewer outlet and since he hasn’t, the home could be declared uninhabitable.

Cobb, a hate crimes fugitive, has said he buys bottled water from Wal-Mart for washing and Johnson said he believes he may be using an old outhouse on his property.

Johnson said he can issue an order declaring the home uninhabitable, or it's possible the matter could wind up in court, depending on advice from the unit's attorney.

"I don't know how the situation will progress, but the notice has expired and there is no extension," Johnson said.

Because of other complaints, Custer District started looking at vacant and nuisance properties in Leith before Cobb announced his plans to take over the community with other white supremacists and run the town's government.

The town was the scene of a protest Sunday, when some 350 people showed up to rally in support of Leith on the same day the commander of a national pro-white organization held a town hall meeting there.

Besides Cobb's home, Johnson said an abandoned creamery adjacent to Cobb's property, owned by Cobb, and a small house that Cobb is apparently selling to a Wisconsin man are in the process of being condemned.

Johnson said nine other Leith properties — some structures and some piles of junked cars and wood — are under similar abatement orders and the city plans to move toward removing all of them in mid-October.

Cobb did not respond for this story.

Moments Later….

Gun nut libertarian loads a gun within blocks of the White House and uploads the video on YouTube

 

Then…

Police searched the Northern Virginia home of activist Adam Kokesh Tuesday evening and took him into custody on a charge of being in possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms while also having a gun, authorities said.

Kokesh, a former Marine, was held overnight at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, charged with possession of schedule I or II drugs while in possession of a firearm, said Lt. Steve Elbert, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office.

That's how it's done.

Second Amendment Terrorism Is Here

Second Amendment supporters are suspected to have committed three terrorist acts this week on American soil – one against the group Mayors Against Gun Violence, another against Mayor Bloomberg, who is a staunch gun control advocate, and a third against President Obama.  All were sent similar suspicious letters, at least two contained powder, and at least one tested positive for the deadly poison Ricin.

The motivation for the attacks?  The Second Amendment:

CNN, citing a source with knowledge of the letters to Bloomberg and his gun-control group, said those letters include this:

“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die.”

NBC reports that the same gun-nut letter was sent to President Obama.

The text of the Obama letter was identical to the text in the other two letters, which warned that anyone who comes to the sender’s house will “get shot in the face” and vows to protect a constitutional and God-given right to bear arms.

The text also warned: “What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”

Is anybody really surprised that it came to this?

At least one of the letters is postmarked from Louisiana which remarkably has the distinction of being:

(1)  the state with the weakest gun safety laws in the nation

AND

(2)  the state with the highest gun violence rate in the nation.

Wow.  Go figure.

This Is What The Wingnut Rhetoric of Fox News Get Us

Expect to see more stories like this one:

 MONTEVIDEO, MINN. – The Black Snake Militia’s home base is the Rogers family trailer on the north end of town, where the group’s initials are spray-painted on a repurposed Farm Bureau sign and passerby are greeted by a handmade warning about the dangers of government tracking devices.

“We are not slaves,” the cardboard placard says.

The Rogerses say it’s merely a meeting place for a group of family, friends “and whoever wants to join” their self-made militia, which preaches against government intrusion into citizens’ lives.

But according to the FBI, the trailer was a storage site for potentially deadly explosives plotted for use in a terrorist attack against the police department in this western Minnesota town. The FBI arrested Buford “Bucky” Rogers here Friday after authorities seized a Romanian assault rifle and other guns, suspected pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails from the modest trailer where Rogers’ parents and younger brother live.

All Bucky Rogers is guilty of, his parents said Tuesday, is being outspoken about their group’s anti-government beliefs.

“He speaks his piece,” his father Jeffrey Rogers said. “And the government don’t like people that speak their piece.”

As to what Bucky Rogers, 24, said or did to trigger the raid remains unknown to his parents, and authorities aren’t saying yet.

Rogers, who is charged with a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, will make his next court appearance Wednesday afternoon before federal Magistrate Judge Jeanne Graham.

Montevideo Police Chief Adam Christopher said Rogers and his alleged activities came as no surprise.

“We’ve kind of known for several years about their feelings, and this is not something that just popped up overnight,” he said of the father and son, known for wearing camouflage “almost daily.” He added, “This was something that we’ve been watching very closely for some time.”

The raid took place Friday with the cooperation of local law enforcement he said, because “we had to act.” He declined to elaborate.

Although Bucky lived across town with his girlfriend and their baby son in a two-story house in a quiet neighborhood, he frequently stopped by his parents’ trailer to visit. He came over from work during Friday’s raid, where he was arrested.

Christopher said no search was performed at the home Bucky Rogers shares with his girlfriend because there was no probable cause to believe any weapons were there. The Rogers home in Big Bend, a small town of about 40 people northwest of the city, where they used to live was also searched, but nothing of interest was found.

Christopher couldn’t say he believed Rogers was capable of a terroristic act against Montevideo police or others. “I don’t know if I believe that or not,” he said. “Certainly they have the capabilities and had some feelings.”

Christopher said the family moved to the city from Big Bend in 2009. Since then, Bucky Rogers’ crimes have included garage burglaries that led to a felony conviction in Lac qui Parle County in 2011. Other offenses include gas theft, expired tabs, driving after suspension and possession of marijuana.

Despite the rap sheet, most of the police contacts with the Rogers’ family were cordial and respectful, “at least outwardly,” Christopher said.

Christopher said that contrary to reports by neighbors, Bucky Rogers and his family did not appear to be white supremacists.

“The last time I saw him he was walking around with a black guy,” he said. “I really don’t think it was a white supremacy thing. It was more of a militia-patriot type thing.

If the Rogers’ rundown trailer is a hub of terrorism, it didn’t appear that way as Bucky Rogers parents sat in the yard Tuesday, sharing a couple of cans of potato chips. A pair of pugs, one also named Bucky, the other CoCo, lounged in the sun while Margaret Rogers chatted on the phone.

Piece by piece, Jeffrey Rogers wrenched apart dust-dulled engine parts, hoping that by the end of the day the scrap metal would become gas money to visit Bucky in jail.

“The government’s railroading my kid, probably because of all the bombings and crap,” he said looking up from his work. “It’s just like the Boston one. All of us believe that’s false. A government deal.”

Jeffrey Rogers said all the guns seized belonged to him and were legally owned. As far as pipe bombs, there were “none that I know of.” He is a plumber by trade, and pipes may be lying around the area.

Rogers’ account contrasts with that of authorities, who described the explosives as sophisticated pipe bombs and others that are normally packed with nails and other types of shrapnel. Others found in the shed were considered unstable. A federal SWAT team that included bomb-demolition specialists removed the explosives and later detonated them, sources said.

Neighbor Leslie Sack heard the explosions, not long after he saw a team of a dozen SWAT members storm the house about lunchtime Friday. The raid was a surprise, he said.

“To me they seem like normal people,” he said of his neighbors who were steadfast in their views, but otherwise waved hello and didn’t cause trouble. “They’re quiet, they stay to themselves and you don’t see a lot of people over there, outside of when Bucky come over from time to time.”

Bucky’s mother, Margaret Rogers, maintained that they weren’t out to hurt people.

“We’re not the evil people they say we are.”

As for whether they thought they could be targeted next by federal authorities, Jeffrey Rogers just shrugged without looking up from his metal. Either way, he said, it only makes his beliefs more steadfast.

“The principles of the Black Snake Militia are just to get the word out of what the government’s doing,” he said. “To wake people up.”

Bucky also believed that the Affordable Care Act required radio frequency identification (RFID) chips to be installed in U.S. citizens.

Too Much KoolAid

There are, unfortunately, waaaay too many people who get all their information from Fox News.  And to the extent that the other media outlets and, let's face it, reality, conflict with Fox News, these rabid fans of disinformation just cover their ears and go "neener, neener, neener". 

Usually.

One guy in Florida decided that the best way to deal with non-Fox News reality was…. well, here's the news report:

David_KappheimA Lake Park man “obsessed with Fox News and the Republican party” is in jail today after he allegedly said that he felt he was going to have to kill his girlfriend because she was a “liberal.”

David A. Kappheim, 60, is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail without bail. He was arrested Tuesday and the arresting Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy placed Kappheim under a Baker Act. Kappheim is facing charges of domestic battery, aggravated assault and criminal mischief.

Kappheim’s 59-year-old girlfriend, whose name was withheld in the report, told the deputy a number of incidents happened with him before Tuesday.

On Saturday, Kappheim showed up at her friend’s house uninvited and “stark naked,” she said, according to the arrest report.

She said he tried strangling her the next day.

The couple lived together but she asked him to move out. On Tuesday, Kappheim asked to borrow her car so he could move his belongings out. The woman said she agreed but asked him to drive her to work first.

Throughout the ride, the woman said Kappheim drove “recklessly.” When she asked him not to kill her, he allegedly responded by laughing out loud. On Wednesday, she called the sheriff’s office for help.

When Kappheim was approached by the arresting deputy, he said “he was very conservative and (his girlfriend) was a liberal.” He also told the deputy that “he felt that he was going to have to kill her,” the report said.

Kappheim also admitted to trying to kill his girlfriend three times, the deputy said. When he was placed in handcuffs, he allegedly had a panic attack and kicked the sheriff’s car’s rear door so hard it was knocked out of its alignment.

While inside of the woman’s apartment, the deputy said he found documents that made him believe Kappheim is obsessed with Fox News and the Republican Party, and that he may be a danger to others.

Nice.

Racist Non-Reaction

Ok.  I'll say it.

Last weekend, there was a terrorist attack.  The shooter was white; the victims were Sikh.

There was, of course, a negative reaction — but now, a few days later, all seems to have normalized.

Thought experiment: Suppose the same thing had happened, except that the shooter was of Arab descent, and the victims were white?  Would reaction be muted by now?

I think not.

Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic asks the same question:

Hold the victims constant and give the perpetrator the last name Mohammed. Does anyone think for a moment that such an attack wouldn't still be the most discussed story at Fox News andNational Review? And at various network news shows and unaffiliated newspapers for that matter?

Instead Wade Michael Page was the gunman.

***

It ought to be self-evident that non-Muslims perpetrate terrorist attacks, and that a vanishingly small percentage of Muslims are terrorists, but those two truths aren't widely appreciated in America. That doesn't mean they won't reassert themselves, for terrorist attacks have always been with us; the tactic has never been exclusive to a single ideology for very long; and the power the state marshals against one sort of terrorist is sure to be first to hand when another sort strikes. 

Anxiety over this possibility was evident early in President Obama's term, when a Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism was roundly denounced by conservative bloggers, who know as well as anyone that you don't want to wind up in a class of people whose rights are determined by the Office of Legal Counsel. Spencer Ackerman just did a followup with that report's author. Whatever you think of the document, its warning against the possibility of a disgruntled military veteran perpetrating right-wing extremist violence seems vindicated by initial reports from Wisconsin.

***

[T]he American majority is naturally loath to focus its attention on a terrorist who looks, talks, and dresses as they do. It is particularly uncomfortable for those in the country who feel most reflexively safe when "an American" is beside them on a plane, instead of a bearded man with a turban. Watching Oak Creek, that subset of Americans was put in a position to realize that a day prior they'd have identified with the terrorist more than his victims. 

And so they quickly looked away.

Nope, No Right-Wing Extremists Here

A couple of years ago, The Department of Homeland Security released a report entitled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, the thrust of which was that the nation faces an internal threat from domestic terrorists with right-wing political ideology.

The right blogosphere howled, but, as I discussed here as well as here and here, they simply were casting a blind eye to the fact that political extremists on the right, incensed by Limbaugh and Beck and all, do commit atrocities against Americans.  Starting with Timothy McVeigh and going through the assassination of Dr. Tiller.

And now, this weekend, another one strikes.  Six senseless murders at a Sikh temple.  The suspect, who served in the U.S. Army, had many tattoos which indicated he had some kind of radical or white supremacist views.

Already, wingnut forces are gathering to assert, "Well, he couldn't be a Tea Party patriot.  A Tea Party patriot would know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim".

Uh, no.  No, they wouldn't.

But most right wing blogs, which covered the Colorado shootings breathlessly, haven't even mentioned the Milwaukee shootings yet.  Michelle Malkin's site, which used to rail against any accusations that right wing domestic terrorism exists, is completely silent on the subject.  It's as if it never happened.

But this hardly matters, really.  There will be further discussion on gun control, as there was in the aftermath of the Colorado shootings.

And nothing will be done.

UPDATE:

The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the man in this photo as Wade Page, the shooter. Page was apparently the lead singer of the skinhead band End Apathy.

Joe Scarborough Has Some Words For Palin and Beck

We get it, Sarah Palin. You’re not morally culpable for the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. All of us around the “Morning Joe” table agree, even if we were stunned that you would whine about yourself on Facebook as a shattered family prepared to bury their 9-year-old girl.

The same goes for you, Glenn Beck. You’ve attacked your political opponents with words designed to inspire hatred and mind-bending conspiracy theories from fans. Calling the president a racist, Marxist and fascist may be reprehensible, but it did not lead a mentally disturbed man to take a Glock to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s “Congress on Your Corner” event.

Good on ya, buddy. You weren’t personally responsible for the slaughter at the Safeway. Maybe you can put it on a poster at the next “Talkers” convention.

But before you and the pack of right-wing polemicists who make big bucks spewing rage on a daily basis congratulate yourselves for not being responsible for Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage, I recommend taking a deep breath. Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don’t connect in this case doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the possibility — or, as many fear, the inevitability — that someone else will soon draw the line between them.

Actually, someone already has. When you get a minute, Google “Byron Williams” and “Tides Foundation” to see just how thin a layer of ice Beck skates on every day.

Read the whole thing.

Is There Violent Rhetoric On Both Sides?

Look, let's get something clear.  This Jared creep didn't shoot Rep. Giffords and dozens of others because of something that Sarah Palin said, or because of some literature which placed a gun target over Gifford's district.  He did it because he was a nut job.  

I don't think any serious critic on the left is making that assertion that Palin is responsible for the shootings. Of course she's not.  But she is part of a larger trend where violent, if eliminationist rhetoric, is becoming exceptable in our daily political discourse.  And I think the left is perfectly reasonable in raising the subject, even if it may not explain the Tucson shootings.

The right's response is that "both sides do it", and they point to effigy burnings of Sarah Palin, etc.

Wrong, guys.  Here's the difference, as nailed by George Packer at the New Yorker:

[I]t won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Emphasis mine.  Now, is anybody suggesting that the rhetoric from the right, and the unique nature of it, caused Loughner to open fire in Tucson?  I repeat, no.

But violent rhetoric is the atmosphere in which the shootings took place, and, to paraphrase David Corn, "Republicans have institutionalized their side's craziness." This is the big difference between the two sides, and the right could really stand to engage in a wee bit of soul searching over this.  

Especially since it really IS the "right side" that seems to be engaging in the political violence.  Here's the tally from the last two-and-a-half years alone, curtesy of Dave Neiwert:

– July 2008A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how "liberals" are "destroying America," walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

– October 2008Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

– December 2008: A pair of "Patriot" movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted "to attack the political infrastructure" – threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

– December 2008In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear "dirty bomb" in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

– January 2009A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

– February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

– April 2009A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

– April 2009Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama's purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

– May 2009A "sovereign citizen" named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

– June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

– February 2010An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one "domestic terrorism" too.)

– March 2010Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

– March 2010An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

– May 2010A "sovereign citizen" from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

– May 2010A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

– May 2010Two "sovereign citizens" named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

– July 2010An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

– September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year–old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the "Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

What to make of this?  Are these people liberals, responding to liberal rhetoric?

Eliminationist Rhetoric

The right wing is very upset that the left is "using" the Tucson shootings to point out the violent rhetoric of the right, and how it leads deranged people to do just what Jared Lee Loughner did. "It's not fair" cries the right.

And I say "rubbish".  What we have here is an attempted assassination of a politician by an insane crank at a political event, in a state where the political discourse has been an unrelenting howl of eliminationist rhetoric and characterization of anyone to the left of Genghis Khan as a traitor and enemy of the state…and now, when six (including a nine year old girl) lie dead and another fourteen are wounded, now suddenly we're concerned that it is rude and politicizing a tragedy to point out that the right wing has produced a toxic atmosphere that pollutes our politics with hatred and the rhetoric of violence? 

It was a political shooting. And here are some more political thoughts:

If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the web with crosshairs on 20 pols, then 1 of them got shot, where would he be sitting right now? Just asking. – Michael Moore

A physician cannot treat an illness s/he willfully refuses to diagnose. Violent political rhetoric is not fault of "both sides." – Tom Tomorrow

Inspiring that our media pundits are so quick to reach for "everyone's to blame" when no conservative events have been terrorized by gunmen. – Jeffrey Feldman

Weird: rightwingers say movies, video games affect behavior — but real world violent rhetoric from leaders & radio talkers have NO impact! – Tom Tomorrow

Jared Lougnner: drug arrests, too crazy for Army or for college or anything else, but getting a legal gun? No problem. – Tom Tomorrow

I find it abhorrent that Sarah Palin would stoke the coals of extremism with dangerous messaging, then delete it when something bad happens. – Jason Pollock

Sure, Sarah Palin didn't pull the trigger. But then, neither did Charles Manson. – auntbeast

Christina Taylor Green was Born on September 11, 2001, and killed today by terrorist fuckheads in Arizona. Irony much? – geeksofdoom

Sarah Palin rummages online frantically erasing her rabble-rousing Tweets like a Stalinist trimming non-persons out of photos. – Roger Ebert

I'll say this, if your first instinct after hearing about a tragedy is to scrub yr websites, you have a problem as a political movement. – digby56

CNN's Dana Bash says "this could be a wake-up call." THIS … ? The whole Tea Party, carrying guns to rallies WASN'T?? – hololio2

Teaparty asses have been asking for this to happen, and how they're pissed off that we're calling them out on it. – TLW3

And Krugman is very good on this:

It’s important to be clear here about the nature of our sickness. It’s not a general lack of “civility,” the favorite term of pundits who want to wish away fundamental policy disagreements. Politeness may be a virtue, but there’s a big difference between bad manners and calls, explicit or implicit, for violence; insults aren’t the same as incitement.

The point is that there’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary.

And it’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.

Yes