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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Obama Presidency and White Nationalist Resistance

This blog has made the case that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency was a referendum on white nationalism and white nationalism lost. The Republican right wing, which pushes an anti-civil rights agenda, was soundly defeated at the ballot box in November. Having said that, given America's over 300 years of white nationalism hegemony, those core ideas do not die easily. As a consequence, having an African American president is giving rise to white supremacist resistance. RGN

Rebranding Hate in the Age of Obama

With an African-American president and the economy in bad shape, extremist groups are trying to enter the mainstream—and they're having some success.

Eve Conant

From the magazine issue dated May 4, 2009
It's not about hate, it's about love. Love of white people. That's the message in songs, speeches and casual conversation during a weekend retreat in Zinc, Ark., sponsored by the Christian Revival Center and the Knights Party, an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan. There's no overt threat of violence here. No cross burnings (or "lightings," as the KKK prefers to call them). The only fire at the grassy compound, located at the end of a long, rocky road circled by turkey vultures, is a bonfire for the Knights youth corps to roast their s'mores. The kids draw pictures of white-hooded Klanspeople and sing songs about the oppressed Aryan race; rousing sermons are read from Bibles decorated with Confederate flags. Aryan souvenirs are for sale, including baseball caps proclaiming IT'S LOVE, NOT HATE and advertising

This would all be funny (Jon Stewart, where are you?) if it weren't so disturbing. "Do you know why people are so afraid of us?" asks Thomas Robb, the soft-spoken national director—don't call him grand wizard!—of the Knights. "Because we're so normal." In his speeches, Robb is more likely to make a joke about his short stature than he is about minorities. His Web site includes careful statements about nonviolence, green energy and women's rights. But among his ideological kin, Robb equates minorities to fleas and favors a program for "voluntary resettlement" to home countries. Illegal immigrants, as well as blacks serving time in prison, should be deported, he says. "Why is it that when a black man wants to preserve his culture and heritage it's a good thing, and when a white person wants the same thing, we're called haters?" he says.

Some of the roughly 50 attendees at the Arkansas lovefest wear Knights uniforms with Confederate flags and, along with their children, raise their arms "Heil, Hitler"–STYLE to shouts of "white power!" Robb sometimes dons his white robe and hood and doesn't see why that carries any baggage: "Why do judges wear robes? It's tradition." The Klan's past is misunderstood, he insists—no history of brutal lynchings, torture and intimidation; it's gotten a bad name from, for example, federal provocateurs who instigated violence. While Robb questions the authority of other Klan groups, he happily notes that "a rising tide lifts all ships."

It's hard to conduct accurate surveys of racists, who tend to exaggerate their strength and importance. But it's fair to say that in the Age of Obama, there's growing concern. This spring, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual "Year in Hate" report, which outlines that in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. (The SPLC doesn't measure the number of members in the groups.) An April Homeland Security intelligence report states that "the economic downturn and the election of the first African-American president present unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment." Home foreclosures, unemployment and an inability to obtain credit "could create a fertile recruiting environment," the briefing adds, and extremist groups are aiming to "broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda."

The haters are doing their best, in other words, to move out from the fringe and toward the mainstream—and they're boasting some success.

Indoctrination often starts on the Internet. Some crazies posting on MySpace, for instance, have called for armed revolution; at least one has referred to Barack Obama as "a dead man." But many leaders of white-supremacist groups and Web forums are toning down their rhetoric. The aim is to attract the kind of person Robb describes as "the guy down the road who until now had his plasma TV and car in the garage, but just lost his job and won't find a new one because some illegal already has it."

Don Black, a 56-year-old former KKK grand wizard, says he no longer has any formal affiliation with the Klan because "it just got so demonized and attracted the wrong people; it just got to be impossible." But that doesn't mean he's given up the struggle. As the founder of, he has the white-supremacist world at his fingertips, all from the comfort of his West Palm Beach, Fla., home. Last spring Black made it a policy for the site to "have no swastikas and Third Reich symbols to turn off first-time visitors."

Black had to upgrade his server after it crashed Nov. 5 along with another white-supremacist site, the Council of Conservative Citizens, according to the SPLC. "I knew we'd get a surge in interest [after the election], but I didn't expect so much; we couldn't handle it," says Black. In the 24 hours following Obama's victory, he says, 2,800 new users signed up. He claims 150,000 registered users and says he gets about 50,000 unique visits a day. (It's impossible to confirm the figures independently; the SPLC thinks the numbers are slightly higher, but civil-rights groups may also have an interest in exaggerating the phenomenon.) Stormfront has some 50 active forums, including venues for dating, financial advice, gardening and homemaking. Black has 65 volunteer moderators and three administrators.

One moderator, who goes by the alias Truck Roy, is a clean-cut 32-year-old who wouldn't give his real name for fear of losing his job. During the Knights weekend in Arkansas, Roy, a guest speaker, advised white recruiters to "keep it subtle. Don't hit 'em with anything too hard right off the bat or you will shock them. Find a chink in their armor and make friends. If you are too radical, they won't listen."

The Nationalist Coalition, a small outfit based in St. Petersburg, Fla., claims it has seen a jump in new members in just the past few months. In March, the Arizona chapter held a family "spaghetti night" meet and greet. Members also blanketed a Phoenix suburb with fliers depicting a white toddler and the word MISSING—an attempt to show that the future of the white race is in trouble. One of its national chiefs, Todd Weingart, says the group does not condone violence and is composed of doctors and lawyers as well as blue-collar workers. "If it was only immigration or the economy or a nonwhite running the country, there wouldn't be this interest. We know that," he says. "It's the combination that is getting people to stand up and get interested." Winston Smith, a host of the white-supremacist radio show "The Political Cesspool" in Millington, Tenn., says, "The emphasis is different now. We don't talk as much about what blacks have done to us; we're more focused on ourselves and our own culture."

At least one group has become more fashion-conscious. The National Socialist Movement—a descendent of the American Nazi Party—tweaked its uniform last year, switching from Nazi brown shirts to a more Italian Fascist look. "The uniforms we wore before were even more out there, more extreme," says "commander" Jeff Schoep, who, like the Knights' Robb, hails from Detroit. "Last April we adopted the black [uniforms]; it's part of our modernization project. We don't want to look like throwbacks to 1935. But we are not trying to trick people; there are enough white groups now trying to soft-pedal people into joining."

At one recent meeting in Springfield, Mo., a dozen NSM members wore black from chin to steel-toed boot. Some sported swastikas and tattoos and wore bomber jackets with cloth patches: NO HABLA ESPAÑOL, A––HOLE and a Jewish star being dumped in the trash. Their local leader, Cynthia Keene, has a half-shaved head and multiple piercings. She started the meeting with a 14-word pledge to secure the future of the white race. There was discussion of the "Holohoax" and the warrior nature of Aryans.

They know they're being monitored. It probably makes them feel important. Keene warns her followers, "We have to be careful what we do and say and stay out of their line of sight," referring to groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the SPLC.

One recent recruit, 31-year-old Melissa Cipcic, says she's upset about Americans losing jobs to illegal immigrants. She used to think of white-power groups as scary, she says, "but no one here advocates violence. So much more can be done with conversation."

The ADL's Mark Pitcavage says it is very difficult to track hate-group numbers because the organizations often splinter. What he tries to track is anger levels, and those, he warns, are rising—despite any superficial sweet talk: "The white-supremacist movement has been at red-hot anger levels for a long time. When I get concerned is when they get to white hot, where you see large bomb plots or talk about race wars. Right now we're at very red hot, and are concerned we might reach white hot again." He points to the MySpace account of "88Charles88" as an example of what he's seeing (88 is code for "Heil, Hitler" in the white-power world). "Charles" attacks Obama and says, "Now it's time to fight." "There is a lot of anger out there," says Pitcavage, "and these groups are trying to stoke it, to get someone like 88Charles88 to take the next step. What we're seeing is not a softening, but a hardening of attitude."

Pitcavage says current rhetoric resembles that of the early '90s (including conspiracy theories about FEMA concentration camps and gun confiscations), just before the outbreak of the white-militia movements. While some leaders of extremist groups may use softer recruiting tactics, "their membership is not toning down at all," says Pitcavage. For every NSM member, there is a nonaffiliated skinhead posting entries to hate blogs. If Stormfront has tried to tone down, that has only inspired a competing site—Vanguard—to showcase violent alternatives.

Some civil-rights activists are more worried about the racists they can't see than the showboaters trying to draw attention to themselves. "We're not going back to the '50s," says Mark Potok of the SPLC. "The country has moved forward in remarkable ways. But with that breakthrough comes something of a backlash." It's the loners, he says, who are most worrisome: "The lone-wolf idea is much scarier than the big-plot idea. Big plots don't succeed because these guys cannot keep their mouths shut."

As local law enforcement tells it, Cynthia Lynch was an Internet loner who tried to become a white activist and failed. She was recruited online to travel from Oklahoma last November to join a reputed Klan group in Bogalusa, La. The group called itself the Sons of Dixie. But after meeting the members, the 43-year-old Lynch had second thoughts and tried to back out during an extended initiation ceremony. She was shot dead and buried in the backwoods of St. Tammany Parish.

The Sons of Dixie were rounded up after two of them asked a Circle K clerk how to remove blood stains from clothing, authorities said. Their alleged leader, Raymond (Chuck) Foster, had a history of Klan involvement and was in the SPLC database, but no one had previously heard of the Sons of Dixie. As it turned out, Foster, who has been indicted for second degree murder, lived just more than a mile away from Bogalusa's mayor, James McGehee. "I thought I knew everyone here, but I guess I didn't," says the mayor. "I think these were Klan wannabes."

The mayor and local law-enforcement officers have spent the past few months working with the FBI to rule out further Klan activities in the area and meeting with local black churches to discuss the problem. As a child, McGehee grew up hearing about the Klan and watching civil-rights marches, he recalls. "The Klan was obviously here then. But I hadn't really heard that word in 25 years," he says. Cynthia Lynch might also have thought the old racists had softened with time; on Foster's MySpace page, according to the SPLC, he listed Jesus Christ as his hero and said he'd like to meet "honest loyal people who are devoted to things and take them seriously." She might have thought the Sons of Dixie would provide something—a sense of community or pride —that her life was missing. She didn't learn otherwise until it was too late.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Even Propagandist Newt Concedes

Of all people, Newt Gingrich concedes that the Obama presidency has hit a home run. His prediction: Obama is likely to transform "Change we can believe in" to "Change in what we believe." RGN

100 Days of Devastatingly Swift Success
by Newt Gingrich (more by this author)
Posted 04/29/2009 ET

To mark President Obama’s 100th day in office, I’m going to say something you might find unexpected, even shocking:

President Obama’s first 100 days have been spectacularly successful.

President Obama is the strongest domestic Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson. His ability to get Democrats in Congress to give him things that undermine their own power is impressive.

In just 100 days, President Obama has been devastatingly effective in moving forward swiftly the most radical, government-expanding agenda in American history.

Successfully Moving to a European Model of Government Control

At home, in everything from his economic policy to his energy policy to his just-announced science policy, President Obama has successfully moved the country from a traditional American model of entrepreneurship and private initiative to a European model of regulation and government control.

Abroad, he has succeeded in his apparent goal to be the un-George W. Bush; replacing aggressive, if sometimes flawed, American leadership with a humbled, weakened America on the world stage.

Judged by these standards, President Obama’s first 100 days have been a remarkable success.

Getting Congress to Give Him Things That Undermine Their Own Power

The Obama record in the first 100 days includes three instances of spectacular political impunity:

• Under the guise of “economic stimulus” he was able to pass a $787 billion gift for his liberal special interest base. And he did it so quickly that no member of Congress was able to read it before they voted.

• After campaigning on a pledge to end earmarks, he signed an appropriations bill loaded with 8,000 earmarks -- and paid no political penalty.

• President Obama has kept congressional Democrats marching with him in lockstep. House Democrats tow the party line an amazing 94 percent of the time and Senate Democrats vote Democratic 91 percent of the time.

Two Historic Bureaucratic Power Grabs

In these first 100 days, the Obama Administration has achieved two historic bureaucratic power grabs:

• President Obama has transformed the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) into giant engines of unsupervised spending. Together, they’ve spent the equivalent of the entire federal budget for 2007, without having to disclose where the money went.
• Just two weeks ago, the President presided over an unprecedented bureaucratic power grab when his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health. This seemingly innocuous decision opens the door to wholesale regulation of American life by government. The threat is so great that politicians and activists are using the specter of an out-of-control EPA to force Congress to pass a $1 trillion to $2 trillion energy tax in the form of cap-and-trade legislation.

In Foreign Policy, Weakness and Self-Delusion

The Obama 100 days record also includes remarkable weakness and self-delusion overseas:

• In an attempt to overcome anti-Americanism abroad by agreeing with it, President Obama has gone on a global apology tour, labeling America as “arrogant, dismissive and derisive” in front of foreign audiences.
• President Obama has unleashed a domestic war over the meaning of guilt by caving in to the anti-American left and leaving the door open to prosecuting Bush Administration officials over the interrogation of terrorists who plotted to kill Americans.
All Other Obama “Accomplishments” Are Only a Prelude to His $3.5 Trillion Budget

But all these successful expansions of government at home and retractions of American leadership abroad are merely a prelude to President Obama’s looming crowning achievement: His 2010 budget which remakes our health care system, remakes our energy system, raises taxes and forecasts an amazing $9 trillion increase in the national debt.

As I write this, Democrats in Congress are fashioning a deal to pass the budget’s provisions on health care by preventing Republicans and moderate Democrats from having a voice in the debate.

Think about that. The Obama-Reid-Pelosi political machine is going to pass legislation that fundamentally affects every single American -- as well as 17 percent of our economy -- by cutting the elected representatives of half of all Americans out of the process.

If they succeed, the budget will be President Obama’s most enduring -- and devastating -- accomplishment.

Will the Future Bring Change We Can Believe In? Or a Change in What we Believe?

One thing is clear at this point in President Obama’s presidency: His control of Washington Democrats has been so masterful, and his policies so successful, that he has officially claimed ownership of the American economy.

Going forward, it won’t be possible to continue to place blame on former President Bush and the Republicans. If President Obama fails, it will be his failure and his alone.

As for us, the “success” of the first 100 days of the Obama presidency raises a threatening possibility.

As my daughter and columnist Jackie Cushman put it, if we’re not careful, instead of change we can believe in, we’re going to have change in what we believe.

It’s something to ponder for the next 1,361 days.

Your friend,
Newt Gingrich

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ron Walters: Grading Obama at 100 Days.

Walters grades Obama in his first 100 days as somewhere between an "A-" or "B+". Obama has tackled a finsncial crisis, crisis in auto, the illegality and immorality of the Bush-Cheney policies, he has wowed (!!) the E-20 and the OAS and he gets somewhere between an "A-" or "B+"??!!! Walters' concern is about Obama's lack of targeting programs that center on problems of the black community. RGN

Grading President Obama
By Ron Walters

This is the season for giving President Barack Obama his 100 day grade and in my participation in a number of these events, I concluded that he has earned somewhere between an “A-“ and a “B+”, more the latter. My reasoning is two fold: while he has done a great deal for the nation, from which blacks also benefit, he has done little to directly target the persistent problems faced by the black community yet.

The comparison to the performance of President Obama is often made to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who also inherited an economic crisis and who sponsored 15 major pieces of legislation to attempt to fix it. Barack Obama has to some extent matched that record by gravity of his decisions. For example, Roosevelt had not inherited a war, but Obama made the decision as his first act of business, to inform the nation that he was changing course and establishing a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq. In his era, Roosevelt had nothing like the financial behemoths that roam the landscape of American capitalism today and so, Obama’s treatment of the banks, the financial institutions and the auto industry must be seen as comparable to Roosevelt’s regulation of the banking industry.

Where there seems to be more comparability is in the social sector where both men created programs to get America working again. Obama crafted a $787 billion Stimulus Package and a $49 billion small business assistance package. Roosevelt did not have the equivalent of the home foreclosure crisis, but Obama enacted a $79 billion home stabilization package. This performance was, therefore, not only breath-taking in its scope, but unprecedented in its historical importance in attempting to turn the country around.

On the other hand, I don’t see the Obama administration giving much special attention to the Black community and even black leaders interviewed admit that his administration has been weak on grass economic measures. So, in order to give Obama an “A” at this point, you would have to come to the conclusion that blacks not only benefit, but benefit as equally as others from the general policies that have been enacted on behalf of the nation. But how is that possible when blacks entered these crises suffering from double the rates of unemployment, triple the rate of incarceration, nearly double the lack of home ownership, and serious gaps with whites in almost every category of life? In this case, the rising tide will not lift all the boats equally.

In order not to grade him down, you would have to come to the conclusion that he could not possibly enact any targeted solutions to the problems faced by blacks and other such populations. Some accept that logic and give him a pass. I’m not ready to do that because I know that – without proposing legislation devoted specifically to blacks -- there are many non-racial ways of targeting public resources so that they effectively reach specific populations. The White House Office on Urban Policy could be such a vehicle, but he has not yet given it the profile or the mandate to do anything. No one has seen its Director, no speeches have been given about its agenda and so, one suspects that is in the offing for some time in the future.

If targeting public policy is not possible, then how do you account for the fact that one of the first acts of President Obama was to include a healthy percentage of women in his cabinet (some are still being confirmed). He then, signed the Lilly Ledbetter act promising equal pay for women, lifted the international gag rule for abortion counseling on American aid programs, followed that up with a White House Council of Women and Girls, and etc. In fact, this is an impressive list of actions devoted to women, who – not incidentally -- constitute 53% of the electorate.

This first 100 days would have been difficult for any President to mark important achievements, but especially when one has inherited the monumental problems faced by this Administration. Moreover, my colleagues believe that it is the second 100 days in which presidents have generally achieved much more. So, one should not despair that the black agenda has not been vigorously addressed as yet, but at the same time, one should not let the honeymoon that President Obama is enjoying among blacks and their leaders extend too far into the future.

Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Center, and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (U. Michigan Press.)

And what is happening to the working class???

Bob Herbert is right-on on his critique of who is really paying the price of this "economic recovery." The bankers have not learned their lessons and the work force shrinks. We are hemmoraging workers. RGN

April 28, 2009
Workers Walk the Plank

I’m sure everyone is thrilled to know that the high rollers on Wall Street are bouncing back. With profits on the rebound, the big shots at the biggest institutions are on track, as The Times reported Sunday, to make as much money this year as they were hauling in before the mega-recession began.

The growing legions of the unemployed can be forgiven for not shouting hallelujah. It’s a little like watching the drunken driver who plowed into your family car and caused untold havoc and heartache, suddenly pulling up one morning, no worse for the wear, in a sparkling new vehicle.

The folks who led the nation to this financial abyss are the ones being made whole on the taxpayers’ dime. We can look after them, all right. But we can’t seem to get credit flowing in any normal way again; we can’t stanch the terrible flow of home foreclosures; and we’re not doing nearly enough to address the most critical need of all: putting people back to work.

While Wall Street is breaking out the Champagne yet again, the rest of the economy is beyond terrible, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, offered a rundown of the unemployment crisis in remarks she prepared for a House subcommittee last week. Ms. Shierholz began by noting that next month the current economic downturn will become the longest since the Great Depression.

“The 10 postwar recessions prior to this one have averaged 10.4 months in length, with the longest being 16 months,” said Ms. Shierholz. “The current recession is now in its 16th month and the labor market is still shedding over 600,000 jobs a month.”
Wall Street can swallow all the Champagne it wants, and the market fanatics can obsess until their brains lock over the daily gyrations of the Dow. The simple fact is that working men and women are being squeezed in the ever-tightening jaws of a catastrophe.

The American auto industry is fading before our eyes. Chrysler is looking to Fiat — Fiat! — as a savior. The once-impregnable General Motors is now a giant junkyard sinking in quicksand. It disclosed Monday that it will cut another 21,000 factory jobs in the United States over the next year. If G.M. were to go under it would take an enormous chain of satellite industries down with it.

More than 13 million people are officially counted as unemployed, with some 5.6 million jobs lost since the recession started. Ms. Shierholz tells us that since the first of the year about 23,000 men and women were being added to the jobless rolls every day.

Job losses on such a scale are knockout blows to ordinary American families.
The importance of employment to the everyday life and long-term health of the nation is too often given short shrift. A recent report, “The 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream,” found, not surprisingly, that “work is the linchpin holding the dream together” for most Americans.

In fact, the mythic American dream is becoming more and more elusive. The big concern facing millions of families at the moment is economic survival. More than half of all Americans — 56 percent — are concerned that they might lose their jobs in the next year. Few are prepared for such a setback.
As the authors of the MetLife study reported:

“With the erosion of social and corporate safety nets, tightening credit and declining home equity, most Americans have little financial cushioning to survive a job loss. Without a steady paycheck, 50 percent of Americans say they could not meet their financial obligations for more than a month — and, of that, a disturbing 28 percent couldn’t support themselves for more than two weeks of unemployment.”
That’s the case in an environment in which more than three million Americans already have been out of work for more than six months.

The employment issue is not being addressed with the level of urgency that is warranted. For all the talk of green jobs, there is no large-scale creative effort to turn this employment debacle around. There is no crash program on anything like the scale needed, for example, to rebuild the rotting infrastructure — a big-time potential source of jobs.

The financial industry is seen as essential, but millions of American workers are not. They’re expendable.

If as much attention, energy and resources were given to the effort to put Americans back to work as has been given to putting the banking industry back on its feet, you’d have fewer Champagne toasts on Wall Street but a lot more high-fiving in family homes across the country.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Barack Gets Rave Reviews

President Barack Obama is being received well by the American people. For his First 100 Days, Obama has shown competence, intelligence and confidence in handling an agenda that is simply unbelievable. There have been some minor bumps and those will be corrected (i.e. holding Bush, Cheney et al). The Republicans nw have a 21% approval rating. Their white nationalism, with its divisiveness, conservatism and racism, is being rejected. RGN

From Politico
April 27, 2009 04:18 AM EST

President Barack Obama scores high marks for how he has handled his job in his first three months in office, according to new polls released as the 100-day anniversary of his presidency approaches this Wednesday.

A Gallup­ survey found 56 percent of Americans giving Obama an excellent or good job rating, vs. 20 percent who grade him terrible or poor so far. The partisan breakdown in the poll was stark: 88 percent of Democrats surveyed gave Obama a good or excellent rating, compared with 24 percent of Republicans; and just 3 percent of Democrats said he has done a poor or terrible job in his first 100 days, compared with 40 percent of Republicans who said that.

When asked what was the best thing Obama has done since becoming president, 27 percent cited his economic measures, and 21 percent said improved foreign relations. In both cases, the responses were driven by positive responses from Democrats. Asked about the worst thing Obama had done, Republicans led with negative comments: 28 percent cited economic measures (particularly bailouts, the budget and economic stimulus packages), and 11 percent said national security issues, citing relations with enemies, the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the release of information about Bush administration torture techniques.

In a new poll by The Washington Post, 69 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s job performance. Majorities also approved of his handling of health care, global warming, taxes and Cuba; 38 percent disapproved of his handling of taxes and the federal deficit; and 53 percent opposed how he has dealt with big U.S. automakers.

“About three-quarters of Americans see Obama as a ‘strong leader,’ as ‘honest and trustworthy,’ as empathetic and as someone who can be trusted in a crisis,” the Post reported. “Six in 10 said he is in sync with their values, and nearly as many rate him a good commander in chief.”

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