Episode 2:  31 March 2010

This post starts my new experiment in recording the more interesting of the web perusing I do nearly everyday, typically in the morning with coffee, a cat in lap (or if they can get away with it, on the keyboard), and NPR’s Morning Edition playing from their website.  I revisit the web at night after work, sometimes finding new things, sometimes chasing down posts and websites and articles I didn’t have time for earlier in the day.

First up, found via Steve Benen’s “Political Animal” blog at the Washington Monthly site:

Eugene Robinson – 30 March 2010:
The Hutaree militia and the rising risk of far-right violence

There was a time when the far left was a spawning ground for political violence. The first big story I covered was the San Francisco trial of heiress Patricia Hearst, who had been kidnapped and eventually co-opted by the Symbionese Liberation Army — a far-left group whose philosophy was as apocalyptic and incoherent as that of the Hutaree. There are aging radicals in Cuba today who got to Havana by hijacking airplanes in the 1970s. Left-wing radicals caused mayhem and took innocent lives.

But for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin. An anti-globalization movement, including a few window-smashing anarchists, was gaining traction at one point, but it quickly diminished after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An environmental group and an animal-rights group have been linked with incidents of arson. Beyond those particulars, it is hard to identify any kind of leftist threat.

By contrast, there has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, “constitutionalists,” tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold “Christian” values. Most of the groups that posed a real danger, as the Hutaree allegedly did, have been infiltrated and dismantled by authorities before they could do any damage. But we should never forget that the worst act of domestic terrorism ever committed in this country was authored by a member of the government-hating right wing: Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Via Huffington Post, I found this analysis of the tactics of the right when it comes to “life” issues.

Bill Berkowitz – 31 March 2010
“No Lie Is Too Low For Them”: What the Terri Schiavo Affair Can Teach Us About Today’s Right-Wing Zealots

The Terri Schiavo case was a prime example of how the Republican Party — aided and abetted by the Religious Right and a formidable array of right-wing foundations, think tanks, public relations firms and conservative legal entities — used a deeply personal issue, and turned it into an attack on fundamental rights, and, failing that, an attack on the failure of government officials, aka “judicial activists,” to stand up for life.
The GOP pulled out all the stops and created a public spectacle. Although the effort ultimately failed, and the Religious Right’s reputation was at least temporarily sullied, earlier this year GOP leaders, (substitute Boehner for DeLay and McConnell for Frist), and its surrogates, this time in the form of Tea Partiers, resuscitated some of the same tactics, fear laced with maximum anger, in an attempt to kill health care reform.

Also, a good interview on NPR’s Tell Me More, concerning the rise of the militia movement, the extreme right, and the recent arrests of the Hutaree members in Michigan (the link below takes you to both transcript and an audio link):

Tell Me More – 30 March 2010
New Details Emerge As FBI Probes Christian Militias In Mich.

Nine people, including a married couple and their two sons, were charged Monday with conspiring to “oppose by force the authority of the U.S. Government.” The accused are members of the Hutaree Militia, and are said to have been plotting to kill Michigan police officers. Host Michel Martin talks with Detroit Free Press Reporter Niraj Warikoo and Heidi Beirich, the research director of the Southern Poverty Law Center about this case and whether or not this is part of a larger trend.

You can also listen to one of my fave radio broadcasts, Talk of the Nation’s weekly visit with “Political Junkie” Ken Rudin and others.  It’s always the first segment on the Wednesday show.

NPR Talk of the Nation: Political Junkie
31 March 2010
Putting Congressional Civility In Perspective

In Congress, discourse deteriorated during the health care debate. Notably, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) yelled out “baby killer” on the House floor.

But it’s not a new phenomenon, nor is it the province of a single political party.


Ken Rudin, political editor and Political Junkie for NPR

Lou Frey, former Republican Congressman and editor of Political Rules of the Road

Scott Horsley, White House correspondent, NPR

And last, from last August but new to me in the last day or two, an interesting take on the rise of fascist tendencies in the U.S. (not sure how I found this one…)

Sara Robinson – 6 August 2009
Fascist America: Are We There Yet?

All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history’s worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who’d made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?