Thursday, February 17, 2011

Karl Rove blames 'Birthers' on a 'White House strategy' to ensnare unwitting Republicans in 'Birch Society' trap

-- by Dave

We're already accustomed to Bill O'Reilly's standard MO when it comes to polls: If it makes Democrats and/or President Obama look bad, he shouts it to the skies. If it makes Republicans look bad, he simply doesn't believe it and declares the poll methodologically faulty.

And so it was no surprise when, given the recent polling demonstrating that a majority of Republican primary voters are suckers for the Birther conspiracy theories, O'Reilly last night flatly declared the polls wrong:

O'REILLY: And in the "Impact" segment tonight, new poll by a Democratic organization says 51 percent of Republican primary voters believe President Obama was not born in the USA. I do not believe that poll. And here's the reason. The sample is so minuscule, very few people vote in Republican primaries. And to isolate them would be a challenge even for Gallup, much less a political polling center.

So, here is a better poll. According to CBS news, 58 percent of Americans believe the President was born in America, just 20 percent say he was born in another country. The rest don't seem to care. There is no question that some Democrats are trying to marginalize Republican opposition in 2012 by painting them as nuts, thus the birther polling.

Right -- because a a poll surveying all Americans is going to be just like a poll surveying Republican primary voters, eh?

Er, not exactly. Indeed, O'Reilly just unintentionally highlighted the stark differences between your average Tea Partying-Obama-hating-liberal-smacking Republican voter and the average sane, normal, decent American.

And then he brought on Karl Rove, who then declared that this whole Birther conspiracy theory was concocted by the Obama White House as a way to ensnare poor unwitting wingnuts in the "trap" of John Birth Society-esque conspiracy theories.

No, really, that's what he said:

O'REILLY: OK, so, there is no doubt in my mind after watching Gregory on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, grilling Speaker Boehner about the birth certificate and all of that that the liberal and Gregory is a liberal man, right? I'm not being unfair to him, am I?


O'REILLY: OK. He may not acknowledge it but he is. So, it's divide -- let's divide the Republican Party.

ROVE: This is a White House strategy. They love this.

O'REILLY: How do you know it's the White House strategy?

ROVE: Look, the President could come out and say, 'Here are the documents.' They are happy to have this controversy continue because every moment the conservatives talk about this they marginalize themselves and diminish themselves in the minds of independent voters. And every moment we spend talking about this controversy is a moment we can't spend talking about the failed stimulus bill, the reckless spending, Obamacare, his failures in foreign policy and his failure to live up to the promises that he made in the 2008 election.

Look, he was born in Hawaii. If he was born in Kenya, then there must have been some massive conspiracy that said this guy being born in Kenya --

O'REILLY: The Factor already did the investigation and we --


ROVE: You know, birth notices in both Honolulu newspapers.

Got that? Even though the White House has produced a real birth certificate, the kind every person born in Hawaii uses to prove their citizenship, Rove thinks that somehow the "complete" certificate on file somewhere in Hawaii will change the Birthers' minds and convince them Obama was born in the USA. Right.

And that furthermore, the refusal to produce said certificate is actually a plot by the White House to make Republicans look like wacky conspiracy theorists of the John Birch Society mold:

O'REILLY: Ok. Now, there is though and you saw it at CPAC last week in Washington, D.C. -- there is an element of the Republican Party that's far right and that really loves this kind of discourse.

ROVE: The campaign for liberty types who are there for Ron Paul.

O'REILLY: Right. They love Ron Paul. They love Christine O'Donnell. They love that kind of stuff.

ROVE: Let's be clear about it. There is a healthy dose, an unhealthy amount of people in the -- in that movement who are 9/11 deniers. I keep running into them. They protest me. Ron Paul -- big Ron Paul stickers and so forth. They are birthers.

Look, we had people stand up and boo Dick Cheney and --

O'REILLY: They called him a war criminal.

ROVE: And because again, you have a very thin fringe.

O'REILLY: But how big is that?

ROVE: It's not big at all. Remember, Ron Paul who had a lot of very -- you know, sort of mainstream issues regarding, say, the Federal Reserve and hard money.

O'REILLY: Put a percentage of --

ROVE: It's a fraction -- tiny, insignificant.

O'REILLY: So this poll it says 51 percent of -- I know this poll is flawed.

ROVE: This poll is flawed. But I do say this; Republicans had better be clear about this. This we had a problem in the 1950's with the John Birch Society and it took Bill Buckley standing up as a strong conservative and taking them on.

And within our party we have to be very careful about allowing these people who are the birthers and the 9/11 deniers to get too high a profile and say too much without setting the record straight.

O'REILLY: But what percentage of Republican voters -- five percent; 10 percent?

ROVE: I don't know. But whatever it is, it ought to be less because we need the leaders of our party to say look, stop falling into the trap of the White House. Focus on the real issues.

Actually, this isn't the first time we've heard this theory on The O'Reilly Factor. And as we observed back then:

Now, if Goldberg and O'Reilly are so concerned that the public might conclude that mainstream conservatives are prone to far-right conspiracy theories and various other forms of wingnuttery, they might look in the mirror. It's the virtual definition of wingnuttery to even be asking why Obama won't release his birth certificate when he has in fact done so.

There's no Obama conspiracy keeping this garbage alive and tying it around the necks of mainstream conservatives. They're doing a very fine job of that themselves.

And in the case of Karl Rove, you simply can't defend John Boehner's manifest failure of leadership in refusing to denounce the Birthers and then turn around in the same breath and declare that Republican need to separate themselves from their nutty Bircher faction.

Fact is, these guys are caught, as they have been for awhile, in the toxic embrace of their increasingly extremist base, embodied by a Tea Party movement in which Birtherism is a supermajority belief.

What Rove won't admit (and Boehner's abject failure to lead on the issue implicitly concedes) is that Republicans would never win any elections without that same nutty element that has always helped elect them -- but which they want to write off as the product of an evil Obama plot. Like that's going to help them deal with it.

Full transcript here.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finally! O'Reilly and guests tackle the Shawna Forde case. Of course, they lie and misinform from beginning to end.

-- by Dave

Of all the media entities that have ignored the case of Shawna Forde and her killer Minutemen, the silence at Fox News has been the most egregious and noteworthy -- particularly because Bill O'Reilly is fond of criticizing other news organizations for supposedly "ignoring" stories that he has deemed eminently newsworthy (even if, in fact, they haven't really ignored them at all, or it's in fact a story of dubious veracity).

So naturally we were pleasantly surprised when O'Reilly began tackling the Forde case last night with his panel of legal "experts," Lis Wiehl and Kimberly Guilfoyle -- and, to no one's great surprise, it was nothing but a pack of lies, disinformation and grotesque distortions, from start to finish.

For instance, here's O'Reilly's opening, having just discussed yet another case of an "illegal immigrant" having committed a murder, one of O'Reilly's favorite schticks:

O'REILLY: Now -- exact opposite on the political spectrum, in Arizona. A woman member of the Minutemen breaks into an illegal alien house?


No, that's wrong: Both Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia (as well as Gina Gonzalez, the girl's mother) were American citizens, born and raised in Arivaca.

And from a factually false opening, it goes rapidly downhill: Both Guilfoyle and Wiehl begin trading in even more factually wrong characterizations of Forde and her relationship to the Minuteman movement. Guilfoyle was perhaps the worst:

GUILFOYLE: This woman has some, um, problems otherwise. This wasn't really about immigration -- this was a woman who is a criminal, was working with this group to do drug ripoffs.

O'REILLY: She's a criminal herself.

GUILFOYLE: Yes. The organization she belonged to was Minuteman American Defense, otherwise known as MAD. But I did a lot of research on this case, and essentially she was using this organization to say, 'I'm gonna do rip-offs of drug cartels to fund my group.

O'REILLY: Ohhh, so she joined the group to find out where illegal aliens who might be dealing narcotics.

Wiehl at least points out that Forde didn't join MAD -- she founded it. But that's the least of the issues here: What's more important is that in fact this case had everything to do with immigration, which was the entire fuel motivating Forde's radicalism: She saw herself as a Minuteman "willing to take it to the next level" -- and she was using the drug money to do that.

Indeed, as we reported early on, she intended to metastasize MAD with the money so that it became a kind of super-militia whose larger purpose was to take on the federal government, not just over immigration but a whole panoply of related "Patriot" movement issues.

This wasn't about ordinary criminality: It was about right-wing radicalism. As Tim Steller at the Arizona Daily Star reported back then, she was talking to a lot of people about her plans for the group:

Accused ringleader Shawna Forde told her family in recent months that she had begun recruiting members of the Aryan Nations and that she planned to begin robbing drug-cartel leaders, her brother Merrill Metzger said Monday in a telephone interview from Redding, Calif.

"She was talking about starting a revolution against the United States government," he said.

In any event, at this point things in the O'Reilly Factor discussion became nothing but a farrago of falsehoods:
WIEHL: She was kicked out of two other organizations.

O'REILLY: Oh, she got kicked out of the Minutemen?

WIEHL: Well, that was the point. She was such a nut that she was kicked out of Minutemen. She started her own organization.

O'REILLY: All right, so her scam was, she would enter suspected drug dealers' homes and steal their drugs.

WIEHL: She thought he had $4,000 bucks in drug money, she wanted to go in there and get that money with her two accomplices.

O'REILLY: She killed how many people?

WIEHL: She killed the man, she killed the 9-year-old child --

O'REILLY: She killed a 9-year-old.

WIEHL: Yes. The mother of the 9-year-old was on the phone --

GUILFOYLE: She was present, she wasn't the shooter.

O'REILLY: Now, does she get the death penalty? Has she been sentenced?

GUILFOYLE: She is now eligible for the death penalty. The jury is considering it. Her defense at the time was, 'It wasn't me. It was the girlfriend of one of my codefendants.'

O'REILLY: But it doesn't matter, because she was convicted of the murders.

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: So she's gonna go. All right, so then, uh --

GUILFOYLE: And she should -- and the Minutemen organizations don't want any association with her.

O'REILLY: And we want to emphasize that she was kicked out --

WIEHL: She was not part of the Minutemen.

GUILFOYLE: One of them, she was kicked out within 40 minutes of attending her first meeting!

WIEHL: She lied, she said she was leader, she wasn't any of those things.

O'REILLY: So she covered her own stupid organization as a cover for her own criminal activities.

GUILFOYLE: That's correct.

O'REILLY: Then she got what she deserved.

Both Wiehl and Guilfoyle are simply lying here: Shawna Forde was a significant figure in the Minuteman movement in Washington state for the better part of two years before she headed to Arizona. She appeared onstage in Everett with Minuteman Project cofounder Jim Gilchrist at a big Minuteman rally in 2007, and appeared on a public-TV town hall as a spokesman for both the Minutemen and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which later -- much later -- repudiated her as their spokesman.

And while it's undeniable that she was bounced from a number of Minutemen gatherings -- not for being a nutcase who was too extreme, but for being a mouthy and unpleasant person -- the movement nonetheless was ripe territory for her self-aggrandizing style. She was kicked out of the Washington state chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps not because they found her too extreme, but because she was caught stealing from the back bedroom of one of the local Minutemen's home.

Just to demonstrate how dishonest they are being here: Where does Guilfoyle get the anecdote that she was kicked out of one group within 40 minutes?

Well, from Steller's superb reportage for the Arizona Daily Star, which included this little nugget about her serial rejections by a number of Minutemen:

In August 2008, Forde showed up uninvited at Camp Vigilance, used by the Minuteman Corps of California and the private group Border Patrol Auxiliary as a base for patrols, said member Carl Braun. She was ejected after 40 minutes.

Last October, she showed up at a camp near Three Points where the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps had a group, Simcox said. There, too, she was ejected not long after arriving, he said.

But let's go back and read the lede to that story:

Shawna Forde was a rogue, many border-security activists say, or an impostor or a criminal.

They say the woman now charged in connection with the home invasion and shooting deaths of an Arivaca marijuana-trafficking suspect and his 9-year-old daughter was not really one of them.

But interviews with so-called Minutemen and their critics, as well as reviews of recently scrubbed Web sites, suggest Forde was well-placed in the border-security movement and represented a persistent radical wing.

"Shawna Forde was very much a known entity in this movement and, to some degree and to different folks, tolerated for quite some time," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

Here's Shawna bragging to Scott North of the Everett Herald in early 2009 about her border-patrolling activities in the Arivaca area:

Additionally, she claimed herself that she was "not insignificant to this movement":

Of course, Forde is a well-established liar and braggart with the opposite of credibility. But in this case, it was true -- largely because, through thick and thin, she had a loyal and longtime defender in Jim Gilchrist, the cofounder of the Minuteman Project.

Indeed, as North reported over a year ago, Gilchrist was running updates on Shawna's border patrols on his Minuteman Project web site even after the Flores murders -- in a report that tried to blame the murders on illegal immigrants. Moreover, he then corresponded with her by e-mails to query about the story that the authorities were after her:

Gilchrist stood by Forde when her ex-husband was shot, after her reported rape and after her mysterious shooting, when she was wounded in the arm. When The Herald in February revealed Forde's history of childhood felonies and teenage prostitution, Gilchrist said what mattered more was her ability to overcome a troubled past.

"She is no whiner," he wrote at the time. "She is a stoic struggler who has chosen to put country, community and a yearning for a civilized society ahead of avarice and self-glorifying ego."

Gilchrist remained in touch with Forde after she left Everett without giving detectives a chance to question her closely about the attempted murder of her ex-husband.

On the Minuteman Project Web site, Gilchrist continued to post press releases and Forde's dispatches detailing her Arizona border exploits.

One of the last arrived on May 31, just hours after the Arivaca killings.

Forde reported that she and her group had been in "boots on the ground" patrols of the border for eight days and had observed thousands of pounds of dope being smuggled into the country.

"A (sic) American family was murdered 2 days ago including a 9 year old girl," Forde wrote. "Territory issue's (sic) are now spilling over like fire on the US side and leaving Americans so afraid they will not even allow their names to be printed in any press releases."

In a few days Gilchrist began receiving e-mails from a Minuteman in Tucson who had previously let Forde's teenage daughter live at his home. The man asked Gilchrist why a SWAT team had shown up at his door looking for Forde.

"I called her," Gilchrist said. "She was as calm as can be."

Forde told him there was no cause for worry. The man, she said, was a disgruntled former member of her group.

At the same time, though, she was sending out a list of 17 people around the country she wanted contacted if she was arrested or killed. After her arrest, Gilchrist learned he was 10th on her list.

He and Steve Eichler, executive director of the Minuteman Project, almost certainly were among the last people Forde e-mailed before her June 12 arrest. They talked about adding her and her officers to their Web site's list of national Minutemen leaders.

"The border is going to be HOT. Good things to come my brother," Forde wrote Eichler that morning. She was in police handcuffs later that day.

Gilchrist has since scrubbed references to Forde from his Web site. He says she appears to have cloaked her true self behind the Minutemen movement.

"We all have to be aware that there are individuals who have motives other than altruistic ones," he said. "But you don't know until they present themselves."

I wouldn't want either of these legal "experts" as my attorney. Not if they claim to have done heavy "research" into a story and then the best they can come up with is a pack of falsehoods.

But that's about the best we can ever expect to get on The O'Reilly Factor.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

'Biggest Scam Of The Generation': Beck And Hannity Pile On BBC Interview As Proof Of The Global-warming 'Hoax'

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Fox's War on Global Warming continues.
Yesterday, both Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity featured segments on their Fox shows jumping on the climate-change denialists' latest fake controversy: the bogus claim that climate scientist Phil Jones' interview with the BBC somehow included admissions that global warming isn't real.

Beck's teaser called it "the biggest scam of the generation," and wondered: "Anybody seen Al Gore?"
Beck himself claimed that Jones suggested that another warming period recorded in Europe during the Middle Ages was as deep as the current period, but that there was no consensus on whether the warming was global:
Phil Jones admits, yes, no real consensus on this one. Too much debate on whether an event known as the medieval warming period, yes, was global in nature and hotter than it is like right now.

So, to quote, obviously, the late 20th century was not unprecedented. Oh, good.
Beck also argues that the Jones interview should cause every government in the world to halt their efforts toward curbing greenhouse gases: "If this were about science, wouldn't science matter just a little bit?"

Hannity repeated all of Beck's claims. Hannity sneered that Al Gore should be happy that he doesn't have to feel guilty about "hopping on that private jet anymore."

But as Media Matters points out, their characterizations of Jones' BBC interview are typically misleading.

Most of the points they cite are distorted: Jones, for instance says that the Middle Age cooling is only significant it could be shown to have been global in nature.

Moreover, he also says that the cause of previous warming periods differs from "recent warming," which is "predominantly manmade":
During his Q&A with BBC, Jones stated that "the warming rates" of previous warming periods after 1860 are "similar and not statistically significantly different" from the most recent warming period. Jones was later asked, "If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the WMP is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?" Jones responded, "The fact that we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing." He further stated that it would not be reasonable to conclude that "recent warming is not predominately manmade" from the evidence that there have been previous periods of warming since 1850.
His remarks that there has "been no statistically significant global warming" are importantly qualified within a scientific context:
[BBC:] B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

[JONES:] Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.
In other words, the data on global warming is within a hair's breadth of being quantifiably established, and that within the next few years its "statistical significance" will have passed the ironclad scientific threshold. Rather the opposite of what Beck and Hannity tried to claim, eh?

In fact, here's what Jones actually says about global warming:
[BBC:] E - How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

[JONES:] I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.
Indeed, it turns out that the "scam of the generation" isn't the "conspiracy" of scientists to promote global warming, but rather the right-wing talking heads' claims that it's all a scam.

Deep Climate has been reporting
that the one of the denialists' chief totems -- the "Wegman Report," a right-wing congressional "investigation" of the so-called "hockey stick" climate data -- was itself riddled with likely plaigiarism and dubious scholarship.

But then, when Fox News declares war, truth is always the first casualty.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shawna Forde case briefly gets a touch of the 'liberal' media's attention. Plus: Shawna speaks

-- by Dave

We've been remarking for awhile how strange it is that the case of Shawna Forde has received so little media attention, especially because of its naturally sensational elements and the fact that it has real political and social significance. Indeed, one of the most common reactions we've observed among readers to whom we've presented the case has been: "Why haven't I heard about this?"

Even with yesterday's conviction on two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, it hasn't gotten a great deal better: the story, for instance, ran as only a "brief" in the New York Times, and didn't appear at all in the Washington Post, even though both had written briefly about it previously.

Well, at least CNN -- the only cable-TV network to have bothered to pick up the story previously -- did a full-length segment on the story, which ran on Anderson Cooper's show.

It pretty well covered the bases, although it repeatedly emphasized that Forde had been "kicked out" of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps for being "emotionally unstable" and that she was supposedly not associated with any of them -- even though in fact Forde maintained a close association with Minuteman Project cofounder Jim Gilchrist right up to the moment of her arrest, and was very much part of the larger Minutemen movement.

Easily the best coverage of the case came from the local reporters at the Arizona Daily Star and from the Daily Beast's Terri Greene Sterling, who yesterday pulled off a coup by getting Forde to talk to her for a post-conviction interview.

As we observed yesterday, one of the more remarkable aspects of the announcement of the jury's verdict was how utterly unfazed by it Forde seemed to be. Sterling zeroed in on this:

Forde, dressed in a navy-and-cream blazer and navy pants, remained calm as she listened to the verdict, even though the murder charges could lead to a death sentence in a state that does not shy from executions. The 43-year-old former child burglar, mom, beautician, and self-professed Minuteman from Everett, Washington, kept her composure, because, she told The Daily Beast in an exclusive post-verdict jailhouse interview, “you can’t freak out with the whole world watching you.”

Speaking by videophone in the Pima County Adult Detention Center, the woman prosecutors dubbed a braggart and a killer—who reportedly boasted she would “kick down doors and change America” with her border vigilante activities—maintained her innocence.

Wearing glasses, no makeup, and black-and-white striped jailhouse pajamas, Forde told me she was “extremely saddened” by the verdict. The jury of 11 women and one man also found Forde guilty of attempted murder, two counts of assault, two counts of robbery and one count of burglary. The jury gave a clear victory to prosecutors, who accused Forde of cooking up a plan to steal drugs and money from Raul Flores by gaining entry to his Arivaca, Arizona, mobile home with accomplices on the pretense of being law-enforcement officers in search of fugitives.

The verdict was “surreal” to Forde, but she said she took it like a “pro.” As the leader of Minutemen American Defense, or MAD, which she described as a large organization of patriots, she said she’d learned to “take things step by step, revamp, assess, and move forward.”

Forde also claimed that she sympathized with Brisenia's mother, Gina Gonzalez, who was shot in the home invasion but survived, and later identified Forde as the leader of the gang. But then, she had a very bizarre way of expressing it:

“I know in her mind,” Forde said of Gonzalez, “I am guilty and she hates me. I know her tragedy is extremely sad.” But on the other hand, she said “people shouldn’t deal drugs if they have kids.” (No drugs were found in the trailer.)

Forde told me she’d “lost a daughter” and she knows from experience Gonzalez will feel pain “the rest of her life” and her “tragedy is extremely sad.” “I wish I could say I was sorry it happened,” Forde said. “I am not sorry on my behalf because I didn’t do it.”

Forde, of course, is a prodigious liar. Fortunately, the jury figured that out.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Master interrupter O'Reilly whines that David Gregory was 'disrespectful' of John Boehner in MTP interview

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly was in his usual High Umbrage mode last night over the way Meet the Press' David Gregory grilled House Speaker John Boehner over his manifest failure to provide some real leadership among Republicans by knocking down the continuing belief by so many conservatives that President Obama is Muslim -- embodied in that Frank Luntz/Sean Hannity "focus group" from Iowa that was dominated by fools who continue to believe that the president is not a Christian.

Of course, O'Reilly didn't bother to mention that the original media miscreancy that gave rise to the Boehner grilling occurred on Fox -- but this was just another classic case of O'Reilly defending his Fox colleagues for their smear-laden propaganda and claiming that it was perfectly legitimate.

But the real howler in all this was the segment's overarching narrative -- namely, as O'Reilly put it, that Gregory somehow conducted a "disrespectful" interview.

This is pretty funny, really, coming from a guy who just conducted an interview with the President of the United States that was remarkable for the utter lack of respect he exhibited -- not just in the nasty tone of his questions (such as how Obama felt about all those people who "hate" him), but even more particularly in the way he relentlessly interrupted the president, refused to let him finish a sentence, and .

Indeed, some folks even put together a video detailing all the interruptions:

Apparently, O'Reilly would have been fine if it were Obama getting the grilling from Gregory. But when it's a Republican, and the source of the matter is Fox Propaganda -- well hey, that's a whole nother story, Fox respects Republicans by tossing them softballs and giving them Hannity Jobs -- and it respects Democrats by treating them like crap.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shawna Forde: Guilty of all eight counts in the Flores family murders

-- by Dave

The jury in Shawna Forde's trial for the murders of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, spent nine hours deliberating the case before delivering its verdict today in Pima County Superior Court, and it was clear there was little doubt in their minds: Forde was found guilty of all eight counts in the case, including two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder for the shooting of Brisenia's mother, and an assortment of burglary, robbery and aggravated assault charges.

I was there to observe. The jury's verdict came in relatively short time this morning in Tucson, and it was an efficient affair: Forde, wearing a light plaid suit jacket and pants, entered with her attorneys, looking confident and smiling. The jury then filed in, and delivered their verdicts to the judge. The court clerk then read them aloud, along with the jury's findings: guilty, guilty, guilty, with no doubts at all about any of the qualifying issues.

Strangely, Forde was almost perfectly emotionless: She looked straight ahead, chatted with her attorneys, and even smiled occasionally. Indeed, she continued to exude the bravado that has been her style from the outset -- even as she was led back out of the courtroom to her awaiting prison cell.

There were plenty of emotions flowing, though -- much of it directly in front of me. As the verdicts were announced, Brisenia's mother, Gina Gonzalez -- who not only survived the shootings, but delivered damning testimony in the trial -- began weeping softly, as did her sister and mother, who accompanied her.

Now the trial heads to the penalty phase, with a hearing tomorrow to discuss mitigating factors in the sentencing, which will be followed by deliberations to determine whether or not she ends up on Arizona's death row. (Arizona currently has only one other woman facing the death penalty -- Wendi Andriano, convicted in 2004 of murdering her husband. (Arizona's preferred method of execution is by lethal injection.)

As Presente observed in its press release praising the verdict:

Though we received a verdict that condemned these atrocious murders, we also recognize that the Brisenia Flores’ case is not the isolated incident that some media reports make it out to be. Rather, it has galvanized the attention of the entire Latino community across the country as it reflects the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hatred organized by extremist groups. Latinos – the fastest-growing and largest ethnic minority group in the U.S. – understand and experience the phenomenon of hatred that has rapidly expanded in the nation. In fact, Latinos are closely watching media outlets that provide a platform for hatred promoted by extremist groups like MAD and the Federation for American Immigration Reform – a group Forde represented on a PBS show, for instance. Latinos are closely watching those media outlets that irresponsibly allow hateful groups attack to Latinos and immigrants, fanning the flames of fear and violence in our communities.

The details revealed in the murder trial have touched us all in a deep and unique way. These important details reflect the deepening and mainstreaming of the most noxious and dangerous strands of hatred in the United States. They move us to continue efforts to make sure there are no more hate-crimes and to take action in condemning media outlets that help disseminate hatred.

Kim Smith at the Arizona Daily Star has the complete wrapup.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Glenn Beck calls on the latter-day General Ripper to bolster his IslamoMarxistFascistSocialist conspiracy theory about Egypt

-- by Dave

Glenn Beck, we can all see, is really plunging wildly over an emotional cliff in his increasingly bizarre attempts to defend his wild conspiracy theories about the unrest in Egypt. And it's been such an epic meltdown that it's been hard to keep track of all its many variations.

But the researchers at Media Matters happened to catch one of the more hilarious of these: Beck bringing on a onetime commanding general in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin -- to defend his theory as being on the money. That's right: the guy who brought you Abu Ghraib, on to warn of yet another dire threat.

Of course, the last we happened to notice Boykin poking his head out of his lead-lined nuclear bunker was when he was explaining how Marxism is being insidiously implemented in America under President Obama -- rather like another general we once knew:

As we observed at the time, this was what Boykin saw as America's biggest problem:

I'm a Special Forces officer, I'm a Green Beret and I've studied Marxist insurgency, it was part of my training. And the things I know have been done in every Marxist insurgency are being done in America today.

Among the signs that we are now on the verge of a complete Marxist takeover?

-- The bailouts, which Boykin says "nationalized" large chunks of the economy.

-- Gun control, which Boykin claims that Obama is pursuing by agreeing to a United Nations small-arms treaty.

-- The hate crimes law, which Boykin claims is about being able to silence pastors and other critics.

And then, of course, the coup d'grace:

The final thing has been to establish a constabulary force, a force that can control the population. You say "well, we don't have that." Well, let me remind you that prior to the election, the President stood up and said that if elected he would have a nation civilian security force that would be as large as and as well-equipped as the United States military.

For what?

Remember Hitler had the Brownshirts and in the Night of the Long Knives, even Hitler got scared of the Brownshirts and killed thousands of them.

So you say "are there any signs that that's happened" and the truth is yes. If you read the health care legislation which, by the way nobody in Washington has read, but if you read the health care legislation it's actually in the health care legislation.

There are paragraphs in the health care legislation that talk about the commissioning of officers in time of a national crisis to work directly for the President. It's laying the groundwork for a constabulary force that will control the population in America.

Of course, one couldn't listen to this rant without being instantly reminded of General Jack D. Ripper. I obtained some documentary footage of Gen. Ripper and mashed it up with the Boykin video so you could do a comparison/contrast.

As Kyle notes:

Let me also just point out that Senate Republicans actually had Boykin on their witness list to testify against Elena Kagan at her confirmation hearing until they dropped him at the last moment.

Gee, I can't imagine why.

Let me also point out that Boykin is not only one of the brilliant geniuses behind Abu Ghraib, he also played a major role in the horrendous disaster at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993.

What is not known about Waco is that the final assault plan was amended on the ground by the tactical field commanders on the very day of the assault. That alteration had been discussed and rejected by the FBI brass over several weeks. Nonetheless, the FBI HRT commander, Richard Rogers implemented the rejected plan via a loophole signed by Janet Reno the morning of the final assault on April 19. That alteration was identical to the gassing and demolition plan that two Delta Force advisors seconded to the Justice Dept. in a principals meeting of April 14. Those two advisors supported the rejected plan that was later implemented "hypothetically" in order to conform to the letter of Posse Comitatus law. I also have published a peer-reviewed article with this finding. It is based on government documents--all open source. The rejected plan supported by Jeff Jamar, Richard Rogers, and the two Delta Force officers resulted in a disaster that did not have to happen. It was an ill-advised tactical approach to a religious community that feared that Satan was attacking them.

Those two Delta Force officers were Peter J. Schoomaker and "Jerry" Boykin, now both top officials in the US Army in charge of military planning for the war on terrorism.

Hey Glenn -- we're convinced!

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The Shawna Forde trial: As case goes to jury, cable TV networks continue to ignore the story

-- by Dave

[Video via KOLD-TV.]

One of the prevailing questions about the case of Shawna Forde, even as her trial was getting under way, was whether the mainstream media would bother to notice.

A Washington Post piece actually tried to tackle this very question, but only dropped a little toe into the lava pit:

But unlike the Krentz case, the trial has been a largely local story.

"There's a few places writing about this, but it is not getting the attention it deserves," said Eric Rodriguez, vice president of the National Council of La Raza. "It should be shocking to more people. Is there any circumstance where what took place is acceptable to people?"

Krentz's shooting, which for a time was a staple of news coverage and has been brought up in homeland security hearings on Capitol Hill, struck a nerve in part because of the government's failure to deal with illegal immigration. Arizona, which the Pew Hispanic Center reported this month is home to 400,000 undocumented immigrants, has passed tough legislation in recent months to crack down on those who are in the country illegally.

The trial is now in the hands of the jury, and I haven't yet seen a single cable-network report on the story -- particularly not on Fox News Channel, which has had complete silence on the case. I'm flying down to Tucson tomorrow and will be reporting from the scene when the verdict is delivered. (The project is being funded by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.)

Meanwhile, the local media have done an excellent job of covering the trial, particularly the reporters at the Arizona Daily Star, led by Kim Smith, who wrap up the closing arguments made Thursday:

Shawna Forde thought so highly of herself she believed she could create a new world, decide who was a drug dealer and who wasn't and who should live and die, prosecutor Rick Unklesbay told jurors Thursday.

The truth, however, he said, is, "What Shawna Forde is is a common thief and a murderer."

Unklesbay spent approximately 90 minutes Thursday going over the evidence he says proves Forde, 43, was the mastermind behind a May 30, 2009, Arivaca home invasion that left Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old-daughter, Brisenia, dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

Two other suspects in the case, Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola, are scheduled to go to trial this spring.

The prosecutor reminded jurors that at least four witnesses testified Forde bragged about her plan to fund her Minutemen American Defense organization by robbing drug-cartel associates during home invasions.

Among those witnesses were her sister, two FBI informants and Oin Oakstar, an Arivaca drug smuggler.

Flores and Brisenia died because of Forde's greed, Unklesbay said.

Forde may not have pulled the trigger, "But make no mistake about it, she's the one who planned the event, recruited the people to do it and she went in there with them," Unklesbay said.

The Daily Star team has also been filing a lot of the details in the trial at their courthouse blog. Definitely worth checking out.

Meanwhile, the folks at Presente have created a website and poster demanding justice for Brisenia Flores:

Go here to sign a petition demanding justice for Brisenia.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Embracing their inner extremist at CPAC: Ron Paul wins the straw poll again

-- by Dave

Well, it won't make The Donald very happy, but here we go again:

For the second year in a row, Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, earning 30 percent of the vote.

The Texas congressman, known for his libertarian views, ran for president in 2008 but was never a serious contender for the GOP nomination.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2008 GOP candidate who is expected to run again, came in second place with 23 percent of the vote. Romney won the previous three presidential straw polls before Paul snapped his streak last year.

Many convention-goers booed when the results were announced but the Paul supporters drowned them out with chants of "Ron Paul! Ron Paul! Ron Paul!"

Paul's consecutive victories in the straw poll have frustrated many GOP faithful who would rather see a more credible contender win. A CPAC official told Fox News that the big story is not Paul winning again but rather the strength of Romney's second-place finish.

I think we can just pretty much repeat what Logan said last year at this time:

Now, I don't disagree with everything Ron Paul has to say, but I would never vote for him and boy, did he ever get destroyed by the GOP base during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Talk about the proverbial ship without a rudder. This wasn't some online poll that got freeped, this was taken in person at the GOP's biggest annual event.

It's always helpful when a guy who really is a right-wing extremist gets the support of the GOP's most ardent activists. Tells us a lot about the direction they want to go, at the very least.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]