I would say that this story has a lot to do with this one; I mean, how late is it anyway in the news cycle for the senator from Arizona and Repug presidential candidate last year to be alleging that the report on militia activity from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was “insulting” to veterans? Particularly when Napolitano has already apologized (unnecessarily, I think) as noted here (from the WaPo)?
And what of Chris Simcox, McCain’s just-declared primary challenger? Well, in addition to a history that includes a failed marriage, unemployment, 9/11 trauma and a three-month stint in the desert (reported by Max Blumenthal here), we also learn the following from Blumenthal’s Salon.com article…
There are those in Tombstone who say that the 41-year-old former teacher is an eccentric, an egomaniac and a threat to the local tourism industry. While Simcox says his militia has 600 members, others here say the number is far smaller. "Chris can only get a three-man patrol going," says Jeff, a bartender at the Crystal Bar on Main Street. "Basically, the kind of people who want to join his group can't even pass a background check."Despite my own ideological disagreements with McCain, I’m not sure what else it says about the current state of the Repug Party that someone like Simcox could come along and wage a legitimate primary threat to a party elder (not quite what we have in PA, though, where wingnut Pat Toomey – a bit more established based on his prior campaign in 2004 – poses a real threat to Snarlin’ Arlen’s party nod).
However quixotic his character, Simcox is a leading figure in a loose but committed alliance of anti-immigrant forces that have turned Cochise County into a national flash point for escalating tensions over illegal immigration. The alliance includes not only local ranchers, landowners and law enforcement officials, but also former high-ranking Border Patrol agents and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican. Quietly backing their efforts is the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a controversial anti-immigration group that in the 1980s and 1990s received more than $1 million from a shadowy group accused of white-supremacist leanings.
But returning to the matter of militia groups, I think this post from Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars has a lot of good information, including, among other things, the following quote from Thomas Jefferson…
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."Of course, this was the quote on the T-shirt worn by Timothy McVeigh when he was arrested for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1994 (McCain mentions McVeigh in the story today – Neiwert’s point is that it’s part of the M.O. of hate groups to blend in with the rest of us as effectively as possible)
Which, to me, leads us to the $64,000 question, which is this (echoed by Neiwert) – how can we deal with these crazies in a manner that is most effective from a law enforcement perspective (I should note that the outcry began over a report issued by the Missouri State Patrol about trying to identify trends among those who could commit violent acts as part of an extremist movement).
Also, why should anyone feel defensive if veterans are targeted by these people? That is one demographic in particular that I believe, on the whole, would know how to respond appropriately if they thought they were being recruited (with McVeigh a tragic exception – I have no evidence at this point that indicates otherwise).
Or, as McCain himself says…
“The last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans"…So why doesn’t McCain just let “sleeping dogs lie,” as it were, unless he were trying to serve his own opportunistic self interest against a primary challenger who makes common cause with those who would do harm to this country? And read Simcox’s dare to be arrested for representing those “who are protecting their own country” – and he said that in 2003 while Dubya was in the White House; would he be any less belligerent now with Obama in charge?
Do you even need to ask?