Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hutton Gibson Endorses Ron Paul

-- by Sara

Posted without further comment.

(Y'all know what we'd have to say about it -- no need to waste the pixels.)


Friday, December 28, 2007

Defending all things white

-- by Dave

We've observed previously the way Barack Obama's presidential candidacy is bringing out the worst in the racist-right crowd -- quite predictably, but nonetheless a disturbing trend.

We got a taste of how that's spreading into the mainstream this week from Steve Sailer's op-ed in the Washington Times -- an ugly attack on Obama for the white supporters he attracts. Along the way, he makes some claims and observations that tell us much more about Sailer and his editors than anything to do with Obama:
Whether pro or con, white Americans are simply more interested in blacks than in Latinos. And, over the decades, white sentiment has grown increasingly favorable. Indeed, Mr. Obama has a plausible shot at riding strong early showings in virtually all-white Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomination.

This is what's known impolitely as "blowing smoke out your ass." Sailer has no evidence or data to support his assertion that whites are more interested in blacks than Latinos -- though it seems Sailer considers it a problem that "white sentiment has grown increasingly favorable" toward blacks (a claim that is only true for a portion of the white population -- but almost certainly not Sailer and his ilk).

Moreover, it seems not to occur to Sailer that Obama might poll better than Bill Richardson largely because he's a more charismatic and compelling political figure, a fact that is only secondarily (at best) affected by his race.

But this piece is much more about the self-hating whites who would think of voting for Obama, in Sailer's view. To that end, he cites the execrable Shelby Steele, who loves to pretend that "racism is dead" and that white guilt is a much bigger problem:
Many whites assume that the mixed-race and Hawaiian-born Mr. Obama is, in Mr. Steele's words, "indifferent to the whole business of race and identity." According to Mr. Steele, the author of 1990s acclaimed "The Content of Our Character," they see voting for Mr. Obama as proving that they personally aren't guilty of racism.

Mr. Steele suggests that many whites hope electing Mr. Obama president will show blacks that white racism isn't what's holding them back anymore. Numerous white Democrats, I would add, view backing Mr. Obama as confirming their moral and cultural superiority over other whites (those redneck racists). Whites strive for status mostly against other whites, and conceive of minorities primarily as handy props in these intra-racial struggles.

Man, that cloud of smoke just reeks of ass throughout this piece. Neither Steele nor Sailer can present a single bit of real data or hard fact to substantiate these claims.

They don't have to; what they're about, after all, is just assuring their readership -- complacent and defensive white conservative males -- that their prejudices are right. And they do a great job of that.

That's clear as we read on:
While some whites envisage Mr. Obama as the Cure for White Guilt, blacks are in no hurry to grant the white race absolution for slavery and Jim Crow, since they benefit from compensatory programs like affirmative action.

Or maybe, just perhaps, they are in no hurry to grant whites absolution for slavery and Jim Crow because they haven't earned it: racism against African Americans, particularly in the form of persistent job discrimination and residential segregation, persists in this country to this day, and all the claims of the Shelby Steeles of the world can't eradicate that reality. Moreover, racism itself persists in broader forms, including today as its targets not just blacks but also Latinos, Arabs, and Asians.

But Sailer assumes instead, of course, that such "absolution" is denied purely out of venal black self-interest. How surprising.

Because this kind of rhetoric really has one purpose: painting a picture of "white privilege" under siege both from without and within. That white "multiculturalists" are helping to bring about a racial apocalypse that will destroy "white culture" itself.

It's part of what's fueling the increasing backlash against minority gains in America, the product of fears about the decline of white privilege whipped up by such "mainstream" figures as Patrick Buchanan as well as Bill O'Reilly and other cable-TV talkers.

Sailer, of course, is an old hand at this kind of garbage, which really is just wink-and-nudge race-baiting. You may recall his piece calling Obama a "wigger".

As I noted awhile back:
This resurgent racism likes to cloak itself in the pretense of rebellious individualism standing up to the oppression of overbearing "political correctness," or else in academic-sounding terms that fling about misinformation regarding the sciences and sociology to construct a pseudo-rationale for what they euphemistically like to call "race realism."

But pull the cloak aside, and the same old, decrepit racism of a century ago is there, festering like a decaying zombie who refuses to die.

And as the summer goes on, and the presidential campaign picks up steam, and Obama solidifies his already formidable position as a front runner ... well, expect to see a lot more of those zombies crawling the streets of our public discourse.

Here they come.

Back from break

-- by Dave

I'm a little slow putting this up, but I hope everyone got a look at my post last night at Firedoglake, "Home for the Culture Wars":
A lot of people have found the traditional holidays in recent years increasingly uncomfortable events, especially as the Culture Wars have heated up. The corrosive politics of eliminationism practiced by the right has turned more than a few holiday gatherings into occasions for political brawls and rancorous familial splits.

I've been fortunate in that regard; both my parents, though former Goldwater Republicans, have become dyed-in-the-wool Democrats in recent years, mainly because they have seen firsthand how badly conservative rule screws things up. But many of their relatives and longtime friends and neighbors, of course, are not. Dad stays in touch with many of them via e-mail, which means that he gets a lot of right-wing crap. And like a lot of people, he takes much of it at face value without really thinking about it.

Which means that I had a conversation with my Dad this Christmas similar to ones I bet a lot of other people had at home for the holidays with their parents and relatives. You know: the one about Barack Obama being a Muslim who refuses to salute the flag.

Hope you enjoy.

And while I'm at it, be sure to check out Jon Swift's compilation of the year's best posts, provided by the bloggers themselves.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ron Paul's Friends -- in Black and White


Bill White at the 2005 Toledo rally
Photo by Isis


-- by Sara

Well, don't say we didn't warn you about Ron Paul's friends.

Here's American National Socialist Workers Party leader Bill White, coming out big for Paul on the far-right Vanguard News Network site on December 20:
Comrades:

I have kept quiet about the Ron Paul campaign for a while, because I didn't see any need to say anything that would cause any trouble. However, reading the latest release from his campaign spokesman, I am compelled to tell the truth about Ron Paul's extensive involvement in white nationalism.

Both Congressman Paul and his aides regularly meet with members of the Stormfront set, American Renaissance, the Institute for Historic Review, and others at the Tara Thai restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, usually on Wednesdays. This is part of a dinner that was originally organized by Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and Joe Sobran, and has since been mostly taken over by the Council of Conservative Citizens.

I have attended these dinners, seen Paul and his aides there, and been invited to his offices in Washington to discuss policy.

For his spokesman to call white racialism a "small ideology" and claim white activists are "wasting their money" trying to influence Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.

I don't know that it is necessarily good for Paul to "expose" this. However, he really is someone with extensive ties to white nationalism and for him to deny that in the belief he will be more respectable by denying it is outrageous -- and I hate seeing people in the press who denounce racialism merely because they think it is not fashionable.

Bill White, Commander
American National Socialist Workers Party
Obviously, this isn't what Paul's supporters want to hear. (The reactions from the VNN commentors ranged from "Some one ban this piece of shit for the no outing rule" to "I know alot of white supremacist involved in the Ron Paul campaign. I wish he would not shun away from his true supporters. I will stick with him till the ened but he shouldn't act like a typical politiician" to "This motherfucker needs a special bullet." Yes, the unique spelling is all their very own; follow the link above and read the threads for more holiday joy in this vein.) While White is hardly the most reliable reporter on any subject, his testament to Paul's racist credentials does tend to corroborate what Dave and I have been telling you all along: Paul's got longstanding connections to the looniest loonies on the loony right. You may not be able to hear the dog-whistle code in his speeches, but they sure as hell hear it loud and clear.

We've also been telling you that it's not just that Paul shows up for their events: he also takes their money. There's an old saying in politics that ya gotta dance with them what brung ya -- and guys like Bill White are the ones that brung Paul to Congress in the first place. On December 19, the day before White's helpful VNN endoresment, the AP caught Paul in mid-tango, this time with Stormfront.org founder Don Black:
Paul keeps donation from white supremacist
Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received a $500 campaign donation from a white supremacist, and the Texas congressman doesn't plan to return it, an aide said Wednesday.

Don Black, of West Palm Beach, recently made the donation, according to campaign filings. He runs a Web site called Stormfront with the motto, "White Pride World Wide." The site welcomes postings to the "Stormfront White Nationalist Community."

"Dr. Paul stands for freedom, peace, prosperity and inalienable rights. If someone with small ideologies happens to contribute money to Ron, thinking he can influence Ron in any way, he's wasted his money," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said. "Ron is going to take the money and try to spread the message of freedom."

"And that's $500 less that this guy has to do whatever it is that he does," Benton added.

Black said he supports Paul's stance on ending the war in Iraq, securing U.S. borders and his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"We know that he's not a white nationalist. He says he isn't and we believe him, but on the issues, there's only one choice," Black said Wednesday. "We like his stand on tight borders and opposition to a police state," Black told The Palm Beach Post earlier.

On his Web site, Black says he has been involved in "the White patriot movement for 30 years."
Evidently, when it comes to Paul's status as a white nationalist, Mr. Black and Mr. White need to get their stories straight. But anyone on the left who continues to deny that Paul has maintained long, significant, and productive relationships with racists and anti-democratic "patriots" is, at this point, living in a denial zone worthy of Donald Rumsfeld.

An update, courtesy of Brad DeLong, for the benefit of visiting commenters who are even now tuning up for another chorus of "It's not like he's a racist or anything...":

Home for the Culture Wars

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

The picture that launched a million e-mails
A lot of people have found the traditional holidays in recent years increasingly uncomfortable events, especially as the Culture Wars have heated up. The corrosive politics of eliminationism practiced by the right has turned more than a few holiday gatherings into occasions for political brawls and rancorous familial splits.

I’ve been fortunate in that regard; both my parents, though former Goldwater Republicans, have become dyed-in-the-wool Democrats in recent years, mainly because they have seen firsthand how badly conservative rule screws things up. But many of their relatives and longtime friends and neighbors, of course, are not. Dad stays in touch with many of them via e-mail, which means that he gets a lot of right-wing crap. And like a lot of people, he takes much of it at face value without really thinking about it.

Which means that I had a conversation with my Dad this Christmas similar to ones I bet a lot of other people had at home for the holidays with their parents and relatives. You know: the one about Barack Obama being a Muslim who refuses to salute the flag.

It went something like this:

Dad: "Who do you support among the Democratic candidates?"

Me: "Not sure yet. I like Dodd a lot, and I’m warming to Edwards."

"What about Obama?"

"I’d gladly vote for him in the general. I’m not sure he’s the right guy at this time."

"Well, I sure as hell won’t."

"Why not?"

"I’m not sure he’s who he says he is about his religion. And he won’t salute the flag."

[... A brief stunned silence.]

"Well, I don’t know about him saluting the flag. But I know for a fact that the nonsense about him secretly being Muslim is pure horseshit. It’s been completely debunked."

"Well, I have some e-mails that show him standing there, not saluting while everyone else on the stage is saying the Pledge of Allegiance."

"Dad. Think about it. How many times have those mass-forwarded e-mails proven to be complete bullshit?"

He agrees. I promise him I’ll look into the salute thing and find out what the story is.

Sure enough, it was pretty easy to find the source of the rumors: an e-mail forward that included the photo you see at the top of the post. Note, however, that it doesn’t specify what activity was taking place — the assumption is that they’re saying the Pledge. But they’re not.

As Obama explained:
"This was not during the pledge of allegiance," Obama said of the picture taken at Senator Tom Harkin’s, D-Iowa, annual steak fry and first published by Time. "A woman was singing the Star Spangled Banner when that picture was taken.

… "I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner, you sing!" Obama said.

… Obama called the circulation of such pictures a "dirty trick" and mentioned other emails accusing him of being "a Muslim plant."

"I have been pledging allegiance since I was a kid," Obama said.

Obama advised his supporters who receive such emails to ignore them.

"Just tell whoever sent it," Obama told the crowd, "they’re misinformed."
You’ll note, of course, that this was debunked back in early November — and we’re still hearing about it over our Christmas breakfasts. So Obama’s advice, sound as it was, clearly isn’t stoppingthis
crap from spreading.

That’s the evil genius of the e-mail forward: Its originators don’t have to give a shit about its being debunked (and you’ll note that in this case, the "debunking" sites like Snopes haven’t updated to include Obama’s very reasonable explanation, which means that a lot of people still believe it’s true he won’t salute the flag; after all, the Snopes site currently says the report is "true," even though it also has a shot of him saluting the flag).

But the smear merchants who use e-mail forwards don’t have to be accountable to anyone since they are, ultimately, quite anonymous. They can spread just about any lie they like as long as they can make it seem plausible enough. And once it starts spreading, it just takes on a life of its own.

Christopher Hayes at The Nation
explored the phenomenon of the e-mail forward a couple of months ago. It was an important piece, really, because it shed fresh light on one of the more unremarked, and yet more effective, components of the right-wing propaganda machine:
Such is the power of the right-wing smear forward, a vehicle for the dissemination of character assassination that has escaped the scrutiny directed at the Limbaughs and Coulters and O’Reillys but one that is as potent as it is invisible. In 2004 putative firsthand accounts of Kerry’s performance in Vietnam traveled through e-mail in right-wing circles, presaging the Swift Boat attacks. Last winter a forward began circulating accusing Barack Obama of being a secret Muslim schooled in a radical madrassa (about which more later). While the story was later fed through familiar right-wing megaphones, even making it onto Fox, it has continued to circulate via e-mail long after being definitively debunked by CNN. In other words, the few weeks the smear spent in the glare of the mainstream media was just a tiny portion of a long life cycle, most of which has been spent darting from inbox to inbox.

In that respect, the e-mail forward doesn’t fit into our existing model of the right-wing noise machine’s structure (hierarchical) or its approach (broadcast). It is, instead, organic and peer-to-peer. If the manufactured outrage over Kerry’s botched joke about George Bush’s study habits was the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster, the Gold Star Mother smear was like one of those goofy viral videos of a dog on a skateboard on YouTube. Of course, some of those videos end up with 25 million page views. And now that large media companies understand their potential, they’ve begun trying to create their own. Which prompts the obvious question: if a handful of millionaires and disgruntled Swift Boat Veterans were able to sabotage Kerry’s campaign in 2004, what kind of havoc could be wreaked in 2008 by a few political operatives armed with little more than Outlook and a talent for gossip?

The smear forward has its roots in two distinct forms of Internet-age communication. First, there’s the electronically disseminated urban legend ("Help find this missing child!"; "Bill Gates is going to pay people for every e-mail they send!"), which has been a staple of the Internet since the mid- ’90s. Then there’s the surreal genre of right-wing e-mail forwards. These range from creepy rage-filled quasi-fascist invocations ("The next time you see an adult talking…during the playing of the National Anthem–kick their ass") to treacly aphorisms of patriotic/religious uplift ("remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ…and the American Soldier").
Obama, as the piece explains in considerable detail, has been a special victim of the e-mail smear campaign, particularly in seeing the spread of the story that he attended a madrassa. Hayes explores the origins of that smear in some enlightening detail, and then observes:
Despite the fact that CNN and others have thoroughly debunked the smear, the original false accusation has clearly sunk into people’s consciousness. One Obama organizer told me recently that every day, while calling prospective voters, he gets at least one or two people who tell him they won’t be voting for Obama because he’s a Muslim. According to Google, "Barack Obama Muslim" is the third most-searched term for the Illinois senator. And an August CBS poll found that when voters were asked to give Obama’s religion, as many said Muslim as correctly answered Protestant.

Oh yeah. And the e-mail continues to circulate.
What’s even more remarkable, in my mind, is how the mainstream media have responded to this phenomenon. Rather than inquiring into how and why these false rumors continue to spread and to be believed, it appears that editors and reporters both are content to merely report on their continuing existence as though it were a fact of political life.

Certainly, that was the case when the Washington Post took up the subject, instead giving its readers just another round of rumor-mongering. Heaven forfend a reporter display any curiosity about why these rumors might be persisting. The fallout, of course, just led to another round of ass-covering, mostly by blaming bloggers for noticing their malfeasance.

There’s a reason to ask these questions, of course: These smears have real-life consequences. The flow of disinformation is inimical to a functioning democracy, which depends on a well-informed citizenry. Any reporter looking into why these rumors persist will encounter the world of the e-mail forward — a phenomenon that is long overdue for a proper media spotlight, especially in helping the reading public understand that these e-mails are almost always unadulterated horseshit.

And then there are the ramifications for Americans on the personal level. One of the truly evil aspects of the genius of the e-mail forward is its uniquely polarizing effect. Not only does the spread of false information create arguments and animosities over our holiday breakfasts, but in many of our other relationships, especially the many people — old friends and colleagues, relatives and acquaintances — with whom we share our e-mail addresses.

Because we all have received these e-mails. I know how I first responded to this crap: Not nicely. And I’m not apologizing for that, though I’ve learned since then that sometimes (especially with those close to us) it’s important to talk about it in a way that persuades rather than berates, though I’m probably justified using the latter.

But wherever these e-mails land, inevitably they create ill will and ruptured friendships. People get polarized and stop talking.

And I suspect that’s exactly what their authors intend, even more than just the spread of lies.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa's Sweatshop



-- by Sara

Fifty million American parents want to know: WTF?

All they wanted to do was buy their kids something fun for Christmas morning. All they asked of their government was to do some basic oversight so their kids wouldn't be, y'no, poisoned by their toys.

And, as we've come to expect from the feckless bastards that Rick Perlstein calls "E. Coli conservatives," all they got in return was a jolly ho ho ho -- followed, immediately, by a robust and cheery "Fuck you."

The finger-pointing party starts here. Have some organic hot buttered rum (a Robinson house specialty) and join in, fa-la-la: by now, you know the tune so well we can all sing this one together.

Blame the free trade fundamentalists. In the 1970s, according to a report by citizen.org, nearly 90% of all the toys sold in America were made in America, where American workers earned a wage that allowed them to buy American products' and American product safety inspectors could keep a close eye on things. Now, 90% of those toys are made abroad, most of them in places where workers earn 1/21,000th (no, that's not a typo -- one twenty-one thousandth) of what Mattel's CEO does, and nobody but nobody is responsible for keeping an eye on anything but the bottom line.

Blame those E. Coli conservatives, big time. These people take it as a matter of religious dogma that the "common good" -- the reason, according to the Constitution, that people institute governments in the first place -- does not exist. At all. And therefore, there's no reason for government to exist, either -- certainly not to protect people from criminal manufacturers whose products will cause permanent cognitive and behavioral problems in their children. (Just gives a whole new meaning to "dumbing down America," doesn't it?)

If we needed any proof that conservatism was, forever and always, a venal, inhuman, and deadly ideology, the way these Grinches stole Christmas 2007 from American families should close the case for good.

Blame, especially, Wal-Mart. What we are seeing here is the real cost of Wal-Mart's "Low Prices -- Always." You get what you pay for. And what we're getting this Christmas out of our deal with the Wal-Mart devil is exactly no more and no less than we've been willing to pay for -- and what we've allowed them to get away with in the name of ever-lower prices.

As far and away the biggest toy retailer in the country, Wal-Mart effectively sets the standards by which every toy company in the business operates. The deal is simple: If you want your toy in a Wal-Mart store, you do it Wal-Mart's way. And if you choose not to sell through Wal-Mart, you're out of business. So when Wal-Mart demands that American-based companies to take their operations overseas in order to shave a few cents per unit off the costs, well, that's what happens. America's toy production got offshored, in no small part, due to massive pressure exerted on manufacturers by this one company.

Blame the WTO, which nominally has rules in place that are supposed to enable countries to protect themselves against this kind of thing -- but, in practice, consistently fails to enforce them. According to a Public Citizen report released today, "specific trade agreement provisions...have promoted offshoring and set limits on import safety standards and inspection rates....WTO and NAFTA investor protections have eliminated the risks normally associated with relocating to a developing country while instituting a system where U.S. public interest policies can be and have been challenged in foreign tribunals as “barriers to trade"....U.S. policies [are] ruled against at the WTO more than 80 percent of the time.

Which means nobody's looking out for us there, either.

Blame Congress -- at least until they get their act together (which they seem to be doing, quickly) and pass stricter regulations that put an end to all this laissez-faire oh-who-cares-anyway and by the by did Hasbro send us their check this month? looking the other way. Your calls to all the usual Congressional and senatorial suspects will help make that happen faster and better.

And, as always, there's no getting away from blaming the overworked, overspent, overstressed elf in the mirror. We've taken too much on faith, and asked too few questions. We've trusted companies because we knew the brands from our own childhoods, or the licensing companies that lend their names to these products. (Uncle Walt wouldn't hurt us. Thomas the Tank Engine is our friend. Mattel is what we played with, so it must be OK. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.) We've allowed ourselves to sleep at night, knowing that this crap was bad for global warming, bad for the Chinese kids who will spend their lives working 80-hour weeks (no holidays, no vacations) in sweatshops at 36 cents an hour, bad for American workers and the American economy, bad for the landfill, and -- often enough -- bad for the family budget. And, now, it turns out they're even bad for the kids we think we're doing all of this for.

When the new laws are passed and the perpetrators have made their public atonement, this issue will blow over, things will get back to "normal." Which means we'll return once again to our consumerist torpor, having missed yet another opportunity to wake up -- I mean really wake up -- to the full extent of the matrix of global consequences we facilitate with every dollar we spend, every day of the year.

We can choose to accept this as the cost of living as we do -- or as a challenge to find a better, saner, more economical (in every sense of the word) way of being in the world. We're the Almighty American Consumers. What we want, we get. What we say goes. If we're looking for a truly heart-changing, life-changing, world-changing gift to give our children, using that clout to create new holiday traditions that better fit our values, our wallets, and our hopes for the next generation would be one great place to start.

What are you doing to make your Christmas safe, healthy, affordable, and sane?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Terror Train Bears Down

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]
 
Last week I tried to explain why Jane Harman’s "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" is a profoundly bad idea, one likely to skew and misdirect the fight against genuine terrorism into an ideological witchhunt that poisons our constitutional rights.

What I neglected to mention, unfortunately, is that this Orwellian bill is very much on the verge of becoming reality. It has already passed the House by a 400-6 vote, and now sits before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — chaired by that "Independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman.

I think we can all see where this is heading. Joe loves him those Muslim-bashers, and this bill is tailor-made for them.

Amy Goodman
raised the red flag about this bill the other day, and a point raised on her program by Kamau Franklin of the Center for Constitutional Rights really got to the heart of the problem with this bill:
KAMAU FRANKLIN: I just wanted to add to the Rand comment, particularly with Brian Michael Jenkins, supposed terrorist expert who’s mainly known according to Rand as someone who helped the United States in counter-insurgency measures in Vietnam, which is one of his claims to fame. In addition to that, he wrote a book and in his own book, I just want to quote that says “in their international campaign, the Jihadist will seek common ground with leftist, anti-American and anti-globalization forces who will in turn seek radical Islam comrades against a mutual foe.” So I think what Jessica’s talking about, is that, the breadth of it is not focused in on supposed terrorists who are threatening the United States, but folks who have real concerns about where this country is heading, folks who express dissent in various different ways including demonstrations and marches. These are the folks who this bill potentially good target.
This is also a powerful indicator of just how open to abuse this legislation will be. The reality of the radical Islam, both in ideology and practice, is such that it’s clear that any alliances it forms in this are almost certainly going to be on the side of the extreme American right and not its left.

It’s more than just the common ground of radical fundamentalism they share. It’s also manifested in what has actually occurred: David Duke and other far-right figures appearing at Holocaust-denial conferences sponsored by radical Islamic fundamentalists; outreach efforts among the far right, such as the Aryan Nations’ Ministry of Islamic Liaison; the ongoing theoretical work of David Myatt, the British ex-neo-Nazi who converted to Islam and frequently expounds on building bridges between the two factions; the ongoing shared rhetoric of hate.

George Michael’s book The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extremist Right does a thorough job of examining and documenting this reality. Meanwhile, the evidence of any similar convergence of militant Islam and the antiglobalist left is very thin if not nonexistent.

But under the antiterrorism regime created by Harman’s bill, all you need is for an "expert" (even if he has an ax to grind) to assert on the thinnest evidence that a convergence of radical Islam and antiglobalist, or just as likely, antiwar organizations exists, and the witchhunt will descend.

We should be at least alarmed if not outraged over the bill’s passage, and yet it has hardly raised a blip on our political radars. As Goodman observes:
AMY GOODMAN: Jessica Lee, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act was passed in the house 400-6. That is a very big margin.

JESSICA LEE: Correct. It was actually passed under what is called the “Suspension of the Rules”, which is a provision the House uses to pass bills very quickly and these are usually bills deemed uncontroversial and do not need more debate. So we saw a quick vote. Six people voted against. One was presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. He was unavailable for comment unfortunately. So what we’re seeing not only the Republican congress giving the Bush administration swath of powers to confront the war on terrorism, but we are also seeing the democratically-led congress also extending these powers.
At this point, the bill certainly looks to be a fait accompli. Perhaps, somewhere in the Senate, someone will find the courage to stand up and question what this bill does and where it is taking us.

It would take an act of unusual courage this year, because you can be certain anyone doing so would be accused of being "soft on terrorism" — and nothing sends politicians on both sides of the aisle scurrying faster than those dread words. And the Democrats voters put in power in 2006 have not exactly been profiles in courage so far, Chris Dodd notwithstanding.

Here are the Democratic members of the Senate Homeland Security committee:

Carl Levin, MI

Daniel Akaka, HI
Thomas Carper, DE
Mark Pryor, AR
Mary Landrieu, LA
Barack Obama, IL
Claire McCaskill, MO
Jon Tester, MT

Not exactly a promising list, I know. But it is what it is.

This bill is a runaway train loaded with nitroglycerin, and the wreckage it creates may be far worse than anyone anticipates. At this point, we may just want to prepare ourselves for the shock.

A brief break

-- by Dave

I'm off to Idaho for a week for the holidays and some skiing. Not likely to be in range of connectivity with any consistency, but I'll check in when I can and post if the situation warrants. I'd like to discuss Tom Tancredo's withdrawal (he obviously achieved what he set out to do, which was to draw the GOP narrative on immigration far to the right) but alas, the road beckons. Over the river and through the snow and all that.

Welcome back, Sara!

P.S. Be sure to check out my latest post for Firedoglake at 6 p.m. tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Liberal Fascism: A preview

-- by Dave

As I've mentioned, I'm still awaiting my copy of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, though the good folks at Sadly, No! have been kind enough to provide us with excerpts that are, em, enlightening, so to speak.

So far, it's clear that my early surmise of its contents are proving accurate. Take, for example, the book description from its Amazon page, presumably written by either Goldberg or his editor:
Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

Oh, really? They were ardent socialists?

Gosh, I guess that would explain why the first prisoners rounded up and sent to Dachau -- the first Nazi death camp -- were socialists and communists:
Dachau is one of the first concentration camps the Nazis establish. The first prisoners arrive two days later. They are mainly Communists and Socialists and other political opponents of the Nazi party. Dachau is the only camp to remain in operation from 1933 until 1945.

And they were treated so well there, too:
Officials of the Socialist and Communist parties are usually beaten on arrival, without having committed any specific offence. Prisoners are sentenced to corporal punishment for very small offences, such as uttering Communist slogans like "Rot Front" ("Red Front"). On August 18 twenty-five men who had arrived on the previous day received twenty-five and seventy-five blows each on their bared bodies for no apparent reason, while their Nazi guards amused themselves with a radio set.

Indeed, it was probably as dangerous to be a socialist in Nazi Germany as it was to be a Jew. Certainly, the liquidation of the Left in Germany served as an important predecessor to the Holocaust.

Actually, all Goldberg is doing here is dressing up in fancy new clothes and a spiffy cover one of the right's oldest, hoariest, and most clearly false canards -- namely, that fascists were socialists. I've discussed this in detail previously:
The other recurring myth is actually a great deal more popular -- namely, that because Mussolini was at one time an ardent socialist, and because Hitler's party called itself the National Socialists, then fascism itself was a form of socialism, and thus a left-wing phenomenon.

The reasons for its popularity are obvious: It's a convenient way of smearing the left for conservatives, as well as shedding their own well-established baggage from the far right. Rush Limbaugh repeats this claim regularly, as do a number of other right-wing commentators. You can find it expressed throughout a number of right-wing Web sites, notably Free Republic. It even popped up in my comments here recently.

So, let's do a reality check: Both Hitler and Mussolini pretended to have socialist aspirations as part of their propaganda efforts during their rise to power, largely as a way of encouraging working-class support. But they were unquestionably right wing politically by the time they obtained power, and in fact were viciously anti-left-wing as well.

Those who repeat the "Nazis were socialists" claim are, in fact, falling for (and repeating) Nazi propaganda from the 1920s.

Mussolini was indeed an active socialist at the beginning of his political career. But he was remarkable for shifting his alliances and adjusting his ideology accordingly as he climbed the ladder of power; and by the time he had completed his climb, he was an outspoken and lethal anti-socialist.

Hitler's fascists, somewhat in contrast, only adopted a limited socialist rhetoric as a sop to its efforts to recruit from the working class. Hitler quickly jettisoned these aspects of the party as he obtained power, particularly in forming a ruling coalition with conservative corporatists. There was little doubt that Hitler and the Nazis were devoutly anti-leftist: their Brownshirts made a career of physically attacking socialists and communists wherever they gathered, and the first people sent to the concentration camp at Dachau in 1933-34 were socialist and communist political leaders.

This site does a reasonably good job of laying it all out:

Prior to the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, worker protests had spread all across Germany in response to the Great Depression. During his drive to power, Hitler exploited this social unrest by promising workers to strengthen their labor unions and increase their standard of living. But these were empty promises; privately, he was reassuring wealthy German businessmen that he would crack down on labor once he achieved power. Historian William Shirer describes the Nazi's dual strategy:

"The party had to play both sides of the tracks. It had to allow [Nazi officials] Strasser, Goebbels and the crank Feder to beguile the masses with the cry that the National Socialists were truly 'socialists' and against the money barons. On the other hand, money to keep the party going had to be wheedled out of those who had an ample supply of it."


Once in power, Hitler showed his true colors by promptly breaking all his promises to workers. The Nazis abolished trade unions, collective bargaining and the right to strike. An organization called the "Labor Front" replaced the old trade unions, but it was an instrument of the Nazi party and did not represent workers. According to the law that created it, "Its task is to see that every individual should be able ... to perform the maximum of work." Workers would indeed greatly boost their productivity under Nazi rule. But they also became exploited. Between 1932 and 1936, workers wages fell, from 20.4 to 19.5 cents an hour for skilled labor, and from 16.1 to 13 cents an hour for unskilled labor. Yet workers did not protest. This was partly because the Nazis had restored order to the economy, but an even bigger reason was that the Nazis would have cracked down on any protest.


In other words, the Nazis did a classic bait-and-switch: They convinced working-class people to vote against their own self-interest by clever use of propaganda techniques and pretending to embody their values, but then screwed them over from one end to the other once they had obtained power.

Sound familiar?

At any rate, it's also useful to refer to Robert O. Paxton's defintive text, The Anatomy of Fascism, which describes the overt antileftism of the early fascists as well, p. 84:

Fascist violence was neither random nor indiscriminate. It carried a well-calculated set of coded messages: that communist violence was rising, that the democratic state was responding to it ineptly, and that only the fascists were tough enough to save the nation from antinational terrorists. An essential step in the fascist march to acceptance and power was to persuade law-and-order conservatives and members of the middle class to tolerate fascist violence as a harsh necessity in the face of Left provocation. It helped, of course, that many ordinary citizens never feared fascist violence against themselves, because they were reassured that it was reserved for national enemies and "terrorists" who deserved it.


Paxton also describes the fascist appropriation of left-wing ideas for its own purposes, pp. 56-59:

It turned out in practice that fascists' anticapitalism was highly selective. Even at their most radical, the socialism that the fascists wanted was a "national socialism": one that denied only foriegn or enemy property rights (including that of internal enemies). They cherished national producers. Above all, it was by offering an effective remedy against socialist revolution that fascism turned out in practice to find a space. If Mussolini retained some lingering hopes in 1919 of founding an alternative socialism rather than an antisocialism, he was soon disabused of those notions by observing what worked and what didn't work in Italian politics. His dismal electoral results with a Left-nationalist program in Milan in November 1919 surely hammered that lesson home.

The pragmatic choices of Mussolini and Hitler were driven by their urge for success and power. Not all fascist leaders had such ambitions. Some of them preferred to keep their movements "pure," even at the cost of remaining marginal.


Paxton goes on to describe how the failed Spanish and French fascist movements are exemplary in this regard. Then he says:

Hitler and Mussolini, however, not only felt destined to rule but shared none of the purists' qualms about competing bourgeois elections. Both set out -- with impressive tactical skill and by rather different routes, which they discovered by trial and error -- to make themselves indispensable participants in the competition for political power within their nations. ...

Long after his regime had settled into routine, Mussolini still liked to refer to the "Fascist revolution." But he meant a revolution against socialism and flabby liberalism, a new way of uniting and motivating Italians, and a new kind of governmental authority capable of subordinating private liberties to the needs of the national community and of organizing mass assent while leaving property intact. The major point is that the Fascist movement was reshaped in the process of growing into the available political space. The antisocialism already present in the initial movement became central, and many antibourgeois idealists left or were pushed out. The radical anticapitalism of early Fascism was watered down, and we must not let its conspicuous presence in early texts confuse us about what Fascism later became in action.


Paxton later puts in simple terms the political space occupied by the fascists:

... In sum, fascists offered a new recipe for governing with popular support but without any sharing of power with the Left, and without any threat to conservative social and economic privileges and political dominance. The conservatives, for their part, held the keys to the doors of power.

The more we hear mainstream conservatives today act as though liberals, their longtime partners, are no longer fit to share power, the more I fear for a repeat of history.


Indeed, by painting liberals as "the real fascists," Goldberg is pronouncing them unworthy of power and the sharing thereof.

He seems primarily intent on doing so by pointing out all of the irrelevant characteristics of the Nazi regime -- things that had nothing or little to do with their ideology, and certainly were not unique to it, such as vegetarianism.

I mean, this is just dumb, bad logic: Hitler loved his dogs, too. So by Goldberg's reasoning, dog lovers are innately fascist as well.

Yet from such a foundation, he proceeds onward:
Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots.

Actually, it is quite easy to deny this. Fascism doesn't really have "intellectual" roots, as I've explained in some detail:
What really sets fascism apart from nearly all other kinds of politics, however, is that, at its core, it is not about thought. It's all a matter of the gut.

Milton Mayer describes this in They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945 (p. 111):

Because the mass movement of Nazism was nonintellectual in the beginning, when it was only practice, it had to be anti-intellectual before it could be theoretical. What Mussolini's official philosopher, Giovanni Gentile, said of Fascism could have been better said of Nazi theory: "We think with our blood."


In his remarkable essay on "Ur-Fascism," Umberto Eco suggests the extent of this attribute of fascism by its reappearance in most of the traits by which he describes fascism, including "action for action's sake," "the rejection of modernism" "fear of difference," and the notion that "life is permanent warfare." Swedish political scientist Harald Ofstad likewise has zeroed in on "the contempt for weakness" as the essence of the norm in a fascist society.

However, it is [Robert O.] Paxton's study [The Anatomy of Fascism] that draws out this point in the greatest detail. Indeed, he describes the centricity of emotion -- and not any intellectual forebears -- as forming the basic architecture on which the fascist argument rests (pp. 40-41):

To focus only on the educated carriers of intellect and culture in the search for fascist roots, furthermore, is to miss the most important register: subterranean passions and emotions. A nebula of attitudes was taking shape, and no one thinker ever put together a total philosophical system to support fascism. Even scholars who specialize in the quest for fascism's intellectual and cultural origins, such as George Mosse, declare that the establishment of a "mood" is more important than "the search for some individual precursors." In that sense, too, fascism is more plausibly linked to a set of "mobilizing passions" that shape fascist action than to a consistent and fully articulated philosophy. At bottom is a passionate nationalism. Allied to it is a conspiratorial and Manichean view of history as a battle between the good and evil camps, between the pure and the corrupt, in which one's own chosen community or nation has been the victim. In this Darwinian narrative, the chosen people have been weakened by political parties, social classes, unassimilable minorities, spoiled renters, and rationalist thinkers who lack the necessary sense of community.

Goldberg, however, seems obdurately, deliberately oblivious to this reality, and then piles onto the misconception by insisting that many American liberal intellectual figures were also fascists:
We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States.

Yes, indeed we do forget. People like the America First Committee (whose members actually plotted, after the outbreak of war, to set up a pro-Nazi Vichy government in the United States in the eventuality, which they saw as an inevitablity, of an Axis victory) and Prescott Bush, who helped oversee large sums of American capital being invested in the Nazi war machine of the 1930s.
W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler's Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song.

Well, DuBois did in fact write an essay that seemed to admire the Nazi mass-education program, though of course that program was not exactly a defining feature of Nazi ideology. When DuBois later assessed the rise of the Nazis, he called it "a calamity almost beyond comprehension".

The claim about Irving Berlin is not just a distortion, it's canard: The song in question, "Ve Don't Like It," as several scholars have explained, is actually a foray into satire that makes fun of Mussolini:
In "Ve Don't Like It," for example, Irving Berlin presents a complaining Joseph Goebbels: "In Japan our hands are tied; Ve don't like it. Mussolini's on our side; Ve don't like it."

I guess Jonah doesn't get that whole "satire" concept. At least not when it's inconvenient.

Continuing on in the same vein ...
Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.

I'll have to await the text to see how he "substantiates" these claims, but they seem dubious at best.
Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

This is where Goldberg goes most wildly astray, because with one swipe of the ideological brush, he manages to completely erase the very real presence of very real fascists in our midst, both in the past and continuing well into today. Or does Goldberg think the Aryan Nations was just a figment of our imaginations?

As I explained when this book first surfaced:
The key historical fact underlining this debate is that fascism never was just a European phenomenon. It may have originated in America (Paxton identifies the Ku Klux Klan as the first real iteration of fascism in the era of mass politics), and certainly there were fascists in America in the 1920s and '30s (see, e.g., not just the Klan but also the Silvershirts), all of whom were aligned to the right, sometimes (as in the case of the America First Committee and Charles Lindbergh) with mainstream conservatives.

For that matter, of course, there are still genuine fascists and proto-fascists with us today. They go by such names as the Aryan Nations, Christian Identity, or National Socialist Movement. And they're all aligned, politically, to the far right. Their spinoffs, such as the Patriot/militia movement, were all right-leaning movements with substantial interaction with mainstream conservatism, as I've documented at length. Indeed, the militia movement's own bastard brainchild -- the Minutemen -- is now being ardently adopted by a variety of supposedly mainstream Republicans.

What's really outrageous about the book, in the end, is that it is Newspeak -- the most noxious kind, the kind that seeks to obliterate our understanding of fascism:
Jonah Goldberg's new book represents both a special problem, as well as a special opportunity, because of the Newspeak that its title -- "Liberal Fascism" -- represents. Goldberg, in the Newspeak tradition, is not just negating the meaning of both "liberal" and "fascism", but he's providing cover for a conservative movement that, evidently, is intent on adopting fascism as the essence of its agenda.

This is what makes his book the ultimate Newspeak: Newspeak is one of the earmarks of the budding fascist -- and what better way to bud further than to accuse your opponent of engaging in precisely the politics you intend to pursue?

As promised, I'll have more soon.

Dancing with the devil

-- by Dave

My latest post at The Big Con went up yesterday, a discussion of the secular right's wailing and gnashing of teeth over the looming prospect of Mike Huckabee as their party's nominee. I titled it "The Devil His Due":
I suppose progressives should sit back and enjoy the moment of schadenfreude provided by the spectacle of secular movement conservatives freaking out over the recent ascension of Mike Huckabee's presidential candidacy. But some important lessons for Democrats and progressives lie therein too, and taking stock of them will play a critical role in their success or failure not just in 2008 but beyond.

The moral to the Huckabee story: You got to dance with the one who brung you.

The conservative movement's core has always been the pro-corporate, pro-business right, but it has swelled its ranks by wrapping itself in a cultural conservatism, built around the religious right, that attracted the votes of a lot of working-class people. Now the rabble, in the person of Huckabee, are threatening to take over, and the secular right doesn't like it a bit.

Hope you enjoy it.

By their fruits

-- by Dave

The recent emergence of all-out war among Minutemen factions certainly gave us an eye-opening look into the strange, paranoid world they inhabit. It's all about that authoritarian/totalist mindset, which manifests itself in all kinds of dysfunctional behavior.

To wit:

An Oregon anti-immigrant activist and blogger is being held on five counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, two counts of sex abuse and two counts of hindering prosecution.

According to a news report appearing in the Salem Statesman Journal yesterday, Bruce Elliot Benkle, a barber at the Fairview Barbershop in Dalles, was arrested last month on a range of sex abuse charges he is suspected of committing on both male and female children. He is currently lodged in the Polk County Jail with bail set at $200,000.

Bruce Benkle, a well known anti-immigrant activist frequently seen holding signs and taking photos for Oregonians for Immigration Reform at thier events, is a blogger well known among Oregon’s top anti-immigrant weblogs. Benkle, who goes by “Bruce the Barber” among other pseudonyms, is often seen commenting on Daniel’s Political Musings, one of Oregon’s most active anti-immigrant blogs. He is also seen regularly posting comments on message boards of news sites in the Marion County area and elsewhere.

You can see Bruce the Barber out at an anti-immigrant protest in Oregon here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We send letters

-- by Dave

To Moe Lane, RE: Paging David Neiwert. Although I don't expect him to answer the call unless this turns out to be a hoax.:

Sir: If you want to page me, you might at least try linking to me, so I can see that you've paged me when the hits show up on my counter, or I can see it on Technorati. Or you can try e-mailing me, if you're serious about it. Something. Merely calling out my name doesn't work.

I'd have been glad to respond to you if this had not been a hoax. But since it is, what's the point?

Though usually most people have the decency to offer, you know, a mea culpa or an apology, especially when they've fucked up as grotesquely as you have here. But I guess being a right-winger means never having to say you're sorry.

David Neiwert
Seattle

[Hat tip to Max Blumenthal.]

Through the Looking Glass

-- by Sara

Oprah Winfrey once said that the best advice she ever got in her life was from Maya Angelou, who said: "When people tell you who they are -- believe them."

I've gotten good mileage from this advice over the years. Being raised fundie, you spend a lot of your life being told to believe someone else's preposterous interpretation of events over your own lying eyes. Growing up this way really twists your reality lenses; and those of us who come out of it as adults spend a lot of time and energy learning to see and interpret the world clearly again. Angelou's quote is one of the mantras that gave me permission to trust my own observations of what people were saying and doing, knock off the false hopes and wishful thinking, accept this information as literal truth, and rely on it as an accurate indicator about how they were likely to behave in the future. It's knowledge that was acquired late, but has since kept me out of an amazing amount of trouble.

It struck me recently that, too often, we've been very slow to believe conservatives, even when they told us in no uncertain terms who they were. Some things were easy to acknowledge, even in the early years: they're the party of business, they don't care much about the middle and lower class, they believe in hierarchy and aristocracy and low taxes. Others came later: it took us a while to really admit to ourselves that they were pandering to racists, that they were perfectly willing to throw the middle class overboard, and that they didn't really care whether or not a rising tide lifted all boats. The hardest realizations have been the most recent ones: that these people are openly willing to destroy the Constitution, the country, and the planet in the name of privilege and profit; that they have absolutely no concept of the common good, and that the most horrible accusations they level at us should always be taken as an open admission of what they're intending to do themselves.

And yet there are still Democrats -- unfortunately, way too many of them in Congress -- who refuse to believe their own lying eyes. I mean, it's right there in front of their faces -- but, like fundie kids, they've been trapped in the alternate reality of the Beltway and have endured so much psychic abuse for so long that they're no longer able to accept the straight truth about conservatives, even when the conservatives tell them flat outright themselves. Give someone "the benefit of the doubt" long enough, and eventually the only thing you'll come to doubt is the truth of your own perceptions.

But recovering clear thought is easy. Just remember: whatever the conservatives tell you about any issue, they are telling you -- in the most literal and concrete way possible --something essential about themselves. And you can take that information as gospel. After all, nobody knows them like they do. Here's how this works:
When conservatives tell us that we need constant surveillance to make us secure, what they're telling us is that they themselves are prone to criminal behavior if they think nobody else is watching. The fear of exposure is the only force keeping them on the right side of the law -- and that's why it's the only form of "security" they understand. Bear this in mind if you decide to do business with them.

When they tell us that our future depends on supporting a military that's bigger than the rest of the world's fighting forces combined, what they're telling us is that they can't handle chaos, complexity, change, or being out of control. The whole world is a threat; the only solution is a bigger gun. Bear this in mind if you find yourself in conflict with them.

When they tell us diplomacy isn't an option, they're telling us that it's not an option they understand. Words, agreements, treaties, and contracts mean nothing to them. Brute force is the only option they comprehend...or are likely to respond to themselves. Bear this in mind before you negotiate with them.

When they tell us that homosexuality is a threat to American families, what they're telling us is that homosexuality is a threat to their families. As in: if they ever dared to admit their own sexual interest in other men, their wives would leave them, and take the kids. Bear this in mind when they hold themselves up as moral paragons.

When they tell us the Islamofascists are a threat to our way of life, they are quite correctly pointing out that there are fascists threatening our way of life. They're just deflecting their own intentions on to brown people far away. Bear this in mind before assuming they share your belief in constitutional democracy.

When they accuse reality-based folks of promoting "junk science," they're telling us they basically think all science is junk. Bear this in mind before attempting to present them with convincing evidence of anything.

When they tell us to support the troops, what they're really saying is: You better, because we won't. Bear this in mind when you evaluate the real costs of the war.

When they tell us the government can't be trusted, they're telling us they can't be trusted to govern. Bear this in mind every time you step into a voting booth.
Rather than arguing about whether or not the world actually is as the conservatives describe it, it's occasionally useful (enlightening/instructive/crazymaking) to hold this mirror up to their rather deranged view of the outer world...and then notice all the interesting things about the deepest parts of their inner world that get reflected back.

And when you hear the truth they are telling you about who they are, don't second-guess yourself, don't give in to wishful thinking, and don't even think about according them the benefit of the doubt. Simply take their word as it's given -- and believe it.

You're invited to play along in the comments. It's good to be back.

The Pantload weighs in

-- by Dave

My copy of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is evidently winging its way to me now, which means that like everyone else I'm having to rely on the esteemed Sir Bradley S. Rocket at Sadly, No!, who has been providing us with excerpts aplenty.

I'll be reviewing it for The American Prospect online, so I'll let you know when I have the piece ready. Won't be available right away, though.

Meanwhile, TRex has his review:
The title alone should give any sane person pause. Anyone with any kind of grasp of world history will understand that the phrase “Liberal fascism” is as laughably oxymoronic as saying, “Germy Sterility” or “Military Intelligence”. Truly, Goldberg has authored the definitive book on the Left’s fascistic tendencies for people who have only known that there’s no “h” in the word “fascist” since, oh, the spring of 2002, when they painstakingly learned to spell the word, “Islamofascist”.

Be sure to read the whole thing, which had me laughing as only TRex can make me laugh.

All I can say at this point is that my pre-publication guesses about the quality of Goldberg's argument are certainly looking on the money.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Heh! The outrage

-- by Dave

Conservatives got themselves all worked up today over the case of Francisco Nava, a Princeton student who claimed he was beaten up by a pack of nasty liberals. Brit Hume led off his "Grapevine" report with the case tonight video here):
Conservative students and faculty at Princeton University are questioning the absence of campus and community outrage — following the beating of a student leading a morality movement at the school. The New York Sun reports Francisco Nava was attacked by two men last week and told to shut up. The beating came two days after Nava received death threats by e-mail.

Nava — who is a Mormon — wrote in the student newspaper that a school campaign to distribute free condoms on campus was a — "tacit sponsorship of hookup sex." Three other members of the morally conservative Anscombe Society also received the threats, along with a conservative professor.

Princeton graduate Michael Fragoso tells the Sun — "There would rightly be outrage had the student been part of some other minority on campus. I have yet to see that right now, and that's rather disappointing."

No suspects have been identified and Princeton Township Police say they will not comment on the pending investigation.

Problem is, at the time that Hume aired his report -- which was sometime this afternoon -- it was already known for several days that Nava had attempted a hoax:
Francisco Nava ‘09 has admitted to fabricating an alleged assault on him that he said occurred Friday evening and also to sending threatening emails to himself, other members of the Anscombe Society and prominent conservative politics professor Robert George, Princeton Township Police said today.

“He fabricated the story,” Det. Sgt. Ernie Silagyi said.

Nava was released to Public Safety and charges “have not been filed pending further investigation,” according to a statement from Township Police.

Perhaps Hume and staff should just read Sadly, No! like the rest of us.

Same with Glenn Reynolds, who as TRex notes fell for the hoax with a link Saturday, in which, among other things, he offers the following insights produced by the story:
I guess it's part of the growing climate of fear in America.

I wonder if this will get the kind of attention that politically-reversed assaults would get?

But even better is Reynolds' lame defense once he cottons to the hoax:
STILL MORE: Andrew Sullivan seems to regard this as an "Insta-Embarrassment." But there's no embarrassment in correcting an error as soon as you're aware of it. That's something that Andrew, and his friends at The New Republic, should have figured out already.

Erm, no, the embarrasment, Professor, lies in the fact that at the time you posted this information, the reports revealing it to be a hoax were online and readily available (the Daily Princetonian report was up at 8 p.m. Friday; yours went up at 11 p.m. Saturday, more than a full day after the hoax was reported). [NOTE: This is incorrect. See update below.] All you'd have needed do before weighing in with incendiary rhetoric and wild accusations about a "climate of fear" was Google his name; the story would've come right up.

Hell, even Michelle Malkin -- who usually rushes to run these stories about liberal thuggery like J. Jonah Jameson with pics of Spidey robbing a bank -- knew better than to touch this thing with a 10-foot pole.

And about that rhetoric: Doesn't the fact that you used a hoax to demonstrate the existence of a "climate of fear" sort of, um, undermine your thesis? Don't you owe it to your readers to at least reassess the remarks that you made based on your belief the story was real? Do you think simply noting at the bottom of a long post building up this story that it was in fact a hoax is a sufficient correction? Really?

Ah, but who cares about such trifles when you're the mighty Instapundit, right?

Isn't this the guy who's been claiming that the blogosphere is going to replace that unreliable mainstream media because, among many other sins, they're just so damned arrogant?

This is par for the course for Reynolds, actually. It reminds me of the time that he linked to a FrontPage story linking the Latino student organization MEChA -- who Reynolds on other occasions, and with as good cause, labeled "fascist hatemongers" -- to an anti-Semitic hate group named La Voz de Aztlan. Of course, the story was fraudulent, and so Reynolds at the bottom of the post noted that it was "a mistake" (which he blamed on the "cough syrup"). Nevermind that he had also called the group "racist and homophobic" -- that characterization, apparently, stood; certainly, no apology was forthcoming. And of course, he hates having this shit pointed out to him.

He must be getting into that cough syrup pretty regularly still.

UPDATE: Well, now I get to do the correcting and apologizing. It seems the Princetonian timestamp for the piece revealing the case to be a hoax were a function of the original story and did not reflect the point at which the case was revealed to be a hoax. Tom Maguire in my comments has more. I was wrong about Reynolds' failure to pick up on the case being a hoax, and apologize for the mistake. Brit Hume, of course, has no such excuse.

The remainder of the remarks about Reynolds' failure to adequately address how the hoax affected his analysis stand.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cracking up by the Minuteman







-- by Dave

I've been tracking for awhile now the rift in the ranks of the Minutemen as their operation has devolved into just another right-wing scam, embodied in Chris Simcox's PR makeover and Jim Gilchrist's mountain of lawsuits.

For the most part, the animus between the Simcox and Gilchrist factions has been kept largely out of public view. But after Gilchrist announced his support for Mike Huckabee, Simcox and other nativists questioned him for not sticking with their preferred triumvirate of Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter.

So now, evidently, it's all-out war. One of Gilchrist's mouthpieces (likely written by Gilchrist himself) recently published the following response, herewith reprinted in full for posterity's sake; these things have a way of disappearing from the Web. Not to mention that they offer a fascinating window into the bizarre, paranoid world these folks occupy:
Minuteman Express News ©

(A publication of the Minuteman Project)

Hypocrites, Liars and Charlatans: Is the minuteman movement doomed?
by Jack Sharpe

For years now, many leaders and volunteers of the Minuteman Movement have remained quiet about things they know to be true. We all believed it would hurt the movement if Americans knew how their donations were being spent, or what kinds of narcissistic nitwits are leading some of these organizations.

Minutemen held their tongues and soldiered on with the mission. Despite this attempt to protect the movement through silence, Americans have not turned out in the numbers that the original founders had hoped. Why? Because America still sees us as a racist, kooky, fringe group.

In three years there have been less than 6,000 Minutemen that have ever patrolled the border. They are divided into several organizations with many members belonging to two or three of these organizations. Some of these organizations charge a “membership fee” (sometimes referred to as a background check), or monthly dues. But the bigger groups also use professional fundraising companies to raise money from direct mail campaigns and donor drives.

Patriotic Americans often give money in lieu of going to the border, and many of these groups exploit them by claiming that the donations are used to support the Minutemen on the border. However, more often than not, most of the money goes straight into the pockets of the leadership. Not that they are stealing vast sums of money, but after half of the donations are paid back to the fundraising firm, and twenty-five percent split between various creditors, and another twenty percent to operating costs (staff), that only leaves five percent (5 %) of the donations left to actually fund the cause.

Chris Simcox is the president of one of the largest Minuteman Project spin-off groups, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC). Chris and MCDC split away from Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project over two years ago to become a “project” of Declaration Alliance. Chris hired a slick Washington Consulting company (Diener and Associates) to handle MCDC’s finances and raise money for the organization.

Before Simcox knew it was happening, he had lost control of his organization to a DC beltway insider’s coalition. They took control of MCDC’s parent corporation after Simcox was convicted of a weapons violation on Federal land. For the record: Simcox was legally wearing a sidearm until he accidentally entered a state park. The felony prevented him from remaining the head of the group, but the fundraising company kept him on as the “Founder” and sent him on the paid lecture circuit. With a wife and children to consider, Simcox was in no position to turn on his masters.

Last year almost half of the members of MCDC revolted against Simcox and tried to take the organization away from its real owner, fundraiser Diener and Associates. The members claimed that they received no financial support from MCDC and were instructed to send what little donations they could scrape up to Headquarters for redistribution. Many Chapter leaders complained, but they were dismissed or ignored.

At one point the majority of the chapter leaders called for a meeting with Simcox to ask where the money went. Simcox had no idea and no one from the fundraising company would tell him. The rebelling members demanded to see the financial books, but Simcox didn’t have them and wasn’t sure who did. He then did the only thing he could do; he ran away and hid.

At this point Simcox had become jealous of the success of Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project. The Minuteman Project had just survived its own 911-style hijacking attempt, but only lost a handful of members over it. The difference was simple, Gilchrist always retained control of his organization and its finances; it was easy for Jim to have an independent audit and to make his books public. Jim Gilchrist was still able to get choice interviews and was requested for more public appearances than Simcox because he had less baggage, better media people and was just more interesting than Simcox. Gilchrist also had invested more than 7,000 hours of non-paid time and as much as $70,000 into the Minuteman Project since its inception on October 1, 2004.

Gilchrist has always been an odd duck among the secure borders groups. Jim never hated or blamed people for trying to find work or build a better life; he blamed the government of Mexico for causing the problem and our own Government for doing almost nothing to stop it. Unlike the fringe leaders, Jim took an active role in weeding out racists and “nuts” from his organization instead of promoting them.

Most Minutemen first heard about the movement from seeing Gilchrist on TV. It was Gilchrist who tirelessly spread the minuteman word through television and radio interviews, rallies, border operations, coast-to-coast caravans, speaking tours and protests, and endless appearances at various city council meetings throughout southern California. It was Gilchrist who was attacked at Columbia University, Gilchrist who was protested and verbally assaulted by the NSA (Nazis/skinheads), and it is Jim Gilchrist who has time and again risked his life to bring America one simple message: We must secure our borders and enforce our laws!

It had grown quiet between Simcox and Gilchrist prior to Jim’s endorsement of Mike Huckabee. Jim was finishing the reconstruction of the Minuteman Project leadership, preparing to launch a new “nationwide project to prevent illegal aliens from voting” and also considering a run for Congress against incumbent Loretta Sanchez (D) of California’s 47th District.

It was Huckabee who contacted Jim Gilchrist and asked him to read his nine point plan on immigration. Jim was excited that a “top tier” candidate understood the problem and had committed himself in writing to a workable plan to solve it. Jim did not come to this decision overnight. He and his closest associates researched primary sources and considered the fact that Huckabee was the only candidate in the top three Republican choices (Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani) with an immigration law enforcement advocacy platform.

Jim wrote a list of questions for Huckabee, which he asked him in person. Jim started that meeting with Huckabee stone-faced and unconvinced, but he left it in good spirits. For the first time in several years, Jim Gilchrist was optimistic about our nation’s future. A week later, he traveled to Iowa and formally endorsed Mike Huckabee for President of the United States. No Minuteman Project money was used for this trip.

Without so much as a phone call to Jim Gilchrist asking him why, several leaders of Minuteman fringe groups viciously attacked Jim and Mike Huckabee with the hopes of getting some cheap publicity for themselves. The same people who complain when someone quotes the propaganda of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of its bias were quoting comments by the Club for Growth against Huckabee. The Club For Growth is the same anti-gun, pro NAFTA, Giuliani supporting Club for Growth propaganda machine that pejoratively refers to the Minutemen as “vigilantes” and “militia types”.

It only took Simcox two days to pile on and take his cheap shot at Jim Gilchrist as well. He and his friend William Gheen (ALIPAC) have started a “destroy Gilchrist and Huckabee” campaign with help from among the kooks and zealots of the movement.

William Gheen, President of ALIPAC, has had a personal grudge against Jim Gilchrist since the Minuteman Project was founded. Gheen makes his living soliciting donations from unsuspecting Americans in the name of border security. What most people don’t know is just how much of the donor money coming into his organization Gheen pockets. He has never opened his books to the public or explained what happened to the money that many hard working people have given to him. William Gheen uses fear- mongering and race baiting to scare old people out of their savings with stories of “the savage invasion from the Southern border”.

When Gilchrist founded the Minuteman Project many patriots believed that Jim was doing more for the movement than all of the dozen of other activist organizations combined. This caused the donor money to dry up for Gheen and ALIPAC, and Simcox and MCDC. And, oh, how they ranted and cursed Gilchrist and the Minuteman Project!

To preserve their “cash cows”, the na├»ve American donor base that has already sent them millions of dollars, Simcox, Gheen, and other so-called secure-borders advocates have to attack Gilchrist’s endorsement of Mike Huckabee. If Huckabee is elected President he promises “in writing” (www.mikehuckabee.com) to secure the borders within two years, actually enforce immigration laws, and severely punish the unscrupulous employers that hire and exploit illegal alien labor. That certainly would end our mission and the need for a minuteman movement.

Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilchrist are threats to the continued financial security and commercial enterprises of these professional extremists and charlatans who make an earnest market in soliciting public donations to stop the illegal alien invasion crisis.

Fellow patriots, it is up to you now. You can join the charlatans in their witch hunt against Jim Gilchrist and his Minuteman Project, or reserve judgment until you can research the matters yourself. Meanwhile, Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project, which does not require “membership fees” to participate in saving America, stoically plods onward, relying on only a hope, a prayer, and a vision inspired by our Founding Fathers.

Jack Sharpe, for Jim Gilchrist and The Minuteman Project

"Sharpe" penned an earlier piece combing through the faults of the board members who tried to wrest the Minuteman Project from his control. I thought it, too, was an interesting read -- quite accidentally, it offers some real insights into how Gilchrist thinks, and it ain't pretty.
The Minuteman Project, an Anatomy of a Hijacking
By Jack Sharpe

After months of defending the Minuteman Project against charlatans and con-artists, the organization and its founder, Jim Gilchrist were at their breaking point. Three of Jim’s once trusted advisors had attempted to hijack the name, bank accounts, domains and email lists of the Minuteman Project while orchestrating a slander campaign against Mr. Gilchrist. Many of the Minuteman Project’s open border enemies in the news media intentionally mislead the public to the facts of this case to further their own agendas. I say intentionally because no real journalist would be as sloppy or selective with the truth.

For the record:

1.Jim Gilchrist is the legally recognized President of the Minuteman Project.

2.A neutral audit of the financial records has cleared Jim of any wrong doing (A PDF copy of this audit can be downloaded at Minutemanproject.com).

3.The hijackers are under court order not to represent themselves as members of the Minuteman Project.

Jim has emerged from this episode victorious, but the fight has taken its toll on the 58 year old border watchdog. When the hijackers attempted to steal the Minuteman Project they sacked the bank accounts and took the mailing lists, crippling the organization. To make matters worse, the cost to defend the Minuteman Project from the hijackers has put the organization deeply into debt; many supporters claim that this was the hijacker’s goal to begin with.

It seems strange that this hostile takeover attempt of the Minuteman Project happened just prior to the attempted passing of the amnesty bill, the Presidential debates and several protests to free the incarcerated border agents. It seems equally strange that three advisors out of ten would assume they had the power and mandate to seize control of a National Movement. Stranger still when you consider the fact that two of the three conspirators (Stewart and Courtney) were told that their services were no longer needed just prior to the private meeting they held at a seafood restaurant. It was then that the three of them decided to declare themselves the rightful owners of the Minuteman Project.

To understand the motives and methods of the hijackers, you need only look into their background…

Although Marvin Stewart likes to represent himself as a Minister, Politician and an official in the Veterans Administration, he is in fact a fraud on all three counts. His Church, “Our Lords Salvation Ministries” has no members, offers no services and ministers to no one. It does, however net Mr. Stewart a few “tax free dollars” and a means to solicit support from the gullible. Marvin Stewart is not a member of the California Republican Party, nor even a member of the Los Angeles County Republican Party Executive Committee; he is a local volunteer central committee member in a powerless district. Marvin makes his living filing frivolous lawsuits and as an accounts receivable clerk (bill collector) at the VA hospital in Long Beach.

Deborah Peterson, AKA Deborah Courtney, AKA Debbie Sielski, AKA Anne Peters has made a reputation for herself as a charlatan and social climber. In 2004, Deborah Courtney used her “special relationship” with Sheriff Mike Corona to have her drunken driving, drug and weapons charges reduced to a single misdemeanor. She repaid Corona by supporting his opponent in the next election. For all Deborah’s inconsistencies, she never fails to turn on her friends in a time of need.

Deborah Courtney attempted takeovers in almost every organization she has joined in the last ten years including the Aliso Viejo Republican Women Federated, the De Angelo Foundation and the Liberty Belles. It was no surprise to Orange County political insiders when they heard she had tried to steal the treasury and donor lists of the Minuteman Project. It was also no surprise to anyone that knew her that she was accused of charging the project almost $100,000, with no accomplishments to show for it (other than plagiarism and several five star hotel bills).

When Deborah Courtney started as an advisor to the Minuteman Project, she insisted that all of the advisors be given title “Director” and that her title be “Political Director”. This alone should have warned Jim Gilchrist that she was up to no good. Jim decided to allow his trusted advisors to use the title “Director” on the understanding that it came with no real power and could be revoked at any time.

During the time Deborah Courtney was with the Minuteman Project, she was disciplined several times for taking credit for other peoples work, charging the organization for personal expenses and never completing a task. She was removed as Jim’s political advisor after making a series of careless mistakes that damaged the Minuteman Project’s reputation with the Republican Party. After a tearful apology (and support from Coe and Stewart), Deborah was given the task of organizing the State chapters and referring new members to the Chapter heads. Instead, Deborah began to channel new members (and their donations) to fellow conspirator, Barbara Coe’s organization CCIR; Jim did not discover this until several weeks after the attempted takeover.

In mid 2006, Deborah Courtney moved hijacking accomplice, Paul Sielski into her home and claimed that they had gotten married. However, Deborah is still receiving spousal support from her ex-husband and Paul still owes his ex-wife over $250,000 in back support. Deborah convinced Jim Gilchrist to hire Paul’s internet security company (AACompSec) to “secure the website from internet predators”. Instead, Paul Sielski and his partner, Karl J. Vesterling changed the access codes to the website and diverted some of the online donations to an off-shore bank account. Paul and Karl were paid $3,500 for their “services”; it is still unknown how much more they stole from the donors.

The last hijacker, Barbara Coe surprised everyone when she sided with Marvin Stewart and Deborah Courtney-Peterson-Sielski-Peters. Barbara had been seen as a driving force in the movement since she wrote and became the chief proponent of Prop 187. However, as it turns out, Barbara Coe didn’t write Prop 187 (Ron Prince did) and she was not the chief proponent (Dick Mountjoy was). In fact it was the California Republican Party and the California Republican Assembly that did all of the work and raised the money. What did Barbara Coe do? She took credit for the victory.

Barbara Coe built her reputation on the labor and sacrifices of patriots. She used her ill gotten cache with the liberty community to grow her organization, the California Coalition of Immigration Reform (CCIR). She neglected to inform her members that she also belonged to the Council of Concerned Citizens (CofCC), a racist group that uses the Confederate flag as its ensign. Barbara was the key note speaker at two CofCC conventions and is still a member in good standing today. Barbara neglected to tell anyone in the Minuteman Project of her connection to racist groups because she knew it wouldn’t be tolerated.

Barbara Coe introduced Jim Gilchrist to CCIR and he became a regular attendee of the monthly meetings. Not knowing the truth about Barbara’s past, Jim was happy to accept her support and friendship. But soon it was Jim Gilchrist that the members of CCIR came to see and the Minuteman Project they were donating to. It wasn’t long before Barbara noticed that donations to CCIR were dwindling while the Minuteman Project was prospering. Barbara and Deborah Courtney hatched and implemented a plan to divert funds and volunteers from the Minuteman Project to CCIR.

The plot sickens…

Barbara Coe must have known it was just a matter of time before Jim discovered that Deborah was diverting volunteers and donations to CCIR. She also knew Deborah was on thin ice with Jim; all she had to do was convince Marvin Stewart that he was next. That piece of the puzzle came from Paul Sielski, who read the truth about Stewart from an online forum; now Barbara and Deborah had the means to control Stewart, if they couldn’t buy him off.

Again, each of the hijackers had something to hide and they all knew that time was running out, but they weren’t ready yet; they needed a few things first. Barbara Coe sent her CCIR goons to the Minuteman Project office on a day she knew that neither Jim nor Steve Eichler (Jim’s Chief advisor) would be there. The goons copied the mailing lists, financial records and other crucial information onto flash drives and attempted to format the hard drives. They also took files, equipment, official stationary, furniture and broke into Jim’s office to steal anything with his signature on it. When Jim Gilchrist heard about the break in he called Barbara Coe to ask if she knew anything about it. Barbara claimed it was to protect the Minuteman Project from Steve Eichler.

Here’s where the plot gets interesting; the hijackers had to have a reason to take control of the Minuteman Project, and they needed a scapegoat. They knew that Steve Eichler had been trying to convince Mr. Gilchrist to dismiss Deborah Courtney since May, 2006. Steve Eichler had also confronted Marvin Stewart about Stewart’s unauthorized spending of Minuteman Project funds for luxury items (Stewart also presented Jim Gilchrist a bill for speaking engagements). The hijackers believed that if they could drive a wedge between Eichler and Gilchrist, Jim would side with them; they could get rid of Eichler and have plenty of time to alter the records to cover their tracks. What the hijackers didn’t know is that Tommy Crenshaw (Gilchrist loyalist) had recently backed up all of the files and given Jim a copy.

Jim Gilchrist immediately began reviewing the files Tommy Crenshaw had provided him a few days before. It didn’t take long before he discovered the problem; someone was stealing, but it wasn’t Steve Eichler. As Jim studied the books he received a call from his webmaster, Linda Muller, informing him that she had been locked out of the website. When Jim asked her who could have done such a thing Linda replied, “Only Paul and I have access to change the password”. It was official; Barbara Coe and Deborah Courtney were up to something.

Jim called a meeting of all parties the next day in the hope of getting some answers; it was February 2nd, 2007. The hijackers arrived together with copies of the altered documents in hand and immediately began to attack Steve Eichler; they had no idea that Jim had been reading the originals. Jim allowed the hijackers to have their say before he confronted them with copies of the original documents. Then he fired them. Deborah Courtney made one last ditch effort to blackmail Jim and Steve with threats of “taking down the Minuteman Project” if Jim didn’t buy her off. A lesser man would have wrote a check and hoped they would go away, but not Jim Gilchrist.

And so, the war was on. The hijackers used Minuteman stationary to write up phony documents and used a scanner and laser printer to forge Jim’s signature. They submitted these documents to the Delaware Secretary of State’s office claiming to be the new board of directors of Minuteman Project; now they had the papers they needed to empty the bank accounts. The hijackers immediately changed the website; the front page had a post claiming that Jim Gilchrist had been fired and the contact page showed Marvin Stewart as the new President. The page also named Deborah Courtney as the Treasurer; a close friend of Deborah Courtney’s commented that making her treasurer was like making Michael Jackson the Dean of a boy’s school.

As Deborah and Paul Sielski used the mailing and email list to slander Jim Gilchrist, Marvin Stewart tried to gain support from the local Republican Party. The GOP was still sore at Gilchrist for running as an Independent against John Campbell in 2005; Stewart believed he could use the Party’s dislike for Gilchrist against him. However, a member/delegate of the California State Republican Party, Edwin R Williams had already warned the County Central Committee to stay clear of both sides until the matter could be sorted out in court. At the time Williams was reportedly working for the Minuteman PAC (a division of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps), but he had once served on the Minuteman Project board as the Director of Special Projects. Edwin had warned Mr. Gilchrist about Deborah Courtney in May of 2006 when he resigned from the Minuteman Project, but he had no documented proof. It was a “he said/she said” situation. When asked if he believed the advisors had the power to fire Gilchrist, Williams said, “They had no more power to fire Jim than I do to fire the Governor. We chose the title Director so that we could look like big shots, but Jim always had the final say in all decisions”.

At the darkest hour Jim’s webmaster, Linda Muller was able to convince the server to freeze the Minuteman Project website until Jim could fax the paperwork, proving his ownership. It took two weeks to convince the server to issue Jim a new password; by then Linda had created a new website that featured a “Hijacker Update” page.

Paul Sielski was the hijackers “webmaster”, but he had few skills and was mostly incompetent. Paul didn’t have the skill to create a new webpage, so he had all of the hijacker’s new domain names point to his MySpace page. Although MySpace is a good online community site, it is a poor substitute for a real website. Paul spent his time “trolling for friends” on MySpace, writing disjointed hate mail and making threats on online forums. Fortunately for Paul, the other hijackers were even less computer literate than he was. He lied and told them he was accomplishing important tasks, knowing they would never know the difference.

Paul posted a badly edited recording of the February 2nd, 2007 meeting on his MySpace page (minutemenfortruth.com). Of course he edited out the part where Jim fired them all and the part where Deborah became unhinged and made every threat she could think of. In fact most of the interesting parts of the meeting were removed, but what remained still made Marvin and Deborah look bad. After studying this story for the past few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that Paul Sielski just isn’t very bright.

Another thing the hijackers didn’t know (except Deborah) is that Paul Sielski was a fugitive from the law and has a history of domestic abuse, fraud, spousal rape and battery. Paul was arrested and sent back to Maryland in July 2007, where he is awaiting trial and facing 25 years in Federal prison. You may notice that his MySpace page and the website Minutemenfortruth.com has not been updated since. So now the hijackers have no internet presence at all, except for the stolen email lists.

After the news of Paul’s arrest the hijacker’s attorney, Jim Lacey petitioned the court to be removed from the case. He would be the first in a long line of lawyers to flee the hijackers after getting to know them. Apparently the old expression, “you can get a lawyer to sue anyone for anything”, may not be completely accurate.

Despite the Cease and Desist order, Deborah Courtney is still spinning lies and spewing hate through her stolen email list. Her ineloquent name calling and hateful rants have become more and more bizarre over the last few weeks. She hasn’t yet learned that everything she writes has been forwarded to the Minuteman Project Attorneys who keep all such letters in a special file. The funniest thing is she apparently doesn’t remember what version of her story she had already sent out to the list; her story changes from email to email.

Marvin Stewart has been taking advantage of the people’s confusion over the rightful control of the Minuteman Project. He attempted to settle a lawsuit the Minuteman Project had filed against Compton City College out of court; the trouble was, Stewart didn’t file that lawsuit, Jim Gilchrist did. Once again Marvin Stewart was caught red handed committing fraud. Before this incident he had artfully avoided publicly violating the court order by calling himself, “the President of the Minutemen”, while having others introduce him as “the President of the Minuteman Project”, but now he couldn’t explain away the $9,000 he attempted to con from Compton College.

Lately even Barbara Coe has distanced herself from Stewart and Courtney. Barbara’s attack on Jim Gilchrist caused most of her supporters to turn their backs on her. Now CCIR is a shadow of its former self and the donations have dried up. After 20 years of taking credit for the work of others and raking in the money of well meaning patriots, Barbara Coe may be looking for a real job.

As for Jim Gilchrist, he and a few remaining advisors are trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered organization. The independent audit has returned Jim’s credibility, but the lawyer’s fees and court costs have put The Minuteman Project deeply into debt. To survive the Minuteman Project must restart fundraising efforts, rebuild their contact lists from nothing, and reconnect with the volunteers that helped Jim build the organization in the first place. That is just what Jim plans to do. When reached for comment Jim stated, “this is far too important a cause to let greedy narcissists destroy it. We will move forward in this fight.”

Whew. What a world these folks live in.