Archive for the ‘Federal government of the United States’ tag
Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.
Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.
“Is it scary? It sure is,” said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, who heads an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. “But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?”
Great idea, team! I really hope they follow Digby’s advice and call this one McVeigh’s Law.
I would have loved to see Conservative’s response if the left pulled this shit during Bush’s reign. “No, no. Nothing weird is going on here. We’re just forming state militias designed to actively undermine a government we refuse to recognize as legitimate. Carry on.”
I’m guessing it would have taken lawmakers around 30 seconds to declare martial law and roll the tanks down Main Street.
It’s been a few weeks since I last documented the systemic violence and threats that have become the hallmarks of right-wing extremism, so I figured it was time for an update.
First up, we have the Hutaree Christian terrorist organization, a fiercely militant group (including children) who wore fatigues and carried high-powered assault rifles at all times — even during family weddings.
The militia’s leader, David Brian Stone, asked an undercover federal agent to provide explosives to be used against police officers. The plan was to then attack an officer’s funeral using homemade bombs in the hopes of killing even more law enforcement personnel. Hutaree is only one of many such “patriot” movements that desire to “take back their country”.
Then there’s Gregory Lee Giusti, the man arrested for making dozens of harassing phone calls to Nancy Pelosi. (He was reportedly angry over her role in passing healthcare reform). Gregory’s mom blames Fox.
The Obama White House has announced altered rules for identifying which passengers flying within the United State should face extra scrutiny at gates. Initially, civil liberties groups cautiously praised the administration’s decision to abandon using nationality alone as a basis for additional screening. However, it quickly became apparent that the changes could actually result in ethnic profiling, since travelers can now be stopped if they match a suspect’s general physical description (even if security officials don’t have a suspect’s name).
Setting aside the public relations fiascos caused by profiling, and allegations that the practice doesn’t even work, the really disturbing part of Obama’s security recalibration is that the error-laden and highly secretive “No Fly” and suspect screening lists will most likely expand.
“The entire federal government is leaning very far forward on putting people on lists,” Russell E. Travers, a deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said at a recent Senate hearing. Before the attempted attack on Christmas, Mr. Travers said, “I never had anybody tell me that the list was too small.”
Now, he added, “It’s getting bigger, and it will get even bigger.”
Right. That’s the problem with secret lists. If people can’t be told they’re on a watch list, they can’t challenge their automatic “guilty” verdicts. That’s how children and hysterectomy survivors end up on the watch lists. That’s why people, who are guilty of nothing except sharing a name picked up in some chatter from who knows where, are handcuffed — some might say terrorized — searched, and jailed. If they’re really lucky, they get out of jail without being tortured, wait a year, and then get a letter from the government saying, “Our bad”.
During the Bush years, the government made all kinds of disastrous endeavors into the world of privatization. The US military’s duties were privatized under the banner of Blackwater, which quickly descended into a hellish nightmare of massacres, child prostitution, fraud, and a global war against Islam.
But since these armed mercenaries work for a private company, there is no system of accountability in place to ensure operatives are prosecuted for their crimes. The US military has procedures in place to deal with rogue soldiers, but private armies do not have to adhere to any guidelines when their roid-filled lunatics shoot 17 unarmed civilians.
The US ultimately dropped the charges against Blackwater, inciting outrage in Iraq. In turn, Iraq ordered Blackwater out of the country, not that this in any way hurt the company’s business model. Blackwater is currently in the running for a $1 billion contract to train Afghanistan’s national police force.
When the name started to draw too much attention, Blackwater employees created a shell company called “Paravant.”
The same message is resonating from all corners of the Internet: Poor Haiti. That little, miserable island just can’t catch a break, can it? Yes, thousands are feared dead, and the pictures coming in from Haiti are heartbreaking, but no one can be blamed for an earthquake.
And sure, Haiti is the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere (more than half the population of 9 million lives on less than $.50 cents a day,) which explains the construction of those flimsy houses that collapsed like card houses during the quake (Haiti’s ambassador calls the country’s infrastructure “among the world’s worst.”)
But this is just rotten luck, or God’s work! Surely, this is one of those things we can write off as “unlucky,” or “Shit happens.”
KT McFarland asks, what will become of those impoverished, feeble
blacks Haitians when America can’t “ride to the rescue” anymore? I mean, really, when are these poor countries going to get their acts together?
In news story after news story, there are reports of Haiti’s “flimsy” shacks with no mention of why Haitians live in such extreme poverty. The impression one is left with is that these people are just inherently poor savages who don’t know how to construct decent homes for themselves (see these numerous examples of the “flimsy” line). The language almost implies Haitians deserved to be crushed during the quake. That’s what they get for living in such squalid conditions!
Back in the day, Candidate Obama told a touching story about his mother’s struggle to pay her medical bills while battling cancer. Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53, an event Obama said in part inspired him to tackle healthcare reform.
But what kind of coverage would Dunham receive today under the Senate bill as it stands right now?
In this experiment, Dunham is still 50-years-old (her age in 1992 when she received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii). She is the single mother of two grown children, so she no longer has dependents. In this model, she has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
She is employed as an anthropologist with USAID, the United States federal government organization responsible for most non-military foreign aid. In 1999, the federal government starting annual salaries for anthropologists were $37,744 for persons with a Ph.D., so for the sake of this experiment, I’m going to assume that she earns an annual salary of $37,744.
Updated April 4, 2010: It appears this story has a major update that broke over the Thanksgiving holidays that I managed to completely miss. Bill Sparkman’s death has been ruled a suicide. Sincere apologies all around to jumping the gun on this one. However, I’m afraid numerous other examples of vandalism, violence, and threats shows that the extreme right-wing fringe are far from a peaceful bunch.
The FBI is investigating the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker, 51-year-old Bill Sparkman, near a Kentucky cemetery. According to reports, the body of the part-time Census field worker had the word “fed” scrawled across the chest.
As details continue to emerge, investigators claim they are trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide, and if a killing, whether the motive was related to his government job or to anti-government sentiment. Lucindia Scurry-Johnson, assistant director of the Census Bureau’s southern office in Charlotte, N.C., said law enforcement officers have told the agency the matter is “an apparent homicide” but nothing else.
Setting aside the fact that this would be the mother of all bizarre suicides, Johnson seems oddly confident that this was not a political killing considering the word “Fed” — short for “Federal” — is a loaded label that usually indicates anti-government sentiment. “Federal” means “Big Government,” and the word has taken on a derogatory meaning in right-wing circles where fear and paranoia reign supreme. I agree with Johnson that this seems like an apparent homicide, but it’s not “nothing else.” By utilizing the branding “Fed,” the killers were clearly trying to make a political statement, namely “Obama: Stay Out.”
The word definitely packs an ideological punch, but not only is it anti-government, it’s anti-Obama. Let’s remember that most of the fringe now screaming about the dangers of Big Brother never made a peep during eight years of Bush’s ballooning executive branch. Suddenly, big government is a big problem, and the “Feds” are to blame.