The Jack-Booted Thugs of Liberty

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Obama Administration

So the editor of the state news website Alaska Dispatch goes to a public campaign event for Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller being held in a public school. And as the editor, Tony Hopfinger, tried to question Miller, Miller’s private security guards “arrested” Hopfinger and put him in handcuffs. They detained Hopfinger until real police showed up and had him released.

The security company claims Hopfinger was “trespassing” at a “private event.” The event was open to the public and being held on public property.

Hopfinger felt threatened as the thugs closed in on him and shoved one of them. The shoved security guard was unharmed, but naturally bloggers of the Right have seized the shove as proof that Hopfinger, not the security guys, was the real “thug.”

According to the “Gateway Pundit,” “A liberal reporter in Alaska was handcuffed and detained after he harassed Republican candidate Joe Miller after a town hall event. The reporter also assaulted a man.” The headline on the site Conservatives4Palin is “Joe Miller’s Security Reportedly Detained Blogger Who Physically Assaulted Another Individual.”

So in the wingnut’s version of events, the thugs detained Hopfinger because he assaulted them, leaving out the part about how the thugs were threatening Hopfinger.

When other reporters at the event tried to find out what was going on, Miller’s goons threatened to arrest them, too.

Hopfinger has been trying to get Miller to answer questions about alleged misconduct in a past job as a lawyer for a county government. Miller simply refuses to discuss the matter. Miller accused Hopfinger of trying to create a “confrontation.” I guess people running for office may not be confronted. The Miller campaign also called Hopfinger an “irrational blogger” who was overcome with anger.

According to a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News, Miller got testy with some of the audience questions. For example:

Another criticized Miller’s announcement last week that he would no longer answer questions about his character or his personal history. While his opponents have previous records in elective office, he does not, the woman said. “In this instance, you have no record, so it’s meaningful and it’s reasonable that we would want to examine your professional background and your military …”

Miller interrupted her and said he knew she was a supporter of his opponent, write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Steve Benen asks,

And in the larger context, I can’t help but wonder: is this what the Tea Party crowd has in mind for America’s future? In their version of “limited government,” should we expect extremists candidates to hire private security forces with the power to detain reporters who ask candidates about their background?

Is this their vision of American “freedom”?

Why, yes it is, Steve. That’s exactly what their vision of “freedom” is. It’s a place where hard right-wing ideologues have absolute rule, and anyone who dissents will be labeled irrational and shipped away for “treatment,” just as Stalin did with dissidents back in the ol’ USSR.

Oh, and Steve also notes that the centerpiece of Miller’s platform is his love for the Constitution. This would be the Constitution as a tribal totem of the Right, not the Constitution as the charter of our government, the latter of which Miller clearly would like to shred. Keep that straight.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 18, 2010 @10:34 am

    I wonder how long it will take Miller’s ‘Security Advisors’ (SA) to don brown shirts?

    All of these new candidates find it hard to deal with people who aren’t a part of their Teabagger/FOX News/Rush/Glenn echo-chamber. They only want to hear from those already indoctrinated and supportive. I guess it’s hard to be a ‘simp!’ Well, nothing like a little muscle to help force the unindoctrinated to be more supportive.
    These people are frightening, and are on the verge of taking over and moving their party even further right, to a place no American has ever known.
    Our last remaining “Free Speach Zone” will be our minds, because anything said outside of our own heads will surely be seen as dissent against “American Freedoms and Liberties!”

    I’ll ‘see you in the gulag!’
    I’ll save you the lower berth.

  2. Chief  •  Oct 18, 2010 @10:51 am
  3. maha  •  Oct 18, 2010 @10:53 am

    I wonder how long it will take Miller’s ‘Security Advisors’ (SA) to don brown shirts?

    I hesitate to throw the “N” word (Nazi, not the other one) around, as well as the “F” word (Fascist, of course) because they’re so overused as to have become meaningless. But Miller is looking more and more like a low-rent wannabe Hitler.

  4. Chief  •  Oct 18, 2010 @11:18 am

    “If the shoe fits” . . . I have no fear of telling the truth. I would not just use the “N” word to attract attention.

  5. goatherd  •  Oct 18, 2010 @11:29 am

    I look back to the “Brooks Brothers Riot” as one of the first signs that things were taking a bad turn. A group of well dressed thugs were able to stop the democratic process, like the Nazis stealing ballot boxes. I occasionally had the feeling during the Bush years that we were a dead man walking. The “Town Hall” insanity during the healthcare debate proved that calling out the thugs could be an effective strategy. If it worked once, it will be repeated until it is standard operating procedure.

    A company I work for hired a private security company due to a series of petty burglaries at one of our residential facilities. They were hired with very specific objectives, but soon exhibited “mission creep”. We had to get rid of them after only a few weeks when they started bullying kids in the neighborhood who were just outside playing. They really got out of line and I was hoping they would get a big fat lawsuit out of the deal. Unfortunately that never happened.

    I am very unclear about the legal issues here. How is it that someone can be detained without legal justification by a private business? Are we seeing a new crop of Pinkertons? I guess it’s all part of Libertarian utopia.

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 18, 2010 @12:15 pm

    If I’m McAdams, here’s my next campaign video:
    An establishing shot of McAdams at a rally. Then, have him look at the camera and say, “Hi, a 2-term mayor from Sitka, Alaska, and maybe I’m just not doing this running for Senator thing right. When I go out in public, I don’t have security forces with me to protect me wherever I go, or to handcuff newspaper reporters, or even citizens, who want to ask me questions. You can find out for yourself. Come to one of our events and ask me whatever you want. If you want to get handcuffed though, bring your own pair and someone to do it for you, because I won’t. Or you can go to a Joe Miller event and ask him something he doesn’t want you to know about. I’d bring along some bail money.
    This is Scott McAdams, and I approve of this message. But I don’t approve of handcuffing reporters. Suspects and prisoners, yes. Reporters, no…”

  7. gnarlytrombone  •  Oct 18, 2010 @12:30 pm

    I wonder how long it will take Miller’s ‘Security Advisors’ (SA) to don brown shirts?

    Mooseolini.

  8. Kay Dennison  •  Oct 18, 2010 @1:08 pm

    I ffeel really insecure and confused right now because I am not at all surprised at any of this. This is NOT the country I was brought up to love and respect.

  9. joanr16  •  Oct 18, 2010 @1:14 pm

    “I paid for this microphone!” — St. Ronnie, ripping off Spencer Tracy in State of the Union

    As usual, the Joe Miller Mentality* fails to grasp who paid for the rally’s locale, a public school. It’s more of a feline or 5-year-old child’s mentality: “Everything here is mine.”

    *In 1970, this would’ve been a great name for a band. In 2010, it’s just creepy.

  10. Randy  •  Oct 18, 2010 @1:31 pm

    “Joe Miller” used to be theatre slang for “a very old joke.” This particular joke has gone on too long.

    A lot of political “outsiders” have trouble understanding the new set of rules they have to follow when they run for office. More than one of them has had trouble dealing with blunt criticism from people not predisposed to approve, or with questions about his or her personal life. Miller is taking that “trouble” to new and unsettling extremes. One would think that anyone running for any elective office in the United States would understand that hiring private security guards to keep out journalists is just not done.

  11. uncledad  •  Oct 18, 2010 @2:11 pm

    “Another criticized Miller’s announcement last week that he would no longer answer questions about his character or his personal history”

    Well this is FAUX’s gift to American elections. Why would a republicant candidate answer tough questions from voters when he/she knows they can go on FAUX and get lobbed softball questions, prescreened and approved by the republicant minister of propaganda (Roger Ailes). I happened to tune into FAUX last night and saw one of the most frightening things ever, be careful watching this could piss you off for hours. I like how they have to subtitle the lyrics, for their half brain dead audience. To butcher a Beatles song with right-wing drool, for this Mike Huckabee should be flogged. What a fucking nobody poser piece of shit!

  12. bill bush  •  Oct 18, 2010 @3:31 pm

    I’m confused. I thought that Obama was going to take over with a bunch of “Jack-booted thugs” and death panels and black helicopters. How did authority get ceded to Miller? When did the baggers and Rethugs switch sides? And if Miller is Moosolini, does that mean he is in charge of the FEMA prison camps? And who gets our freedoms?

  13. chris  •  Oct 18, 2010 @4:07 pm

    I am not a lawyer and laws may differ in other states, but in my state, if someone is held against their will by anybody other than actual law enforcement authorities, it can be considered a crime. I am unsure if the security guards in this story fit the proper category to contain anybody. Sure they can remove an individual, but to take them into another room and handcuff them? To my knowledge, that borders on kidnapping.

    Just sayin’.

  14. buckyblue  •  Oct 18, 2010 @5:00 pm

    Chris, you made my point for me. Unlawfully detaining someone against their will is called kidnapping. Hope the prosecutor in that jurisdiction has the balls to charge someone with this crime. If I was handcuffed and held against my will I would go batshit crazy. The private security force has no different legal protection than a private citizen.

  15. goatherd  •  Oct 18, 2010 @5:12 pm

    I hope I live long enough to see the “Piazzone Loreto” phase.

    (I also hope i spelled that correctly, which I doubt.)

  16. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 18, 2010 @5:49 pm

    goatherd,
    That little square was way too small for all of the candidates that deserve what Mussolini got.

  17. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 18, 2010 @5:49 pm

    AND politicians.

  18. Swami  •  Oct 18, 2010 @5:55 pm

    Dropzone Security Services ?….Really, sounds a little too paramilitary for a normal security service. Is Josef Miller gonna keep these goons on the payroll as he makes his speaking tour of Alaskan beer halls?

  19. erinyes  •  Oct 18, 2010 @8:43 pm

    My bathroom has a drop zone…..
    Can they be trusted to secure it?
    I doubt it.

  20. art guerrilla  •  Oct 18, 2010 @9:12 pm

    “Why, yes it is, Steve. That’s exactly what their vision of “freedom” is. It’s a place where hard right-wing ideologues have absolute rule, and anyone who dissents will be labeled irrational and shipped away for “treatment,” just as Stalin did with dissidents back in the ol’ USSR.”

    um, given that i have been a frequent and egregious victim of CENSORSHIP by lefties (*ahem*), i find the above statement a little disingenuous…

    NOT that reichwing blogs are 10 times worse as far as CENSORSHIP, but pure paragons of principle on the left CENSOR with wild abandon too…

    NO ONE actually believes in -much less practices- free speech anymore; they just want THEIR righteous words to be free, and everyone else’s speech to be at their sufferance…

    “free speech”, easy to say, difficult to defend, most don’t bother…

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    artguerrilla@windstream.net
    eof

  21. jugheadjack  •  Oct 18, 2010 @9:39 pm

    Miller reminds me of g w. don’t wanna deal with with any negative questionig.

  22. tom b  •  Oct 18, 2010 @9:59 pm

    The reporter should press charges. That might not stop the weak minded or ill-informed from voted for these creeps, but it will lengthen their rap sheets and that will EVENTUALLY come back to bite them.

  23. Hume's Ghost  •  Oct 18, 2010 @10:09 pm

    Nothing like a bunch of white, crew cut ex-military survivalists detaining a reporter at a townhall for attempting to ask a candidate questions screams “not fascist.”

    Seriously, Drop Zone doubles as a military surplus store which apparently panders to survivalists. William Fulton, the guy in the infamous video who threated to handcuff another guy when he refused to leave, is a fan of Glenn Beck and they’ve got the insane Obama Joker poster up on their building, with a link to the New World Order conspiracism of the Alex Jones InfoWars website.

  24. maha  •  Oct 18, 2010 @10:46 pm

    um, given that i have been a frequent and egregious victim of CENSORSHIP by lefties (*ahem*), i find the above statement a little disingenuous…

    By definition, censorship is something only a government can do. If a blog site owner deletes your stupid comments, that is not censorship; it is a property owner exercising his property rights. I defend the right of any blogger, right or left, on his own site, to delete any comment he wants to delete, including my comments. Otherwise, mobs of idiots will take over my site and use it to push their idiocy, while I’m paying for the bandwidth. That is not “free speech”; it is mob rule.

    If you don’t like it, you have the right to maintain your own blog and say any damnfool stupid thing you want on it. That is free speech. Censorship would be if the government blocked your site from the web.

    “free speech”, easy to say, difficult to defend, most don’t bother…

    Plenty of us bother. Unlike you, however, we understand what free speech and censorship actually are.

  25. Ed  •  Oct 18, 2010 @11:33 pm

    When you get a chance I would read with interest anything you have to say about the race in Kentucky, where Jack Conway attacked Rand Paul with an ad involving an image of one “Aqua Buddha.” It sounds like religious baiting of some kind, but the image of the Buddha piques my interest in your perspective on the matter.

  26. joanr16  •  Oct 19, 2010 @8:57 am

    Ed, the full story involving Rand Paul is very bizarre. It’s basically another false-imprisonment incident, from when Paul was young. He made up the “Aqua Buddha” stuff, and insisted that the female acquaintance he’d abducted worship this made-up deity. I’m guessing Rand was pretty high at the time. He in fact was doing the religion-baiting, and Conway is calling him out on it. Maybe a desperate move at this stage, I don’t know, but it’s interesting how all these “Tea Party” candidates have such deranged histories. I’m all for bringing that to light.

  27. kagerato  •  Oct 19, 2010 @12:38 pm

    @maha :

    I don’t agree with that definition of censorship, though I’ve seen it used dozens of times. Censorship is merely the practice of intentionally suppressing or obscuring publications, to the point at which the ideas represented therein can no longer be accessed by some who wish to do so. While there is substantial historical precedent for this idea of censor as government agent, it doesn’t need be that way and there are instances where it was not. That concept is part of the connotation of the word and shouldn’t be regarded denotative.

    It is entirely fair, in my view, to say that the Catholic Church censored Galileo, despite the facts that (a) the Church is not and was not a proper part of government, and (b) the ideas that Galileo presented were eventually broadly disseminated and accepted.

    In short, all that’s truly required to be a censor is sufficient power to control the flow of information. Whether an entity is public or private has little meaning or bearing on this, and I see no good reason to fold such a distinction right into the word.

    The reason why it’s ludicrous to call bloggers who delete comments “censors” is because [a] publicly accessible (viewable) doesn’t mean publicly owned or operated, and [b] the blogger only has control over their sites, not the vast swarm of others where the individual could publish the same material. The fact that the blogger is not an agent of the government has nothing of consequence to do with the matter.

  28. maha  •  Oct 19, 2010 @2:48 pm

    I don’t agree with that definition of censorship, though I’ve seen it used dozens of times.

    They’ve got these books called “dictionaries” that explain what words mean. I agree there is an informal usage of “censorship” that applies to any kind of speech suppression, but that definition isn’t covered by the First Amendment. (Just so, when you say to your amusing friend — stop it, you’re killin’ me! — you aren’t necessarily commenting on a homicide.) When you use the phrase “freedom of speech” as a civil liberty, you are talking about the formal definition of censorship, which these days is suppression of speech by the government.

    Your reference to the Catholic Church censoring Galileo doesn’t change the definition, since the Roman Catholic Church also was the chief political power in Europe at the time, as the Holy Roman Empire was still more or less in effect. In other words, the Church was the government then.

    Censorship is merely the practice of intentionally suppressing or obscuring publications, to the point at which the ideas represented therein can no longer be accessed by some who wish to do so.

    Yes, but in your earlier comment you seemed to imply that all blogs or web forums are something like public utilities that had some kind of obligation to allow unrestricted comment posting. They are not; with rare exceptions they are more like commercial print publications, like a magazine or newspaper. If the editor of a commercial newspaper like the New York Times chooses not to print your letter to the editor, is that censorship? No, not by any definition of the word. Likewise, if a website owner decides that he or she doesn’t want to pay for the bandwidth to host your comment on his site, neither is that censorship.

    Likewise, if a blogger chooses to delete your comment, there is nothing stopping you from acquiring your own blog and saying whatever you wish. There are plenty of places that will give you very cheap hosting, or even free hosting if your bandwidth isn’t that high. So even if all the bloggers in the world choose to delete your comments, you can still get your own site, and as long as net neutrality is more or less in effect you’ve got the same shot at being indexed by the search engines and found by web surfers as anyone else.

    And there are some forum and community sites that allow pretty much anything to be posted. So, as long as there are other venues available to you, by your own definition of censorship, a blogger deleting your comment is not censorship and is not a restriction of your freedom of speech.

    It’s true that a long-established blog like this one is more likely to be noticed than a new blog, but that’s because I worked very hard for many years to make that happen. This is another reason I don’t feel obligated to allow free riders to take advantage of my work and investment. This blog is not a public utility.

    Now, excuse me while I put your whiny, freeloading butt in the twit filter.



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