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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

He rules their world

by digby

Drudge, of course. That's what Villager prince Mark Halperin once said of the political media.

They're not just talking about refugees

by digby

Or rather, here's how you move the goalposts to make the disgusting anti-refugee sentiment the reasonable compromise:
It Only Takes One: Why We Must Stop Importing Jihad Through Muslim Immigration

George Rasley, CHQ Editor | 12/1/2015

Now-retired General Michael Flynn served in the United States Army for more than 30 years, most recently as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was the nation's highest-ranking military intelligence officer.

Previously, General Flynn served as assistant director of national intelligence inside the Obama administration. General Michael FlynnFrom 2004 to 2007, he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where, as commander of the US Special Forces, he hunted top al-Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the predecessors to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who today heads the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. After Flynn's team located Zarqawi's whereabouts, the US killed the terrorist in an air strike in June 2006.

In a revealing interview with the German magazine Spiegel Online, Flynn explained the rise of the Islamic State and provided some key insights into why Obama has failed in the war radical Islam has declared on the West.

Among General Flynn’s most incisive observations was this exchange with reporters Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In recent weeks, Islamic State not only conducted the attacks in Paris, but also in Lebanon and against a Russian airplane over the Sinai Peninsula. What has caused the organization to shift its tactics and to now operate internationally?

Flynn: There were all kinds of strategic and tactical warnings and lots of reporting. And even the guys in the Islamic State said that they were going to attack overseas. I just don't think people took them seriously. When I first heard about the recent attacks in Paris, I was like, "Oh, my God, these guys are at it again, and we're not paying attention." The change that I think we need to be more aware of is that, in Europe, there is a leadership structure. And there's likely a leader or a leadership structure in each country in Europe. The same is probably similar for the United States, but just not obvious yet. (emphasis ours)

General Flynn then further explained that this leadership structure is not one that mirrors our own top-down leadership structure or the structures commonly associated with a nation-state.

Flynn: Exactly. In Osama bin Laden's writings, he elaborated about being disperse, becoming more diffuse and operating in small elements, because it's harder to detect and it's easier to act. In Paris, there were eight guys. In Mali, there were 10. Next time, maybe one or two guys will be enough. (emphasis ours)

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Can an attack of that scope even take place without being coordinated and authorized by the IS leadership in Syria?

Flynn: Absolutely. There's not some line-and-block chart and a guy at the top like we have in our own systems. That's the mirror imaging that we have to, in many ways, eliminate from our thinking. I can imagine a 30-year-old guy with some training and some discussion who receives the task from the top: "Go forth and do good on behalf of our ideology." And then he picks the targets by himself, organizes his attackers and executes his mission. (emphasis ours)

Americans outside the Beltway implicitly understand General Flynn’s insight that “Next time, maybe one or two guys will be enough.”

That is why a nationwide survey of 2016 likely general election voters conducted by McLaughlin & Associates* for our friends at SecureAmericaNow.org found that more than 4 out of 5 voters, 84%, categorize immigration from the Middle East to the United States as “Dangerous,” with a near majority, 49%, answering “very dangerous.”

General Flynn wrapped-up his interview with Spiegel Online with several further insights, among which was this comment: “Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.”

As we concluded in our columns “Homegrown Muslim Terrorism Fueled By Obama – Bush Immigration System,” “America's Suicidal Muslim Immigration Policies,” “Importing Jihad” and “Why Do We Let These Vipers Into America?” Islam, as it is today practiced by millions of Muslims across the globe, is inimical to the separation of church and state and government based on constitutional liberty. We are in a war of ideas, not just with radical Islamists, but with concepts deeply embedded in Muslim culture. And as long as mass legal (and illegal) immigration from Muslim countries continues unabated we are losing that war.

For further information on why we should ban most Muslim immigration to America see our article, “We Can – And Should – Ban Most Muslim Immigration To America.”

See? Those nice GOP candidates aren't all that bad are they? They just want to ban the refugees from Syria. They aren't fanatics ...

An inspiration

by digby

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

That was an assessment of Adolph Hitler by the United States Office of Strategic Services.

Is Ryan about to get Boehnered?

by digby

I wrote about the House's dilemma in the wake of the Planned Parenthood attack for Salon today:
It’s hard to imagine there could be any kind of silver lining to the horrific events in Colorado Springs last Friday, but one small positive consequence might be that the right wing will not be as anxious to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding this month. It’s hard to believe they thought this would be an effective tactic in the first place, but it’s possible that the killing of three people, including a police officer, and wounding nine others may have made them decide that this might not be the best time for an ostentatious showdown over their anti-abortion crusade. House majority leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that “security is becoming the top issue” and he doesn’t “hear people shutting the government down over [Planned Parenthood] right now.”
If Kevin McCarthy hasn’t once again screwed the pooch by opening his big mouth, this likely comes as some relief to the new Speaker, Paul Ryan, who had to have been dreading the prospect of dealing with the anti-abortion zealots in his party who were planning to hold the must-pass Omnibus spending bill hostage to score political points and wreak havoc with the federal government. It was, after all, this issue that brought an end to Speaker John Boehner’s career.
You’ll recall that Boehner had tried for months to appease the social conservative base which had been smarting from its loss on marriage equality and felt that it was being take for granted by the GOP. When the edited footage from the Center for Medical Progress was publicly released, it gave this faction a new focus for its energy and the GOP establishment was happy to help.  Indeed, the activist filmmakers had consulted with Republican members of congress weeks in advance of the release and they appear to have coordinated the response. From the moment the edited tapes were made public, Republicans at all levels pulled out every rhetorical stop to condemn them, with Boehner himself saying “I could talk about the video but I think I’d vomit trying to talk about it. It’s disgusting.”
Knowing that the fervor for shutting down the government over this issue was growing — and also knowing that it would be lethal for Republicans in an election year — Boehner and other establishment Republicans worked overtime to mollify these zealots by throwing out the most incendiary rhetoric they could imagine, almost always including their patented slogan: “baby parts.” They convened a variety of committee investigations and held hearings with names like “Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” Boehner even created a “Benghazi” level select House committee which they fatuously named the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.” All of this was done in the hopes that if they threw out enough vitriol and anger, they could somehow keep the angry social conservatives under control.
Boehner thundered to reporters, “the goal here is not to shut down the government, the goal is to stop these horrific practices of organizations selling baby parts!”
But it didn’t work. As the October 1st drop-dead date drew near and the radicals threatened to relieve him of his job if he refused to force a confrontation with the White House over this issue, Boehner saw the writing on the wall. These people were not going to be placated with fierce language and a promise to “investigate.” They wanted action. So he decided to step down, hoping that a new speaker’s honeymoon would paper over these problems long enough to get them through the election without another governing crisis.
As we all know, that transition did not go smoothly. McCarthy, Boehner’s second in command and presumptive Speaker, let the Clinton witchhunt cat out of the bag and it set off a frantic manhunt for someone to step up to replace him. But there are indications that the fractious uber-conservatives are willing to cut Paul Ryan some slack, at least for now. TPM reported yesterday:
“I think it’s unfair to hold Paul Ryan accountable for this particular omnibus. The Dec. 11 crisis that our leadership created is one of the reasons we got rid of our leadership,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a tea party favorite. “It’s not of his making, and I personally would not write him off if something doesn’t happen on this omnibus, whether it’s Planned Parenthood … or something else.”
That’s a very hopeful sign for Ryan. If he manages to get this bill passed without a lot of drama, the political establishment will hail him as the greatest speaker since Sam Rayburn.
Read on to see what the odds on that look like...

How about they stop with the cynical "strategizing"?

by digby

This Buzzfeed article goes into the truly tough position in which all these forced childbirth zealots find themselves when somebody takes their shrill, lurid propaganda seriously:

The pro-life movement, as it describes itself, has not found its high-profile success so squarely linked to violence since the late 1990s, when the organized Army of God network murdered seven in a series of attacks. Anti-abortion killings fell dramatically since then, with the horrific exception of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 by a man who had been in contact with a former Operation Rescue official.

But Dear represents a different, and in some ways more confounding, challenge that increasingly arises for movements of all stripes, particularly when they capture the power and passion of social media: How to prevent public momentum from spilling over into deadly violence.
Movement leaders have few answers, but say they are alert to the dangers of extremism.

How about they stop putting out hoax videos and using incendiary and inaccurate language like "baby parts" when they know very well that they are employing a "tactic" to rile up the public?

How about they stop enacting laws in states around the country by putting onerous, ridiculously unnecessary regulations on clinics so they will be shut down?

How about they stop all this smug, cynical "strategizing" to achieve their goals and simply make the arguments on the merits? How about they stop lying?

When you decide to try to attain your goals by any means necessary, people get the idea that anything goes. Including murdering innocent bystanders and police officers.

This is on them.

A whole pack of Lone Wolves

by digby

All this "killing babies" talk has nothing to do with though.

Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion extremist who fatally shot Tiller outside of a church service Tiller had attended, said about the incident, "I did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children. I shot him." When asked if he felt remorse, Roeder said no but that he felt "a sense of relief."

And all this murder, mayhem and tragedy is the price we pay for all this freedom.

If only other countries could be this free:

The problem here is not caused by our "freedom". It's right wing radicals in the gun proliferation and anti-abortion movements who refuse to behave like civilized people.


It's Giving Tuesday

by digby

This went out to all out Blue America members this morning:

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday having become something of an orgy of over-indulgence, somebody somewhere came up with the idea that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving should usher in the benevolent side of the holiday with a call to give back. They are calling it Giving Tuesday and it seems as though it might be refreshing reset from the endless eating and shopping of the long holiday week-end.

Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving holiday was not just marked by the usual Walmart brawls and long lines waiting for Best Buy to open. This year we had to endure an act of terrorism perpetrated on our own soil: a man gunned down 12 people, killing three, in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Afterwards, he was said to have declared "no more baby parts." Those two words-- "baby parts"-- are used by Republican demagogues to describe the practice of life-saving scientific research which uses fetal tissue. It refers to some hoax videos circulated by anti-choice zealots in furtherance of their cause.

It is inflammatory incitement and it did its job this last week-end.

The GOP presidential candidates were all very slow to condemn this murderous attack. And when they did, it was in the most grudging terms possible. Carly Fiorina, the candidate who blatantly lied before 25 million people in the GOP presidential debate, describing something that never happened in lurid, graphic detail even went so far as to cast blame on the left for even bringing up the possibility that rhetoric such as theirs may have contributed to this atrocity.

All Blue America candidates are crystal clear on where they stand, both in support for Planned Parenthood and against the NRA which makes it possible for zealots to easily acquire the firearms they use to carry out their deadly missions. This statement from state Senator Jamie Raskin, candidate for Maryland's 8th Congressional District speaks for all of us: 

"The nightmare in Colorado Springs brought together two lethal threats to the American people: the epidemic of gun violence made possible by lax gun laws and the NRA, and the relentless attacks by right-wing fanatics on Planned Parenthood and the right of American women to access basic reproductive health services. Let this outbreak of homegrown terror in Colorado give us the resolve we need to impose civilized gun safety laws in our country and to stop all of the appalling efforts to defund and destroy Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health services in the U.S."

In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, Blue America has decided to match the first $1,000 we collect for any candidates on this page and donate it to Planned Parenthood. We want to help the organization in every way we can and that means giving directly but it also means electing leaders to congress who will stand up and fight for women's rights. It is imperative that we do both.

We are at a critical time in American politics. Please consider spending some of your "Giving Tuesday" dollars by donating to the Blue America candidates of your choice and we will double the effort by matching it with a donation to Planned Parenthood.
Goldman eyes $20 oil — Glut overwhelms storage sites

by Gaius Publius

The price of two oil benchmarks, Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI), in danger of collapse? (source)

Ever since the "Exxon Knew" story broke, and especially since NY AG Eric Schneiderman announced his Martin Act investigation of Exxon and other carbon companies for fraud, I've been watching to see how this disrupts the oil and gas markets.

To be clear — I consider a disrupted carbon fuel market to be good, since the supply of fossil fuel does have to be interrupted, and forcefully. Consider that if they dig it, we will burn it. So we have to prevent them digging it, and again, with force. The law, when applied with penalties, counts as force. A collapsing commodity price market also counts as force, as does a collapsing stock market price for companies like Exxon.

The alternative, if the market for extracted carbon starts to collapse or become wildly chaotic, is for government to prop it up with even more subsidies and "bailouts" — the opposite of what any climate-aware citizen should want. We need to get off of oil, as a nation, quickly, and we need all the help we can get doing it. I don't want to see government standing in the way of the destruction of the oil and gas industry. (Do you?)

So, is the carbon market headed for chaos? I don't know, but the possibility of oil at $20/barrel is frightening many analysts, including those at Goldman Sachs. From the Telegraph (my emphasis):
Goldman eyes $20 oil as glut overwhelms storage sites

“The world is floating in oil. The numbers we are facing now are dreadful," said David Hufton from PVM Group

The world is running out of storage facilities for surging supplies of oil and may soon exhaust tanker space offshore, raising the chances of a violent plunge in crude prices over coming weeks, experts have warned.

Goldman Sachs told clients that the increasing glut of oil on the global market has combined with mild weather from a freak El Nino this winter. The twin-effect could send prices plummeting to $20 a barrel, the so-called ‘cash cost’ that forces drillers to abandon production. “Risks of a sharp leg lower remain elevated,” it said.

Oil has fallen from $110 a barrel early last year and is hovering near $40 for US crude, and $44 for Brent in Europe.

The US investment bank said the overall glut in the commodity markets may take another twelve months to clear. It cited ‘red flag’ signals on the Shanghai Future Exchange over recent days. Copper contracts point to “imminent weakening” in China’s ‘old economy’ of heavy industry and construction, it said.
The chart at the top shows that benchmark prices have dropped to about $36/barrel, risen but not to new near-term highs, then dropped again. A technical analyst would say, watch that $35 price point. A drop below that could be trouble.

Now for the fundamentals. Note in the quote above: "$20 a barrel [is] the so-called 'cash cost'." At present, people are keeping their oil off the market, not selling their inventory in hopes of a better price ...
It is estimated that at least 100m barrels are now being stored on tankers offshore, waiting for better prices. A queue of 39 vessels carrying 28m barrels is laid up outside the Texas port of Galveston, while the Iranians have a further 30m barrels offshore ready to sell as soon as sanctions are lifted.

“The world is floating in oil, and commercial stocks on land are at a record high,” said David Hufton, head of oil brokers PVM Group. “The numbers we are facing now are dreadful. Stocks have been building continuously for two years. This is unprecedented.”
... yet even so, prices are falling, despite current buying by the Chinese for their strategic reserve (see the article for those details). We're in new territory at present — low prices, high inventory, high production — and could be headed for even newer territory.

The story is complicated; the outcomes are many

This is not a simple story, as the article makes clear. No one in position to comment expects a permanent collapse, yet the items in play are both many and varied. To name just a few, they include conflict among the OPEC nations about how much to produce, the length of time the bear market in oil will stay depressed, the ability of marginally-financed producers — the U.S. shale oil producers qualify here — to stay afloat in a "below cost of production" sales environment, the worldwide growing awareness that climate change and carbon emissions are linked, and so on.

At some point, if these conditions prevail (the last will certainly grow stronger), carbon production will drastically slow and companies will simply go bankrupt. At that point, absent government intervention, if you're an investor do you buy or sell the stock of these companies?

Now add in AG Schneiderman's fraud lawsuit, and then, way down the road, the potential for a Sarbanes-Oxley prosecution to yield criminal charges and jail time for oil and gas execs — assuming some AG (that's you, Ms. Lynch; that's you, whomever President Sanders appoints) is bold enough to pursue that course. That will certainly stir the pot even further, and not in a good way. Just the announced intent to pursue Sarbanes-Oxley prosecution could further roil this market — the roilage of which is your friend, since an uncertain energy market drives an increased move to "safer" renewables.

At this point, it's all up in the air. Oil prices may recover and the market re-stabilize. That would be a bad thing, assuming you have grandchildren and care about them. But the good news is ... right now, it really is all up in the air. That good thing that could turn into a very good thing with just a few more breaks our way. 

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)




by Tom Sullivan

Is Donald Trump inspiring the crazy or simply reflecting it? And I mean simply. The guy seems to be running for president of the 8th grade.

If violent rhetoric can inspire violent action, I am wondering, can widely reported crazy talk inspire craziness in a population?

I suggested yesterday, if Edward Snowden somehow "inspired" the Paris attacks by ISIS (as some authorities allege), couldn't wild talk by Republican presidential candidates have inspired the attack on the Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs? Digby pointed out as Salon yesterday how authorities worry about homegrown terrorism from "troubled souls" radicalized to violent action by propaganda. It might be talk of jihad or it might be talk of Planned Parenthood allegedly "dismembering children purely for monetary profit."

Matt Taibbi traded barbs on Twitter with people convinced that is true:

Last night, Chris Hayes observed that Trump makes wild, disproved assertions about American Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks and, when his followers echo them back, uses their support as proof that his false claim is true. Dick Cheney did the same thing by leaking bogus "intelligence" about Iraqi WMDs to the media and then after the New York Times reported it, Cheney went on TV and used their reporting as support for his bogus claims. He convinced a wide swath of the American public that attacking Iraq was justified. I'll bet a few of them -- in New Jersey -- even celebrated bombing Baghdad. As Herman Cain said, "I don't have facts to back this up." Conveniently, facts no longer matter, do they?

What is most worrisome is the possibility of crazy talk inducing a kind of moral panic or a "virus of the mind" (to use the Richard Dawkins' term) in the broader public.

Vice President Joe Biden worried about that back in September. He sought to reassure Americans we would overcome it:

"There's one guy absolutely denigrating an entire group of people, appealing to the baser side of human nature, working on this notion of xenophobia in a way that hasn't occurred in a long time," Biden told the group of about 75 people.

"This isn't about Democrat - Republican. It's about a sick message. This message has been tried on America many times before. We always, always, always, always overcome," he said.

Let's hope he is right.

Monday, November 30, 2015

He's not 69, he's 6

by digby

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

This guy:

Listening to the military

by digby

All the Republicans are saying they would "listen to the military" and follow the Pentagon's advice on how to keep America safe. (Ben Carson is pretty much saying now that he'd turn over all national security to the Pentagon, no questions asked.)

Well, not always:

The 2014 Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Road Map report details all the ways our changing climate will impact international conflict and military operations. Sea level rise and more extreme weather events will exacerbate ongoing global conflicts. The effects of climate change will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic diseases, as well as disputes over refugees and dwindling resources.

The Pentagon report does not just allude to terrorism—it mentions it by name:

“We refer to climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today—from infectious disease to terrorism. We are already beginning to see some of these impacts.”

The report goes on to explain how climate change could topple fragile governments by creating an environment that fosters extreme ideologies and terrorism.

But Republicans on Tuesday (the same day the Senate voted to undo President Obama’s power-plant regulations) treated Sanders as if he had made a ludicrous claim. “There is a ballot initiative in Arizona concerning the substance that he must have been consuming,” Senator John McCain said, referring to a measure that would legalize marijuana.



The real threat

by digby

Ian Millhiser:

Friday afternoon, one week after elected officials all over the country tried to block Syrian refugees from entering their states in an apparent effort to fight terrorism, a white man in Colorado committed what appears to be an act of terrorism in a Planned Parenthood clinic. 
Though the details of Robert Lewis Dear’s motives for killing three people in the clinic and injuring nine others are still being revealed, Dear reportedly told law enforcement “no more baby parts,” an apparent reference to heavily edited videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, which numerous politicians have cited to falsely claim that Planned Parenthood sells “aborted baby parts.” Dear’s actions, in other words, appear to be an act of politically motivated terrorism directed against an institution widely reviled by conservatives. 
Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations. As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June in the New York Times, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” 

Kurzman and Schanzer’s methodology, moreover, may underestimate the degree to which domestic terrorists in the United States are motivated by right-wing views. As they describe the term in their New York Times piece, the term “right-wing extremist” primarily encompasses anti-government extremists such as members of the sovereign citizen movement, although it also includes racist right-wing groups such as neo-Nazis. Thus, it is not yet clear whether Dear, who made anti-abortion remarks but also reportedly referenced President Obama, was motivated in part by the kind of anti-government views that are the focus of Kurzman and Schanzer’s inquiry.

Eric Boehlert took a look at how the press is covering this:

The deadly gun rampage that erupted inside a Planned Parenthood health care facility in Colorado Springs last week capped a disturbing week of political violence and intimidation from the far right:

*November 22: Armed vigilantes who gathered outside a Dallas area mosque announced they were going to publish the home addresses of local Muslim worshipers and label them "Muslim sympathizers."

*November 23: A man was arrested for leaving a phony explosive device at a Falls Church, Virginia mosque. The suspect allegedly also threw two smoke bombs and a Molotov cocktail toward the building.

*November 23: A Black Lives Matter protester was kicked, punched, and choked at a Donald Trump rally.

*November 24: Four men have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. Three of the suspects reportedly were fascinated "with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups."

If we scan back a few more weeks we see an equally troubling trend:

*November 11: "Two men described by authorities as white supremacists have been charged in Virginia with trying to illegally buy weapons and explosives to use in attacks on synagogues and black churches."

*October 12: Georgia state prosecutors indicted 15 members of a Confederate flag-waving convoy on terroristic threats after they menaced a black family celebrating a birthday party.

Meanwhile, recent months have seen a plague of terror attacks targeting Planned Parenthood facilities, to the point where the FBI in September warned that "it is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities." (The current campaign of terror and harassment is not a new one.)

As CBS reported [emphasis added]:

At that time, there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia. In one incident, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard's car and set the vehicle on fire.

According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado, in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility there, causing a fire.

So, in just the last three months we've seen a car set on fire, Molotov cocktails allegedly thrown at a house of worship, terroristic threats leveled against a family, liberal protesters gunned down by radicals, and a medical facility stormed by an anti-abortion/anti-government gunman who killed civilians and a policeman.

What portrait do those events paint in your mind? And is that portrait of radical homegrown violence and terrorism the one you've seen conveyed in the press following the Colorado Springs terror attack?

It's not the one I've been seeing.

Media Matters for years has documented how Fox News in particular has used a blinding double standard in terms of casting wide, cultural and religious aspersions when covering terror attacks involving Muslim attackers, versus how it deals with homegrown political violence from the right. (It was Fox News' Brian Kilmeade who once confidently declared, "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.")

But the problem extends beyond Fox News. The larger conservative media echo chamber seems to have convinced the mainstream press that domestic terrorism, often carried out by white American men, somehow doesn't pose the same threat and doesn't need to be treated as a lurking menace the way ISIS terrorism does. (That heightened sense of panic also fanned the right-wing media hysteria about Syrian refugees.)

In other words, the endless dots of domestic terrorism in the U.S. simply are not connected to portray a larger danger to our safety. (For more recent examples of deadly plots and attacks see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

The simple truth is that from neo-Nazis killers, to a rash of women's health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government extremists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to unfold regularly in the United States.

There's more at the link including some of Boehlert's typically sharp analysis (as well as links to all the press counts he mentions.)

Nothing to see here people. Move along.

QOTD: Anti-choice zealots "they had it coming" edition

by digby

Hey, if you don't want to get shot, don't go to a Planned Parenthood clinic. That's pretty much what these anti-abortion leaders told Irin Carmon at MSNBC:
“After all these years and millions of babies that have gone to their death, violence is to be anticipated,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League, in a phone interview with MSNBC. “Because it’s acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn’t it acceptable to violently kill other people?”

“We never approve of violence against anybody, whether it’s the unborn babies or the clients of Planned Parenthood or anybody else,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League, told MSNBC. But, she added, “it’s not the fault of the pro-life movement that someone found out that Planned Parenthood is doing these things. It’s the fault of Planned Parenthood for selling the baby parts.”

Yes, they really said that. And more:

Evidence linking Dear to the movement is still scant, Mahoney said. “Let’s not take the death of innocent people to promote a political agenda,” he said. “Planned Parenthood is doing exactly what they accuse the pro-life community of doing. They accuse us all the time of using inflammatory rhetoric and hateful language to promote our agenda.”

In 1995, after a gunman killed two Planned Parenthood workers in Brookline, Massachusetts, Bernard Cardinal Law, then the Archbishop of Boston, called for a moratorium on protesting outside abortion clinics. (New York’s archbishop disagreed, saying he would follow suit only “on condition that a moratorium be called on abortions.”) There have been no such calls forthcoming this time around.

The suggestion makes Scheidler, vice president of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, bristle. “Planned Parenthood is a villain,” she said. “They undermine the integrity of families and the morality of young teen girls and kill babies on a regular basis, day after day. We’re not going to say, ‘Oh, poor Planned Parenthood, we should never say anything negative about what they call ‘services.’ Because they are a blight on our culture.”

The Christian Defense Coalition’s Mahoney said, “Our movement utterly condemns violence.” Asked about the fact that Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, Mahoney said, “Cheryl Sullenger did time in prison for her actions. She now works peacefully to end the violence of abortion.” (Operation Rescue did not return a message requesting an interview but condemned the attack on their website.)

What about Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and an advisor to the Center for Medical Progress? Newman wrote in his 2003 book that “the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.” (Last week, presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz accepted Newman’s endorsement.)

“If you read that within the entire context of the book,” Mahoney said, “Troy addressed that is after they held a trial.”

Scheidler’s Pro-Life Action League is among the organizations that publishes the names, faces, and addresses of abortion providers. Asked if such disclosures could make providers feel unsafe, she replied, “We don’t pose any threat, we in the mainstream pro-life movement…. If they feel threatened, they can always get out of that business, I suppose. It’s not something that would make us back off on our mission.”

One notorious anti-abortion activist, who has long been an open supporter of violence against abortion providers, broke with the movement in offering direct support to Dear.

Donald Spitz, who runs the Army of God website and is based in Virginia, said of his fellow anti-abortion activists’ condemnations of violence, “They say that all the time. I think they’re hypocritical.”

While many groups insist violence against abortion providers is counterproductive to their cause, Spitz suggested such rhetoric is disingenuous. Referring to Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion provider George Tiller and who Spitz calls a friend, Spitz said, “How could that be counterproductive when he stopped them from providing abortions? They’ve lost their mind. They’re into political correctness way too far.”

As for Spitz’s own reaction, “I think Planned Parenthood is an evil organization, so I didn’t lose any sleep when I heard about it,” Spitz said. “They sell baby parts, and they reap what they sow, and now they’re complaining about it.”

He added, “There are no innocent people in Planned Parenthood. They’re in there for a reason.”

Just don't say any of these people are inciting anyone to kill people because that would be wrong. They just think that Planned Parenthood is dismembering living babies for profit and that it's perfectly natural for someone to want to kill them. And if someone happens to be there to support a friend it's unfortunate collateral damage. Maybe people should think twice before supporting any woman who would go to Planned Parenthood for any reason.

You can decide for yourself whether it matters that one of our major political parties is completely cowed by these terrorists.


They're picking up sides

by digby

The movement conservatives are making their choice:

"Troubled souls" and terrorism

by digby

I wrote about the Planned Parenthood attack for Salon today:

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the head of the FBI James Comey made this statement:
“We are not aware of any credible threat here of a Paris-type attack and we have seen no connection at all between the Paris attackers and the United States. The threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in America who are being inspired or enabled online to do something violent for ISIL. We have stopped a lot of those people this year.”
He’s been saying this for some time, often using this phrase, “troubled souls,” to describe would-be terrorists. He’s also frequently used the term “lone wolves,” which are usually defined this way:
“A lone wolf or lone-wolf terrorist is someone who commits violent acts in support of some group, movement, or ideology, but who does so alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. Although the lone wolf prepares and acts alone, he/she may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group.”
“These homegrown violent extremists are troubled souls, who are seeking meaning in some misguided way. And so they come across the propaganda and they become radicalized on their own, sort of independent study, and they’re also able to equip themselves with training again through the Internet, and then engage in jihad after emerging from their basement.”
All the experts say this is the scenario that keeps them up at night. It’s no longer a group of foreign terrorists simultaneously hijacking four jet liners and flying them into skyscrapers and the Pentagon that worries them, it’s these lone wolf attacks like the Tsarnaev brothers and their homemade pressure cooker bombs or the man who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn., killing five servicemen.
There are several approaches to dealing with this problem but it really comes down to a question of whether the government should surveil everyone to find that lone wolf who might become radicalized through exposure to terrorist rhetoric or work through community outreach to try to calm the waters and keep these people from becoming radicalized in the first place. It’s a difficult challenge in that the internet allows those with mental and emotional issues to seek out demagogues who are happy to encourage their violent tendencies, focus their anger and give them license to to carry out terrorist acts as a twisted demonstration of deepest moral conscience. Most experts suggest some combination of those approaches stand the best chance of success.
In the case of ISIS, appealing to the decency of the terrorists who are encouraging this behavior is obviously a waste of time. But there are a lot of “troubled souls” in this country who are not Muslim and do not look for meaning from the likes of ISIS terrorists in the Middle East. They look a little closer to home for permission to carry out their violent desires. And there is plenty of inspiration. They don’t have to search in the dark corners of the internet or use encryption or travel to a foreign land to meet people who will stoke their violent urges and give them a moral purpose.  They can just tune in to a Republican presidential debate:
Carly Fiorina: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
Ted Cruz: Well, let me tell you, Dana, number one, I’m proud to stand for life. These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying. I would encourage every American to watch the videos. See — seeing your Planned Parenthood officials callously, heartlessly bartering and selling the body parts of human beings, and then ask yourself, “are these my values?” These are horrifying. On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with ten years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.
Huckabee: It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.
If some “troubled soul” didn’t know better, he might just think he needed to step up to do something serious about what these very important, mainstream presidential candidates are describing as not just criminal, but barbaric behavior on the level of say… ISIS. They are describing gory mayhem that actually goes beyond the radical jihadi’s horror show because the depraved Planned Parenthood butchers are alleged to be dismembering children purely for monetary profit.
None of it is true, of course. It has have all been thoroughly Fact Checked and the claims on those doctored videos have been proven false. A few Planned Parenthood facilities provide scientists with fetal tissue for vital and important medical research, with the permission of the woman from whom it’s obtained, and the only money that was ever exchanged was for reimbursement of costs. There was no selling of “baby parts.” There were no live infants being killed on the table to “harvest their brains.” The tissue that was donated to medical research has resulted in important breakthroughs in the hunt for a cure for many life threatening diseases. But that hasn’t stopped irresponsible political leaders and anti-abortion zealots from flogging this reprehensible lie in a race to see who can most graphically prove his or her anti-abortion bona fides.
At the time of this writing we don’t know for sure that a man who shot a dozen people, killing three, in the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic this past weekend did what he did as a form of terrorism against abortion providers. Members of the right wing, who are obsessively vigilant in their warnings about radical Islamic terrorism, have been twisting themselves into pretzels for days trying to excuse this event as the simple act of a madman or finding some inane way to suggest that he was actually a bank-robber or a leftwing activist. But let’s just say that it’s unlikely he hit the Planned Parenthood clinic by coincidence and started babbling about “baby parts” out of the blue.

Much more at the link...
They built this

guest post by Cliff Schecter

I've purposely not written about what happened at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs until now. As someone who proudly sits on the Boards of Planned Parenthood of SW Ohio and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio (where I serve at Treasurer), and a longtime advocate for gun safety, I don't think it would've been a good idea. My anger level had reached a point where I would have said a number of things I'd probably regret.

That's because lying guttersnipes like Carly Fiorina & Ted Cruz played a role in this, as did edited-video-producing snake oil salesmen, back-bench Congressmen/women holding hearings doubling as witchunts and television & radio shows that don't care a whit about the truth. They all work their hardest to incite riot, and then act shocked when the lone wolf--the crazy Christianist version of the suicide bomber--takes it upon himself to stop the atrocities only going on in their monologues and his head.

They built this.

Then there are our gun laws. Right wing lunatics who pretend to be our "representatives" wail about how this is a "mental health" issue, but then block the very background checks that would look at someone's mental health records before selling them a weapon whose only purpose is to kill. So the same people who rile up murderers, arm them. Charming.

I can only speak for myself, and not any of the organizations where I play some role. I'm more determined than yesterday to make sure my kids grow up in a state, country and world where women have true equality, including the abortion rights they're guaranteed by our Constitution. And gun laws that prioritize the safety of the rest of us, our "general welfare" and "domestic tranquility" as the document says, over "rights" of terrorists & murderers.

The French were out at cafes the night after the attacks. That seems like a model worth emulating.

ISIS update: The world is halfway to 2°C warming

by Gaius Publius

Bernie Sanders at the second Democratic debate. Because Debbie Wasserman Schultz scheduled this debate on a Saturday during the run-up to the college football playoffs, close to half of the previous Democratic debate audience missed this exchange.

This is Bernie Sanders at the second Democratic debate:
CBS's John Dickerson, the event's moderator, asked Sanders if he still believes climate change represents the biggest outside threat to U.S. safety one day more than 120 people were killed in terrorist attacks on Paris that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has taken credit for.

“Absolutely,” the Vermont senator responded. “Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism and if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world ... struggling over limited amounts of water and land to grow their crops and you’re going to see all kinds of conflict.”

Earlier at the debate, Sanders hit party front-runner Hillary Clinton for voting to authorize the invasion of Iraq, saying the war had led to the rise of ISIS.
While right-wing pundits, many Democrats and some in the debate audience were surprised by this claim, it has been verified in many venues, including the pages of Time magazine. Sanders reiterated this position on "Face the Nation":
“The reason is pretty obvious: If we are going to see an increase in drought and flood and extreme weather disturbances as a result of climate change, what that means is that peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources,” Sanders said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“If there is not enough water, if there is not enough land to grow your crops, then you’re going to see migrants of people fighting over land that will sustain them, and that will lead to international conflict,” he added.
Notice that Sanders' claim is that climate change is "directly related to" terrorism, not the "sole cause of" it. Even Politifact agrees (my emphasis): "We couldn’t find any evidence of a "direct" relationship between climate change and terrorism, though many reports have noted an indirect link," despite its bottom-line negative rating.

My piece on that is here — "ISIS, Climate Change & Mass Migration of Peoples" — and I'm not the only one making this case. There are peer-reviewed papers (pdf) making the same point. So let's move to the real news, a short peek at the future.

The world is halfway to 2°C

I called this piece an "ISIS Update" for a reason. If you hated what happened in Paris — which also happened to people you've probably never seen a moment of silence for, the recently murdered, unmourned in the West, dead in Beirut — then you're not going to like this news. While we've been coddling the billionaires and politicians who control and enable the oil and gas industries, global warming has hit another milestone (my emphasis):
The World is Halfway to 2°C

It’s all but certain that 2015 will end up as the hottest year on record. And in setting that mark, the world is on track to finish the year 1°C above pre-industrial levels, a dubious milestone.

That would make 2015 the first year to crack the halfway mark of 2°C warming, the benchmark that’s been targeted as “safe” climate change and what nations are working toward meeting ahead of climate talks in Paris in December. But Monday’s announcement by the U.K. Met Office hints at how difficult achieving that target will be.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which has risen steadily like a drumbeat every year since the Industrial Revolution due to human activities, the temperature is likely to fluctuate annually and could dip slightly in the coming years (though signs already point to 2016 being even hotter). But the 1°C of warming shows how humans are reshaping the climate in the here and now and not some distant future.

The Met Office maintains one of the four major global temperature records. It shows that through September, the planet is running 1.8°F (1.02°C) above normal. El Niño, the warming of waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is a contributing factor. But it’s being layered on top of a long-term climate change signal, which has seen the world get hotter and hotter since record keeping began in the late 1800s.
Don't be confused about what that means. Not only is the rate of increase in carbon emissions accelerating, but there's a hidden additional number, the amount of warming that's already "in the pipeline," inevitable, no matter what we do.

Add the "in the pipeline" warming and we're half a degree away

Halfway to 2°C warming is what we're experiencing at present. But if you touch a very hot stove, your hand continues to "cook" even after you remove it from the heat. There's damage "in the pipeline" even if you remove the cause, even if that hand goes into very cold water immediately.

The same with global warming. If we stopped all carbon emissions now, there's still warming "in the pipeline." According to climate scientist Michael Mann in an interview I did with him last year, even if we stopped this minute — zero carbon dioxide emissions from this second forward — the atmosphere would still heat to +1.5°C from pre-Industrial levels.

If you don't want to translate that warming to sea level rise four decades from now, translate that to stressed populations around the world now. Or as Sanders says, to people suffering from "an increase in drought and flood" and "not enough water ... not enough land to grow your crops" today. Translate it as a force multiplier to what we're seeing this minute, in every growing season, from California to Syria, as water becomes more and more scarce.

We can (falsely) blame only religion for the Middle East blowing up. We can burn through every dollar we can create in a massive military response. But every turn of the climate screw ratchets a pressure that just won't go away — until we stop placing men like Exxon's Rex Tillerson (below) in charge of whether he and his friends stay rich.

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, setting U.S. energy policy for as long as we let him.

Climate change causes global chaos in an increasingly aggressive spiral. That chaos takes many forms, from the mass migrations we're now seeing, to increasing drought, famine and disease — i.e., mass death — to an increasing fight for fewer and fewer resources by more and more desperate and angry people. None of this will be pretty. None will be simply explained. And none will be stoppable until stress factors, including climate-induced factors, are reduced and removed.

How soon is too soon to act against climate stress? Should we stop the deadly climate spiral now? Or should we maybe wait another decade? Your call.

Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you like, you can help him here; adjust the split any way you wish at the link.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



Blame by what mechanism?

by Tom Sullivan

Going to talk about the Paris and Colorado Springs attacks, but first...

On Saturday, the government's program for bulk collection of phone records ended, sorta:

The language in the US Justice Department statement is far from inspiring, written in bland legalese, but it still represents an important victory for the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The statement, dated 28 November 2015, says: “Final temporary reauthorization of the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata data program in the US expires.”

But only sorta, says Marcy Wheeler:

Just a tiny corner of the phone dragnet will shut down, and the government will continue to collect “telephony metadata records in bulk … including records of both U.S. and non-U.S. persons” under EO 12333. Hypothetically, for every single international call that had been picked up under the Section 215 dragnet and more (at a minimum, because NSA collects phone records overseas with location information), a matching record has been and will continue to be collected overseas, under EO 12333.

They’re still collecting your phone records in bulk, not to mention collecting a great deal of your Internet records in bulk as well. BREAKING.

What interests me here is how a former government official (and a former George W. Bush press secretary) can blame Snowden somehow for the Paris attacks. Glenn Greenwald took to the pages of the L.A. Times last week to counter that claim:

Former CIA chief James Woolsey said Snowden "has blood on his hands" because, he asserted, the Paris attackers learned from his disclosures how to hide their communications behind encryption. Woolsey thus decreed on CNN that the NSA whistleblower should be "hanged by the neck until he's dead, rather than merely electrocuted."

In one sense, this blame-shifting tactic is understandable. After all, the CIA, the NSA and similar agencies receive billions of dollars annually from Congress and have been vested by their Senate overseers with virtually unlimited spying power. They have one paramount mission: find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks. When they fail, of course they are desperate to blame others.

Greenwald continues, "CIA officials simply made that up" about Snowden. It is just as likely the attackers laid their plans in face-to-face meetings. Nevertheless, As someday it may happen that a victim must be found, the CIA has got a little list. They've got a little list.

What the Snowden disclosures actually revealed to the world was that the U.S. government is monitoring the Internet communications and activities of everyone else: hundreds of millions of innocent people under the largest program of suspicionless mass surveillance ever created, a program that multiple federal judges have ruled is illegal and unconstitutional.

So, I'm just wondering. If Snowden's disclosure of illegal and unconstitutional government spying is somehow to blame for motivating terrorism in Paris (by people who need no further motivation), why can't the makers of the doctored videos that allege Planned Parenthood sells "baby parts" be somehow to blame for motivating what the Justice Department reportedly considers domestic terrorism against Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs? And Carly Fiorina too, for vigorously hyping the "baby parts" narrative? Not saying they are somehow to blame – Robert “no more baby parts” Dear's motivations are still unclear – but the murky mechanism for assigning Snowden blame for Paris might seem, on its face, to apply to assigning blame for Colorado Springs as well. And if not, why not? Just looking for the operative principle here. Or is it lack of principles?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nothing to offer but fear itself

by digby

Paul Rosenberg has a nice piece up at Salon today about the fear party. Worth reading the whole thing:

Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the so-called “Daddy Party” failed spectacularly on all major adult-male-gender-stereotyped fronts.

On the economic front, its record was terrible, even before it brought us the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression; on the military/national security front, its failure to prevent 9/11—the worst foreign attack on American soil since the War of 1812—was only compounded by its fighting-fire-with-gasoline response, turning both Iraq and Afghanistan into incubators for new generations of jihadists. On the science front, it presided over a widening war on science. In short, the entire framework of the “Daddy Party” construct fell into disrepute by the time Bush left office in 2008.

But now—thanks to the terrorist attacks in Paris—there’s a full-on rush to try to resurrect it. Only of course it’s an incoherent mess, with more focus on spreading fear than countering it. Donald Trump has benefited most on the GOP side, with his quick-draw tough talk, but it was similarly mindless, fact-free tough talk that made such a mess of things post-9/11 in the first place, and this time there’s not even a hint of an actual plan—it’s all just heated bluster, and denouncing Democrats for not frothing at the mouth just like them.

The panic over Syrian refugees is particularly revealing in this regard. Not one American has died at the hands of a refugee either during or since 9/11, although there have been 745,000 of them. Yet, irrational fear of these refugees has defined the only “coherent” policy response the GOP has come up with—both among myth-driven governors and in the shutdown-happy Congress. But when it comes to actually confronting ISIS, they’ve got nothing unified except a PC rampage against Democrats not using the phrase “radical Islam;” aside from that it’s a smorgasbord of proposals ranging from basically endorsing Hillary Clinton’s position (John Kasich) to cutting off their money (Paul and Fiorina) to grandstanding in Congress (Cruz), to reinvading Iraq, with a side of Syria (Bush, Graham and Santorum), to total war (“destroy them”—Carson) or multi-front bellicosity (Trump).

Overall, it skews heavily toward an amped-up front-line war, which is exactly what the terrorists want. It’s what they wanted from the 9/11 attacks, and it’s just what we gave them, and we only got a vastly stronger terrorist enemy as a result. So the “Daddy Party” script is already a proven failure. It’s done. It has no foundation in the adult world of facts, only in infantile, fear-filled imaginations, which is why there’s been so much GOP focus on circulating discredited scare stories.

The only thing that doesn't scar them is all these heavily armed white guys roaming the country and randomly mowing down strangers. For some reason that's just no big deal.

read the whole thing.

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