Republicans

The Ugly Political Sock Puppetry of Arizona’s Top Educator

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 6.18.50 PMDespite the obvious heat surplus and water shortage issues, Arizona continues to be one of the most growth intensive states, and has pegged much of its future on what can be loosely called “smart sectors” such as information technology, solar, chip making and, indeed, higher education itself as evidenced by the recent Starbucks/Arizona State University partnership.

You would think, given the above factors, and many more, Arizonans would be meticulous and scrupulous about the leaders they elect to shepherd the state’s educational system. But you would be wrong.

The power and control of Arizona’s education system rests in the hands of an elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Sadly, it has been a position occupied by common, and morally bankrupt, conservative political hacks of late. From 2003 through 2011, the office, the fifth highest elected office in Arizona, was held by Tom Horne, the current embattled Attorney General of Arizona. Horne was a line construction lawyer who up and got elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. But, hey, how much worse is that than when a podunk lawn mower repairman got elected Maricopa County Sheriff (which was before the office went totally into the sewer with former travel agent Joe Arpaio).

Okay, Horne was awful as Superintendent of Public Instruction (and has disgraced the office of AG even worse since), but once he left, one John Huppenthal was elected to cover the educational interests of Arizona’s children. And since January 2011, Huppenthal has been the one in charge of Arizona’s education.

Who is John Huppenthal? Pretty much an up through the ranks of the bat shit crazy Arizona state legislature right wing political climber. People who lived in Huppenthal’s district in the late 90′s, when he was an Arizona State Senator, can attest that the man compulsively and inexplicably robo-called with all kinds of dogmatic messages, at all hours of the day and night. To the point to where some literally were forced to contact his office and threaten suit if it did not stop on their phone. Huppenthal and his office were stunningly cavalier and arrogant about Huppenthal’s compulsive robo-calling. Yet he took to it again as Superintendent of Public Instruction in an effort to undermine the public schools he was entrusted with protecting and, instead, cravenly support private vouchers taking money away from public schools.

Such is great flavor as to the “measure of the man” that is John Huppenthal, but still mostly ancient history. How has the aggressively dogmatic Huppenthal done as Superintendent of Public Instruction, i.e. Arizona’s top educator? Same old story; same old song and dogmatic nutjob dance. You may remember the controversy over “banned textbooks” by the Tucson Unified School District a little over two years ago from the somewhat hyperbolic and inaccurate “Jeff Biggers Salon expose“. Well, that whole ordeal, contrary to Biggers’ Salon framing, Continue reading

Adios Arpaio – The Fiscal and Legal Case For Removal of Sheriff Joe

America, indeed the nation, is in a financial and legal moribund lurch. No longer, if there ever was, is there taxpayer money and ethics left on balance to be wasted on entrenched politicians sucking at our tit. You say your’s is the worst? Well, then you do not live in Maricopa County Arizona, the home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It is time for Sheriff Joe to go. ADIOS ARPAIO! There is a fiscal, legal and moral case to do so.

My friend Tim Murphy, of Mother Jones, laid out the “bizarre” freak show nature of Arpaio’s current reelection campaign in superb detail. But only part of the story was told, understandable as there is SO much to tell in the Arpaio saga. Here is the rest of, or at least some of the rest of, the story.

Joe Arpaio did not magically come to be Sheriff of Maricopa County. It happened because the two previous occupants of the Sheriff’s Office were, shall we say, problematic on their own. There was Dick Godbehere, who was, prior to being Sheriff of the fourth largest county in the United States, literally a lawn mower repairman. No, I kid you not. And he served with the same level of sophistication you would expect of a lawn mower repairman.

Then came Tom Agnos, who was supposed to return “professionalism” to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). But Agnos was a subservient Sun City resident who led the MCSO into not just the biggest cock-up in Maricopa county law enforcement history, but one of national and international proportion. The Buddhist Temple Murder Case where nine buddhist monks and acolytes were lined up and shot in the back of the head, execution style, at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple on the west side of Phoenix.

It was out of the Buddhist Temple Murders Joe Arpaio came to be. A group of prominent Phoenix trial attorneys, both criminal and civil, wanted an alternative to Tom Agnos and the whitewashing coverup he was conducting on one of the greatest coerced false confession cases in world history. The group of trial lawyers coalesced around the upstart primary candidacy of a local travel agent with a colorful background. Yep, one Joseph Arpaio.

Joseph Arpaio promised that initial group of trial lawyers he would clean up the MCSO, release the damning internal report of the gross misconduct that had occurred in the Temple Murder Case under Tom Agnos, which lead to at least four false and heinously coerced confessions, and that he would refuse, under all circumstances, to serve more than one term in office. It was a promise made and, obviously, a promise long ago broken.

To be fair, Arpaio did release the internal report on the Temple Murder Case, which led to five plus million dollar settlement for some of the most wrongfully arrested souls in American history. But with that promise kept within a short time of taking office, Joe Arpaio breached the solid promise he made to the people who gave him the seed funding carrying him into office. And Arpaio has made a mockery of his word, as a man, ever since by repeatedly running for office and sinking Maricopa County into depths of depravity and fiscal distress beyond comprehension, from the vantage of the MCSO.

Arpaio’s false pretenses to get elected have turned into the fodder of liability for the county he was supposedly elected to serve and protect.

How deep has Arpaio’s liability effected the taxpayers, and residents, of Maricopa County? To the tune of at least $50 Million dollars. AT LEAST. Because that figure not only does not count the costs of defense, and they are usually astronomical in the larger cases against Arpaio, because he never admits responsibility, but also does not consider Maricopa County is self insured and may not, necessarily, publicly disclose all smaller payouts. There may, or may not, be a lot more payout, or a lot more, we just don’t know.

So, what is the ledger to date? Here it is is in all its sick glory. $50 Million dollars of unnecessary payout, all because of a man, who promised, and who was initially sponsored, and brought to election, by a group who wanted change and the diametric opposite of what came to be.

Here is the worse part: the $50 Million figure is, by all appearances, devoid of the real and hard actual costs of defending all the action on which payout was made in that spreadsheet. Hard costs are known in the legal world as attorney fees, court costs, expert witness fees, service costs, evidentiary laboratory fees – in short, fees that can add up to millions in, and among, themselves, irrespective of the underlying root liability payouts. In short, the $50 Million you see in the ledger is but a fraction of the real cost of Joe Arpaio’s criminally and civilly negligent insolence as Sheriff of Maricopa County. Nor does the figure, of course, include the losses that already should have come from the Deborah Braillard case, much less the Matty Atensio case.

Who is Matthew Atensio represented by? That would be by one prime example of tort liability counterbalance to egregious wrongdoing, Michael Manning. Who is Michael Manning? Well, Manning is the grinning man in the photograph above, with the somewhat soullessly dumbfounded Joe Arpaio at a charity fundraiser. Manning has a right to grin at the sight of the “Toughest Sheriff In America”, because Michael Manning, alone, has taken the greatest portion of the nearly $50 Million (and very much increasingly counting) toll on the taxpayers of Maricopa County, the narcissistic propaganda obsessed figurine Joe Arpaio has cost. And Manning and fellow Phoenix attorney Joel B. Robbins, have laid the wood to Sheriff Joe, and the worst is yet to com in the form of the Atensio litigation and other compelling cases (not to mention Braillard which should have settled and, now, instead awaits a larger jury verdict on already determined damages).

You think the moral and tort liability train fueled and paid by the taxpayers and citizens of Maricopa County has sailed into the sunset? Oh no. There are mountains of liability and taxpayer’s coffer’s payouts on the horizon. The only question is if the residents and voters of Maricopa County will wake up and end the madness now, or whether they will give yet another term of office to the Most Liable and Wasteful Sheriff In American History”.

The dedicated folks at “Adios Arpaio” have done yeoman’s work in identifying, registering, and encouraging tens of thousands, if not more of, not just latino, but voters of all colors and stripes, to vote in this election. A heroic effort.

But where does that leave the citizens of Maricopa County? Arguably still short against the self promoting dynamo that is Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It is a living monument to the benign destruction caused by hyped belligerence, ignorance and apathy in a designated and restricted electorate. Joseph Arpaio came into office as the the promised one term agent of well meaning, and will leave, to the shame of Maricopa County as perhaps the most disgraceful official ever elected in the county. The only question is, whether that is now or four years from now.

Will morality and justice be delayed? By the real signs on the ground in Arizona, as opposed to national hype, probably no. It will, nevertheless, be an everlasting blemish on the character of the electorate of Maricopa County. It wasn’t as if you, and actually we, didn’t know.

The better question is what becomes of the righteous Adios Arpaio movement? Honestly, if this level of awareness and action had been brought here in relation, early on, to the Scott Norberg deaths at the Maricopa County Jail facilities run by Joe Arpaio, perhaps soooo much more death, destruction and liability could have been avoided. Not to detract from anything, everything, existing now, that did not then, in the way of putting a stop to Arpaio, is it enough? No, likely the current effort, much less this post, is not.

But, then, let it not be said there was not effort and argument made between then and now. There is a man, Arpaio, who should be removed from office and, if the electorate’s voice is willing to suffer exactly that, a remedy for the corpse of Matty Atensio, who died for Jesus’s sins, but so far, apparently, not Arpaio’s sins. Like an imperious “Wall Street Bankster”.

Where is the bullshit in Maricopa County going to end? Will the truth of the civil, criminal and moral liability of “The Toughest Sheriff in Town” be exposed? Only the voters of Arizona, who are not half as stupid as generally portrayed, will decide.

I sincerely hope intelligence and discretion win out over appearance and material duplicity. But, then again, such would not seem to be the characteristic of the modern Arizona electorate. It is a screwed up place in a screwed up time.

But, if the Leader of the Free World, Barack Obama,much less Joe Biden, cannot even be bothered to haul at least one of their self serving ass here to Arizona, when the election and morals are on the line, in a state in the process of turning from Red to Blue under the absentee watch, then why exactly should lifelong Democrats here give a flying fuck about the national ticket? Seriously, tell me why?

So, there is no national action, to even respectably mention, in Arizona. Arizona has been left to fend for itself as being useless and worthless by a craven two party system of two hollow jackasses but, even more significantly, by a national press system of court jester reporters, stenographers, and thin skinned puppet stringed mopes who cannot tell the difference between themselves and the common political flaming jackasses they cover. There is a national press who shouts “Semper Fi” while selling out everything they were trained and hired to do. I know several will read this, the question is who among them will adopt it, who will ignore it, and who will whine like pathetic thin skinned poseurs? Boo yah bitches, I am waiting. Show us your colors; if you cannot now in the heat of battle, then when? Answer up.

Which leaves us where we entered, with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a blight upon Maricopa County. Unelect him. Adios Arpaio.

There are further vignettes to be painted regarding Arpaio. Here are a couple of particularly poignant ones. Arpaio And Thomas: The Most Unethical Sheriff And Prosecutor In America Conspire To Abuse Power And Obstruct Justice oh, and not to mention the seminal “House Judiciary Cuffs Joe Arpaio, The Most Abusive Sheriff In America“. Read and know both if you want to know Sheriff Joe.

Unelect this guy!

Wherein DC Sir Lancelots Turn Their Tail And Flee Like Candyass Sir Robins

Attention Americans:

Those brave elected and appointed representatives who represent YOU in the Federal Government are fleeing! Well, granted, I guess that doesn’t really account for the elected members of Congress who have been diddling and twiddling their thumbs, among other things, for a while now in order to suck at the tit of corporate cash, while doing nothing for you on the record at their elected jobs (no, Darrell Issa’s dog and pony show doesn’t count) and throw it around to perpetuate a fraud on you.

But, as they say in movies, that is something completely different.

No, here is the notice I take just a little umbrage with:

Non-emergency employees (including employees on pre-approved paid leave) will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:

required to telework,

on official travel outside of the Washington, DC, area,

on leave without pay, or

on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.

Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the day of the announcement or who are required to perform unscheduled telework on a day when Federal offices are closed to the public must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agencies’ policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.

Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksites unless otherwise directed by their agencies.

As friend of the blog, Timothy Shorrock, noted:

No government Monday. A state of anarchy will reign!

I’m with Tim, we are all SO SCREWED!

Okay, and I’m going to take a flyer that Mr. Shorrock agrees, the nation may not only survive, but actually prosper without the usual cabal of corrupt con men and bloodsuckers that generally run things in Washington DC on a “normal” day. Call me crazy, but I am going out on that limb.

Here is my issue: They are all bozos on that bus. Pretty much all of the NOAA, CNN and other data intensive models have been prediting this likely Sand path for days.

Our Men in Havana, er, I mean men and women in DC, are just figuring this out now??? Perhaps the usual rhesus monkey brains were otherwise occupied still figuring out the Administration’s housing policy.

And, look at the directive. What does it really say? That the poohbahs suggest common workers, just being notified a couple of hours before they go to sleep, do what they were already doing, or already had the option to do, and work from home. For any others unable to do so, the suggestion is they take leave.

In short, the real backbone of the federal government, the regular workers, are being treated in a tardy and tawdry manner.

By the 1% MOTUs. Shocking, no?

So, while the politicians who are not already cravenly out of town on your dime are absent, even the remaining Knights of The Pinhead Table run like crazed Sir Robins.

Ain’t that America?

Uh, yeah, so tomorrow will be different from exactly what other day you federal jackasses??

Because, Congress, the DOJ, the SEC, the FEC, the NLRB, and all the rest, BEFORE SANDY, were sooooooo totally responsive to the needs and desires of their constituents.

On a serious note, this hurricane is pretty clearly a grave matter for human safety. Care SHOULD be taken. The projected damage had the DC/Eastern Virginia/Maryland area in the cone of danger in nearly every projection.

The federal government waited until now to tell regular workers, the real backbone of our functioning government to, paraphrasing “stay at home if you have that already available, or otherwise work as best you can.

That is loathsome from a leadership of cowardly and craven Sir Robins. And, on the remote chance you do not understand what a “Sir Robin” is, watch the video.

Only in Florida: Congressman David Rivera Funds Sham Candidate, Faces Ethics Charges, FBI Probe – Doesn’t Resign

Congressman David Rivera, R-FL (aka “The Gangster”), still won’t resign while under FBI investigation for funding a sham candidate and facing eleven ethics charges.

Proving that Florida is the fetid swamp where political rectitude goes to decay and die a foul death, Congressman David Rivera (R-FL) has raised the bar for misdeeds in office without resigning in disgrace.

In late September, Manny Garcia and Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald documented that Rivera had secretly funded a campaign for a sham candidate in the August Democratic primary in Rivera’s Florida district:

Justin Lamar Sternad, whose failed congressional campaign became the subject of a federal grand-jury investigation, has told the FBI that U.S. Rep. David Rivera was secretly behind his run for office, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald have learned.

Sternad, 35, also told authorities that his campaign manager, Ana Sol Alliegro, acted as the conduit between the campaign and Rivera, who allegedly steered unreported cash to the Democrat’s campaign, according to sources familiar with the investigation and records shared with The Herald.

Sternad said Alliegro referred to the congressman by his initials, “D.R.,” and called him by the nickname, “The Gangster.”

On October 1, Garcia and Caputo informed us that the Republican Party in Florida is preparing for two outcomes for Rivera – indictment or a loss:

Bracing for embattled U.S. Rep. David Rivera to be indicted or lose his election, Republicans have started lining up potential successors to regain the seat in 2014 if the congressman’s Democrat opponent defeats him in November.

Rivera has at least become toxic to other Republicans in Florida, but his ties to prominent Florida Republicans are very strong:

Rivera’s closest ally, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, has been keeping his distance from Rivera as well. The two remain friends and own a Tallahassee home together that briefly went into foreclosure in 2010 when both former state representatives ran for higher office.

Rivera no longer attends high-profile events with the senator or with presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who held an event in Rivera’s district where the congressman was the only top Republican no-show.

Yup, Rivera is so toxic politically that he can’t even show his face when his closest political ally and the Republican nominee for President are holding a rally in his own district. Even in the face of that reality, Rivera still has not resigned.

So far, even the eleven ethics charges filed against him yesterday still have not pushed him over that final hurdle into resigning:

Already facing FBI probes and a daunting reelection, U.S. Rep. David Rivera was charged Wednesday by state authorities with 11 counts of violating ethics laws for filing bogus financial disclosure forms, misusing campaign funds and concealing a $1 million consulting contract with a Miami gambling business while serving in the state Legislature.

Investigators with the Florida Commission on Ethics found that Rivera’s secret deal to work as a political consultant for the Magic City Casino — formerly the Flagler Dog Track — created a conflict of interest for the lawmaker. The ethics panel also found that the Republican broke state ethics laws by failing to fully disclose his finances from 2005 to 2009.

/snip/

Rivera signed a consulting contract with the Magic City Casino’s owners in 2006 to run a campaign to win voter approval for slot machines at Miami-Dade pari-mutuels. But Rivera had the money from the deal sent to Millennium Marketing, a company founded by his mother and godmother, records show. Rivera then received at least $132,000 back from Millennium — money that Rivera has called loans that did not have to be disclosed.

At least even Republican polls are indicating that Rivera will lose his race by about ten points, so it appears that the voters in Rivera’s district are paying attention. It will be very interesting to see how Rivera reacts once he has been voted out of office and is facing potential criminal charges. Will he turn on his former colleagues? What nuggets could he offer in return for lesser charges?

R.I.P. Senator Specter, You Will Be Missed

The Snarlin has ceased; via CBS News:

US Senator Arlen Specter, whose political career took him from Philadelphia City Hall to the US Congress, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia at the age of 82 from complications of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was born February 12, 1930.

His career was marked by what the pundits and Specter himself called “fierce independence.” But long before Specter ever stepped onto the Senate floor in Washington DC, he made it into national prominence by serving as assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, which investigated the 1963 assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy.

Specter postulated the controversial “single-bullet theory” that was eventually embraced by the panel and still stands to this day, despite the cry of conspiracy theorists who say there was more than one gunman in Dallas that November day.

“Admittedly a strange path for a bullet to take, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction,” Specter said.

We have had a complicated relationship with Arlen Specter here at Emptywheel, sometimes castigating him, sometimes praising him, sometimes laughing at him, sometimes laughing with him. Specter engendered all those things. But I always sensed a very decent heart beating underneath Specter’s surface, even if it was all too often masked by his votes for, and often vociferous support of, ever more destructive policies of the right.

For this, Specter earned the nickname “Scottish Haggis” here in the annals of Emptywheel. The term had its root in Mr. Specter’s predilection for Scottish Law, and goes all the way back to the original incarnation at The Next Hurrah. For a number of reasons, offal and otherwise, it was a nickname that stuck and seemed appropos and seemed to reflect the complicated nature of Senator Specter.

On a personal note, I did not have an abundance of interaction with Sen. Specter and his office, but in that which I did have, I found him and his office to be beyond both kind and professional. One instance stands head and shoulders above the others, and surrounded the Obama scuttled nomination of Dawn Johnsen to be head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It was my contention from the outset that the whip count votes were there to confirm Professor Johnsen for the job she was perfect for. And, in the roiling aftermath of the Bush/Cheney unitary executive excesses, the country desperately needed Johnsen’s intellectual sense of honesty and Constitutional integrity.

The only reason Dawn Johnsen did not get confirmed as OLC head was Barack Obama used her as false bait and cat nip for the more noisy progressive liberals. It was a glaring sign of depressing things to come from the not nearly as Constitution minded Barack Obama as had been pitched in his election run. Not only could Johnsen have been confirmed, as I pointed out before, she could also have been recess appointed by Obama. Despite all the ridicule I took at the time, that point has been proved conclusively by the later recess appointment of Richard Cordray to be head of the CFPB (another instance of Obama using a supremely qualified progressive, Elizabeth Warren, as bait and then hanging her out to dry).

The point was never that Dawn Johnsen couldn’t be confirmed, it was that Barack Obama and the insiders of his White House did not want her confirmed into leadership of the OLC. I knew that from talking to several inside the DOJ and Senate Judiciary Committee, but that was all off the record. When I found an obscure old comment from Arlen Specter indicating he was willing to support a cloture vote for Johnsen as far back as his second meeting with Dawn Johnsen on or about May 12, 2009, it was by then an old, and quite obscure comment. Specter could have walked it back or dissembled on the subject.

Arlen Specter didn’t walk it back or dissemble, instead he personally confirmed it to me. With the already in the bag vote of Sen. Richard Lugar, that was the 60 votes for Dawn Johnsen at OLC. Specter knew it would infuriate both the GOP and the Obama White House, and he knew exactly what story I was writing. He stood up. Oh, and, yes, he knew about “Scottish Haggis” too. The man had a sense of humor.

For the above vignette, and several others, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Snarlin Arlen Specter. His life and work in government spanned over five decades, he has got my salute today.

Sen. Specter repeatedly had to fight off serious cancer, and he did so with aplomb, courage and his good humor. He also was a tireless champion for the NIH and funding of cancer and stem cell research. When confronted with the last battle, the one which finally took him, Specter was upbeat, defiant and determined to get back to his part time hobby of stand up comedy. May the Scottish Haggis have many laughs wherever he may travel.

Deadly Isaac Was at 2008 Republican Convention

The military’s mug shot of Isaac Aguigui.

No, not Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to become a hurricane later today and hit New Orleans late tonight or tomorrow morning as the Republican National Convention parties on in Tampa. This Isaac is Isaac Aguigui, whom prosecutors in southeast Georgia identify as the ringleader of a militia formed among soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart who had big plans for assassinations and bombings, even including a plan to kill President Obama. Three other active duty soldiers along with Aguigui initially were indicted by the Army for the deaths of a former soldier and his girlfriend last December. Gawker discovered yesterday that an Isaac Aguigui is shown in this Reuters photo from the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, where Reuters identifies Aguigui as a page.

Here is how AP’s Russ Bynum described the plot:

“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”

/snip/

The prosecutor said the militia group had big plans. It plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah, she said. In Washington state, she added, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia’s goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.

It appears that the murder victims, former soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend, Tiffany York (the Daily Mail has their photographs), were killed because Aguigui viewed them as “loose ends” as Roark was in the process of leaving the military but had been a part of the militia group.

Aguigui funded the group with an insurance settlement coming from the death of his pregnant wife under highly suspicious circumstances. Also from Bynum’s article:

Pauley said Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. Aguigui was not charged in his wife’s death, but Pauley told the judge her death was “highly suspicious.”

She said Aguigui used the money to buy $87,000 worth of semiautomatic assault rifles, other guns and bomb components that were recovered from the accused soldiers’ homes and from a storage locker. He also used the insurance payments to buy land for his militia group in Washington state, Pauley said.

Here is Gawker on their find of the photo of Aguigui at the 2008 Republican National Convention:

Isaac Aguigui, the Army private and alleged ringleader of a plot to assassinate Barack Obama and “take over” Ft. Stewart in Georgia, apparently served as a page at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota. That’s his mug shot after he was arrested for the alleged murder of Pvt. Michael Roark on the left. At right is a 2008 Reuters photo with the caption: “Republican National Convention page Isaac Aguigui watches from the edge of the floor at the start of the first session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota September 1, 2008.”

Of course, there could be two Isaac Aguiguis who look startlingly alike.

Somehow I doubt that we will learn that the Isaac Aguigui who was a page at the 2008 Republican National Convention is not the Isaac Aguigui who led the plot to assassinate President Obama.

I wonder how many future terrorists are at this year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Memo To The Clueless Nepotistically Self Unaware Flexible Bag Of Mostly Water Known As Luke Russert

Russert Nantucket Estate

………………..Russert Nantucket Estate……………….

Has there ever been a more self unaware little ball of unworthy entitled Beltway nepotism than Luke Russert? I ask that as an honest question, because it is quite possible the answer is no. The story of Luke, son of Tim, is mostly public record.

Let’s take a look at the latest from L’il Luke, humbly entitled:

Luke Russert: Like Me, Paul Ryan Is Driven By Personal Loss

Well, golly, you just know it is going to be an intellectual and cognitively aware barnburner piece from that, no?

Of course it is, because that is the searing literary talent of the one and only Luke Russert; progeny of the Wonder of Whiteboard, Tim Russert. Let us inspect Luke’s Hemmingwayesque prose:

I peppered the congressman with questions about the health care law and budget priorities for an interview a colleague would use on Nightly News. When we were done, we exchanged pleasantries and he got up to leave. After about 15 seconds, he came back in the room and asked me, “How old was your dad when he passed from heart disease?” I told him, “58.” He said, “Mine was 55. My grandfather and great-grandfather both died from heart issues in their 50s, too.” He then asked me if I was into fitness and inquired about my workout regimen. He told me to run more and that I needed to work up a sweat at least five days a week. We both joked about how preventative fish oil supplements had a bad aftertaste.

Oh, what personal pathos these two poor sons have seen. Luke, son of Tim, product of St. Alban’s Academy in Washington DC, was left with a mother who worked for Vanity Fair, an estate and mansion on Nantucket Island fit for a king and a sinecure at NBC.

Bootstraps baby, bootstraps.

And L’il Luke’s brother in hardscrabble upbringing, Paul Ryan? This common man of the people was born the son of a respected lawyer in a Wisconsin town known as Janesville and:

Mr. Ryan, the youngest of Paul M. and Betty Ryan’s four children, was born in 1970 and grew up in Janesville’s historic Courthouse Hill neighborhood…

Like Luke Russert’s traumatic childhood, Paul Ryan suffered such various hardships as being voted Prom King and “Biggest Brown-Noser” in high school.

Oh, the pain they must have suffered, the poor dears.

The smooth stylings of Luke Russert’s searing reportage continue: Continue reading

“Stand Your Ground” Just Tip of Iceberg for Baxley’s Racism, Religious Intolerance and Gun Fetish

Dennis Baxley

The tragic murder of Trayvon Martin has focused attention on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law sponsored originally by Representative Dennis Baxley, who is serving for a second time in a district just south of the one in which I reside. Baxley has long been a symbol of all of the wrongs that ultra-conservative Republicans in Florida represent.

During his first time in Florida’s House from 2000 until he was term-limited out in 2007, Baxley distinguished himself with his outright racism:

Baxley is currently a lonely voice opposing efforts to drop the state’s official song, “The Old Folks at Home.”

A compromise eventually revised the lyrics to remove the most offensive portion and added a state anthem. Here is what Baxley didn’t want removed:

Oh! darkeys, how my heart grows weary,

Far from de old folks at home.

As if that were not enough, Baxley had another racist project at the same time:

Baxley is also advocating a new specialty license plate that would showcase the Confederate flag, with proceeds going to a group he belongs to, the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Baxley, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer and the NRA teamed with ALEC to spread “Stand Your Ground” to 21 states. But “Stand Your Ground” is just one of several gun bills Baxley has developed. On his website he also touts a bill that ” eliminated the prohibition on firearms in national forests and state parks”. He also sponsored a bill that would have allowed employees to bring their guns to work, but it was defeated in committee in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Baxley’s image among Florida Republicans is that of an upstanding Baptist Sunday School teacher. He even spent his time out of the House leading Florida’s Christian Coalition, a position from which he spoke out in 2008 about Barack Obama’s exposure to Islam when he was younger:

“He’s pretty scary to us,” he said. “I think his Muslim roots and training — while they try to minimize it — it’s there.”

Asked what he meant, Baxley pointed to Obama’s childhood stint in Indonesia and his Muslim relatives.

/snip/

“That concerns me particularly in the period of history we are living in, when there’s an active movement by radical Muslims to occupy us,” Baxley said of Obama’s background. “That whole way of life is all about submission. It concerns me that someone rooted in those beginnings, how it might have affected their outlook. That’s what scary for me.”

Baxley’s fear of Obama’s potential “submission” to Islam is particularly ironic, given his complete submission to a distorted radical Christian fundamentalism and gun worship. Back in 2005, Baxley was especially deranged in trying to help David Horowitz fight against fictional persecution of fundamentalist conservatives in academic settings. In the process, Baxley’s bill would have set academic freedom back immensely (garbled formatting in article left as is): Continue reading

The Emptywheel Primary Trash Talk

It’s here!! Yep the fateful Emptywheel Primary day! Why is it the Emptywheel Primary you ask? Well silly, because today is the Super Tuesday of GOP primaries in both Michigan and Arizona. My Mormons versus Marcy’s Hutaree. Gonna throw down baby.

I want to tell you how thrilling the excitement of the Republican primary has been for us here in Arizona. Except, well, I can’t. Because it hasn’t. It is now 5:00 pm here on the day of the primary, and I have not seen one single campaign ad on television. Other than a flurry of coverage on the day of the debate here, Nada. Zero. Zilch. As for campaign signs, which are always up everywhere in my busy area that sits at the intersection of Arcadia, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. There are major roads leading to a lot of voters – many of them affluent – and this is a quite Republican district (it elected Ben Quayle handily just as an indicator). The pitiful tiny little Santorum sign in the picture above is the only sign I have seen within a two mile radius. That’s it.

As for Michigan, Marcy reports the same there. CNN and MSNBC says the GOP candidates have been traipsing around Michigan, but Marcy has not seen much in the way of advertising or excitement either. Charlie Pierce gives a rundown on the wonderful candidates in Michigan. Here is what Marcy reported on Twitter yesterday about the level of excitement:

Honestly though, it just seems like a non-event to me. I have yet to see an ad–not TV, direct mail, robo, signs. Nothing!

So, two decent sized primaries in pretty interesting states, for differing reasons, and…..bupkis.

It looks like Romney has Arizona solid unless there is a major upset, which is not shocking with the large contingent of Mormons here. But Michigan has been shockingly tight given Romney’s roots there, and that could really be interesting depending on how a few key counties go. And Ron Paul has better strength than you think in Michigan. So this is a thread for election chatter, and anything else in the world you got (hint FOOTBALL and other sports, etc!).

On piece of pretty interesting news today, Olympia Snowe has announced she is retiring after this term and will not run, so there is a scramble underway up in Maine. The big Dem names floated so far to replace Snowe are current Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, as well as former Representative Tom Allen. Of those, it is hard not to think Pingree has the edge, and she is already thinking about it hard. This could be a great pickup opportunity for the Dems in the Senate, and would sure help the effort to keep the majority control of the Senate. DDay has more.

So, with that, let’s hoop and yak it up for The Emptywheel Primary! Music by Bo Diddley and Roadrunner, which he first released in 1960.

Could Santorum’s Radical Religious Fundamentalism Propel US Into Religious Violence?

Despite the fact that our country was founded in part by immigrants seeking to escape religious persecution, the current crop of Republican presidential candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul, who gets no media airtime anyway) have carried the Republican party’s “God and country” theme to even more of an extreme than usual. Taking the clear lead in this push to extremism is Rick Santorum, who now is not only proclaiming his radical faith as a principal reason to vote for him, but he also is deriding the faith of others, primarily that of President Barack Obama.

The Washington Post notes:

When Rick Santorum accused President Obama of having “some phony theology” last weekend, it was neither an isolated event nor an offhand remark.

Instead, Santorum’s comments were a new twist on a steady theme of his Republican presidential candidacy: that Obama and other Democrats have a secular worldview not based on the Bible, one they are intent on imposing on believers.

The Republicans’ religious fundamentalism comes through in response to concrete policy issues:

The relationship between religion and government has emerged as a flash point in the presidential campaign in recent days after an effort by the Obama administration to require religious institutions to include contraception in health insurance plans for employees. All of the Republican candidates objected to the effort, which the administration tweaked after a massive outcry, especially from Catholics.

The “Founding Fathers” that conservative Republicans so want to emulate on some fronts took pains to establish the separation of church and state. Because many had come from persecuted religious minorities, they pushed for the First Amendment’s prohibition both on establishment of an official religion and for the freedom to practice all religions.

Yet, with his extreme devotion to a radical fundamentalist Christian version of Catholicism, Santorum is moving in a direction that could lead directly into the kind of religion-fueled violence we see in other parts of the world. Until now, only the occasional murder of an abortion provider has cropped up as violence that could be attributed to radical religious fundamentalism in the US. But when a candidate for president openly charges the current president with adhering to a “phony theology”, how far away are we from situations like that now in Afghanistan, where violence has erupted over the burning of Korans at Parwan prison?

When radical fundamentalist religion and government are intimately intertwined, violence seems to follow. In the current fiasco in Afghanistan, we see the mullahs in the Taliban calling for violence as a voice for the outrage at the burning:

An Afghan soldier joined protests on Thursday against the burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base and shot dead two foreign troops, Western military sources said, as the Taliban urged security forces to turn their guns on foreigners.

Protests against the burning of copies of Islam’s most holy book drew thousands of angry Afghans to the streets, chanting “Death to America!” for the third consecutive day in violence that has killed 11 people and wounded many more.

The Taliban urged Afghans to target foreign military bases and kill Westerners in retaliation for the Koran burning at Bagram airfield on Tuesday, later directing its plea to the security forces, calling on them to “turn their guns on the foreign infidel invaders,” it said on its site shahamat-english.com.

But, remarkably, members of the Afghan Parliament have joined in with the Taliban in calling for a violent response: Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
JimWhiteGNV It may be Talk Like a Pirate Day for the rest of us, but for the privateers on Wall Street, every day is Act Like a Pirate Day.
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bmaz RT @imraansiddiqi: Bill Montgomery's Anti-Muslim Seminar Results in Threats to Muslims, Phoenix PD Will Not Participate http://t.co/zEabqCI
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JimWhiteGNV RT @NickKristof: Interesting RT @CoryBooker: Revoke NFL Nonprofit Status Give Funds to #DomesticAbuse Prevention http://t.co/qLhWsMvSp2
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bmaz RT @Mansfield2016: Despite having 6 years of Senate majority, Obama's failure rate for judicial noms still higher than GWB & Reagan. http:/…
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bmaz @jazgar @JoshuaHol Also blames the woman and her husband. Bundy is a truly horrible human being.
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bmaz @LukeRussert @pareene I am #satisfied you are a blithering idiot Little Boy Luke.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @lrozen: The plenary has begun, State dept says #irantalks
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emptywheel @Krhawkins5 Don't white whale! It leads to blind spots. Whale is being hidden by school of fish @onekade @jilliancyork @JameelJaffer @cia
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bmaz @BradMossEsq @JesselynRadack @radleybalko Bullshit, the original surveillance NOT just Posse Commitatus violation, but 4th too.
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bmaz RT @mlcalderone: Bush admin tried linking Saddam to Al Qaeda in rush to war. Now Obama admin pushing ISIS/AQ link to justify its war: http:…
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JimWhiteGNV Funding Hapless Mission to Train Syrian Rebels Increases Value of Saudi Terror Hedge Fund http://t.co/gSZFuS48Q9
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bmaz @MikeSacksEsq They wouldn't let me pre-order at the price yet.
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September 2014
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