How much "hate" lies behind Sb1070?

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Despite what supporters say about SB1070’s merits, it is impossible to ignore it’s blatant inclusion of measures that mandate local law enforcement to stop and question people whom they think are “reasonably suspicious” of being undocumented, thereby mandating racial profiling. When Arizona’s Governor Brewer was asked, “what does an undocumented person look like”, she couldn’t answer. When SB1070 co-sponsor Senator Huppenthal was asked, “what constitutes reasonable suspicion” he couldn’t answer. Some like Senator Bilbray believe that trained officers can identify undocumented people based on their clothes and shoes! For real proof, all we need to do is look towards federal immigration programs that give local police the power to enforce federal immigration law such as the 287(g) and Secure Communities to see the increase in racial profiling, with the majority of those caught guilty of either minor crimes or even U.S. citizens.

They say that the best way to understand something is to understand how it came to be. A deeper look at the people behind SB1070 throws a disturbing light on the how it came to be passed. For one, the man responsible for introducing the bill Senator Pearce has a long history with White Supremacist organizations, and is infamous for sending extreme white nationalist comments to his supporters in which he attacked the media for portraying -

A world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish ‘Holocaust’ tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders…

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow takes us one step further. The bill was created by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, one of the most active anti-immigration organizations in the country identified as a bonafide “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center after its founder John Tanton warned of a “Latin onslaught” and talked about Latinos’ “low educability”. A small taste of his views on immigration.

To govern is to populate….will the present majority peaceably hand over it’s political power to a group that is simply more fertile?…as whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?…I come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist, requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.

There’s also Kris Kobach, an attorney who works for IRLI and by association FAIR who is the main author of SB1070. While Kobach does not have overt ties with racist groups, his track record is also quite alarming. After serving as Attorney General John Ashcroft’s main immigration adviser, Kobach was responsible for drafting a number of laws that persecuted those who assisted undocumented immigrants. Following that he initiated a post 9/11 program, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, that called for the monitoring of men from Arab and Muslim countries, even those who were legal residents. This program was suspended on allegations of racial profiling. Since then Kobach has become somewhat of an expert on anti-immigrant policies and has become a close aid of Maricopa County’s Sheriff Arpaio, who has hired him to train police officers in procedures in arresting suspected undocumented immigrants.

Rachel Maddow sums it all up concisely.

But no one is taking this lying down.  The ACLU, MALDEF and NILC have officially filed a legal challenge to SB1070, even as several states have shown an interest in copycat bills. Large-scale protests have occurred in Arizona and across the country protesting the bill, along with grassroots educations programs that are educating the people of Arizona on how to understand and deal with the law, if it were to come into effect. City councils like San Francisco and Washington D.C. are in talks about boycotting the state of Arizona as a sign of protest against the unconstitutional law. Government officials and police officers have come out against the bill, like Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who has called the law “disgusting,”"unnecessary” and “stupid.” A police officer who has served for 52 years, Dupnik refuses to enforce the law which he says is “one of the worst pieces of legislation he has ever seen.” He goes on to make the point that since there is no effective way to enforce SB1070 that does not involve racial profiling, his department could be sued for racial profiling if they enforce the law, and sued if they don’t (SB1070 allows any one to sue local departments that they believe are not effectively enforcing the law). Calling it “racist” he says-

If I tell my people to go out and look for A, B, and C, they’re going to do it. They’ll find some flimsy excuse like a tail light that’s not working as a basis for a stop, which is a bunch of baloney.

More and more people need to understand the consequences of SB1070 as an affront to liberty, equality and justice to stall the work of hate groups an thwart the white nationalist agenda. Take action now!

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CNN: Bring Back Crossfire!


Mainstream news channel ratings come out, and normally there isn't a distressing situation afterwards.  This time, however, CNN faces a 40 percent drop in viewership since 2009.  Pretty large huh?  Say what you want about mainstream media news outlets, this isn't what this diary is about.

CNN has been in the bottom of the big 3 for awhile now.  Fox News Channel has been the leader for quite some time, and we are constantly reminded of this by Mr. Bill O'Reilly and other prominent noise-makers on that network.  MSNBC normally takes the second highest spot on the podium, however the difference in viewership between number 1 and number 2 is quite significant.  And then there is CNN.  Since the departure of Lou Dobbs, CNN has lacked any significant program along the lines of advocacy journalism

The lack of non-objectivity seems to be hurting CNN significantly.  Politico has noticed this (and this is where I pulled the stats for this btw) and has outlined a few tactics for Ted Turner's cable news creation to increase viewship.  One of these that I took notice to was advising CNN to bring back crossfire.

James Carville, Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Buchanan, and of course Tucker Carlson and his ridiculous bow ties. If anyone remembers Crossfire, chances are it's because of a Mr. John Stewart.  The youtube sensation of John Stewart ripping apart Tucker Carlson on air marked seemingly the end of Crossfire

Stewart had a point.  His claim of partisan-hackery was certainly an issue, but I personally found Crossfire to be entertaining nonetheless.  I think its important to have open debates live on air between pundits, but talking points consuming the show over real issues unfortunately plagued the show in its past.

In my opinion, there is no show (with the exception of Meet the Press and other sunday news shows) that really allows for open debate with a slew of different individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, at least in the 3 big mainstream outlets.  Keith Olbermann seems to never bring anyone on his show for a serious and intellectual debate, Rachel Maddow does but not very often.  Chris Matthews and Harball normally has a decent track record of open debate, but still lacks a lot of consistency in my opinion and viewership from more right-wing sources are less likely to watch MSNBC... because its MSNBC.

Fox, on the other hand, as well all know is obviously truly fair and balanced.  Its hard to properly emphasize sarcasm via typed words so bear with me.

Glenn Beck's biggest stride in bringing on bi-partisan debate was having the esteemed guest Eric Massa on to talk about snorkeling and fondling men.  Of course, this actually was a big stride for Beck.. sadly enough.  Bill O'Reilly can sometimes have a decent guest in which to "debate" but that normally involves O'Reilly yelling louder to prove a point, to the degree of nearly soiling himself.  And of course, there is Sean Hannity and his "Great American Panel."  You can guess who is on this "Great American Panel."  Normally the token Reagan worshipers to the equivalence of Liz Cheney's and Bill Kristol's. 

I love watching open and fair debate.  Not constructed partisan ploys done by the other "debate" shows.

If CNN could craft Crossfire to actually contain a Fair and Balanced debate show, yes thats making a mockery of fox news, then they could potentially increase viewership significantly.

At least, I know I would be watching it nightly. 

Religious Extremism And Misconceptions: How Current Christian Controversy Has Marred the Faith's Beauty


Full Disclosure:  I view myself as a proud and devout Christian and identify with the Episcopal denomination.  

Recently, a lot of controversy has been associated with several different "sects" of Christianity.  Most who are reading this have probably already heard the news regarding a "Christian Militia" based in places like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana etc.  These self-proclaimed "anti-Christ fearing militants" were all eventually arrested after information over a plot to kill a police officer emerged.  They call themselves The Hutaree, which accoring to Rachel Maddow is a made up term that they thought sounded good.

Beginning Saturday evening, the FBI staged multiple raids across Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio to arrest nine members of an apocalyptic Christian militia who were allegedly conspiring to murder police officers, carry out terrorist atrocities, and initiate a war against United States. The initial raids captured eight of the suspects. The ninth was captured on Monday. Fortunately, every member was detained without bloodshed – no Ruby Ridge, no Waco, no pretext for revenge along the lines of Oklahoma City.

Source:  The Guardian (UK)

This is unfortunately only one of the many Christian extremist groups making headlines today.  

Another group, which no doubt more people are familiar with as opposed to The Hutaree, is called the Westboro Baptist Church.  (This church doesn't have any formal ties with the actual Baptist denomination that most can associate with and therefore considers itself an independent Baptist church)  

The reason I bring this up is because they have personally hit home with me.  Their picket schedule coming up has them landing their homophobic butts in my home state of West Virginia.  They apparently are prepared to picket the University of Charleston and The Capitol building, both located in the state's capital of Charleston, WV.  

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pickets from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., plan to visit Charleston early next month.

Source:  The Charleston Gazette

These people are the scumbags who protest the funerals of fallen soldiers that come home from war, and who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this wonderful country we live in.  They are the ones who carry the "god hates fags" signs, and even has a website with the same name.  

Fortunately, in wake of such planned pickets, many people on facebook are organizing peaceful protests for these so called Christian extremists.  I personally cannot bring myself to even associate such blatent hatred with Christianity, but that is what they call themselves and therefore what they are referred to as by others.  

Both of these situations, along with the current mess in the Catholic church, I'm afraid have hurt the public view of Christianity.  The crux of this diary isn't meant to preach religion towards anyone, so please don't take it as such.  This is merely to show that it is unfortunate how bad the religion has been portrayed in the media.  

The same, however, can be said for the Muslim faith as well.  We as Americans should embrace religious diversity, not discourage it.  Unfortunately, due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the constant misconstruing of the Muslim faith by several different outlets, much fear and skepticism is associated with the faith.

I hope that in time, better perceptions of both faiths will be displayed for everyone to see, and not these negative and embarrassing ones.

A.W.O.L on Comcast/NBC Merger: Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz, Matthews


--I heard the news today, oh boy, About a lucky man who made the grade...He blew his mind out in a car, He didn't notice that the lights had changed..-- (Sgt Pepper, The Beatles, 1967)

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 triggered a wave of media ownership consolidation.

You will, of course, remember the vigorous debate on that bill, recounted night-after-night on the major news programs, regaled even more on the "pundit" shows of the time, and consuming nearly all the air-time on the Sunday blabberfests? And , recall getting tired of 60 Minutes running this story week after week after week?

You don't remember?....well, not to worry, you are not suffering memory loss or suppressing a painful experience.

You do not remember it because the major networks and cable operators who stood to gain financially from this bad policy said virtually nothing about it. Their "independent" newsrooms reported next to nothing about it. There were no "round-tables" discussing its merits. I believe I recall ABC's Ted Koppel, who hosted Nightline that prided itself on covering stories in depth and without apology for ruffling feathers, being asked whether he supported the bill, and giving a rather lame "yes, it is valuable to my network" answer. If you knew about it at all, it was because you watched C-SPAN at some ungodly hour. [And, to be completely fair, Olbermann-Maddow-Schultz-Matthews were not on the air in 1996).

When it came to Citizens United--the recent decision by the Supreme Court that found the original intent of the Founders was to grant Constitutional personhood to corporations, creatures of the State--Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews were intensely concerned about its implications. They covered the case, the aftermath, and periodically follow-up with reports of Congressional efforts to blunt its effects or overturn it by Constitutional Amendment.

Enter, Comcast/NBC Universal. Comcast is the nation's largest cable operator, and NBC Universal one of the major content creators. Comcast wants to purchase NBC Universal from General Electric. MSNBC and CNBC are part of NBC Universal and would become owned by Comcast.

Where is the coverage Rachel? Ed? Olbermann? Matthews? Where is the outrage over increased media concentration and corporate control? Where is the exposé of Comcast's past egregious actions? (For a chronicle of those, see, e.g., Josh Silver's article,"Senator Franken Rips Into Comcast CEO Brian Roberts", February 5, 2010).

Just to provide a taste--Comcast opposes Net Neutrality, and has already tried to violate it on its own. It lavishes money on Members of Congress, and packs FCC hearing rooms with paid "supporters". Brian Roberts lied to Senator Franken right in his office about the FCC protecting consumers against price increases while his lawyers argued it was unconstitutional.

So where are Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews? How can they, as they all rightly have, extol the virtues of a Wendell Potter (former insurance executive who outed his industry during the healthcare reform debate), and yet sit idly without investigating and reporting the dire implications of Comcast owning NBC Universal?

The deafening silence from this quartet is all the testimony needed to show why this merger is...very bad news, indeed. . 

Terrorist Prosecutions By the Numbers

 Last night on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow did a terrific segment about how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is now providing valuable information to the FBI, despite receiving those dreaded Miranda warnings that ‘tough-on-terror’ critics are complaining about. In the segment, Maddow citedthe Justice Department saying that more than 300 terrorists were convicted in the civilian U.S. court system by the Bush administration.

As many people know, Human Rights First published a thorough and widely-cited report in 2008 on those successful terrorist convictions. Yet our updated report, issued last year, cited only 195 terrorists convicted. So what accounts for the different numbers?

In fact, both are true – as is an NYU Center on Law and Security report that recently found that more than 500 suspected terrorists have been convicted in the civilian justice system since September 11, 2001. It all just depends on what you’re counting.

Human Rights First took the most conservative approach. Relying on two respected former federal prosecutors in New York with experience trying terrorism cases, we wanted to see how many cases the courts have handled specifically related to radical self-described Islamic or “Jihadist” terrorism, such as al Qaeda, since that’s where the public debate has focused. So the former prosecutors – James Benjamin, now a partner at the highly-respected law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and the other, Richard Zabel, now head of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York – analyzed just that.

But there are other violent terrorist groups out there, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC) and the Tamil Tigers. Prosecutions of their leaders and supporters raise similar concerns about the need to obtain important intelligence information and to protect classified evidence and the identity of certain witnesses. According to a Justice Department spokesman, the Department’s statement that more than 300 terrorists were convicted in U.S. courts during the Bush administration therefore includes those prosecutions, since they also represent the Justice Department’s experience and expertise in handling these complex and sensitive cases.

The NYU numbers, meanwhile, are even broader. In its recently-released report, the Center for Law and Security looked at all cases since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that the Justice Department initially described as terrorist-related. Many of those suspects were not charged under terrorism-related statutes, however, but charged with fraud or immigration violations instead. That was part of an initial post-9/11 strategy to get potential terrorists off the streets before they could attack, even if the government did not have sufficient evidence of terrorist connections to secure a conviction. Increasingly, the government has moved away from that strategy and charged suspected terrorists with terrorism-related crimes.

So the numbers just depend on what you’re counting. But the main point – regardless of how many hundreds of convictions we’re talking about – is that the Department of Justice has proven itself time and again to be well-equipped to interrogate terrorist suspects, investigate terrorism plots and prosecute complex terrorism cases. Military commissions, by contrast, have not: they’ve only convicted three terrorists so far, two of whom have already been released from prison.

The recent hysteria about how we shouldn’t be giving constitutional rights to non-U.S. citizens is a red herring. (It’s also worth noting, as Glenn Greenwald explained in an excellent post on Salon on Monday, that the Constitution requires according foreigners detained in the U.S. Constitutional rights – as the Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1886 and recently reaffirmed in its decision inBoumedienne v. Bush.)

Not only does the U.S. Constitution confer those rights, but based on the experience of our own time-tested federal justice system, sound national security policy demands it.



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