Oh!pinion Rotating Header Image

extremist groups

Mean-mouthed ‘activist’ gives fresh evidence
tea party is rife with hate-driven extemists

“We have to get Claire McCaskill out. We have to kill the Claire Bear, ladies and gentlemen. She walks around like she’s some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something, but really she’s an evil monster.”

—Scott Boston, tea party activist, at a St. Louis rally,
speaking in favor of a Republican challenger
of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., May 3, 2012


Scott Boston

Tea party activist Scott Boston, who seems to think 'kill' and 'evil monster' are acceptable terms to use in expressing political views.

To any well-brought-up, emotionally balanced, even minimally informed person, former prosecutor and state auditor Claire McCaskill has shown herself to be a moderate, borderline conservadem during her first term as a U.S. senator. But to a hateful tea party yahoo carried away with the sound of his own voice at a political rally, McCaskill is an “evil monster” who must be killed.

Is Boston another Jared Loughner in the making — a homicidal maniac working his way up to a murderous rage?

Perhaps not. After his hate speech drew media coverage and the attention of authorities, Boston claimed he was just speaking metaphorically. A newspaper story quotes him as saying, “In no way do I think the senator should be at all harmed.”

Yeah, right; “evil monster” and “kill” are just words. What harm could possibly come to a thoroughly decent woman and legislator because of a little hateful demonization? After all, isn’t that how we do politics in America: dehumanize politicians with whom we disagree; characterize political opponents as dangerous animals and call for them to be exterminated?

Maybe Boston doesn’t have a loaded gun and voices in his head urging him to use it on McCaskill. So, why should he bother himself about the possibility there might be a Lee Harvey Oswald, a Sirhan Sirhan, John Hinckley, Jr., a Sara Jane Moore, Timothy McVeigh or Jared Loughner out there whose madness could be unleashed by a stiff dose of hate speech?

Republicans have spent nearly 40 years routinely demonizing political opponents, treating them in word and deed as the enemy. Sarah Steelman, the GOP candidate Boston spoke in support of, fits the mold.


On Tuesday, Steelman came to Boston’s defense, blaming the “liberal media” that, she says, employs a double-standard when it comes to covering political rhetoric that contain a hint of violence.

“I may disagree with the words Mr. Boston chose in his statement,” Steelman said in her own statement, “but I understand his frustration and I emphatically support his right to express his views.”


We suppose Oswald, Sirhan et al, also had frustration issues. Try explaining that to the friends and loved ones of those injured or killed.

Just as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle go together to create an image, episodes of hate speech accumulate to create a climate in our political environment.

Looking back over a half century stained with the blood of public officials and bedewed with the tears of those who grieved their loss, we see no excuse, no First Amendment right that in the slightest way excuses Boston and others who mistake hate speech for the making of valid political points.

Great American leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower knew more than they ever wanted to about killing. They won the highest office in the land talking about doing good, decent things. They criticized political opponents on the issues, but never demonized them as dangerous animals. Not one of them ever used the word “kill” in referring to an opponent in a campaign speech.

That’s something hotheads with an ugly mouth, like Boston, should learn. Washington, Lincoln and the others won the presidency. Boston has won the attention of Capitol Police and probably the FBI, and rightly so.


Ron Paul: You better be scared — very scared!

“I‘m afraid of violence coming. When you see what the government is preparing for, and the arrests and military law, and the demonstrations in the streets, some people aren’t going to be convinced so easily that you don’t owe them a living.”

—Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Republican presidential candidate,
to a crowd in Bettendorf, Iowa, as quoted in a Reuters story,
Dec. 26, 2011.


Ron Paul

Gold winger: Perennial presidential wannabe Ron Paul has a Midas touch that causes know-nothings and crackpots to fill his campaign coffers.

Through the looking glass, upside down and backward: All those people who turned out for peaceful Occupy demonstrations are a real menace, all right. The nerve of them, after bringing down our economy with their greed, recklessness and, worst of all, laziness.

At least that’s what this libertarian Texas crackpot would have you believe. Yet again, Paul is taking a break from filling out the GOP ranks in Congress, and earlier, publishing racist rants and conspiracy-theory screeds in a newsletter he claims he knows almost nothing about, to hit the campaign trail.

With money to spare, Paul works the crowds, spreading fear, loathing and patent nonsense to gullible know-nothings and loudmouthed know-it-alls alike.

If Republicans’ quadrennial no-talent contest didn’t have a Ron Paul in it, The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live would have to invent one.

In case you wonder how and why our country is in such a mess, contemplate who’s supplying Paul with the money for his many presidential campaigns, and showing up to hear him and cheer him.

Americans have nothing to fear from the 99-percent crowd, but plenty to be concerned about regarding Ron Paul’s willing dupes.

He’s not going to win the presidency next year, but his fruit-loop flock will be with us indefinitely.

Return to the gold standard, anyone?


Professors underscore why tea party has
— and deserves — its terrible reputation

tea party racismTwo academics who studied tea partyers, and tea party types going back to 2006, create a disturbing but not surprising portrait of them in a New York Times op ed, Crashing the Tea Party, that’s a must read.

David E. Campbell, a political science associate professor at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, professor of public policy at Harvard, note that a sharp shift in public sentiment away from the tea party poses a risk to Republicans — a well-deserved risk, in our opinion.

But going by what Campbell and Putnam learned about tea partyers, that’s a case of Republicans potentially dragging Republcans down.

Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s ‘origin story.’ Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.

That confirms our long-held belief most tea party types are hard-right Republicans who realized at the end of George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency that it wasn’t a good time to be a Republican — especially one who wanted to run for Congress. So, they conveniently and deceptively donned tea party camouflage.

Another belief the professors confirm concerns what tea partyers are like inside, and it’s not a pretty picture.

They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

. . . Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek ‘deeply religious’ elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

We’ve long wondered in what part of Christ’s life today’s self-proclaimed Christian conservatives find teachings, examples of, and justification for, their often blatant racism and their desire to mix religion with government and politics. Even more mystifying is how they reconcile being Christian with giving to the rich by taking from the rest.

The good news from the study is that it’s “precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose.”

That’s not just good news for government and politics, by the way. History makes clear that when religion and government get together, the resulting corruption is mutual, and the people always suffer as a result.

Don’t worry, nothing bad will happen

History is replete with recurring themes, one of which is made clear in the following vignettes, all but one fictionalized but based on facts.

Czar Nicholas II

Nicholas II

Jan. 23, 1905, Czar Nicholas II of Russia writes in his diary: “There is much turmoil. Yesterday, a priest and large number of commoners came to the Winter Palace here in St. Petersburg. They wanted to present me with a petition asking for reforms. The war is going badly. The economy is struggling. I ordered the palace guard to disperse them, with orders to shoot any who resisted. I rule by divine right, not mob request, and I have the army, police and church on my side. Nothing will go wrong.”

In August, 1929, a Wall Street brokerage executive writes to his brother: “Business continues to boom and we’re making more money than ever. Everyone has the stock-buying bug these days. We have dime store clerks coming in on their lunch hour to buy stocks in companies they know nothing about; barbers come in before opening their shop, too. Many of them are borrowing money to buy more and more. The more they buy, the higher the market goes. And the higher it goes, the more people want to buy. The sky’s the limit, and our firm makes money when they borrow, buy or sell. The worries you expressed in your last letter are misplaced. Nothing bad is going to happen.”



On Nov. 5, 1940, Japanese Emperor Hirhohito writes in his diary: “Plans for a crippling attack on the American fleet are complete. I have reviewed them, and at the Imperial Conference yesterday approved carrying them out if diplomatic talks with the Americans bear no fruit. The Imperial Navy is the strongest in the world. Our army and air forces have been victorious whenever tested. Shinto resolve is invincible and God has chosen Japan to rule the East. If war comes, our victory is assured.”

Richard Nixon


Writing notes for his memoirs in early June 1972, President Richard Nixon says: “Hunt and Liddy have some guys lined up to get into DNC headquarters at the Watergate. They’re to be paid out of Committee to Re-elect the President funds. Between the information they bring back and the phone tap they’re going to set up, we should have an easier time in November. A couple of insiders told me this is too risky, but they’re just chicken. It’s a simple black-bag job. What could go wrong?”



Wednesday, July 13, 2011, at a press conference, Republican congresswoman and self-appointed Tea Party Caucus chairwoman Michelle Bachmann declares: “This is a misnomer that I believe that the president and the Treasury secretary have been trying to pass off on the American people, and it’s this: that if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, that somehow the United States will go into default and we will lose the full faith and credit of the United States. That is simply not true. . . .I’m ‘no’ on raising the debt ceiling”

U.S. force finds, finishes off Osama bin Laden

OBL skullExcellent news tonight that Osama bin Laden finally got what was coming to him, and the decent people of this world have one less evil fiend to contend with.

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan on Sunday, President Obama announced.

In a dramatic late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that American military and C.I.A. operatives had finally cornered bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda who had eluded them for nearly a decade, and shot him to death at a compound in Pakistan.

Not a national, political, military or spiritual leader, bin Laden spent the last decade living, and ultimately dying, like the criminal fugitive he was.

Bin Laden’s demise will surely be demoralizing for his Muslim-extremist, anti-Western followers. However, it probably won’t ensure the end of al Qaeda; there’s plenty more where he came from. And, this development could trigger reprisals — a possibility Obama took care to mention in his announcement.

It’s meaningful that what finally got this millionaire sociopath wasn’t a large-scale military invasion. Rather, it was a surgical strike that combined accurate intelligence and careful police-type surveillance leading to a commando-style assault by two-dozen Navy Seals. We’ve long believed Western efforts against terrorism are most efficient and effective when pursued as intelligence and law enforcement operations, with the military only being called in when and where specifically needed because of a rare large-force confrontation.

All Americans, indeed decent people the world over, owe a debt of gratitude to the brave U.S. personnel who tracked Bin Laden down and put an end to him. More details of the operation will probably emerge in the coming days and weeks, and it should make for a remarkable story.

For a lengthy but well done recap of Bin Laden’s life and crimes, see the New York Times’ obituary.

Narrow focus of Rep. King’s hearings
raises specter of politics, witch hunt

Rep. Peter King

Rep. Peter King

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., led the Homeland Security Committee he’s chairman of into hearings on “radicalization in the American Islamic community” this week, as if that was the sum total or most prevalent of potentially violent extremism endangering the country.

Current events intervened this same week, serendipitously making clear that’s not the case – and intensifying suspicions King’s hearings are politically motivated witch hunts in the low-road tradition of a fellow Republican, Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

First, on Wednesday in rural northeast Washington state, the FBI arrested a suspect in the Martin Luther King Day bomb-planting incident in Spokane. Far from being a radicalized Muslim, 36-year-old Kevin William Harpham, an Army veteran, in younger years seems to have been just an average young American.

A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity and declining to provide additional details because the case is ongoing, said Harpham was a white supremacist.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the nation, also said they have a record of him being a member of the white supremacist National Alliance in 2004. But the neo-Nazi group has fallen on hard times since the death of its founder William Pierce in 2002, Potok said.

“We don’t know when he joined or if he remains a member,” said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based SPLC.

Pierce was author of “The Turner Diaries,” a novel about a future race war that was influential in the white supremacist movement.

“The bombing attempt in Spokane demonstrates that the threat of domestic terrorism from elements of the radical right is very real. And the threat may be growing,” said J. Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC, in a press release.

Indeed, the threat presented by elements of the lunatic-fringe right is clear and present, as it has been since Timothy McVeigh, another radicalized Army veteran, blew up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, killing 168 innocent people, many of them children.

Then today, this news emerged from Alaska via Reuters.


Bigotry, idiocy stress-test our freedoms

poison bottleWith anti-Muslim bigotry getting wildly out of hand across America, several mainstream religious leaders are speaking up to condemn what they deem a “frenzy” that ultimately endangers the religious freedom of all.

The clerics’ statement comes on a day when news emerged about the plans of a Gainesville, Fla., pastor – whose flock numbers 30 – to burn Korans Saturday, to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took nearly 3,000 American lives.

Gen. David Petraeus, coalition forces commander in Afghanistan and Iraq, warned that such an affront will endanger the troops’ safety and set back their efforts to form strong working relationships with Muslims in countering terrorists.

Religious leaders, including Washington Roman Catholic Archbishop emeritus Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Dr. Michael Kinnamon of the National Council of Churches, released a statement saying they were “alarmed by the anti-Muslim frenzy” and “appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text.”

“To attack any religion in the United States is to do violence to the religious freedom of all Americans,” said the religious leaders, including Rabbi David Saperstein, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Association of Conservative Rabbis.

“The threatened burning of copies of the Holy Qu’ran this Saturday is a particularly egregious offense that demands the strongest possible condemnation by all who value civility in public life and seek to honor the sacred memory of those who lost their lives on September 11,” they said.

Pastor Terry Jones, the crackpot cleric who intends to burn Islamic holy books, was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN this evening. We listened to what the man had to say. We were left wondering if he actually completed high school and what mail-order diploma mill his divinity credentials came from.

Jones is a good example of the kind of overbearing, egotistical little men who throughout history have exploited religion to gain money and power, and advance their own ambitions and too-often evil notions.

Our constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of expression come at a cost. With his idiotic Koran-burning plan, Pastor Jones reminds the decent and sensible majority of Americans how high and painful that price can be at times.

P.S.: There’s no denying that in the current atmosphere Jones’ book-burning plan is newsworthy. Even so, given the growing number of ugly incidents of acting out against Muslims, or those thought to be Muslims, and the situation of our troops in the Mideast, it’s fair to question the wisdom of publicizing Jones’ idiocy.

To be clear, we don’t question the right of news media to do this, any more than we question Jones’ right to burn Korans.

What we do question is news judgment that affords this crackpot with a tiny following the kind of coverage we might expect for some well-known cleric whose flock numbers in the hundreds or thousands.

Maybe shining the light of day on him and his ugly nonsense will send Pastor Jones where he belongs – under a rock somewhere. It’s entirely possible, however, that the publicity will be perceived in some quarters not as cleansing daylight but as the limelight. That could inspire Jones and others to try to top the Koran burning with some even more idiotic outrage.

Alas, press freedom comes at a price too.

Rep. Wamp: Sedition is OK; health care reform's not OK

eightballRep. Zach Wamp, a patriotic Tennessee conservative Republican competing in a three-way primary race for governor, is talking secession and threatening to not implement federal health care reform.

I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government.

. . . He lauded Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who first floated the idea of secession in April ’09, for leading the push-back against health care reform, adding that he hopes the American people “will send people to Washington that will, in 2010 and 2012, strictly adhere” to the constitution’s defined role for the federal government.

“Patriots like Rick Perry have talked about these issues because the federal government is putting us in an untenable position at the state level,” said Wamp . . .”

Bet you didn’t know real patriots are OK with sedition. And, real conservative Republicans don’t put up with being outvoted in elections and on bills in Congress the way pantywaist progressives do. Real conservative Republicans have options.

Yes sir, the great state of Tennessee can’t stand by while big government steps up to see to it a whole lot of moderate- and low-income people actually get access to affordable health care! The Constitution clearly states . . . uh, well, it doesn’t specifically say the riff-raff get medical care.

After all, what in hell has affordable, accessible health care got to do with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Wamp, who serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, is funded primarily by food, engineering, construction, real estate, contract corrections and the corporation that operates the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Those interests and their PACs have funded Wamp’s congressional career with upwards of $8 million.


Idle hands too often end up holding guns

uziFederal authorities arrested eight of nine members of a Michigan anti-government extremist group, the Hutaree Militia, over the weekend, bringing the ninth in today, to face indictments on sedition and weapons charges.

The group is suspected of planning to kill a police officer and then use IED’s to kill people in the deceased’s funeral caravan — all in hopes of triggering an uprising against the federal government.

The Hutaree — a word Mr. (David B. Stone Sr.) apparently made up to mean Christian warriors — saw the local police as “foot soldiers” for the federal government, which the group viewed as its enemy, along with other participants in what the group’s members deemed to be a “New World Order” working on behalf of the Antichrist, the indictment said.

. . .The group’s Web site suggested that it was motivated by apocalyptic religious scenarios more than any secular political fears. A rare mention of earthly politics on the site is a page devoted to discussion of efforts to unite Europe, with a suggestion that one high-ranking European official, Javier Solana, might be the Antichrist.

. . .The indictment said the Hutaree, in anticipation of a war against its enemies, had been engaging in “military-style training,” from weapons proficiency drills to “close quarter battle drills” and the use of “ambush kill zones.” The small group had acquired guns, ammunition, medical supplies, uniforms, communications equipment and “explosives and other components for destructive devices,” it said.

Why do people get involved in such evil idiocy?

Mom had a saying for it: “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.”

The Hutaree members and others involved in a growing plague of arms-wielding extremist groups are signs of acute illness in our economy and society.

For the past 30 years, our economy has marginalized increasing numbers of people, especially men, who are the exact opposite of so-called yuppies (young urban professionals). The marginalized are people who in earlier times would’ve found careers in manufacturing or in mills, mines, on farms and ranches, and other places where physical strength, stamina and willingness to work earned job security and a family-supporting income.

The marginalization of large numbers of working-class and middle-class people is a direct result of 30-plus years of deindustrialization, mechanization, automation, vertical growth and integration of businesses. Perhaps most of all, it’s the predictable, inevitable byproduct of lopsided free trade that has sent millions of American jobs overseas at the same time American markets were taken over by foreign-made products of all kinds.

Young, healthy men, especially, react badly to being marginalized. Some turn to crime, individually or in gangs. Others turn to drink and drugs. A few join militias or other extremist-type groups.