Saturday, October 24, 2009

A round of applause for a true civil-rights landmark: Final passage of a federal hate-crimes bill

-- by Dave

Yesterday, the Senate passed the Defense appropriations bill, and actually garnered some 28 "No" notes from Republicans who otherwise would normally be eager to jump on a defense-spending bill.

Their reason? Well, attached to the bill was the nation's first real federal hate-crime law. And that, it seems, was too much for them.

But then, that's par for the course for the modern Republican Party, which ever since the days of Nixon has come to represent the knuckle-dragging bloc of American culture, which resists efforts to expand and protect the civil rights of all Americans tooth and claw every step of the way -- mainly by appealing to people's irrational fears that granting civil rights to others erodes their own rights ... and usually conflating rights with privileges along the way.

With President Obama having promised to sign the bill into law, however, all this sound and fury has finally come to naught. And for that, it's worth standing back and appreciating what a historic moment it actually is.

The passage of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act really is a momentous occasion: It marks the first time in history that Americans have collectively taken an effective stand against the thugs and bullies who have used violence through the course of our history to threaten and oppress whole populations of minorities.

Here's Brian Levin's summary at HuffPo:

The United States Senate passed landmark legislation today that expands the coverage and protection of federal hate crime laws to now include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability. While a 1994 federal law technically covered gays, the scope of the law was so narrow that it was hardly ever used. Today’s legislation is expected to be signed by President Obama soon. It marks the first practical expansion of the most broadly applicable criminal civil rights law since 1968.

Moreover, as Joe Solomonese at the Human Rights Campaign observed, this law marks "our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

It has been a long and arduous -- not to mention frustrating -- effort. I have been observing hate-crimes laws since their beginnings: my home state, Idaho, passed one of the nation's first bias-crime statutes in 1983, largely in response to the onset of crime associated with the Aryan Nations setting up shop in the Panhandle. (To the state's lasting shame, both of its senators voted against this bill.) My second book was an examination of the phenomenon of bias crimes and the enforcement of the laws dealing with them -- and all along, it has been clear that Congress needed to act.

What kept them, of course, was a Republican Party fully in the thrall of the Religious Right, which has fought any expansion of a federal bias-crime bill generally, while doing so under the rubric of opposing the "homosexual agenda." This bill had actually passed both houses of Congress three times previously, and was derailed each time by Republican machinations.

But that's only a small part of a much bigger picture. Passage of a federal bias-crime statute finally means that we have overcome our many previous failures to stand up to the perpetrators of terroristic crimes. Remember, if you will, how the Senate back in 2005 apologized for its failures to ever pass an anti-lynching statute back in the 1920 and 1930s, when lynching was a national problem -- even as it continued to fail to enact a law to combat the modern descendant of the lynch mob, namely, the multiple perpetrators of bias crimes.

Back when a federal hate-crimes bill was being stymied by George W. Bush and the Republican Congress in 2007, I wrote this:

The harsh truth is this: Bush and his cohort on the religious and mainstream right, for all their oft-espoused love of "freedom" and "liberty," simply don't care about the very real freedoms of millions of Americans -- not just gays and lesbians, but people of color, of foreign extraction, of varying faiths, of the "weaker sex," and people with disabilities. Because these are the people whose freedoms are systematically and violently harmed by haters and the violent thugs who feed off their bile.

Hate crimes, as I have often remarked, are one of the important ways our freedoms can be taken away by our fellow citizens rather than the government. Laws against them are designed to defend those freedoms while keeping our other cherished freedoms -- notably freedom of speech -- fully intact.

We should have learned this lesson over the failure of the anti-lynching laws -- which were defeated under the cover of nearly identical arguments, all similarly specious. As with the current crop, these arguments really are just cardboard facades that cover the real reason for the opposition -- namely, plain old-fashioned bigotry.

Prime examples of this were the sounds of unhappiness from the Religious Right upon word of the bill's passage:

Not everyone was pleased, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins told the Associated Press that act was a "part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality."

Byron York tried to pretend that attaching the bill to the Defense Appropriations bill signified its weakness, though he seems unaware that the bill actually passed both houses with strong majorities -- as it did in all three of its previous incarnations, ultimately killed by Republicans who maneuvered it to death by attaching it to the Defense Appropriations bill.

Then there was Rep. John "Oompa Loompa" Boehner, who decided that the inclusion of gays and lesbians was the problem, because the bill was intended to cover only people for their immutable characteristics":

Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner objected to House passage of a bill that would expand hate crime laws and make it a federal crime to assault people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

"All violent crimes should be prosecuted vigorously, no matter what the circumstance," he said. "The Democrats' 'thought crimes' legislation, however, places a higher value on some lives than others. Republicans believe that all lives are created equal, and should be defended with equal vigilance."

Based on that statement, contacted Boehner's office to find out if the minority leader opposes all hate crimes legislation. The law as it now stands offers protections based on race, color, religion and national origin.

In an email, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Boehner "supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics."

It should be noted that the current law does not include gender, though the expanded legislation would cover gender as well as sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

"He does not support adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes," Smith continued.

Boehner's position, then, appears to be grounded in the notion that immutable characteristics should be protected under hate crimes laws. And while religion is an immutable characteristic, his office suggests, sexual orientation is not.

Northeastern University professor Jack Levin, who co-authored the first book written about hate crimes, told Hotsheet that "to use immutability as a criterion doesn't make any sense at all."

"Especially if he supports the current stand," Levin continued. "Religion is clearly not ascribed. It's not built into the organism. People can change it at any time and people do."

Republicans, however, have never been shy about coming up with every excuse they can devise -- even bogus ones -- to oppose these laws. Another favorite is the libertarian argument that bias-crime laws create "thought crimes" and thereby "threaten our civil liberties", even though the real-world effect of the laws is to actually enhance our civil liberties by blunting the effects of the people who resort to threats and violence to take away the rights of others:

Have you ever noticed how, when libertarians and right-wingers talk about "threats to our freedoms," the only source of those threats is the government?

It's perhaps useful to remember that, over the course of American history, the greatest threats to the liberty of American citizens have come not from the government, but from our fellow citizens. Particularly, those directed by white citizens against nonwhites.

Recall, for instance, that the most egregious example of the removal of citizens' civil rights in America occurred primarily through extralegal means -- namely, during the lynching period, when thousands of blacks were summarily murdered in the most horrible fashion imaginable, often merely for the sin of being successful by white standards (this made them "uppity" and thus marked for extermination).

Lynching was a form of socially sanctioned terrorism against the black community whose entire purpose was to "keep the niggers down." It largely succeeded, until the wellsprings of the civil rights movement began working to tear it down as a broadly accepted American institution.

The legacy of lynching remains with us today, though, in the form of hate crimes -- whose purpose, once again, is to oppress and eliminate targeted minorities.

Finally, we've taken a serious step toward dealing with this problem in real time, and not just regretting our inaction in distant retrospect. For that, a lot of people -- especially those who've been fighting to pass this law for many, many years -- deserve a long and large round of applause.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Rookie Dallas cop tickets woman for driving while not speaking English

-- by Dave

Of course, the local cops are calling it a "rookie mistake":

A Dallas rookie police officer erred when he cited a woman earlier this month for being a non-English speaking driver, police said.

Officer Gary Bromley issued a citation Oct. 2 to 48-year-old Ernestina Mondragon after stopping her for making an illegal U-turn in the 500 block of Easton Road, near East Northwest Highway, according to a copy of the citation.

"That's a charge that does not exist here in the city of Dallas," said department spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell. "Although we believe it was a sincere mistake ... there's no excuse for it."

He said that charge and a charge of failure to present a driver's license were dropped.

Bromley, 33, is a trainee officer in the Northeast Patrol division. His trainer on the date the ticket was issued was Senior Cpl. Daniel Larkin, 53, said Deputy Chief Tom Lawrence, Northeast Patrol commander.

Under the Dallas City Code, taxi drivers must be able to communicate in English. Mitchell said there is also a federal statute that says commercial drivers must speak English, but it would not have applied in this case.

Seems to me the problem is not merely with Officer Bromley's assumptions about Driving While Mexican, but those of his training officer, who presumably oversaw the citations as Bromley was writing them up.

Of course, if Officer Bromley winds up washing out in Dallas because of this, he needn't worry. He would probably be welcomed at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department with open arms.

UPDATE: Now the Dallas police chief is admitting that there have been dozens of such tickets:

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said this afternoon that his officers have written at least 39 citations to people over the past three years for not speaking English.

Apologizing publicly to the city's Spanish-speaking community, the chief said all officers and supervisors involved will be investigated for dereliction of duty. All pending citations will be dismissed, and people who paid fines will be reimbursed.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Minuteman leader Jim Gilchrist's ties to Shawna Forde's gang of killers finally catch up with him

-- by Dave

Juan Williams, filling in for Bill O'Reilly last Friday on The O'Reilly Factor, had on my friend Kyle de Beausset (who blogs as Kyledeb at Citizen Orange) to discuss Kyle's role in Harvard University's decision to rescind a speaking invitation to Minuteman leader Jim Gilchrist. As you can see, Williams was perplexed by what should be an obvious matter: While Harvard is well served by hearing all sides of a debate, it serves neither the university nor the public to legitimize the rantings of a hatemonger whose rhetoric inspires violence.

At least the Harvard Crimson got it straight:

The movement to ban Gilchrist from the conference was largely initiated by Kyle A. de Beausset ’11, who in early October began using different university mailing lists to build support for uninviting Gilchrist due to his involvement in the Minuteman Project, which organizes civilians to patrol the border for illegal immigrants and to report crossings to the Border Patrol.

“It might be an interesting intellectual exercise for Harvard students to hear extremist views,” de Beausset wrote in one of these e-mails, but he added that the “broader implications of legitimizing these extremist views with the Harvard name” were more important.

“Jim Gilchrist’s willingness to spout falsehoods shows that he shouldn’t be given the legitimacy of open and free academic debate...His irresponsible rhetoric has led to violence,” de Beausset told The Crimson in an interview.

In a statement released on the conference Web site, the Undergraduate Legal Committee said that Gilchrist’s presence would detract from the conference because his attitude and views were inconsistent with the conference’s mission of promoting law and public service to foster social justice.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Gilchrist’s participation in the conference on the behalf of the Minuteman Project was not compatible with providing an environment for civil, educational, and productive discourse on immigration, and we cannot host him at this time,” it said.

What may have been the deciding factor, it turns out, may have been Jim Gilchrist's history of bad judgment catching up to him -- namely, his long association with Shawna Forde, the leader of a gang of "tacital" Minutemen who, in a failed effort to finance their activities through robbery, shot and killed a 9-year-old girl and her father late at night in their home in cold blood.

The Boston Globe explained:

Kyle de Beausset, an undergraduate student and migrant advocate, who was one of the original Harvard protesters, said yesterday that Gilchrist’s removal will allow discussions to move toward policy, rather than animosity.

“It’s a victory for people who are trying to get hate out of the immigration debate,’’ he said. “There’s a difference between having views, and hate speech.’’

Beausset said more students have been alerted to the group’s stance since the arrest in June of a woman with ties to the Minuteman Project.

Shawna Ford and two others allegedly shot and killed a father and son, and wounded the mother in a robbery that Beausset said was to “finance her nativist activism.’’

He said the episode showed the extremes to which some members of the movement will go.

“I’m concerned about the broader national implications of legitimizing these extremist views with the Harvard name,’’ he said in a letter to fellow students.

[Note: The Globe story has its facts slightly mangled; the Minuteman gang's young victim was a girl.]

Arizona Star reporter Tim Steller noted the role played by Gilchrist's ties to Forde as well.

Jim Gilchrist posted the following response:

Clearing the Propaganda and Educating the Uninformed:

Neither I nor the MInuteman Project ever had an “extensive” association with Shawna Forde. I met her in person briefly only three times over a four year period. The last time was in early 2008 as she sat in an audience listening to me and a retired career DEA agent speak. A phone call was made to her when I received an email that law enforcement was supposedly looking for her in June 2009. She denied any wrongdoing when confronted over the phone about that “inquiry.” That is essentially all the so-called “association” Minuteman Project had with Forde.

Propaganda may bode well for Kyle de Beausset and his egomaniacal demand for attention, but the price paid by Harvard’s loss of stature as a beacon of free thhought and free speech is irreparable.

Read my essay on immigration published by Georgetown U Law School. It is at my web site. It that essay represents hate speech, then so does Mary Poppins. I rest my case.

Jim Gichrist, President, The Minuteman Project

— Jim Gilchrist 10/21/2009 09:20 PM

Well, one of those "brief meetings" with Forde involved a big public Minuteman rally organized by Forde in Everett, Washington, back in 2006, about the same time Forde was appearing onstage representing the Minutemen in public-TV forums, too. Gilchrist was the star attraction at the Everett rally, and he and Forde praised each other onstage.

In an earlier report, moreover, Steller pointed out that Gilchrist was up to his ankles in communicating with Forde right up to the point of her arrest -- and in fact appears to have tried to tip her off that federal authorities were looking for her:

Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project and an early leader of the movement, said last week that he donated $200 to a member of Forde's group, that he called Forde a few days after the murders as investigators closed in, and that his group removed postings by and about Forde from its Web site after the arrests. But he called Forde and her associates "rogues," and denied that he or his group had a formal relationship with her.

"They happened to use the Minuteman movement as a guise, as a mask," he said.

... On June 2, three days after the murders, Gilchrist received an e-mail from a Southern Arizona associate who had been visited by investigators looking for Forde. Gilchrist forwarded the e-mail to Forde, he said.

He said he called her and asked if there was a warrant for her arrest. She said no.

And as LongIslandWins reported earlier, Forde was given a prominent role for some time in Gilchrist's outfit:

According to rival Minutemen, Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project listed Shawna Forde as a leader of the so-called "mainstream" group for more than a year. Forde was recently charged in the politically motivated killing of two Latinos.

... Jeff Schwilk, a California Minuteman leader, said he tried to warn other Minutemen that "she was a danger to our movement”, but, he said, nationally known Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist wouldn't listen.

Schwilk told a reporter that Forde "was (listed as) his [Gilchrists] official border operations director on his Web site for more than a year (in 2008 and 2009)...He used her and she used him to promote each other.” And while Gilchrist's aides have claimed that he had no close connection to Forde, Gilchrist participated in a rally she organized in 2007.

And Steven Eichler, the current executive director of the Minutemen Project, admits that he periodically posted communications from Forde on the organization's web site. As I noted last week, most references to Shawna Forde on the network of Minuteman websites have been scrubbed this week to avoid the obvious connection to the killing of Latinos. But the Green Valley News was able to obtain and preserve some postings before the cover-up began. Here is what that newspaper uncovered:

One link that was active Saturday afternoon but removed later in the day included a September 2008 message from Gilchrist stating, “I salute all the brave Minutemen and Minutewomen of the Minutemen American Defense [Forde's supposedly "marginal" outfit]. Their bravery and dedication is a sterling example of true patriotism. The members of the Minutemen American Defense are a positive example for all Americans to follow.”

Another “Message from Forde,” since removed, was posted eight days after the May 30 murders of Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, but several days before Forde, Jason Eugene “Gunny” Bush and Albert Gaxiola were arrested in the case. It introduced Bush as MAD’s new operations director and stated, “We are in full operation we have people coming from Florida and other parts of the country to assist in gathering exclusive footage of drug cartel drug smuggling and humane (sic) trafficking.”

Forde sent the article to Gilchrist and Eichler on June 6 via an e-mail obtained by the Green Valley News.

Eichler responded in the e-mail the next day, writing, “Do you want a large volumne (sic) of volunteers to go to the border under your watch? If you are going to expand, then you will get all the way from lawn chair lookie lous to hard core combat ready Minutemen.”

In an interview, Eichler said he remembered the correspondence, but had no idea then that Forde might have been involved in the murders. Hindsight is 20-20, he said, but nothing tipped him off to Forde’s potential for violence.

“We facilitated the publicizing of her organization like we’ve facilitated many others,” he said. “We want to work with as many people as we can. But in doing so, there is still that risk.”

So the Executive Director of the Minuteman Project contacts Shawna Forde on June 7, 2009, not a year ago, but right before she is arrested, and offers to place a large number of his armed troops "under your [Forde's] watch". Some of these volunteers he refers to as "hard core combat ready Minutemen".

In other words, in spite of the warnings of a few Minutemen, there is ample reason to think that Forde was considered "part of the movement" right up until the minute she was arrested. And far from being the "neighborhood watch" group that Lou Dobbs likes to depict the Minutemen as, their own leader calls them "combat ready".

Yep, that's Jim Gilchrist, all right.

The ironic thing is that, as I noted in my investigative report on the Minutemen for The American Prospect, Gilchrist even last year was already ruing the violent turn the movement had taken, in part because it attracted people like ... Shawna Forde, as it turned out:

The Minuteman movement has fallen on such hard times that even Gilchrist has publicly admitted that he regrets the "Saddam Hussein mentality" within its ranks, particularly some of its smaller, independent offshoots. "Am I happy at the outcome of this whole movement? I am very, very sad, very disappointed," Gilchrist told The Orange County Register in June. His concern may have been disingenuous, but it was far from groundless. Over the past year, several incidents of violence have been associated with various subfactions of the Minutemen. Last summer, a couple of Minutemen created a video portraying the shooting of border-crossers--which they later admitted was a hoax but decidedly a reflection of their real attitudes. The men were in a group that had spun off from the San Diego Minutemen, itself an independent offshoot of the movement.

But then, the fact that the Minutemen were a giant magnet for the worst kinds of violent extremists was obvious to many observers right from the start.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What is the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus for? 'We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats'

Liberal Hunting Permit_2527f_0.jpg

Ah, feel the eliminationism.

Rep. Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican, had a jocular interview with Politico's Anne Schroeder Mullins and popped out this little knee-slapper:

Mullins: What in the world does the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus do?

Harper: We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition.

Coming from a congressman from a state still renowned for its lynchings and murders not just of black people but white civil-rights workers -- in an era many of us can still remember clearly -- this kind of "humor" is anything but funny.

However, it is the kind of thing we've come to expect to today's Republicans, isn't it?

Not that makes any difference to Blue Dog Democrats like Ben Nelson. As Media Matters notes:

Ironically, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), a co-chair of the caucus, has praised the group for being bipartisan. "Unlike some of the other activities in Washington, Republicans and Democrats reach across the aisle and join hands to work together, not as Republican or Democrat, but as sportsmen and women," he wrote.

Someone should ask Ben Nelson if he enjoys hunting liberal Democrats too, since that's what his caucus is apparently viewed as a venue for.

(Addendum: Somehow I'm not surprised that Harper is a Mississippian who thinks John Grisham is a "literary great" who surpasses Faulkner and Welty. Gad.)

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

'The Eliminationists': Yet another round of interviews, and assorted notes

[Warning: Naked self-promotion ahead.]


My book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right continues to attract a lot of interest, partly because it so clearly anticipated the current descent into madness of mainstream conservatives, currently drowning in a lake of right-wing extremism. I didn't predict tea parties, but I did warn that '90s-style militia wingnuttery was about to swamp the Republican Party, and I do explain how this is happening.

So this week I was the featured interview at Amanda Marcotte's podcast at RH Reality Check. We specifically focused on the way right-wing domestic terrorists have had a profound impact on women's reproductive rights. This is a brief interview; it starts at about the 8-minute mark and continues to the 24-minute mark.

And I was also featured as the live guest on Second Life for this week's episode of Virtually Speaking on BlogTalkRadio.

This is an hourlong session and fairly broad-ranging. It was fun for me because I've known Jay Ackroyd for over 10 years -- online (we useta post at the old Slate forum The Fray back in the day), but we only finally met in person this summer at Netroots Nation. We talk about posting at Crooks and Liars, among other things. I also get to talk about my favorite moment of the past year: Having been the guy who made Sarah Palin crazy enough to try to have McCain lie, thereby cementing her rep as a diva among the McCain campaign.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Lou Dobbs and the key to the immigration debate: Is it amnesty, or a path to citizenship?

-- by Dave

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat, kick-started the coming immigration debate this week by delivering a 10-point plan for immigration reform that looks like a solid progressive start:

Pathway to legalization for undocumented workers

Professional and effective border enforcement

Smart and humane interior enforcement

Protecting workers

Verification systems

Family unity as a cornerstone of our immigration system

Future flows of workers



Promoting immigrant integration

[Go read the details.]

Then he went on Lou Dobbs' CNN program to discuss the plan with an obviously skeptical Dobbs -- who, of course, had to whine about how he was being attacked as a racist, just for promoting an extremist agenda.

In the process, he makes clear just what the primary cry of the nativists in the upcoming debate will be: "Amnesty!"

DOBBS: Fundamental to the question becomes, is it every illegal immigrant, is it unconditional amnesty, and what will be the impact of that? And those are issues. Think about it, we're here in 2009, some left wing ethnocentric interest groups are calling for my firing from CNN because I'm quote unquote a racist. I could obtain purity in a moment if I would just simply embrace open borders and sponsor illegal immigration. That's the kind of distortion that is not helpful. The reality is, we have some basic questions that people are avoiding asking. And if I may, let me ask a couple and see how we go and go forward. One, should every illegal immigrant in this country receive amnesty?

Gutierrez, however, is up to the job, and gives a clear and sensible answer:

GUTIERREZ: I believe that every undocumented worker in this country who can come forward and show that they've violated no other law except the immigration law, which they used breaking the immigration law to arrive in this country, that's it. No other felony, no other criminal record. That they are sustentative, they got family, they've got a job, they've been working, and they're ready to prove that by bringing forward and going through a very rigorous background check, we should give them an opportunity. Does that mean they go directly to permanent residency and directly to citizenship? No, we have to earn that too. But I think we can give them a program of five, six years which they continue to work, pay taxes, learn English, civics, become fully incorporated and at the end, if they fill the test, then we'll let them stay. But I want them to earn because in the interim period, many Americans say they're here and they're not paying their fair share. My program says, let them pay their fair share. Because we don't have political will, we don't have the programs to deport them, why don't we integrate them? There will be undesirable immigrants to this country, which we can weed out of the program very easily. We can have a set of rules.

It was a good start, if the objective is to make this a rational debate. And certainly, that's what progressives will want to do, because they have the facts and hard realities on their side.

Not that it means we'll actually get a rational debate. The Dobbses seem intent on ignoring the facts and whipping up people's fears, and we can expect that's what we'll get from the Fox crew as well.

Still, anticipating that, progressives need to find a common set of principles for advancing real immigration reform that works and makes valued citizens out of marginalized immigrants, brings them into the labor force (especially as union members) and taxpayers. Because there is going to be a lot of divisive crap thrown up in this debate, and lot of different and competing legislative plans. It will be important to keep our eyes on the prize.

To that end, Duke1676 at MigraMatters has put together a list of 25 principles for progressives in the immigration debate, including:

-- End policies that rely only on enforcement and deterrence as the sole means of regulating migration.

-- Address the root causes of immigration, and change US policy so that it doesn't foster and produce conditions that force hundreds of thousands of people each year to leave their countries of origin in order to simply survive.

-- Tie all current and future trade, military, and foreign aid agreements to not only worker protections both here and abroad, but also to their ability to foster economic progress and social justice for the working class and poor in sender nations.

-- Formulate a reasonable, humane, fair and practical method for determining the levels of immigration going forward. Establish an independent commission free from the pressures of political expediency and business interests to review all the pertinent data and set admission numbers based on labor, economic, social, and humanitarian needs.

-- Provide a path to legalization for all current undocumented immigrants living and working in the US, free of restrictions based on country of origin, economic status, education, length of residency, or any other “merit based” criteria.

-- Secure the borders by first ensuring that the vast majority of new immigrants have the ability and opportunity to legally enter the country through legal ports of entry by increasing the availability and equitable distribution of green cards. This would curtail the flow of migration through illegal channels. Only after that, should enforcement begin to ensure compliance, or any work to physically secure the border take place.

And finally, the bottom line:

Recognize that immigration is a vital part of maintaining a healthy and vibrant America. It is what has set this nation apart from all others since its inception. To close our borders to new immigrants is to cut off the lifeblood that has always made this nation grow and prosper.

These are good starts. Progressives are setting the table for a rational debate on immigration. We're inviting conservatives to join us. But we're not holding our breaths.

Below: Another video of Rep. Gutierrez outlining his plan.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Militia madness: Online game based on American civil war in 2011 after 'Obama's coup fails'

Obama Coup Fails_8da47.JPG

-- by Dave

It seems like every week I come across some truly weird piece of militia organizing from the freshly revived Patriot movement.

This week's is pretty special: An online game at which you can actually earn money by defending America in the year 2011 against the evil forces of the fallen Obama administration. The game is called "2011: Obama Coup Fails". [Only go to the site if you don't mind giving them the hits. Otherwise, you can get the idea here.]

They've created a whole future history, written from the perspective of people in the year 2011. And as you can see, it's militia-movement material from the '90s updated for the Glenn Beck generation. For instance, here's the history:

As far back as the 1950s there were many who would talk of the N.W.O., or New World Order, behind closed doors--and the plan to implement it. Rumors of this clandestine planning were scoffed at by the media and political elite, and the majority of people were in the dark concerning the true nature of the processes and policies unfolding before their eyes. By 2007 the N.W.O was being spoken about freely in the media. By 2009, the President of the United States and world leaders openly discussed how to achieve this New World Order, and how to ensure the permanency of a regime that would represent the successful culmination of the Marxist experiments of the 20th century. Back in 2007, one brave newscaster was the first in what used to be called the 'mainstream media' to ring the alarm bell. That man was Lou Dobbs of CNN. Click to see video. Lou Dobbs was reported missing during the media purges of January and February 2011, when Mark Lloyd and the FCC, on Obama's orders, cracked down on all dissent in broadcasting. Glen Beck, another broadcast media personality who rang the alarm bell before the coup, was found dead of an 'aspirin overdose' in late 2010, after the devastating elections in November.

Other broadcasters and 'new media leaders' Neil Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity, among the hundreds of others who dared to speak against what was going on, were rounded up shortly before the newly elected Congresspeople and Senators were to be seated. This event is now referred to as the Great Media Purge of 2011. President Obama and the Draconian FCC, now filled with his appointed Marxists including Mark Lloyd (Click to watch video), were quick to abolish FOX news, talk radio and all other dissent. The elite media, formerly called the mainstream media, were ecstatic as their audience had been declining week after week beginning in 2008. Unable to face a real media that investigated and reported news, they acted in self-interest in hope of getting government bailout money promised to them by officials in the Obama administration. This was the first step in the nationalization of all media in America, which officially began in 2010, a move that Americans would not welcome and helped spur the Second American Revolution. It all seemed to be coming to a head by late 2009. With over a million (by some estimates) people gathering in Washington D.C. for the anti-tax rally on 9/12, spurred on by Americans from all parties, the media's complicit bend toward dictatorship showed itself for the world to see.

Yahoo News, NY Times, and most other media outlets simply ignored the rallies. Rather than cover the news as news outlets used to do before journalism died in 2008, they preferred to tar the attendees as "racists" and "extremists." It now seemed as if all of middle America were being called racists and extremists. Even the Department of Homeland Security put all Patriots on a watch list for daring to want smaller government or less taxes. They dared even to classify our returning vets as security risks to be watched, which helped to add to the military's disgust with the Obama Administration and media. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for most Americans came when Obama appointed avowed communists and ex-felons such as Van Jones to White House positions "advising" Obama. No one to this day knows how such people could pass the formerly required background checks of the F.B.I. The NY Times, oozing bias, formerly the newspaper of record, didn't even mention most of these Czars' names until the bloggers and FOX investigative reporting outed them as the crazed radicals that they were.

Of course, using recent video tape of the Marxists talking of either overthrowing America or of their love of Castro, Chavez and other Marxists, was enough for the NY Times to claim a 'hatchet job' had been performed on the Czars. This was a laughable matter for any American who knew how Obama was filling all posts with real Marxists and revolutionaries who hated the United States and freedom. The fallen Glenn Beck put it all together for us and the question was asked "Could a coup ever take place in America?" Andrew Breitbart led the way in exposing the communists in ACORN and their massive voter fraud schemes. The elite media turned a blind eye as usual. The bloggers came out over and over again exposing the entire collapse of our financial system and how it was executed via the CRA or Community Reinvestment Act. Even Obama's past was well-hidden, with the help of the elite media. In fact, his entire past was shielded from the public. These facts further incensed the public. The Revolution brewed and brewed and nothing had stopped it by early 2010.

The powderkeg had a short fuse, which Obama was more than happy to light. American citizens were not sheep like the citizens of Britain, who allowed their government to take away their right to bear arms, and Americans would not go quietly into the night. Even before Barack Obama was elected, the destruction of America was well-planned by the global Marxists and N.W.O. proponents. American citizens were also well-prepared and the Revolution turned out to be one of the bloodiest any nation would ever see. With literally millions of Americans taking to the streets and even facing down Federal troops in Michigan, New York, California, Texas, and Illinois, Obama knew his days were numbered. Admiral Mullen of the Joint Chiefs finally recalled all Federal troops from their remaining posts in American cities after 4,000 soldiers in Michigan, most of them Oathkeepers, turned on and killed the commander Obama had hand-picked for them. This was the 8th incident across America where American Soldiers or Marines dared to follow the Constitution and not obey the Un-Constitutional orders given to them by Obama's appointed commanders. The Joint Chiefs decided not to be on the wrong side of history and declared that the military would stand aside and guard against any foreign threats during the remaining days of the crisis.

They even have a future news section with headlines like:

Michelle Obama Captured By Militia, America Celebrates

Breitbart's Brigade Takes Out C.O.R.N.Y. Forces

Joe Wilson and the New Congress Militia Meet Up With Breitbart Brigade

Michelle Malkin Stands Out Among The Leaders Who Saved America

My favorite was this one:

Palin v Hamas_e081a.JPG

Sarah Palin Found Fighting For Freedom

March 2011 - Sarah Palin found fighting in a militia in Virginia. She was helping to attack a convoy of C.O.R.N.Y. (Congress of Rejected and Neglected Youth) fighters. Sarah is still a candidate for that high office once Obama and his forces are neutralized. When asked for a comment by a local reporter she said " The time for talk is well past us. Don't ask me anything about any elections until we free this country completely from Obama, Hamas, and Obama's police force. We will put a complete end to Marxism once and for all right here in Virgina, God help us!" Sarah is well remembered for the constant attacks on her by the 'elite media'. The very same reporters and supposed news outlets such as the now defunct NY Times, that hid the news and played the most massive propaganda game on any free people in the history of mankind. With the Marxist elite media now a thing of the past, Freedom is surely rising. Sarah will make a fine President and has promised to do all in her power to put us back on the right path.

Of course, all the other prominent right-wing pundits -- even RedEye's Greg Gutfeld -- eventually have headline roles as future heroes, too.

Not everything is set in 2011, though. Their blog currently leads with the headline:

Obama and the Coming Marxist Coup?

October 15, 2009 - Obama has now put in place a machine to take over via Marxist Coup. Is it all by accident? Do we continue to catch Marxist after Marxist with insane ideas? All of his advisers are Marxists who love Chavez, Mao and Castro and hate America. We are in trouble America. Click More below and link 1 after that. Get informed before it is too late. The crisis in Mortgages is getting worse not better (link 3) and inflation is here now. See link 3. This is the crisis that Obama has in the bag to try to exploit if he chose to. Do you trust him? Tell everyone you know the time of reckoning seems to be almost here. What other crisis can Obama pull out of his hat? Does he need any other to announce a new glorious age of Marxism in 2010?

What is the content that you get when you click on this post? Why,
all Glenn Beck videos,
of course.

And just so you understand how the "defensive" mindset of the militia movement works, you can check out the game itself. Here's a tutorial:

How's it work? Well, basically, you get ahead in this game by invading and conquering your neighbors in adjacent counties. Preferably, you go after territories occupied by the forces of C.O.R.N.Y. (Gee, I wonder what ethnicity those forces are, don't you?)

Charming. But predictable.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Juan Williams defends Limbaugh by bringing on two other right-wing bigots

-- by Dave

Sure enough, just as Nicole wondered, Juan Williams was pretty bent out of shape over Warren Ballentine's calling him out -- using black cultural lingo -- for being such a willing supplicant to the "Limbaugh is being oppressed by mean black people" meme currently popular in right-wing circles.

So who does he bring on to buttress his claim that liberals are being bigots? Why, none other than Tammy Bruce and ... the Rev. Ken Hutcherson!

Bruce is bad enough. This is the person who called Michelle Obama "trash" and opined that "President Obama has some malevolence toward this country". She's also suggested that torture is no worse than a bad day in West Hollywood. We also remember her classy tweet on learning of Ted Kennedy's death: "[He] left a woman to drown and now he's left us to drown." In other words, hardly an ideal person to be claiming a lack of civility from the left.

But Hutcherson? That's rich.

Folks outside the Seattle area may not know a lot about Hutcherson, so
they just see him as a black conservative. Which is common enough, especially on Fox. It's more genuine than being a fake liberal like Williams, at least.

But he's also one of the most prominent anti-gay bigots in the state, and for that matter on the West Coast.

This is a man who told his flock that "God hates effeminate men".

He also headed up an initiative to legalize anti-gay discrimination in Washington state. (It went down in flames.)

Of even deeper concern is his heavy involvement in promoting a virulent and violent anti-gay organization called Watchmen on the Walls. This is a global evangelical-Christian outfit that, elsewhere in the world (particularly in Eastern Europe) is associated with violent anti-gay hate crimes.

I reported on a Watchmen gathering in nearby Lynnwood a couple of years ago (photos here). I also remember his sermon very clearly:

Hutcherson's talk was similarly soothing, following the "hate the sin but love the sinner" reasoning common among fundamentalists, but clearly belying his own war-oriented rhetoric and the talk of gay "abomination" pervasive among the Watchmen.

"I don't believe all discrimination is wrong," he said. "I discriminate based on what is right. God discriminates too.

"Today, disagreement means hate. If I disagree with you, I hate you. Evidently, God is the biggest hater in the world. The first thing we Christians need to take back is the right to disagree."

Of course, if it were only disagreement -- and not condemnation and eliminationism -- that Hutcherson and the Watchmen on the Walls were proffering this weekend, no one would have minded. But it wasn't.

The odd thing about hearing this kind of lame rationale from Hutcherson is that he is an African American man. As it happens, I've listened to a sermon that used nearly identical logic -- that discrimination isn't about hate if God commands it in the Bible -- at least once before. It was delivered by the late Rev. Richard Butler at an annual Aryan Nations Congress in Hayden Lake, Idaho. And he was talking about black people.

Hutcherson also believes that laws against anti-gay discrimination are different than those against racial discrimination because the latter is "an immutable characteristic" while the former is "a chosen behavior." (The problem with that rationale, of course, is that those same laws cover anti-religious discrimination. Is religion an "immutable characteristic", or a "chosen behavior"?)

In any event, Hutcherson is scorned not because he's a conservative, but because he is a bigot himself. Which is bad enough in any American, but incredibly obtuse for an African American.

Which makes him a perfect complement to Juan Williams.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.