Monday, 11 November 2013

Democracy in Texas


As we know, last Saturday a group of dun safety advocates tried to hold a meeting; this is a group that was formed after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. A bunch of armed gun nuts showed up at the site and pulled out their guns, with the deliberate aim of intimidating the gun safety people. This is a planned pattern of activity: when the same gun safety group showed up to meet elsewhere in the country, the same thing happened: goons with guns showed up to terrorize the locals.

So how does stuff like this start?

The word we’re looking at today is "fatwa".

That's one of those funny Islamic things, in which an imam or ayatollah says "it is permissible and desireable, under Islamic law, for good Muslims to go attack Americans, Israelis, and Jews anywhere." And then the cuckoobirds go and do just that. The Ayatollah Khomeini put a fatwa on Salman Rushdie, and Usama bin Laden put one on all Americans.

Issuing a fatwa, if it goes beyond a certain point, is a crime. Let’s look back at Umar ‘Abdul-Rahman, the blind Islamic shaikh from New York. He often spoke out against America, and issued a fatwa saying it was allowable to attack Jews and rob banks, called for jihad, and called on Muslims to attack the West, to include transportation targets, economic targets, companies, ships, planes, people. He hung out with the 1993 WTC bombers. When he issued a fatwa calling for attacks on targets in New York and New Jersey, he was thrown in prison.

The conservative movement has put out their fatwas, saying it’s okay, even patriotic, to attack liberals. In other words, the only remaining difference between the American conservative movement and a terrorist group is…turbans and beards.

Michael Steele wants to put Pelosi on the “firing line”
A key conservative website shows Pelosi perishing in flames.
The NRCC addresses the terrorist attack on the wife and kids of Perriellos’ brother by saying, effectively, that it’s all Congressman Perriello’s fault for voting for health care. The attacks are okay!
Fox argues on their morning show that the liberals should expect the violence and threats because they had the nerve to pass health reform.
Boehner implies that the violence was the liberals’ fault for daring to pass the health bill, and says a liberal colleague is a “dead man”.
McCain thinks it's okay to scream "RELOAD!"
Palin wants to put liberals in the cross-hairs and talks of firing salvos and “reload!” Then she throws gasoline on the fire by urging people to “stop” cars with Obama stickers, right after one wingnut “stopped” such a car by ramming it in a fit of road rage, even though there was a little girl in the car.
Several conservative politicians joke about killing liberals.
A conservative Congressman is calling Obama an enemy of humanity.
Beck calls for “revolution”.
Lou Dobbs blames the arrival of anti-Obama goon squads on…Obama.
Eric Cantor claimed that the liberals were really the ones who are at fault for fanning the flames of violence – because they passed a law the conservatives don’t like.

The conservative imams have been issuing fatwas against liberals.

The fatwa against Obama has worked like gangbusters, spurring attacks, threats, and more fatwas:

Skyrocketing Obama threats.
Sending armed thugs to Obama events.
Steven Anderson, pastor, tells his flock to pray for Obama to die and go to hell – another fatwa; parishioner shows up at Obama event the next day, with a gun.
Another fatwa: John Gimbel calls for Michelle Obama and the daughters to be killed right in front of Obama.
The wingnuts have a new slogan: pray for Obama, Psalm 109, “let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”
The wingnuts have set up an online “overthrow Obama” game.
Another wingnut runs an internet poll on whether Obama should be murdered.
A rightwing website runs a piece calling on the military to overthrow Obama.
A gubernatorial candidate jokes about buying a license to hunt Obama.

In praise of the Secret Service -- remember that this is a country that had three presidents murdered within 36 years. And none of the three, not even Lincoln, was subjected to the hate and vitriol aimed at Obama. Time for a pay bump for the Secret Service. Better yet, pay them in accordance with how many threats the President gets – Obama is getting five times as many as Bush did. Because if Obama does down, at least one of them probably goes down too.

To me, the really scary fatwa is the effort to terrorize members of Congress, so that they either change their policies, or can’t do their jobs at all – threatening not just a politician but democracy itself:

A guy arrested for another death threat against Pelosi.
Another guy arrested for death threat against Patty Murray for voting in favor of health reform.
Wingnut congressional candidate tells audience to make a liberal congressman afraid to come out of his house. Get over there and scare the hell out of them!
They tried to blow up four children who are relatives of one Congressman.
Threats to assassinate the children of Congress members.
The teabaggers have promised to go “protest” at the home of a liberal Congressman and his wife and children – his kids can’t walk down the street anymore.
Painting swastikas on the doors of black Congressmen.
Screaming slurs at Congressmen on Capitol Hill, to intimidate them.
Michelle Bachmann directs her storm-trooper mob to run amok in the halls of Congress, to “scare” Pelosi and Congress members into stopping the health reform bill.
The Colorado liberal headquarters is trashed, thousands of dollars in damage.
Windows smashed at a liberal headquarters in Alaska.
An organized effort to smash windows with bricks.
Committing other acts of vandalism.
Wingnuts planning two armed riots in DC before and during the anniversary of the wingnut attack that killed more than one hundred people in Oklahoma.
Norman Leboon, threatens to kill both conservative and liberal politicians.

The fatwa to stop all government activity:

The Hutaree, arrested for plotting to kill police and resist the U.S. government.
Joe Stack, flies plane into IRS building, hated the U.S. government.
Richard Poplawski, kills three police after saying he fears Obama would take his guns and fulfil Glenn Beck’s warning about putting people in concentration camps.
John Bedell, shoots two police, hated the U.S. government.
Joshua Cartwright, kills two police, hated Obama and the U.S. government.
Greg Girard, arrested for stockpiling guns and bombs, fears martial law, loves Palin.
The second wingnut shooting in Pennsylvania.
An anti-government group joins in, calling for the “removal” of 30 governors if they don’t leave office voluntarily; the FBI and police prepare for ensuing violence against officials. More fatwas!
A wingnut spokesman is telling folks to get more guns and take back America so as to prevent Nazism.
Teabag wingnuts promised a “Second Amendment march” on Washington. On the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing.

Oh, and the guy who helped inspire a lot of anti-liberal violence, militia-man Mike Vanderboegh, hates Obama, hates liberals, hates big government? He lives off of your tax dollars. Social Security Disability benefits. Turn your Irony Iron up to the “wool” setting. This guy is now promising “a thousand little Waco’s”.

The fatwa covers blacks: Daniel Cowart pleads guilty for planning a killing spree aimed against blacks. James von Brunn, kills a black guard at the Holocaust museum; a neo-Nazi who loved Palin and birthers.

The fatwa covers abortion: Roeder assassinating the abortion doctor. Another loon arrested for threatening violence at an abortion clinic. A Fox contributor puts addresses of abortion doctors online.

And my favorite fatwa: eleven-year-old girl asks Obama a question at a town hall; wingnuts put their family details online so other wingnuts can hunt them down.  Rather than back down and consider what they were doing, the rightwing folks characteristically doubled down their bets. "Another Liberal @#S% want to be, maybe she needs to be gangbanged at her local ghetto, I bet that will make her parents proud, especially if she gets pregnant with a mulatto baby….Amy Myers is a Jew vermin from NJ who hates America and loves Obama …This disrespectful little twit needs a good spanking. She lacks intelligence, wit, respect and common sense. On second thought she needs a good beating." Then attacks intensified against the father, and then his employer. Then they denied the threats against the girl had been made. Then they said it was okay to publish the employer’s name, ridiculing those who complained.

Vigilante groups and militias proliferate across the country, recruiting soldiers and policemen to resist the allegedly illegal Obama “regime”, stockpiling guns, launching attacks, making “citizen’s arrests”, shooting policemen, attacking government buildings, harassing gay bars, seeking to provoke violence in the hope of creating martyrs to the cause.

This is a gigantic wave of terrorist attacks openly encouraged by the leaders of a political party, with the specific aim of preventing liberals from actually governing. A fatwa against America and against American democracy….by a major political party.

If we use the Blind Shaikh rule, the conservative leaders who egged these people on should all be in jail, right?

The nastiness can also target conservatives who aren’t sufficiently hard-core for the hard-core. An extraordinary example involves the Senate parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, a mild-mannered lawyer who referees disputes on Senate rules. Frumin was appointed to the parliamentarian’s job by arch-conservative Trent Lott. Lott fired the previous parliamentarian because that guy, irritatingly, interpreted the rules impartially, which inconvenienced the conservative as they – what’s the phrase? – rammed their bills through the Senate. Lott wanted a guy with a conservative bias, and screw the rules! So this guy Frumin was appointed in the hope that he would do the conservatives’ dirty work for them, by giving the conservatives all the close calls in procedural disputes.

During the health care debate a couple of years ago, the liberals were hoping that Frumin would simply rubber-stamp the health care bill and let it sail through the Senate without any changes , but instead, Frumin did what the conservatives hoped he would: he stopped the bill, pointed out language in the bill that violated Senate rule, just as Lott would have hoped. But because Frumin didn’t slow down the health bill enough, the hard-core conservatives are screaming for his blood. Word leaked out that the teabagger nuts planned to go to his house to “protest” and to do God only knows what else – perhaps try to blow up the house like they tried to do with that Congressman’s brother. Senate officials and the police had to leap into action to protect this innocent conservative-appointed bureaucrat from domestic terrorists. Because he isn’t goggle-eyed-crazy enough to suit the wingnuts, his life was in danger. This is akin to losing the Super Bowl and then rounding up your players to kill the referee.

Another example: one conservative, Bush speechwriter David Frum, recently pointed out the obvious, that the conservatives suffered a serious defeat on health care. Within days, he was fired from his job at a conservative think tank, where he had worked for years – just for speaking the inconvenient truth. Then, after going public, Frum denied he’d been fired – they just weren’t going to pay him any money. Um, when your boss says he’s not going to give you money to do your job anymore….

In addition to fatwas, there are the night letters.

In Afghanistan the Taliban have a system called “night letters” – they drop a letter at your house, threatening violence unless you do what the Taliban says. So let’s read a few:

“You’re a dead man. We’re coming to your house. We already smashed your window. Now we’re coming back to kill your wife and your kids. We might even run you off the road, and your kids too. We’re in your town every day, with our guns, all reloaded. We’ll kill the local police too. We pray to God for you to die. Because you dared to defy us. And we’re telling all our friends that attacking you is okay. Because you dared to defy us. You can never hide. If I was a boss, I would fire you. If I was a doctor, I would refuse to treat you. The revolution has come.”

Oh wait, that’s the American conservatives. Since the passage of health care, the conservatives have gone all Mullah Omar on us.

But think of that last bit. Rightwing whackjobs talking about firing liberals, or refusing them medical treatment. What if they try to take that national? What if businesses across the country try to figure out your politics, and refuse to serve you if you admit you’re a liberal? Or refuse to hire you? What would that make us, as a nation?

It would make us 1935 Germany.

“Jews? No groceries for you! Get out of my store! Juden raus!”

Or perhaps the South in the 1950s, when blacks couldn’t use the hotels, the bathrooms, the restaurants…

So what have we got? The violent terrorism of the Taliban and the Klan, and the incipient economic terrorism of the Nazis and Jim Crow. What else do we have? Wow, it’s straight out of Mein Kampf. Using mass communication to drown out facts with lies, semi-irregular groups of thugs to intimidate opponents, shadowy backers from big business, scary rhetoric about Communists, the bombastic militarism, the big rallies, the constant search for new enemies and new scapegoats, the daily incitement of fear and hate, the racism, the eternal appeal to everything that is small-minded and short-sighted and mean-spirited and just plain stupid and ignorant in the human soul….

Kristallnacht has come to America.

While we were worrying about important stuff like the Kardashians, America stopped being America.

It doesn’t matter that the liberals control the White House, if the conservatives are allowed to shut down government entirely. Mitch McConnell promised to shut down the Senate unless Obama picks a fascist Supreme Court justice, other Senators were promising total shut-down in retaliation for the health care bill. If democracy is meaningless, if elections are meaningless, if the Constitution is meaningless, there’s no America. America as we know it could be dead.

There was no particular point in the 1930s when the German people suddenly realized that the Nazis had enslaved them.

Hitler won the chancellor’s office and the Germans cheered.

He burned down the Reichstag and suspended the parliament, and they yawned.

He persecuted the Jews, and they shrugged.

He took Czechoslovakia and Austria, and they applauded.

And then it was all too late.


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