Monday, March 29, 2010



"The indictment says they were planning to kill a member of law enforcement, possibly after a traffic stop, to "prompt a response by law enforcement."

"The goal: To "intimidate and demoralize law enforcement, diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective," according to the indictment.

"The group then intended to use the incident to spark a "war" against law enforcement, using bombs, ambushes and prepared fighting positions."

That is an excerpt from the latest story on the arrests over the weekend. Right-wing extremists are teetering on the brink of hysteria fueled by the recent approval of health-care reform, right-wing talk show hosts and media, and several congressional leaders and politicians.

After a week of threats and vandalism against Democratic officials and their families, law-enforcement and the public are on edge and waiting for the proverbial next show to drop.

The rest of the story and videos can be found here...

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Racial epithets, homophobic slurs, threats, intimidation, vandalism, severed gas line, shots fired, and now white powder - what a world we are making for ourselves and our children.


Law enforcement officials say a package with white powder was sent to Congressman Weiner's Queens office today.

A preliminary review shows the letter in part complained about the historic health care legislation passed by Congress this week, according to the source.

Weiner's office is on the fifth floor of a building on Kew Gardens Road in Queens. Law enforcement officials said a doctor's office and a law office on the floor were among those evacuated as a precaution. Nine people were inside Weiner's office at the time.

In a statement, Weiner acknowledged that his office received a suspicious envelope and said his prime concern is the safety of his staff and others in the area.

"Earlier today an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter was delivered to my community office in Kew Gardens. The NYPD was immediately alerted and have responded appropriately by sending a Haz-Mat team," the statement read. "Any questions related to their response should be directed to the NYPD. My first priority is the safety of my staff and neighbors, and the authorities are currently taking steps to investigate and resolve the situation."

The NYPD, the FBI and other emergency management officials are at the scene as a precaution, spokesmen for the agencies say. Weiner's Kew Gardens office will be closed pending the completion of the investigation. As is routine, preliminary field testing is underway to determine whether the substance is in any way hazardous. Then it will be sent to a lab for further detailed testing as a precaution. Officials say most often, these letters are hoaxes.

Check back here for frequent updates on this breaking story.

The package sent to Weiner's office may be the latest in a series of threats directed against Democratic Congress members who voted to overhaul the U.S. health care system.

At least four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas were struck and at least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threats, including obscenity-laced phone messages, congressional leaders have said. No arrests have been reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday condemned vandalism and threats against members of Congress who voted to overhaul the U.S. health care system. Republicans joined in, telling people to calm down and saying they too were being targeted in an increasingly venomous political atmosphere.

"I don't want this to be a distraction" to the work of Congress, Pelosi said. But she also asserted that such violence and threats of reprisal have "no place in a civil debate in our country" and must be rejected.

Her sentiments were echoed minutes later by House Republican leader John Boehner, who said that while many are angry over the health care measure, "threats and violence should not be part of a political debate."

At least four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas were struck and at least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threats, including obscenity-laced phone messages, congressional leaders have said. No arrests have been reported.

The House's No. 3 Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, said at a brief news conference Thursday that someone fired a bullet through a window of his campaign office in Richmond this week and he has received threatening e-mails.

Responding to Democrats who have accused Republicans of being too slow to condemn the attacks against lawmakers, he stressed that security threats are not a partisan issue. "To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible," he said.

The shots were fired into the offices of two Republican political strategists who are longtime advisers to Cantor. The building in downtown Richmond has no markings that link it to Cantor or to political activity.

The actions against Democrats have included racial slurs thrown at black lawmakers, e-mail and phone death threats and bricks thrown through regional office windows.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat and chairwoman of an influential House committee, said someone had left her a voice mail that used the word "snipers."

On the Republican side, the office of Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio released a tape of a profanity-laced phone message in which the caller said Republicans were racists and, referring to an accident two years ago when Schmidt was hit by a car while jogging, said, "you should have broke your back, b... ."

Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer told The Associated Press Thursday that there was "no evidence that annoying, harassing or threatening telephone calls or emails are coordinated. Regrettably though, bloggers and twitters seem to feed off each other, leaving little room for creativity."

At the news conference, Pelosi said it is "important for us to be able to express ourselves freely, not to diminish that in any way, but also to hit a standard that says some of the actions ... must be rejected."

But the California Democrat also said she did not "subscribe to the theory that these acts sprang from the comments of my colleagues."

The vandalism and threats surprised a researcher at a think tank that monitors extremist groups.

"I think it is astounding that we are seeing this wave of vigilantism," said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

I have been reading Mario Piperni's blog for a little while now, and have gotten a big kick out of his wit and his graphics.

In view of the many events and activities of late surrounding the racist and violent messages being sent by the extreme right through the airwaves and on our streets the blogosphere has been absolutely rife with great and thoughtful opinions and essays. Mr. Piperni can say a lot with just one graphic and a biting wit. This is his latest:

Jimmy Zuma has a thing or two to say to teabaggers.

Of course, I’ve written that you’re the Stupid Wing of the Republican Party, the people who have backward social ideas, fear change because you have trouble adapting to it, and are easily whipped into a frenzy at election time. Along with Rich Republicans and Fan Independents (who vote for whomever they think will win just to feel like a winner) you’re a necessary part of any Republican win.

Generally, you are reliable voters who are easy to ignore as the Affluent Wing of the party – The Bankers — picks your pocket. All they have to do is to tell you that poor people/government/liberals are he reason for your failure. It’s such a convenient excuse – someone else is the reason you didn’t get rich, even though you worked hard — you lap it up like Jimmy Dean sausage gravy.

And now, you’ve had a groggy awakening – a brief glimmer of half-insight — and decided to make some mischief. It’s merely an intellectual baby step, however, not an intellectual awakening. The latter, hopefully, will come after a few more generations – after evolution has done it’s good work. Consider this:

* You say you’re independent and you’re “grassroots.” Yet Dick Armey is responsible for organizing you.

*A lifelong Republican, He was in the middle of both the Republican Revolution and the Contract for America, two other Republican Party lip-service campaigns aimed at you.

*In the same way that John McCain historically was in charge of manipulating the independents, Dick Armey’s turf is to manipulate the social conservatives.

*This is just the next round in the saga of playing you for a fool. “They [the RNC] just don’t get it” is all over your blogs. Maybe they do. After all, Dick Armey has been your puppet master for how many decades now?

So far, your big “revolution” consists of running a few alternatives in primaries – but only Republican primaries and with mixed results – while pretending that you might overthrow the government. (As if a bunch of old farts in flannel shirts actually could.) It’s a typical “silent majority” delusion – the same hubris that led Ron Paul to a one percent showing in the last election.

True independence surely wouldn’t find you only in Republican politics, would it? True disaffection would also find you in Democratic circles, or maybe starting your own party. If you really want to start something, start with growing some stones, setting an agenda, and starting a party. And stop whining about change. The alternative is “same” which you claim to despise.

Or stay true to your historical form and let Dick Armey pull your strings on behalf of the Republican National Committee. Then line up solidly behind the next Republican – just like you always do.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Racism and the Myth of a "Victim Mentality"

Racism and the Myth of a "Victim Mentality"

By Tim Wise

Recently, I received an e-mail from a college professor who shows a video of one of my speeches in her classroom. She explained that she was in need of a citation for a claim I had made in the video, to the effect that although blacks and Latinos are far more likely than whites to be searched by police after a traffic stop, it is whites who are more likely--four times more likely in fact--to be found with drugs or other contraband on us, on the much less frequent occasions when we're the ones searched.

I happily obliged, sending her the web link for a 2005 Department of Justice report, in which the data can be found. Apparently, she was being challenged by one of her white male students, who was certain the claim must be wrong. Of course. Because everybody knows black and brown folks are the ones with all the drugs. Armed with his high school diploma, he felt confident challenging the person who is academically certified to teach him something, as if her years of experience and research counted for nothing, and as if mine (twenty-plus at this point) were irrelevant to the search for truth.

As a side note, and before continuing with the real focus of my remarks, it has always fascinated me how readily people without the slightest bit of knowledge on these subjects will challenge those of us who have spent our lives studying them. And this they do, in a way they would never think to challenge, say, the plumber who came to fix their toilet. In such a case as that, most anyone would recognize and defer to the plumber's specialized knowledge about their craft. But not with a subject that has ideological or political implications. The fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion leads millions to believe that their opinions are actually just as valuable as anyone else's, no matter the yawning chasm between their own expertise on a topic and that of someone else. Thus, we end up with Glenn Beck helping to shape public opinion: a guy who readily admits his lack of education, but whose views we are supposed to take seriously anyway. Or Sarah Palin, whose sub-mediocre academic record is viewed as a badge of honor by conservatives who consider those with substantial academic accomplishments to be elitist snobs.

But anyway, I digress.

What was actually more disturbing about the instructor's e-mail was the part after she asked for the data citation, where she noted that in addition to challenging the facts I'd presented in the video, the white guy had also insisted that even if the claim were true--in other words, even if police really are racially profiling people of color unfairly--we shouldn't talk about it, because to do so will discourage black people from trying hard to achieve. It will, presumably, turn them into permanent victims, whose expectations of mistreatment will make them essentially give up.

The Racist and Ignorant Underpinnings of the Victim Mentality Argument

It's a common argument, made by those who would rather ignore or finesse the problem of racism in America. If you can't argue the facts, never fear, just suggest that certain facts are too dangerous to be spoken. The possibility that persons of color might adopt a victim mentality once they learn the extent of racism, means we simply have to move on, and tell those who are, as a matter of fact, often the victims of injustice not to dwell on their experiences too much, lest their commitment to self-help be vitiated.

That such an argument as this is fundamentally racist should be obvious. First, it presumes that persons of color are too stupid to already know what it is they're experiencing. Those who bemoan the so-called victim mindset appear to believe that no one would think about racism were it not for the constant presence of liberals and leftists raising the issue. Secondly, the argument supposes that black and brown folks are so weak-willed that if they really understood the obstacles in their way, they would crumble like pie crust. As such, the fact that prominent black conservatives like Shelby Steele or Walter Williams are among the most outspoken proponents of this argument--that discussing racism risks the inculcation of a permanent victim mentality--suggests how little they think of their own racial group.

The truth is, folks of color (especially African Americans) are well aware of the negative stereotypes held about their racial group by an early age. Indeed, recent evidence indicates an awareness of these stereotypes by as soon as the third grade, and rarely later than the fifth: around the age of, say, eleven. This awareness--which is not due to liberals bringing it up, but rather, the result of black and brown folks living with the mistreatment that stems from the stereotypes and being exposed to them in media and elsewhere--has been found to dramatically impact academic performance. Even (and especially) among highly capable and motivated students of color, the fear of living down to a stereotype has been shown to generate such anxiety that it can suppress performance, relative to ability, thereby perpetuating the very performance gaps that feed the stereotypes about black intelligence in the first place. In other words, whether or not white racism is discussed, the knowledge of its existence is sufficient to negatively impact black and brown success. Talking about racism isn't the problem: racism itself is.

Are Some Victims are More Valid Than Others?

Naturally, none of the conservatives who worry about blacks adopting a debilitating mindset of victimhood ever fret about the same thing happening to others who have been victimized by injustice. They don't tell Jewish folks to get over the Holocaust, or not to talk about those unhappy matters so much, lest they cripple themselves under the weight of a victim syndrome. They don't warn crime victims against the adoption of a victim mindset. No indeed, the right even praises "victim's rights" groups, as if to suggest that, for these poor souls, victimhood is the highest station of human worth, and even provides special insights when it comes to proper crime control policy. And the right, even as they decry black and brown claims of victimization--all for the best interests of those folks of color, naturally--are quite skilled at proclaiming themselves the victims of all kinds of things: taxes, big government, immigrants, reverse discrimination, secular humanism, gay marriage, "radical Islam," you name it. The right loves victimhood, so long as they're the ones who get to choose which victims count, and so long as they don't have to actually deal with the history of injustice meted out to those who, by and large, are not them.

So why is it acceptable for these other groups' members to focus on their victimization, while it's somehow untoward or even self-destructive for blacks to do so? Keep in mind, there has been a steady push for curricula that addresses the destruction of European Jewry under Hitler, and no one has suggested that teaching the Diary of Anne Frank might be debilitating to Jewish children. Classes on, and special materials on the Jewish Holocaust are ubiquitous in American schools. Meanwhile, discussion of the Holocaust of America's indigenous populations remains largely off-limits, even to the point that the term Holocaust can't be used to describe it, lest we be seen as disrespecting the supposed uniqueness of Jewish suffering. As a Jew myself, I was raised on a steady diet of "never again" rhetoric, and not once was it suggested that such thinking was somehow going to diminish my willingness to work hard. Quite the contrary, it was intended to make damned sure I never allowed my people to be subordinated again. And that, it appears, is the real concern of conservatives. They aren't worried about blacks and other people of color adopting a crippling victim mentality. They are worried about such folks fighting back against the victimization that continues to happen on a daily basis.

Preparation is Not Capitulation to Victimhood

Logic suggests that there is a big difference between being prepared for potential injury of some sort (as those who challenge racism insist one must be) and wallowing in victimhood. When we buy insurance, for instance, we are preparing for the possibility of something bad happening to us--becoming sick, getting in a car accident, or having our house wiped out by a flood or tornado, or broken into by a burglar who then steals our valuables. Yet only the most cynical would say that by thinking about these possibilities (even to the point of paying money to insulate ourselves against them), we were somehow mired in a mentality of perpetual victimization. No indeed, such preparation, and the foresight that precedes it would be taken by most as signs of supreme rationality, level-headedness and maturity. And this is true despite the fact that, statistically speaking, the odds that a person of color will experience racism at some point are far greater than the odds of, say, a catastrophic weather related destruction of one's house, or the likelihood that one will be the victim of a home invasion. Research indicates that people of color will be discriminated against in about one out of every three job searches, as well as a third of the time when looking for housing. Though not clamoring for racism insurance, people of color logically think about the potential of racist injury, and given the possibility of such injury, doing so is no less rational than to contemplate other forms of ill-fortune. It is far more rational, for instance, than buying air traveler's insurance, in the event that one's plane were to crash, and yet many people purchase this kind of thing every year. Are they paranoid? Locked in a victim mentality? Neurotic? No, just cautious. Being prepared does not paralyze you, in these or any other cases.

To put this in terms that are especially easy to understand, let me offer a personal story, which illustrates the difference between being prepared for something and being paralyzed by fear of it. When I was quite a bit younger, I was an accomplished baseball player, especially when it came to hitting. As was my habit, during pre-game preparations, I would pay special attention to the opposing team's pitcher as he warmed up. I would watch to see how fast he threw, his motion, his delivery, and what kind of movement, if any, he was able to put on the ball. I did this even though I knew that sometimes these guys (who were almost always bigger than me and a bit older) were zipping balls into their catchers at over 85 miles an hour, which, to a 5'3" 14 year old, can be intimidating, to say the least. Several others on my team wouldn't watch the pitchers that intently. But I did, religiously. And not only did it not psyche me out or make me less confident of my ability to get on base. If anything, it prepared me for what I'd be facing, and made me more confident.

It's a logic that most any responsible parent would immediately understand. What kind of father would I be, for instance, if I never told my girls about the fact that there are some boys and men who think girls and women are less capable, and that there will be some among these who may treat them unfairly? The answer is, I'd be a damned pitiful one. To tell your kids that they can be anything they want to be if they try hard enough is nice, but unless you warn them about the obstacles in their path, which, unconquered, can derail them on the road to success, you are ill-suiting them for the real world. You are doing them no favors, but rather, are setting them up for a terrible fall, once they come upon the hurdles for which you had failed to prepare them, and as such, equip them to overcome. On the other hand, by discussing those obstacles honestly--and discussing individual and collective strategies of resistance to them--persons who are the targets of unjust treatment can steel themselves against the headwinds in their way, persevere, and accomplish in spite of those headwinds.

Victim Mentality Arguments Ignore History and Common Sense

Frankly, it's stunning that anyone would deny this basic truth, especially given the historic evidence at our disposal to prove its veracity. After all, if you ask most any black person over the age of forty what their parents told them about race when they were younger, you will hear one or another version of the following in reply: that they would have to work twice as hard as white folks. And this they were told, not as some free-floating, de-contextualized notion, but precisely because the system was so profoundly unjust and discrimination so deeply ingrained, that despite their best efforts and talent, they would too often be overlooked for the best jobs and opportunities solely because of the color of their skin.

But does anyone--including, especially the black conservatives who decry the so-called victim mentality--condemn the older African Americans (including, one can safely presume, their own parents) who previously prepared generations of blacks for hard work and success by telling them in no uncertain terms that things were unequal and unfair? Does any conservative suggest these blacks in prior eras were crippling their children with the message that they would need to work harder than whites because of racism? Better still, is there any evidence whatsoever that being told such a thing did in fact cripple black folks, or make them try less hard than they otherwise might have? Of course not. If anything, the exact opposite is true. Knowing the odds, black and brown folk tried even harder, because to do otherwise would all but guarantee defeat. In short, the claim that discussing racism and discrimination creates passive victims out of people of color flies in the face of every bit of empirical evidence on the subject, which suggests that the opposite is true: knowing the truth inspires perseverance and passionate resistance to victimization, not resignation to one's status as a target.

In fact, one could even argue that downplaying the reality of racism and discrimination so as to avoid the inculcation of a victim mindset, and so as to spur greater individual initiative, could backfire. After all, if a person is led to believe that there are no obstacles in their way, and that their hard work, intelligence and ability are all that will matter, they might slack up. They might coast on the assumption that surely all will recognize their potential, and that they won't have to go that extra mile to make a good impression. They may overestimate the extent to which whites will recognize their effort and hard work, or the extent to which that recognition will be sufficient to overcome the implicit (and even explicit) biases that years of research indicates are still very much ingrained in the minds of most white folks. So not only may a "see no evil, speak of no evil" mindset not help folks of color in a society where racism still functions, it could actually do substantial harm.

In the end, there is only one question we need ask: does the truth matter or not? If racism is a problem--and research makes clear that it is--then there is no responsible path forward but to discuss it, to call it out, and to address it directly. To ignore it, or minimize its importance will not make it go away, will not smooth the path for any person of color confronting it, and will only leave folks ill-prepared to deal with it, on those occasions when it rises up to smack them in the face. Surely, anyone who would leave millions of others so unprepared for the world as it is can't be taken seriously when they claim to be compassionate. The right doesn't care about people of color adopting a victim mentality. They simply wish to avoid a discussion of injustice, because such a discussion might lead us to do something about it. And they rather like things the way they are.

Tim Wise is the author of five books on race and racism, including his latest, Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity, to be released in the Spring of 2010 from City Lights Books.



Associated Press Writer

WHITE PLAINS, New York - Four men accused of trying to bomb synagogues and shoot down planes in New York last spring did little more than go along with a fake plot proposed, directed and funded by the federal government, defense lawyers claim in asking the court to dismiss the case.

A federal informant chose the targets, offered payment, provided maps and bought the only real weapon involved, a handgun, the attorneys said in a dismissal motion filed this week in federal court.

They alleged the defendants were not inclined toward any crime until the informant began recruiting them...CONTINUED HERE

Friday, March 12, 2010


Texas Conservatives Vote to Make Textbooks “Right”

Posted on March 12, 2010. Tags: Conservative, economy, Politics, public education, republicans, revisionist history, tea party, Texas, text books

Posted by BC Bass

AUSTIN, TX (GlossyNews) — Despite the ongoing efforts of educators to create national standards for public schools, the Texas school board has seceded from the debate by proposing sweeping changes to its social studies curriculum that would highlight the underrated achievements of conservatives, emphasize the role of Christianity in American history and include Republican political philosophies in textbooks.

The board is expected to take a preliminary vote this week on a cornucopia of changes proposed by the seven conservative Republicans on the board. A final vote is expected in May.

Conservatives argue that the existing curriculum unfairly touts the accomplishments of liberal politicians but gives less importance to efforts by conservatives like President Ronald Reagan to limit the size of government. They cite liberal failures such as Social Security, the New Deal and the Great Society as catalysts for the revisions.

“The way I see it,” said Joe Daunch, an unemployed electrician from College Station who co-chairs the board’s conservative faction, “none of these programs contributed to the prosperity of the country. Sure, the opposition and its activists — you know, historians — argue that these initiatives ended the Great Depression, but we disagree. The Great Depression wasn’t a problem at all. It was an economic weeding out of the infirm and the under-performing. Had liberals let the market take care of itself, America would have emerged with one class of nothing but wealthy citizens. A missed opportunity, really.”

When asked if his take on this economic thinning of the herd could be described as a form of social Darwinism, Daunch said he felt it was more akin to “fiscal Calvinism,” where the truly chosen prevail while all others perish in the hellfire of their own kindling.

Additional examples of sprawling, massive government entities include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the expanded warrantless wiretapping program and the Office of Faith-based Community Initiatives, a lot of pork that could benefit from some trimming.

“There is simply no balance in the text books today. It’s all ‘melting pot’ this and ‘equal rights’ that and ‘freeing the slaves.’ And when they talk about the country’s first entrepreneurs, they use pejoratives like ‘Robber Barons.’ Nobody talks about how the antebellum South managed to obtain state’s rights nationwide. Look, we’re not suggesting that the history books be rewritten to talk about Republicans only; just those Republicans who came into office after Eisenhower — a president who, one could argue, was virtually a communist, with all his talk about excluding the military industrial complex from the nation’s economy. Sorry, Ike, but without military spending, we wouldn’t have thriving aviation and manufacturing sectors. The Army Corps of Engineers builds our levees. Can you imagine what would happen to cities below sea level if we didn’t have protective walls?”

The conservatives on the board also complained that Republican trailblazers received short shrift during the last 50 years by socialist publishers. Ronald Reagan’s economic policies, for example. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen. But at the top of the spectrum, the rich had gotten richer, which the group says demonstrates the successful growth of the nation’s wealth under Reagan.

Richard Nixon’s unprecedented efforts to collect intelligence during the Watergate Era resulted in superior spying and surveillance techniques that saved the United States from untold terrorist threats. And although Daunch admitted that George H.W. Bush cowered from confronting Iraq, he went on to point out that George W. Bush salvaged the situation by deposing Saddam Hussein. Iraq has a thriving democratic politic system and, once secular, now enjoys religious freedom. Conversely, the group says, Clinton failed to change Iraq during his cursory engagement there. His failure to destroy al Qaeda after attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 paved the way for the carnage of September 11, 2001.

There have also been efforts to parse and amend, where necessary, discussions on the civil rights movement.

Daunch said, “If we do nothing in this country but talk about how everyone can have a level playing field to succeed, we set unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes among minorities. When they inevitably fail, doesn’t it seem that we’ve done more harm than good? The government shouldn’t be responsible for making the sure their glass always seems half full, when in reality it’s just a few drops of malt liquor in an otherwise empty Dixie cup.”

Another proposed change removes any reference to race, sex or religion in talking about how different groups have contributed to the national identity. “When you realize that white people did all the work building this country,” Daunch continued, “it just makes the other races feel bad. We’ve given them a pretty good ride. Affirmative action, sharecropping, railroad industry jobs, cheap education, and what have they given back? Not much, considering the welfare system. This amendment was specifically added to appease the liberals. But they’ll complain about anything.”

One board member said publishers should “describe the effects of increasing government regulation and taxation on economic development and business planning.” She pointed out the devastating losses and staggering unemployment rates among teachers, police officers, fire fighters, financial institutions, air lines and automobile manufacturers. “All regulated industries,” she added.

“Country and western music” will also make the list of cultural movements to be studied. Alan Jackson’s chart topping hit “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” includes the line, “I’m just a singer of simple songs / I’m not a real political man / I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you / The difference in Iraq and Iran.” Daunch asserts that singers like Jackson astutely illustrate the abysmal state of our current educational system. “Kids don’t understand the geographical and political issues of the Middle East. We want to correct that.”

A surprising number of concerned citizens attended the meeting to support the amendments, including some who were enraged at “socialist tendencies in Washington.” One man asserted that the Tea Party movement should be included in the textbooks, but not “the thing with the Indians that happened in Boston.”

“Conservatives need to take back control of the messaging,” said Zeke Merfkoppen, one of the Texas Seven, as they are being called. “We’ve let the liberal socialists control the media for too long. Hollywood? Book publishers? These are artists. These are bleeding heart liberals who aren’t interested in business. Making money is the foundation of our free market system. Hollywood liberals just want more regulation. They’ve got ratings for everything. They want the MPAA, the FCC and all these other organizations around to regulate them. And the publishers? They have no moral compass. I defy you to find one book in print that praises Christianity and the salvation accorded to followers of Christ. No? Didn’t think so.”

“You can vilify anyone,” concluded Daunch. “Hitler’s engineers brought us some of the biggest technological advances in history. He restored a sense of national pride and patriotism, ended inflation and curbed a population explosion that was out of control. Mussolini made the trains run on time. They don’t run on time here, do they? Once we’ve finished revising the inaccuracies with our curriculum, perhaps our European friends will follow suit. I read a German history book once that made no mention of the ‘Holocaust.’ It’s a hard thing to prove, really, so why stir up undue controversy and conspiracy theories, like we do with all that Kennedy-Oswald stuff?”

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Hal and his son leave the courthouse after a second mistrial is declared. The judge scheduled the next trial to begin on April 12th and cautioned Hal not to speak to the media. A public defender was also appointed since Turner had declared bankruptcy. (Photo from Carmine Glasso @

March 10, 2010 Update:

According to news accounts, Hal Turner was taken to the hospital this morning while experiencing chest pains. He was reportedly treated for a "chest infection" and released. The jury in his retrail is in its' third day of deliberations. MORE HERE:


Gag Order or Not, You’re Fired


4:51 p.m.
Updated With the testimony over and closing arguments done, it would seem that Harold C. Turner would have little to do except wait for a federal jury to decide whether he was guilty of threatening the lives of three appellate court judges.

But Mr. Turner, an incendiary radio host on the Internet, is not known for quiet reflection — even with a court-imposed gag order.

As the jury was deliberating Tuesday morning, Mr. Turner unexpectedly announced the firing of his lawyers. The decision, which will go into effect after the resolution of the case, was announced without further explanation in United States District Court in Brooklyn.

In the hallway outside the courtroom, Mr. Turner put his hands in the air and said he could not comment, citing the gag order imposed. “I cannot communicate with the media,” he said. “It’s not you and they’re not fired.”

However his two lawyers — Nishay K. Sanan and Michael A. Orozco — confirmed that they received a letter early Tuesday morning in which Mr. Turner announced his intention to part ways. The lawyers have represented him since shortly after his arrest last summer, but Mr. Turner cited his desire to have fresh eyes on the case.

“Win, lose or draw, we’re done,” Mr. Sanan said.

This is the second trial of Mr. Turner on charges stemming from writing an explosive blog post on his Web site, in which he posted the photos of three judges with the United States Court of Appeals in Chicago. The judges had upheld a law banning handguns, and Mr. Turner wrote, among other things, that they were “worthy of death.” He faces up to 10 years if convicted.

The case was moved from Chicago so that Mr. Turner would not face trial in the same building where the three judges work. The first trial ended in a hung jury.

In the late afternoon on Tuesday, jurors sent Judge Donald E. Walter a note advising that they were “unable to come to an agreement and are convinced that we will not ever be able to make a unanimous decision.”

Judge Walker told the jury to continue deliberations. Defense attorneys for Mr. Turner moved for a mistrial.

About an hour later, jurors sent a second note saying the group was “confident we will not align on a decision” by 5 p.m., and asked to be discharged and return on Wednesday to continue deliberations.

During closing arguments on Monday, Mr. Sanan sought to portray Mr. Turner, who had worked as a confidential informant for the F.B.I., as someone who had followed the instructions of his handlers to help the government gather information about white supremacist groups, who comprised the core of his audience.

Dismissing the prosecutors’ depiction of Mr. Turner as a dangerous purveyor of violent and vehemently racist rhetoric who finally crossed the line with his comments about the judges, Mr. Sanan described Mr. Turner as a radio shock jock like Don Imus or Howard Stern. “To give your opinion is not a crime; to give it vehemently is not a crime,” he said.

Mr. Sanan, who is of Indian descent, and Mr. Orozco, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said that race did not play a role in their dismissal. “He is not a racist,” said Mr. Orozco.

Monday, March 08, 2010




BROOKLYN - Lawyers for ultra-right wing shock jock and one-time FBI informant Hal Turner rested their defense Monday after calling an agent from the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit about whether Turner had any intent to harm judges.

Daniel Brunner, who is assigned to the FBI’s CT-4 domestic counter-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction squad in Newark, said he took part in the arrest of Turner at his North Bergen home last June for allegedly posting a threat against three Chicago judges on his radio show Internet blog.

Reviewing FBI reports in Turner’s confidential informant file, Brunner testified that he had no information to suggest that Turner was a leader of an extremist organization or had any followers.

Prior to Turner’s arrest, Brunner said the controversial talk-show host told agents, “I would not kill or harm the judges myself.”

In his blog, Turner wrote that three 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges “deserved to be killed” for upholding a local handgun law in Chicago and a suburb.

On cross-examination, Brunner said that Turner acknowledged that he understood he could be criminally culpable if someone were to harm the judges based on what he wrote in his blog.

The agent said Turner then added, “It is not my intention to ever have someone harmed or killed. I use crude political hyperbole to blow off steam over issues that aggravate me.”

The government then put on one final witness before resting its case. FBI agent Joseph Raschke said Turner was closed as an informant in late March 2005 after postings relating to the murder of a Chicago judge’s mother and husband. Turner warned judges not to “screw around with pro-white groups because some of us are willing to kill and you can be gotten too.”

But Raschke conceded on cross that until this case, Turner was never charged with any crime for any statements he made, including comments on his blog and on national television shows that the Chicago judge was “worthy of death.”

Referring to an FBI memo from this period, defense lawyer Nishay Sanan asked the agent, “When it says the CI [confidential informant] operated within the guidelines of a privileged CI, that means the CI didn’t break any laws?”

U.S. Distict Judge Donald E. Walter interjected, “The document speaks for itself.”

During his on-again, off-again role as an FBI informant between 2003 and 2007, Turner provided intelligence on extremist white-power groups, including the Aryan Nation and the National Alliance. He was regarded as a valuable source, but ultimately closed as an informant because of “serious control” problems.

Closing arguments in the case will be delivered this afternoon.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


REPOSTED FROM THE DAILY KOS - Please visit the links on that site for lots more more information on these nutjobs.

Repent Amarillo: The Hate Group With A Nuclear Twist

by Plutonium Page

Share this on Twitter - Repent Amarillo: The Hate Group With A Nuclear Twist Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:18:04 AM PST

It's been blogged all over the place, so doubtless you've read about a rather alarming development on the religious extremist front in Texas. I'm talking about the militia-style hate group known as Repent Amarillo. Here's the banner from their website:

When you go their website, you're treated to some martial music and the sound of gunshots. They refer to themselves as the Army of God, and their motto is:

"We are the Special Forces of spiritual warfare, we're looking for a few good warriors."

Think Progress has a good post about the group (based on original reporting by the Texas Observer), summarizing some of their goals. Note the part I've emphasized in boldface:

An evangelical Christian hate group called “Repent Amarillo” is reportedly terrorizing the town of Amarillo, Texas. Repent fashions itself as a sort of militia and targets a wide range of community members they deem offensive to their theology: gays, liberal Christians, Muslims, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, “spring break events,” and pornography shops. On its website, Repent has posted a “Warfare Map” of its enemies in town...

... Led by a man named David Grisham, a security guard at a nuclear-bomb facility called Pantex, Repent first gained media attention in Texas following a campaign to boycott Houston for electing a gay mayor. The group, which is associated with Raven Ministries, collaborates with other Christian groups as well as forced pregnancy advocacy associations like “Bound 4 Life.”

Since nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, and national security are a big interests of mine, I wanted to bring special attention to the fact that this group of religious extremists is led by someone who is a guard at one of the most secure facilities in the United States -- a facility so secure, in fact, that, as journalists Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger mention in their book:

Pantex... requires a "Q" clearance (the Department of Energy's version of "top secret") to even get in the door.

There's a damned good reason for this level of security. Although Pantex used to be where nuclear weapons were assembled, its current mission, as a government-owned/contractor-operated facility includes the following:

Evaluate, retrofit, and repair weapons in support of both life extension programs and certification of weapon safety and reliability

Dismantle weapons that are surplus to the strategic stockpile

Sanitize components from dismantled weapons

Develop, test, and fabricate high explosive components

Provide interim storage and surveillance of plutonium pits

To give you an idea of the scale of Pantex, a recent International Panel on Fissile Materials report (pdf) indicates that there are an estimated 14,000 plutonium pits stored at the site, i.e. the weapons-grade plutonium from bombs that have been taken apart. There is also some highly enriched uranium stored there, as well as bombs waiting to be dismantled.

You get the picture.

I don't know what David Grisham's access level is, but he's been a member of the Pantex security force for twenty-two years, so I can only assume that he's rather well-established; it's also safe to assume that he has a high security clearance, given the nature of the facility that employs him.

The fact is that he is a bona fide religious extremist, a self-labeled warrior of Christ who has taken it upon himself to lead a group of bullies on a crusade. According to an interview with a local independent publication, Grisham says he heard "the voice of God" speak to him from Mayan ruins, telling him to "do something about America's decline". Apparently "doing something" means being a thug and persecuting members of the community while wearing fatigues.

It's not Grisham's religious beliefs I have a problem with. It's his extremism and the degree to which he has taken it that is a huge problem. His group bears the earmarks of a fledgling militia, part of the rising tide of hate groups seen across the United States today.

Most noteworthy, he is part of the security forces at an extremely sensitive nuclear facility. He is part of how secure the facility is, and that's very, very worrying to me.

People in this position should not be part of extremist movements. That should go without saying.

Monday, March 01, 2010


UPDATED: 3/6/10
Isn't it interesting how the FBI is testifying FOR the defense?


Friday’s testimony marked the end of a contentious week, with two dramatically different portraits of the 47-year-old Turner, who grew up in Ridgefield Park. Was he a dangerous extremist or just a shock jock entertainer who was instructed by the FBI to make violent statements as a way of gaining information about white supremacists?

On the witness stand before Pickett testified, Turner was questioned why he called for rape of children and grandchildren of U.S. Supreme Court justices after the court ruled against the death penalty for child rapists.

“That was tongue-in-cheek commentary,” Turner said. “That is again another example of my bravado.”

Later, in describing another instance of extremist commentary, Turner referred to himself as “beating my chest as some Internet tough guy.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan, the lead prosecutor, challenged Turner’s credibility and his attempt to portray himself as non-threatening.

At one point, Hogan produced a series of emails by Turner in which he used anti-Semitic and racist phrases.

“You’re not a bigot or a racist?” Hogan asked.

“I’m not on trial for being a bigot or a racist although you are trying to turn it into that,” Turner shot back.

The exchanges between Hogan and Turner became so heated that U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter interrupted them several times.

“Stop. Stop,” Walter said at one point. “I will not have these arguments back and forth.”

Moments later, the judge ordered Hogan to end a persistent series of questions about whether Turner’s public shock-jock image was real or just a technique for attracting an audience.

“He’s been whipped enough,” Walter said.

When Hogan continued, the judge interrupted again: “Come on, Mr. Hogan. Let’s go.”

Turner’s trial is scheduled to continue Monday, with what defense attorneys say will be more testimony by FBI agents who worked with him as an informant.


Shock jock Hal Turner takes witness stand

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


The Record


BROOKLYN – Shock jock Hal Turner of North Bergen took the witness stand in his federal trial Wednesday and accused the FBI of urging him to make violent statements as a way of infiltrating extremist right-wing groups.

Turner, who built an audience of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with his radio show, is on trial here on a single charge of threatening three Chicago-based federal appeals court judges. The charge is based on a posting Turner made on his radio network blog last June in which he said the judges “deserved to be killed” for their ruling in a gun control case.

If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison.

In an investigative report last November, based on FBI documents, The Record outlined Turner’s secret FBI role in infiltrating the same groups who were drawn to his radio show and blog. Besides neo-Nazis, Turner said he made contact with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation.

In more than two hours of testimony before lunch, Turner described how he was recruited in 2003 by the FBI’s Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said he was paid “in excess of $100,000” by the FBI during his almost five years as an informant.

After the husband and mother of Chicago-based U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow were murdered in 2005, Turner said the FBI asked him to “ratchet up the rhetoric” on his radio show in an attempt to “flush out” the killer. As it turned out, Lefkow’s husband and mother were not murdered by right-wing extremists but by a man who was disgruntled with one of her rulings.

Turner’s testimony, which is expected to continue all day, marked a dramatic turnabout in the trial.

In gripping testimony on Tuesday, all three Chicago appellate court judges took the stand and said they felt threatened by Turner’s blog posting that they “deserved to be killed.”

During the first two days of the trial, while prosecutors presented their side of the case, there was no mention of Turner’s FBI link. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Walter did not even permit defense attorneys to present an opening statement until after prosecutors had finished introducing evidence and rested their case.

“Here’s where the case get’s very interesting,” said Turner’s lead defense attorney, Michael Orozco, in his opening statement before calling Turner as his first witness.

UPDATE: 3/3/10 - On Tuesday, Judge Bauer testified along with his Chicago appellate court colleagues, Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook.

Afterwards the prosecution rested its case.

So far, the jury of seven men and five women has not heard any mention of Turner’s FBI connection. But that may change Wednesday.


UPDATE:  ...As the retrial got under way Monday, U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter made it clear that this trial would be handled differently.

He told Turner’s lawyers they could not make an opening statement to the jury until the government has rested its case. He also forbade them from revealing during cross-examination that Turner had worked as an informant for the FBI, providing intelligence on the white supremacist movement, until the defense puts on its own case. MORE HERE

Ultra-right wing radio shock jock and former FBI informant Hal Turner of North Bergen is scheduled to be back in federal court today in Brooklyn, accused of threatening to kill three federal appeals judges.


Hal Turner walks into the Federal Courthouse for the start of jury selection. Turner’s previous federal trial in December on the same charge ended in a mistrial in what was considered a key legal test of First Amendment rights and how to set limits on the Internet.

Those same legal issues are back this time.

For this second trial, however, federal prosecutors indicate in court papers that they plan to call the three Chicago-based judges, possibly as lead-off witnesses. In Turner’s first trial, the judges did not testify.

Defense lawyers have likewise signaled in court papers they again intend to claim that the 47-year-old Turner, who grew up in Ridgefield Park, was urged by the FBI to make provocative statements on the air and on his blog as a way of infiltrating right wing hate groups.

In his first trial, Turner’s lawyers attempted to portray him as a shock jock and showman who never intended to harm the judges — or anyone else.

An investigation by The Record in November, based on a review of confidential government documents, showed that Turner had been recruited by Newark-based FBI counterterrorism agents in 2003 and was paid thousands of dollars to spy on the Aryan Nation, the National Alliance and other extremists.CONTINUED



JOHN DAY, Ore.—A white supremacist group thinks an empty building in this once-thriving timber community would be a good place to establish a compound. But citizens are protesting the idea and the leader of the Aryan Nations Church of Yahweh is threatening to sue the small town should it try to block a purchase.

Protests the day of the meetings in downtown John Day.

The Idaho-based group's leader, Paul R. Mullet, 36 years old, said in an interview that he intended to purchase one of two empty buildings in the town, whose 2,500 residents make it the largest community in rural Grant County.

The Connecticut-size county lies midway between Portland and Boise, Idaho. Like much of rural Oregon, it has been plagued by high unemployment during the recession.

The properties he has in mind are a former junior high school and an abandoned opera house, whose construction harkens back to more-prosperous times. Mr. Mullet also proposed to use the surrounding forests for survival training of members, and said he hoped to have the grounds prepared in time to host a national convention of his movement in 2011.

News of his plans sparked a protest march last Monday at the nearby county seat of Canyon City, then two town-hall meetings on Friday.

Mr. Mullet, who said he was still planning to purchase property in John Day, said he may now consider suing John Day should it refuse to allow Aryan Nations to purchase property for sale there...CONTINUED

He may be unwanted in John Day, Oregon - but he IS getting his 15 minutes of fame.