Law And Odor

This was the kind of right-wing hysteria we experienced not so long ago:

Every single one of Obama’s friends is a dangerous lunatic…With one association after another that is beyond the pale with Barack Obama. I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power saying, “Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea he was going to be like this.” With this guy Americans ought to know. The media is covering up except on this channel. Thank you, Sean Hannity.

That was Ann Coulter speaking on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes on October 30, 2008. We all remember those “dangerous lunatics” in the Obama administration and how President Obama tried to transform America into Nazi Germany, right? Certainly we will never forget all those fascist rallies Obama presided over, complete with swastikas and Sieg Heil salutes and paeans to white supremacy. Those eight years were sure terrifying. I don’t know how we made it through them. Lawlessness was everywhere. And that lawlessness was best demonstrated by Obama’s stance and eventual action on immigration, an issue that fired up right-wingers, including the white nationalist movement and its anti-immigrant racist hero, Tr-mp.

In July of 2014, Sarah Palin—John McCain’s proud pick to be next in line to what he hoped would be his presidency—accused President Obama of deliberately “[o]pening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants.” She then wrote the following:

President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.

It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.

The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.

Lest you think Palin’s nuttiness was unique to her, Steve Benen pointed out that right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer also played the impeachment card in 2014, saying a then-unknown executive action by Obama on immigration “is an impeachable offense” and a “flagrant assault on the Constitution.” Benen also gave other examples of the impeachment-immigration hysteria on Fox, including from Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly and, of course, Sean Hannity.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who was a U.S. Senator in 2014, said Obama’s potential “executive amnesty” was “a threat to the constitutional order.” Today that same man, whose very name memorializes racist and treasonous men, is the Attorney General for Mr. I Alone Can Fix It, for Mr. Birther, for Mr. Muslim Ban, for Mr. The Press Is Our Enemy, for Mr. Pardon Joe Arpaio.

When we consider the Arpaio pardon, we certainly should emphasize the fact that Arpaio was clearly a cruel, creepy, racist. But the most important fact about him, in terms of contextualizing the pardon, was that he was the most lawless lawman in America, a fascistic sheriff who once called his infamous Tent City “a concentration camp.” Thus, Tr-mp’s pardon was a tribute to such lawlessness, a salute to moral confusion, a signal that we are indeed living in an America quickly headed toward something ugly and perhaps irreversible. Joe Arpaio gave the justice system the finger of defiance and the system lawfully broke that finger. The pardon is Tr-mp’s own way of flipping justice the bird, of defying a system he never has and never will respect.

Whatever you think of Tr-mp’s mental health, Arpaio’s pardon must be put in context, must be added to Tr-mp’s vicious attacks on the free press, to his cashing in on the high office he illegitimately holds, to his cultish rallies, to his winking at white supremacists and Nazis in Charlottesville. I’m talking about intimations of fascism.

As reported by HuffPost, an 88-year-old man named Jack Rosenthal saw the significance of an image in the aftermath of the Charlottesville chaos that almost nobody saw. While reading an article about the pro-Nazi terrorist who killed Heather Heyer with his car, Rosenthal saw this Reuters photograph:

That is a picture of Matthew Heimbach, who lives in rural southern Indiana. Heimbach is chairman of a Christian hate group called the Traditionalist Worker Party, members of which believe white genocide is a real possibility, who believe the Holocaust didn’t happen, who admire Hitler and Putin and other white “strongmen.” Heimbach was a supporter and promoter of the racist “Unite the Right” rally that Tr-mp had so much trouble condemning.

Jack Rosenthal, who was born in Romania, noticed the shirt Heimbach was wearing. It featured an image of Corneliu Codreanu, a Romanian fascist and founder of the Iron Guard, a paramilitary Christian terrorist group whose members believed in an uncompromising nationalism that, of course, excluded Jews. As HuffPost noted,

Codreanu was the face behind pogroms in Romania. The large-scale violent riots killed tens of thousands of Romanian Jews during the 1930s leading up to the Holocaust.

Codreanu’s brand of murderous hate, it turns out, has been enjoying something of a revival among right-wing extremists in Europe and, now, in the United States. But there are still some people around who can directly speak to the horrors of the past and the present danger signs, people like Jack Rosenthal:

I recognized the name right away. You see something like this, you know, it brings back memories and I’m concerned about what could happen in this country.

Rosenthal has a right to be concerned:

He was 16 when he was taken to the German Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland. Later, he was transferred to Buchenwald, another camp near Weimar, Germany, where he was forced to work for the Nazis ― the only reason he was kept alive until U.S. military forces began to evacuate the camp’s 28,000 prisoners in 1945. He came to the U.S. hoping to find a new beginning.

“After I was liberated, I thought to myself the world has learned what terrible traces hate can bring to humanity,” he said. “And now this gives me a depressing feeling because it’s happening again, and it’s happening now.”

Thus speaks a man who lost seven members of his family at Auschwitz.

I began this post with Ann Coulter’s attack on Barack Obama in 2008:

I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power saying, “Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea he was going to be like this.”

Of course that remark was stupid. Of course it was outrageous. Of course there are people around who warn us all not to be as stupid and outrageous today as Ann Coulter was back then. But an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor smells something familiar in the air. He smells fascism.

And we shouldn’t hold our noses and pretend we don’t smell it, too.



Bronco Billy And The Convention Circus

I guess Donald Trump wasn’t available.

But they got the next best thing.

I don’t know who the Republican genius was that thought it would be a good idea to have Clint Eastwood address the convention in prime time, but, as a Democrat, I’d like to personally thank him or her.

Unfortunately, by now the Republicans have offered their thanks to the genius by giving him or her a much less dignified, but certainly much more challenging, job: getting the chili sauce stains out of Newt Gingrich’s shirt, after that disappointed Romney surrogate got a little sloppy last night while pulling an all-you-can-eat all-nighter at the Golden Corral in Tampa.

That’s how Newt drowns his sorrows, and Republicans had reason to be especially sorrowful, after they quickly figured out that this year’s Republican National Convention will now be remembered, fittingly, as the night Clint Eastwood gave his greatest performance, at least in terms of representing today’s GOP.

His utter disrespect for President Obama, though cringe-inducing for most normal folks, was quite enjoyable for those lucky enough to be in the house for such buffoonery. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a Cheech and Chong routine performed by Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with that zany Republican duo smoking dope, talking trash about Obama’s phony birth certificate, and doing an updated Obama-version of  “Basketball Jones.”

Our own Ozark Billy Long was in attendance and said this about Eastwood’s performance:

The crowd ate it up. They loved Clint Eastwood and loved his speech and my tip off was when all the liberals, including David Axelrod, was one of the first to chime in on Twitter, and, uh, some of the media folks down here started tweetin’ about how terrible it was, how egregious it was, and I thought, well, if we’ve ticked those people off, he probably did what he was suppose to do out there…talkin’ to the president, who wasn’t there, I thought that that was pretty entertaining…

And thus I leave you with that wonderful assessment from my congressman, our representative from Missouri’s 7th District. I am damned proud to be from such a place that would put such a man in Washington, D.C.

Aren’t you?

The Darkest Side Of The Right

I have a real hard time believing that J.T. Ready could actually shoot and kill a child.”

—Harry Hughes, region director of the National Socialist Movement

onservatives don’t much like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which does the country a favor by keeping track of America’s haters.

One hater the group was tracking was a man named Jason Todd Ready, who specialized “in bashing immigrants.”  Here is just a snippet of his profile on SPLC’s site:

After being court-martialed twice, Ready was discharged from the Marines for bad conduct in 1996. Ready, who has run for various Arizona offices usually without success, advocates for the placement of landmines on the border and rails against Jews and nonwhites. In June 2010, Ready led a group of armed extremists into the Arizona desert to apprehend immigrants and drug smugglers.

His criminal history apparently began in 1992 when he was arrested for “damage to property and aggravated assault with a weapon,” and his two courts-martial involved “failing to follow an order or regulation, and larceny and wrongful appropriation,” as well as “conspiracy, assault, and wrongful solicitation and advice.” All of that plus this:

In 2007, Ready was pulled over for driving a vehicle with a fake license plate. He was carrying a 9mm Beretta handgun at the time. Ready was arrested and charged for possessing a traffic preemption emitter, which is an illegal device that can change traffic lights from red to green.

So, you can see Ready was not exactly a model citizen. And by now you probably have heard this news:

On Wednesday, police said, Ready, a burly 39-year-old who went by “JT,” shot and killed four people, including a 16-month-old girl, in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert where he lived. He then turned the gun on himself.

But there is a little more to the story than just another bewildering and heartbreaking case where a man with an affection for guns and little affection for mankind went off and killed innocents.

With Ready’s background, it is at first glance very difficult to understand why Arizona’s former state Senate President Russell Pearce at one time had a relationship, if not outright fellowship, with him. But when one thinks about it, the attraction becomes obvious.

Russell Pearce is a Republican whose time as Chief Deputy Sheriff under Maricopa County’s infamous Joe Arpaio made him the perfect guy to help bring shame upon Arizona for, among other things, the state’s adoption of SB1070, an intrusion into the fed’s immigration jurisdiction, at least according to a lawsuit filed by the Obama administration.

And to give you an idea of why Pearce and J.T. Ready may have hit it off, here is what Pearce said, as he described the Administration’s legal action over SB1070:

When you talk about jihad, that is exactly what Obama has against America, specifically the state of Arizona. Think about it. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a sitting President has sided with a foreign government to sue the citizens of its country. For defending our laws? For defending and protecting the citizens of the state of Arizona? It’s outrageous and it’s impeachable.

Jihad. Obama has a jihad against Arizona and America. Impeachment.

A disagreement over immigration law is, in the mind of Pearce, signs of an anti-American holy war perpetrated by our own president. That insight into Pearce’s thinking, coupled with the bold, extremist politics generally practiced by the right-wing today, makes it fairly easy to connect the dots and explain why a man as sick as J.T. Ready was at one time welcomed into the Arizona GOP.

As the SPLC notes, Ready’s attempt at a career in politics began in 2004, as he ran for a state House seat. He lost, hopefully because of statements he made like this one:

He told a reporter that the state could improve its education system if it would “deal with this mass illegal influx of foreign students who do not even embrace the same language and culture as Americans and who spread tuberculosis, whooping cough, lice, and other third-world biological diseases to other children.”

John Rudolf at HuffPo wrote:

Ready served for several years as a Republican precinct committeeman in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, and Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican and former Arizona Senate majority leader, endorsed Ready’s run for Mesa City Council in 2006, which he lost. The two were linked over their shared opposition to illegal immigration.

And even though Pearce denies it now, there is plenty of evidence to show that he was more than just a duped acquaintance who is being victimized by a hostile press determined to connect him to a sociopath.

Stephen Lemons of The Phoenix New Times, objected to Pearce’s claim he didn’t know Ready all that well. Lemons wrote:

Indeed, the pair once were so close that Pearce attended Ready’s baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 2004, Pearce ordained Ready an elder in the church’s Melchizedek priesthood, an office held by adult men of the Mormon faith.

I don’t know much about the Mormon’s Melchizedek priesthood, but I do know that they don’t take such activities lightly and it would be a big deal to ordain someone in the LDS church in any capacity. Mormons mean business with those kinds of things.

In fact, as Lemons reported,

According to LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah, the person being ordained gets to choose who will ordain him. She explained that often a young man will choose his father to do the ordination.

So, Ready’s choice of Pearce meant something. And that ordination was in 2004, around the time that Ready’s political adventures—with his dramatic expressions of white cultural angst— began, so it’s not like Pearce didn’t have a clue about Ready’s admittedly evolving hatefulness.

And we have this from the Anti-Defamation League:

In April 2007, a local newspaper exposed Ready as a neo-Nazi after his profile on NewSaxon, a white supremacist social networking site, was revealed.  Even after being “outed” as a neo-Nazi, Ready continued to make public appearances, including sharing the podium with State Senator Russell Pearce during an anti-immigration protest at the Arizona State Capitol in June 2007. The protest attracted a crowd of approximately 350 people, many of whom cheered for Ready.

The SPLC quoted something Ready said at a neo-Nazi gathering in Phoenix in December of 2007:

The truth is that negroids screw monkeys and rape babies in afreaka [sic]. Then stupid white man who licks kosher jew rear lets negroids in. … Stop Negroid immigration and integration now!!! Nature will take care of the rest

So, if all this is true, it is clear that Pearce was not so quick to judge Ready as “darkness took his life over.”

Now, it is important to say that Russell Pearce is not responsible for what J.T. Ready did. Neither is the Republican Party in Arizona. And it is only fair to note that Ready’s pathology apparently worsened over time. Indeed, some important conservative leaders in the party did eventually object to Ready’s status as a Republican precinct committeeman in 2008, albeit a long seven months after, as the ADL pointed out, “Ready handed out racist and anti-Semitic literature at a Republican Committee meeting.”

But here is the point, beyond the mere sadness of Ready’s latest crime: This disturbed individual—and the signs of his derangement were everywhere—found at least a temporary home on the ground floor of a political party that too frequently has offered itself as a refuge for people who love lots of guns and ammo and who believe some variation of what J.T. Ready said in 2009:

This is a white, European homeland. That’s how it should be preserved if we want to keep it clean, safe, and pure.

If the Republican Party wants to right itself, if it wants to demonstrate to Americans that it will not tolerate even the faint smell of someone like J.T. Ready, then it should use this tragedy as a way of reevaluating some of its most extreme cultural rhetoric—expelling Pat Buchanan from its ranks would be a good start—and reconsidering some of its most outrageous positions on gun rights.

Vicki Hartzler Is Out Of This World

If you drive about 20 miles north of Joplin you will enter what has become another world.

That world is Missouri’s 4th Congressional District. I call it another world partly because it is represented by that otherworldly congresswoman, Republican Vicki Hartzler.

The Sedalia Democrat reported that at a town hall last week Hartzler got all Trumpy on us:

“What do you think about Obama’s birth certificate being called a forgery?” asked a man who identified himself as an Army veteran.

“You know I have a lot of doubts about all that,” she said. “I don’t understand why he didn’t show that right away.”

When asked to clarify her doubts during press availability after the event, Hartzler said: “I have doubts that it is really his real birth certificate, and I think a lot of Americans do, but they claim it is, so we are just going to go with that.”

Hartzler declined to say whether she believes Obama is a U.S. citizen, calling the issue “irrelevant” and said people should “focus attention on his specific policies and not his birth certificate.”

What should we make of such folly?

Is it really the congresswoman’s fault that some sad soul at her town hall ask her about Obama’s birth certificate and she felt compelled to keep his hope alive that Obama is not a citizen? In fact, trying to walk back her comments, her press secretary told Politico,

this issue has been raised by many 4th District citizens with whom she has spoken.

Many?  How many? And, now, how many more will feel free to flaunt their ignorance and make fools of themselves because Hartzler has given them a license to do so? Here is what Hartzler actually said, after she was asked about the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate:

I have a lot of doubts about all that, I haven’t seen it. I’m kind of, I’m just at the same place you are on that. You read this, you read that…But I don’t understand why he didn’t show that right away. I mean, if someone asked for my birth certificate, I’d get my baby book and hand it out and say ‘Here it is.’

I suppose it never occurred to Ms. Hartzler that no one would ever ask her about her birth certificate, since she looks the part of an American citizen. Here, look at her:

She looks like a real American, right?  Would Donald Trump or Sheriff Joe Arpaio ever question the legitimacy of her birth certificate? In fact, Arpaio said he appreciated Hartzler’s “having the courage to speak out about the legitimacy of the Obama Birth Certificate released by the White House.”

The creepy sheriff actually thinks the certificate is a “computer-generated forgery” and whoever pulled off this incredibly foresighted crime should be “brought to justice.”  He is now calling for a congressional hearing “to address the facts in this matter.”

Of course that is the point: there are no “facts” that will satisfy the appetite of deluded Obama-haters. These people are not interested in facts. They have been presented the facts and have found that the facts inconveniently contradict their claim that Obama is a non-white foreigner sitting in the White’s House.

Sadly, Hartzler will not likely pay the slightest price for her birther foolishness. She will probably not lose a single vote for failing to educate one of her constituents and for revealing her utter ignorance. She in fact may come out ahead for plopping more conspiracy slop in the mind-troughs of some delusional folks in the 4th District.

As I said, it is another world.

A Party Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest—And Landed

Yes, dear reader, Republicans are all gathering in the booby hatch.

It’s not enough that a number of right-wingers are sticking their theological probes into women’s private parts and personal decisions. Oh, no. They want a more comprehensive big-guvmint theocracy than that.

Our own Roy Blunt attached an anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-contraceptive amendment  to the gazillion-dollar highway bill, for God’s sake, and if you can come up with a relationship between contraceptives and highways—the rubbers meet the roads, maybe?—then you go to the head of the line.

The amendment was barely defeated 51-48, with three Democratic defections (all boys, don’t ya know). Never mind that 80% of Democrats and 63% of the public—those who live in the real world with birth control—support President Obama’s requirement that insurers have to cover the cost of contraceptives.

Mittens, who was against the amendment when he was first asked about it, consulted his political team and the decisive and shrewd bidnessman soon found out that he was on the wrong side of reactionary politics—so, he abruptly changed his decisive and shrewd bidnessman’s mind.  That, my friends, is why we need a decisive and shrewd bidnessman in the White’s House.

But there is more cuckooism to explore:

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Montana who used official court email to circulate a racist joke about President Barack Obama has acknowledged the indiscretion and initiated a misconduct complaint against himself, court officials said on Thursday.

In case you missed it, here is the email in question from the Bush-appointed, federal—federal!—judge who has a life-time appointment:

Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

A little boy said to his mother; “Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?” His mother replied, “Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”

Wolf, wolf.

The judge, Richard Cebull, said he only sent out the email “because it’s anti-Obama.” Anything and everything goes when you are an Obama-hater.

Then there is 79-year-old Obama-hating Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is under investigation by the Justice Department and a federal grand jury for racial profiling and abuse of power. Arpaio, Phoenix’s finest fanatic, is tired of Donald Trump getting all the cuckoo press, so he announced on Thursday that his crack investigators have discovered that Mr. Obama’s long-form birth certificate may be a fraud, a fake, sort of like The Donald himself.

No word in yet on whether decisive and shrewd bidnessman Romney—who, according to Arpaio, has contacted him in the past, presumably seeking an endorsement—has changed his mind on the President’s citizenship, but stay tuned.

Finally, there is Rush Limbaugh—again. The 61-year-old Republican spokesman went a step further this time, after previously calling 30-year-old Congressional witness Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute:

So, Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis. Here’s the deal. If we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

Perhaps he can watch those videos with all of his Republican friends, those not courageous enough to even whisper a word of criticism of their conservative leader but who have plenty of moral guts to tell women to submit to their transvaginal probes.

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