Our favorite Arizona Nazi border watcher, J.T. Ready, recently reached new opportunistic depths by showing up and pretending to support Occupy Phoenix -- even though he was apparently confronted by other participants, who made it clear he wasn't welcome.
Let's be clear: J.T. Ready is a neo-Nazi, a classic totalitarian/authoritarian, someone who despises and loathes and sneers at the kind of democracy-in-action that the Occupy movement represents. He likes chaos, though, and he sees the movement's unsettling effect as something he can use. And showing up at protests always is good for a little attention. That's why he did this.
For some time, the right-wing media has been attempting to brand Occupy Wall Street and related protests as anti-Semitic. In the latest example, conservative blogger Jim Hoft is pointing to video of heavily armed Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready patrolling the Occupy Phoenix protest and saying nice things about the movement.
Hoft sarcastically concludes, "Yup. They're just like the tea party."
It's worth pointing out that much of the rhetoric Ready spouts during the video -- decrying fiat money, saying that he and others were "exercising our Second Amendment right so that everybody can have a First Amendment right," claiming that Operation Fast and Furious was intended to "take away our rights" and the perpetrators are traitors who should be put to death -- sounds much more like the rhetoric of a conservative protestor than an OWS supporter.
And indeed, that's the problem for Hoft: Ready previously attended and reportedly spoke at Tea Party rallies ...
Gertz then details all the times Ready has appeared in support of tea party events.
that the GOP, deep down, is behaving as a religious movement, not as a political party, and a radical religious movement at that. Lofgren sees the "Prosperity Gospel" as a divine blessing for personal enrichment and minimal taxation (yes, that kind of Gospel is compatible with Rand, just not compatible with the actual Gospels); for military power (with a major emphasis on the punitive, interventionist God of the Old Testament); and for radical change and contempt for existing institutions (as a product of End-Times thinking, intensified after 9/11).
And so this political deadlock conceals a religious war at its heart. Why after all should one abandon or compromise sacred truths? And for those whose Christianity can only be sustained by denial of modern complexity, of scientific knowledge, and of what scholarly studies of the Bible's origins have revealed, this fusion of political and spiritual lives into one seamless sensibility and culture, is irresistible. And public reminders of modernity - that, say, many Americans do not celebrate Christmas, that gay people have human needs, that America will soon be a majority-minority country and China will overtake the US in GDP by mid-century - are terribly threatening.
I have written several times on this topic, but one must be careful with generalizations. To be sure, tea party and Fox News propaganda aim squarely at distinct cultural identities: think of Bill O'Reilly's "war on Christmas." But there's no single religion at the heart of tea party or Republican cultural values. For example, I have seen lots of speculation as to whether America is ready to elect a Latter Day Saint, Mitt Romney, president.
The "more spiritual than political" Glenn Beck rallies have sought to syncretize doctrinal differences into the kind of mushy, right wing unitarianism. The new Republican Party is marked by Michele Bachmann leaving her anti-papist church as well as Rick Perry's prayer meetings. I agree with Sullivan that all this marks the downfall of evangelicalism in America, as the book of Rand has been inserted between Romans and Revelations. But I'm not sure you can describe the religion of the new right in a monolithic way.
Instead, it may actually be more instructive to regard the Republican party as a brand, and the tea party as a new, competing brand from within the same corporation. Think of New Coke. For this purpose, I'll turn things over to Patrick Hanlon for a minute; he's a branding guru. "Branding" is the business of making products succeed in markets, which is far more complicated than just advertising. As Hanlon explains, brands are actually belief systems. More after the jump...
Probably the most disturbing aspect of the multifarious effects of Fox News' right-wing propaganda machine and its Tea Party offspring is the way it has utterly taken over the lives of so many senior citizens, who lap up every word as the gospel truth and have become increasingly radicalized by talking heads like Glenn Beck.
Even as they project their own intentions onto the likes of the unions, the Fox acolytes and the Tea Partiers have effectively become a brownshirt corps of mean-spirited, vicious thugs. It's deeply disturbing to watch people in our parents' generation viciously attacking liberals with increasing venom and violence.
The latest example took place last weekend in the quiet little retirement town of Roseburg, Oregon. It's a pretty little burg on the I-5 corridor in western Oregon that is mostly populated with senior citizens of various stripes. Via Carla at Blue Oregon, we happened upon this story in the local paper:
A small political gathering of about 18 liberal thinkers at River Forks Park Sunday afternoon erupted in conflict when about 35 members of the conservative tea party intruded upon the meeting, waving flags and holding signs accusing the rival group of being communists, Marxists and socialists.
The liberal group — organized by MoveOn.org — decided to leave the park and move its potluck to a nearby home. Members of the conservative group followed, parking at the entrance of a private lane leading to the home to continue their protest.
Roseburg Democrats Dean and Sara Byers said Monday they told tea party members who followed that they were not welcome to drive down the lane to their home.
The Byerses said they got out of their car to stop vehicles from entering the driveway and one tea party member almost ran them over.
Sara Byers said she was so shaken she called 911. She said a Douglas County deputy called about an hour and a half later and said he had been unable to respond because of other incidents. Byers said she was still considering filing a criminal complaint against members of the tea party for harassment.
A leader of the tea party group, Rich Raynor of Roseburg, disputed the liberal group's version of events.
“They are liars,” said Raynor, director of Douglas County Americans for Prosperity. “That is what communists do.”
The latter confrontations were not videotaped, but the Tea Partiers themselves proudly posted the video of their invasion of the MoveOn picnic. Moreover, it clearly documents how they effectively broke it up -- by threatening the attendees with intimidating speech and making it clear they wanted the group to clear out. What it doesn't show, of course, is that they followed these folks to someone's private home and tried to invade the gathering on private property as well.
Here's the script the proud authors of the video provided:
Self professed communist Van Jones teams up with MoveOn.org to promote the American Dream Project, aka I want what you have worked for. Promoted here by the Douglas County Democratic Central Committee members. Challenged by Americans who love freedom!
I have an idea. Let's end class warfare. If you want more, get up earlier and work harder. It works wonders for your self-respect.
We had to disable comments. They were vile, vulgar, threatening...typical Chicago thuggery stuff.
We've been saying all along -- practically since it happened, in fact -- that the right's claims that Tea Partier Kenneth Gladney, a black man, was victimized by SEIU "thugs" during a health-care protest was dubious at best, and Gladney's subsequent claims (particularly that this was a "hate crime") even more ludicrous.
CLAYTON, MO –(KMOX)–Almost two years after the national uproar over health care reform, a jury has acquitted two labor union activists accused of assaulting a man selling conservative buttons outside a Cogressman Russ Carnahan town hall forum.
Service Employees International Union members Elston McCowan and Perry Molens had been accused of misdemeanor assault in the August, 2009 tussle with button salesman Kenneth Gladney. The fight caught national attention at a time when there was rampant speculation the union had been dispatched to tamp down opposition to President Obama’s health care reform.
Jurors heard conflicting testimony in the two-day trial over who actually started the fight, and they viewed video tape showing the end and aftermath of the brawl — but no video showed who threw the first punch.
The conspiracy pushed relentlessly for the past two years by Dana Loesch, Jim Hoft, Andrew Breitbart, Fox News, and the tea party has been shown at long last to be a complete fraud. Two innocent men have been harassed and threatened for two years as a result of a tea party smear campaign with only one objective: to make unions look evil.
Gladney's testimony was the most damaging to the prosecution's case. For starters, Gladney appeared in a neck brace, which brought back memories of him showing up at a tea party rally in a wheel chair despite the fact that he was running around with no obvious discomfort immediately after the altercation took place. The defense lawyer said that Gladney's neck brace, which he was wearing because of surgery for a herniated disc, had nothing to do with the altercation, and Gladney did not challenge him on that point, so I assume it's true. But this opened up a criticism from the defense lawyer who asked Gladney why he showed up at the tea party rally in a wheelchair. Gladney said, basically, that it was hot and he was on medication and "they didn't have folding chairs or lawn chairs." Ouch.
... A more important problem for Gladney was that his previous descriptions of what happened did not match his current testimony. He previously had claimed that Elston McCowan, a black minister, had called him the n-word. In today's testimony, he now claimed that Perry Molens, a white man, also called him the n-word, which would be a strange detail to leave out of all of his previous interviews. More importantly, he had previously claimed that 4 different people "attacked" him, yet now he clams only two. He also claimed that he "never said a word" to McCowan, which I'm pretty sure is at odds with his previous interviews. And finally, his story of the altercation provided no explanation of why Elston McCowan was seen lying on the ground at the beginning of the video And all of this was despite the fact that he told the defense attorney that his memory today was as good or better as immediately after the incident happened.
As I said, the incident was regrettable and I'm sure everyone involved, if they had a chance to go back, would make sure the night did not unfold the same way again. But the idea that the mini-altercation was some sort of on-command union attack directed from the Oval Office and that it represented a looming wave of left-wing violence in this country? That was always a sick joke. It was a sick joke played at the expense of Gladney, and at the expense of two union members who were crucified by the right-wing press and called every conceivable name. All without a shred of evidence to support the union-bashing denunciations.
We've remarked from the get-go that the most remarkable thing about the Tea Partying Republican Right is that they represent a political bloc predicated on people believing things that are provably untrue. This has, of course, ranged from the Birth Certificate nonsense to the belief that Obama is going to take everyone's guns away, and everything in between.
But these are in many ways secondary add-ons to Tea Partyism, whose core mantra really revolves around the federal deficit and spending: We're on the verge of bankruptcy, they claim, and it's being caused by "out-of-control" federal spending.
In the video above, Van Jones -- who knows all about right-wing lies -- deconstructs the Really Big Lie that is a cornerstone of Tea Party beliefs, not to mention right-wing media talking points, namely: We're going broke.
But a close look at the numbers reveals a few important, and frequently overlooked facts. Domestic discretionary spending is a small sliver of the budget. Our deficit and debts can be traced to the fact that spending on entitlement programs and defense has shot up, and tax revenues have plummeted to their lowest level in decades. But spending on domestic discretionary programs has grown much more slowly. And, if you correct for inflation, and for growing population, it turns out we're spending exactly the same amount on these programs as we were a full decade ago.
These numbers come from Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, who are doing their best to guard this turf.
"Although non-defense discretionary spending in nominal dollars has increased, when taking inflation and population growth into account the amount contained in the [2011 budget] represents no increase over what we spent in 2001, a year in which we generated a surplus of $128 billion," said chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) in a prepared statement. "So the right question to ask is: Are we really spending too much on non-defense programs? The answer is clearly no."
Beutler provides some graphic illustrations of the reality behind the numbers that make it clear, as he suggests, just who the chief culprit in this matter really is: right-wing governance and its mania for cutting taxes.
In the wake of the Bush tax cuts, and the Great Recession, tax revenue has fallen through the floor to near-historic lows. As a percentage of GDP, it's fallen 24 percent since 2001, and if you correct for inflation, the government is collecting nearly 20 percent less per person than it was a decade ago. At the same time, the population-adjusted costs of mandatory spending programs -- driven by Medicare, including its new prescription drug benefit, and Medicaid -- have increased by over 30 percent. And, of course, defense spending has skyrocketed. But if you isolate domestic discretionary programs, a decade later we're spending no more on a per-person basis than we were back then.
Meanwhile, Robert Reich explains all this in detail:
Yes, it's true: Right-wing ideology is increasingly built on a foundation of lies.
It's always kind of amusing watching Republicans fight over that cherished Tea Party endorsement the way dogs fight over a bone. As they apparently are in upstate New York's congressional District 26 -- the district where Christopher Lee most recently posed as a Republican congressman -- where there's now a disgruntled ex-Republican candidate named Jack Davis running as a third-party Tea Party candidate against a Republican who likewise claims various Tea Party endorsements.
A 15-second video shows a tea party congressional candidate in New York scuffling with a Republican Party volunteer who questioned his absence from a debate.
The video posted on YouTube shows candidate Jack Davis asking the volunteer Wednesday whether he wants to “punch it out” after a campaign event in Greece, outside Rochester.
Davis was responding to the man’s repeated calls for him to explain why he backed out of a debate held Thursday in Buffalo.
Davis announced Wednesday he’d changed his mind about participating in the debate with the two major party candidates in the May 24 special election for the 26th District seat. Instead, he said he’d speak to voters directly via an electronic town hall meeting May 21.
In the video, the 78-year-old candidate steps toward the volunteer, who was holding a camera and asking, “Why did you back out of the debate? Why did you back out of the debate?”
“Do you want to punch it out?” Davis asks before swiping at the camera with his right hand.
Davis then laughs as he walks to his car while a man who appears to be a Davis campaign aide approaches the cameraman. As the camera shakes, the cameraman groans out of view as if he has been struck and then resumes asking Davis, “Why did you back out of the debate?”
Of course, the national Tea Party organizations are disowning Davis and claiming he's a Democrat in disguise. Even though he in fact ran as a Republican candidate and earned the endorsement of the western New York Tea Partiers.
This should be entertaining to watch, if nothing else.
According to [its] official program, the pre-debate “Freedom Rally” is sponsored by several extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers militia group and the radical anti-communist John Birch Society. You can see a picture of the program here.
The rally also featured a cadre of high profile speakers, including Judge Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who lost his job after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, and Nikki Haley, South Carolina's first female governor.
She followed John Birch Society president John McManus, who equated neo-conservatives with socialists, and Greenville Republican activist Dan Herren, who urged the tea party to try to work within the GOP to make it more conservative.
We've reported previously about how Republicans in Montana's Legislature, completely overrun by some of the most extremist of all the Tea Party elements, have been going nuts this session, passing a variety of bills that have been so obviously unconstitutional and frivolous (not to mention downright insane) that last week the Democratic governor felt compelled to make a very public display of his vetoes -- with a branding iron.
But the problem isn't merely with the legislation they're passing. There's also a problem with the legislation they're refusing to pass.
The legislature's inaction was not, it turns out, another non-priority falling off the too-long to-do list. Rather, it's homophobic lawmakers subtly suggesting that homosexual acts should still be outlawed, the Supreme Court—and equal rights in general—be damned. In fact, at least one lawmaker, Rep. Ken Peterson, R-Billings, an attorney, argues that the archaic law may still apply in certain situations.
Which situations? According to Peterson, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, there are at least two prosecutable offenses—felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. One is the "recruitment" of non-gays. "Homosexuals can't go out into the heterosexual community and try to recruit people, or try to enlist them in homosexual acts," Peterson says. He provides an example: "'Here, young man, your hormones are raging. Let's go in this bedroom, and we'll engage in some homosexual acts. You'll find you like it.'" Peterson hasn't actually seen this happen, he says, because "I don't associate with that group of people at all... I've associated with mainstream people all my life."
The other offense, in Peterson's legal opinion, is the public display of homosexuality, since he believes the Supreme Court's decision only applies to private acts behind closed doors. Being gay in public, he says, is a wholly different matter:
"In my mind, if they were engaging in acts in public that could be construed as homosexual, it would violate that statute. It has to be more than affection. It has to be overt homosexual acts of some kind or another... If kissing goes to that extent, yes. If it's more than that, yes."
Peterson says the law in question, which was ruled unconstitutional in 1997, still has merits. He says the Montana Supreme Court's decision had a narrow scope limiting prosecution only in private settings.
"I feel the law can still have some potential application," he said Friday, "I don't think it was repealed with the Grayson case, anyone that says it was repealed hasn't read the case and doesn't understand the case."
He says gays and lesbians can and should be prosecuted for overt sexual acts in public, and for "recruiting" members of the straight community.
However, he also tried to claim that he did not say something that he in fact plainly said:
"About 96 people think they know better than the 990,000 people in Montana," says Governor Schweitzer.
Governor Schweitzer had the veto brands hot. Covering the gamet of issues important to Montanans, Schweitzer vetoed bills having to do with air and water, jobs and healthcare.
"When I swore to uphold the constitution, I meant it. There's some in this building who say, we don't care about the constitution and we don't care about the will of the people."
Now I'm sure right-wingers will rush to their fainting couches and demand Schweitzer apologize for being so violent and uncivil with his branding imagery.
But they'll have to explain why Montana Republicans tried to keep up with Schweitzer by bringing their own brand to the gathering:
Republican Senator Jason Priest, who had three bills vetoed Wednesday, says he wasn’t impressed with the theatrics.
"Consistently throughout this session we see the Governor making light of the bills that are coming across his desk instead of taking these proposals seriously," says Priest. Priest brought a prop of his own. "That's why we got this brand today. We think Montanans are getting a bum steer and that's the BS on this brand."
And while it may have been a stunt, it was a stunt with an important point:
But Senate Democrat Cliff Larsen says the demonstration gave Schweitzer a platform to tell people about bills that could really hurt.
"The Governor used the opportunity to really make a statement about a lot of the bad bills that came through because there are a group of extremists in the Republican party that have pushed some of the agendas," says Larson.
Indeed, as we've reported, a group of far-right extremists took over the Montana Legislature this year under the banner of the Tea Party, and they've been running amok. Schweitzer torched a number of their bills today:
Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans- 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure- Donald Trump is cleaning up. And as a result Trump's ridden the controversy about Barack Obama's place of birth to the highest level of support we've found for anyone in our national GOP polling so far in 2011.
Trump's broken the perpetual gridlock we've found at the top of the Republican field, getting 26% to 17% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Romney, 11% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 5% for Ron Paul, and 4% for Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.
Among that 23% only willing to vote for a birther Trump is cleaning up even more, getting 37% to 13% for Huckabee and Palin, and 10% for Romney and Gingrich. He's a lot weaker with the 38% who say they're perfectly happy to vote for someone who's dismissed the birther theory- with them Romney leads at 23%, with Huckabee at 18%, Trump at 17%, Gingrich at 10%, and Palin at only 7%.
Who seriously thinks Republican primary voters spend much time thinking about whether birth certificate views disqualify a candidate, much less are going to vote on those purported views. It's really a great example of the deep irrelevance of most early polling.
Actually, Smith's remark is typical of someone who lives deep inside the Beltway bubble and doesn't get out and mix much those ordinary voters out in the heartland. Because if you talk to Tea Partying Republican voters out in the heartland, these issues are very much a big deal to them. A large percentage of these voters have harbored doubts about Obama's citizenship for some time even if they haven't wholly embraced the Birther theories -- and as Trump legitimizes them, both the theories and Trump have gained traction with them.
Of course, Trump is also gaining traction with the Tea Partiers -- a majority of whom take the Birther claims quite seriously -- because he embodies so many of their values in many other regards, particularly their Randian/right-wing populist fantasies about the immense innate wisdom of our captains of industry. Really, this is the Donald Galt candidacy.
Last night on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, his "Great American Panel" (loaded up, as usual, with a preponderance of right-wingers with a token liberal/voice of sanity) was claiming that Trump's ascension was "making liberal heads spin", even as Hannity was asserting that "the best case" Democrats have for proving Obama's Hawaiian birth is the independent corroboration provided by the Hawaiian newspaper birth announcements (rather than the fact that Hawaiian officials say they have his long form on record there, and have issued a short-form birth certificate attesting to this fact).