Terrorism and the State: A Lesson, Again, for Right and Left

By Al Giordano

“…those who today, either out of despair or because they are victims of the propaganda the regime propagates in favour of terrorism as the nec plus ultra of subversion, contemplate artificial terrorism with uncritical admiration, even attempting sometimes to practise it, do not know that they are only competing with the State on its own terrain, and do not know that, on its own terrain, not only is the State the strongest but that it will always have the last word.”

- Gianfranco Sanguinetti

On Terrorism and the State


The assassination this morning of Wichita doctor George Tiller, on his way into a Lutheran church service, was the second attempt on his life, this one successful. The first attempt on the doctor who works in a reproductive health clinic that has long been targeted by Operation Rescue and other anti-choice organizations came on August 19, 1993, when a woman named Stanley Shelley Shannon’s bullets wounded the doctor in both arms. (Shannon served an 11-year sentence for that crime.)

Just two-and-a-half years ago, Dr. Tiller was targeted with the usual vitriol by Fox News talker Bill O’Reilly, who falsely accused the doctor of performing late term abortions – legal to protect the health of the mother – to treat temporary psychological depression of the patient. Tiller denied the charge, and accused the then-attorney general of the state, Phill Kline, as being O’Reilly’s source for the claim. Kline had charged Dr. Tiller, in 2006, with 30 counts of administering abortions to minors and other crimes. The Court dismissed the charges. In 2007, Democratic Attorney General Paul Morrison charged Dr. Tiller on 19 counts. Two months ago, a jury acquitted the doctor on each and every charge.

Just as Situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti warned the international left, in his 1979 essay, that acts of terrorism always reinforce the powers of the State (his thesis was that State power and terrorism are mutually symbiotic and dependent on each other), the North American religious right is going to suffer great losses as a result of this morning’s terrorist act in Wichita. That, this time, the assassination attempt succeeded, and that it happened in the sanctuary of a church of a mainstream Protestant faith, will provoke a double whammy of shock and revulsion, including among tens of millions of Americans that do not like abortion, but likewise believe that assassination is obviously just as (or more) anti-life.

The original assassination attempt on Dr. Tiller came eight months into the Clinton presidency. The parallel with today’s offense ought to be obvious: a pro-choice president takes office and the violent extremists go all crazy, whipped up by some of the same right wing radio talkers today as sixteen years ago.

The predictable knee-jerk response from some in the pro-choice majority will be to attempt to demonize and link all Americans that define themselves as “pro life” as aiding and abetting this act of terrorism by having a mere opinion, just as George W. Bush and others attempted to link all oppositional dissent to the attacks of September 11, 2001. And while it is an absolute certainty that the Obama Justice Department will investigate and prosecute this latest crime - and criminal - to the maximum extent of the law, those that want to, like Bush, demonize dissent itself are not going to get much rhetorical backing from the President. His May 17 remarks at Notre Dame are now prescient:

A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an email from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life, but that’s not what was preventing him from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website – an entry that said I would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.” The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, “I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.”

Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor’s letter, I wrote back to him and thanked him. I didn’t change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that – when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do – that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That’s when we begin to say, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

An assassin in Kansas has just inadvertently strengthened the hand and command of this head of State. A very similar dynamic will come into play as did on April 19, 1995, when a terrorist car-bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building killed 168 people, and wounded 450 more, including children in a day care center there. That terrorist act - the man convicted for it, Timothy McVeigh, believed he was avenging an act of State terrorism two years prior in Waco, Texas - returned the upper hand to an already embattled President Clinton. His Democratic Party had lost the US House in the 1994 elections to what then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s called his “revolution” of the right. The Oklahoma City bombing shook public opinion enough to considerably slow what had been, prior, a juggernaut's momentum by the Gingrich revolution, allowing Clinton to again claim the terrain of the political center.

That today’s atrocity occurs not under the helm of an embattled liberal president, but of one that enjoys 67 percent support, still, from the American people, will have even more devastating consequences for the cultural and political right that has placed abortion at the center of its agenda. There is no need to demonize them with a broad brush for it. The first immediate consequence of the assassination of Dr. Tiller will be that it virtually removes the political points to be scored by those who planned to wage an anti-choice argument against US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

I would also be very surprised if, in the coming days, some right-wing radio talkers and those from anti-choice organizations like Operation Rescue can’t help but make the sorts of outrageous statements about this act of terrorism that shock and provoke backlash from the American public. As a crew, they have already whipped themselves up into a mental state of frenzied derangement. The countdown now begins to find out which will shovel their own political graves over this one.

Dr. George Tiller spent much of his 68 years on earth working for an ideal – every woman’s right to safe reproductive freedom – for which he was long persecuted and today he paid the ultimate price. I do believe that if the good doctor could watch what happens next, he would not at all feel the sorrow that comes from dying in vain or after a life without meaning. His was a life that did not end in death, but lives on with even greater purpose and reason than it already had deservedly accrued. As we say South of the Border, where we have many martyrs - old and new - for human freedom: George Tiller, presente.

Update: Cue up Randall Terry, head of Operation Rescue, to step right into this tragedy with inflammatory rhetoric. He told Associated Press:

"George Tiller was a mass murderer and we cannot stop saying that," Terry said. "He was an evil man — his hands were covered with blood."

Terry said he was now concerned that the Obama administration "will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions."

Terry was already a very self-marginalized fringe player, but, still, he knows not isolation like that which he has brought upon himself and his organization now.

Update II: Josh Marshall has a statement from Attorney General Holder, with shades of of 1962*:

"The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring."

(* In 1962, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent US Marshals to the University of Mississippi to protect its first African-American student, James Meredith, from segregationist rioters. "Americans are free, in short, to disagree with the law," President John F. Kennedy said in a nationally televised broadcast, "but not to disobey it." In 1963, the Kennedy administration sent US Marshals into Alabama - and put the Alabama National Guard under federal control - to tell then-Governor George Wallace to step aside from a university door in which he had been standing to block two African-American students. See: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, by Robert D. Loevy, SUNY Press, 1997, pp. 39, 40.)



My heart goes out to Dr.

My heart goes out to Dr. Tiller's family and friends.  He will be remembered with pride as a man of great personal courage and decency.

I'm sure that most pro-life Americans will be appalled by this act, but I'm afraid I don't believe that there will be anything like the revulsion felt after the OK bombing.  Many religious extremists will feel this is a "righteous act" because it is easier to approach the abortion debate with black and white answers than with the more compassionate, measured and truly Christian approach advocated by President Obama.

God Rest Your Soul Mr. Tiller, God bless you for all the good.

My condolences to Mr. Tiller's family and his friends and all those who fight with him to gurantee the reproductive freedoms I and millions of women in this country sometimes take for granted.

This was beautiful Al, I always admire not only the clarity of your thought but your writing as well.

I have to say; this death today makes real the growing extremisim in this country. It also brings home the rhetoric of Mr. Beck, Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Hannity, and Mr. O'Reilly is falling on willing often racist extremist ears and I pray for the President and his family. The outcome of the rhetoric of the right was shown through McVeigh and again today in Mr. Tiller.

There is a fascist strain withiin the remaining Republican party that is not simply disconcerting to find in the 21st century but scary; the willingness to resort to violence and crush the free. I see it the most in the snippets I've seen from Glenn Beck and his awkward and frightening ceartinty that a revolution is brewing that will start in Texas and like minded people will rise up against the tyranny they're living through right now. It's actually scary when you follow this to it's logical conclusion and in a few clips I've seen he's had to explicitly say he's not advocating violence; but he really is.

I believe in free speech; but I am frustrated by a media that validates what I see as fringe fascists by giving Mr. Beck and his like media exposure that mocks him for crying than taking on his substantive points and dismantling them. When you don't treat an argument with respect and counter it; you allow the other person to say they have no answer so they're resorting to mockery.

It's frustrating.

Then again, this is the MSM that validated all of Bush&Cheney's lies and then fools like David Gregory insist they held the adminstrations feet to the fire and this mess is democrats fault who were equally wrong. Which is actually, IMO, true. But that doesn't discount the utter bankruptcy of the established Fourth Estate.

I feel like such extremism and exteremists are validated in the media as a conservative voting bloc deserving of respect and political fruits; but then the MSM is all shocked at the outcome of extremists that are rejected by voters acting.

Thank you, Al.

The dialogue at Kos has already disinegrated to "anyone who has a moral qualm with abortion, even if they don't support making it illegal, is responsible for Dr. Tiller's death."


Regarding Operation Rescue, they have evidently condemned the killing, probably because they see the same writing on the wall you have just laid out. I don't expect to see the same awareness from the Beck/Hannity/Limbaugh crew.

Don't you mean...

"I would also not be very surprised if, in the coming days, some right-wing radio talkers and those from anti-choice organizations like Operation Rescue can’t help but make the sorts of outrageous statements about this act of terrorism that shock and provoke backlash from the American public."


You meant that you wouldn't be surprised if one of them went off on this and said something truly despicable, right?

Domestic Terrorism Plain and Simple

Vaya con Dios, Dr. Tiller. You performed a much necessary service. Have the killer(s) ever heard the cries of a woman who found out her baby was growing without a brain, is already dead, or will die shortly after birth from an incurable defect? What about a woman who must fight for her own life because she has a couple of children already born and the wouldbe child is sapping her health away? These people don't care about families or children-just being right in their own minds.

One more thing. Dr. Tiller was shot in the church lobby. What about the right to live of bystanders and passersby. Of course they never care about those people either-the folks who may walk by as a bomb explodes, the woman at the Planned Parenthood clinic there for pills or contraceptive device who gets hit by a flying bullet.

Thank you for writing

I read a blog on this from John Aravosis on Americablog. It really disgusted me because he pretty much blames this act on Obama and Homeland Security for withdrawing the domestic terrorism report. Say what you want on that decision, but I find his vitriol against Obama to be disturbing and unfounded and his political analysis. Here is a small sample:


"Note that had Obama held firm in the face of the criticism last month, he'd be riding high right now and the GOP would be cowering in shame for having basically enabled this terrorist act."


What gets me as a feminist, is that no liberal interest groups stand up and fight for abortion rights. They think it all comes down to the Supreme Court. They do absolutely no organizing to assist groups like NARAL but think Democrats in Congress and our president should stick their necks out. Sure I wish it were true they would, but politicians need pressure.


Right wingers feel way more passionately and act upon it. That is why they are still a force to be reckoned with even as their numbers dwindle. We liberals need to shows our political leaders they have the back-up they need to stand up for our liberal values.


Obama's HHS Secretary, Sebelius had ties to this doctor and Obama did not back down from appointing her to that position. His record on choice is superb and it is not his fault that this happened. I am curious to see what the fallout from this will be. I am sure that it will give Obama and Homeland Security the power to be able to fight back against these domestic terrorists. Maybe now more liberals (not just women) will organize and write letters to the editor, etc. to spread the word.

Teachable moment

What timing.  I was just doing my internet news rounds, and came to your website to see what was new, and this well-written essay came up.  This is really sad on so many levels, and I immediately wondered what the President would say, if anything.  I am confident that he will not demonize anti-choice people and groups based on this incident, and maybe at some point after the heat of this tragedy cools, he'll use this as yet another teachable moment.

Perfectly put, Al.  Digg it

excellent post

As a young physician, I can only hope that I will have the courage to stand with my patients as steadfastly and courageously as Dr. Tiller did with his, in what were unrelentingly hostile circumstances. Today was only one of so many days of living in peril for him, choosing deliberately every day to get up and keep on facing the accusations of murder or being some incarnation of evil in order to keep providing the care he devoted himself to.  His life will be remembered.

Thanks, Al

I lurk every day and don't comment enough, but I wanted to say thank you. For reasons both political and personal, this murder has left me distraught, and your post has been the only comfort I have been able to find today.

Dr. Tiller

Thank you for your thoughtful and intelligent comments. Dr. Tiller was a strong supporter of women's reproductive health care and rights and I for one am forever grateful to him and  deeply saddened for his family and for this country which gives bigots like Randy Terry a megaphone and criminals like this murderer a gun.

First time I've been here

And I'm leaving a very satisfied reader.    Thank you for some great analysis - and predictions that will likely be proven accurate. 

I wish you were right

I've got a lot of respect for your stuff. You're a fantastic writer & political thinker, and I've been reading your stuff at kos for a long time, but this strikes me as too optimistic. I'd argue that the Oklahoma City terrorist attack, while it temporarily strengthened Clinton, didn't have the impact your analysis suggests it did--the Republicans kept control of both houses of Congress for another 11 years, and kept things close enough in 2000 to steal the Presidency. So on a pure political level, Oklahoma City didn't hurt the Republicans at all.
I've spent the past few hours in a state of low-bubbling rage. The 1998 murder of Dr. Bernard Slepian didn't do a damn thing to de-legitimize the pro-life movement, and this won't either.
I wish I was wrong. And you're older than I am (I'm 29 last month) and so have lived through more of these experiences), but it just doesn't strike me that anything will change. I fall more into line with digby's comment: "It appears that President Obama's call for a more respectful dialog on abortion has fallen on deaf ears."

As it will continue to do so. These fuckers are murderers and murder-enablers, and they can't win by legal means, so they'll just keep killing, and killing, and killing.

Just as a matter of

Just as a matter of accuracy, the person who first shot Tiller was not a man, but a woman - Shelly, not Stanley - and, for the record, she always maintained it had never been her intention to kill him, but to disable him from performing abortions as, for a while, she did.

Read this comment

at Balloon Juice now posted as a separate thread. It refers to one couples experience with Dr. Tiller and the service and support he and his staff provided them in the most awful of situations.

Obam's statement

Obama has issued a statement that is very measured.

Via politico:

"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning.  However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."

That sure doesn't sound like a man ready to intimidate pro-lifers.

Your post today

Thanks Al

As usual, your analysis is spot on. As the rules of the game change there will be many old school players who face changes. They will double down on what used to work and for some that includes violence that traces its roots to the worse crimes of Europeans engaging the New World. So it goes. And yet, these flailing efforts to regain control will only leave them farther outside the circle.

I would pity them if they weren't so deserving of my contempt, but they are.


Murder of Dr Tiller

You have to wonder when they are going to start reining in these right wing nut cases and talk radio blowhards who are constantly encouraging acts of violence. Beck, Hewitt, O'Reilly, Savage, Limbaugh, Liddy are nut cases and they have plenty of followers on the far right. If you are in any doubt just go surf a few conservative blogs.... the comments about this murder have to be seen to be be believed. These people are deranged and it's time we started calling it for what it is. We've already had several cases of multiple murders committed by right wing psychotics and it's only a matter of time before one of them takes it into his head to try to kill a member of the govt. or mount some new bomb outrage like that in Oklahoma City. The rhetoric of these conservative groups is loaded with hate and yet the MSM seems to ignore it. At the end of the day it needs to be brought in to the public consciousness and the Republican party are going to have to stand up and be counted. Not that I expect much given their refusal to condemn some of the awful Sotomayor stuff that people like Limbaugh, Liddy and Gingrich are coming up with.       

Excellent Post

Several at Balloon Juice have headed over here, read your post, and donated to Authentic Journalism.  I just added my small donation to the continuation of your work.  Thank you.



Thank you

Excellent post. I agree that the right wing zealots will be further margianalized by today's events if they respond, as most of them will I think, with even more insane vitriol. My only concern is where does this all end and how many more people are going to get killed at the hands of these psychos.

I worked for a pro-choice legal advocacy group during the mid-1990s when the "partial-birth" abortion campaign was at its height. The doctors and other medical professionals we represented in challenges to various anti-choice laws throughout the country were the bravest people I've ever met. Like Dr. Tiller, they put their lives and the lives of their families on the line every day in order to serve their patients and give life to a Constitutional right. Without their bravery and tenacity the right to have an abortion would be a completely hollow right. As it is, it is often pretty hollow, especially for those with limited resources, the young, and those who live in rural areas.

The community of abortion providers is a very small one. I can only imagine how heartbroken and scared Dr. Tiller's colleagues are today. My thoughts are with them.


I think Aravosis is just mad that Obama caved in to the shreiking from the Right, especially since the report was commissioned while Dubya was still in office.  It is obvious that the far right fringe groups are going to be a problem, egged on by the likes of BillO and Glenn Beck.

Speaking as one of the 5+

Speaking as one of the 5+ million members of that mainstream Protestant faith, I'm here to tell ya this will not go down well. I deliberately avoid politics at church, because it's church. I have vehement disagreements with my fellow parishioners, and our pastor, for that matter. But we are family. And our extended family includes Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Moravians, American Methodist Epsicopalians, and a host of others (ELCA is all about the ecumenism). This could have been any of our churches—in theory, anyway. Also, you are right about demonizing the pro-life movement, but I haven't seen any of that beyond the usual hardcore-atheist suspects.

Dr. Tiller

Another well thought post Al,


I am still in shock over what has transpired...amazing that zealots like this still walk among us.  Based on what I read http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/01/abortion-doctor-killed-at-church/ it has been 11 years since something as crazy as this hapened....I wish it had been 111 years.


At least is is in a better place.  Bless the Dr. and his family.

thanks for the thought-provoking analysis, al...

Thanks for the incisive analysis, Al. What would we do without The Field!

historic parallels

How does John Brown fit into this analysis? His terrorist act was crushed, but lived on and empowered those who were like-minded but less violent. This was a similar violent but principled act by a crazed idealist.  The killer here may not get a university named after them, but they may recieve sympathy from history as technology progresses and 3rd trimester abortions are seen as medically primitive and brutal.

Violence is not what defines "terrorism"

Stan - While John Brown's commission of the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre may certainly fall into the category of terrorism (acts that are meant to terrorize, intimidate, silence or eliminate opposing points of view), his act that gained him widespread support (and your noted good remembrance by history) was the Harper's Ferry attack, which was more akin to guerrilla insurgency than to terrorism, because it involved recruiting and training insurgents and then attempted to procure weapons for that insurgency.

People often confuse the two, but guerrilla insurgency is not necessarily "terrorism" and often it is not. Indeed, the Boston Tea Party and the resistance at Lexington and Concord would be defined as "terrorist acts" by such a broad brush, as would all liberation struggles.

But political assassination in a church is not going to be remembered well by history any more than when it happened to slay Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador. Nice try, but I would recommend more careful study of the historic acts you cite before making such fantastic leaps of logic.

Bizarre false equivalence, especially today

Right-wing terrorism in this country has always been treated far more leniently, and has had less delegitimizing effect on associated political leanings, than left-wing terrorism.  That's at least partly because so much of the right-wing terrorism has been directly linked with the powers of the state -- police brutality, lynching, labor suppression.

So I'm curious why you address right and left alike in your post title, as if they were equivalent in their connections with terror in the United States today.

This is terrorism, no doubt about it

Good article, Al. Thank you.

@ Nell

Nell - Why do I speak of both right and left? Because not to do so is to live myopically, blind in one eye, without the perspective that comes from seeing out of both.

I begin with a quotation from a 1979 essay by Gianfranco Sanguinetti, a member of the ultra-left Situationist International, with his critique of all terrorism - whether it claims to be of the right or the left - as being something that always makes the State more powerful. Indeed, by that definition, there is no such thing as "left wing terrorism" (your words). Since it feeds the centralization of Power, it therefore cannot be left wing, even if it claims to be.

And so I'm applying lessons learned by much of the left in the sixties and seventies to what the US right also needs to learn.

I also frankly see some of the reaction on the left to today's tragedy as being as opportunistic, cynical and inherently authoritarian as the ideologies it claims to oppose. You can read the comments section on Netroots blogs and find calls today to ban certain kinds of peaceful protest, to round up and prosecute people that were uninvolved, to censor certain voices from the airwaves: the people calling for that kind of crap may claim to be of the left, but scratch the surface and they're just authoritarians waiting to enter through the left door. I have spent my life foiling the power-hungry plans of both, and plan to continue to do so for the rest of my years.

Operation Rescue

Although Randall Terry and other anti-abortionists claim that they abhor violence and disapprove of the murder approach to abortion prevention in order to get their way their statements ring hollow.  Randall Terry reminded us while hypocritically deploring his murder that Dr. Tiller was a "mass murderer".  Many times, in fact most, when a severe criminal such as a drug dealer, mass murderer or serial killer is killed,  there are only wimpish attempts to find the killer and the killer might almost be thanked.


Terry and the other anti-abortionists are hypocrites. They are pretend Christians.  The love of God is not in them.   God knows it and they do too.  As with other abortion provider killings, they  put out the right platitudes  and then go party. 

I question whether Eric Robert Rudolph actually survived on his own for the years he was on the run after trying to thwart a great celebration of ethnic diversity, committing a hate crime at a gay bar and killing and maiming the staff of an abortion provider.

God hates hypocrisy.

Best commentary I have seen

Al, a home run.  Your take on this tragedy is unfortunately unique it seems in the blogosphere (left and right), and intuitively spot-on, as you have been so many times in the last couple of years.

You've somehow managed to amplify the tragic consequences of this act, while at the same time reminding us of our own need to hang on to our shared humanity.  Bravo!

Fair-minded words?

Al:  How do you think that this particular act of terrorism will strengthen the power of the state?

You've explained why it seems likely to weaken the anti-abortion movement, and associated extremist social conservatives -- but by way of the natural backlash in public attitude, not from the assassination's effect of increasing the power of the state.

From the post, the one way in which you see it strengthening state power is something you view as a good thing -- increasing the political power of this particular president, and the likelihood of getting his pick for the Supreme Court confirmed.

So your sense is that the current administration is so well-positioned and well-intentioned that it will manage a response to the outrage without taking any new authoritarian steps, unless pressured into them by some pro-choicers?

I'm not particularly worried about that. I read my share of netroots blogs, and have seen no front-page posts, or even promoted diaries, with calls to "ban certain kinds of peaceful protest, to round up and prosecute people that were uninvolved, to censor certain voices from the airwaves."

Given that you have to go to the comments sections to find such responses, characterizing those who made them as opportunistic and cynical seems a lot like what Obama acknowledged was wrong with his campaign site's characterization of those holding anti-abortion views as right-wing ideologues.  Those commenters could just be angry and scared.  No question that their responses are authoritarian, but fear and anger get you there just as quickly as cynical opportunism.

How the State is strengthened

Nell -

As preface, here's Rush Limbaugh, on April 14, after a Homeland Security report came out on potential domestic terrorism:

RUSH: I had a report, I got this at 2:30 yesterday afternoon.  I just didn't have a chance to work it in yesterday.  It's this Department of Homeland Security report, it's nine pages, I've got the PDF here, and, by the way, this speech of Obama's and the DHS report yesterday are timed for one reason and that's the tea parties tomorrow.  This speech, the primary purpose of this speech is to take any glow off the tea parties.  The media is going to report on this speech later this afternoon and tell you about how great the economy is doing, how on top of it Obama is, how it's going to be a little while before it rebounds but it's coming back, and in having used that as the setup, they'll then go to videotape of the tea parties where they'll try to mock what's going on with these people, just agitators with no real reason behind what they're doing.  So this speech is designed to totally blunt the tea parties, which are grassroots affairs that will happen all over America tomorrow.  The DHS report, this comes from the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.  Now, when you read this whole thing, and it doesn't take long to read it, it's only nine pages, you can go to various places and read summaries of it as well.  For example, there is no proof here, no proof offered, no evidence offered that anything they project is true.

Let me give you one.  "The Department of Homeland Security assesses that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.  These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of right-wing extremists including lone wolves or small terrorist cells to carry out violence.  The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join right-wing extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today." They even quote Timothy McVeigh in this report.  This is the Democrat Party Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano put this together.  There is not one instance they can cite as evidence where any of these right-wing groups have done anything.  I'll tell you what this is on the par of.  Remember in Missouri where the state police put out a pamphlet warning local police departments in Missouri that if anybody had an NRA bumper sticker on their bumper or a pro-life bumper sticker, that they were potential members of the right-wing militia.

Of course, that this born-again civil libertarianism (selective though it may be toward, ahem, white Americans) appears next to Limbaugh's "Club Gitmo: When America Was Safe" tee shirt ad, exposes a certain hypocrisy in the words. Still, we have to have our eyes open that the actions now taken on some members of the right - more surveillance, infiltration, wiretapping and probably some preemptive prosecutions - will justify similar activity in the future against the left, too (just as the Patriot Act that Rush & Co. supported because they thought it only affected, say, "foreigners," will now legally "justify" the increased violations of First, Fourth and other amendments against parts of the right today.)

The big winner is the State and its powers. It's the only long term winner of yesterday's assassination.

It is highly probable that the right to picket abortion clinics will be at least restricted in the wake of this; that a "no protest" zone could be created around them of X hundred feet, for example.

As for your defense of Netroots bloggers, I didn't say anything about the A or B-list bloggers. I specifically mentioned commenters. But wait a week: If the commenters keep it up, there are the usual suspects that I've lambasted here before who swim in the waters of pandering to the worst instincts on "our" side, and will take up their rallying cries. They are as predictable as the Randall Terrys who I predicted yesterday morning would soon be making outrageous statements about Dr. Tiller and have already gone there.

It may be a slightly different combo (I can't imagine, for example, Glenn Greenwald falling into the call to restrict civil liberties, and he's likely focused enough to know it when he sees it), but watch as a Democratic member of Congress or two propose repressive legislation and some of the names you're preemptively defending then go and crusade for it. It ain't rocket science to predict how some will always follow the current of the waters they swim in.

Thank you, Al

Presente, indeed.

The Centerfold

You pull a pendulum and then... you release it! It will swing the other way in imperceivably unequal measure. This subtle dynamic asymmetry eventually subdues all movement to the left or to the right. The pivot and its adornment arm resting finally and irremediably on its causality. In Physics, gravity rules. In Politics, the State is always the last one standing; seldom tall and weightless, its tends to grow small from the heavy hands ...

Thanks for the clarification

Al: we have to have our eyes open that the actions now taken on some members of the right - more surveillance, infiltration, wiretapping and probably some preemptive prosecutions

So you're predicting that there will be calls by members of Congress and some liberal netroots bloggers for these actions.  Hope you're mistaken. 

Interesting that my simply saying that I haven't seen these calls and am not expecting them is "preemptively defending" those who might make them.  I'm certainly prepared to be mistaken about the future, but I'm not prepared to be called a defender of these kinds of calls for increased state intervention when I'm not.

@IVA: Obama's letting Holder's deeds do the talking.

As in:

"The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring."

And Tucker Carlson jumps right in!

As documented over at Balloon Juice:



Meanwhile, it's getting a wee bit harder to write off the suspect as a "loner" who acted totally on his own --  for a loner, he sure seemed to have a lot of interesting friends:  "They describe the ongoings at the house as strange. They said it's a revolving door of men coming and staying there and describe what appear to be religious gatherings."

For some of us the argument is not so easy

I am a minister with a heart for people whatever their situations or conditions. I am pro-life and pro-choice.  This debate is not easy for me.  On the one hand I believe in the sanctity of human life including the life of the unborn. On the other hand I understand and support the right of a woman to choose what is best for her. I have worked one-on-one with women faced with the choice of terminating their pregnancies. The reasons are as varied as those who need the services--the woman with the heart too weak to sustain a pregnancy; the lupus patient whose kidneys were failing; the depressed poverty-stricken young woman whose fiance went to jail. These are not easy decisions for women.  After counseling with them to talk about "choices," when they choose abortion, then I am there to support them, to hold their hands through the process, and to help them move on afterwards.  I lost a friend from a "coat hanger" abortion many years ago.  Never again.

It is not a black-and-white issue for me. I wish it were that simple.  

Most pro-lifers I know do not condone the murder of physicians who perform abortions.  I was personally shocked and outraged at the murder of Dr. Tiller, and angered and frustrated yet again that the murderer is viewed as characterizing people like me who do not like abortion but understand that it is clearly a woman's choice and should be available and safe.

@ carolinhouston

I think a lot of people feel like you.  Abortion is not black and white for many people, I would say for the majority of people in this country.

June 14, 1978

In one of the seminal acts of anti-abortion terrorism, the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women in Iowa City was firebombed. 

The Carter Justice Dept. ordered the local FBI station to drop everything else and solve the crime, an order which did not sit well with the Resident Agent, himself an anti-abortion zealot.

He came up with a theory which would justify his continuing surveillance of the local lefties, that the bombing had either been a ploy for fundraising, or the result of a lovers' spat, theories which he kept planting in the local press.

He proceeded to stalk my friend Steve Wilson (later changed his name to Jackson Clubb, who posted at kos as MadCityRag until his death a month ago) grilling his neighbors, etc. Jackson at the time was dating an employee of the clinic.

The firebombing was never officially solved. No charges were filed against Jack, probably because the US Attorney wasn't buying the FBI agent's crap.


Democrat for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)

Acting alone

Thanks for that history, Ben.

I just read the NY Times coverage of the shooting yesterday at a Little Rock military recruiting station by a local resident (one soldier killed, another wounded), and was struck by a passage noting that "it's unclear whether he was acting alone".

Despite the suspected Wichita assassin's easily documented history of involvement in an organized, long-term, and ongoing campaign of harassment and terror against the Tiller clinic, its employees, and their families, not a single story I've seen raised the question of whether the suspect acted alone.

Al, I hope you were watching

Al, I hope you were watching the NBC special at the point when Pres. Obama described why he doesn't pause to watch cable news. He described it as chatter. He said they all have roles to play. Kind of like WWF wrestling.

That analogy is SO on target.

More about the US Marshals

More about the US Marshals protection for Planned Parenthood clinics here:


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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