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Anti-Immigrant Activist Says Influx of Migrants Will Lead to "Ethnic Replacement"

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 2:42 PM EDT

In Texas, a resurgent tea party movement has trained its sights on the ongoing crisis at the US-Mexico border, where some 70,000 unaccompanied minors will arrive this year alone. At a July 16 press conference at the state capitol in Austin, tea party leaders ripped Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, both Republicans, for not doing more to keep undocumented immigrants out of the US. The activists said they wanted a special legislative session devoted to the migrant crisis and urged Perry to deploy the Texas National Guard to the border. (Days later, Perry announced he would deploy up to 1,000 guardsmen.)

One of the speakers at the event was Thomas Korkmas, who runs an anti-immigrant group called Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement. In his remarks, Korkmas drew a comparison between the current border crisis and the horrific ethnic cleansing that occurred in eastern Europe after the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. That Serb-led campaign of ethnic cleansing saw the creation of concentration camps, widespread rape and murder, and a death toll that reached an estimated 100,000. The way Korkmas sees it, where the Serbs systemically eliminated Bosnian Muslims and Croatian civilians, the influx of undocumented migrants to the US is diluting the population of white Americans via "ethnic replacement."

You can watch Korkmas' comments in the above video. Here's what he said:

We have an invasion. It has to be stopped. About 20 years ago when Bill Clinton was in office, there was an issue over in what had been Yugoslavia. And it was called at that time ethnic cleansing. What is going on right now in this country could be called ethnic replacement. Because what is happening right now is we are seeing the eradication of our Constitution and its rule of law. We're seeing the elimination of our borders, our language, and our culture. And anyone who does not think that a culture that embraces lawlessness will not become our dominant culture within a few years, I hate to tell you you're wrong. It will be because it already has.

Korkmas seems to have borrowed the term "ethnic replacement" from the right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage. Recently, Savage accused President Obama and his administration of engaging in ethnic replacement—a term Savage claims he coined—by allowing illegal immigrants to "flood America" and replace white Americans.

This isn't Korkmas' first controversial comment on the issue of immigration. Last year, he claimed that the Boston Marathon bombings resulted in part from an insecure US-Mexico border. Every politician who has served in Washington and failed to "close the border" since the Boston attacks, Korkmas went on, "is guilty, as far as I’m concerned, as an accessory to homicide."

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Hispanic Vote Unlikely to Be Crucial in 2014

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 12:47 PM EDT

Republicans have repeatedly failed to pass anything of substance regarding immigration, and their latest fiasco over the border crisis makes their haplessness more apparent than ever. But will it matter this November? Nate Cohn says no:

Hispanic voters are all but absent from this year’s most competitive Senate battlegrounds. Hispanic voters make up about 11 percent of eligible voters but represent 5 percent or fewer of the eligible voters in eight of the nine states deemed competitive by Leo, The Upshot’s Senate model.

....Hispanic voters will have even less influence over the composition of the House, which is all but assured to remain in Republican hands....The reason is simple. In districts held by House Republicans, Hispanics represent only 6.7 percent of eligible voters. The Hispanic share of eligible voters is nearly as low in the House battlegrounds, 7.4 percent.

Add to this the fact that Hispanics already vote for Democrats in large numbers, and Republicans just don't have very much to lose. Even if they lost another 10 percent of the Hispanic vote (an improbably huge number), that would represent considerably less than 1 percent of the total vote. That just won't make a difference except in a few of the very tightest races.

The main exception here is Colorado, which has a substantial Hispanic population. But Colorado has never been a likely Republican pickup anyway, so it's unlikely to affect overall Republican chances of taking control of the Senate this year.

Now, as Cohn says, in a tight race anything can make a difference. And the Senate race is tight enough that control could easily come down to one close race in one state. If Georgia ends up being decided by a 51-49 vote, it's just possible that Hispanic turnout could make the difference.

Probably not, though, and this is a good illustration of the current dynamics in American elections: national demographic trends are making it harder and harder for Republicans to win the presidency, but those same trends don't affect congressional votes that much as long as Republicans can hold onto their base. So the GOP can maintain its ability to obstruct, but is losing its ability to lead.

In other words, you should probably get used to gridlock. It's not going away anytime soon.

House Report: Benghazi Is Just Benghazi

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 10:54 AM EDT

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee—officially now just a bunch of RINO traitors, I guess—is about to release a report saying that what happened in Benghazi is pretty much what the entire non-insane world has figured all along:

The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, said Rep. Mike Thompson of St. Helena, the second-ranking Democrat on the committee....Among the Intelligence Committee's findings, according to Thompson:

  • Intelligence agencies were "warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened."
  • A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack."
  • "There was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind."
  • The administration's process for developing "talking points" was "flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis."

We'll know shortly whether the full report really says this, or whether Thompson is leaving out the juicy parts. If his summary is accurate, this report represents a rare display of GOP levelheadedness before we get started with the Trey Gowdy conspiracy theory fest later this year.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 4, 2014

Mon Aug. 4, 2014 10:45 AM EDT

A US Marine climbs a rope ladder from the flight deck of the USS San Diego.  ( US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman)

3 New Summer Songs Picked By Critic Jon Young

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

1. "Is What It Is"

From She Keeps Bees' Eight Houses

FUTURE GODS

Liner notes: Smokey and languid, Jessica Larrabee croons defiantly, "Be not completely consumed/Do not surrender," on this hazy ballad, with kindred spirit Sharon Van Etten singing backup.

Behind the music: Larrabee fronted the Philadelphia band the English System before teaming with drummer Andy LaPlant to form the Brooklyn-based duo.

Check it out if you like: Moody chanteuses (Cat Power, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey).
 

2. "Pressure"

From My Brightest Diamond's This Is My Hand

ASTHMATIC KITTY

Liner notes: The fourth MBD album gets off to a rousing start with this joyful brew of marching-band rhythms, xylophone, brass, and Shara Worden's big, operatic voice.

Behind the music: An alumna of Sufjan Stevens' band, Worden's résumé includes collaborations with David Byrne, Matthew Barney, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Decemberists.

Check it out if you like: Brainy art-poppers, meaning St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, or Joanna Newsom.
 

3. "To Turn You On"

From Robyn Hitchcock's The Man Upstairs

YEP ROC

Liner notes: Hitchcock gives Bryan Ferry's morose love song a charming, irony-free makeover, setting his surprisingly tender vocal to a delicate chamber-folk arrangement.

Behind the music: The former Soft Boys leader teamed with producer Joe Boyd (Fairport Convention, Anna and Kate McGarrigle) for this vibrant mix of originals and covers (Doors, Psychedelic Furs).

Check it out if you like: Vital vets like Richard Thompson and Marshall Crenshaw.

40 Million People Depend on the Colorado River. Now It's Drying Up.

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Science papers don't generate much in the way of headlines, so you'll be forgiven if you haven't heard of one called "Groundwater Depletion During Drought Threatens Future Water Security of the Colorado River Basin," recently published by University of California-Irvine and NASA researchers.

But the "water security of the Colorado River basin" is an important concept, if you are one of the 40 million people who rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, a group that includes residents of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, and San Diego. Or if you enjoy eating vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach during the winter. Through the many diversions, dams, canals, and reservoirs the river feeds as it snakes its way from the Rockies toward Mexico, the Colorado also provides the irrigation that makes the desert bloom in California's Imperial Valley and Arizona's Yuma County—source of more than two-thirds of US winter vegetable production.

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70 Years Ago Today: Anne Frank Was Captured by the Nazis

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Anne Frank, 1941 Anne Frank Fonds Basel/DPA/ZUMA Press

On this day in 1944, German policed discovered the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family in the secret annex of the building where Otto Frank (Anne's father) worked. Following the arrest of the Franks and two other families that were in hiding, Miep Gies collected papers and photo albums left scattered around the living quarters, including Anne's diary. Gies saved them, hoping to return them to Anne after the war.

Anne Frank's diary of her time in hiding was published 1947 and has been made into a play and a film publicizing the plight of millions. Uppa/Photoshot/UPPA/ZUMA Press

 

Lotus Watching in LA

| Sun Aug. 3, 2014 8:55 PM EDT

I spent the afternoon up in LA with my mother, and she wanted to go over and check out the new, rejuvenated Echo Park along with its new, rejuvenated lotus plants. It's a little late in the season to see them in all their glory, but they're still blooming. See here for the rather remarkable backstory about how the lotuses, once thought dead and gone forever, were brought back to life.

Can Obama Order Immigration Amnesty All By Himself?

| Sun Aug. 3, 2014 1:37 PM EDT

Normally, says Ross Douthat, all the recent alarmist liberal chatter about impeachment "would simply be an unseemly, un-presidential attempt to raise money and get out the 2014 vote." But not this time:

Even as his team plays the impeachment card with gusto, the president is contemplating — indeed, all but promising — an extraordinary abuse of office: the granting of temporary legal status, by executive fiat, to up to half the country’s population of illegal immigrants.

Such an action would come equipped with legal justifications, of course....But the precedents would not actually justify the policy, because the scope would be radically different. Beyond a certain point, as the president himself has conceded in the past, selective enforcement of our laws amounts to a de facto repeal of their provisions. And in this case the de facto repeal would aim to effectively settle — not shift, but settle — a major domestic policy controversy on the terms favored by the White House.

....In defense of going much, much further, the White House would doubtless cite the need to address the current migrant surge, the House Republicans’ resistance to comprehensive immigration reform and public opinion’s inclination in its favor.

But all three points are spurious. A further amnesty would, if anything, probably incentivize further migration, just as Obama’s previous grant of legal status may well have done. The public’s views on immigration are vaguely pro-legalization — but they’re also malleable, complicated and, amid the border crisis, trending rightward. And in any case we are a republic of laws, in which a House majority that defies public opinion is supposed to be turned out of office, not simply overruled by the executive.

It's worth pointing out at the start that we don't know what Obama has in mind. It's entirely possible that he's deliberately leaking some fairly extreme ideas merely to get people like Douthat wound up. If and when he does issue executive orders over immigration, they might turn out to be a lot more moderate than anything the Fox News set is bellowing about. It wouldn't surprise me.

But suppose Obama does issue an unusually bold executive order, one that halts immigration enforcement against a very large segment of the undocumented immigrants currently in the country. What then?

Well, it would depend on exactly what the order entails and what the legal justification is, but if it really does have a broad scope then I agree that it might very well represent presidential overreach. And, as Douthat says, congressional inaction wouldn't be any kind of defense. Congress has every right not to act if it doesn't want to. Aside from genuine emergencies, that provides not even the slightest justification for presidential action.

So I'll just repeat what I said on Thursday: an executive order is hardly the end of the game. For starters, Republicans can take their case to the public, using Obama's actions as a campaign weapon in 2016 to spur the election of a president who will reverse them. They can also go to court. In a case like this, I suspect they wouldn't have much trouble finding someone with standing to sue, so it it would be a pretty straightforward case.

As it happens, I think the current Republican obsession with presidential overreach is fairly pointless because their examples are so trivial. Extending the employer mandate might very well go beyond Obama's powers, but who cares? It's a tiny thing. Alternatively, the mini-DREAM executive action is fairly substantial but also very unlikely to represent any kind of overreach. Ditto for recent EPA actions.

Presidents do things all the time that push the envelope of statutory authority. To be worth any serious outrage, they need to be (a) significant and (b) fairly clearly beyond the scope of the president's powers. I don't think Obama has done anything like this yet, but if Republicans want to test that proposition in court, they should go right ahead. That's what courts are for.

Arizona Executioners Had To Use 15 Doses of Lethal Drugs Before Inmate Finally Died

| Sat Aug. 2, 2014 6:30 AM EDT

Documents released Friday afternoon in the case of Arizona's  botched execution of Joseph Wood—who gasped for air and struggled, according to witnesses, repeatedly during the two-hour process—show that  executioners used 15 separate doses of a new drug cocktail before Wood finally died. Lawyers had warned that the combination of 50 milligrams hydromorphone (a pain killer) and 50 milligrams of midazolam (a sedative) was rife with potential problems. (The state also has a long history of failing to follow its own protocol.) The documents suggest they were right.

"Instead of the one dose as required under the protocol, ADC injected 15 separate doses of the drug combination, resulting in the most prolonged execution in recent memory," said Dale Baich, Wood's lawyer. "This is why an independent investigation by a non-governmental authority is necessary.”

Ohio  used a similar drug cocktail in January to execute Dennis McGuire, who gasped and snorted for 25 minutes before finally succumbing, the longest execution in Ohio history. Arizona apparently increased the dosage of midazolam from what Ohio had used, but it doesn't seem to have gotten any better results.

When officials in Ohio and elsewhere first expressed their intent to experiment with the midazolam/hydromorphone combination, experts predicted, as Mother Jones' Molly Redden reported, that little was known about how the new drug combinations would work in executions. She wrote:

Jonathan Groner, a professor of clinical surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine who has written extensively on the death penalty, says effects of a hydromorphone overdose include an extreme burning sensation, seizures, hallucination, panic attacks, vomiting, and muscle pain or spasms. [David Waisel, an associate professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School], who has testified extensively on capital-punishment methods, adds that a hydromorphone overdose could result in soft tissue collapse—the same phenomenon that causes sleep apnea patients to jerk awake—that an inmate who had been paralyzed would be unable to clear by jerking or coughing. Instead, he could feel as though he were choking to death.

Because hydromorphone is not designed to kill a person, Groner says, there are no clinical guidelines for how to give a lethal overdose. "You're basically relying on the toxic side effects to kill people while guessing at what levels that occurs," he explains.

The new Arizona documents suggest that these assessments were dead on.

State officials are using new drug combinations because pharmaceutical companies have been refusing to sell or export the drugs traditionally used in executions. The US has seen a shortage of those drugs for several years now, and death penalty states have gone to increasingly desperate measures to kill their condemned, everything from illegally importing the old drugs to buying them from dubious compounding pharmacies. Arizona illustrated the latest gambit—using new combinations of other available drugs, something critics have called an unethical human experiment.

States have also gone to great lengths to hide information about the drugs they're using in executions and how they're getting them. In Arizona, Wood was just the latest of many death row inmates who have tried and failed to force states to be more transparent. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Wood in late July and agreed that he had a right to know how he was going to die. But the US Supreme Court overruled that decision and allowed the execution to go forward.