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Oregon GOP Senate Nominee Pushes QAnon Hoax, Demands Martial Law

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Oregon GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate, Jo Rae Perkins, decided to let her "Q light" shine on a Facebook livestream earlier this week—and it was a doozy.

Perkins, an unrepentant "QAnon" conspiracy cultist, told her audience that the state needs to be placed under martial law, with the National Guard being sent not just to Portland—where there have been violent protests over police brutality—but to rural places like Klamath Falls and Bend. Her reasoning: Busloads of nefarious antifa activists, financed by the evil George Soros, are fanning out to these towns to wreak destruction.

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Anti-Government Resistance Now The Beating Heart Of GOP

Some folks thought it was “inflammatory.” Some said it was “irresponsible,” others, “absurd,” still others, “disappointing.”

Those are some of the words affronted conservatives used in emails last month to describe my column on the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. In it, I noted how Timothy McVeigh’s act of domestic terrorism shed light on a movement of like-minded zealots motivated, as he was, by hatred of the federal government and rejection of its authority.

“Twenty years ago,” I wrote, “the idea of anti-government resistance seemed confined to a lunatic fringe operating in the shadows beyond the mainstream. Twenty years later, it is the mainstream, the beating heart of the Republican Party. And while certainly no responsible figure on the right advocates or condones what he did, it is just as certain that McVeigh’s violent antipathy toward Washington, his conviction that America’s government is America’s enemy, has bound itself to the very DNA of modern conservatism.”

That’s the argument conservatives found “hateful” “sickening,” and “dishonest.”

So it is, depending upon your religious outlook, a fortuitous coincidence or superfluous evidence of God’s puckish sense of humor that a few days later comes news of conservatives accusing the federal government of trying to take over the state of Texas. It seems the four branches of the U.S. military are gearing up for Operation Jade Helm 15, an eight-week training exercise across seven states. Right-wing conspiracy theorists online and on radio are claiming the exercise is actually a pretext for a federal takeover of the Lone Star State, with — get this — abandoned Walmarts to be used for the processing of prisoners!

Nor is this being laughed off by conservatives in positions of authority. To the contrary, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state guard to monitor the exercise to safeguard Texan’s “civil liberties.” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert has asked the military to change the exercise. Senator and presidential wannabe Ted Cruz said he checked with the Pentagon and while he accepts that it has no plans to conquer Texas — how magnanimous of him — “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty” because the Obama administration “has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy.”

Forgive me if I don’t spend a lot of space pointing out that this is stupid, though I can’t resist asking: If the Navy, Army, Marines, and Air Force were, indeed, planning to take over Texas, just what does Gov. Abbott think the state guard would be able to do about it?

There is, however, a more pressing observation to be made. After all, chances are good you’ve never heard about any of this — the story hasn’t garnered major headlines — and that, hearing of it now, you are not terribly surprised. That speaks pointedly of how inured we have become to the insane, paranoiac, anti-government prattle flowing like sewage from the political right. Duly elected leaders, putatively responsible people, give credence to the crazy idea that the federal government is about to attack its second most populous state and we shrug because it’s just another Tuesday in the lunatic asylum of American politics.

Look, I get it: No one wants to be compared to McVeigh. And I’ll repeat: No one in a position of responsibility embraces his prescription of terrorist violence. But it seems to me beyond argument that in the philosophical struggle for the soul of conservatism, he lost the battle and won the war. Much of what now passes for conservatism proceeds from extremes of government loathing that would have stunned Ronald Reagan himself.

Some of my readers used many colorful words to characterize that argument. Here’s the word I’d use:

Obvious.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

Photo: Matthew Prosser via Flickr

Obama To Make WWII Internment Camp In Hawaii A National Monument

By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — For more than half a century, what had once been Hawaii’s largest and longest-operating internment camp was ignored and forgotten. To the hundreds of Japanese Americans who had been forcibly confined at the camp, the experience was a source of shame and rarely spoken of until it was rediscovered by historians more than a decade ago.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama will designate the plot of land in western Oahu that was the site of the Honouliuli camp as a national monument, White House officials told the Los Angeles Times. The designation is intended to bring greater awareness to it and to Hawaii’s unique role in the World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans and what the White House calls “the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict.”

The announcement will come 73 years to the day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order paving the way for the internment of Japanese Americans, and a few months after Japan bombed Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and drew the U.S. into the war.

That order ultimately led to the imprisonment of more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast at 10 mainland internment cites, including Manzanar in California. But in Hawaii, then a U.S. territory, more than 1,000 people were interrogated and ultimately imprisoned under martial law that was declared after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

There were 17 internment sites that processed individuals, primarily of Japanese ancestry but also some German and Italian Americans. But Honouliuli was the only one specifically built for prolonged detention, and it held more than 300 internees and 4,000 prisoners of war, according to a National Parks Service study that paved the way for the designation.

Located in a gulch where Hawaii’s tropical heat was particularly oppressive and mosquitoes swarmed, Japanese internees came to refer to the site as Jigoku Dani, or Hell Valley, according to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, which has played a key role in uncovering the history of the camp.

“Honouliuli gives you that feeling of being so inaccessible, and like you’re closed into this world. But it’s only a half-hour from (downtown) to there,” said Jane Kurahara, who began researching the site’s history in 1998 after a local television station inquired about it. “The sense of place is very powerful.”

“You do get a sense of being trapped by the gulch walls,” said Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat.

The site itself, which is now on privately owned land, was not identified until 2002. Just two buildings remain; they are believed to be a recreation hall and firehouse. “They’re barely standing. Every time we go, they’re flatter,” Kurahara said.

In 2008, the Cultural Center took 100 former internees and relatives of others on a pilgrimage to the site, a visit that was “kind of a vindication for internees” and helped build support for making it a national historic site, said Carole Hayashino, the center’s president.

“They knew in the 1940s they did nothing wrong and they had nothing to be ashamed of. But they lived with the stigma for decades,” she said.

The goal with the president’s designation is to eventually create a site akin to what has developed at Manzanar.

“We can uncover the history of Honouliuli just as they uncovered the history of Manzanar, so people 100 years from now don’t forget what happened,” Hayashino said.

“These internment camps have been better-kept and better-resourced in California in particular,” said Schatz, who has continued an effort by his predecessor, Daniel K. Inyoue, and other members of the Hawaii congressional delegation to push for the designation. “It’s great that they’ve gotten that attention and those resources, but Hawaii had a really unique history in terms of navigating through the fact that we had so many Japanese American citizens.”

He added that it was particularly significant for Obama to make the designation as the state’s first native-born president.

“President Obama understands this part of Hawaii’s history and doesn’t need it explained to him,” he said.

The designation of the Honouliuli National Monument is one of three Obama will announce Thursday. He is traveling to Chicago to announce the site of Pullman town as the city’s first National Park Service unit; Brown’s Canyon in Colorado will also be named as a national monument.

Obama has used authority under the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 16 national monuments, including the Cesar Chavez monument in California in 2012.

Photo: Valentino Valdez via Flickr

Thailand Army Criticized For ‘De Facto Coup’

By Gabrielle Paluch and Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times

BANGKOK — The Royal Thai Army’s imposition of martial law nationwide on Tuesday drew condemnations from human rights groups and thrust the Southeast Asian kingdom into deeper political uncertainty stemming from months of crippling anti-government protests.

As Thai soldiers took up positions across Bangkok, the leadership of the powerful army, which has staged 11 successful coups since 1932, said the move was not a coup but an effort “to restore peace and order” with supporters and opponents of the government seemingly headed for a showdown within days.

Anti-government protesters had vowed a final push this month to topple officials linked to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, while the acting prime minister insisted that he and his caretaker Cabinet would not resign. The Cabinet has been clinging to power since Thailand’s Constitutional Court two weeks ago ruled against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, in an abuse-of-power case. The court forced her and several ministers to leave office.

Appearing on television early Tuesday morning, the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha, said the ongoing political rallies “could impact the country’s security and (the) safety of the lives and properties of the public,” and declared martial law in effect nationwide. But he urged Thais to go about their business as usual and added, “Do not panic.”

The army presence in Bangkok was light, with small contingents of soldiers stationed outside police stations and the governing party’s security apparatus. The military ordered demonstrators to remain in place but soldiers made no attempt to disperse either government supporters — known as “red shirts” — or their opponents from protest sites in the city.

Government officials said the military did not inform them before making the pre-dawn announcement, which was followed by the deployment of troops to watch over television stations and an order that 10 satellite TV channels cease broadcasting, which the military said was “to prevent any distortions which could lead to misunderstandings.”

Using a century-old Thai law, the military dissolved the governing party’s internal security body and ordered the heads of government agencies to report to army command, but kept the government in place.

Thai Foreign Ministry officials said the army chief told government agencies Tuesday afternoon that martial law would be lifted “as soon as possible once peace and order have been achieved.”

“It’s a phantom coup,” said Kan Yuenyong, executive director of the Siam Intelligence Unit, a Bangkok think tank. “An actual coup wouldn’t be popular, it would create resistance from the red shirts and the international community wouldn’t support it.”

In a statement, Human Rights Watch called the situation a “de facto coup” and called on Thailand’s allies to demand that the action “be reversed immediately.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We expect the army to honor its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence, and to not undermine democratic institutions.”

The political crisis has split Thailand sharply between its urban establishment and poorer residents in the provinces who support Thaksin’s Pheu Thai party. Thaksin was ousted in the last military coup in 2006, following abuse-of-power allegations, and went into exile. But his party has gone on to win elections, including the most recent one in February, which was nullified after anti-government protesters blocked many polling places.

The current Pheu Thai government is serving in a caretaker role until a new round of elections scheduled for this summer, but Yingluck Shinawatra’s opponents — who are likely to lose another election — have called for her government to be replaced by an unelected council.

At least 28 people have been killed in violence linked to the political unrest. Earlier this week, the Thai government said the economy contracted by 2.1 percent in the first quarter this year.

Many analysts believe that the anti-government demonstrators were hoping to sow enough chaos to force the military to intervene. Demonstrators on Tuesday relinquished Government House, the official prime minister’s residence that they had occupied for a week. The head of the movement, Suthep Thaugsuban, handed soldiers a bouquet of flowers.

But the army has not openly taken sides in the struggle and is widely believed to have been reluctant to intervene. Thais nationwide were watching for signals from the military Tuesday night as to how long it would keep martial law in place.

“The military has two clear choices,” said Verapat Pariyawong, a political analyst. “They can go ahead and return power to the government and create a secure environment for elections, or they can meddle with the constitution and create a bloody mess.

“I think right now, one thing is clear: The military doesn’t want to stay in this position for a long time.”

A China via Flickr