Saturday, June 6, 2009

Focus on the Family inspires drug cartels

Yup. You read that correctly:
Now, Michael Reynolds at JulyDogs has a series of posts detailing how FoF's influence is spreading south of the border too -- and it isn't pretty:
On Saturday an internal intelligence report on La Familia from the Mexican justice department surfaced in Milenio, bringing the news that the faith-based cartel grounds its indoctrination program on the writings of macho Christian author and veteran Focus On The Family senior fellow John Eldredge, who now heads Ransomed Hearts Ministries in Colorado Springs.

There are four separate references to Eldredge in the Mexican intelligence memo on La Familia. The cartel has conducted a three-year recruitment and PR campaign across Michoacan featuring thousands of billboards and banderas carrying their evangelical message and warnings. La Familia is known for tagging its executions and other mayhem as “la divina justica”–divine justice.

The report says La Familia leader, Nazario Gonzalez Moreno aka El Loco o More Chayo (”The Craziest”) has made Eldredge’s books required reading for La Familia and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education members to circulate the Colorado-based evangelical’s writings throughout the Michoacan countryside.

Reynolds goes on to cite Christian blogger Tim Challies:

John Eldredge became a major player in the evangelical world with the release of The Sacred Romance which he co-authored with Brent Curtis (who has since died). Following The Sacred Romance he wrote Wild at Heart, Waking The Dead, The Journey of Desire and more recently, Epic. I have read all of these except for Waking The Dead and The Journey of Desire. Eldredge’s books are targeted primarily at men and his writings have great appeal for men, many of whom feel that society has forced them to be like Mr. Rogers – harmless and just a little effeminate. Eldredge encourages men to be real men – to head to the wilderness and be the rugged warriors we all want to be if we look deep inside ourselves. Eldredge continually writes about William Wallace of Braveheart or Maximus, the main character in Gladiator – real manly men.”

As Reynolds explores in two follow-up posts, the way this has translated on the ground in Mexico is a wave of violence directed against not merely rival drug gangs, but also anyone who fails to live up to its version of "masculine Christianity":

“La Familia doesn’t kill for money, doesn’t kill women, doesn’t kill innocent people. It only kills those who deserve to die. Everyone should know this: Divine justice.”–message left with five severed heads on the dance floor of the Sol y Sombra nightclub in Uruacan, Michoacan, September 6, 2006.

... From all available information so far, it appears that La Familia has developed into a faith-based right-wing populist social movement emanating from and orchestrated by an organization that happens to be a well-armed, well-financed violent criminal enterprise.

... La Familia is strongly pro-family (and all that that implies) and requires its members to abstain from alcohol and drugs. There is an indoctrination program all La Familia recruits must go through that inculcates “ personal values, ethical and morlal principles consistent with the purposes of the organization.” Last year La Familia brought in two motivational speakers to lecture its members. The group is hierarchic and maintains a strict top-down emotional control of its members.

Think of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, only with more money and firepower and you get the idea.

So maybe Tony Perkins' bashing of Dr. George Tiller just prior to his assassination was not an accident after all.

From that first July Dogs dispatch, here's an example of their brand of "Christianity":
Just think of some of those cartels in Afghanistan affiliated with a somewhat different religious extremism, and you get the picture.

Even in a depressed economy, education matters

My friendly message to those who are so hostile towards higher education that they can't see straight is to consider the following: those with college or university degrees (at at least the Bachelors level) are weathering the nasty economic conditions far better than those without degrees.

The figures provided at Calculated Risk are from last year, and of course the usual caveat applies:
Note that the unemployment rate has risen sharply for all categories in 2009. For "less than a high school diploma" the rate has increased from 9% in [2008] to almost 16% in May.
I fixed a typo in the quote made by the original author.

Of course, it's important to remember that things aren't necessarily rosy for those with 4-year degrees, or those with Masters, Professional, or Doctoral degrees - just that we're having an easier time hanging on to jobs and finding new jobs. Barring the collapse of civilization (which I seriously doubt will happen in my lifetime), I don't see any reason for that dynamic to change.

In the meantime, the usual word to the wise applies: if you're in school, stay in school. If your state's legislature is hostile toward higher education (those of us living in "red" states are accustomed to open hostility towards higher ed. among those who control our respective state capitols), at bare minimum this would be a good time to educate those legislators as to the consequences of further cutting education budgets and further attempts to make a college education less accessible (for example a state population that's less employed and less employable, and less able to take advantage of whatever economic recovery might transpire at some point in the next decade). Of course, if your legislators don't care about such matters, election years are a good time to throw the bloody bums out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

UK recently ended its 19 year war against Iraq

However, as Rick B asks, "any news on when the US plans to really leave?"

My guess: the US won't give up its new pseudo-colony willingly.

Not out of the woods...

Lately, if I happen to be in a room where a news program is blaring from a nearby television, I hear all sorts of happy chatter about the economy - both in the US and globally. However, as I've gone to making sites like Calculated Risk and Naked Capitalism regular reads, I've learned to trust my gut a bit more regarding such happy chatter: namely, the economy sucks and it is really not going to get better any time too soon.

Most recently, via Naked Capitalism, I ran into an article entitled A Tale of Two Depressions. The basic upshot of the article is that the current global economic downturn is not only comparable to that of the 1930s, but can be considered arguably worse. I'd also note that whatever indicators exist to suggest that things have stabilized a bit, take those indicators with a few grains of salt. Although history does not repeat verbatim, it's instructive to remember that 1) signs of stabilization early on in the Great Depression of the 1930s were followed by further deterioration, and 2) too many policy makers seem hooked on this generation's version of Social Darwinism (known today as neoliberalism) to offer effective measures to counter the effects of the depression is having on those most vulnerable. Instead, we see massive bailouts for the very institutions that caused the current mess in the first place, while more people find themselves out of work, displaced, and/or at risk for starvation as whatever safety nets that had been put in place in the US and a few other portions of the planet that were set up following the previous depression have been dismantled or are in the process of being dismantled.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

American Taliban - Ever Unrepentant

Found at Marisacat.

See also, Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue Hater:

Twenty years ago

The democracy movement in Tiananmen Square came to an abrupt end. Never forget.

A tune to capture the spirit (though fuck Sony for refusing to allow embedding of the video): Tian An Man Dream Again, from the 1991 album Flyin' the Flannel by fIREHOSE.

Ghost Rider

First, Suicide from around 1977 or 1978:

Next, Soft Cell w/ J.G. Thirlwell (aka Clint Ruin, aka Foetus), from a live BBC concert in 1983:

Finally, how could I resist this Rollins Band cover?

"America is killing its youth..."

War Pimp Renaissance

"War Pimp Renaissance" - from the Lard album, Pure Chewing Satisfaction. Combine Jello Biafra, Al Jourgenson, and Paul Barker, and let the musical mayhem begin.

All the people are asleep and dreaming

"Tin Omen" - Skinny Puppy

The escape that wasn't

by the columnist who shouldn't.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An insight into anti-choice propaganda

The "Pro-Life" Movement's Hot Rhetoric and All-Out Lies:
One of the most contentious issues now in the news, in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, is how much moral culpability the anti-choice movement bears for motivating the man who took Dr. Tiller's life. I've had innumerable discussions with folks who are confused about the extremism and anger that characterizes the "right to life" movement, people who mistakenly believe that it's a mostly harmless group of rosary-shuffling grandmothers who, at worst, sit around abortion clinics looking doe-eyed. Or that the picketers at women's clinics could be reasonably described as peaceful. Discrediting these myths isn't fun or easy, but something that fell into my lap in the past week coincidentally turns out to be quite helpful in convincing people that the anti-choice movement, rather than being composed of generally good-hearted folks who just have a thing for fetuses, is in fact composed of hard-hearted sexist ideologues. I've got my hands on a 113-page training manual (PDF) for protesters working for Justice For All, an anti-choice organization that targets college campuses (in keeping with the anti-choice obsession with singling out young, middle class women, whom they wish to preserve as symbols of virginal innocence). Don't worry. My sources got this manual the old-fashioned way, by asking.


What I first learned was that Justice For All has no problem instructing its activists to use deception to lure people into a conversation. In the section titled "Why Don't You Pass Out Condoms and Promote Birth Control?," the authors tacitly admit that sensible people might be put off by the anti-choice movement's willingness to increase the abortion rate by standing as firmly against contraception, especially the birth control pill, as they do legal abortion. So instead of allowing members to admit their hostility to all forms of contraception, they instruct them to conceal their beliefs until a target has been softened up to hear about their true message--sexual abstinence for all not trying to procreate--through a series of dodgy, misleading arguments, including misinformation about how the birth control pill works.

This tactic is a mainstay of the anti-choice movement: it shows one face to the initiated, and another to the public, especially on the topic of contraception. Once you realize this, the movement's half-hearted denunciations of Dr. Tiller's murder, coupled with the enthusiastic return to calling Dr. Tiller a monster, become all the more chilling.

Throughout the handbook, you find a willingness to ignore or outright deny inconvenient facts. The section "What If The Mother's Life Is In Danger" is particularly outrageous, in light of the fact that it spreads many of the lies that led directly to Dr. Tiller's assassination. Dr. Tiller performed a number of medically indicated late term abortions, and anti-choice attempts to use legal persecution to catch him fudging the ugly realities proved fruitless. Despite this, Justice For All encourages its activists to believe they know better than medical doctors what constitutes a medically necessary abortion, and the handbook claims there is only one instance where a pregnancy can threaten a woman's life.


Shocking as all this is, perhaps the most shocking is the section addressing what Justice For All believes about the motivations of doctors who perform and women who obtain abortion, in a section titled "Abortion Isn't Genocide!" Yes, they believe that abortion is genocide, and their rationales for this belief depend on a bunch of out-of-context quotes suggesting that terminating a pregnancy is exactly the same thing as targeting a people for elimination. People commit genocide because they hate the group in question, so the implication (barely implied, and almost directly stated) is that doctors and women who have abortions do so because they hate fetuses. Not because the woman can't go through a pregnancy for a myriad of personal reasons. Not because the doctor is trying to help the woman. No, because pro-choicers hate fetuses.

This is the sort of vicious lie that led to Dr. Tiller's assassination. Realistically speaking, Dr. Tiller was a good man who loved children enough to have four of his own, who joyfully celebrated the pregnancies of women who wanted to be pregnant, who opened his home to women who wished to give their babies up for adoption, and who mourned the loss of very much wanted pregnancies with his patients who had to terminate. In the eyes of his detractors, Dr. Tiller was a genocidal monster who killed fetuses because he hated them.

That is why every person who trots out this nonsense about how abortion is "genocide" played a part in Sunday's tragedy. You paint good, moral, righteous man who lived by his principles, even in the face of grave danger as an irrational monster who gets his kicks by killing babies, and the people who believe you will feel they have to do something. Even if that something is murder.

Context is crucial, as I've been trying to say all along, and it should be pretty bloody obvious at this point that the anti-choice groups in words and deeds have created the climate in which the actions of Scott Roeder and his ilk will occur.

More on the Operation Rescue-Scott Roeder Link

Operation Rescue adviser helped Tiller suspect track doctor's court dates:
When Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller stood trial in March on charges he violated state law in providing late-term abortions, the man now accused of killing him made a point of attending the hearings.

And after Tiller was acquitted on charges that he had failed to properly justify late-term abortions, the suspect, Scott Roeder, told a fellow anti-abortion activist that the whole process was a "sham."


Roeder apparently kept track of the state prosecution against Tiller through a senior member of Operation Rescue, the anti-abortion organization.

The senior member in question, Cheryl Sullenger, served two years for attempting to bomb a family planning clinic back in the late 1980s (the article reports that she's presumably since renounced such violent behavior).

More American Taliban

Image courtesy of Antonia Zerbisias at Broadsides, who says:
That's from the home page of of the so-called Army of God, with which the suspect now being held in connection with the execution of Dr. George Tiller reportedly has a connection. That's in addition to his links to Operation Rescue, the organization that stalked and harassed Tiller for years. Its affiliated websites are down or apparently have been scrubbed since the murder. Websites like these vicously attack abortion providers, post their names, photos and addresses and all but invite followers to target them. They also harass women with live cameras outside clinics and invade their privacy.
She then goes into the general hostility toward women that members of these groups hold, and then adds:

So, without further ado and to-do, here's today's treeware column, which grew out of Sunday's American Taliban blogpost, with linky goodness and some annotations.

While only one suspect assassinated Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his Wichita church on Sunday, the shooter did not act alone.

Oh sure, just one man, Scott Roeder, 51, has been arrested in connection with the fatal attack on the doctor, one of only three in the entire U.S. courageous enough to protect women's lives and rights by performing late-term abortions.

But, as the news of the murder spread online, you could see the face of the American Taliban – shall we say Christofascists instead? – who have supported those who have shot and killed abortion providers, firebombed and invaded clinics and harassed desperate women on their way in or out of doctor's offices.

There's been vandalism, arson, kidnapping, murder and attempted murder.

The attacks have occurred both in the United States and in Canada,where, as the Star reported last week, authorities are not charging James Kopp, now doing life plus 10 in New York for the execution of Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998, despite his being "a person of interest" in the shooting of abortion providers here.

In fact, Tiller himself had already been shot in both arms in 1993. And still, he soldiered on, knowing full well that no woman wakes up in the sixth month of her pregnancy and says, "Hmmm, I have changed my mind. I don't want a baby today."

He performed acts of mercy.

And by the way, Canadian women relied on Tiller as well.

But watch Fox News' Bill O'Reilly (you'll find video on my blog), who railed against the good doctor of Wichita, calling him "Tiller the Killer" on more than two dozen programs, and you'd think every abortion is a late-term abortion, despite the fact that only 0.2 per cent per year are.

A typical statement from O'Reilly and his ilk: "In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000 if the mother is depressed. And there are rapists impregnating 10-year-olds who are being protected by abortion clinics. It doesn't get worse than that. This is the absolute shame of America."

Go to the so-called Christian websites – where gruesome videos of cut-up babies are splattered over the home pages – and you'd think that women and their doctors were tearing little children limb from limb every time an abortion is performed.

No wonder that, since Sunday, many websites were no longer accessible because their tech types were furiously scrubbing the incitements to violence. But the Internet does not forget, and the cached pages have been preserved, revealing the hate in its entirety.

Which could explain why Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, which dogged Tiller, and on whose website Roeder posted, said yesterday, having nothing to lose: "George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder. Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."

I have to ask, at what point does the U.S.'s constitutionally protected free "effective rhetoric" end and the incitement to violence, called "fighting words" in a 1942 Supreme Court decision, start?

Make no mistake: The systematic targeting of abortion clinics and their patients is domestic Jezebels - Copy terrorism. That despite how the right, including top-ranking Republicans such as John McCain and Sarah Palin, pretend otherwise.

Just because it's carried out by white men instead of brown ones, committed in the name of Jesus instead of Allah, and all but encouraged by the right-wing hate machine online and on the air cannot mask the sick, sad truth.

These men who commit these acts, ostensibly to protect babies, really hate women. (And why is it that it's almost always men who head these anti-choice organizations, including the Church?) They hate them just as much as those brutes in far-off countries where women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe.

The result is the same: women being denied equality, independence, the right to protect their health and their families

Oh, here it's all cloaked differently. "Think of the `unborn' children." "What about the right of the fetus?" "Doesn't the baby get freedom of choice?'"

What a load. The only thing that stands between the women-haters in other lands and women-haters here are the feminist men and women who fight for women's rights.

Pretty well sums it up.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Found on the internet tubes

Loserdust: George Tiller and pro-lifers: some links.

Buck Naked Politics: Murdered Doctor Target of Campaign by Bill O'Reilly; Meanwhile, Wingnuts Celebrate Success of Domestic Terrorism, While Right-Wing Hypocrites Speedily Try to Distance Themselves

Dick Cheney Was Right!:
Obama failed to torture people, and now we've had a terrorist attack on the United States by crazy fundamentalists.
Perversely humorous, although the first part of the sentence isn't quite right.

Corrente Wire: Doing The Math - The Number of Americans Killed By Right Wing Terrorism In The 90s. Check it:
Now, let's look at the home front:


Michael Griffin kills Dr. David Gunn outside his clinic in Pensacola, Florida.

In addition, Dr. George Tiller was shot outside his clinic in Kansas by Rochelle Shannon, though he survived.


Dr. John Britton and escort James Barrett are murdered outside Britton's clinic also in Pensacola, Florida.


John Salvi kills employees Shannon Lowney and Leeanne Nichols at clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. Five others are inured as well.


Timothy McVeigh murders 168 Americans who work at the Murrow Building in Oklahoma City.


Eric Rudolph plats a 40 pound pipe bomb and kills Alice Hawthorne at Olympic Park. 111 other people are injured as well.


Eric Rudolf kills clinic guard Robert Sanderson at an early morning clinic bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.


Terrorist James Kopp kills Dr. Bernard Slepian at his home in New York. In the aftermath of Slepian's murder, Flip Benham of Operation Rescur called the cries for non-violance "pitiful" and said, "we are in store for more bloodshed in the streets—the likes of which will sicken even the sturdiest among us."

One hundred and seventy six murders were committed by the American right to the eighty-nine committed by foreign terrorists. The DHS has warned us recently to be prepared for more right violence. I didn't think it would come so quickly.

As an aside, I initially thought some of the reports coming out prior to the DHS report were overblown, though events in the interim have required a rethink.

Debra Sweet: The Murder of Dr. Tiller. She also acknowledges that pundits such as O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Coulter have helped to create a climate that would facilitate violence such as the Tiller assassination.

Kevin Hayden at American Street: It's Open Season on Women Again.

One more aside: I knew, via a family member, a family whose members got involved with Operation Rescue. Those people struck me, and before too long the family member in question, as crazed fanatics. I'm not terribly surprised when someone associated with that group, which has for ages now used hateful rhetoric, intimidation tactics, and has certainly acted as a terrorist group would haul off and assassinate a physician who performs abortions. As mentioned before, certainly the climate has been created that has facilitated previous assassinations, assassination attempts, and bombings of family planning clinics throughout the US. There is no common ground to be found with these fanatics, period. It's well past time to wake up to that one basic fact.

About that T word

Steve Benen at Political Animal:

I can appreciate the notion that "terrorism" may seem like a loaded, provocative term. But in a case like the Tiller assassination, the word clearly applies.

We're dealing with an act of politically-motivated violence, against a law-abiding American on American soil, intended to scare, intimidate, and change U.S. policy.

I read through the comments, and what struck me was one of the things that struck me while reading through some of the chatter on Twitter last night: there are a lot of anti-abortion folks who want to define terrorism as narrowly as possible to exclude Roeder's assassination of Dr. Tiller, and who want to frame the message that Roeder's act was an isolated event. Commenter Karen Marie does a great job of debunking the right-wing's spinning of Roeder's act of terrorism:

Bob M (and others) are defining terrorism narrowly to suit their current needs. but he'll need to narrow it a bit more in order to say that the murder of dr. tiller was not an act of terrorism.

people who identify as "pro-life" constitute a group. just as football fans are a group, motorcycle fans are a group, weekend gardeners are a group. groups don't act in formal concert, receiving instructions from one hierarchy, but nonetheless individual members can act in furtherance of the goals of the group.

terrorist groups, whether informal or formal, are not organized exclusively to achieve religiously-oriented goals. the tamil tigers, for instance, are a terrorist group not acting to further or protect religious beliefs. basque separatists are not acting to further or protect religious beliefs.

timothy mcveigh did not bomb the federal building in oklahoma as part of a plot of an organized group, he did it with the help of some friends, but that bombing was an act of terrorism. people are still terrified. you see proof of that every time you enter a courthouse or large federal building and walk through security. we are not being protected from common criminals but from terrorists.

radical pro-lifers share a philosophy with a goal to impose their views on the rest of us whether we like it or not, regardless of the death and destruction necessary to achieve their goal.

terrorism is a tactic, it is an act, it is not a philosophy or goal. it is the means to an end. a hallmark of terror is randomness, not knowing where it will strike.

the "pro-life" crowd wants you to believe it was a random act but only in a very narrow sense ("we're not responsible!"). but dr. tiller's murder was anything but random. he was targeted. to people who don't know dr. tiller, couldn't find kansas on a map if it was the entirety of the map, it appeared out of the blue, in a church -- someplace people think of as being safe -- it feels entirely random, it could have been their church, their medical clinic, their neighborhood.

that is terrorism.

roeder was encouraged, aided and abetted by his fellow travelers ("the group") to murder a fellow human being in furtherance of their common goal. that act of murder was done in a way to evoke fear of a similar fate in other people.

that is terrorism.

people are feeling terrorized today as a result of an act intended to elicit those feelings. an intent shared by roeder and the group of which he is a member.

that is terrorism, even by Bob M's definition.

Roeder could be said to have possible acted "alone" (and that itself has not yet been established) only in the narrowest of senses. I keep mentioning the importance of context - in the case of Roeder, there is almost certainly a support network upon which he drew leading up to the assassination of Tiller. Roeder certainly was savvy enough to know that Tiller was a target among those in his particular political and social network, and Roeder - unless he lived in a cave somewhere - had access to media that was replete with eliminationist rhetoric against those who provide abortions and those who support the right to choose. He was not truly alone in any meaningful sense of the term.

One thing I've learned about right-wing extremists (as opposed to say mainstream conservatives - and folks there is a difference) is that they are either unable or unwilling to discuss issues on their merits as such - rather they must demonize their opponents, in some way dehumanize them; in doing so it makes various acts of aggression and violence much more easy to accomplish. Unfortunately, their favorite authority figures have already successfully modeled such behavior (O'Reilly's diatribes on Tiller are quite educational in this regard, but I would broaden that to include the vitriol from any of the prominent right-wing authority figures in the world of punditry, the pulpit, or politics).

Something I wrote about five and a half years ago:
One of the things that Orcinus points out in his recent post Projecting Violence is that the general trend of political hate speech is truly the domain of the right wing's politicians, pundits, and rank and file. Research on authoritarian aggression is especially pertinent, as it appears that individuals who are high RWA tend to be prone to act in aggressive or violent ways if those actions appear sanctioned by those they consider as authority figures (see, e.g., Altemeyer, 1981, 1988, 1996).

What is troubling from my standpoint as a social scientist is that much of the writings and speech advocating violence against liberals and other political enemies is coming precisely from those authority figures. Television and radio talk show hosts are for better or worse viewed as authorities by those who make up their core fan base. Same with those who hold political offices or who are considered religious leaders. If these authority figures appear to sanction violent acts against other groups, there is an increased risk that someone among their followers will ultimately act violently. The danger isn't so much from what is said by these authority figures (most of it comes across as sophomoric at best) but rather the danger is from the interpretation of the meaning of those hate-filled words based on the rather black-and-white mentality held by their followers.
I perhaps tend to be a bit charitable to those authority figures whose stock in trade is essentially hate speech - perhaps more so than I should be. That said, within the present context of the Tiller assassination I have some advice to offer: those who consider themselves anti-abortion, but who haven't yet bought into the extremism that can come with their movement, would do well to consider carefully whom they chose as role models. As for my more mainstream conservative friends, I have to ask, surely you can do better than O'Reilly, Savage, Coulter, and Limbaugh? Surely, you can understand where their rhetoric can lead? Surely you can understand that their vitriol created the climate in which such violence would occur?

More about Roeder's history emerges

Saw this article up at McClatchy:

Those who know Roeder said he believed that killing abortion doctors was an act of justifiable homicide.

"I know that he believed in justifiable homicide," said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist who made headlines in 1995 when she was ordered by a federal judge to stop using a bullhorn within 500 feet of any abortion clinic. "I know he very strongly believed that abortion was murder and that you ought to defend the little ones, both born and unborn."

Dinwiddie said she met Roeder while picketing outside the Kansas City Planned Parenthood clinic in 1996. Roeder walked into the clinic and asked to see the doctor, Robert Crist, she said.

"Robert Crist came out and he stared at him for approximately 45 seconds," she said. "Then he (Roeder) said, 'I've seen you now.' Then he turned his back and walked away, and they were scared to death. On the way out, he gave me a great big hug and he said, 'I've seen you in the newspaper. I just love what you're doing.'"


Suzanne James, former director of victim's services for Shawnee County, said she remembered Roeder.

"He was part of the One Supreme Court, a Freemen group based out of Shawnee County," James said. "He was fanatic about a lot of things. I went to one of his court appearances and thought, 'This guy is dangerous.' There were a lot of red flags that came up about him."

Meet your American Taliban

Consider this a follow-up to some of my earlier thoughts on the recent terrorist assassination of George Tiller. I noticed that BJ Bjornson at Newshoggers has a roundup of news coverage worth looking at. In particular notice this bit:
Personal responsibility isn't something the right-wing excels at. Any time one of their more extreme elements takes it upon themselves to follow through on their hate-mongering, they wash their hands of it and offer half-hearted condolences while going right back to the rhetoric that inspired the violence in the first place. And from browsing the right-wing blog headlines at memeorandum, there is not a little bit of subtle celebration going on.

RIH: Baby Murderer George Tiller Shot Dead - Macsmind

Abortionist George “Baby Killer” Tiller Shot Dead In Kansas - theblogprof

George Tiller (Child Murderer) shot to death at Wichita church - freerepublic

Report: George Tiller Shot To Death [Child Murderer Killed At Wichita Church] - also freerepublic

Child Killer George Tiller Killed - La Shawn Barber

Bjornson is probably right that many of these goons will avoid open support of Roeder's act of terror, although I imagine they'll come as close as they possibly can. See also Antonia Zerbisias, of the blog Broadsides, who looks at some of the chatter on Twitter:

SICKER DATE: Twitter has exploded over this story. Here's a round-up of what conservatives are tweeting.

  • Punch "UPDATE... Doctor George Tiller was aborted today in his 204th trimester - aren't paybacks a bitch"
  • Samantha Pelch "oh HAPPY DAY! Tiller the baby killer is DEAD!"
  • readnwatchchris, Creedmor. NC "George Tiller the baby killer was shot dead this morning. God bless the gunmen who hopefully won't be caught."
  • Brad S "was George Tiller the baby killers brain scrambled the way he scrambled full term fetuses.. one can only hope"
  • James Fiddler "Infamous baby killer George Tiller gunned down at (irony) church. Why do I not feel sorry for him? Have fun at Judgment Day."
  • Brad M. Negulescu Cleveland. "tiller the baby killer shot is it insensitive of me to say what goes around comes around?"
  • Amy Strong "George Tiller the Baby Killer shot dead. May he rot in Hell."
  • Shirl Ledeux "Tiller Baby Killer was shot and killed this morning Justice has been served."
  • Dianne McDowell "Thinking about "Tiller the baby killer" He now knows the wages of sin is death."
  • Dennis, A People Vip Company, "May Tiller rot in Hell , infanticide is the murder of babies, he WAS a provider of death like Hitler, Bundy the list goes on...."
  • mikedanben Sparta, NJ (41.005501,-74.672) "Burn in hell George Tiller"
  • Laurie D. Bailey Olive Branch, MS"No need to pray for George Tiller. We know he went straight to hell!!!!!"
  • Jay Emess, Souther, NJ "Good ridence to Tiller - babies will not be murdered because he is now gone. Wonder how he likes hell!"
  • Matthew Kamar "Karma is a beautiful thing. Cheers to the hero who sent George Tiller where he belongs... straight to hell."
  • Sarah Gulick, Wtichita, Ks "omg!george tiller abortion dr. was killed n his church parkn lot! hell yea!"

Lots more where that came from.

Indeed, as blogger Carnal Nation has some more selections:

A few more added 6:54 PM Pacific Time

  • Guy shoots a Dr. to death in Church. Me I'm willing to bet that Jesus was his co-pilot. - jeremyawhitman
  • Tiller the Killer goes to Church and ends up in Hell - mshellisright, Tulsa
  • Tiller the Baby Killer is finally dead....God took care of what needed to be done.... - Cynthia Wrench
  • The left-wing nutjobs don't understand that Tiller the baby killer was not human. No human kills babies, only monsters. Good riddance - Sami Shamieh, Walnut Creek, CA
  • I guess Obama the Messiah can't resurrect Tiller the baby killer. - Sami Shamieh, Walnut Creek, CA
  • The person who shot Tiller the baby killer simply excercised a man's right to choose. - Sami Shamieh, Walnut Creek, CA
  • the killing of tiller the baby killer was JUSTICE, not murder. - eqbt
  • Glad someone offed Tiller. Baby Killer. - Kat, Kansas

A number of these posts are tagged #tcot (top conservatives on twitter), this is apparently some new meaning of top that we're not familiar with.

The Twitter search "George Tiller" OR #Tiller was running at about one tweet per second for the last two hours. The overwhelming majority of tweets from both sides of the abortion issue expressed horror at the assassination of Dr Tiller.

Said it before, and will say it again: eliminationist rhetoric has consequences - in this case the consequences were quite deadly.

Update: here's a few more tweets on Twitter:
B0O: Just as I won't condemn a man who shot Dr. George Tiller.
NorrisMantooth: George Tiller is DEAD! Hallelujah!
NorrisMantooth: George Tiller suffered a delayed abortion! haha
dafvuv: Dr. Death(#Tiller), I hope that you must face all those souls before your maker. May you burn in hell for all eternity. #tcot #tlot
B0O: Dr. George Tiller needed to be shot to death. Whoever shot him is a hero.
B0O: I'm glad Dr. George Tiller was shot. I'm glad Dr. George Tiller is dead. Justice.
Time2Revolt: What do you call the #Tiller kill? A Good First Step! #tcot May the #gun banners and socialists be next. #rkba #teaparty
freedomcry: George Tiller. A good late-term abortionist. Since 2009.
George Tiller the baby killer was shot dead this morning. God bless the gunmen who hopefully won't be caught.
alisonvict0ria: What the fuck? People are actually upset that a late-term abortionist is dead? Fuck it. He killed too many - and now he got his. #Tiller
samishamieh: I hope someone remembers to cancel Tiller the baby killer's appointments for tomorrow.
xyzzytwit: It would have been even more justifiable if they could have got him using a forceps and scalpel instead of a gun #tcot #tiller
RamblingMother: new post on the blog (expand) re:baby killer george tiller
cindolee: late term abortionist george tiller shot and killed this weekend! boo hoo, sucks for him!
Yes, there are some truly sick people out there.

Sara over at Orcinus has a new essay up called Jesus's Jihadis. I consider it must-reading. I'd also suggest spending some time over at Orcinus as both Sara and David have done much to place violent acts like this into a broader context.

Oh, and check the screen shot of a comment from Red State (courtesy John Amato at Crooks and Liars):
Yet another update: See John Cole's blog Balloon Juice - kudos for posting a couple pdf files of the commentary over at Free Republic (part 1 here; part 2 here). A lot of the commentary among the freepers is downright creepy.

While we're at it here's a gem I found from the Charge petition page (or at least from Google cache):

Rebecca Lawton
Mon February 23, 2009, 11:58:21
This murderer should be stoned in the street. I pray that justice will prevail and he finds himself in lockdown forever, until he goes on to meet Satan in hell. he will spend eternity in hell being aborted over and over again.
And this:
Thomas McIntyre
Sun March 08, 2009, 16:20:21
tiller is a serial killer
And this:
Maggie Lewis
Mon February 23, 2009, 14:42:47
This sick man needs to go to prison for life! More fitting perhaps would be that he be torn limb from limb like thoes innocent little babies he murdered. If that were an option, I would be rooting for it. This man is evil, plain and simple. Please lock him up with the rest of the serial killers.

More tweets from the pinhead brigade:
KBRTradio: What's the difference between killing #Tiller and Hitler? I want to say laws, but does that ground morals in the state? Can someone help me?
naughtytouchcpl: When Scott Roeder killed abortion doctor George Tiller an amazing thing happened. For the first time in history two wrongs do make a right!
charlieprofit: How can you condemn the murder of a man that essentially wiped a whole city off the map. Yes, murder is wrong but justice is served. #Tiller
DummiesotYear: George Tiller killed without consent, talk about #irony
ZAPEM:The death penalty for treason was only changed since 1990 & you want me to feel sorry for Dr. Tiller? I didn't see tears for the traitors.
loveneverfails0: George Tiller the baby killer shot dead- now that's what I call late term abortion. Good riddance.
samcconnell: "George Tiller - He died the wa he lived. Gal. 6:7"
Pisces614: George Tiller had some nerve going to church. You pro-choice so worried whether you can find someone to kill your unborn baby.
ZazzlePolitics: Tiller NEEDED killing!: The "democrats" are the only ones who'll mourn the death of George Tiller the ..
Timb_er: #Tiller was the Josef Mengele of our day, We should always be sad when the unrepentant are lost.
LiberalPinheads: George Tiller the Baby Killer Aborted #tcot #HUMANRIGHTS #ABORTION
You get the picture. I also notice that some among the right-wing seem to be gunning for an insanity defense of some sort for Roeder.

And into Monday evening it continues - more lunacy on Twitter:
PaulArmstrongSr: Tiller the killer made millions killing 60 thousand babies and sellng body parts. Thank God Thank God he is dead.
iluvemmaj: george tiller did kill over 60,000 babies...thats a fact...duh...he was a baby killer and everyone needs to accept that.
Brad0418: #Tiller the baby killer killed over 60 thousand fetuses.. SIXTY THOUSAND!!!! making over 1mill a year #pro-life
LMack49: I have trouble feeling sorry for Mr. Tiller or his family. He made his living as a hit man killing the most innocent among us. #Tiller
Brad0418: When is #Tiller the coffin filler gonna be dropped in the ground. this is a good time for his family to pay the guy who killed him 5k. & OJ
JennyPennifer: #Tiller specialized in the murder of handicapped children. What a guy.
JennyPennifer: #Tiller admitted 2 murdering many children ONE DAY before mother's due date.
JennyPennifer: Live by the sword, die by the sword. Gingi nails it #Tiller
ZazzlePolitics: Tiller NEEDED killing!: The "democrats" are the only ones who'll mourn the death of George Tiller
Can you feel the love?


There's always some cold comfort to be found in the knowledge that I'm not the only one to ever receive the unwanted attention of a lunatic.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to lie with statistics

Nate Silver offers a very patient and thorough analysis of the latest attempt by wingnuts to bolster their conspiracy theory regarding the closure of Chrysler dealerships. The short version: there's no "there" there. Nothing statistically significant was found in Zero Hedge's data (and the data set was actually sizable enough to where if something significant were to be found, it probably would have been). So, wingnuts are back to square one. Like any conspiracy theory, I seriously doubt this one will go away, though. Expect the True Believers to find a new angle shortly.

As an aside, the book How to Lie with Statistics makes for an excellent read.

Remember what I've been saying about home-grown terrorists?

Here's an example (h/t Cookie Jill at skippy the bush kangaroo):

- A suspect in this morning's fatal shooting of George Tiller is in custody in Johnson County.

Authorities have yet to release more information about the arrest in Gardner. Wichita police have scheduled a 4 p.m. news conference to discuss the case.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation.

Tiller was serving as an usher at the church, one of six ushers listed in the church bulletin. He was handing out bulletins to people going into the sanctuary minutes before being shot.

A church member who did not want to be identified said the gunman threatened another person at the church after the shooting.


Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services at 5107 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.

"It's a terrible loss. I'm just really sad about the whole thing," said a former employee of the clinic who asked not to be identified. "He was a great guy. I understand people were against a lot of what he did, but for those who he helped, they'll never forget the kind of person he was."


Protesters blockaded Tiller's clinic during Operation Rescue's "Summer of Mercy" protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993. Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.

The clinic was bombed in June 1986, and was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings' downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident.

My guess - the suspect was white, Christian (of some fundamentalist or Dominionist sect), politically a right-wing extremist who was probably inspired by kooks such as Bill O'Reilly - probably a lot like the idiot who tried to car-bomb a family planning clinic a few years ago (among other idiots in recent years). These are the sorts of terrorists that we should be focusing on.

Update: Not too surprisingly those who have been providing aid and comfort to our home-grown terrorists (be it in the form of moral support, or more tangible forms of support) are thoroughly unrepentant, and appear to have their next target already lined up.

The perp, Scott P. Roeder, will probably be charged later Monday. I'm sure we'll soon learn as to what his motives were. In all likelihood he'll end up fitting the profile I mentioned earlier to a t.

Update #2: Here's description of Scott P. Roeder (h/t):

Roeder has a history with Kansas law enforcement and with potentially violent political extremism. In 1996, he was stopped and arrested for driving a car without a valid license plate, apparently an act of protest. According to the Kansas City Star, the FBI believed that Roeder was a member of the Montana Freemen, a militia group that engaged in a standoff with authorities. His license plate read:


Private Property

Immunity Declared at Law

Non-Commercial American

Upon searching Roeder's car, police discovered bombmaking material including gunpowder and two six-volt lantern batteries. In his home, they found a two-page instruction manual, "Underground Cookbook: Clothes Pin Time-Delayed Switch" that reportedly gave directions for how to assemble a bomb with the items in his car. After later violating his parole for convictions stemming from that incident, Roeder was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Various Internet sleuths have discovered two comments Roeder left on Web message boards about Tiller. In one, posted to Operation Rescue's Web site, he wrote:

Bleass (sic) everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.

Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

In another, on, Roeder said, "It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the 'lawlessness' which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement upon our nation."

Salon found a different kind of Internet posting that appears to have been put up by Roeder. On, he listed himself as available to be a caregiver for the elderly, writing, "I haven't cared for seniors professionally, but am looking for a position to do so. I'm 50 years old myself, and feel I have the life experience, maturity and desire to provide compassionate and complete care to the elderly and those who are in need." In the ad, Roeder said he'd had some college education at Washburn University, in Topeka, and that he'd majored in French Government.

As I said, he fits the profileto a t - white, Christian (fundamentalist or Dominionist), and holding extreme right-wing political views. He's apparently been building himself up for his fifteen minutes of fame for a while, given the description provided in the news article. It was probably only a matter of time before he killed someone.