Saturday, April 23, 2011

Meet Grady Warren: Tea Party Stalwart, Presidential Candidate, Flaming Racist

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

The next time your Tea Partying/Breitbart-reading brother-in-law challenges you to demonstrate evidence of racism in the Tea Parties, direct them to Grady Warren's videos.

Warren is a sport-fishing promoter in Florida who runs a site called "Conservative Sportsmen" that seems now to have become the launching pad for Warren's presidential ambitions. As you can see, he's already declared.

His platform: Deport all Muslims. Deport all "illegal aliens." Force blacks into "re-education camps". Bring all liberals "to justice." And deny nonwhites the right to vote.

And he voices it so charmingly -- especially in his attacks on President Obama:
WARREN: Barack, you're in a fight you will not win. Because you have underestimated how many millions of Americans love this country and have lost loved ones for these United States.

You have declared war on the white man in America -- putting the wants and needs of moochers, leeches, looters, and criminals ahead of the producers, and the workers of America. And we don't want 15 to 20 million illiterate Mexicans and Chicanos as our new welfare society, living like rats in our neighborhoods.

They must go, and either the government steps up, or the government will have to clean up. They will not stay and get citizenship for breaking the law.

Barack, you, your advisers, pollsters, pundits, talking heads, have wanted to know: Who are the pissed-off people in this country? Well, the pissed-off people, sir, are the white people. It's the white people, stupid.
You'll notice, in fact, that all Warren is doing is taking standard Tea Party rhetoric and just amping it up to the next level -- the level, in fact, that you often encounter among the movement's rank and file, where they're not as inhibited about believing insane things or saying vicious and bigoted things. This is why the Birther garbage continues to be so popular with this crowd.

This was embodied in Warren's defense of the Tea Party last fall against charges of racism -- by, essentially, claiming that racist behavior and beliefs were perfectly legitimate:

Transcript from Julie Driscoll at the Chicago Liberal Examiner:
WARREN: Barack Hussein Obama. Mmm mmm hmm. And Ben Jealous of the NAACP. John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangel, and all the other criminals in the Congressional Black Caucus. And Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and all the nigra race pimps out there. On behalf of the Tea Party we are sick and tired of being called racist when our mission is to educate legal American voters on the most conservative candidates to consider voting for. That's it. We are good Americans, we are moral Americans. We are religious and non. We are taxpayers, we are civil to our neighbors, and we are law-abiding citizens. We love this country and we are willing to fight for what's right. Not political correctness, not for the Republicans, not for the Democrats, and especially not for the liberals. The Tea Party is tired of Blacks, nigras, Muslims, and Hispanics, especially the illegals, calling us racist for trying to save the America that we love.

So on this 3rd day of November, 2010, I declare a Teahad on political correctness and the groups out to destroy America. Muslims for example have a rich history of infiltrating, procreating and then eliminating. This is a fact of history, therefore we believe in stopping their progress and starting deportations of all Muslims as soon as possible."
Now Blacks, they only make up 13 percent of the population, but somehow they make up 45 percent of the city, state and federal jobs. And we wonder why the government doesn't work. And we wonder why blacks cause more crimes than all other races combined. Ben, is it racist if I say that every other minority group that has come to America, no matter how they got here, have succeeded - most in just one generation?

The Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, and many others. But not the blacks. After trillions of dollars have been given in reparations to the blacks, and this has not been given to the other races, blacks are still where they were pretty much 50 years ago. Is that being racist when I ask that question?

Well, Ben, I'm sorry, but that's a fact. Why are most blacks on some form of welfare, and why do we allow billions in fraud each and every year on social programs? Is it racist to want 12-20 million illegal aliens to be deported and the southern border wall completed? Is it racist to scream out loud when we see illegals desecrating the American flag on American streets, grabbing their crotches, flipping us off, basically saying, screw you, on our soil? Is that racist to get upset when we do that? Or when the President puts devout Muslims in charge of Homeland Security? Are we racist because we do not want to kill babies or because we love Christmas, we want God in our lives as Americans? Or is it racist when we ask that our children not be taught that little Johnny's got two moms or two dads, and that's normal, desecrating marriage between a man and a woman? Or is it racist because we love Sarah Palin, because she is a female version of Ronald Reagan, and to millions of men she is their fantasy wife? Sarah is all about what's great in America.

Barack Hussein Obama recently told college students that the Tea Party conservatives and white people did not want them of color to vote. You are correct, sir. The 91 percent of blacks that approve of you, you're damn right. We don't want 'em anywhere near the polls. They have not been educated enough to vote. They vote skin color and Democratic, period. And the same goes for the Hispanic community and the rest of the ignorant and uneducated liberals. Is it racist to only want taxpayers and semi-educated folks to vote? Is it racist to want the Fair Tax where every citizen has to pay taxes.

Ladies, gentlemen, young people, I will fight the left, the right, Republicans, Democrats, and political correctness. Our Teahad needs you, so please, join me in this fight and to Ben Jealous and all the Black criminal leaders out there, if asking these questions and being good Americans makes the Tea Party members racist, well I guess this Huckleberry is just a racist.
As always, when you scratch the surface of a bellicose ultra-right-winger, you find a scam artist not far beneath. It seems that, in addition to his involvement in any number of fishing derbies, Warren also was involved in an earlier scam to claim that people were fishing for sharks with kittens.

Mind you, there's not a lot of evidence that Warren has much actual influence within the Tea Party -- he's just attached himself to the movement. That's known to happen. But what hasn't happened is also significant: Warren has neither been denounced by Florida Tea Partiers nor driven from their ranks.

As Rick at South Florida Daily Blog observes:
Guys like Grady certainly don't make up the entirety of the Tea Party. But he's representing and there are plenty on the Right who feel that Grady represents them. More importantly, there is no one on the Right shouting these people down.

What is not being said says volumes.
Julio Varela has more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oh, So Now The Gullible Adoption Of Nutty Conspiracy Theories Is 'Inconsequential', According To O'Reilly

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Funny. It was just a couple of weeks ago that Bill O'Reilly was making fun of anyone who would buy into the Birther conspiracy theories. Now that the Donald Trump candidacy has had a couple of weeks to ripen into a really fetid mess for Republicans, O'Reilly has decided he's down with it.

On Wednesday night, he devoted his opening Talking Points Memo segment to plumping up a Trump candidacy without a single mention of Trump's ardent adoption of the Birther conspiracy theories.
O'REILLY: Well, I don't even care about the Birther stuff. Because it's inconsequential. It really is. Because that's an issue that's not going to affect anybody.
This is just gobsmacking hypocrisy, of course: O'Reilly has declared that anyone who adopts the 9/11 Truther conspiracy theories is vile and beyond the pale: He attacked Rosie O'Donnell for holding those views -- she was being "hurtful" and "grossly irresponsible" -- as well as Charlie Sheen and other figures, including Van Jones (who didn't even actually adopt the theories).

And of course, the Birther theories are every bit as offensive, hurtful, and grossly irresponsible. But hey, they don't mean anything ... because it's a right-wing candidate who likes to talk tough like O'Reilly, so he's good with that.

It's true that the Birther controversy at a certain level really is meaningless, because it has zero grounding in reality and is not going to affect reality directly in any way. (Sorta like the 9/11 theories.) But that doesn't mean that a public figure's embrace of them is meaningless. Especially when that person is running for public office. Especially when he's running for the presidency.

Because it's a powerful demonstration of that person's judgment -- or rather, the complete and utter lack thereof. It means that they are stupid, gullible, and wantonly, willfully ignorant. Even more disturbingly, it means that the people who support him eagerly embrace that ignorance.

Actually, Donald Trump reminds me of a half-dozen different bosses I have had over the course of my lifetime. You know the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert? That guy: So gorged on his own certitude he becomes utterly uncaring about how well informed he is regarding issues he's making command decisions about. Like the way he was completely stumped about the right to privacy the other day. And like those pointy-haired bosses, he just pulls crap out of ass and hurls it with extreme certitude and then thinks that he won the argument.

Donald Trump is the pointy-haired boss on steroids. The only people I can imagine dumb enough to vote for him are Tea Partying Republican base voters. Not to mention Bill O'Reilly and Andrea Tantaros.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Russell Pearce Gets Belligerent With Reporter Who Wants Him To Produce Fiesta Bowl Invoices

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Our favorite Nazi-coddling nativist politician, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, just can't seem to escape the corruption scandal that's dogging him daily now -- namely, his major role in the distribution of illegal free tickets as part of the Fiesta Bowl's running malfeasance scandal.

Wendy Halloran of Phoenix's Channel 12 News, while reporting on this weekend's ugly Tea Party rally in Phoenix (more about that soon), tried to corner Pearce and ask him about his promised delivery of invoices proving he had paid for his tickets, as he has tried to claim.

What she got was Pearce walking away from her and getting surly:
HALLORAN: Where are your invoices for the Fiesta Bowl?

PEARCE: You know what, you're not going to come in and ambush me with these kind of games.

HALLORAN: But with all due respect, where are the invoices, and why won't --

PEARCE: I'm going to go do my job.

HALLORAN: Senator Pearce, with all due respect, it's my job to hold you accountable. Where are your invoices?

PEARCE: You know, your job is not to harass.

HALLORAN: I'm not trying to harass you, sir. My job is to hold you accountable. Can you just tell me when we're going to see the invoices, sir?

PEARCE: I don't have to show you anything.
The best part of this report came in the form of a coda from Kelly Townsend, one of the local Tea Party organizers in Phoenix, who had earlier explained to Halloran the whole purpose of that day's rally, what it was about:
TOWNSEND: We are going to basically shine a light on our politicians so that there's no secret -- as much as we can possibly do that, and help keep them accountable fiscally, you know, ethically, all those issues, and that's what this is about today.
You betcha! Mission accomplished!

No wonder the recall campaign against Pearce is gaining steam.

Channel 12 followed up with a report today explaining that, as of today as well, Pearce has produced no documentation that he in fact paid for his pricey sports tickets from Fiesta Bowl lobbyists:

The Sweet Little Old Folks Of The Tea Parties Seem To Have A Lot Of Extremism And Bigotry Bubbling Up Around Them. Hmmmmmm.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

I got quite a kick out of how the Breitbart crowd and the Fox talkers devoted so much energy this week to portraying the anti-Tea Party protesters at Tea Party gatherings like those in Wisconsin as incredibly vicious. Of course, these folks have made a cottage industry out of denying the realities of Tea Partiers' nasty and frequently bigoted rhetoric, so it's only natural that they'd play the grotesque hypocrite in one swell foop.

Meanwhile, here's some footage you won't see on The O'Reilly Factor or over at Big Ego. This comes from Channel 12's reportage on this weekend's ugly Tea Party event in Phoenix:
TEA PARTIER: That's why you don't have a higher standard of living than Mexico! The United States has a higher standard of living than Mexico because it's populated by white people. Mexico is a [BLEEP]!
And then, of course, there was the nice little old lady Tea Partier in California who just thought that Obama-as-a-chimp Photoshop was just too cute not to forward to all her fellow Republican committeemen. She did manage to make an actual apology -- after a coupla tries:
Shortly after sending the email, Davenport said in a follow up that she was sorry if she had offended anyone with the image. She denied the implication that the depiction was racist.

"I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth," she wrote in an email. "In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email."

"In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race," she added. "I received plenty of emails about [former president] George Bush that I didn't particularly like yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them."

But in a subsequent email, sent to the Orange County Republican Central Committee late Monday night, Davenport apologized more strongly. She asked for forgiveness for her "unwise behavior" and noted that she "didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive."

"To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen this email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior. I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive," Davenport's apology read.
The reality, as we've said many times, is that no matter how hard the Tea Partiers and their right-wing-media apologists try, they'll never be able to paper over their very real and deep extremist base. They'll never be able to keep all the nutcases they've gathered in one place under a lid forever.

This was driven home by a superb piece of reporting from Devin Burghart at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights: "Tea Time With the Posse: Inside an Idaho Tea Party Patriots Conference".

Burghart revisited Idaho Tea Party leader Pam Stout, who we discussed back when she was profiled in the New York Times. While she appeared shortly after that on the David Letterman Show and convincingly sold the image of the Tea Parties as rational folks concerned about TARP and health-care reform, Burghart found that was no longer the case:
Little talk of repealing “Obamacare” or of modifying objectionable provisions of healthcare legislation took place at Stout’s “Patriots Unite” event, held March 26. The impending possibility of a government shutdown due to an impasse over the budget was hardly mentioned. Nary a word was spoken about bailouts or taxes. Instead, speakers at this Tea Party event gave the crowd a heavy dose of racist “birther” attacks on President Obama, discussions of the conspiracy behind the problem facing America (complete with anti-Semitic illustration), Christian nationalism, anti-environmentalism, and serious calls for legislation promoting states’ rights and “nullification.”

Stout, the Idaho state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots attracted around seventy Tea Party activists from Idaho, Montana, and Washington to the Coeur D’Alene Inn for the conference. The goal: to bring isolated Tea Party groups together. Originally scheduled as a two-day conference, Stout noted that the event was shortened because, “our workshop presenters are still in Wisconsin” presumably engaged in Tea Party anti-union organizing efforts.
Much of what he found was similar to what I experienced in Montana attending a very similar kind of gathering.

Burghart observed a Spokane Valley legislator named Matt Shea (whose activities we've previously discussed) explaining state nullification schemes of the kind promoted by Glenn Beck and now working their way through various state legislatures where the Tea Partiers have complete control, such as Montana's.

He also describes how regional leaders from the John Birch Society hold forth at length about their many commonalities with the Tea Partiers, and they manage along the way to win quite a few new friends.

But the really disturbing talk comes from a Birther radio talk-show host from Elk, Washington, named Laurie Roth. If you need any convincing of the toxicity of the Birther beliefs -- and where they're headed -- then this excerpt will do the job:
She also expressed the urgency of the birther fight, stopping in the middle of her talk to engage an audience member in a discussion about whether impeachment, arresting president Obama, or a military coup would be the best solution.
Roth: "We have to, we can't try, we have to get him out in 2012"
Audience member: "why wait? ...He's an illegal president now."

Roth: "he should be impeached." The audience member replied, he can't be impeached, he's not a citizen."

Roth: "how would you get him out?"

Audience member: “By having the authority of five governors, five senators, march on the Supreme Court, who have abdicated their power and authority to simply render that he is not a legal president. And send the US Marshals to arrest him."

Roth: I couldn't agree more. What we need is a move like Zelaya in Honduras. We need the military, we need somebody to do that, or impeachment, or something like you said. We need something more than we've had.
Ah, but all the conversation the past week has been about nasty left-wingers. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Year Later, You'd Think The Deepwater Horizon Spill Never Happened At All

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It was only a year ago today that the Deepwater Horizon oil well ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico, and yet it seems as if the horrendous damage it inflicted on people and wildlife in the region has all been forgotten.

Sure, for a little while, the "drill baby drill" chants subsided for a little while -- but not for very long. Now Republicans are trying to use the spill anniversary to attack President Obama for not opening up MORE drilling.

The public strongly supports efforts to make BP accountable for restoring the Gulf's ecosystem and the damaged communities, while Republicans have been apologizing to BP for those efforts.

But just because the media haven't been paying attention, it doesn't mean that dead wildlife haven't been washing ashore in droves, or that the ecological catastrophe is only starting to become manifest.

Of course, BP has been trying hard to suppress research into the spill's effects, despite increasing evidence that they will be catastrophic.

And at the same time, the government has opened the door for more such catastrophes:
With everything Big Oil and the government have learned in the year since the Gulf of Mexico disaster, could it happen again? Absolutely, according to an Associated Press examination of the industry and interviews with experts on the perils of deep-sea drilling.

The government has given the OK for oil exploration in treacherously deep waters to resume, saying it is confident such drilling can be done safely. The industry has given similar assurances. But there are still serious questions in some quarters about whether the lessons of the BP oil spill have been applied.

The industry "is ill-prepared at the least," said Charles Perrow, a Yale University professor specializing in accidents involving high-risk technologies. "I have seen no evidence that they have marshaled containment efforts that are sufficient to deal with another major spill. I don't think they have found ways to change the corporate culture sufficiently to prevent future accidents."
Mike Conathan at the Center for American Progress has a good summary on the government's abdication of its responsibilities:
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that 101 oil-spill-related bills were introduced in the 111th Congress, which came to a close in 2010. Exactly zero were enacted into law. Another 15 have been introduced so far this year—none of which has been acted upon by its committee of jurisdiction.

This is an abject failure on the part of the legislative branch when obvious fixes remain on the table. Mandated liability limits for economic damages incurred by local residents are shamefully low and no mechanism is in place to ensure any fines BP or other responsible parties are forced to pay would actually be returned to a region still devastated by the companies’ negligence.

The limit on liability for economic impacts from an oil spill remains just $75 million. BP recognized that its public relations disaster would only be exacerbated without swift and visible action, so it agreed to create a $20 billion escrow fund to pay claims arising from the accident despite this embarrassingly low liability cap. Given Congress’s reaction it seems BP’s move may have paid off for oil companies. If they will “do the right thing” anyway, why bother changing the law?

He added: "There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong that major spills are unavoidable."
Happy anniversary!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Republican Montana Legislator Thinks Gays Should Face Felony Charges For 'Recruiting' Straights

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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.

For instance, last month a Democrat offered up a bill that should have been uncontroversial: It would have officially repealed the state's primitive anti-homosexuality law, already long overturned by the state's Supreme Court. But no: the Tea-Partying Republicans running the House committee overseeing the bill simply killed it in the crib.

So one of those Republicans last week explained to the Missoula Independent exactly what his thinking was:
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."
He went on Billings TV a little later and defended the remarks:
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:
Friday, he told us he stands by them, but says some were taken out of context. Specifically, he said characterizations that kissing in public could lead to prosecution were untrue.

Peterson said he gets along fine with his gay and lesbian colleagues and did not intend to offend the LGBT community with his comments.
Peterson, in fact, was probably one of the more thoughtful Tea Partiers who weighed in on this issue. Legislators arguing over the bill in committee were even worse:
Sen. Facey said the reason he brought this bill to the legislature is because words matter. And the fact that this law remains on our books sends a message to gay and lesbian people in our state.

Unfortunately, members of the committee did not hear Sen. Facey when he said “words matter.” Throughout the hearing, GOP members constantly equated homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia. In fact, one opposing witness of the bill went so far as to say all pedophiles are either gay or bisexual.

In an even more disturbing exchange, Rep. Bob Wagner (of Anderson Cooper 360 fame) asked a series of questions that were intended to imply that all homosexual men have HIV and then have to rely on state assistance for their medical care.

Proponents of Sen. Facey’s bill, who have worked multiple legislative sessions, said that this hearing was the most disgusting hearing they have seen in their years at the Capitol.
I sure hope Montana voters are proud of what they have wrought.