This post first appeared on Open Left.
If the past is any guide, there's going to be a wave of protestations, followed by grudging, modest, but real actions to reduce the influence of overt, outspoken racists in the Tea Party movement. That's what happened after the NAACP passed a resolution last July condemning outspoken racist elements in the Tea Party and calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate such elements. Now, the NAACP has gone further. It has just released a report--"Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of Its National Factions"--documenting racist influences in the Tea Party movement from a variety of angles. The report was conducted for the NAACP by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, and written by Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind, Vice President and President, respectively of IREHR. It focuses attention on six national Tea Party organizations--FreedomWorks Tea Party, 1776 Tea Party, ResistNet Tea Party, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots, and Tea Party Express-each of which is the subject of a separate chapter. And, as David Neiwert writes at Crooks and Liars:
The heart of the report is the section titled "Racism, Anti-Semitism and the Militia Impulse, which includes some previously overlooked facets of the movement and revealing details:-- James von Brunn, the white supremacist who killed a Holocaust Museum guard last year, posted on Tea Partner Express partner websites.
-- Mark Williams, former chairman of the Tea Party Express, not only wrote racist screeds, he made death threats against President Obama,
-- Billy Joe Roper, a member of the ResistNet Tea Party who also happens to be the founder of the overtly racist White Revolution organization, indulging in "Nazi glamorization" with his eulogy for William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries, the notorious race-war blueprint.
We also get "profiles of troubling Tea Partiers," including Roan Garcia-Quintana, a South Carolina Tea Party member who the report says belongs to the largest white nationalist group in the country; Karen Pack, another Tea Party member the report says is linked to the Ku Klux Klan; and Clay Douglas, a Tea Party member from Arizona the report says has pushed "militia-style 'New World Order' conspiracies" and "hard core anti-Semitism."
The report also integrates some survey data about Tea Party supporters' attitudes. For example:
Tea Partiers are more likely than white people generally to believe that "too much" has been made of the problems facing black people: 52% to 39%,
Of those who strongly disapproved of the Tea Party, 55% agreed with the statement that black people were "VERY hard working." Of those who strongly approved of the Tea Party, only 18% agreed with the statement that black people were "VERY hard working."
68% of the Tea party "approvers" believed that if only they would try harder, then black people would be as well off as white people. That number fell by almost half, to 35%, when the "disapprovers" answered it.
One can get a very good feel for scope, content and seriousness of the report from the first few paragraphs of the introduction, which reads as follows:
Tea Party Nationalism is the first report of its kind. It examines the six national organizational networks at the core of the Tea Party movement: FreedomWorks Tea Party, 1776 Tea Party, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots, ResistNet, and Tea Party Express. This report documents the corporate structures and leaderships, their finances, and membership concentrations of each faction. It looks at the actual relationships of these factions to each other, including some of the very explicit differences they have with each other. And we begin an analysis of the larger politics that motivate each faction and the Tea Party movement generally.The result of this study contravenes many of the Tea Parties' self-invented myths, particularly their supposedly sole concentration on budget deficits, taxes and the power of the federal government.
Instead, this report found Tea Party ranks to be permeated with concerns about race and national identity and other so-called social issues. In these ranks, an abiding obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate is often a stand-in for the belief that the first black president of the United States is not a "real American." Rather than strict adherence to the Constitution, many Tea Partiers are challenging the provision for birthright citizenship found in the Fourteenth Amendment.
Tea Party organizations have given platforms to anti-Semites, racists, and bigots. Further, hard-core white nationalists have been attracted to these protests, looking for potential recruits and hoping to push these (white) protestors towards a more self-conscious and ideological white supremacy. One temperature gauge of these events is the fact that longtime national socialist David Duke is hoping to find money and support enough in the Tea Party ranks to launch yet another electoral campaign in the 2012 Republican primaries.The leading figures in one national faction, 1776 Tea Party (the faction more commonly known as TeaParty.org), were imported directly from the anti-immigrant vigilante organization, the Minuteman Project. Tea Party Nation has provided a gathering place for so-called birthers and has attracted Christian nationalists and nativists. Tea Party Express so outraged the public with the racist pronouncements of its leaders, that other national factions have (recently) eschewed any ties to it. Both ResistNet and Tea Party Patriots, the two largest networks, harbor long-time anti-immigrant nativists and racists; and Tea Party Patriots has opened its doors to those aiming at repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment and the direct election of United State Senators.
While Tea Partiers and their supporters are concerned about the current economic recession and the increase in government debt and spending it has occasioned, there is no observable statistical link between Tea Party membership and unemployment levels. Readers will note a regression analysis on this question done last January specifically for this report. And their storied opposition to political and social elites turns out to be predicated on an antagonism to federal assistance to those deemed the "undeserving poor."
Here's a chart showing the lack of connection between unemployment levels and Tea Party membership mentioned above:
The report also calls attention to the substantial overlap between Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus in the House, the anti-citizenship "House Immigration Reform Caucus" and co-sponsors of a bill to try to repeal birthright citizenship enshrined in the 14th Amendment:
The link between the Tea Parties, anti-immigrant politics and birthright citizenship shows up in Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. Founded in July 2010, the Tea Party Caucus quickly grew to include fifty-one representatives, all of them Republicans.....Notably, forty-two of the fifty-one are also members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus in Congress-the grouping of the most steadfast opponents to any reform legislation that would include a pathway to citizenship for those without proper papers. In a second count, thirty nine of the Tea Party Caucus members are also co-sponsors of H.R. 1868, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009. This bill, currently sitting in a House committee, would end birthright citizenship in the United States for the America-born children of parents without papers. It would present a direct constitutional challenge to the Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War to guarantee the citizenship rights of the newly-freed slaves and their children.
But also well worth noting are remarks by Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, in the forward to the report--the only part the NAACP was directly responsible for. Reflecting on the response to the NAACP's earlier call for the Tea Party to rid itself of racist elements, Jealous took note of the hostile, even threatening responses of some, but juxtaposed that to other responses as well, indicating a hopeful, if guarded expectation that this sort of measured confrontation with the truth and challenge to take corrective action could produce positive results over time. Here is part of what he wrote:
This July, delegates to the 101st NAACP National Convention unanimously passed a resolution condemning outspoken racist elements within the Tea Party, and called upon Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use white supremacist language in their signs and speeches, and those Tea Party leaders who would subvert their own movement by spreading racism.The resolution came after a year of high-profile media coverage of racial slurs and images at Tea Party marches around the country. In March, members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported that racial epithets were hurled at them as they passed by a Washington, DC health care protest. Civil rights legend John Lewis was called the "n-word" in the incident while others in the crowd used ugly anti-gay slurs to describe Congressman Barney Frank, a long-time NAACP supporter and the nation's first openly gay member of Congress. Local NAACP members reported similar racially charged incidents at local Tea Party rallies.
At first, the resolution sparked defensive, misleading public responses from the usual corners.
First, Tea Party leaders denied our claims were valid. Then Fox News repeatedly circulated the false claim that we were calling the Tea Party itself racist. Then their commentators and other media personalities said the Tea Party was too loosely configured to police itself. Local NAACP volunteers and staff members around the country were barraged by angry phone calls and death threats.
Yet, amid the threats and denials, something remarkable began to happen: Tea Party leaders began to quietly take steps toward actively policing explicitly racist activity within their ranks. Before the end of July, the Tea Party Federation had expelled Mark Williams, then-president of the powerful and politically connected Tea Party Express for his most recent racially offensive public statements, a move they had previously refused to make. The move was significant for three reasons: 1) it proved wrong those national leaders and news personalities who said the Tea Party was too loosely configured to insist its leaders act responsibly, 2) it sparked a rift among Tea Party leadership between those who are tolerant of racist rhetoric and those who would stand against it, and 3) it showed our resolution was having an impact. Soon after, Montana conservative Tim Ravndal was fired as head of the Big Sky Tea Party Association after local media published messages posted to his Facebook account that appeared to advocate violence against gays and lesbians.
In the midst of all this, Tea Party leaders moved quickly to take on a communications strategy typical of corporate crisis public relations. A "Uni-Tea" rally to promote Tea Party diversity was hastily organized, while FreedomWorks launched a "Diverse Tea" web initiative to spotlight pictures of nonwhite Tea Partiers. There was a Tea Party leadership "race summit" facilitated by Geraldo Rivera....
These are welcome first steps. They promote diversity and acknowledge the inherent perception problem that plagues the Tea Party....
This report, from the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, serves as a cautionary reminder that Mark Williams is not unique within Tea Party leadership circles and that ties between Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist groups endure.
Jealous may be a bit overly optimistic in the short run, I'm afraid. But the NAACP has been around a whole lot longer than Tea Party. And odds are it will be around a whole lot longer into the future as well.
This is not a battle to be run away from, to be minimized or ignored. This is a battle to be joined---and to be won. It is a battle that we have won before, and a battle we shall win again.
It is a battle for the soul of America. And we are America.
This post first appeared on Open Left.The GOP has a long history of nurturing ties with Nazi sympathizers and allies from countries occupied by Germany, who betrayed their countries to support the Nazi oppressors. These people were allowed to play prominent roles in the National Republican Heritage Groups (Nationalities) Council (NRHG[N]C). In 1988, eight such persons were forced to resign from GHW Bush's presidential campaign. Rich Iott's fascination with the Nazis lead him to join a re-enactors unit composed of just these sorts of people during WWII. However his actions might be explained away, the GOP has long embraced the original perpetrators.So, apparently the GOP is not doing such a great job of distancing itself from Nazi-reenactor Rich Iott. Last night Rachel Maddow marvelled at the fact that there was not much GOP activity at all in the way of denouncing him. As I reported, the NRCC just quitely dropped him from their "Young Gun" website, and that was about it.
Rich Iott, second from right, in a Nazi SS Waffen uniform
is the GOP candidate for OH-9
While a great deal of effort may be expended in simply trying to avoid the whole subject, we can also expect significant effort at minimization when anything is said. That's pretty much par for the course. But there's one reason for this reticence that deserves special attention: There's a long history of GOP involvement with Nazi sympathizers and allies particularly from Eastern European nations--who played significant roles in the National Republican Heritage Groups (Nationalities) Council (NRHG[N]C)--and it would not do to ruffle the feathers of those associated with them unnecessarily. During George HW Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, eight figures were forced to "resign" (at least half actually did not) when their Nazi-related pasts were exposed.
One such figure was NRHG[N]C Executive Director Radi Slavoff. The final published version of the report issued on him at the time by researcher Russ Belant--published as the book Old Nazis, The New Right & The Republican Party and excerpted here--stated:
Slavoff, the Republican Heritage Group's executive director, is a member of the Bulgarian GOP unit of the Group Council. [He was also the national co-chairman of Bulgarians for Bush.] Slavoff is active with the Nazilinked National Confederation of American Ethnic Groups (NCAEG), which becomes active about a year before presidential elections. NCAEG leaders have included Austin App and Josef Mikus (see below). NCAEG's Executive Vice President, Michael Szaz, is an official of the Virginia Republican Heritage Groups Council. He is also an associate of prominent racist Roger Pearson [associated with the Nazi Northern League of northern Europe, the Heritage Foundation, the World Anti-Communist League and other fascist organizations.]
Iott says the group chose the Wiking division in part because it fought on the Eastern Front, mainly against the Russian Army, and not U.S. or British soldiers. The group's website includes a lengthy history of the Wiking unit, a recruitment video, and footage of goose-stepping German soldiers marching in the Warsaw victory parade after Poland fell in 1939. The website makes scant mention of the atrocities committed by the Waffen SS, and includes only a glancing reference to the "twisted" nature of Nazism. Instead, it emphasizes how the Wiking unit fought Bolshevist Communism:
Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a "New and Free Europe", free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan countries as the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life, despite the true underlying totalitarian (and quite twisted, in most cases) nature of the movement. Regardless, thousands upon thousands of valiant men died defending their respective countries in the name of a better tomorrow. We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free.
But in comments, Bruce Webb made some particularly devastating points about what was really going on, to wit, good old-fashioned authoritarian brutalitiy in the name of "freedom".
"This unit, originally organized as the Nordische Division (Nr.5), was to be made up of Nordic volunteers mixed with ethnic German Waffen SS veterans. To this end, the SS Infantry Regiment Germania in the SS Verfügungstruppe Division was transferred in late 1940 and used as the cadre for a new division ."You think they just stumbled on the 'Nordic' division by accident? And as to the claim this was all about fighting the Commies, Germany was not yet at war with Russia at the time and in fact had cut a deal to divide Eastern Europe between them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M...
The whole thing shouts White Power and StormFront.
Wiking Division recruited in 1940At a time that Germany and Russia were still at peace under the terms of Molotov-Ribbentrop. And the nations from which these troops were recruited were mostly under assault or occupation by Germany. These were not patriotic Danes, Norwegians and Dutch guys defending their countries from communism, they were instead just fascist traitors helping oppress their own people.
These people want to re-enact and revise history all at the same time. Dressing as a Nazi is bad enough, dressing as a Nazi in the uniform of a division expressly recruited on racial lines 'the Nordische' takes twisted to new contortions.
In short, the whole historical subtext here is that fascists throughout Europe betrayed their countrymen to align with the Nazis, and used "anti-Communism" as a convenient cover for what they did, even when Germany was officially at peace, and even technically allied with the Soviet Union. This very same deceitful sub-text was kept alive after the war, and served as the foundation for GOP ethiniic outreach, particularly to Eastern European communities, for decades therafter... even unto the present day.
In 1988, political researcher, journalist and author Russ Belant prepared a report on these networks and some of those involved which spearheaded a public reaction that lead to the resignation of a few disgraced staffers on GHW Bush's presidential campaign. The report was eventually re-published as a book, Old Nazis, The New Right & The Republican Party. The following are some excerpts that lay out a sufficient core of the story to make the central point of what exactly was going on.
First, from the introduction, which opens with Reagan in the immediate aftermath of his Bitburg fiasco, and helps shed some retrospective light on Reagan's delusional mischaracterization of the Waffen SS buried there as "victims" of Hitler. It also makes clear that the very existence of this heritage group was an unmistakable indication of the racist, authoritarian nature of the GOP's long-term electoral strategy:
Flash forward to 1988 and the GHW Bush presidential campaign. He needs all the help he can get, particularly in swing state ethnic enclaves (such as Ohio, of course). This is when the story of a handful of these men breaks in the media, and resignations follow:
The resignations, however, were entirely for show. The GOP had no intention of abandoning its most valuably allies, who served them as faithfully as they had once served the Nazis, albeit in a manner more discrete:
The NRCC formally rebuffed its ethnic affiliates prefunctory self-examination, but in reality, nothing changed. The decades-old wink-and-a-nod relationship continued un-altered, because it embodied an authoritarian identity-based strategy to promote a gradual realignment of ethnic communities around the Republican Party:
Perhaps in 1991 this up-beat conclusion could be accepted. But it failed to recognize what the GOP was really up to--and what it would soon accomplish in the form of a multi-front advance of identity-based fantasy-of-revenge politics, which was most visible in the form of the "Militia Movement", but which a multitude of different tributaries, of which the heritage councils was but one. And this last brief passage proved very prescient, indeed:
All that happened more than 20 years ago, and while it has been totally forgotten by Versailles and the M$M, it has been thoroughly stirred into the stew of rightwing resentment fantasies. The last thing that current-day resesntment cheerleaders--from Beck on down--want is for folks to start poking into the past, and laying out exactly how they (not liberals) are the ones with specific, historical connections with Nazi Germany, and the greatest death panels of all time.
Perhaps Rich Iott has direct ties with these earlier figures or the groups they lead. Perhaps not. Either way, he may only be a faint echo of this mass-murdering past. But it's one echo too many for a party with so much to hide, and so much investment in projecting its hidden secrets onto its political enemies.
This post first appeared on Open Left.
When you argue based on fear, you can win at the ballot box, but you will lose in court. That's the bottom line of the district court decision overturning Proposition 8--and of a comprehensive new report on the Propositon 8 election campaign, which focused specific attention on the role of fear generated by false charges that school children would be impacted. (More on the report below.)
From the end of the decision:
Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. FF 76, 79-80; Romer, 517 US at 634 ("[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected."). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. CONCLUSION Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Proposition 8 was overturned because of the facts--including the facts surrounding the resort to unfounded fears, which do not provide a rational basis for discriminatory state action under our Constitution (about which, the right as a whole understands virtually nothing). This is how the federal court system works: The district courts--trial courts--are finders of facts. This is the only place where Justice Roberts' claim to be an "umpire calling balling and strikes" makes any sense. Above and beyond this level, arguments overwhelmingly address matters of law and questions of proper application. The trial court's findings of fact enjoy a heavy presumption that is rarely questioned, which is a strong reason to believe that the ruling will stand on appeal. It also doesn't hurt that the ruling relies on citations to previous rulings by Justice Kennedy. Presuming Kennedy feels that he has been correctly cited, it seems unlikely that he would join his more conservative colleagues in overturning this finding of fact by arguing that the judge got the law wrong.
As Andrew Koppelman explained in the NY Times:
[I]f the Supreme Court reverses the district court's decision that same-sex couples have a right to marry, it will have to do it in the teeth of Judge Walker's factual findings that same-sex marriage is good for gay people and the children they raise (one out of five same-sex couples in California are raising children), that there are no discernible differences between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, that "domestic partnerships" offer fewer benefits than marriage and irrationally stigmatize same-sex relationships as inferior, that recognition of same-sex couples' right to marry does no detectable harm to heterosexual marriages, and that the campaign for Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California, relied on prejudice and vicious anti-gay stereotypes, such as the idea that gay people are dangerous to children.Judge Walker carefully avoided resting his holding on any controversial proposition of law, such as the idea that gay people should be regarded as a specially protected minority under the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead, he relied on law already laid down by the Supreme Court. He held that Proposition 8 lacked a rational basis, because the "facts" that were invoked in its defense were manifestly false.
It's been noted by many others as well as Koppelman that there was a long list of factual findings by judge in his ruling. But I'd like to focus on some key parts of the ruling that bring forth what seem to be the most crucial of them--the overwhelming preponderance of evidence from the plaintiffs, and the basic agreement of the proponent's key witness that gay marriage would be good for those whe were married, plus the implausibility that any harm to the state would result.
I'm quoting here from a key part of the ruling, where Judge Walker describes the imbalance and insufficiency of evidence and highlights the key questions that matters of fact must answer:
Plaintiffs presented eight lay witnesses, including the four plaintiffs, and nine expert witnesses. Proponents' evidentiary presentation was dwarfed by that of plaintiffs. Proponents presented two expert witnesses and conducted lengthy and thorough cross-examinations of plaintiffs' expert witnesses but failed to build a credible factual record to support their claim that Proposition 8 served a legitimate government interest.Although the evidence covered a range of issues, the direct and cross-examinations focused on the following broad questions:
WHETHER ANY EVIDENCE SUPPORTS CALIFORNIA'S REFUSAL TO RECOGNIZE MARRIAGE BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR SEX;
WHETHER ANY EVIDENCE SHOWS CALIFORNIA HAS AN INTEREST IN DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN SAME-SEX AND OPPOSITE-SEX UNIONS; and
WHETHER THE EVIDENCE SHOWS PROPOSITION 8 ENACTED A PRIVATE MORAL VIEW WITHOUT ADVANCING A LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT INTEREST.
Framed by these three questions and before detailing the court's credibility determinations and findings of fact, the court abridges the testimony at trial: ....
Of that abridged testimony, what stands out as key was simply that plaintiffs established the realworld significance of what was at stake in terms of the broad sweep of history (personal significance was dealt with elsewhere). In contrast, Prop 8 proponents not only failed to undermine this factual record, their own expert witness, David Blankenhorn (whose credentials were pitilessly scrutinized elsewhere in the decision), actually ended up agreeing that allowing same-sex marriage would have beneficial effects, with only speculative harms.
First the differences in testimony are laid out:
Plaintiffs and proponents presented expert testimony on the meaning of marriage. Historian Nancy Cott testified about the public institution of marriage and the state's interest in recognizing and regulating marriages. Tr 185:9-13. She explained that marriage is "a couple's choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another, and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another, and their agreement to join in an economic partnership and support one another in terms of the material needs of life." Tr 201:9-14. The state's primary purpose in regulating marriage is to create stable households. Tr 222:13-17.Think tank founder David Blankenhorn testified that marriage is "a socially-approved sexual relationship between a man and a woman" with a primary purpose to "regulate filiation." Tr 2742:9-10, 18. Blankenhorn testified that others hold to an alternative and, to Blankenhorn, conflicting definition of marriage: "a private adult commitment" that focuses on "the tender feelings that the spouses have for one another." Tr 2755:25-2756:1; 2756:10-2757:17; 2761:5-6. To Blankenhorn, marriage is either a socially approved sexual relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of bearing and raising children who are biologically related to both spouses or a private relationship between two consenting adults.
Cott explained that marriage as a social institution encompasses a socially approved sexual union and an affective relationship and, for the state, forms the basis of stable households and private support obligations.
But then the focus begins shifting toward bringing out similarities:
Both Cott and Blankenhorn addressed marriage as a historical institution. Cott pointed to consistent historical features of marriage, including that civil law, as opposed to religious custom, has always been supreme in regulating and defining marriage in the United States, Tr 195:9-15, and that one's ability to consent to marriage is a basic civil right, Tr 202:2-5.Blankenhorn identified three rules of marriage (discussed further in the credibility determinations, section I below), which he testified have been consistent across cultures and times: (1) the rule of opposites (the "man/woman" rule); (2) the rule of two; and (3) the rule of sex. Tr 2879:17-25. Cott identified historical changes in the institution of marriage, including the removal of race restrictions through court decisions and the elimination of coverture and other gender-based distinctions. Blankenhorn identified changes that to him signify the deinstitutionalization of marriage, including an increase in births outside of marriage and an increasing divorce rate.
Both Cott and Blankenhorn testified that California stands to benefit if it were to resume issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Blankenhorn noted that marriage would benefit same-sex couples and their children, would reduce discrimination against gays and lesbians and would be "a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion." Tr 2850:12-13. Despite the multitude of benefits identified by Blankenhorn that would flow to the state, to gays and lesbians and to American ideals were California to recognize same-sex marriage, Blankenhorn testified that the state should not recognize same-sex marriage. Blankenhorn reasoned that the benefits of same-sex marriage are not valuable enough because same-sex marriage could conceivably weaken marriage as an institution. Cott testified that the state would benefit from recognizing same-sex marriage because such marriages would provide "another resource for stability and social order." Tr 252:19-23.
The decision continues by expanding to include other expert testimony, and to indicate differences in credibility:
Psychologist Letitia Anne Peplau testified that couples benefit both physically and economically when they are married. Peplau testified that those benefits would accrue to same-sex as well as opposite-sex married couples. To Peplau, the desire of same-sex couples to marry illustrates the health of the institution of marriage and not, as Blankenhorn testified, the weakening of marriage. Economist Lee Badgett provided evidence that same-sex couples would benefit economically if they were able to marry and that same-sex marriage would have no adverse effect on the institution of marriage or on opposite-sex couples.As explained in the credibility determinations, section I below, the court finds the testimony of Cott, Peplau and Badgett to support findings on the definition and purpose of civil marriage; the testimony of Blankenhorn is unreliable. The trial evidence provides no basis for establishing that California has an interest in refusing to recognize marriage between two people because of their sex.
Toward the end of the decision--and running into the passage I quoted earlier, Judge Walker addresses the irrational foundations of the fear-based Prop 8 campaign:
Proponents' purported rationales are nothing more than post-hoc justifications. While the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit post-hoc rationales, they must connect to the classification drawn. Here, the purported state interests fit so poorly with Proposition 8 that they are irrational, as explained above. What is left is evidence that Proposition 8 enacts a moral view that there is something "wrong" with same-sex couples. See FF 78-80.The evidence at trial regarding the campaign to pass Proposition 8 uncloaks the most likely explanation for its passage: a desire to advance the belief that opposite-sex couples are morally superior to same-sex couples. FF 79-80. The campaign relied heavily on negative stereotypes about gays and lesbians and focused on protecting children from inchoate threats vaguely associated with gays and lesbians. FF 79-80; See PX0016 Video, Have You Thought About It? (video of a young girl asking whether the viewer has considered the consequences to her of Proposition 8 but not explaining what those consequences might be).
At trial, proponents' counsel attempted through crossexamination to show that the campaign wanted to protect children from learning about same-sex marriage in school. See PX0390A Video, Ron Prentice Addressing Supporters of Proposition 8, Excerpt; Tr 132:25-133:3 (proponents' counsel to Katami: "But the fact is that what the Yes on 8 campaign was pointing at, is that kids would be taught about same-sex relationships in first and second grade; isn't that a fact, that that's what they were referring to?"). The evidence shows, however, that Proposition 8 played on a fear that exposure to homosexuality would turn children into homosexuals and that parents should dread having children who are not heterosexual. FF 79; PX0099 Video, It's Already Happened (mother's expression of horror upon realizing her daughter now knows she can marry a princess).
The testimony of George Chauncey places the Protect Marriage campaign advertisements in historical context as echoing messages from previous campaigns to enact legal measures to disadvantage gays and lesbians. FF 74, 77-80. The Protect Marriage campaign advertisements ensured California voters had these previous fear-inducing messages in mind. FF 80. The evidence at trial shows those fears to be completely unfounded. FF 47-49, 68-73, 76-80.
Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. FF 76, 79-80; Romer, 517 US at 634 ("[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected."). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
This brings us to the report I mentioned in the introduction.
Here is an excerpt from the report's abstract:
This report also puts Prop 8 in context, and notes its remarkable similarity to other same-sex marriage campaigns. Prop 8 illustrates three patterns-two dysfunctional, one functional--that define much of the LGBT struggle with ballot measures since they first cropped up in the 1970s.The first pattern is that anti-gay forces know how to exploit and stimulate anti-gay prejudice, and the LGBT community has difficulty facing and responding to the attack. Recycling a lie as old as Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign in 1977, the anti-gay Yes on 8 campaign whipped up fears about kids to move voters to its side. In the final six weeks of the campaign, a minimum of 687,000 voters moved towards favoring the ban the on same-sex marriage. The voters who most dramatically moved toward the ban were not African-Americans or Republicans. Those who moved were largely part of the pro-LGBT base that got peeled away, particularly parents and voters of parenting age. In the closing weeks, almost three-quarters of the net movement toward the ban-approximately 500,000 voters-were parents with children under eighteen living at home. Other voters who also moved away in big numbers were white Democrats, Independents, and voters in the greater San Francisco Bay area. Yes on 8's fear-mongering about children was particularly effective because No on 8 waited sixteen of the thirty days remaining until the election was over to directly respond. Once No on 8 responded directly in its TV ads, it made up some of the ground lost earlier.
Interestingly, the argument is so effective because it's so familiar. Societies have long used children to deny rights to minority groups. Medieval anti-Semitism portrayed Jews as animals bent on destroying the children of the majority and accused them of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. In the late 1970s anti-gay crusader Antia Bryant organized a "Save Our Children" against a nondiscrimination ordinance in Florida, warning that "a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children."It's always been about the children and history suggests that as gay people become more prominent in society and this argument loses currency, it will be transfered to a different minority group.
Indeed, the same pattern was seen with respect to racial segregation. The NAACP legal strategy to overturn Plessy took account of this, and began by challenging segregation at the graduate school level, knowing that it was a sure loser to try to begin with grade-school classrooms. It's always about the children. They are the ones who must be "protected", who must be "carefully taught":
You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be carefully taught
Sharron Angle has further expounded on her strategy of courting conservative media and avoiding more mainstream sources -- it's not just about money, as she's said before, but also about only being asked the questions she wants.
"We needed to have the press be our friend," Angle said in an interview that aired on Fox over the weekend.
"Wait a minute. Hold on a second. To be your friend?" said a disbelieving Carl Cameron. Before Angle could fully answer, he added: "That sounds naive." Apparently this was too much for even him.
"Well, no," said Angle. "We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported."
Angle continued: "And when I get on a show, and I say, 'Send money to SharronAngle.com,' so that your listeners will know that if they want to support me they need to go to SharronAngle.com."
Well, at least we know have a clear definition of the "liberal media": Anyone who asks a question that a conservative doesn't want to answer.
This is really a very revealing tip-of-the-iceberg moment for understanding how conservatives completely reinterpret the entire framework of liberal democracy: Rights for me, but not for thee! And yes America is founded on the principles of liberal political theory, which is why conservatives hate America--a fact we should lear to start repeating over and over again.
This post originally appeared on Open Left.
When bin Laden conceived of making war with America it was absurd on multiple levels, not least of which was that so few Muslims cared about his obsession with US bases in Saudi Arabia. It took a really long time for him to catch onto the Israeli oppression of Palestinians as a cause he could exploit. In spring of 2002, the Arab League offered a way out, but Bush was too obsessed with framing Iraq for an invasion to pay any attention. When Obama finally took over in 2009, there was some hope that he might understand the nature of the conflict he had inherited--particularly when he put George Mitchell in charge of the most intractable part.
But that was the only hopeful sign, aside from the Cairo speech, and now after
sinking deeper and deeper into the morass of repeating past follies, this has to be the last straw. Glenn Greenwald gets it right:
As I stated in the Chamber in December 2008, when we were confronted by a similar situation, mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so. These non-provocative and non-confrontational mechanisms should be the ones used for the benefit of all those in Gaza. Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances. . . . We will continue to engage the Israelis on a daily basis to expand the scope and type of goods allowed into Gaza to address the full range of the population's humanitarian and recovery needs. Hamas' interference with international assistance shipments and the work of nongovernmental organizations complicates efforts in Gaza. Its continued arms smuggling and commitment to terrorism undermines security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Given that the Israelis refuse to allow anything other than the most minimal "necessities" to enter Gaza, I'd love to know what "non-provocative and non-confrontational mechanisms" exist to deliver humanitarian assistance? And it's extraordinary that we refuse to condemn a blockade that, as classic "collective punishment," is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, and even refuse to condemn today's violent seizure of ships in international water.
It's hard to imagine how we--or Israel--could do anything more self-destructive than this. But I'm sure we'll dozens of more ways of making this even worse in the next few days. How can your average Muslim anywhere in the region not think that US is at war with Islam? Of course it's not true. But it might as well be with this latest mega-installment in the annals of fighting fire with gasoline.
This post first appeared on Open Left.In America, conservatives couldn't kill the welfare state because it was too popular, so they decided to re-purpose it for conservative ends. These are their stories.If you thought that Wall Street couldn't get more destructive, think again. And if you that the charter school movement couldn't get even more removed from serving the public good, you also need to think again. On Friday, NY Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez wrote a column about how big investors can double their money in seven years using a special tax credit to invest in charter schools, and he also discussed what he uncovered in a brief segment on Democracy Now! which he co-hosts with Amy Goodman. Here's how he summarized it on the air:
One of the things I've been trying now for a couple of years is to try to figure out why is it that so many hedge fund managers, wealthy Americans, and big banks, Wall Street banks, executives of Wall Street banks, have all lined-up supporting and getting involved in the development of charter schools. I think I may have come across one of the reasons. There's a lot of money to be made in charter schools, and I'm not talking just about the for-profit management companies that run a lot of these charter schools.It turns out that at the tail end of the Clinton administration in 2000, Congress passed a new kind of tax credit called a New Markets tax credit. What this allows is it gives enormous federal tax credit to banks and equity funds that invest in community projects in underserved communities and it's been used heavily now for the last several years for charter schools. I have focused on Albany, New York, which in New York state, is the district with the highest percentage of children in charter schools, twenty percent of the schoolchildren in Albany attend are now attending charter schools. I discovered that quite a few of the charter schools there have been built using these New Markets tax credits.
What happens is the investors who put up the money to build charter schools get to basically or virtually double their money in seven years through a thirty-nine percent tax credit from the federal government. In addition, this is a tax credit on money that they're lending, so they're also collecting interest on the loans as well as getting the thirty-nine percent tax credit. They piggy-back the tax credit on other kinds of federal tax credits like historic preservation or job creation or brownfields credits.
The result is, you can put in ten million dollars and in seven years double your money. The problem is, that the charter schools end up paying in rents, the debt service on these loans and so now, a lot of the charter schools in Albany are straining paying their debt service--their rent has gone up from $170,000 to $500,000 in a year or--huge increases in their rents as they strain to pay off these loans, these construction loans. The rents are eating-up huge portions of their total cost. And, of course, the money is coming from the state.
In Albany, which boasts the state's highest percentage of charter school enrollments, a nonprofit called the Brighter Choice Foundation has employed the New Markets Tax Credit to arrange private financing for five of the city's nine charter schools.But many of those same schools are now straining to pay escalating rents, which are going toward the debt service that Brighter Choice incurred during construction.
The Henry Johnson Charter School, for example, saw the rent for its 31,000-square-foot building skyrocket from $170,000 in 2008 to $560,000 last year.
The Albany Community School's rent jumped from $195,000 to $350,000.
Green Tech High Charter School rents went from $443,000 to $487,000.
Meanwhile, all the Albany charter schools haven't achieved the enrollment levels their founders expected, even after recruiting hundreds of students from suburban school districts to fill their seats.
The result has been less money in per-pupil state aid to pay operating costs, including those big rent bills.
Several charters have fallen into additional debt to the Brighter Choice Foundation.
You'd think these financial problems would raise eyebrows among state regulators - or at least worry those charter school boards.
But the powerful charter lobby has so far successfully battled to prevent independent government audits of how its schools spend their state aid.
And key officers of Albany's charter school boards are themselves board members, employees or former employees of the Brighter Choice Foundation or its affiliates.
This is obviously a very bad deal for the public. It's even a bad deal for those who are true believers in the charter school sham. But it can be difficult to really understand what's going on--and what's fundamentally wrong with it--if you don't stand back to see the larger picture. So, here's a quick run-down.
When Otto von Bismark created the first conservative welfare state, it was designed to co-opt the Social Democrat's most popular idea, while strengthening German industry internationally and strengthening the power of its elites internally by placing them in charge of caring for social needs. In America, the pattern is a little messier, as it represents a convergence of different conservative interests, all the while being disavowed as conservatives repeatedly claim to be against the "nanny state". But here we can see at least five different conservative ends being served at once: (1) The attack on public education itself is a prime example of the attack on social democratic ideas and institutions, paralleling Bismark's co-opting of the Social Democratic Party's most popular idea. This serves to discredit public education, take money away from the public education system, and take money and jobs away from public employees and their unions. (2) The siphoning off of certain students into separate learning environments is part of the conservative agenda for inscribing hierarchical differences in society. (3) The creation of lucrative money-making opportunities funnels public money to more wealthy members of society. (4) The creation of private governance structures further strengthens the power of unaccountable conservative elites, weakening democratic control. (5) The private governance structures in turn empower crony networks that can also serve as organizing foundations for further consolidation of conservative power.
There is no way to effectively deal with these problems (conservative goals) in isolation. They need to be seen and combatted as a whole. If not, then one bad conservative idea will just be replaced by another, and another.
Of course this is easier said than done. But doing it begins with recognizing the nature of what needs to be done.
This post originally appeared on Open Left.
The last two weeks have been quite a dynamic period of time. The GOP determination to make financial reform an endless fight ala health care reform seems to have suddenly crumpled, a sudden rise in media scrutiny, along with chilling reminders of the 15th Anniversary of the Oklahoma Bombing seems to have suddenly taken the wind out of the Tea Party Movement--though for how long no one can say, and the passage of a deeply racist anti-immigrant law in Arizona has produced a wave of violent threats against Representative Grijalva. This only describes part of the complex dynamics of political shifts over the past two weeks, but it's still far too much for most of us to get a handle on, partly because the dominant terms of political discourse--even in progressive online circles--is simply too impoverished to adequately describe what is happening. I'd like to focus attention on a few highlightable incidents in order to draw out what is difficult for us to deal with conceptually, and then bring in a recent blog post by Sara Robinson at the Campaign for America's Future, "None Dare Call It Sedition", that I think is enormously clarifying.
Actually, I'd like to focus primarily on Bill Clinton's remarks about the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 16, and the reactions it drew from Rush Limbaugh,Michele Bachmann, and others. And I'd like to flank that with Glenn Beck's claim about supposed similarities between "our side" and Martin Luther King, and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's signing of Arizona's racist anti-immigrant law, justifying it with the claim that it didn't involve racial profiling because that would be illegal.
Sara's diary began thus:
Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destructionWell, finally. It's high time somebody had the guts to say the S-word -- sedition -- right out loud.
When the indictments against the Hutaree were unsealed last week, the S-word was right there, front and center, in Count One. The Justice Department accused them of "seditious conspiracy," charging that the defendants "did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown...to levy war against the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law."
This is very serious stuff. But the Hutaree are getting nailed for sedition only because they crossed the line with inches to spare. They're by no means the only ones. Advocating, encouraging, and sanctioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side.
My simple explanation of what's been going on here is that Clinton set out to distinguish between dissent and sedition, and Limbaugh lashed back, because he's all about sedition. As Sara said, sedition is the new norm on the conservative side.
Similarly, Beck's claim that his followers, those on "our side" are just like Martin Luther King, was breathtakingly absurd on many levels, perhaps its deepest absurdity is that King was profoundly patriotic--in the spirit of Langston Hughes's declaration that "America was never America to me" and yet "America shall be"--while Beck and his minions are profoundly seditious in their intent, just like the segregationist power structure King battled against.Also similarly with Brewer, King's legacy has become too deeply embedded in America today for conservatives to deny it ("racial profiling is against the law")--and so they must resort to trying to capture that legacy for themselves, subvert that legacy against itself, a move that is one with their broader project of subverting America--by turning it into a police state when they are in charge, and by waging seditious warfare against it when they are not.
This is what I think has been going on--not just over the past two weeks, but for decades, really. But it is what the last two weeks have put on particularly clear display, if we avail ourselves of the perspective that Sara's diary provides.
First, Sara cites another example:
We saw it again last Thursday, when the Guardians of the Free Republics -- a Sovereign Citizen group that believes that the oath of office taken by state governors is invalid under their twisted Bizarroland interpretation of the Constitution -- sent letters to most or all sitting state governors telling them to either a) take what they consider to be a legitimate oath of office; b) stand down; or c) or be removed "non-violently" within three days. The FBI, rightly, regards this as a potentially seditious threat against the governors.
Then she explains the significance:
These two events are a wake-up call for progressives. They're telling us that it's time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of constitutional democracy in America. When they're in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they're out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all -- indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government's authority and capacity to run the country. And it's been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater.This long assault has gone into overdrive since Obama's inauguration, as the rhetoric has ratcheted up from overheated to perfervid. We've reached the point where you can't go a week without hearing some prominent right wing leader calling for outright sedition -- an immediate and defiant populist uprising against some legitimate form of government authority....
Progressives need to realize that the right began defiantly dancing back and forth over the legal line, daring us to do something about it, quite some time ago. And it's high time we called it out -- and, where appropriate, start prosecuting it -- for exactly what it is.
She goes on to define exactly what sedition is -- and is not, how that difference is spotted:
Here's the defining line we need to hold on to. People who promote subversive ideas, no matter how dangerous those ideas might seem, are completely protected under the First Amendment. Even calling for the overthrow of the government is protected (though not benign, as we'll see later, because it creates justification, permission, and incitement to seditious acts). That's why the conservatives have been safe -- so far.It's only when those people start actively planning and implementing a government rebellion that it turns into criminal sedition. In this case: the weird rantings on the Hutaree website -- not seditious. The group's allegedly operational plans to assassinate a police officer, ambush the resulting funeral, and thus bring on a national militia uprising -- absolutely seditious, if the charges stick.
This bright-line distinction, which has been part of American sedition law for the past 50 years, parallels closely the line drawn by terrorism analysts in sussing out which groups are benign and which ones are headed for trouble. As I've noted before, one of the cardinal signs these experts watch and listen for is a fundamental shift in rhetoric. In the early stages of dissent, groups establish the lines of conflict by obsessively focusing on their enemies and loudly denouncing their essential evilness. You hear this kind of talk in politics all the time these days. It's always ugly, but not inherently dangerous.
But in the latter stage, the talk turns overtly eliminationist, and the group starts expressing its clear desire and intention to eradicate specific enemies. When they shift to that second stage, it's a sign that they've made the mental commitment to violent action -- and are more likely to be acquiring arms, selecting targets, and getting ready to act in the near future. When a group starts actively planning an attack on government offices or officials, it's officially crossed the line into sedition.
Understanding the technical line-crossing definition is vitally important--and I don't use the word "technical" to denigrate its importance. Our adherence to technical distinctions is one of our most precious means of preserving our liberty. But once one is clear about the meaning of sedition, one can also be clear about the meaning of advocating sedition. And even though advocating sedition is perfectly legal, as Sarah says, it is nonetheless quite different from other types of political speech, and we are well advised to understand it for what it is, to attack it for what it is, to educate others about what it is, and to make advocates of sedition pay a political price for their hatred of America, and their advocacy of making war against her.
Openly advocating acts of sedition has become the conservatives' main political stock in trade over the past year. (The SPLC offers a strong summary here.) You hear it everywhere from Rush to Glenn to Michelle Malkin to Michele Bachman. Everybody on the right is now roundly convinced that the fairly-elected President of the United States isn't even a citizen. He's a Muslim, and thus in treasonous league with terrorists. The main goal of his administration is to turn the country over to the One World Government. He's a socialist. He's a fascist. All of these are direct attacks on Obama's fundamental legitimacy and authority to lead the country -- and thus a deliberate incitement to revolt against his administration.
She then goes on to describe a range of different ways in which the right is arming itself, training and organizing for actual acts of sedition. For example:
It's not just militias, though their dramatic resurgence is a good indicator for how widespread a seditious mentality has become. Others are much more explicitly planning for seditious action:
And some of these groups have already effectively crossed the line, in spirit if not in prosecutable fact. When the Christian dominionists train up "Joel's Army" by sending their sons to the US armed services so they can get the combat experience they'll need to set up a worldwide theocracy, that's evidence of an active plan to effect an armed government takeover. When senior US military officers put their commitment to Jesus ahead of their commitment to uphold the Constitution and regard the military as God's force in the world, we should be very afraid.
This is the on-the-ground but under-the-radar background reality we need to have in mind when viewing the behavior of Republican politicians, operatives and enablers:
It's time to confront the sobering fact that the entire right wing -- including the GOP establishment, which encourages, endorses, and echoes these sentiments almost every time its officials appear in public -- is now issuing nearly constant invitations to criminal sedition. They're creating a climate and using language that lowers their base's inhibitions around violence -- and irresponsibly eggs on the handful of sociopaths in their midst who are already primed to kill. They've given their newly-expanded corps of flying monkeys permission to brandish their guns in public, empowered their militias, promised them glory, and are now telling them explicitly which targets to hit.We'd be idiots not to regard this as an overt threat. Especially when they keep telling us, very explicitly, that they mean it to be. When somebody says they're going to shoot you, believe them.
Believe it or not, there's plenty more from this excellent essay that I haven't quoted. But I've quoted enough to provide the necessary context for understanding the three incidents from the part two weeks that I want to now focus on.Clinton & Limbaugh
First--and most importantly--is Clinton's speech reflecting on the Oklahoma City Bombing and Limbaugh's response, which Media Matters has devoted a very long page to here. Clinton's speech was a very thoughtful, historically informed speech, in which he drew a clear distinction between political disagreement and dissent on the one hand and political violence and incitement thereto on the other. Here' the excerpts that Media Matters highlighted:
The second lesson we have to learn is that we can't let the debate veer so far into hatred that we lose focus of our common humanity. It's really important. We can't ever fudge the fact that there is a basic line dividing criticism from violence or its advocacy. And the closer you get to the line, and the more responsibility you have, the more you have to think about the echo chamber in which your words resonate.Look, criticism is part of the lifeblood of democracy. Nobody's right all the time. But Oklahoma City proved once again that, beyond the law, there is no freedom. And there is a difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedom and the public servants who implement them. And the more prominence you have in politics or media or some other pillar of life, the more you have to keep that in mind.
But what we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold, but that the words we use really do matter because there are -- there's this vast echo chamber. And they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious, alike; they fall on the connected and the unhinged, alike. And I am not trying to muzzle anybody.But one of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have, and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have. Look, I'm glad they're fighting over health care and everything else; let them have at it.
But I think that all you have to do is read the paper every day to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled. We know, now, that there are people involved in groups -- these "hatriot" groups, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, the others -- 99 percent of them will never do anything they shouldn't do. But there are people who advocate violence and anticipate violence.
When George Washington served his two terms and went home to Mount Vernon to retire and John Adams became president, he was called out of retirement one time. You know what it was? He was called out of retirement to command the Armed Forces sent to Pennsylvania to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, because good Americans who had fought for this country crossed the linefrom advocating a different policy and opposing the current one to taking the law into their own hands in a violent manner.Once in a while, over the last 200 years, we've crossed the line again. But by and large, that bright line has held, and that's why this is the longest-lasting democracy in human history. That's why there is so much free speech. That's why people can organize their groups. It may seem like fringe groups that advocate whatever the livin' Sam Hill they want to advocate. That's why. But we have to keep the bright line alive. So that's the second lesson.
Clearly, the entire theme of this section is both the need not to cross the line into violence and incitement to violence and the importance of vigorous, passionate disagreements on the proper side of that line. He does not use the term "sedition", but his thinking is very much in line with the distinction, and with the significance of it that Sara has drawn--although with his patented desire to please, Clinton doesn't dwell on the dark side too long, and actually significantly understates how much and how frequently conservatives have flirted with crossing the line.
Indeed, in a passage Media Matters did not quote here, Clinton said:
Now, I have to tell you that I had a great time fighting with Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay and Dick Armey. I loved seeing that picture of him in the Post today - the outline - Armey with his cowboy hat on. I remember when he called Hillary a socialist. (Laughter.) I remember when Newt Gingrich, shortly after becoming speaker-elect, said that Hillary and I were the enemies of normal Americans. It didn't bother me a bit. I was glad to get in and mix it up.
How did Limbaugh respond to all this? Simple: by lying, just as he always does. Despite Clinton's repeated statements that dissent was good, that he even enjoyed political fights in which the other side used slanderous attacks, and even that some who had resorted to violence in the past had been "good Americans", Limbaugh falsely attacked Clinton for trying to silence him and others like him:
You have President Clinton here simply lying about a terrible tragedy to try to chill free speech and libeling me and the tea party at the same time. It does not get more despicable than this."
Of course, the passages quoted from Clinton's speech clearly show he was not trying to chill free speech. But what about his other claims here? And how are they related? The answer is quite straightforward, and clearly evident from the other excerpts Media Matters has on the same page. Limbaugh asks what words, exactly influenced McVeigh towards violence, and then uncritically accepts McVeigh's own justification of his mass murder as uncontestable fact (thereby endorsing McVeigh's sedition worldview and implicitly adopting it as his own):
Limbaugh asks Clinton, "What words caused Timothy McVeigh to act," says McVeigh was "outraged over the government invasion" in Waco. Responding to Clinton's statement that "the words we use do really matter," Limbaugh askedof Clinton: "What words caused Timothy McVeigh to act? Name one. I want to know what words and who spoke them. What are the words that Timothy McVeigh heard? What are the words he admitted that he heard that prompted him to act?" Limbaugh went on to say: "All I've ever heard is that Timothy McVeigh was outraged over the government invasion led by Janet Reno of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. And the Murrah building was blown up on that exact date two years later. ... Somebody show me the words, Mr. President, that McVeigh heard and caused him to act."
Media Matters further quotes:
Limbaugh: "McVeigh was not inspired by anybody's words, he was inspired by Mr. Clinton's deeds." Limbaugh said that "McVeigh was not inspired by anybody's words, he was inspired by Mr. Clinton's deeds. And this is what they're trying to wash over; this is what they're trying to erase from the historical record."Limbaugh: Clinton has "ties to the domestic terrorism of Oklahoma City." Limbaugh said that Clinton, the Obama administration, and the press can "try to make Oklahoma City the result of a modern tea party movement," but "President Clinton's ties to the domestic terrorism of Oklahoma City are tangible; talk radio's ties are nonexistent. We had nothing to do with it."
Of course, as MSNBC's broadcast of "The McVeigh Tapes" reminds all of us, McVeigh spent a long period of time absorbing a paranoid, conspiratorial, rightwing militia worldview. He spent months traveling the gunshow circuit, soaking up the words of countless rightwing conspiracies and ideologues. The role of rightwing talk radio--a much less developed presence at the time, was not a part of MSNBC's account, nor was it specified by Clinton, either. It was Limbaugh's guilty conscience alone (or, more likely, in tandem with his hyper-inflated ego) that inserted himself into that discussion.
But how does one accurately, historically make sense of the violence of Oklahoma City and the political culture that it came out of? And how does one distinguish that which is toxic from that which simply--even positively--invigorates our democracy? "The McVeigh Tapes", for all it's focus on specific details does not even begin to try to answer that. This is why Robinson's diary, "None Dare Call It Sedition" is so important for understanding where McVeigh came from, where many more potential McVeighs today are coming from, and what people like Limbaugh are up to when they continue to incite sedition. This is why everyone here should not just take my word for it, go read the entire essay for yourselves.
Beck & Brewer
But first, consider the other two examples I cited. Here's Beck:
As I said before, Beck's claim that his followers, those on "our side" are just like Martin Luther King, is breathtakingly absurd on many levels. Above I stressed the contrast between King's deeply critical, but profoundly patriotic view of America (echoing Langston Hughes's declaration that "America was never America to me" and yet "America shall be") and Beck's seditious hatred of America. But equally absurd is the contrast between King's profound dedication to nonviolence and the gun-nut fanaticism of Beck's side, which is inextricable interwoven into every aspect of their seditious worldview. Tacitly, if not explicitly, Beck endorses and stands for everythingthat Robinson wrote about in her essay. And none of that has anything at all to do with Martin Luther King, except to oppose everything he stood for 100%.
Finally, we turn to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's signing and incoherent defense of the racist anti-immigration law. This belongs in the matrix of sedition-related actions for a number of reasons, of which I'll cite just three: First, because of the long-standing role that militias and militia-like groups have played in stoking anti-immigrant hysteria in Arizona for decades now. The desire to displace standard law enforcement, and to usurp the government's monopoly on the use of force has been central to this movement from the very beginning, and those desires are inherently seditious. Second, the law passed is clearly an affront to federal power, an assertion of state power in a realm that's clearly a federal jurisdiction, and thus a rallying point in the spreading calls for asserting states rights over the federal government, even to the point of calling for secession. Third, the lack of any objective basis for stopping people and asking to see their papers is a de facto license for every law enforcement officer to act as a law unto themselves--the very antithesis of what our government under law, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is all about.
This is just a snapshot of three incidents from a two-week time period. But as Sara states, this is really about a core characteristic of the conservative movement dating back at least as far as Goldwater. One thing we need to be very clear about: The desire to overthrow the established order of the American government may be many things. But one thing it most definitely is not is "conservative" in the reassuring sense of striving to maintain continuity, respect tradition and legitimate authority, and avoid violent upheavals.
Conservatives aren't just at war with America. They are at war with everything they say about themselves.
But the militia talks reflect the frustration of some grass roots groups seeking new ways of fighting recent federal initiatives, such as the health reform plan, which requires all citizens to have health insurance. Over the last year, tea party groups across the country have staged rallies and pressured politicians to protest big government and demand reduced public spending.
After which, I wrote:
If it's government spending they are all het up over, I repeat my admonition from last weekend that they just stop using it in their personal lives.And since Oklahoma was the focus of this story, I checked out how much Oklahoma gets from the federal government. I know the figures on these tend to lag a few years, and the most recent multi-year figures I could get quickly showed this:
Adjusted Federal Expenditures Per Dollar of Taxes
Over Time by StateFiscal Years 1994-2003
State 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Oklahoma 1.28 1.29 1.32 1.33 1.36 1.40 1.44 1.43 1.47 1.48
A rising trend that had Oklahomans getting $1.48 from the federal government for every $1 they sent to the federal government.
I knew Oklahoma wasn't alone. I knew, in fact, that Red States have long been net takers, while Blue States have been net donors. So I decided to take another look at that phenomena. On the one hand, I took a look at some of the raw data myself, and on the other hand, I went looking to see what social and/or political scientists might have written about it. And I hit paydirt with the 2006 paper, "Taxing, Spending, Red States, and Blue States: The Political Economy of Redistribution in the US Federal System" by Dean and Donald Lacy, then of Ohio State University. Dean, in the Department of Political Science, and Donald in "Community Development". I discovered that Dean had since moved to Dartmouth, and when I contacted him, he sent me an update, "Why Do Red States Vote Republican While Blue States Pay the Bills? Federal Spending and Electoral Votes, 1984-2008"
These two papers get into considerable detail, showing fairly conclusively that this phenomena is not just a spurious artifact. It's quite real--though just why it's the case is hard to say. Here's a chart showing the correlations in 2000 [states colored to reflect 2004 vote]:
Several potential explanations are considered, and refuted by statistical analysis. One potential explanation remains, which is basically that legacy New Deal/Great Society programs remain in place benefitting Republican voters who vote to oppose further expansions of federal spending that would not benefit them specifically. I'll talk about that some below, after sharing various charts. But first, I want to share what struck me as the most surprising finding--comparison showing the relative strength of the effect [emphasis added]:
if two voters are identical on income, party identification, opinions on abortion and gay marriage, evaluation of the economy, and opinion on fighting terrorism, simply changing the amount of money their state gets per tax dollar increases their probability of voting for Bush by .24. This effect is as large as changing their party from Democrat to Independent, changing their opinion on abortion from strictly pro-choice to strictly pro-life, or changing their opinion on gay marriage from support of gay marriage to opposition to any form of gay marriage or civil union. The change is significant even in a model that controls for voters' opinions on social issues and their party identification.
Here's a chart showing that the 2004 election shows a pattern quite similar to the 2000 election:
And from the second paper, here's a similar chart for the 2008 election:
Naturally, these findings directly contradict Versailles conventional wisdom, as the authors note at the beginning of the 2006 paper:
In the wake of the 2000 U. S. presidential election, pundits and journalists began writing much about the "Two Americas:" The red states on the Electoral College map that voted for Republican George W. Bush, and the blue states that voted for Democrats Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. The shading of the states on Electoral College scoreboards on election nights in 2000 and 2004 showed an unmistakable pattern: Bush won a swath of states through the South, Great Plains, and Rocky Mountains while his Democratic opponents won the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Pacific Coast. Boston Globe reporter Mike Barnicle, appearing on MSNBC after the 2000 election, dubbed the Bush states the "family values" states and the Gore states "the sense of entitlement" states. Former Clinton adviser Paul Begala responded that the Bush states were home to hate crimes, setting off a frenzy of op-ed pieces about the differences between Bush's America and Gore's America. Since then, innumerable books and op-ed pieces have taken up the claim of whether the United States is shaking on a political fault line (e.g., Fiorina 2004, Frank 2004)....Mike Barnicle's characterization of the red and blue states provides an interesting and, depending on one's perspective, intuitive starting point for explaining Bush's margin of victory (or loss) across states in 2000 and 2004. It would seem to make sense that the states that lose money to the federal government would be more likely to vote for the candidate who promised to cut taxes and reduce the scope of government, and that the states that gain from the federal government would support the candidate who would protect or increase federal spending. If Barnicle is correct that Democratic states are "entitlement" states, then we should expect that the states won by Al Gore and John Kerry receive the most in federal spending compared to the tax revenues they send to Washington. In short, Democratic states may be net beneficiaries of federal government spending while Republican states may be net contributors to the federal government.
The evidence shows that such a story is exactly backwards. In a paradox of the Electoral College, Republican presidential candidates since 1984--when data are first available---have won most of the states that benefit from federal spending, while Democrats have won most of the states that bankroll the federal government. In every year during this 20-year period, between 25 and 32 states have gained more in federal spending programs than they have paid in taxes to the federal government, while the remaining minority of states has footed the bill. This political economy of redistribution plays out in the Electoral College as increasingly Republican states are increasingly dependent on federal spending. These curious empirical patterns hold under several different perspectives on the data, including controlling for state and individual-level conservatism on social issues, military spending per state, and the partisan balance of a state's governorship and representation in Congress.
Before I heard back about the follow up paper, I began looking at income inequality compared to the flow of dollars for the 2000 election. I found that for that election, income inequality had a stronger effect. Here's the chart of state Gini Ratios (the standard measure of inequality) for households to Gore's margin (Bush margin in negative numbers), first with DC, then limited to states, allowing a more close-up view:
The data used was fomr 1999, as the 2000 census asked people about their incomes for the previous year. The correlation for the above data was 0.54.
Then a similar comparison with spending ratios, which had a correlation of just 0.32:
I brought this up with Lacy by email after I received his second paper, and he explained that the income inequaltiy ratio's impact had declined dramatically from 2000 to 2008. The impact was much smaller in 2004, and almost nothing by 2008.
Here's what he wrote:
Income inequality and Republican margin were closely correlated in
2000. That correlation declines over time until it disappears in 08.
The correlation of vote with per capita income goes up across the three
elections from 00 to 08, as does the correlation of federal spending
ratio and vote.The correlation between per capita income and vote disappears when
controlling for how conservative a state's population is on issues (see
the paper I sent), but the correlation between spending ratio and vote
Here are the correlations between Republican presidential vote margin,
per capita income, income inequality, and federal spending ratio for
'00, '04, and '08 (not controlling for the conservatism of a state's
As you can see, the income inequality correlations, rows identified as "incinequa~99," "incinequa~04," and "incinequa~06" in the first column decline precipitously in significance.
I've been juggling too many balls this week to give the topic of federal spending and voting behavior as much attention and analysis as it deserves, but since Thursday was tax day, I didn't want to wait till next week to write something about it. The explanation that Lacy offers makes intuitive sense, but it's hard to see how it alone could suffice to have such strength, particularly given how confused people are about federal spending in general. This appears to be yet another really basic fact of American politics that all the experts in DC know absolutely nothing about. Or rather, that they know all about, but have 100% backwards.
What a surprise!
Can someone here please tell Rachel Maddow to give Dean Lacy a call?