On Saturday night, March 19th, religious Jews around the world will behave in a way that violates common stereotypes of people of faith. We will wear silly, colorful costumes, consume a great deal of alcohol, exchange gift baskets and listen to raucous public readings of the one book of the Bible that never mentions God.
The holiday of Purim celebrates the deliverance from danger described in the book of Esther, and even though divine intervention is never specifically described, the complicated events clearly show the hidden hand of Providence. “Esther,” not coincidentally, comes from the Hebrew word for “hidden,” and the costumes also emphasize that the Almighty sometimes disguises his plans. Just as he used the ancient Persian Jew-hater, Haman, for a higher purpose, we can hope that God also intends a benign purpose in dealing with the latter day Persian Jew-hater, Ahmadinijad.
The Threat to Freedom: The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Department of Homeland Security
Briefing to the Tea Party Caucus of the US House of Representatives February 17, 2011 By Tom DeWeese:
My name is Tom DeWeese, President of the American Policy Center, and according to the Southern Poverty Law Center I am a right wing extremist, a racist and a potentially violent terrorist.
In March, 2010, SPLC issued a report entitled “Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism,” in which groups opposed to issues like the Obama health care plan and illegal immigration were lumped with white supremacist groups like the National Socialist Movement and Skin Heads.
In August, 2010 SPLC launched an attack against my organization and our national conference, The Freedom Action Conference, held at Valley Forge, PA, and featured such speakers as best selling author Tom Woods, former presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, Sheriff Richard Mack, several respected state legislators, and many more well known spokesmen.
The title of the SPLC attack against me read, “Patriot Rhetoric Becomes Increasingly Violent,” and said we were “united by rage” at the federal government. Not one speaker at our conference advocated violence or lawlessness of any kind. Yet we were labeled as dangerous and potentially violent terrorists.
Annually SPLC puts out a list of what it calls “hate” groups and individuals it deems dangerous to the nation. That list is almost exclusively respected pro- Constitution spokesmen.
Now why do I care what this private organization, with its own political agenda, says about me? Because the Southern Poverty Law Center has direct ties to the Department of Homeland Security, helping to write official DHS policy that may affect my life, my freedom, my ability to travel and my ability to speak out. Consider the following facts:
* Item: In 2009, The DHS issued a report entitled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
That official document of an agency of the United States government said “Right-wing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movement, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
* Item: Two weeks later, the DHS released a second report entitled: “Domestic Extremism Lexicon,” designed to provide specific definitions of just who may be Right wing extremists.
That report labeled the following to be extremists, bordering on terrorism: Those concerned over the economy; loss of jobs; foreclosures; antagonism toward the Obama Administration; Criticism of free trade programs; anti-abortion; oppose same sex marriage; believe in the “end times;” stockpile food; oppose illegal immigration; oppose a New World Order; oppose the UN; oppose global governance; fear of Communist regimes; oppose loss of US manufacturing to overseas nations; oppose loss of US prestige; and use of the internet (or alternative media) to express any of these ideas.
Right after both of these reports were issued, there was the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. Next to their news reports on the incident, many newspapers carried side bar articles citing the DHS reports, basically confirming that such violence is perpetrated by right wing nuts and justifying the concerns of the DHS – just like clockwork. Yet there was absolutely no connection found between that shooter and the right wing. But the damage was done.
And there’s more. The Department of Homeland Security has established Fusion Centers in each state. These are designed to combine federal, state and local law enforcement. Their stated purpose is to assure immediate and efficient response to a terrorist attack or a Katrina-like disaster without bureaucratic red tape.
* Item: In 2009, the Missouri Fusion Center set off a fire storm over a report it issued entitled “The Modern Militia Movement.” Reported Fox News, the report, “identifies the warning signs of potential terrorists for law enforcement communities.”
In other words, this report was issued to law enforcement agencies across the state as official documentation warning who the cops should look out for as potential violent terrorists. The list of potential terrorists included Americans who voted for presidential candidate Ron Paul; Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin; and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr. It also cited those of us who opposed the creation of a North American Union with Canada and Mexico.
* Item: Just last month, immediately following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Fusion Center issued a report saying that the shooter was influenced by a right wing group called American Renaissance. Immediately the mainstream media picked up the report and flooded the airways with the story that the radical and violent right wing was responsible for the shootings.
The information was completely wrong. There is no evidence that there was ever any connection between the shooter and American Renaissance. Moreover, American Renaissance has never advocated violence or extremism. The only connection between American Renaissance and extremism is that the Southern Poverty Law Center listed them as a hate group. A detail that interestingly found its way into the Arizona Fusion Center report as fact.
* Item: in the Spring of 2010, the Department of Homeland Security organized a “Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.” This is an advisory council given the task of creating a plan to reach out to local law enforcement and community activists for training to respond to potential violence and terrorist threat.
Leafing through the report one gets the distinct impression that the plan is basically a “turn in your neighbor,” neighborhood- watch approach. It talks extensively of “sharing” information, along with “training, training, training.”
Training for what? To identify potential terrorists, of course. And who are those potential terrorist? A look at the members of the working group offers a clue. While the group includes several public officials and law enforcement officials from around the nation, and it also includes Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and unindicted co-conspirator in a case concerning the funding of Muslim terrorist organizations. And the working group member list also includes Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In addition, as one of the “Subject Matter Experts,” it lists Laurie Wood, an analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center and an instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
That training center is run by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is one of the most visible direct links between DHS, the Fusion Centers and SPLC. Law enforcement agencies actually send their personnel to these training classes to gain Federal Law Enforcement Training Center certification.
That means that policy for this DHS working group is being created by the very organization that has labeled those who advocate Constitutional law to be potential terrorists.
In addition, the “training” called for in the report will most likely be conducted, at least in part, by the SPLC’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
The pattern is clear, one of the nation’s leading hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which opposes even the right of free speech by people it labels potential terrorists, is helping the largest federal enforcement agency in the nation to create its policy. That policy clearly states, according to DHS reports, that anyone disagreeing with actions of the American government is a potential terrorist and must be, at least, watched and monitored by federal, state, and local authorities.
The result of such surveillance could possibly lead to loss of freedom, loss of jobs, loss of the ability to travel, and loss of the ability to speak publicly for anyone who opposes the private agenda of the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is an effort to silence their opponents. Honest political debate is now being interpreted as dangerous extremism.
Why is DHS dealing with such people? Are the policies of SPLC the same policies of the United States? If so, then freedom in America is in grave danger, indeed.
I believe there needs to be an immediate Congressional investigation into the ties between the Department of Homeland Security and the Southern Poverty Law Center and any other radical groups.
Particular attention should be paid to SPLC’s tax exempt status and the amount of money it receives from DHS or any other agency. And there should be an immediate stop to American law enforcement being trained by SPLC’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
The specific purpose of the Department of Homeland Security is to protect the “STATE” against all enemies. That has come to include anyone who uses their first amendment right to speak out against specific policies. Apparently, that has been interpreted by DHS to mean a threat to the STATE.
May I remind you that the tanks that ran over the student protesters in Tiananmen Square in Communist China were also protecting the STATE against its enemies.
I fear that if private groups with their own political agendas, like the SPLC are allowed to continue feeding their own brand of hatred into the policies of DHS then such a comparison with China is not too far off. I don’t think that is the America each of you pledged to serve.
Progressive Government Is Obsolete
By Stephen Goldsmith, the deputy mayor of New York City
The rule-based civil service was a step forward from Tammany Hall. But today's regulations stifle government workers at a time when getting value for tax dollars is more important than ever.
Across the country, the interests of organized labor, elected officials and taxpayers are colliding over wages, work rules and the astronomical costs of retiree pensions and health care. As important as these specific issues are to resolve, there is another, more fundamental problem causing so many Americans to lose faith in their government: It is not government unions per se but progressive government itself—long celebrated in Wisconsin, New York and elsewhere—that no longer produces progressive results.
In the early 20th century, the progressives championed a rule-based approach to public-sector management that was a big step forward from the cronyism and corruption of Tammany Hall. Today, however, the very rules that once enhanced accountability, transparency and efficiency now stifle the creativity of public-sector workers and reduce the ability of public investments to create opportunities for citizens—outcomes precisely the opposite of those intended by Progressive Era reformers.
New York City has more than 300,000 employees who work under more than 100 collective-bargaining agreements, along with layers of bureaucratic state civil-service laws. State law mandates that over 1,500 job titles must be filled through competitive written exams, specifically ignoring an employee's actual performance or qualifications. We are even required to administer a civil-service test for the head of our Police Department's counterterrorism unit! (We found a way around it.)
Seniority rules require that layoffs are based on date of hire, not merit. These rules also prevent any significant rewards for outstanding performance and make dismissing bad apples in the Big Apple all but impossible. Even asking employees for their ideas can be against the rules.
No one wants a return to the bad old days when public employees feared arbitrary dismissals. Today, however, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. Rather than too few rules governing public employees, there are far too many, and they hurt the very people progressive reformers cared most about: the least fortunate members of society who depend the most on effective support services.
A hundred years ago, progressives envisioned a highly professional public-sector work force reining in exploitative corporate interests. They saw those on the margin being victimized both by corrupt government and business interests. They believed that the worst abuses of capitalism—think Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"—would be reined in by government regulation.
Ironically, today we find that in many cases special interests are working in the bureaucracy, using Progressive Era rules to protect the status quo and themselves.
Recent efforts to trim approximately 150 laborers, carpenters and electricians from city hospitals, for example, were halted by a lawsuit brought by the unions. In a city facing a multibillion-dollar deficit, every nonessential dollar spent is a dollar less available for hospital care—or shelter for the homeless, or police for troubled neighborhoods. In a word, these special- interest interventions ultimately lead to socially regressive results.
For cities to survive, we need a post-progressive approach in which the efficient creation of the common good is the shared goal of labor, management and citizens alike. This means rethinking the rules of the early 20th century in light of the realities of the 21st century. A system that hires without discretion, promotes without considering performance, and lays off teachers without regard to merit cannot truly serve its citizens.
Progressive Era reformers rightly targeted corruption among Boss Tweed-type contracts for city work. Today, however, excruciating contracting rules produce unintended results.
Antiquated and overly complex procurement rules lead to year-long delays and waste millions of taxpayer dollars. These complex bureaucratic processes lock out small businesses and lock in existing contractors. Simpler, less prescriptive processes with greater transparency would produce better, faster and cheaper results, minimize political favoritism, increase competition among contractors, and improve the quality of work done on the taxpayer's dime.
The current systems punish taxpayers in other ways too. Unaffordable pensions imposed by state legislators on unsuspecting citizens have created an unsustainable burden. In fiscal year 2012, New York City will pay $8.4 billion from its operating budget to fill a hole in its unfunded pension obligations. An expense of this magnitude leads directly to budget cuts for social programs and education, and to higher taxes that squeeze working families' budgets and kill jobs.
Would an increase in the "progressivity" of the tax system be the way out of our budget woes? More and more, urban mayors understand the futility of trying to tax their cities into prosperity. Few would dispute the fairness of a progressive tax system—but there are limits. In New York City, the highest-earning 1% of tax filers pay approximately 50% of the city's income taxes. Those paying the most are also best-positioned to relocate.
We need a new approach to governance that includes more respect not only for students in need of high-quality education but also for taxpayers, that has less job-killing red tape, and that fosters a more productive work force. The first rule of city government should be an unwavering commitment to delivering real value to the public with every tax dollar. That would be real progress.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)