Saturday, January 8, 2011

Posse Comitatus / Sovereign Citizen / Right Wing Extremist Assassinates American Citizens Engaged in Democracy

UPDATE: ABC News is covering the "sovereign citizen" movement tonight, 3/8/12 on Nightline.

Read on for more information about "sovereign citizens" or scroll down for collected links, videos, stories, and other examples of propaganda intended to incite violent rhetoric against progressives.

Saturday, January 8, 2011 - Everyone is by now aware of the vicious terrorist attack on Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, her constituents, and even their children at a public event called "Congress on Your Corner," designed to make the democratic process accessible to any civic-minded citizen of Tucson.

The suspected shooter in today's terrorist attack on American citizens in Tucson, AZ is Jared Lee Loughner.

Although Loughner was willing to use a gun on a child to tell the world what he thought, he is now tight-lipped and not speaking to investigators. I imagine that Loughner was not expecting to survive the attack he carried out, and is now mute in the face of the irony that those present at his onslaught showed him mercy even amidst the chaos--subduing him until police arrived and he could be delivered to the hands of lawful American justice--rather than tearing him limb from limb on the spot. He had just attempted to assassinate a U.S. Congresswoman, and had succeeded in executing a 9-year-old child, a federal judge, and many others.

[at left, James Corcoran's excellent book detailing the violent beliefs and actions of the posse comitatus sovereign citizen movement]

Jared Loughner may not be talking this evening, but the words he left on his social media profiles make it plain as day that he was a member of a small, yet growing, vocal, and extremely dangerous subculture of native-born Americans who believe the government has little legitimate authority, and the police none.

They call themselves "sovereign citizens" and Loughner's YouTube writings echo their usual talking points:
"Every police officer in the United States as of now is unconstitutionally working. Pima Community College police are police in the United States. Therefore, Pima Community College police are unconstitutionally working. The police are unconstitutionally working!"
Jared Lee Loughner, December 6, 2010
While the sovereign citizen movement supports neither the Republican nor Democratic party, they are an extremist branch of the American political right wing. They are preoccupied with the idea that the US government has so overstepped its Constitutional limits so as to have become an illegitimate governing authority. They believe the government has no right to levy any taxes on them or to require drivers of cars to be licensed. They do not believe in any alternate system of organized justice or government, however, and so instead of proposing that those they view as acting illegally be tried in some other "sovereign court," their first reaction is often violence.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has for years been warning about the dangers posed to all democracy-loving Americans by these extreme right wing militants who even before today had murdered and assassinated over 30 American public officials and law enforcement officers in the past 15 years.

[at left, David Neiwart's The Eliminationists, laying out the timeline and the case for how hateful rhetoric has effectively radicalized hundreds of thousands of formerly normal and patriotic Republicans]

Sovereign citizens claim to believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In their ignorant and twisted vision of "true patriotism," a private citizen who engages in his 1st Amendment protected right to free speech can be assassinated if the person he is freely speaking with happens to be a public servant.

Because so much of their ideology pertains to a government they view as too large and too intrusive, there is unavoidable overlap between the Tea Party and the Sovereign Citizen movement. And as the Tea Party has gathered steam, and right wing radio hosts have learned to pander to their fears, the Sovereign Citizen movement has also expanded and been able to expose even more people to its poisonous and treasonous perversion of American nationalism.

The Republican party is entirely aware of these connections, and outside of law enforcement, who abhor the "sovereign" movement because they have learned first hand what it's really all about, they are happy to spout elements of the "sovereign's" extremist ideology in order to inflame their base and provoke deep and visceral hatred of President Obama and the Democratic platform.

As sovereign citizen expert Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress noted fully 6-months before the deadly Tuscon rampage:
"While the sovereign citizen movement has existed for some time, its popularity appears to be growing in a climate where the anti-government rhetoric of the tea party movement has become commonplace."
 It is because of these connections, and the obvious and prescient danger they encourage, that I am collecting the various and related examples of Republican vitriol that I feel are, if not causal, still strongly related to today's domestic terror attack in Arizona.

Here is part of yesterday's advance announcement of Rep. Gifford's "Congress on Your Corner" event:

TUCSON - U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will host her first "Congress on Your Corner" of the year on Saturday, Jan. 8 at a supermarket in northwest Tucson.
"Congress on Your Corner" allows residents of Arizona's 8th Congressional District to meet their congresswoman one-on-one and discuss with her any issue, concern or problem involving the federal government.
Giffords has hosted numerous "Congress on Your Corner" events since taking office in January 2007. As in the past, the congresswoman's staff will be available to assist constituents.
Among the congresswoman's first official acts this week was a vote for Speaker of the House and theintroduction of legislation to cut congressional salaries by 5 percent. Giffords was interviewed about her bill this morning on Fox news.
WHAT: "Congress on Your Corner" with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
WHEN: 10-11:30 a.m., Saturday, January 8, 2011
WHERE: Safeway, 7110 N. Oracle Road (southeast corner of Oracle and Ina)

This is Sarah Palin's infamous "target sighting" poster, in which Representative Gabrielle Gifford's location is targeted with rifle cross hairs. As of 6:00PM ET 1/8/11, the poster is still live on Palin's Facebook page at

Here are quotes from articles that discuss the right-wing death threats made against Judge John Roll, Chief Justice of the United States District Court for Arizona, and incited by right-wing radio hosts. 

"In 2009, Judge Roll faced death threats after presiding over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher. After Judge Roll ruled that the case would be certified, threats came from talk-radio shows which fueled controversy and spurred audiences into making threats against the judge.
After one radio talk show, Judge Roll's name logged more than 200 phone calls as some callers threatened the judge and his family. This resulted in the judge and his wife being placed under a full-time protective detail for one month."      ~

"...when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout. When Roll ruled the case could go forward, [U.S. Marshal David] Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats. In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online. "They said, 'We should kill him. He should be dead,'" Gonzales said." ~

Republicans falsely assert that had the mass killing not occurred, nobody would have cared about Sarah Palin's violence-tinged rhetoric. That's not the case. Democrats have been asking Palin to stop using such ads since the moment she started. Here is a TV interview from almost a year ago, in which Congresswoman Giffords predicts the violence to follow, saying:

"Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they've got to realize there are consequences to that action."
~Rep. Gabrielle Giffords [D-Ariz.]

This is an add run by the Republican party against Gabrielle Giffords in 2010:

This is Sarah Palin's exhortation to her followers to "reload," not retreat. Democrats had long-requested that Palin avoid this type of incendiary messaging, but Palin refused. Within 2-hours of the terror attack on Rep. Giffords and her citizen constituents, Palin began removing her message (as well as the "rifle sights" poster above) from her various web pages:

This is an article published many months ago that describes the fears that the staff of Rep. Giffords already had for her safety, based on threats and intimidating behavior exhibited by Tea Party supporters and other right wing extremists:

This is Jared Lee Loughner's YouTube channel, where he uploaded 5 semi-coherent, anti-government videos during December 2010:

This is from an interesting article published today that addresses dangers of legal, but very inflammatory, political speech:

"If you're worried that violent video games may make kids prone to bad behavior; if you think that mysogenic and homophobic rap lyrics are dangerous to society; if you believe that a nipple in a Superbowl halftime show is a threat to our moral fabric - then surely you should also fear that the way public and media figures have framed political participation with shooting gallery imagery is just as potentially lethal."

This is what Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik had to say about the relationship of this crime to the political environment of our times:

"There's reason to believe this individual has a mental issue and I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol," he said.
"Vitriol" in public debate was a recurring theme in Dupnik's remarks as he blasted the media for "the vitriolic rhetoric" heard on television and radio.
"This has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think its time we do the soul-searching," he said.
"The anger, the hatred the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capitol. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry." Reported on

"The New York Post spoke with Rep. Giffords' father:

The congresswoman’s father Spencer Gifford, 75, was rushing to the hospital when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies.
'Yeah,' he told The Post. 'The whole Tea Party.'"


"The New York Times' Paul Krugman said:

“You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead.” But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”
Read more:

Conservative talk show hosts and politicians are busy denying they have ever used language that could be easily misconstrued as threatening. But they've been doing it, and profiting from it, for years. Here's what Glen Beck said nearly 6-years ago about filmmaker Michael Moore:

"I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore…I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it,…No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out."
~Glenn Beck, May 17, 2005

In the wake of the murders, Fox News' Glenn Beck claims that he has never used violent rhetoric or done anything that could be construed as encouraging armed response. Ironically, he has done just that so often that his website actually shows him "in action" with a gun on the same page where he claims to love peaceful, non-incendiary means. The photo shows Beck posing with a pistol, as if ready for action, while wearing a business suit. He is not depicted as hunting, participating in a militia for the defense of the nation, or has having joined the military or a police force:

Responding to critics who called out her use of violent imagery and rhetoric, Sarah Palin ups the ante and claims that a "blood libel" has been created against her. She seems to have no knowledge of the meaning of "blood libel." Across America, Jews and non-Jews are outraged and offended:

"J Street is saddened by Governor Palin's use of the term 'blood libel.'...We hope that Governor Palin will recognize, when it is brought to her attention, that the term 'blood libel' brings back painful echoes of a very dark time in our communal history when Jews were falsely accused of committing heinous deeds. When Governor Palin learns that many Jews are pained by and take offense at the use of the term, we are sure that she will choose to retract her comment, apologize and make a less inflammatory choice of words."
~Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street (DC-based Jewish advocacy group)

"Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a 'blood libel' against her and others...Perhaps Sarah Palin honestly does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history; that is perhaps the most charitable explanation we can arrive at in explaining her rhetoric today...[her] invocation of a 'blood libel' charge against her perceived enemies is hardly a step in the right direction."
~David A. Harris, President, National Jewish Democratic Council

Right wing radio host Rush Limbaugh claims that Democrats support the heinous murderer, Jared Loughner, who assassinated a federal judge, attempted to assassinate a Congresswoman, and executed 5 others, including a little girl and 3 septuagenarians at a Democratic-hosted event:

"What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country.
~Rush Limbaugh

A democrat who used similarly vile and violent rhetoric is called out by a left-wing publication. It's stark contrast to the total support for violent rhetoric that right-wing publications give to right-wing politicians and pundits:

"it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation."
~Former Congressman Paul Kanjorski [D-Penn.]

In response, the Huffington post writes, "a valid plea, [but Kankorski] had produced some extreme violent rhetoric of his own."
~ which they were referring to Kanjorski having called for the arrest, trial, and execution of Rick Scott [R-Fla., now Governor], whom Kanjorski believes stole billions of tax dollars through a complex, long-term Medicare fraud:

"they ought to have [Rick Scott] and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government...He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."
~Paul Kanjorski

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