Monday Reads: The Midterms are coming

Not in here Magats per “The Bank Street Bar”

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I usually go down to the Quarter to see the Krewe of Boo this time of year.  I had grades to do and there were some unwelcome visitors there this weekend. I can’t take any more of the Magats so I stayed home.

We got a visit from the hate group “Proud Boys” who seemed to stage a deliberate breakdown of their vehicle in front of Jackson Square so they could set up a really offensive float called “The Trump Bridge.”  Of course, they did not have the appropriate paperwork, even selling those terrible red Magat hats illegally from the truck bed. All activities were without licenses so quite illegal. The NOPD watched them but did nothing.

With the exception of a few lone bars that I really didn’t know existed down there anyway, they were refused service and forced to drink in the streets.  All in all, the entire city did a great job of ignoring them.

Several “watchers” from progressive groups spent time documenting and following them in the hopes of catching any of their usual hateful antics.  We do have a local chapter of them and recently, a Plaquemines Parish Deputy Sheriff lost his job for his association with them

The Proud Boys say they’re not a hate group and that they’re not a part of the alt-right, the catch-all euphemism for various groups of Nazis, white nationalists and white supremacists. The founder of the Proud Boys criticized the eruption of violence in Charlottesville, but a prominent member of that organization had organized the “Unite the Right” rally and later tweeted that “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the founder of the Proud Boys says he expelled the writer of that tweet from his group “once his racist views became known.” To hear that founder tell it, the Proud Boys is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of Western chauvinists who part ways with the alt-right on “the JQ,” that is, “the Jewish question.”

In its website’s HateWatch feature, the SPLC notes that the founder of the Proud Boys “denies any connection between his group and the far right, dismissing the fact that they show up to the same events, take fashion cues from each other, read the same books, sympathize with each other’s viewpoints — including, at times, anti-Semitism — and joust in the shadows of the same windmills.”

Green, the Plaquemines deputy, scrubbed his Facebook feed of his Proud Boys posts, but not before they’d been screen shot and sent to his employer.  His Facebook profile described him as “Deputy Sheriff, Father, Proud Boy.” His profile photo showed him in his law enforcement uniform with the words “The West Is The Best” superimposed on the picture.

Also in his Facebook feed, there had been posted a video in which Green appears to recite the Proud Boys oath, “I’m Brian Green and I’m a proud western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.”

There is nothing positive about chauvinism of any kind. Furthermore, it’s safe to say that nobody reciting the Proud Boys oath had anything to do with the creation of this modern world.  That oath makes as much sense as me refusing to apologize for having created blues music, jazz and rock-and-roll when all those things were here when I was born.

I do have a few reports from friends that I will put up here just so you have some first hand accounts as well as they pictures and videos taken.   I’m going to leave their names off because I don’t want to accidentally dox them to the wrong people.

So can we talk about the fact that the NOLA Proudboys (an SPLC-recognized violent white supremacist hate group) managed to have the “Trump Unity Bridge” (basically a giant mobile hate-campaign) ‘break down’ conveniently right in front of Jackson Square before the Krewe of Boo parade this evening– a halloween parade largely attended by families and kids. The police didn’t even tow that junk off of Decatur, and instead let them set up shop right along the parade route where they (illegally) sold MAGA hats to the crowd, yelled racial slurs at kids and passers by, threatened a few people who took their picture, tried to provoke violence, paraded around in blackface masks, oh and I’m told finally punched a woman and beat somebody with a flagpole shortly after I left. If you find that state of affairs as disappointing as I do, please call or write the Mayor’s office and tell her that you expect better in the so-called “city of yes” . . . that oughtn’t to mean ‘yes’ to every kind of white supremacist intimidation and depravity, especially anywhere that children are concerned. 504-658-4900, mayor@nola.gov

Here’s the link to the SPLC site that gives you more information about them.

As you know, a number of them were arrested in New York for a brawl which is basically what they always go looking for.

The founder of the far-right group the Proud Boys said on Friday that he was arranging the surrender of several members whom the police are seeking in connection with a violent brawl outside a Republican club in Manhattan last weekend.

At the same time, a senior official said the police had opened a broad criminal inquiry into the group’s activities.

Gavin McInnes, 48, a polemical far-right speaker who started the Proud Boys in 2016, said several suspects would turn themselves in. By late Friday afternoon, two of the nine men sought by the police had been arrested. A police official said a lawyer representing at least four of the suspects had called the 19th Precinct on Friday to work out the details of their surrender.

Though it was unclear how many might face charges, Mr. McInnes said the rest would soon be in custody. “They are going to be in the Tombs,” he said.

The Proud Boys are a fraternal organization of so-called Western chauvinists that Mr. McInnes has sometimes referred to as a gang. The group has clashed with anarchists and left-wing protesters at political events across the country several times in recent years.

They fought with anti-fascist demonstrators on Oct. 12 shortly after Mr. McInnes gave a speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club, a bastion of establishment conservatism on the Upper East Side.

There’s some national news about the midterms and other things we should discuss.  This headline is startling.  From Time: “Trump Plans to Tear Up a 31-Year-Old Nuclear Weapons Treaty. Now What?”.

President Donald Trump revealed Saturday the United States intends to withdraw from a 31-year-old nuclear weapons agreement with Russia, delivering a severe blow to the arms control regime that helped preserve peace since the Cold War.

“We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Trump told reporters after a rally in Elko, Nevada, without indicating what the next steps might be.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, first signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987, was the first and only nuclear arms control agreement that ever eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. The treaty forced the superpowers to scrap more than 2,600 missiles with ranges 310 to 3,420 miles — weapons considered destabilizing to the European continent because of their capability to launch a nuclear strike from anywhere without early warning.

Gorbachev has called the move ‘Not the Work of a Great Mind’.

President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia drew sharp criticism Sunday from one of the men who signed it, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who called the decision reckless and not the work of “a great mind.”

In making his announcement Saturday, Mr. Trump cited Russian violations of the pact, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in Washington in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev.

Mr. Gorbachev, who is now 87 years old, cast Mr. Trump’s decision as a threat to peace.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Mr. Gorbachev called Mr. Trump’s rollback of the disarmament agreement “very strange.” He added: “Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?”

The last Soviet leader, who is perceived more warmly in the West than inside Russia, has already watched his domestic reform agendas supporting democracy and greater freedom of the press unravel in recent years. Nuclear disarmament also defined his legacy.

Eric Levitz opines this for New York Magazine today: Tribalism Isn’t Our Democracy’s Main Problem. The Conservative Movement Is.

In the middle of the 20th century, America was home to liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. The most important fault-lines in Congress weren’t partisan but regional; on many issues, southern Democrats and western Republicans united in battle against northern (and typically, liberal and/or labor-aligned) members of their respective caucuses. On economics, the two parties’ agendas were distinct, but far less disparate than they are today. On civil rights and immigration, the divisions within each side of the aisle were more important than those between them.

This utter dearth of partisan polarization undermined democratic accountability. A liberal could vote for Democratic candidates in New York, and unwittingly empower arch-segregationists in the Senate; many voters had no clear heuristic telling them which party would best represent their interests and ideological goals, nor which one was to blame for Congress’s failure to advance such aims.

In response, the American Political Science Association (APSA) released a report in 1950 that called on Republicans and Democrats to heighten their contradictions, arguing that “popular government in a nation of 150 million people requires political parties which provide the electorate with a proper range of choices between alternatives of action.”

Sixty-eight years later, we’ve done just as the APSA advised.

Today’s party system offers voters a wide — and clearly labeled — range of alternatives. While myriad policy debates remain stifled by bipartisan consensus (the proper size and role of the U.S. military, for example), it is nevertheless the case that Democrats and Republicans now provide the electorate with stark choices on health care, taxation, social spending, immigration, racial justice, abortion, environmental regulation, labor rights, and myriad other issues. It has rarely, if ever, been more clear what — and whom — each party in the U.S. stands for.

And rarely, if ever, has “popular government” been a worse misnomer for what transpires in our nation’s state and federal capitals.

In 2018, polarization still looms large in the discourse on our democracy’s failings. But these days, it’s seen less as an elixir than a cancer. In fact, some pundits and political scientists regard it as the root of all the Trump era’s evils. In this new telling, our republic may be suffering from a variety of disfiguring illnesses, but all trace back to the damage that hyperpartisanship did to its immune system: Our president may be a kleptocratic conspiracy theorist who oozes contempt for America’s highest ideals (and ignorance of high-school civics) — but only because conservative voters came to despise the Democratic Party more than they loathe self-proclaimed pussy-grabbers. Congress might be barely able to fund its own paychecks, let alone find consensus solutions to policy challenges — but voters only tolerate such gridlock because they’ve come to see compromise as a synonym for their side’s defeat. And Americans might be losing confidence in public institutions, the integrity of their nation’s elections, and the value of democracy itself — but this is largely because so many of them have decided that one of their nation’s two political parties poses an existential threat to their bedrock ideals.

I was happy to see Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pull ahead in the polls.  Evidently, the group of old white fogies at The Villages fear him.  Being an old fogie myself, I wonder why they hate their Medicare and Social Security so much, but then, I don’t think in terms of black people taking things away from me.  I think in terms of Republicans doing that.

President Donald Trump’s loyalists here at Florida’s premier retirement community fear Andrew Gillum.

It has nothing to do with his race, they insist, when asked about the 39-year-old Democrat who could become the state’s first African-American governor. Instead, The Villages’ deeply conservative residents are convinced a Gillum victory would trigger an era of high crime, higher taxes and moral failing.

“He’ll kill everything that’s good about Florida,” says Talmadge Strickland, a 66-year-old retired firefighter wearing a “Trump 2020″ baseball cap at a rally for Gillum’s opponent. “He will hurt us; he will physically hurt us with his socialist mentality.”

In an era defined by deep political partisanship, there’s perhaps no state where the divide runs deeper than Florida, which is in the grip of a fierce culture clash over guns, race, climate change and the president. Gillum sits at the center of the melee, his campaign a proxy for the larger fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s GOP.

Gillum’s fate is inexorably linked to fellow Democrats whose success could determine control of Congress. That’s especially true for three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who could benefit from Gillum’s appeal among young voters and minorities.

As early voting begins in Florida this week, that link is tenuous.

“New voters and infrequent voters are everything to us winning,” Gillum told The Associated Press when asked about his impact on Nelson’s race. “I think they will vote for both of us, and that will be to his benefit.”

Young people and minorities are traditionally among the least reliable voters, particularly in midterm elections. Meanwhile, white voters in place like The Villages are lining up behind his opponent, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.

The electorate in Florida this year is especially unpredictable due to an unusual collision of events: a massive hurricane, the nation’s deadliest high school shooting and Gillum’s historic candidacy.

Those of us that have had anything to hear from or do with a Trump voter know exactly how angry and ugly they are.  But, be prepared for ads from the RNC that basically say that Dems are the angry mob. We may be angry, but our protests are hardly mob like and Greg Sargent of WAPO’s Plum line explains why we’re angry right back at them.

President Trump and Republicans have adopted a closing electoral strategy that depicts the Democratic Party and “angry” leftist protests against Trumpian rule as the only real reigning threat to our country’s civic fabric and the rule of law. A new Republican National Committee video juxtaposes footage of leading mainstream Democratic figures with that of angry protesters, while decrying “the left” as an “unhinged mob.”

As absurd as this conflation is on its face, it has smuggled itself into the mainstream debate, where it is getting a quasi-respectful hearing, in the form of a public argument over whether Democrats are “going low,” or tacitly egging on their voters to violence, or, by adopting the smashmouth media tactics of Michael Avenatti, succumbing to “Avenatti-ism.”

But much of the resulting debate over all this is hollow, because it is not putting these basic realities front and center: Trump, more than any leading U.S. figure in recent memory, has actively tried to stoke civil conflict on as many fronts as possible. He has concertedly subverted the rule of law, not just to shield himself from accountability, but, more to the point for present purposes, with the deliberate purpose of exciting his minority base — and enraging millions on the other side of the cultural divide — in a manner that is thoroughly corrupt to its core.

Here in New Orleans we like our food, our parades, our holidays, and our music.  Most of us like our beer and bongs and whatever libations that goes along with watching the Saints or celebrating 300 years here.  Yet, every time we have one of those celebrations we get angry white people doing disrespectful things.  We get Westborough Baptist during our Southern Decadence celebration of the GLBT community here.  We get big ol’ sign carrying christians telling us that we’re all about as sinful as you can get during Carnivale.  Now, we get the Proud Boys and their ugly little float during Mardi Gras and our annual celebration of Halloween.  None of them are loving of people or fun.  They are here to buzz saw any one that isn’t like them.

We used to have to endure them during small little windows of time, but now, they assault us daily on all forms of media and in every walk of life. I get weary of all that resentment, hate, and privilege rattling.

Why do they come here to piss on other people’s celebrations?  Why do they have to have laws that cause other people to live their lives according to some other person’s idea of how life needs to be.

We have a few more weeks of these awful rallies and the even worse pictures and words of these poor excuses for human beings.  I’m not sure where the 20 million voters that never show up are, but please, please, please, get rid of these Ugly Americans. Get them back under their rocks and out of our lives and sight.

I want to go back to a January article by Rebbecca Solnit at the Literary Hub. ” 20 MILLION MISSING PEOPLE COULD SAVE AMERICA. ON LIFE IN THE DARK TIMELINE, AND THE MORAL CAUSE OF OUR MOMENT”.

But who is missing? It’s not only the women directors, the black screenwriters, the not-so-misogynist lead journalists in the mainstream.

It’s voters.

Voting is a form of speech, a way you say who you believe in, what kind of world you want to see. Having a voice doesn’t just mean literally being able to say things; it means having a role, having agency, being able to say things that have an impact whether it’s I witnessed this police brutality, or no I don’t want to have sex with you, or this is my vision of society.

As far as I can estimate, about 20 million voters were disenfranchised in the last election. Voter ID laws, the cross-check system, purging voter rolls, the undermining of the Voting Rights Act, making sure there were not enough polling stations or cutting back polling hours, harassing people when they showed up at those stations, taking the vote away from ex-felons—the means are many, and the consequences are that a lot of people have been denied their rights, so much so that it’s the other new Jim Crow. (There is no clear tally of how many voters are missing, and it’s also complicated by the fact that some populations—more than six million Americans with felony convictions, for example—are prevented outright from voting, some face obstacles and harassment—via voter ID laws, for example—that thin out their numbers.)

Politics is how we tell the stories we live by, how we decide if we value the health and well-being of children or not, the autonomy of women’s bodies and equality of our lives, or not, if we protect the Dreamers who came here as small children, or not, if we act on climate change, or not. Voting is far from the only way, but is a key way we decide on what story to base our actions on. We choose a story about who and what matters; we act on that story to rearrange the world around it—and then there are tax cuts to billionaires and children kicked off healthcare, or there are climate agreements and millions of acres of federal land protected and support for universities. We live inside what, during postmodernism’s heyday, we’d call master narratives—so there’s always a question of who’s telling the story, who is in charge of the narrative, and what happens if that changes.

Sometimes when journalists like Ari Berman at Mother Jones—the best voice on this issue—write about the suppression of the votes, people assume they’re saying Hillary Clinton should have won the last presidential election. If you changed who had access to the ballot in 2016, that might be the outcome, but the story is so much bigger than that, and the potential outcomes are so much more radical than that. The Republican Party has maintained a toehold on national power by systematically, strategically, increasingly suppressing the votes of people of color over decades. They are a minority party. They could never win a fair election nationally with their current platform of white grievance and misogyny and favors for the one percent, so they’ve set about to have unfair elections. (And they have also gerrymandered the daylights out of a lot of states to hang onto majorities at the state and national level; in 2012, they took the majority of seats in the lower house of Congress with a minority of overall votes.)

Imagine that those 20 million votes were not suppressed. The Republican Party would be defunct or be unrecognizably different from what it is today. But the Democratic Party would be different too. Imagine that the Democratic Party had to answer to more young people, more poor people, more nonwhite people, more people who believe in strengthening human rights and social service safety nets, economic justice, stronger action on climate change. Imagine a country where Democrats weren’t competing for moderate-to-conservative voters because the electorate was far more progressive—as it would be if all those people who lost their voting rights actually had them (and yeah, more younger people showed up). It wouldn’t change something as small as the outcome of the 2016 election. It would mean different political parties with different platforms and different candidates, different news coverage, different outcomes. It would change the story. It would change who gets to tell the story.

By voting, we can remove the tyranny of the shrinking minority before they completely set the game up so that we never can.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: I Don’t Belong in This World

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Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin today. Following the news these days is like going through the looking glass into an alternate reality.

So often in my life I’ve felt that I don’t belong in this world. I have that feeling today. There are so many people and events that I just don’t understand.

I’ll begin with yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments in an important case about affirmative action. Yesterday in a comment, Dakinikat posted this article from Mother Jones: Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at “Slower” Colleges.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional. The University of Texas-Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25 percent of its freshman class. About 75 percent of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what’s known as the Top Ten Percent program, in which any student graduating within the top 10 percent of his or her class is guaranteed admission, regardless of race. The other 25 percent are admitted via a “holistic” process that takes race, and other factors, into account. It’s the “holistic” program that Abigail Fisher—who was denied admission for the university in 2008—is challenging.

The University of Texas has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25 percent would be almost entirely white. During the oral arguments, former US Solicitor General Greg Garre, who is representing the university, was explaining this to the justices. At that point, Scalia jumped in, questioning whether increasing the number of African Americans at the flagship university in Austin was in the black students’ best interests. He said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

Boys-reading-in-the-snow-007

This morning some writers are claiming that Scalia’s comments weren’t racist because he was referring to studies by respected researchers and not expressing his personal opinion.

Alex Griswold at Mediaite: Media Jumps The Gun, Attacks Scalia For Perfectly Reasonable Question.

First of all, it’s worth noting that oral arguments are not an avenue for justices to share their views on the case at hand; it’s an opportunity to suss out any holes in the arguments of both parties. To that end, justices often advance arguments and theories they do not necessarily hold….

As it happens, Scalia was pretty accuratelyciting a brief filed by two members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. They point to a study showing that black scientists are much more likely to have graduated from historically black colleges, even though those schools are less academically stringent than elite universities:

With only twenty percent of total black enrollment, these schools were producing forty percent of the black students graduating with natural science degrees, according to the National Science Foundation. Those same students were frequently going on to earn Ph.D.s from non-HBCUs. The National Science Foundation reported, for example, that thirty-six percent of the blacks who earned an engineering doctorate between 1986 and 1988 received their undergraduate degree from an HBCU.

Why have HBCUs been so successful? [The authors] believed that unlike at mainstream institutions, African-American students at HBCUs were not grouped at the bottom of the class. Roughly half were in the top half of the class.

Scalia isn’t citing some crackpot theory that only these two civil rights officers are worried about, by the way. The“mismatch effect” is a pretty common critique of affirmative action in academia that’s based on pretty hard data. The most prominent book on the subject wasn’t written by cranks, it was written by UCLA and Stanford law professors.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

OK, but Scalia did express a personal opinion at the end of his remarks. Furthermore, these studies apparently do not address the issue of whether diversity in the student bodies and faculty at “elite” universities is a good thing for the college experience and for society as a whole.

James Warren also defended Scalia’s remarks at Poynter: Media muddle: Was Scalia being racist?

And then there’s the question of why so many Americans love their guns more than life itself–or at least the lives of their children and fellow citizens. Many of these people are the same ones who are constantly claiming they are “pro-life.” Someone please explain to me why this makes any sense.

The Christian Science Monitor: Why are gun rights activists planning a fake mass shooting?

Two gun rights groups in Texas have planned a mock mass shooting event on Saturday in order to raise awareness about their view of the relationship between gun rights and mass shooting casualties. They believe that by increasing open carry rights, mass shootings can be reduced or even prevented.

Gun control advocates have been vocal about their desire to enact new restrictions on ownership of certain kinds of guns in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif., in less than a week. The groups hosting the mock shooting event say that it will demonstrate how the intervention of responsible gun owners can reduce the number of lives lost in a mass shooting scenario.

The two groups, Come and Take it Texas and Dontcomply.com, had originally planned to hold their event at the University of Texas but later moved the event off campus after meeting with university officials.

Sorry, but I have no clue how this exercise could relate to an actual mass shooting event.

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And what about the phenomenon of Donald Trump? Why does he think it’s useful to fan the flames of racism, nativism, and Islamophobia and in the process increasing the visibility of hate groups and encouraging violent attacks on minority groups in the U.S.?

Politico: White supremacist groups see Trump bump.

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers to najlepszy hosting. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

As hate group monitors at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League warn that Trump’s rhetoric is conducive to anti-Muslim violence, white nationalist leaders are capitalizing on his candidacy to invigorate and expand their movement.

“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Are Trump’s statements actually likely to energize hateful individuals to resort to violence?

According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump’s call on Monday to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words.” said Mark Potok of the SPLC. “Is it energizing the groups? Yeah. They’re thrilled.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said Trump’s proposal this week to halt the entrance of Muslims into the United States is only the latest statement to inject vigor into the racist fringe of American politics. “Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we’ve definitely seen that a segment of the white supremacist movement, from racist intellectuals to neo-Nazis have been energized,” she said.

Check out this piece by Steve Benen: Trump spokesperson: ‘So what? They’re Muslim.’

Katrina Pierson, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign, argued this morning on CNN that her boss’ proposed Muslim ban has merit because “never in United States history have we allowed insurgents to come across these borders.” Reminded that Trump’s policy would block lots of peaceful people who have nothing to do with violence, the spokesperson was unmoved.
“So what?” Pierson replied. “They’re Muslim.”
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How are voters responding to Trump’s hate speech against Muslims?
As for public opinion, it’s too soon to gauge polling reactions, but we already have a sense of Republican voters’ general attitudes on the subject.
Public Policy Polling published results yesterday on GOP voters’ attitudes in North Carolina. Among the findings:
* 48% of North Carolina Republicans endorse the idea of a national database of Muslims.
* 42% of North Carolina Republicans believed thousands of Middle Easterners cheered in New Jersey on 9/11.
* 35% of North Carolina Republicans support shutting down American mosques.
* 32% of North Carolina Republicans believe practicing Islam in the United States should be illegal.

WinterTan

We are certainly seeing plenty of attacks on Muslims around the country. On Tuesday I posted a story about someone leaving a pig’s head at a mosque in Philadelphia. Today, I saw this on Raw Story: Texans begin nightly smashing windows of Muslim family only six weeks after they move in.

A Muslim family in Plano, Texas fear that they may have been targeted with a hate crime after rocks smashed through their windows at least two times in the last week.

The family told KTVT that they moved to Plano six weeks ago, and that they believe that the people throwing the rocks may be sending a message about their religion.

Windows in the home have been smashed twice in the last two days. At their request, the names of the family members were not being released.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesperson Alia Salem explained to KTVT that there had been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent weeks.

“Right now, we’re getting multiple hate crime reports every single day,” Salem said.

Why? This is not the America I want to live in. I’d rather escape into a book, but somehow I feel compelled to stay aware of what is happening.

What stories are you following today?


Dana Millbank: The Family Research Council is “A Mainstream Conservative Think Tank.”

If Tony Perkins is “mainstream,” we’re all in deep trouble

In his latest column, Dana Millbank takes the Village journalists’ “both sides do it” routine to such irrational extremes that he loses all credibility.

Human Rights Campaign [HRC], the nation’s largest gay rights organization, posted an alert on its blog Tuesday: “Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group’s Annual Conference.”

The “hate group” that the Republicans’ vice presidential candidate would be addressing? The Family Research Council [FRC], a mainstream conservative think tank founded by James Dobson and run for many years by Gary Bauer.

The day after the gay rights group’s alert went out, 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins II walked into the Family Research Council’s Washington headquarters and, according to an FBI affidavit, proclaimed words to the effect of “I don’t like your politics” — and shot the security guard. Corkins, who had recently volunteered at a gay community center, was carrying a 9mm handgun, a box of ammunition and a backpack full of Chick-fil-A — the company whose president recently spoke out against gay marriage.

Mercifully, the gunman was restrained, and nobody was killed.

Apparently Millbank made the logical leap of assigning cause and effect to two unrelated events that are close in time. Corkins must have read the HRC website and rush out to shoot someone. Or maybe Corkins was browsing the internet and came across the Southern Poverty Law Center website where the FRC is listed as a hate group.
Millbank says

Human Rights Campaign isn’t responsible for the shooting. Neither should the organization that deemed the FRC a “hate group,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, be blamed for a madman’s act. But both are reckless in labeling as a “hate group” a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia.

I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church. The center says the FRC “often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.” Exhibit A in its dossier is a quote by an FRC official from 1999 (!) saying that “gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”

Millbank seems to believe that the FRC is “mainstream” because it has been headed by Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer, and with his exclamation point after “1999” he seems to be implying that there is some kind of statute of limitations on hate speech.

I can’t follow his reasoning at all. He’s twisting himself into a pretzel in order to defend an organization that clearly works overtime to drum up hate, not only against the LGBT community, but also against women and anyone involved in providing family planning or abortion. Perkins has even argued against anti-bullying policies in schools, claiming they are part of the “homosexual agenda” to “redefine families.”

Millbank even quotes the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to support his arguments!

The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, is right to say that the attack “is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end.”

Here’s a little background on the NOM from Mother Jones:

Spokespeople for the National Organization for Marriage, such as Rev. William Owens, who exaggerated his civil rights background to justify his opposition to same sex marriage, have compared homosexuality to bestiality and child abuse. NOM’s man in Maryland, Bishop Harry Jackson, has compared gay rights groups to Nazis whose actions recall “the times of Hitler.” Most of NOM’s more high-profile spokespersons are more careful with their words, but beyond rhetoric, NOM has argued that gay judges should be barred from ruling on LGBT rights issues and embraced junk science to argue that gays and lesbians make worse parents.

I guess “Pro-marriage” is like “pro-life”–supporting certain kinds of marriage like the anti-abortion crown supports only fetal life.

Millbank may not want to actually blame the SPLC for the shooting, but Tony Perkins didn’t hesitate to do so.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins accused the Southern Poverty Law Center — a civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry — of providing “license” for a man to shoot a security guard in the arm on Wednesday.

“Floyd Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins declared during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. “I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held responsible that is leading to intimidation of what the FBI has characterized as domestic terrorism.” Corkins has since been charged for assault with a deadly weapon and could soon face federal charges. The guard, Leo Johnson, is in stable condition.

Asked by reporters why he thought the shooter was motivated by his distate for the group rather than mental incapacity, Perkins quipped, “How many unhinged individuals walk around with 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches?”

So does that make the FRC responsible for the murders of abortion doctors like George Tiller?

Here are just a few examples of statements from the FRC on gays and lesbians. You can go to the links to read more.

Mother Jones: What the Right Gets Wrong about the FRC Shooting.

Perkins’ Family Research Council has practically cornered the market on anti-gay junk science. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s classification of the FRC as a hate group stems from FRC’s more than decade-long insistence that gay people are more likely to molest children. Spokespeople for the FRC have said that homosexual sex should be outlawed, and Perkins himself has said as recently as 2010 that “the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children.” Research from non-ideological outfits is actually firm in concluding the opposite. Some of the FRC’s more outrageous “studies,” such as the 1999 paper claiming that “one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order,” have been scrubbed from the group’s website, but the FRC has not disavowed their contents.

Anti-gay quotes from the FRC compiled by Mathew Shepard Online Resources.

Gays are like a gun to the head of America

“That’s what we’re talking about whenever you’re talking about gay rights. You’re talking about giving somebody a gun to put at the head of anybody who disagrees with them, whether it’s the Boy Scouts, whether it’s a local dry-cleaning establishment or a giant corporation like Shell Oil.” – Robert Knight, http://www.frc.org/net/st96d2.html

Gays oppose monogamy

“one thing that has been interesting to me is the gay literature has come right out and said we can’t keep monogamy in our definition of marriage. We may have a significant relationship we’ll call marriage, but things like monogamy and fidelity, faithfulness, and lifetime kind of till-death-do-us-part commitments are a little unrealistic. So we want it to be marriage, but we don’t want it to be monogamous.” – Kristi Hamrick , http://www.frc.org/net/st96d2.html

Gay parents lead to prison, voyeurism

“I know a guy who has just entered jail, tragically, because he grew up in a lesbian household. He still loves his mother and doesn’t really blame her, but he said, ‘You know, as a boy in a lesbian environment where it was intensely anti-male’ — that’s all he heard, this bitterness toward men — he said that he felt totally disenfranchised, began having sexual problems. He eventually became a voyeur, and he is in on a peeping Tom charge. He was so curious about how normal people have sex. We have other people that are cases like this.” – Robert Knight, http://www.frc.org/net/st96d2.html

See also this “Refresher on Tony Perkins’ Anti-Gay Hits.”

The SPLC posted a response to Perkins on its website, calling the FRC claims “outrageous.”

Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.

As the SPLC made clear at the time and in hundreds of subsequent statements and press interviews, we criticize the FRC for claiming, in Perkins’ words, that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” — an utter falsehood, as every relevant scientific authority has stated. An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” The same official advocated the criminalizing of homosexuality.

Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.

The Family Research Council is an extreme right wing organization. Dana Millbank should hang his head in shame. Perkins is trying to make his group look like the victim of bigotry instead of the proponent of it, and Millbank is working overtime to help him do it.


Politically Convenient Terrorism

Early into the Tucson massacre, I wrote a post called White Terrorist Apologia. It was based on a statement from a

Click on this picture to go to a short discussion on skinheads. Read the apologia for skinheads there in the comments. Comments like " skin heads have there place in our society" and "Great topic to write about but unfortunately, they pose no real threat to the Country as a whole! "

reader of Juan Cole’s Informed Comment that “pointed out that if a Muslim organization had put out a poster with American politicians in the cross-hairs, and one had gotten shot, there would have been hell to pay”.   We had a recent terrorist threat in Spokane with pics just shown  in the Seattle Weekly as a “sophisticated and deadly” bomb deposited along a MLK celebratory parade route.  Then,  we got the silence of the lambs.  My guess is that napsack was deposited by the Washington State Hate Group “The American Front Skinheads’ or some such spin off.  They’ve done stuff like that before. Here’s a refresher for those of you that don’t remember the early 1990s around the Ruby Ridge Incident and Waco.

In this context, the FBI recorded four incidents of right-wing terrorism between 1990 and April 1996 (when The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996(1)AEDPA” was signed into law), including two July 1993 bombings in Washington state, by the American Front Skinheads–one of a gay bar in Seattle and the other of the NAACP headquarters in Tacoma. More generally, from 1989 through 1991, the Justice Department reported that the number of bombing incidents in the United States increased from 1208 to 2499; none were acts of Arab terrorism. In 1993, there were forty-three deaths and over three hundred injuries due to bombings not tied to international terrorist groups.

EmptyWheel picked up on the quiet too and noted that Some Terrorism Scares Are More Useful Than Other Terrorism Scares.  Marcy discusses not only how we don’t screech about acts of terrorism most likely committed by right wing groups but that right wing blogs seem complicit in the silence.   She cites  David Neiwert and his running list of domestic terror attacks that she argues “demonstrates clearly that these are not isolated incidences”.  She also points out a very interesting headline at The Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘Has right-wing carping killed media coverage of major “domestic terrorism” case in Spokane’ by Will Bunch.

Which is why I can’t help but wonder if there’s a backstory here related to the past weeks coverage of the assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords, and the right-wing critique of some of that coverage. As you surely recall, the fact that a Democratic congresswoman was targeted in a state that has beeb a bastion of the Tea Party Movement and unrest over issues like illegal immigration provoked a number of articles about political rhetoric on the right — including the fact that Giffords had been mapped with crosshairs in the now famous political mailing by Sarah Palin’s PAC.

Does the pro-gun crowd disown these kinds of militias, own them, or just want them ignored by the MSM so as not to interfere with their spin that only leftist loonies threaten our government?  Marcy’s thoughts are pretty clear on the matter.

Because the press almost never covers these domestic terrorism incidents. And, just as importantly, our government doesn’t often (the biggest exception was the Hutaree bust) hold big press conferences to report on such events, partly is because most press conferences are about arrests, not unsolved crimes. Moreover, in spite of Neiwert’s and Bunch’s work, there is not one bogeyman, like al Qaeda, which the press can blame.

And without an easy and convenient bogeyman, terrorism scares don’t serve the same purpose for the press, or the government.

How much of this also has to do with the fact that we really have no real left in this country?  We actually have no actual liberals or socialists that really have a voice in media or a major following on the web.  All we have is ‘progressives’ and conservatives that aren’t interested in conserving anything but the wealth of the plutocracy.    As I pointed out in my January 8 post, even when the FBI and other law enforcement agencies point out these right wing militia groups, the right wing blogosphere and media turns it into an attack on gun rights and veterans. They deliberately miss the point.

This leads me to believe that we’re only subject to concern about terrorists when it’s politically convenient.  We can extrapolate terrorism out of building mosques but actually finding bombs along parade routes isn’t so interesting because it doesn’t play into the current political theatre.  The current political theatre is what’s cooking on the list of John Boehner and the like.  Right now, the list of acceptable terrorist threats include anything that might be linkable to  Mexican Drug Cartels, women wanting reproductive care, and Muslims. So, building a mosque is an act of terrorism.  Asking a pharmacist for drugs which stop uterine infections is an act of  terrorism.  Printing signs in both Spanish and English is an act of terrorism.  Actually leaving bombs on MLK day parade routes; not interesting.

We need to start calling a lot more people out on this.  It’s obvious that most Americans really don’t know what a long and violent history we have with these right wing militia groups.  Check out that running list and a similar one I posted on my January 8 thread.  These folks are violent, crazy, and well armed.  They are already in the country.  The press needs to do a better job of providing information on all threats to domestic security even when it doesn’t match with the narrative the right wing wants on gun ownership and anti-federal government memes.

Buried in our newspapers from yesterday:

Yesterday the AP reported an anonymous U.S. official saying it was the most “potentially destructive” device he’d ever seen.

“They haven’t seen anything like this in this country,” the official said. “This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.”A bit alarmist, perhaps. But no doubt that this thing exploding on a parade procession would have been horrific.

Oh, and think you’re someplace safe?

Police Seize ‘Large Amount’ Of Weapons From Blogger Who Praised Giffords Shooting: ‘1 Down And 534 To Go’

Police in Arlington, MA this week seized a “large amount” of weapons and ammunition from local businessman Travis Corcoran after he wrote a blog post threatening U.S. lawmakers in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). In a post on his blog (which has since been removed) titled “1 down and 534 to go” — 1 referring to Giffords and 534 referring to the rest of the House of Representatives and the Senate — Corcoran applauded the shooting of Giffords and justified the assassination of lawmakers because he argued the federal government has grown far beyond its constitutional limits. “It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot indiscriminately. Target only politicians and their staff and leave regular citizens alone,” he wrote in the post.

Oh, and this guy wasn’t a Muslim, wasn’t a Mexican, and wasn’t a woman wanting an abortion.  He  falls into the extreme libertarian anti-government category like his buddies described up top.  His tweets indicate he’s a fan of Senator Rand Paul.  What will the Drudge Report and the Tea Party say to defend his arsenal and his speech?  Just another white guy who loves parts of the first amendment and all of the second?

Update: Description of  Corcoran’s Politics from the ThinkProgress post.

Corcoran calls himself “an anarcho-capitalist” and while his blog has been taken down, based on his Twitter page, he appears to hold views similar to those of many in the anti-government libertarian wing of the conservative movement, like many tea party activists. Anarcho-capitalism is a radical subset of libertarianism, and is often referred to as “libertarian-anarchy.” For example, echoing calls from many on the right, Corcoran tweeted, “it is unconstitutional for the Feds to even run a department of education.”


Hate is NOT a family value!!!

I wanted to pass this link on from  WAPO because I think it’s got an important message in it today.  You cannot hide hate behind religion and expect people to remain silent.  We know who you are and we know what your agenda is.  You cannot hide behind a bible any more than slave owners and wife beaters can.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been an important voice in civil rights for a very long time  Today,  ” they labeled as “hate groups” several political and religious organizations that campaign against same-sex marriage and, the center says, engage in “repeated, groundless name-calling” against gays and lesbians.”
Good for them!!!

Included on the list released by the civil rights organization is the Family Research Council, a prominent and politically influential group of social conservatives. The report by the law center, which has spent four decades tracking extremist groups and hate speech, accuses the council and a dozen other groups of putting out “demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities.”

The report, which has sparked debate across the Internet, taps into the continuing potency of social issues, such as same-sex marriage, in American politics. Several of the groups described in the report supported a successful effort to oust state Supreme Court judges in Iowa because of a unanimous ruling last year that legalized same-sex unions.

The Family Research Council has been at the forefront of political activism against same-sex marriage. In explaining the decision to put the council on its hate-groups list, the law center highlighted comments by Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the council, who told MSNBC host Chris Matthews this year that he thinks “homosexual behavior” should be outlawed.

Council President Tony Perkins, who was also named in the report, called the hate-group designation a political attack by a “liberal organization.”

“The left’s smear campaign of conservatives is . . . being driven by the clear evidence that the American public is losing patience with their radical policy agenda as seen in the recent election and in the fact that every state . . . that has had the opportunity to defend the natural definition of marriage has done so,” Perkins said in a statement.

I cannot figure out why ‘marriage’ needs defending against anything.  Any institution that’s viable will stand the test of time and public support.  The defense of marriage is not more than a horrible campaign to exclude people that don’t meet specific physical criteria defend by a bunch of narrow minded bigots.

It’s about time we label them all what they are.  They are hate-groups.  Now, if we could only get CNN and other MSM outlets to start treating them like the KKK which is another organization that tries to define its insidious form of hatred behind religion too.