Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 14, 2009

Militias and Right-Wingers and Race, Oh My

You know I’ve watched the Southern Poverty Law Center’s rise over the years as the self-proclaimed expert on “extremist hate groups”. But what I’ve also deduced over those years, mostly by observing when and what we hear from them, is it is primarily an organization that sees the “right-wing” as the primary threat to America.

They’d most likely deny that and point to their “Hate Groups Map” and its inclusion of black separatist organizations, but they even put a caveat on their inclusion of them:

Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms. White groups espousing beliefs similar to Black Separatists would be considered clearly racist. The same criterion should be applied to all groups regardless of their color.

Other than a mention of what the organization is, i.e. Nation of Islam or New Black Panther party, and a short description of their beliefs, you’ll not find much on the SPLC’s website about what would be considered “leftist extremist” hate groups.

And you’ll find nothing in their legal docket where they’ve ever taken one of these groups on in court. One would think the voter intimidation by two New Black Panthers in Philadelphia that occurred in the last presidential election would be right in their sweet spot, but there is no indication whatsoever that such activity even caught their attention.

So it stands to reason that the SPLC loves it when a Democratic administration comes into being because it naturally plays into their primary focus and that elevates their importance (because gullible media outlets will naturally buy into what they’re selling) and we see the “rise of the right-wing militias” nonsense begin again.

Today’s featured gullible media outlet is ABC News, which breathlessly repeats, er, reports that, yup, those right-wing militias, they’re rising again:

Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.

Any guess as to what “experts” they’re talking about?

And you have to love the examples ABC News uses to transition into tarring the right as a bunch of racists:

The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading “Death to Obama” and “Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids” outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display.

Los Angeles police officers apprehended a man Thursday after a standoff with him inside a red Volkswagen Bug car in Westwood, CA – the latest disturbing case even though officials said the man had mental problems.

Ya think? Tell me, thinking back, did John Hinckley represented the “extremist left” when he shot Ronald Reagan? I don’t believe that question was ever raised by the SPLC at the time.

We have a guy legally carrying a gun (although admittedly doing so at an inappropriate time and at an inappropriate place) and one sign among thousands which is inappropriate all included with one mentally whacked individual in CA and we’re ready to conclude that right-wing hate-mongers – violent right-wing hate-mongers (or “evil-mongers” if you’re a Harry Reid fan) – are on the rise.

There’s another bit of “mongering” going on here – fearmongering.

“I don’t think these are simply people who are mentally ill or off their rocker,” Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told ABC News of those behind the threats. “In a very real sense they represent a genuine reaction, a genuine backlash against Obama.”

Notice the substance of the SPLC’s accusation. He’s speaking of townhall protesters in general and essentially saying while the three in question may actually include one real a whack job, they represent the true feelings of the protesters – this is all about Obama.

And the inference of making it “all about Obama”? Say it with me now – he’s a black man. And that, dear reader, makes it all about racism.

If you don’t believe that’s what they’re suggesting, you might want to read their website. From the short description of their “special report” on “The Return of the Militias”:

After virtually disappearing from public view a decade ago, the antigovernment militia movement is surging across the country – fueled by fears of a black president, the changing demographics of the country and fringe conspiracy theories increasingly spread by mainstream figures.

Anyone remember why the militia movement began back then? Well it had nothing to do with a “black president” and everything to do with what appeared to be a expansion of government to include another health care grab.

From the first article in the “special report”, two things to note. One, it’s all anonymous “reports”:

Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. “This is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years,” says one. “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”

Frankly this is akin to National Enquirer reporting and shades of the recent DHS “intelligence” report.

Two, it is all about Obama being a “black man’.

A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate.

Nothing to support this at all, simply an assertion that fits the agenda of those writing the “special report”. Who is spreading fear now?

The second “report” of the SLPC’s “special report” by Larry Keller:

One big difference from the militia movement of the 1990s is that the face of the federal government — the enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom — is now black. And the fact that the president is an African American has injected a strong racial element into even those parts of the radical right, like the militias, that in the past were not primarily motivated by race hate. Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration.

Sound familiar? Yup, it doesn’t take a literary critic to understand that Larry wrote not only his own screed, but the first unattributed screed as well. So essentially, what we have to this point is Larry Keller’s opinion, unsourced and undocumented, as to what is going on.

What’s pitiful is in the 4 paragraphs leading up to the paragraph above, he gives not one scintilla of support for the premise he lays out there – it’s all about Obama because he’s black. The people he’s talking about haven’t been mentioned in any news reports as being attendees at a single townhall protest that I’ve seen. But that doesn’t stop him from inferring that they’re the primary movers in this protest movement

Apparently, about half way through, he had a momentary attack of conscience and takes a swipe at some factual objectivity:

It’s not 1996 all over again, or 1997 or 1998. Although there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November, it has not reached the level of criminal violence, attempted terrorist attacks and white-hot language that marked the militia movement at its peak.

Again, he makes an unsupported assertion (“… there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November” – really? Where?), but admits this is nothing like the supposed golden age of militias in the ’90s (which led to what? Not much of anything.).

And you have to love this:

At the Jacksonville, Fla., July tea party, some protesters carried signs that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Gasp! I’ll bet Keller was all over the “Bush/Hitler” comparisons for the last 8 years, wasn’t he? Uh, no. But to help him in his research, should he read this, I’ve googled it for him.

The last of the “special reports” is by David Holthouse. It’s all about “Camp Vigilance”, a Minute Man community in San Diego. You’re left with the impression that this boiling, seething, ready-to-explode community has arisen rather recently and is representative of the growing threat. You’re certainly left to assume it has arisen since the recent presidential election. And you’re also left to extrapolate this one place as typical of all those now protesting (why is never clear).

It was, however, established in 2006, well within the Bush administration and, apparently, despite Mr. Holthouse’s attempt to make this new and fresh, it seems it’s the same collection of whack jobs that have been out there pushing conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and global bankers since I’ve been alive. It should also be noted that up to now, they’ve apparently done nothing at Camp Vigilance to bring law enforcement down on them.

The point of all this is the left, with the media’s obvious help, is bound and determined to turn this political disagreement into something about race and hate.

“I think the president has, in effect, triggered fears amongst fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country, that the battle is lost,” Potok told ABC News. “The nation that their Christian white forefathers created has somehow been taken from them.”

Yup – without “fairly large numbers of white people” available to blame this twisted message on, Potok and SPLC are out of a job, aren’t they?

Oh, and thanks, ABC – great job of fearmongering there.

~McQ

Poor Joe …

Michael Moore has a post on his blog from someone named John Gray entitled, “A Day In The Life Of Joe Middle-Class Republican” in which Gray attempts to make the point that all good things we enjoy in life flow from government and liberals. It begins like this:

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

And so on. Gil Guillory answers Gray’s assertions in a comment at the Mises blog:

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He makes it with a machine he could not possibly have made himself. He does not know where it was made, or how it works, and may not care. He does not know the people that planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, roasted, packaged, freighted, warehoused, distributed, marketed, or retailed his coffee, and may not care. The company that insures the manufacturer of the coffee machine required that it meet certain safety guidelines, as established by the private insurance-company-funded Underwriters Laboratory. Joe has seen the UL mark, but is not really sure what it’s for or how it protects him. He doesn’t clearly understand why greedy businessmen might be interested in a safe product. All of this was made possible by libertarians who fought for and won the legal right to free trade.

He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water which he bought from Ozarka, because the local government monopoly of water supply bears the comforting designation of “accepted” and also tastes funny.

Sam Bostap also answers the post:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with bottled water because he knows that the municipal water system supplies water that occasionally has e coli and other natural organisms that will make him ill–after all his mother died from drinking water that was polluted by sewage after a heavy rain. Joe tried to sue, but was told that the city had sovereign immunity from such suits as a result of state law. If the water he pours from the bottle he bought at Safeway is polluted, he knows he can sue the manufacturer and collect big, so he feels pretty sure that it’s clean.

Joe grinds his coffee beans carefully because they’re very expensive as a result of the U.S. government-enforced international coffee cartel that exists to protect the jobs of coffee importers–heavy campaign contributers to Congress. He’s also careful about how much sugar he puts in his coffee because it costs seven times the world price of sugar as a result of the U.S. government imposed import restrictions on sugar to protect the domestic sugar beet and sugar cane industry.

I don’t think you’d have to guess very hard to know who I think wins this little battle of the Joes. But I don’t think all the bases have been covered in the two parodies of Gray’s original post.

Your additions to the reasons for Joe’s quality of life are solicited.

~McQ

Tiger Woods – Bourgeois Tool

At least in Venezuela.  Apparently the game of golf is the latest thing under assault in the socialist paradise Hugo Chavez is fashioning:

After a brief tirade against the sport by the president on national television last month, pro-Chávez officials have moved in recent weeks to shut down two of the country’s best-known golf courses, in Maracay, a city of military garrisons near here, and in the coastal city of Caraballeda.

“Let’s leave this clear,” Mr. Chávez said during a live broadcast of his Sunday television program. “Golf is a bourgeois sport,” he said, repeating the word “bourgeois” as if he were swallowing castor oil. Then he went on, mocking the use of golf carts as a practice illustrating the sport’s laziness.

Meanwhile, the rubber-stamp National Assembly passed a bill that will broaden the state’s control of what is taught in schools:

The bill would order schools to base curricula on what it calls “the Bolivarian Doctrine” — a vague reference to ideals espoused by 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar, such as national self-determination and Latin American unity.

Or, more simply said – socialism. Unsurprisingly, it has generated protests a colleges and universities – not that Chavez cares.

Meanwhile, as the economy continues to tank, Chavez is using the dictator’s normal first choice to divert attention from economic problems – claiming there is an external threat.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday raised tensions with Colombia over a U.S. troop plan, accusing his neighbor of sending an army patrol over their Orinoco River border and ending a Colombian gasoline subsidy.

Chavez made his remarks on the eve of a regional summit in Ecuador, where the persistent Washington critic will try to fuel opposition to a Colombian plan to allow U.S. troops more access to seven of its military bases.

[…]

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch U.S. ally, says the troop plan is necessary to fight drug traffickers. But Chavez claims a greater U.S. presence in the region is a direct threat to him and risks sparking war in South America.

Where have we seen all of his before? And how predictable is this as well?

Poor Venezuela – they’ve got a tiger by the tail and they’re in for an awful ride. They’ve allowed this goon Chavez to manipulate the democratic process into autocratic rule and he’s now developed into not just a threat to the freedom and liberty of his own citizens, but a threat to other nations.

Anyone can see this isn’t going to end well. I feel for the people of Venezuela.

~McQ

“End-Of-Life”, Bureaucrats and Freedom – More Straight Talk

The Senate Finance Committee, which is drafting its version of health care legislation, will not include the “end of life counseling” provision found in the House bill.

Why?

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. “We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”

You see, these provisions being written into law won’t be implemented by our lawmakers, but instead by the bureaucracies the law establishes. Yes, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats will interpret and implement the law and you, dear drone, are expected to bow to their interpretation and implementation.  That’s reality.

Of course that’s the case not only with that particular provision but with the entire legislation being proposed. It is going to be a government bureaucracy that decides what this all means and how it should be implemented.

Now, Grassley sort of tries to make that point but still exempt what he’s working on from it:

“The bill passed by the House committees is so poorly cobbled together that it will have all kinds of unintended consequences, including making taxpayers fund healthcare subsidies for illegal immigrants,” Grassley said. The veteran Iowa lawmaker said the end-of-life provision in those bills would pay physicians to “advise patients about end-of-life care and rate physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care.

“Maybe others can defend a bill like the Pelosi bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can’t,” Grassley added.

The charge, of course, is that the House bill is loaded with poorly written legislation open to bureaucratic interpretation which will have many unintended and negative consequences. The implication is that Grassley and crew are carefully cobbling their version together to make clear how everything must the interpreted and implemented thereby avoiding all the negative and unintended consequences found in the House bill.

To which I say, “nonsense”. We’re talking about an attempt to take over a very complex system that goes far beyond “insurance” reform. Anyone who believes that Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee’s version will avoid negative unintended consequences needs a reality check badly. Certainly it may be marginally better than the monstrosity the House is touting, but it is still an overt government power grab that will have dire consequences down the line.

What’s even more disturbing, of course, is the fact that you have a senior Republican involved in doing this, meaning of course that he has swallowed the premise that the Democrats have offered, i.e. that the solution involves more government, not less.

And, of course, that’s exactly the opposite of what Republicans, philosophically at least, are supposed to stand for. Dale has outlined the direction Republicans and those who believe in liberty and free markets should be demanding we go.

Is there a workable model out there that Republicans should be offering? You bet there is. Dale talked about it, and so has John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods:

* Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

* Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

* Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

* Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

* Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

* Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

* Enact Medicare reform.

* Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

It may not be the total free market answer most libertarians would like to see, but it is a far better approach than what Democrats and Republicans out there are offering now.

Here’s the bottom line, as stated by Mackey:

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

The solution is to make them responsible by giving them that responsibility, not having government further usurp it and make decisions for them. The most fundamental aspect of freedom and liberty is individual responsibility. The system we have now, as well as the one that is being proposed, works against that fundamental requirement and thereby lessens both our freedom and our liberty.

That’s what people protesting these proposed laws are finally realizing. This isn’t just about health care – its about our freedom.

~McQ