Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Report: Right-Wing Militia Threat Grows

The standoff last spring at the Nevada ranch of deadbeat wingnut Cliven "Hoof" Bundy and his small but heavily armed brigade of right-wing, anti-Government militia wasn't a spontaneous, organic rallying of like-minded radicals.  According to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the anti-Government standoff was well-coordinated and executed by a network of right-wing militia groups in the western U.S.  These groups have a noticeable presence of former military and police veterans, who apply the tactics they learned in service to opposing Federal agents enforcing the law.

The report counts 17 instances of shootings involving violent, right-wing anti-Government types and law enforcement in the past four years, the most recent stemming directly from the stand-off at the Bundy ranch involving the fatal shooting in Las Vegas of two police officers and another person by a deranged wingnut couple who had been at the Bundy ranch earlier.

As the report notes, however, the mainstream media hasn't delved into the growing threat of heavily armed, anti-Government organizations, whether out of fear, cynicism, or just plain laziness.  The next time such a confrontation occurs, they'll likely treat it as an isolated incident -- another "shiny object" that they've just noticed -- without the context of the "much larger and more dangerous movement" that grows daily.

(photo:  KLAS-TV, Las Vegas.  Militia loons gather at Bundy Ranch)

Is That A Gun In Your Pants, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

 We just noticed this story about a man in Orange, Texas who accidentally shot himself when the gun that he had tucked in his pants discharged when he pulled up his shorts.  Jason "Missed It By That Much" Bryant was strolling into a convenience store when he hiked up his shorts, yanked the trigger, and wounded himself (fortunately for him) in the leg.

As Orange's chief of police wisely observed, “It’s dangerous to stick a gun in your pants.”  Even in Texas.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rethug Rebranding, Hispanic Outreach Edition

Texas Governor and future reverse mortgage spokesman Rick "Hair" Perry has decided the best way to the 2016 Rethuglican Presidential nomination is to wear glasses to make himself look smart get some teabagger cred by sending 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Rio Grande valley.  The intellectually-challenged Governor, who makes Dumbya look like Stephen Hawking, apparently thinks images of National Guard troops confronting Latino women and children at border crossings will go down well with not only the teabaggers but also the public at large.  He's still smarting from being booed during the 2012 Rethug primaries for saying "I don't think you have a heart" to the nativist right who bitterly opposed educating children of illegal immigrants.

We await the photo opportunities of Commander Hair and his deputy commander and winner of the Yellow Heart with chicken feather cluster, Sean "Heil" Hannity, firing rounds over the heads of the women and children at the border.    Hopefully, they won't hit either them or the National Guard troops they're using as props in their political theatre.

UPDATE I:  Businesses in south Texas are opposing Commander Hair's deployment of National Guard troops.  The Rio South Texas Economic Council wants Hair to reconsider the move, saying it would "only create an inaccurate image that our safe and viable border region in the Rio Grande Valley is dangerous, and that the problem is not presently being managed, which is not the case." (emphasis added).  Hat tip to P.E.C. for spotting the story.

UPDATE II:  It looks like sheriffs in counties along the border aren't crazy about Commander Hair's plan either.  Support your local sheriff.

(photo:  Hair 'n' Heil pose for the camera)

James Garner, 1928-2014

Screen and tv actor James Garner died July 19 at the age of 86.  Garner is perhaps best known for his iconic starring roles in tv's "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" series.  He also had a successful film career, starring or appearing in "The Great Escape," "The Americanization of Emily," "Victor/Victoria," "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," "Space Cowboys," and more than 50 other movies.  Here's a slideshow covering some of his career highlights and personal moments (with apologies for the embedded ads).

Garner's acting style is generally described as embodying an "amiable masculinity." In both his Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford roles, Garner played anti-heroes, characters with human flaws who were reluctant to "get involved."  In reality, Garner was a decorated Korean War Army veteran as well as a progressive activist (he's pictured here with actress Diahann Carroll at 1963's March on Washington), who was encouraged (but declined) to run for Governor of California in 1990 as a Democrat.

He's survived by his wife of 58 years, Lois, and two children.  Rest in peace.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Sermon

Here's a verse for those folks to digest: "“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.'” -- Matthew 18:10.

And another:  "‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.’” -- Mark 9:36-37.

Amen.  Amanda Marcotte has the goods on the "Christian" hypocrites.

Hotheads, Foreign and Domestic

We have two op/eds in the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle, each addressing extremists willing to threaten and use violence to achieve their objectives.  First, Anne Applebaum on the Russian-sponsored separatists in Ukraine:
Before there is any further discussion of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it’s important that one point be made absolutely clear: This plane crash is a result of the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, an operation deliberately designed to create legal, political and military chaos. Without this chaos, a surface-to-air missile would not have been fired at a passenger plane.  [snip]  
... So far there is no sign of shock or shame in Russia. But in truth, this tragedy offers Vladimir Putin an opportunity to get out of the messy disaster he created in eastern Ukraine. He has the perfect excuse to denounce the separatist movement and to cut its supplies. If he refuses, then we know that he remains profoundly dedicated to the chaos and nihilism he created in Donetsk. We can assume he intends to perpetuate it elsewhere. And if we are not prepared to fight it, we should be braced for it to spread.
We're also waiting for signs that the Russian people, who so far have shown overwhelming support for Putin's adventurism, are sick of what's been allowed to happen in Ukraine in their name.  Since they're only getting the official Russian government version of events in Ukraine, that won't happen easily.

But, of course, we have our own variety of cosplay toughs in this country.  Fortunately, they don't have access to surface-to-air missiles (that we know of).   Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) represents the part of Nevada where Cliven "Hoof" Bundy and his merry gang of gun-fondling "militia" and sovereign citizens are keeping justice at bay.  He writes that the extremists were fueled by the demagoguery of right-wing media and politicians:
In the frenzy to pillory the government that ensued, almost no viewpoint seemed too extreme to voice. Emboldened by attention from such high-profile conservative media figures as Sean Hannity, armed militia members set up checkpoints, stopped traffic and occupied roads. At one point, local police had to physically place themselves between the militia and agents from the Bureau of Land Management, fearing for their lives while trying to prevent a bloodbath. [snip] 
My plea to my fellow public servants and the media is this: Please, recognize that evocations of tyranny and oppression, counterbalanced by patriotic sacrifice and love of country, are powerful motivators. I watched as a small community was transformed into a hotbed for extremism. That did not happen organically but in an environment created by nonstop attention and demagoguery from media and politicians alike.
Without drawing any further analogies between the thugs in Ukraine and our own crackpot citizenry, it's clear that a "hotbed for extremism" can be fostered just as effectively by government action as by the actions of media and politicians with a political agenda.  It's gotten way out of hand in Ukraine.  We need to see to it that, in this country, fuel isn't continually being added to the fire of our own hotheads.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Malaysian Flight 17: From Fantasy To Reckless Aggression

Amid reports that Ukrainian separatists (in collusion with their Russian patrons) are destroying evidence from the Malaysian Flight 17 debris field,  Josh Marshall notes a striking similarity between separatist leader (who at first claimed credit for the shoot down) Igor Strelkov and fantasists in another part of the world.  Marshall first quotes from a Dave Remnick New Yorker blog posting, then adds his commentary:
“Strelkov is well known for leading historical reĆ«nactments of Russian military battles, like you have in the States with the Civil War reĆ«nactors,” Pavlovsky said. “It used to be a fantasy world for people like him, but now they have a realm for their imaginations.”
So that's who you're dealing with: some mix of civil war reenactor or Tea Partier decked out in revolutionary garb, with a mix of reckless aggression and comical incompetence. Here we have them break into nursing homes to photographs senator's comatose wives*; there Putin gives them heavy armaments designed for full scale land war in Europe.
The comparison can't be dismissed off-hand.  Remember the tea-bagging right-wingers in this country who compared Putin favorably to President Obama?  We do.

UPDATE:  Igor's floating a ghoulish theory that only a madman or moron would believe:
According to the Associated Press, rebel commander Igor Girkin [a.k.a. Strelkov] said on the Russkaya Vesna website that witnesses to the crash have informed him that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh” when they fell from the sky. He also claimed that many of them had been drained of blood and stank of decomposition because they had been dead for days.

* Bonus points for the Chris McDaniel reference!

Ohhh, That Smarts

In his ongoing attempt to smear the Obama Administration, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and honors graduate of the Inspector Clouseau Detective School Darrell "Grand Theft Auto" Issa frequently shoots himself in his family jewels.  Latest example:  Issa's committee has been trying to have IRS official Lois Lerner prosecuted for contempt of Congress concerning the screwed up attempts by the IRS to block clearly political groups from claiming tax-exempt status.  Issa & Co. were aggravated when the U.S. Attorney's office had yet to prosecute the case, and wondered why. As it turns out -- hilariously -- Inspector Clouseau Issa has been foiled by a legal opinion rendered by (wait for it) the Reagan Administration.   The opinion stated that it was within the U.S. Attorney's discretion whether to prosecute, and not automatic just because Congress issued the order.

Pure comedy gold.

If Only We Had A Time Machine

Alexandra Petri tells us "when you should live, based on your ideology:"
What you believe:
“I don’t believe in vaccinating my kids!” 
When you should live:
1794, right before Edward Jenner made his breakthrough! 
You have every right to think this, but please don’t jeopardize everyone else’s herd immunity! And have fun treating your other medical ailments with leeches! 
What you believe:
“If the earth is getting warmer, it is not because of anything that humans are doing!” 
When you should live:
Approximately 8000 B.C., at the end of the last ice age, a time when we could say that with certainty! 
Hey, maybe the science isn’t settled. Just in case, settle in a time before scientists. You want to feel absolutely positive? That comes with a price. 
What you believe:
“I don’t believe women should have access to birth control.” 
When you should live:
3,000,000 B.C., when you can feel confident that no women have access to birth control because homo sapiens have not evolved yet. 
If you don’t believe in evolution, Oct. 26, 4004 B.C. should work just fine — one day before God built the Earth, by Bishop Usher’s calculation, anyway. Definitely no birth control then.
Ahh, if only we could "deport" the tea baggers and other reactionary cranks and dimbulbs back in time to when they should have lived.  ("Look, it's Jesus riding a dinosaur!")  We'd all be so much happier.

Friday, July 18, 2014

From The Dark Corners of The Right

It's known that the downed Malaysian Airlines plane was carrying roughly 100 researchers that were studying HIV and planning to attend an international conference in Australia.  One of the researchers, Dr. Joep Lange, was a very prominent researcher who had devoted his life to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.  It drove the right wing crazy when the President made note of the researchers' deaths in his remarks this morning.  Some of the most despicable, callous comments came from the usual suspects on the right, and Salon's captured them so we don't have to.  Here's one of the most despicable ones from someone who portrays himself as a "Christian," but is anything but:

Two hundred ninety-eight innocent people died, and this wretched excuse for a human being makes it about his gayphobia.  What a dirtbag. We'll say it again, what a dirtbag.

Weekend Song

Longtime star of stage, screen and television, Emmy and Tony award winner Elaine Stritch passed away yesterday at the age of 89.  Stritch has been an actress and singer for over 70 years, with appearances in such Broadway classics as "Bus Stop" (1955) and "Company" (1970).  She's perhaps best known to younger audiences for her role as Alec Baldwin's mother in NBC's "30 Rock."  In our weekend song, she's performing in 2010's "A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House."  A tip of the Hackwhackers hat to blog BFF P.E.C. for the suggestion!

"Bad Impeacher" Video of the Day

Last night, Jon Stewart ridiculed the "impeach Obama" nonsense that's coming from the far-right fringe of wingnuttia, most noticeably from former half-term Governor and full time grifter Sarah "Winky" Palin and some Congressional nincompoops.  Having lost two Presidential elections to President Obama by a good margin, these defenders of the Constitution feel that impeachment is the only means to get their way, elections be damned.  We hope they draw more and more public attention to this nonsense as the 2014 mid-term elections approach:  the general public will punish them at the ballot box, as they did with the Clinton impeachment circus in 1998.

"It Was Horrible"

Yesterday's downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile killed 298 people.  Among the dead were dozens of women and children, and approximately 100 HIV experts on their way to a conference in Australia.  The nightmarish scene of the debris field has been captured in countless videos, and was chillingly described in the New York Times:
"Pieces of the plane were scattered across the road and field: a seat back with its television display cracked; a giant white piece of the tail with the plane’s insignia emblazoned on it, and a jagged edge where it tore off from the plane. One televised image showed a travel guide for Bali, almost untouched."
Right on cue, Russian autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin blamed the Ukrainian government, which has no control over the area from which the missile was fired.  Several of the plane's flight recorders have apparently been recovered, according to Russian-backed separatist officials, who have promised to turn them over to international officials.  Whether this tragedy causes Putin to reevaluate the level of support for the ethnic Russian separatists remains to be seen.  Certainly, the European community will have to re-examine the future of their relations with a nation that supports a lawless and violent movement within a bordering, sovereign nation.

UPDATE:  U.S. officials are now indicating Russian-backed separatists were likely responsible, adding that they may have had assistance in operating the mobile missile launcher from Russian military advisors.  Obama to speak shortly.  (Here's a report with the video).

UPDATE II:  In an editorial this morning, the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle indicates a direct link to the separatists:
Predictably, the Ukrainian rebels were doing their best Thursday to cover up what occurred. They denied shooting down the plane, though the wreckage landed in territory they control near the Russian border. Their commander, a Russian citizen and former military officer named Igor Strelkov, claimed in a blog post published Thursday to have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, then removed the message.  (our emphasis)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teabagger Values Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

We've seen the images of angry, vengeful teabaggers from California to Texas who have tried to block buses carrying unaccompanied children from Central America, with some inevitable cases of mistaken identity (see post below).  We'd bet that these teabaggers would be the first to proclaim, loudly and insistently, that they are devoted, Bible-as-literal-truth Christians.  They're just hypocrites, of course, who cherry pick their "principles" when it suits their political/social prejudices.

BONUS:  Here's just one example of how wingnut prejudices and stupidity have sabotaged a humane effort to help some of these children, with special kudos to jackass extraordinaire and Stupidest Man on the Internet Jim Hoft and "guest blogger" Kristinn "But Definitely Not Christian" Taylor.

(cartoon: Jeff Danziger, via Gocomics.com)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And The Award Goes To….

In a crowded field of Rethugs, Arizona Congressional candidate Adam "The Brain" Kwasman wins a Dumbass award for mistaking a busload of YMCA kids for a group of unaccompanied immigrant children in Oracle, AZ yesterday.  Obviously trying to get points with the teatard demographic that he hopes will elect him to the 1st Congressional district seat, The Brain dove deeply into derpitude waving his arms before realizing his mistake.  He tried to take back his comments on his Twitter account and engaged in some mumblespeak with reporters covering The Brain's backfiring publicity stunt.  Even the YMCA kids on the bus were seen laughing at and taking pictures of The Brain and the yahoos that were assembled to stop the alien invasion.  Not surprising that they have better sense than these "adults."