Mojo - July 2011

Far Right Hate Groups "Like" Facebook

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 3:51 PM EDT
The English Defence League stage a march protest in Newcastle in 2010.

If you're the leader of a loud, disorganized European hate group, you've probably figured out by now that the best way to recruit followers is the same way Ashton Kutcher does it: use Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace.

A lot.

The AP reports that European hate groups—including the English Defence League, an organization that Norway terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik claims to have communicated with—are increasingly relying on social networking sites like Facebook to recruit members.

In just two years, EDL membership has shot up from a few dozen to more than 10,000, a dramatic increase that EDL leader Stephen Lennon attributes to popular websites, as well as underground online fora. The AP has the interview:

I knew that social networking sites were the way to go…[b]ut to say that we inspired this lunatic to do what he did is wrong. We've never once told our supporters [it's] alright to go out and be violent.

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Indian Nikki Haley Says She Is White

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 3:30 PM EDT
Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, talks with supporters at Daybreak Adult Care Services in Aiken, SC on Thursday, April 23, 2011.

For the children of immigrants, the road to acceptance in America can be a bumpy one. There will be pain. There will be embarrassment. There will be relentless, cruel accusations from your brethren that you are assimilating at the expense of your true cultural heritage. And the stories of the children of immigrants who rise to positions of influence and power are especially inspiring given the challenges before them.

Not so inspiring? Lying about where you're from, like South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), the American-born child of Indian parents, might have done. The Associated Press reports that in 2001, Haley listed her race as "white" on her voter registration form.

State Democrats accuse her of being a fake-race opportunist in a state that is, according to the US Census poll, about 66% white (and just a tick over 1% Asian). From the South Carolina Post and Courier:

The state Democratic Party, which first obtained [Haley's voter registraton information], is calling Haley out on the matter and challenging whether her inconsistency on the card might have made her ineligible to voter under the state's new Voter ID law.

Dick Harpootlian, the party chairman, said whether Haley listed her race as white or not doesn’t really matter to him, but the issue is that the governor has shown a pattern of such actions.

"Haley has been appearing on television interviews where she calls herself a minority—when it suits her," Harpootlian said. "When she registers to vote she says she is white. She has developed a pattern of saying whatever is beneficial to her at the moment."

For Haley, voter fraud is a big deal. She recently signed a new law requiring that voters present photo identification at the polls that, she says, will "improve South Carolina in terms of integrity, accountability and transparency." Voter ID laws, of course, don't actually decrease voter fraud (which is virtually nonexistent). Instead, they mostly keep Democratic voters away from the polls.

Haley hasn't yet responded to the South Carolina Democrats' accusations. But even though she didn't exactly commit voter fraud, her self-race-mis-classification seems to undermine her credibilty as someone who wants to prevent people from lying on their way to the voting booth.

Koch-Backed Group Buys $150K in TV Time for Wisconsin Ad Blitz

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 2:13 PM EDT

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group founded by David Koch and funded by a roster of right-wing think tanks, has purchased $150,000 in TV air time in Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee, three of Wisconsin's biggest media markets. The ad buy comes in the run-up to Wisconsin's big recall elections, which are just over a week away. If spent on pro-GOP recall ads, the buy brings AFP's overall political spending on the recall races to more than $500,000.

The August 9 recall elections pit six under-fire state Senate Republicans against Democratic challengers. The six GOPers were targeted by voters after they backed Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union budget "repair" bill, a piece of legislation that sparked weeks of protests in Madison, the state capitol. Walker won the battle over his bill, which curbed collective bargaining rights for most public-sector unions in the Badger State, signing it into law in March. But soon after it was blocked by a district-level judge, who claimed GOPers violated the state's open meetings act in the passage of the bill. The bill eventually wound up before the state Supreme Court, where a three-justice conservative majority upheld the bill.

It's not only Republicans who have faced blowback for their actions during the battle over Walker's budget bill. Three Democratic state senators were targeted by conservatives for recall for fleeing the state in February to block a vote on Walker's bill. In July, one of them, Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen won in a landslide in the first general election of the recall season. Democrats need a net gain of three seats in the state senate to take control of the chamber.

Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive group One Wisconsin Now, called AFP's new ad blitz "the granddaddy of corporate, big oil special interest money" and a last-ditch effort to salvage the GOP majority in the state senate. "The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity has now dumped over $500,000 to pollute Wisconsin airwaves about the failed agenda of Scott Walker and the Senate Republicans—and they may just be getting started."

Huntsman: "I'm Not Ashamed To Be a Conservationist"

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 1:31 PM EDT

Jon Huntsman may be emerging as the only GOP presidential candidate willing to whole-heartedly endorse climate science. As I noted a few weeks ago, he has been the most straightforward in his assertion that politicians should defer to the scientific community on the question of whether the planet is warming. Yesterday, he went a step further, suggesting that future generations will judge the GOP on the issue of environmental stewardship.

From the Associated Press:

"We will be judged by how well we were stewards of those (natural) resources," said Huntsman, a veteran of three Republican administrations who until this spring was President Barack Obama's ambassador to China.
"Conservation is conservative. I'm not ashamed to be a conservationist. I also believe that science should be driving our discussions on climate change," he added.
Polling on the issue gives Huntsman little reason to embrace — or promote — his position or his moderate environmental record while governor.

Among the 2012 GOP candidates, Mitt Romney has also made the radical assertion that we should perhaps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. But now his campaign is busy quibbling with reporters about whether or not he thinks greenhouse gases are "pollutants," which isn't the greatest sign that he's serious about the problem.

Rick Perry Gets Cold Feet On Gay Marriage

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 12:53 PM EDT

Remember last week, when Texas Governor Rick Perry sounded a lot like a gay marriage supporter? Well, nevermind. All that talk about how states should be allowed to decide for themselves about allowing same-sex matrimony might have been great national press fodder, but it was too good to last. Yesterday, Perry appeared on the radio show of the Family Research Council to set things straight:

The real fear is states like New York will change the definition of marriage for Texas. That is the reason the Federal Marriage Amendment is being offered. It's a small group of activist judges and really a small handful, if you will, of states and these liberal special interest groups that are intent on a redefinition, if you will, of marriage on the nation for all of us, which I adamantly oppose. Indeed, to not pass the Federal Marriage Amendment would impinge on Texas' and other states' right not to have [gay] marriage forced upon them.

Of course, the Federal Marriage Amendment would also prevent any state from legalizing gay marriage at home. Which means that Perry thinks gay marriage "should be New York's perogative," except when it isn't.

H/T Texas Freedom Network.

No, Tea Partiers Are Not Really Targeting Allen West

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 9:54 AM EDT

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) announced to the House Republican caucus that he would "drive the car" on Speaker John Boehner's bill to raise the debt ceiling. On Thursday, even as it became painfully clear that Boehner didn't have the votes to push his plan through, the freshman tea partier stood by his Speaker. And that, according to a handful of tea party groups, is a betrayal they won't forget. The Hill's Alicia Cohn reports:

Tea Party leaders announced Thursday they are targeting Republican Reps. James Lankford (Okla.), Allen West (Fla.), Mike Kelly (Penn.), and Bill Flores (Texas), all four freshmen and declared yes-votes for Boehner...

However, Tea Party-affiliated organizations Tea Party Express, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Founding Fathers and United West indicated Thursday that their members will not tolerate a vote for the Boehner plan.

Tea Party leaders want West and the others to know they consider voting for Boehner's plan "caving in" and it could mean losing the support of the Tea Party in 2012.

Well, no. This would be a big deal—tea partiers revolt against tea partiers!—if any of these groups really had any power or a membership base. As my colleague Stephanie Mencimer explained yesterday, many of the "tea party leaders" who find themselves quoted in the press really aren't the leaders of anyone at all.

The Tea Party Patriots American Grassroots, which isn't listed in that particular story in The Hill but is frequently cited as a leading tea party organization, held a rally at the Capitol on Wednesday to show their opposition to raising the debt ceiling. Thirteen people showed up. If Jim DeMint and Americans for Prosperity start taking potshots at West, he might want to take notice. But these smaller groups pose about as much of a threat to the bomb-throwing congressman as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Update: West was asked about this just now on Laura Ingraham's radio show, and he's not backing down, insisting that abandoning Boehner would give Democrats what they want. Here's his—surprise!—military analogy: "It would be just the same as if you're in a combat operation and you're supposed to be attacking in a certain direction and you refuse to attack or you just attack in a different direction and you split your force and you create a gap by which the opposition can defeat you." The segment ends with Ingraham promising to campaign for West.

Update II: And now things just got weird. Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips just blasted out an email denying that his organization, such as it is, had ever threatened a primary challenge against West: "The group that put this press release out used Tea Party Nation's name without our permission. No one at TPN was shown this press release in advance. Had we been shown that press release, we would have vetoed the use of our name." So, once more: No, tea partiers are not really targeting Allen West.

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Which GOP Candidate is the Worst on Reproductive Rights?

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 9:49 AM EDT

Which of the Republican presidential candidates vetoed legislation that would require doctors to provide emergency contraception to rape victims?

It was then Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (The state legislature went on to pass it over his veto.)

Which 2012 GOP contender signed a similar measure into law? It was actually two of them—Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota in 2007 and Jon Hunstman in Utah in 2009.

These are among the facts in an assessment of the Republican presidential wannabes released by NARAL, the national pro-choice advocacy group. The organization examined the records of 12 candidates—some announced and some still teasing—and though a few have occasionally made moves slightly supportive of women's reproductive rights, all of the candidates received a failing grade. This was no shocker.

"They're all unacceptable for pro-choice voters," said Ted Miller, NARAL's communications director. He declined to rank them.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have consistently voted against abortion and family planning measures in national office. Romney and others have waffled. Then there's Rudy Giuliani (still potentially considering another run), who has declared himself pro-choice but also stated that "it would be OK to repeal" Roe v. Wade.

Abortion and other reproductive rights issues didn't factor very prominently in the 2008 or 2010 elections, when the talk was mostly about jobs and the economy. But given the once-again raging battles across the country over abortion rights and the recent scuffle in Congress over family planning, NARAL expects that abortion as a campaign issue will be back, big time, in 2012. "I can't imagine that women are going to forget that in the next year before elections," said Elizabeth Shipp, political director at NARA. "And certainly I think it's our job to make sure they don't."

Why Texas is the China of the West

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 8:21 AM EDT

As Americans lose ever more jobs and economic clout to China, the pressure's mounting for us to become more Chinese. Enter Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose 2012 presidential campaign slogan might as well be, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." In many ways, Texas is the China in our own backyard, a big, brash upstart that's created thousands of jobs by playing economic hardball. Admirers of the Lone Star State have dubbed its economy the "Texas Miracle," but maybe a better name would be the "Texas Tiger." 

 

Jobs for the taking:
China: Since joining the WTO, it has taken or caused the loss of more than 2.4 million US jobs.
Texas: Home to half of all US jobs created since 2009. Perry travels to other states to poach major employers.

Red states:
China: Deflates the value of its currency by 40 percent to subsidize exports and job creation.
Texas: Since 2003, has doled out $732 million in tax credits and subsidies to companies that relocated to the Lone Star State.

Labor on the cheap:
China: About 10 percent of the population still earns less than a dollar a day (pdf).
Texas: Tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of workers that earn the minimum wage or less.

Eco-impunity:
China: World's top carbon emitter would rather burn cheap coal than sign a climate treaty.
Texas: Nation's top carbon emitter was only state to refuse to comply with new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Tea party:
China: Effective corporate tax rate of 16.6 percent is less than half the US rate.
Texas: Top corporate tax rate of 1% is fourth lowest among US states. Bonus: No personal income tax.

Toxic torts:
China: Tainted milk, poisonous toys, glow-in-the-dark pork: Product scandals are common. Court convictions, not so much.
Texas: "Hurt? Injured? Need a lawyer? Too bad!" writes Texas Monthly, pointing out that the state's tort reforms force everyone from the hospitalized to homebuyers to fend for themselves.

Of rice and men:
China: Suffers from "a lack of adequate (even basic) social protection for a large portion of its 1.3 billion population," according to the International Social Security Association.
Texas: Ranks 46th out of 50 states in per-capita spending; new budget slashes another $15 billion from social services such as Medicaid, mental health centers, and legal aid for the poor.

Free-market cronyism:
China: "Princelings" such as vice-president Xi Jinping and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai have gotten rich by trading on their connections.
Texas: "Good ol' boys" such as corporate raider Harold Simmons and real estate mogul Harlan Crow have gotten rich by trading on their political donations.

Pray for rain:
China: Encroaching desert consumes a million acres of land a year.
Texas: The worst drought in history has turned large parts of the state into a moonscape.

40-gallon hats:
China:                                               Texas:

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 29, 2011

Fri Jul. 29, 2011 6:00 AM EDT

Third Platoon, Bravo Battery of the Automatic Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, light up the Zabul province night by firing illumination from their M777A2, 155 mm howitzer at suspected enemy movements from FOB Pasab, Zharay District, Zabul province, Afghanistan, July 20. (Photo by Sgt. Christopher McCann)

This Week in National Insecurity: Debtageddon Edition

| Fri Jul. 29, 2011 6:00 AM EDT

While you were watching The Town on Blu-Ray the DC debt-ceiling drama, a lot happened in the national security sphere. In this installment: We're defenseless against default, would-be domestic terrorists do it wrong, a Russian diplomat rips red-staters, a Vets' Hall of Fame inducts...Rick Scott, a fighter jet has gremlins, and the DOD outputs an epic cyber fail.

The sitrep:

• Yes, going into a debt default could make America less safe. Kind of a dilemma for conservative hawks.

• A Planned Parenthood clinic was firebombed in Texas. Terrorism? Perhaps. Al Qaeda? No, because they probably know better than to use diesel in a Molotov cocktail.