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North Meets South: Vermont Secessionists Meet with Racist League of the South

by Heidi Beirich
Southern Poverty Law Center
June 2008

From 1777 until 1791, Vermont was an independent state complete with all the trappings — a constitution, a flag, even a mint to pump out its own money, the Vermont copper. But in 1791, Vermonters happily joined the new United States. Now, some of the locals want out.

In 2003, the Second Vermont Republic (SVR) sprang up to push for the independence of Vermont, a tiny, idyllic Northeastern state with fewer than 630,000 residents. In its seemingly quixotic quest, SVR took up the mantra that small is beautiful, arguing that secession would lead to sustainability, ecological balance, an end to military entanglements overseas, and a better life. SVR activists designed a new green flag for Vermont and started selling T-shirts, particularly popular with the state’s many tourists, that read, “U.S. OUT OF VT!”

But in recent months and years, SVR’s actions have gone from way out to worrying. Starting in 2005, SVR leader Thomas H. Naylor — along with SVR’s very close ally, the Cold Spring, N.Y.-based Middlebury Institute that is headed by longtime leftist Kirkpatrick Sale — began openly collaborating with a collection of Southern extremists to build a national secession movement.

SVR’s disturbing new partner is the white supremacist League of the South. The Alabama-based group is against interracial marriage, believes the old Confederacy never surrendered, and wants to reestablish “the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions” in a newly seceded South. It seeks to accord different classes of people differing legal rights in what sounds very much like a medieval theocracy of lords, serfs and clerics. League intellectuals have defended both slavery (which was “God-ordained”) and segregation, a policy described as protecting the genetic “integrity” of both blacks and whites. Right after Hurricane Katrina, league members put up “whites only” housing offers, including one from Alabama offering a trailer to a “white family of three or four,” and another from Tennessee offering to temporarily house a “White Christian family.”

Many Vermonters have been shocked by this alliance. After all, the Green Mountain State was the first to abolish slavery in 1777, and its men fought fiercely to preserve the union in battles during the Civil War, some of which are proudly commemorated in paintings displayed inside the gold-domed State House. But Naylor isn’t worried about his fellow Vermonters’ concerns, hotly defending as critical his newfound alliance with members of the radical right.

“For the last 30 years, people have been speculating on the idea of far left meets far right, and I saw the possibility for that not to be fantasy but to be real,” Naylor told the Intelligence Report. “The objective is to bring down the Empire.” The League of the South, Naylor added, though “not perfect,” is “not racist.”

Birthing a movement

Talk of secession has been heating up in Vermont since the early 1990s and even before. In 1991, then-Lt. Gov. Howard Dean moderated debates in seven towns that then voted for secession. That same year, University of Vermont professor and current SVR advisor Frank Bryan argued for secession in a series of well-publicized debates with Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley. With the election of George Bush and the onset of the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, secessionist sentiment in traditionally liberal Vermont picked up, with a 2006 University of Vermont poll showing 8% of residents interested in the idea.

It was Naylor who turned that sentiment into a movement, founding SVR after self-publishing The Vermont Manifesto in 2003. Naylor was spurred to create SVR by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which he does not believe were organized by Osama bin Laden, a “fundamentalist living in a remote cave,” but rather were the ultimate result of American arrogance. In his manifesto’s preface, Naylor writes: “Our nation has truly lost its way. America is no longer a sustainable nation-state economically, politically, socially, militarily or environmentally. The Empire has no clothes.” A perennial curmudgeon, Naylor regularly berates government officials. He calls Vermont’s elected officials “enemies of the state” and has labeled six-term Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, “a world-class prostitute.”

To most Vermonters, SVR was originally seen as a far-out outfit that engaged in publicity stunts to push secession. At least in the beginning, its most enthusiastic supporters seemed to be the Glover, Vt.-based Bread and Puppet Theater troupe, a merry band dedicated to “cheap art” whose building hosted SVR’s first statewide meeting in October 2003. One SVR attention-grabber was a “memorial service” held on March 4, 2005, commemorating the day in 1791 that Vermont joined the union. The service included everything from a reading from Ecclesiastes to the strains of Chopin’s “Funeral March.” A funeral procession with a New Orleans-style jazz band carried a flag-draped coffin containing the “deceased First Vermont Republic” to the State House in Montpelier, where it was placed at the feet of Vermont Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen’s statue. SVR even achieved a symbolic political success, persuading the legislature to designate Jan. 16 as Vermont Independence Day to commemorate the establishment of the First Vermont Republic in 1777.

Naylor’s leftist credentials were enhanced greatly by his close friendship with Kirkpatrick Sale, whose Middlebury Institute he helped found in 2005. Sale, a contributing editor at the left-wing journal The Nation and a chronicler of the militant, 1960s-era Students for a Democratic Society, is best known as the author of The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, a 1991 history that was the first to denounce Columbus for “founding” the New World and ushering in the destruction of its native peoples. Between 1965 and 1968, he was editor of The New York Times Magazine. Thirty years later, in 1995, Sale was named as a “visionary” by the Utne Reader, a liberal journal. Sale also is known for his hatred of technology, once famously smashing a computer to bits on a New York stage.

In 2005, the Vermont secessionist movement also spawned a popular independent newspaper, Vermont Commons, that the SVR describes as a “sister organization.” The newspaper promotes nonviolent secession and a “more sustainable Vermont future.” Both SVR and Vermont Commons argue that the United States has become an unsustainable “empire” in need of dismantling.

From Mississippi to Montpelier

The image of SVR as a quixotic band of idealistic Vermontophiles fighting for an independent Green Mountain State has taken a public beating since 2006, when Naylor and Sale began openly working with the League of the South and other neo-Confederates. But the fact is that from the beginning, the SVR has been in many ways a Southern import that pushes 19th-century claims about states’ rights and a revisionist take on Lincoln and the Civil War.

Naylor, the SVR’s 71-year-old founder, is a born-and-bred child of the Deep South. He apparently developed his secessionist ideas under the guidance of former League of the South member and Emory University philosopher Donald Livingston — a man Naylor told the Intelligence Report is the “philosophical guru of the Second Vermont Republic” and who is also published in Vermont Commons. Livingston — who told the Report in a 2001 interview that “the North created segregation” and that Southerners fought during the Civil War only “because they were invaded” — has attended most of SVR’s events. Livingston is also featured in the SVR video, “U.S. Empire and Vermont Independence,” alongside SVR stalwarts Frank Bryan and Jim Hogue, who is an Ethan Allen reenactor.

Naylor is a
native of Jackson, Miss. Some of his father T. H. Naylor Jr.’s correspondence is found in the archives of the infamous Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a secret state spy agency that was formed to battle integration. The elder Naylor was even featured in the notorious film, “Message From Mississippi,” which promoted the joys of segregation. Now retired, Naylor taught economics at Duke University in Durham, N.C., for 30 years, and has written 30 books, ranging from tomes on computer simulations to political works on Gorbachev. In the early 1990s, he worked as a consultant for companies in the USSR. During that time, he became convinced that the break-up of the Soviet Union was a harbinger of America’s future.

Although the younger Naylor told the Intelligence Report that while in college he refused to stand when “Dixie” was played at the University of Mississippi’s football games, his ideology is now rife with neo-Confederate ideas. By 1997, Naylor, in his book Downsizing the U.S.A. — co-authored by William Willimon, the dean of chapel and a professor of Christian ministry at Duke University in North Carolina — was calling the Civil War the “War Between the States.” Parroting the neo-Confederate anti-Lincoln line, Naylor calls Lincoln “arguably the worst” president in American history. “Lincoln invaded the Confederate States without the consent of congress,” he wrote in his Manifesto, adding that Lincoln “may have also been the father of American internal imperialism.”

And he adopted a revisionist view of the causes of the Civil War that has been roundly rejected by most serious historians. “Most Americans think the Civil War was fought about freeing the slaves, but rather it was fought to preserve the union and build an empire,” Naylor told The (U.K) Independent last October.

Naylor also is down on desegregation. In a 2007 essay, “Minority States NOT Minority Rights,” Naylor criticizes segregation but also “forced racial integration,” complaining that the federal government was in the 1950s and 1960s “ordering me to associate with minorities whether I like it or not.” Overall, Naylor can’t abide by the idea that since civil rights legislation was passed in the 1960s, “minority rights always trump states’ rights.” He asks if integration “disempowered minorities, diluting their influence over their communities and implying that every solution to their problems always lies in the hands of the majority-backed government?”

New Friends

Naylor’s reasons for moving to Vermont are explained in Downsizing the U.S.A. He portrays his then-hometown of Richmond, Va., as overcome by crime and angry African Americans, saying it was in a “death spiral.” When he moved to Vermont in 1993, Naylor almost immediately started calling for an independent state. He pines for a separate Vermont, perhaps allied with other Atlantic maritime entities, that would resemble Switzerland or Luxembourg — countries Naylor considers as close to perfect as possible. In Downsizing the U.S.A., Naylor sounds a theme similar to that of many white supremacists, suggesting that some parts of the country could be broken up according to ethnicity. “If Palestine could be divided into a Jewish state and an Arab state, why can’t independent African American, Hispanic, and Native American states be carved out of the United States?”

In Vermont, Naylor grew close to an unlikely secessionist, the renowned diplomat George Kennan, described by Naylor as “the godfather of the movement.” In his 1994 autobiography Around the Cragged Hill, Kennan had suggested breaking the U.S. into “a dozen constituent republics” for reasons that don’t sound that different than Naylor’s. In a letter to Naylor quoted in The American Conservative, Kennan wrote of “unmistakable evidences of a growing differentiation between the cultures, respectively, of large southern and southwestern regions of this country” and worried that “the very culture of the bulk of the population of these regions will tend to be primarily Latin-American in nature.” Kennan questioned whether American society should be “recklessly trashed” for what he called “a polyglot mix-mash.”

Though he has spent his entire life in the New York region and been a regular on the progressive intellectual scene in New York City, Kirkpatrick Sale, too, has sounded very Confederate of late. When addressing the League of the South’s convention last fall in Chattanooga, Tenn., Sale came off like a newly minted neo-Confederate. Describing himself as a “Northerner but with the blood of the South running through my veins,” Sale told the cheering audience that he was descended from the Sale clan of Virginia and Kentucky and that one of his ancestors, Charles “Chic” Sale, wrote a popular story in Southern vernacular on building outhouses called The Specialist. At the end of the league conference, the audience stood and sang “Dixie” together. In a more recent essay, Sale described his view of what happened when the South seceded the first time: “They were ruthlessly attacked and their society eventually destroyed.”

Early last October, Sale’s institute co-hosted with the league the Second Annual North American Secession Conference in the same Chattanooga venue. With about 60 attendees, most of the conference’s speakers were members of the league or prominent neo-Confederate activists. The event also attracted interest in white supremacist circles outside of the South. For example, publisher Bill Regnery, backer of the white supremacist National Policy Institute, which issues reports on such things as “The State of White America” and “Conservatives and Race,” was on hand. For a movement supposedly led out of Vermont and New York, Southerners seem now to be at least co-driving the bus.

Left meets right

Four years earlier, in November 2004, SVR held its first serious conference in Middlebury, Vt., in conjunction with Fourth World, a left-wing British secessionist group supported by Sale. That was the beginning of the close partnership between Sale and Naylor.

Attended by 35 people, the conference produced “The Middlebury Declaration,” named for the place where it was signed, the Middlebury Inn. The original signers were Naylor, Sale and Donald Livingston, the former league leader. The declaration asserts that “[t]he American empire, now imposing its military might on 153 countries around the world, is as fragile as empires historically tend to be, and that it might well implode upon itself in the near future.” Hence the need for a “new politics” based on separation. Secessionists with League of the South connections were soon involved. Naylor said they approached SVR “as a role model.”

Speaking at a Vermont Independence rally that same year was John Remington Graham, an expert on the Francophone independence movement in Quebec, Canada, and an affiliated scholar at the League of the South’s Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History. The main outcome of the meeting was a decision to create a think tank to explore secession around the world. That idea came to fruition with the establishment of Sale’s Middlebury Institute in 2005 as a sort of secessionist gathering point that posts material on its website about secessionist groups around the world. The institute also holds conferences on secession, two of which have prominently featured league members as well as other neo-Confederates.

In November 2006, SVR and the Middlebury Institute co-hosted the First North American Separatist Convention in the Montpelier State House (which, ironically, is graced by a large statue of Lincoln). The secessionists-only conference brought together several groups, including the Free Hawaii movement and members of the Alaskan Independence Party. But the bulk of the crowd even then was made up of Southern groups including the racist League of the South; Christian Exodus, a theocracy-minded outfit headed by a former league leader from Texas; and the Abbeville Institute, which was established by Donald Livingston i
n 2003 after he finally left the League of the South due to its “political baggage.” Livingston’s institute is devoted to the “Southern tradition,” including what it describes as the ignored “achievements of white people in the South.”

In October 2007, the league, Naylor and Sale met again in Chattanooga for the Second Annual North American Secession conference, an event organized by the Middlebury Institute and this time officially co-hosted by the league. The conference issued the “Chattanooga Declaration” — a document that pronounced the “old left-right split meaningless and dead” and called for “diversity among human societies.” It was while in Chattanooga that Sale spoke so fondly of his Southern roots.

Sale defended the league to reporters, telling The (U.K.) Independent that fall that he wanted to show the “folks up north” that league members are “legitimate colleagues” who have been wrongly declared “racists.” (Sale declined to discuss the league, its history or anything else with the Report, saying by E-mail that he did not trust it “for one instant to be fair or truthful.”) Sale has hotly contested the SPLC designation of the league as a hate group, telling The Associated Press in 2007 that the league — whose leader, former university professor Michael Hill, has engaged in such activities as sending out E-mails mocking the names of his African-American students — “has not done or said anything racist in its 14 years of existence.”

Hard to Starboard

Naylor and Sale don’t just share secessionist chitchat with their new neo-Confederate friends. Over the last two years, they have both become ensconced in the neo-Confederate movement and collegial with several extremists. For example, Naylor serves as an “associated scholar” at Livingston’s Abbeville Institute, whose ranks are filled with current and former league members. Another Abbeville “scholar,” Scott Trask, has written for the white supremacist newsletter American Renaissance, which is devoted to proving the intellectual inferiority of minorities and recently claimed that blacks are incapable of creating any civilization.

SVR, the Abbeville Institute and the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History all share as an advisor Thomas DiLorenzo, a professor at Loyola College who has done more than anyone to push the idea that Abraham Lincoln was a paragon of wickedness, a man secretly intent on destroying states’ rights and building a massive federal government. “It was not to end slavery that Lincoln initiated an invasion of the South,” DiLorenzo writes in his 2002 attack on Lincoln, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. “A war was not necessary to free the slaves, but it was necessary to destroy the most significant check on the powers of the central government: the right of secession.”

Appointed to the SVR advisory board in 2005, Marco Bassani, an Italian college professor, is also an associated scholar at the Abbeville Institute. More importantly, he is a member of the xenophobic and anti-immigrant Northern League, whose leader, Umberto Bossi, has described African immigrants as “bingo-bongos” and suggested opening fire on the boats of would-be illegal immigrants to Italy.

Besides speaking at league conferences, Sale’s speeches are for sale at Georgia League of the South leader Ray McBerry’s Dixie Broadcasting, where Sale is described as a “social liberal who supports the Constitutional concept of the right of secession.” The league advertises on its website that it will participate in the Third Annual North American Secessionist Convention, to be put on by Sale’s Middlebury Institute next fall.

In the last two years, Sale and Naylor even signed on as guests for the now-defunct Tennessee-based hate radio program “The Political Cesspool,” run by white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens board member and David Duke pal James Edwards. Naylor, who has been a guest twice on the program whose guest line-up reads like a Who’s Who of the racist radical right, appeared during its celebration of “Confederate History Month” in April 2007.

In the case of Israel, Sale has views that are common to the far left and the far right. In a 2003 article for the left-wing journal Counterpunch called “An End to the Israel Experiment? Unmaking a Grievous Error,” Sale asks “[w]hether the 50-year-old experiment known as the state of Israel has proven to be a failure and should be abandoned.” He points out that “[t]he [Jewish] diaspora, after all, has existed since 70 A.D., far longer than the state has, and might even be thought of as the natural or historic role of Jewry.”

Naylor sees it similarly. “We have a government that is unconditionally allied with the state of Israel, which is an apartheid terrorist state,” he told the Report. He complained that the entire congressional delegation of Vermont “supports Israel.”

‘Hating America’

Some Vermonters continue to stand by Naylor despite concerns. Vermont Commons Editor Rob Williams told the Intelligence Report that although his organization is completely separate from SVR, Naylor is “no racist” and a man whom he considers “a colleague” and whose essays his paper will continue to publish. A member of SVR’s speakers bureau, Williams added: “The ‘racism’ charge, by the way, has become a convenient way for a few outspoken Vermonters who may not agree with our goals to throw stones at us.” The real racist, Williams said, is “the United States empire.”

But playing footsie with neo-Confederates has cost SVR, as several members have left the group or distanced themselves from it in recent years. Former executive director Jane Dwinel quit the group in 2006, telling the Report later that she had had sharp disagreements with Naylor. John McClaughry, a supporter of decentralization, told the Report that SVR has “shaded over to hating America.” According to the Vermont Secession blog, Dan Dewalt, a former SVR advisory member, was dismissed from the group for merely raising irksome questions about Naylor’s connection to groups including the league.

Even many of those who remain Naylor’s colleagues are worried by SVR’s new Southern friends. “You’ve got to watch whose conference you go to. There’s no doubt about it,” SVR advisor Frank Bryan told the Report. Added longtime SVR ally Jim Hogue, “If [Naylor] was very flattering toward the League of the South, and they’re racist, that was probably a bad idea.”

In the face of these criticisms, Naylor remains defiant. “I don’t give a shit what you write,” he told the Intelligence Report. “If someone tells me that I shouldn’t associate with the League of the South, it guarantees that I will associate with the League of the South.”

Sale seems to be losing friends, too. Roane Carey, an editor who has worked with Sale at The Nation, told the Intelligence Report: “The Nation has no sympathy for or connection to the League of the South or any group of that ilk. A couple of years ago, we found out that the Vermont secession movement had the astonishingly poor judgment to make an alliance with the [League of the South], whose thinly disguised racism and closed-mindedness we condemn without reservation.

“It’s one thing to call for devolution, local self-rule, small-is-beautiful politics — even, in some circumstances, the idea of secession — in the cause of ending empire and enhancing democracy, personal liberty, equal rights and environmental sanity,” said Carey. “It’s quite another to make nice with groups, such as the League of the South, that use the language of secession and regional or local self-rule as a means of promoting Old South revanchism.” Carey added that he hopes Sale “comes to his senses.”

Despite SVR’s best efforts, for now the union appears to be safe — Vermont secessionists failed to obtain the signatures needed to put independence resolutions on 2008 Town Meeting Day ballots. They will try again in 2009.


12 comments for “North Meets South: Vermont Secessionists Meet with Racist League of the South”

  1. Note that this former League of the South member was also the self-declared “official blogger” for Rand’s dad in 2012:

    USA Today
    Rand Paul staffer expressed support for Lincoln assassin
    James R. Carroll and Joseph Gerth, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal 2:33 p.m. EDT July 9, 2013
    Paul’s director of new media has called himself the ‘Southern Avenger’ since 1999.

    WASHINGTON — A member of Sen. Rand Paul’s staff who helped him write one of his books is a former pro-secessionist radio commentator who wore a Confederate flag mask during public appearances, according to a news report Tuesday.

    Jack Hunter, who is Paul’s director of new media and credited writer with the senator on the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, has called himself the “Southern Avenger” since 1999 and has expressed support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, according to the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online news site.

    Paul, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has spent recent months urging the Republican Party to “be like the rest of America” by embracing minority voters.

    Hunter’s views sharply contrast with that message.

    In one commentary, Hunter complained that white people are not allowed to celebrate their race while Hispanics turn “everywhere they settle into northern outposts of their Mexican homeland,” the Free Beacon reported.

    “Not only are whites not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity, but anything that is considered ‘too white’ is immediately suspect,” Hunter said. “The term ‘diversity’ has become nothing more than a code word for ‘not white,’ and it’s a shame that just because we have fair skin, we are always denied fair treatment.”

    In 2007, Hunter wrote that “a non-white majority America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious — whether we are supposed to mention them or not.”

    In another commentary, Hunter equated the United States’ use of atomic bombs on Japan that ended World War II with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.

    Hunter told the Free Beacon that he no longer holds many of the views he expressed.

    “There’s a lot of people who write in print and radio that go out and beat their chests and try to just say the craziest things they can because that’s how you make a living,” Hunter said. “For a while, that’s how I made a living. … And it’s not that you don’t mean it — it’s just you express it in ways that does more harm than good.”

    Paul’s Senate office paid Hunter $40,000 in salary from Aug. 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013, according to data collected by LegiStorm, a nonpartisan group that monitors Congress.

    Hunter still maintains a website, http://www.southernavenger.com, where he says he was the official blogger for the 2012 presidential campaign of former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, the father of the senator from Kentucky.

    “From 2010 until today, I have constantly been accused of being a propagandist for Rand Paul,” Hunter wrote Jan. 27. “It is true. I believe in Sen. Paul 100%. I have been waiting for a political figure of his type to emerge my entire life. In 2010, he even hired me to co-author a book with him. It was an honor. I have worked for him in the past and will continue to be at his service.”

    He did not mention that he is a paid Senate staffer for Paul.

    According to his biography on his site, Hunter began his political commentaries in the late 1990s on WAVF-FM radio in Charleston, S.C., moving in 2007 to WTMA-AM in the same city. He also penned a column in The Charleston City Paper and began producing videos for his own YouTube channel. He also has written for The American Conservative and The American Spectator and has been a guest host on Sirius/XM radio.

    Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley provided a statement on the Hunter controversy: “Senator Paul holds his staff to a standard that includes treating every individual with equal protection and respect, without exception.”

    She declined a Courier-Journal request for interviews with the senator and Hunter.

    In December 2009, during his bid for the Senate, Paul fired then-spokesman and treasurer, Christopher Hightower, after his campaign acknowledged that Hightower maintained a page on a website that included racist remarks and that suggested that the government bore some responsibility for the 2001 terror attacks.

    The page included a derogatory reference to African Americans in a poem.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2013, 11:56 am
  2. Note that Jack Hunter wasn’t just a member of the League of the South. He used to be a chairman. With a resume like that it’s no wonder his services are in such high demand!

    Neo-Confederate Rand Paul Aide A Daily Caller Contributor, Fox Regular
    “Southern Avenger” Jack Hunter Also Helped Write Heritage President Jim DeMint’s Book


    Jack Hunter, a congressional aide to Sen. Rand Paul with a history of “neo-Confederate” and “pro-secessionist” views, has produced dozens of articles and video commentaries for The Daily Caller and appeared as what one Fox Business host termed a “regular” guest on that network. He also helped then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), currently the president of The Heritage Foundation, write his most recent book.

    The conservative Free Beacon reported today that Hunter, a “close” Rand Paul aide who also co-wrote the Kentucky Republican’s 2011 book, “spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist … Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which ‘advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.'”

    Free Beacon also quoted Hunter’s South Carolina radio commentary under the pseudonym “The Southern Avenger” in which he expressed adoration for Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, indignation that white Americans are treated to a “racial double standard,” and opposition to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Hunter reportedly “told the Free Beacon that he no longer holds many of these views,” including his pro-Lincoln assassin views, but “declined to say that he no longer supports secession.”

    Free Beacon further reported that “[d]uring public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag” and included the following picture:
    [see pic]

    While Free Beacon’s report was critical of Hunter and his association with Sen. Paul, it did not mention Hunter’s ties to The Daily Caller, Fox, and DeMint. The piece instead mentioned that Hunter had written for “paleoconservative websites such as the American Conservative and Taki’s Magazine,” and even quoted Jim Antle, editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation, who commented on Rand Paul’s efforts to “overcome that perception” that he is too close to fringe elements.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2013, 12:23 pm
  3. It looks like Rand Paul is sticking with the “Southern Avenger”. It’ll be interesting to see how the Avenger’s other employers respond. It’s not that Paul approves of discriminatory attitudes. It’s that he hasn’t seen any evidence of it:

    Huffington Post
    Rand Paul Stands By His ‘Southern Avenger’

    Posted: 07/11/2013 7:35 am EDT | Updated: 07/11/2013 5:00 pm EDT

    WASHINGTON –- In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sen. Rand Paul stoutly defended an aide who, as a radio shock jock in South Carolina, praised John Wilkes Booth, heaped scorn on Abraham Lincoln and wore a ski mask emblazoned with the stars and bars of the Confederate Battle Flag.

    Paul (R-Ky.) stressed that he opposed such views, many of which have been recanted by the Senate aide, Jack Hunter, who co-wrote Paul’s first book in 2010 and who is now his social media adviser in Washington.

    “I’m not a fan of secession,” Paul said. “I think the things he said about John Wilkes Booth are absolutely stupid. I think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. Do I think Lincoln was wrong is taking away the freedom of the press and the right of habeas corpus? Yeah.

    “There were great people who were for emancipation. Lincoln came to his greatness. One Republican congressman described it as ‘on borrowed plumage.’ I love the description, because there were some great fighters [for emancipation] and Lincoln had to be pushed. But I’m not an enemy of Lincoln, like some who think he was an awful person.”

    Paul said that Hunter had never acted in a discriminatory way, and that his earlier work in South Carolina was a form of youthful political showmanship.

    “People are calling him a white supremacist,” Paul told me in his Senate office. “If I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately. If I thought he would treat anybody on the color of their skin different than others, I’d fire him immediately.

    “All I can say is, we have a zero tolerance policy for anybody who displays discriminatory behavior or belief in discriminating against people based on the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, anything like that,” Paul told me. “We won’t tolerate any of that, and I’ve seen no evidence of that.

    “Are we at a point where nobody can have had a youth or said anything untoward?” the senator asked rhetorically.

    Hunter is 39 years old. He was a well-known figure in South Carolina for years before he caught Paul’s eye with some well-circulated YouTube videos.

    Paul insisted that he had only known “vaguely” about Hunter’s work. But even if he had known all of the details, Paul said, he would not have shied away from hiring Hunter because he is a talented conservative writer.

    “Let me put it this way,” Paul said. ”I’m aware of some of your columns, but not all of them. And some of them I find very unfair, calling me a conspiracy nut, things like that. But I chose to talk to you today. So that means we have a relationship now. But it doesn’t mean that I agree with all of your past writings.

    “It’s the same way any time you meet somebody who’s got a large body of work,” Paul continued. “So if I hired you to work in my campaign, there would be some things I agreed with, and some things I disagreed with.

    “I think it’s hard. The thing is, I grapple with this. What am I supposed to do? I’m going to have a lot of people working for me. They’ve all got writings and opinions.”

    Hunter, he said, “is incredibly talented.”

    Behind the flashy and provocative rhetoric, Paul said, Hunter often made thought-provoking arguments. “Look and listen to the actual words and not to the headlines, people,” Paul told me.

    What about the ski mask? I asked.

    “It was a shock radio job. He was doing wet T-shirt contests. But can a guy not have a youth and stuff? People try to say I smoked pot one time, and I wasn’t fit for office.”

    Paul clearly thinks that he is.

    And, by the way, he told me, he was headed to Nevada this weekend — Nevada being a key early-nominating state in what would be a 2016 GOP nominating race.

    Before he gets there, Paul will have to deal with myriad nettlesome issues that come from his family’s political roots in the libertarian, states’ rights and nativist soil deep in some reaches of American politics.

    A major theme of Paul’s short career has been the tension between the grassroots tea party enthusiasm and libertarian online donors he inherits from his father -– perennial presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul -– and Rand’s own strategic plan to be seen as a mainstream-able GOP figure.

    The two imperatives seemed to have collided in the person of Jack Hunter this week, and Paul stood by his friend. He could hardly do otherwise. Hunter is too close to him, for one, to be easily jettisoned. But more important for Paul, firing him would have been allowing other people to tell him what to do.

    Paul/Hunter 2016!!!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2013, 9:31 pm
  4. Rand Paul decided to reiterate that Jack Hunter’s disavowed writings were totally not racist:

    Rand Paul On Secessionist Ex-Aide’s Writings: ‘None Of It Was Racist’
    Eric Lach 10:22 AM EDT, Wednesday August 7, 2013

    In a radio interview on Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said his former aide Jack Hunter, who spent years in the 1990s and 2000s as a pro-secessionist activist and radio shock jock, was unfairly treated by the media last month. Paul said that while he disagreed with much of Hunter’s past writings and statements, none of Hunter’s words were racist.

    “If you’ll read through a lot of his things, I think some of the things he wrote, or many of the things he wrote, were stupid, and I don’t agree with,” Paul said during an interview on NPR’s On Point program. “I do think though that he was unfairly treated by the media, and he was put up as target practice for people to say he was a racist, and none of that’s true. And if you look at his writings, I think there are a lot of problems, and a lot of disagreements, and none of it do I support. But none of it was racist.”

    Paul went on to say that Hunter, who resigned his position in the senator’s office last month, had “got along fine with everybody in the office, treated everyone fairly, regardless of race or religion.” In the late 1990s, Hunter was a member of the League of the South, a group which advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States. In the early 2000s, Hunter began contributing anonymous political commentary on South Carolina radio under the moniker “Southern Avenger.” Among his assertions from that time: the Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth’s heart was “in the right place” and that white people in the U.S. are subject to a “racial double standard.”

    During the interview on Tuesday, On Point’s guest host, John Harwood, also read Paul an Economist article arguing that libertarian politicians have risen to power through ties to “racist and nativist movements.”

    “Don’t you have something better to read than a bunch of crap from people who don’t like me?” Paul replied. “I mean, that won’t make for much of an interview if I have to sit through reading after recitation of people calling me a racist.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 7, 2013, 8:23 am
  5. A man that loved Jesse Helms so much that he moved to North Carolina just to be a little closer to his hero is now shockingly close to his hero’s old seat:

    TPM Livewire
    Sen. Hagan Tea Party Challenger Attended Secessionist Rally

    Daniel Strauss – December 16, 2013, 10:54 AM EST

    North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon (R) cosponsored and delivered a speech at an event sponsored by the secessionist League of the South.

    According to a new Mother Jones report on Monday, Brannon, who is running in the GOP primary to defeat Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), spoke at rally which supported nullification (the argument that states are able to invalidate federal laws) in October.

    Brannon, furthermore, has also repeatedly said that if elected he would model his tenure as a senator after former Sen. Jesse Helms (R), the longtime North Carolina senator who supported racial segregation. Brannon also said at an event sponsored by RedState.com that he decided to move to North Carolina because Helms was his hero.

    The Mother Jones report also notes that Brannon, who has been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the GOP primary, has also argued that bipartisan agreements in Congress “enslave” Americans and that the planks of Communism espoused by Karl Marx “are law in our land today.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2013, 8:56 am
  6. Check out Jack Hunter’s latest gig: He’s heading up a libertarian version of the Drudge Report that’s doubling as the platform for showcasing the new kinder, gentler Jack Hunter:


    The Avenger Without a Mask

    A controversial Rand Paul aide has shown that he has the Pauls’ knack for the comeback.
    By David Weigel

    Sen. Rand Paul left the stage, the applause died down, and the leaders of Young Americans for Liberty had a problem—there was time to kill. A panel of liberty-movement congressmen was en route to Northern Virginia from the Capitol, where they’d just held late votes. So Jeff Frazee, the 31-year-old who has led YAL ever since it was spun off from Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign, came onstage to introduce “a good friend of the cause.”

    “I’m sure everyone here is Facebook friends with him,” said Frazee. “If you’re not, you should be. … He’s been very helpful with the growth of our mission, and our message. I think he’s a very articulate gentleman.”

    With that, Frazee brought out Jack Hunter. One year earlier, when Hunter still worked for Sen. Paul, the Washington Free Beacon dug through everything he’d published as “the Southern Avenger,” a truth-teller in a Confederate flag luchador mask. According to the younger Hunter, John Wilkes Booth’s heart was “in the right place,” and whites had lost the “right to celebrate their own cultural identity.” Americans worried about keeping their country were not “wrong to deplore the millions of Mexicans coming here now.”

    Paul stood by Hunter for more than a week, until he resigned and Paul could could distance himself from his former aide’s “stupid” oeuvre. Hunter scaled back his participation in that year’s YAL conference.

    But now he was back, onstage, in front of hundreds of people who’d just finished chanting for Rand Paul to run for president.

    “Tell some jokes!” said Frazee./

    “They don’t want to hear those,” said Hunter. “They’re pretty bad.”

    The story of Jack Hunter’s comeback is the story of the Pauls, a political family with survival skills that rival the Road Runner’s. The 2008 discovery by James Kirchick of Ron Paul’s race war survivalist newsletters did not force the elder Paul from that presidential race. The media’s rediscovery of that material, in late 2011, did not stop Paul from amassing delegates in 2012. An “establishment” campaign to stop the younger Paul from winning his 2010 Senate nomination, meanwhile, failed completely. The Kentucky senator arrived in Iowa this week as one of the most popular figures in the GOP, the leader of the party’s outreach attempts to black voters and young voters on issues like civil liberties and drug war reform.

    Since leaving Paul-world, Hunter has become the creative force behind a thriving conservative news site. In April 2013, Cox Media launched the website Rare, hoping to create a libertarian news site along the lines of what the Huffington Post has done for liberal readers. Rare puttered along with low traffic in its early days—at the start of 2014, the site reportedly had fewer than 1 million unique views per month. Staffers who’d hit the exits were dishing about a broken product model and rudderless editorial team.

    Then came Jack Hunter, who had churned out populist commentary for years—from radio, to YouTube videos, to Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign blog. In those days he had become popular enough to, well, work for Rand Paul and co-write one of his books. In November 2013, after his resignation, Hunter published his “confessions” in a long piece for Politico Magazine, in which he denounced all of his works as the Southern Avenger. “Libertarian Republicans are changing minds and changing the party,” he wrote. “They changed me.”

    This led to a conversation with the people behind Rare. Hunter had always imagined a libertarian-focused news site to compete with the Drudge Report. “Some of the libertarian stories were finding an audience that they wouldn’t have found before,” he said. “I’d remember, even on Ron’s campaign, I’d see a story and say: Why isn’t this a headline?”

    Hunter had actually been plotting out this new libertarian media strategy before anyone thought to dig through the Southern Avenger’s archives. For years, before and after joining the Paul campaign, Hunter had been in a running dialogue with the liberty movement. In January 2013he responded to critics who thought he had “propagandized” for Ron and Rand Paul. “I will remain a ‘propagandist,’ ” wrote Hunter, “for… any other figure, group, blog or vehicle, now or in the future, that I believe advances our ideas in a way that we eventually become the new mainstream.”

    This sort of material attracted readers—much of what’s written about the Pauls and their movement gets solid traffic. Eventually, Leon Levitt, VP of strategy at the Atlanta-based Cox, began “a conversation” with him about how Rare might go. “[I] needed to personally become comfortable with his views and who he really was,” Levitt said. “He essentially convinced me.”

    On Jan. 20, Hunter returned to political commentary with a pair of posts that the Southern Avenger never would have written. One compared the NSA abuses revealed by Edward Snowden to the targeting of the civil rights movement. “As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. for his civil rights triumphs,” wrote Hunter, “let us also remember his civil liberties lessons.” The other explained how Sen. Mike Lee and—yes—Sen. Rand Paul were battling the “new Jim Crow” by working to reform drug laws. For Paul, wrote Hunter, “mandatory minimum sentencing reform has become a primary issue and he has been outspoken about the inherent racism of the current system.”

    Rare became Hunter’s site. “He’s essentially the editor,” says Levitt. Copycat conservative opinion was replaced by viral stories about marijuana legalization, the right to tape-record police officers, gun-toting citizen vigilantes, and, naturally, the adventures of Rand Paul. Traffic finally started to tick up. According to data collected by Quantcast, Rare was attracting just 1.3 million unique users as recently as April, but was up to 6.2 million by June. It dipped slightly in July, but the site had found a niche, with liberty-flavored Rare links going viral on a regular basis.

    “Initially we tried to be a lot of different things to different people,” says Levitt. “We made good and bad decisions, but truthfully, what we always wanted to represent was the liberty approach.”

    On Aug. 1, the third day of YAL’s conference, about 300 students and activists listened and scribbled notes as Hunter explained that “the Ron Paul Revolution lives on.”

    “[Ron Paul] turned countless minds toward the ideals of liberty in a way no politician ever had,” he said. “Liberty, actually, was the only philosophy that truly appealed to millennials.”

    “If keeping gay marriage illegal is the defining issue of our time, young people don’t want anything to do with that,” said Hunter to a modest burst of applause.

    “If keeping marijuana illegal is what it means to be a Republican, young people don’t want anything to do with that either,” he said to louder applause.

    Then came the kicker: “If you’re worrying that black and brown people are invading the country and taking it over—young people simply don’t want anything to do with those ideas or rhetoric.”

    It was the biggest applause line of the speech up to that point. As the cheers subsided, Hunter added a footnote: “A lot of conservatives, including me in the past, have been guilty of such rhetoric.”

    When the speech ended, Hunter grabbed a chair in a common area, kicked up his black cowboy boots, and reflected on Rare’s success. It’s the “premiere site for where conservatism is headed,” he said.

    “I remember being on talk radio and saying those things I regret,” he added. “I remember—God—all I wanted for president [was] someone who didn’t want to get us into the next war, and someone who would stop the illegal immigrants who would ruin the country. But being part of the Ron Paul campaign. … I saw that they didn’t give a crap about any of that stuff about immigrants. It doesn’t matter. It makes us worse people. They influenced me.”

    Hunter, who’s now 40 years old, discussed how he used to talk more flamboyantly because it made him sound more credible. The Southern Avenger website has now been memory-holed, its content available only with Web archive searches.

    “I really shifted my views over a couple of years,” he said. “What millennials believe, the sort of politics they’re attracted to, is minus a lot of those ugly aspects of conservatism. The way some people talk about the migrants on the border, calling them drug dealers—these are children! They’re not all gang members. It blows my mind that these family-values, allegedly Christian people are doing the most un-Christ-like things imaginable.”

    “I remember being on talk radio and saying those things I regret,” he added. “I remember—God—all I wanted for president [was] someone who didn’t want to get us into the next war, and someone who would stop the illegal immigrants who would ruin the country. But being part of the Ron Paul campaign. … I saw that they didn’t give a crap about any of that stuff about immigrants. It doesn’t matter. It makes us worse people. They influenced me.I really shifted my views over a couple of years,” he said. “What millennials believe, the sort of politics they’re attracted to, is minus a lot of those ugly aspects of conservatism. The way some people talk about the migrants on the border, calling them drug dealers—these are children! They’re not all gang members. It blows my mind that these family-values, allegedly Christian people are doing the most un-Christ-like things imaginable”.

    Oh wow, so it was while working on Ron Paul’s campaign – where Hunter saw how they didn’t really “give a crap about any of that stuff about immigrants” – that Hunter had his big worldview shift. So…that would have been during the 2012 campaign, and not the 2008 campaign, right?

    Think Progress
    Is Ron Paul Softening His Tone On Immigration?

    by Andrea Nill Sanchez Posted on April 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm Updated: April 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Back in 2008, presidential candidate Ron Paul released a nasty campaign ad showing undocumented immigrants sneaking across the border. “Ron Paul wants border security now,” declared the ad. “Physically secure the border, no amnesty, no welfare to illegal aliens, end birthright citizenship, no more student visas from terrorist nations,” proclaims the narrator. Watch it:

    Now, it appears Paul has softened his tone. In an interview session with John Stossel, Paul expressed some doubts about the restrictionist positions that usually characterize the far right:

    I don’t believe in the open borders. But I don’t like the idea of people wanting to build walls and fences and guns and thinking that the immigrant is the evil monster and the immigrant becomes the scapegoat of everything. I think that’s very very bad.

    I do not support amnesty. […] I’m not for amnesty but it’s absolutely impossible to think that anybody — no matter strongly feel against illegals — they’re not going to round up 12 or 15 million people. It doesn’t make any sense.

    Watch it:

    Paul also pointed out that “the purist Libertarian viewpoint is totally open-borders.” Yet, he quickly clarified that, “I don’t endorse that, I don’t think we are quite able to do that as long as people can come in here and take advantage of the welfare system.”

    If that’s Paul’s only hesitation, he may want to take a closer a look and who actually qualifies to receive public benefits. Undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for any of the benefits of the “welfare system.” They do receive emergency care and their children can attend public schools. That is about it when it comes to the benefits that they are allowed to receive.

    Of course, an open borders policy is totally unrealistic. Yet, Paul’s tempered position stands in sharp contrast to that of his son’s. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). When Sen. Paul was running for office, he infamously proposed building an underground electric fence. He later “clarified” that he would prefer it be built above ground.

    Ron Paul announced earlier this week that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee.

    Hmmm…yeah, that was probably the 2012 campaign that impacted Hunter so deeply. The 2008 Ron Paul didn’t sound like the kind of candidate that would induce immigration-related epiphanies.

    So it would seem that Jack Hunter has had a pretty recent conversion to whatever it is he’s embracing now. Let’s hope for Hunter’s sake that he doesn’t end up getting influenced by Rand’s presumed 2016 presidential campaign. It could be ‘two steps forward, three steps back‘ for Jack.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2014, 2:17 pm
  7. There goes Rand being Rand. Again:

    The Daily Banter
    Rand Paul Promises to Repeal All Executive Orders… Ever

    Bob Cesca on September 17, 2014

    The other day on his podcast, Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks bragged that he’s never been wrong when betting on the winner of presidential elections, then offered this:

    “If you’ve got Rand Paul running on a ‘Let’s stop messing around in the Middle East because we’re getting killed, and it’s doing absolutely no good for us’ campaign versus Hillary Clinton’s ‘Let’s keep doing the same stupid shit we were doing before that you hated before’ campaign… If I was a betting man, and I am… right now I’d lay money on Rand Paul being the next president of the United States.”

    Two things here. First, Cenk knows that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will win the next election, more than two years before the actual election will take place. Second, Cenk still thinks Rand Paul is opposed to military action in the Middle East. How sweet.

    Here’s to hoping Cenk loses a pile of money wagering on this one. As we’ve covered numerous times over the years, Rand Paul is a flip-flopping mess, and probably won’t win the Republican nomination much less the general election. He simply can’t win — meaning, he’s unable to win given how conservative GOP voters will line up against him, and he shouldn’t win because he’d be a terrible president. In addition to being a political lightweight and an empty suit, Rand Paul promised to repeal all executive orders ever issued in the history of the United States.

    I think the first executive order that I would issue would be to repeal all previous executive orders.

    Yep, the knucklehead who Cenk Uygur thinks will be our next president vowed to repeal all other executive orders… by signing an executive order when he’s elected. It sounds like a joke, but he was evidently quite serious about it. He hates executive orders so much that he would get rid of all executive orders by decree of an executive order. This is sort of like passing a law that bans all laws. Talk about the contradiction to end all contradictions. When I said on the Stephanie Miller Show that Rand Paul contradicts himself almost in the same sentence, I didn’t actually think he’d do it, but there it is.

    He continued:

    Democracy is messy, but you have to build consensus to pass things. But it’s also in some ways good, because a lot of laws take away your freedom. So it should be hard to pass a law. And it, frankly, when you do it the proper way, is.

    Democracy is messy. Not doubt about that. But this makes me wonder whether Paul actually knows what executive orders actually are. They’re not laws, nor are they binding insofar as the next president can simply sign an executive order reversing a previous order. Who would’ve guessed that a presidential frontrunner would vow to sign one that repealed all of them — because he hates executive orders. Frankly, Paul knows all of this, but he’s playing his supporters like the nearsighted suckers they are.

    So, what are some of the executive orders that would be repealed upon the election of President Rand Paul?

    1) The Emancipation Proclamation. (Lincoln)
    2) The desegregation of schools. (Eisenhower)
    3) The re-naming of the NASA Launch Operations Center in Florida to the “John F. Kennedy Space Center.” (LBJ)
    4) The creation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). (Carter)
    5) The resumption of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. (Obama)
    6) The creation of the Warren Commission. (LBJ)
    7) Prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workforce. (Clinton)
    8) The creation of the presidential board of advisers on Black Colleges and Universities. (Bush 41)
    9) Protect Against Identity Theft. (Bush 43)
    10) Prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or age in the federal workforce. (Nixon)

    All of this would be repealed under a would-be Paul administration. There are literally thousands of others that are vital to the proper functioning of the Executive, and Rand Paul thinks this highly dysfunctional Congress or any Congress for that matter is capable of passing laws covering the full range of these orders. Hilarious.

    Well, in Rand’s defense it would be pointlessly nice for #6 to get repealed. It will also be fascinating to see if this particular mind worm can manage to become part of the GOP’s mantra and “brand” going forward. Because there would be nothing stopping the next non-GOP president from reinstating all those executive orders following the Paul administration so repealing and then reinstating the Emancipation Proclamation could be one of those weird de facto rituals every time the White House switches parties. That kind of flip flopping could make for a useful juxtaposition that could add some much needed clarity:

    The National Memo
    Does Rand Paul Want To Repeal All Executive Orders? Depends When You Ask
    September 15, 2014 5:42 pm Category: Memo Pad, Politics
    By Henry Decker

    Does Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) want to repeal the Emancipation Proclamation? It depends on when you ask him.

    Senator Paul raised the subject during a Thursday night appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire. During a question-and-answer session with Republican activists, a young man reportedly asked Paul, “If you were to receive the presidency, would you repeal previous executive orders and actually restrain the power of the presidency?”

    “I think the first executive order that I would issue would be to repeal all previous executive orders,” Paul replied, as quoted by Real Clear Politics.

    This would be problematic for a number of reasons. Although Republicans would presumably love to do away with President Obama’s executive order protecting some young immigrants from deportation, for example, repealing others would be a tougher sell. Would Paul really want to reverse President Lincoln’s order freeing the slaves, President Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces, or President Kennedy’s order barring discrimination in the federal government?

    Well, not when you put it that way.

    “Well, I mean, I think those are good points, and it was an offhand comment, so obviously, I don’t want to repeal the Emancipation Proclamation and things like that,” Paul told Real Clear Politics when questioned on the broader impact of his plan. “Technically, you’d have to look and see exactly what that would mean, but the bottom line is it’s a generalized statement that I think too much is done by executive order, particularly under this president. Too much power has gravitated to the executive.”

    In reality, President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. But still, Paul’s point is clear: He was speaking extemporaneously, and doesn’t actually want to repeal all executive orders.

    That excuse would be easier to swallow if Paul hadn’t made the same promise to the Louisville Chamber of Commerce in August:

    Asked directly if he would issue executive orders as president, Paul said the only circumstance would be to overturn the ones made by his predecessors.

    “Only to undo executive orders. There’s thousands of them that can be undone,” said Paul. “And I would use executive orders to undo executive orders that have encroached on our jurisprudence, our ability to defend ourselves, the right to a trial, all of those I would undo through executive order.”

    Paul later backed away from that comment in much the same way, telling reporters that “It wasn’t sort of a response of exactness.”

    In fairness to Senator Paul, it seems highly unlikely that he really wants to resegregate the military in an effort to roll back executive overreach. But his clunky attempt to get on both sides of the issue has become a theme for him, which has repeated itself on Medicare, immigration, foreign aid, and a multitude of other topics.

    His Democratic rivals have taken notice.

    Rand Paul’s problem isn’t that he changes positions — it’s that he insists that he can simultaneously hold multiple, contradictory positions on a litany of key issues,” Democratic National Committee press secretary Michael Czin said in a statement. “As Paul gears up for a presidential run, he changes positions to suit the moment or to match the views of the group in front of him. From confronting ISIL to ending aid to Israel to whether he supports the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, Rand Paul disingenuously tries to have it every way.

    “Rand Paul’s problem isn’t that he changes positions — it’s that he insists that he can simultaneously hold multiple, contradictory positions on a litany of key issues”. That’s right, Rand’s not a flip flopper. He’s the quantum candidate, capable of holding multiple, contradictory policy positions simultaneously. The candidate of the future is already here.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 17, 2014, 11:17 am
  8. With Scotland narrowly rejecting secession, Reuters polled 9000 Americans about whether or not they would like to see their state secede. The results: almost of quarter of Americans support the idea. And for self-identified Tea Party members it was a majority:

    One in four Americans want their state to secede from the U.S., but why?
    By Jim Gaines
    September 19, 2014

    For the past few weeks, as Scotland debated the wisdom of independence, Reuters has been asking Americans how they would feel about declaring independence today, not from the United Kingdom, but from the mother country they left England to create. The exact wording of the question was, “Do you support or oppose the idea of your state peacefully withdrawing from the United States of America and the federal government?”

    It was hard to imagine many people would support secession. Forget the fact that the cautionary lesson of the Civil War is top of mind for many people as we commemorate its 150th anniversary; just in terms of dollars and cents, who in their right minds would give up all the money they’ve already paid into the Social Security and Medicare systems? Besides, most states get more back from the federal government than they put in.

    Then the results came in. You can see them for yourself here, and you can filter them any way you want—by age, region, income, party affiliation, etc. Any way you slice it, the data are startlingly clear: Almost a quarter (23.9 percent) of those surveyed said they were strongly or provisionally inclined to leave the United States, and take their states with them. Given the polling sample — about 9,000 people so far—the online survey’s credibility interval (which is digital for “margin of error”) was only 1.2 percentage points, so there is no question that that is what they said.

    Secession got more support from Republicans than Democrats, more from right- than left-leaning independents, more from younger than older people, more from lower- than higher-income brackets, more from high school than college grads. But there was a surprising amount of support in every group and region, especially the Rocky Mountain states, the Southwest and the old Confederacy, but also in places like Illinois and Kansas. And of the people who said they identified with the Tea Party, supporters of secession were actually in the majority, with 53 percent.

    Followup phone calls with a small, random sample of pro-secession respondents to the Reuters poll, however, suggest that while their wish to leave the union may not be quite what it appears, it is not amusing at all.

    Those we spoke to seemed to have answered as they did as a form of protest that was neither red nor blue but a polychromatic riot — against a recovery that has yet to produce jobs, against jobs that don’t pay, against mistreatment of veterans, against war, against deficits, against hyper-partisanship, against political corruption, against illegal immigration, against the assault on marriage, against the assault on same-sex marriage, against government in the bedroom, against government in general — the president, Congress, the courts and both political parties.

    By the evidence of the poll data as well as these anecdotal conversations, the sense of aggrievement is comprehensive, bipartisan, somewhat incoherent, but deeply felt.

    This should be more than disconcerting; it’s a situation that could get dangerous. As the Princeton political scientist Mark Beissinger has shown, separatist movements can take hold around contempt for incumbents and the status quo even when protesters have no ideology in common.

    The United States hardly seems to be on the verge of fracture, and the small secession movements in a handful of American states today represent a tiny percentage of those polled by Reuters. But any country where 60 million people declare themselves to be sincerely aggrieved — especially one that is fractious by nature — is a country inviting either the sophistry of a demagogue or a serious movement for reform.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 19, 2014, 10:35 am
  9. Former Reagan speechwriter Dougas MacKinnon just can’t stop whistling Dixie Reagan:

    Raw Story
    Author says South should form new nation without gays and Hispanics called ‘Reagan’
    Travis Gettys
    22 Oct 2014 at 13:51 ET

    A conservative columnist and former aide to President Ronald Reagan called on southern states to secede and form an ultraconservative new nation named after his old boss.

    Douglas MacKinnon, a former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, appeared Tuesday on The Janet Mefford Show to promote his new book,“The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now,” reported Right Wing Watch.

    He told the religious conservative host that southern states – starting with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – should leave the United States so they can implement a right-wing Christian system of government.

    MacKinnon envisions other states joining, but he hopes to leave out Texas because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

    “A growing number of our leaders seem determined to erase our borders,” he wrote in a recent syndicated column promoting his book, “do away with the rule-of-law, expand the nanny state into a theology, bankrupt or punish American companies in the name of fighting climate change, do away with the 2nd Amendment, censor or demonize the history of western civilization and replace it with multiculturalism, give every kid a trophy and turn them into wimps, continue to support the completely unfunded public-employee pensions which are destroying the financial solvency of cities, counties, and states across our nation, add billions every day to our $17 trillion in debt, destroy our health-care system to substitute socialized medicine, vilify fossil fuels, and attack all faith in God with a particular and unhinged bias against the Christian faith.”

    He argued on the radio program that the South had “seceded legally” and “peacefully” in the months prior to the Civil War.

    “President Lincoln waged an illegal war that was, in fact, not declared against the South after the South basically did what we’re talking about in this book now in terms of peacefully, legally and constitutionally leaving the union,” MacKinnon said.

    However, MacKinnon brushed aside Mefford’s concerns that secession would trigger another Civil War, saying only that “it wouldn’t remotely come to that” because news coverage is faster and more thorough in modern times.

    He said the new country should be called Reagan, at least until voters there could decide on a permanent name.

    MacKinnon did not specifically address during the radio program whether slavery would be legal in the new secessionist government, nor did he describe the status of black people living in Reagan.

    But he made clear that LGBT people would be second-class citizens – or worse – saying that advances in their rights as citizens was a major factor in his call to break up the United States.

    “If you do believe in traditional values, if you are a Christian, if you are evangelical, if you do believe in the golden rule, then you’re seeing all of this unravel before our eyes daily,” he complained.

    MacKinnon said he devised his plan with the help of a military veteran friend, along with a group that included “a constitutional law expert, two former military officers, two former diplomats, a minister, another special operator, and experts on banking, energy, farming, and infrastructure.”

    So MacKinnon didn’t address what the status of black people would be in “Reagan” but he did hope to keep Texas out due to “a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.” Aha.

    It’s also worth noting that, should “Reagan” become a nation, Venezuela had better watch out. MacKinnon is on to you Venezuela!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 22, 2014, 5:22 pm
  10. The War on Christmas just got real:

    Little Green Footballs
    White Nationalist Peter Brimelow: Texas Must Secede to Protect ‘White Rights’
    The founder of VDARE speaks at a conference of racists, and sounds a lot like Chuck C. Johnson

    Charles Johnson
    May 21, 2015

    The latest buzzphrase constantly tossed around by white supremacists is “cultural Marxism,” and racist icon Peter Brimelow was tossing it with abandon at the “American Renaissance” conference in Tennessee last month, as he called for Texas to secede from the United States to protect “white rights.” (Via Right Wing Watch.)

    Speaking at the white nationalist American Renaissance conference last month in Tennessee, conservative author and onetime CPAC speaker Peter Brimelow argued that instead of promoting unity, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “has just turned into anti-white indoctrination.” Unless “cultural Marxists” who are behind “political correctness” and “the war on Christmas” are resisted, Brimelow contends, the U.S. will collapse.

    “Whites have rights,” demanded Brimelow as he advocated for the secession of Texas from a failing U.S.

    Brimelow also complained white nationalists are now victims of persecution by the cultural Marxist “lynch mob,” apparently with no sense of irony whatsoever. According to him, he’s finding it harder and harder to get on radio shows these days (which sane non-racist people consider a good thing).

    You might think Brimelow is a fringe figure, and he is in a way, but he’s also highly connected to popular conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin, whose columns are published at the hate site founded by Brimelow, VDARE. Another well-known conservative pundit published at VDARE: Ann Coulter.

    That’s right:

    Unless “cultural Marxists” who are behind “political correctness” and “the war on Christmas” are resisted, Brimelow contends, the U.S. will collapse.

    One these years people…One of these years…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 26, 2015, 2:46 pm
  11. Back in February, 15 upstate New York towns on the border with Pennsylvania appeared to have enough support for a rather controversial idea: why not join Pennsylvania, where the grass is greener and the gas, while extremely ungreen, is legally extractable which could put a lot of “green” in local landowners pockets:

    Southern Tier towns looking to cut NY ties

    By Caroline Goggin

    February 18, 2015 Updated Feb 23, 2015 at 12:08 AM EDT

    Conklin, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The local economy is pushing one organization in Upstate New York to pose a question: Is it possible to secede to Pennsylvania?

    The Upstate New York Towns Association is researching this very topic. The group says a few factors pushing its research are high property taxes, low sales tax revenue and the recent decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York.

    “The Southern Tier is desolate,” said Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch (R). “We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground.”

    Finch said the ground in Conklin is rich with natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. However, that shale is unable to be tapped. He described this ban as a violation of his natural rights as a property owner.

    There are 15 towns interested in the secession, according to the Towns Association. These towns are in Broome, Delaware, Tioga and Sullivan counties. The association declined to name the towns without their permission and also declined to comment on specifics at this time. As of now, research is ongoing. The group will be updating Action News with all of their findings in the coming weeks.

    The association said it’s comparing taxes and the cost of doing business in the two states. It says the facts show there is a huge difference between the two.

    Also being considered are things like workers comp, surcharges, unemployment and health insurance. The association’s understanding is that the secession would have to be approved by the New York State Legislature, the Pennsylvania State Legislature and the U. S. government.

    “We’re comparing the taxes in Pennsylvania compared to those in New York,” said Finch. “There’s a great, great difference. Right now, we are being deprived of work, jobs and incomes.”

    Sen. Thomas Libous (R) recently sent out a flyer in the mail, asking his constituents what they think about the secession. He sent Action News the following statement:

    “After the one-two punch to our community from the recent casino and gas drilling decisions, my office received many emails, phone calls and messages from constituents calling for a Southern Tier secession from New York State. While getting my constituents’ opinion on spending the $5 billion surplus was our top priority, I thought a question on secession should also be included in the survey.”

    Here is a statement from the Upstate NY Towns Association on this story:

    “On December 17, 2014, when it was announced that high volume hydraulic fracturing would be ban in New York State and there would be no casino license in the “true” Southern Tier, a supervisor, whose town is a member of the Association, told a reporter from the Wall Street Journal that we should all secede.

    That supervisor discussed the idea of seceding to Pennsylvania with the Association. The Association began comparing taxes in New York with taxes in Pennsylvania and comparing the cost of doing business in New York with the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania. The Association also is studying whether or not decisions made in Albany are disproportionately benefitting Downstate.

    The recent media attention to secession appears to have started with the Pocketbook Survey put out by Senate Deputy Majority Coalition Leader Tom Libous. Question 4. In the survey states: “Some Kirkwood & Conklin residents want those towns to secede to Pennsylvania. Would you support that?” Senator Libous told the Huffington Post, “After the recent Casino and Gas Drilling decisions, my office received many emails, phone calls and messages from constituents calling for a Southern Tier secession from New York State.”

    The Association will review the results from Senator Libous’ survey and review the Association’s study comparing taxes and the cost of doing business in New York and Pennsylvania as well as look at what was found regarding decisions made in Albany disproportionately benefitting Downstate. With all this information, the Association will decide what action should be taken. Options such as seceding to Pennsylvania, partitioning the state, as well as other options that may come up will be looked at.”

    So is Pennsylvania about to get 15 new frack-happy towns? It’s too early to say, but keep in mind that it’s not necessarily just New Yorks wannabe frackers that might be interested in moving the state lines.
    For instance, how about the Oath Keepers? Might they be interested in such a move? Why yes, yes they are. And they’re far from the only ones. But secession isn’t the only option they’re considering. Turning the state into two almost-independent autonomous regions with a largely powerless state government is also under consideration:

    USA Today
    Upstate groups want to secede from New York

    Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany Bureau 8:21 p.m. EDT August 25, 2015

    ALBANY, N.Y. — More than a dozen groups in support of gun rights and hydraulic fracturing are organizing a rally Sunday to build support for turning upstate New York into a separate state.

    At the crux of their current frustrations is Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his support of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, and his decision last year to direct state regulators to ban fracking for natural gas.

    “Why secession? Secession is about reclaiming the economic opportunities upstate has lost and restoring the liberties Upstate residents once enjoyed,” the gun group, Shooters Committee on Public Education, said in a statement. “Downstate has dominated upstate for decades, and upstate has no future in a state controlled by New York City’s needs and desires.”

    The groups chose Bainbridge, N.Y., a village of fewer than 1,500 residents about 25 miles north of the Pennsylvania border, for their two-hour rally 1 to 3 p.m. ET Sunday. It is located in part of the Marcellus shale formation that extends into New York and contains vast natural gas reserves.

    The secession effort is not the first time activists have asked to split the state in two. GOP state Sen. Joseph Robach of Greece, N.Y., introduced bills in 2009 and 2011 to allow counties to have a referendum on the idea of seceding.

    The bills never have made it out of committee. Long Island lawmakers also pitched the idea of a separate state for their counties earlier this year.

    This time around the pro-secession groups are studying two options:

    • Requiring the legislatures of New York and Pennsylvania to approve the split as well as Congress.

    • Creating a smaller New York state government with two autonomous regions, upstate to be called New Amsterdam and downstate to retain the name New York. That would require either legislative approval or a constitutional convention.

    What the groups may not have investigated is revenue.

    The Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, N.Y., found that upstate New York benefits from the tax revenue sent to Albany from New York City and its wealthy suburbs. Wall Street alone represents about 19% of all state revenue.

    Secession has worked before, but it’s been a long time: Vermont split from New York in 1777, eventually becoming a U.S. state in 1791; Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820 after residents launched a 35-year campaign for statehood; and West Virginia became a separate state in 1863 after the rest of Virginia joined the Confederacy during the Civil War.

    The groups organizing Sunday’s event include Americans for Restoring the Constitution, Deposit Gas Group, Divide New York State Caucus, FundamentalHumanRights.org, Landowner Advocates of New York, New Yorkers United for Kids, NY2A, Oath Keepers, Red Dragon, Sapbush Road Group, Shooters Committee on Public Education, Tri-County Tea Party, Upstate New York Towns Association and We the People of New York.

    Fracking and guns for everyone! And Oath Keepers! Sounds like a blast!

    Of course, if New York breaks itself in two and Upstate New York becomes “New Amsterdam”, the question of revenue sharing is going to be a rather significant issue since Upstate New York is a significant net-beneficiary of Downstate New York’s taxes. So those regions that are planning on replacing all that Wall Street tax money with their new fracking economy had better hope their projections for the amount of frackable gas aren’t wildly overoptimistic. Because otherwise…:

    The Upstate/Downstate Divide

    Daniel Spewak
    11:25 a.m. EDT August 28, 2015

    BUFFALO, N.Y. – In 1777, the state of New York lost Vermont to secession.

    During the past 238 years, though, New York has held itself intact. Here and there, a handful of secessionists have tried to split the state into two, including some state lawmakers, a failed 1969 mayoral candidate in New York City and, more recently this winter, a few Southern Tier towns.

    And now, there’s “New Amsterdam.”

    A collection of gun rights groups, pro-fracking advocates and other activists will rally Sunday in a small town near Binghamton to unveil two proposals:

    1) Take upstate New York counties — essentially all counties north of Poughkeepsie — and merge some or all of them with Pennsyvania

    2) Create a separate region for upstate, officially named “New Amsterdam.”

    Stephen Aldstadt, a Colden native and the President of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, will attend the rally this weekend.

    “It all comes down to the upstate and downstate divide,” Aldstadt said, “that the majority of people upstate feel very much… that they have very little voice in what goes on.”

    Problem is, an autonomous upstate New York could yield disastrous economic results, according to data from multiple sources.

    Bruce Fisher, the director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies at Buffalo State College, studied the downstate/upstate economic divide in 2009. His research concluded that Erie County alone receives $1 billion more than it pays in taxes to the state government on a yearly basis, essentially meaning that upstate New York pays less but gets more from New York, all thanks to downstate revenue. In 2011, the Rockefeller Institute echoed these results, concluding that upstate counties “get significantly more than they give.”

    “Let’s be clear,” Fisher said. “Without New York City, Western New York would be West Virginia. It’d be pretty poor. We wouldn’t like it. Let’s not do that.”

    Fisher noted the following: upstate New York would lose its affiliation with the State University of New York system, it would lose the Buffalo Billion, it would lose tax revenue, it would lose public works funding and it would lose Medicaid revenue.

    “I don’t think the advocates really expect that they will succeed. But what they’re doing, is getting the story out there,” Fisher said, “in a way that helps them politically.”

    State legislators — including some from Western New York — have introduced bills periodically to explore seceding from the downstate area, but they’ve never gained much support.

    “It seems to be very unlikely,” constitutional law expert Barry Covert said. “It seems to need a whole lot more momentum than a couple of angry people.”

    Consider the first proposal: to merge upstate counties with Pennsylvania. Covert explained that the New York legislature, the Pennsylvania legislature and the United States Congress would all need to approve this proposal before secession could occur.

    The second proposal, to create “New Amsterdam” under the umbrella of a unified New York state, would also require state and federal approval. However, that proposal could avoid the New York legislature in the event of a “Constitutional Convention,” which hasn’t happened in this state since 1967. Every 20 years, voters may decide to hold a convention– and the next vote comes up in 2017.

    “But it really doesn’t seem like it’s possible,” Covert said.

    “Let’s be clear…Without New York City, Western New York would be West Virginia. It’d be pretty poor. We wouldn’t like it. Let’s not do that.”
    Sounds awesome.

    And note the fun loophole available in creating “New Amsterdam”: in 2017, New York gets to vote on whether or not to have a state constitutional convention. And if decides to go ahead with that, the state and federal government wouldn’t even need to approve the plan:

    “It seems to be very unlikely,” constitutional law expert Barry Covert said. “It seems to need a whole lot more momentum than a couple of angry people.”

    Consider the first proposal: to merge upstate counties with Pennsylvania. Covert explained that the New York legislature, the Pennsylvania legislature and the United States Congress would all need to approve this proposal before secession could occur.

    The second proposal, to create “New Amsterdam” under the umbrella of a unified New York state, would also require state and federal approval. However, that proposal could avoid the New York legislature in the event of a “Constitutional Convention,” which hasn’t happened in this state since 1967. Every 20 years, voters may decide to hold a convention– and the next vote comes up in 2017.

    “But it really doesn’t seem like it’s possible,” Covert said.

    So if you’re living in New York, don’t be too surprised if the “constitutional convention will solve all of our problems!”-meme suddenly becomes trendy over the next two years. While such a plan may not “seem like it’s possible” at this point, keep in mind that pushing a constitutional convention at the federal level is a growing GOP priority across the nation. Also keep in mind that we’re living in the era of Citizen’s United and longer you live under a Citizen’s United-type system, the more possible the seemingly impossible becomes…assuming the seemingly impossible makes Big Money into Bigger Money.

    So we’ll see what happens, but whatever comes of this, it’s pretty clear the dream of a Tea Party-ruledNew Amsterdam” probably isn’t going away any time soon.
    Some dreams never die. Even when they might kill you.

    In the mean time, if you’ve ever wanted to enjoy the waterways and wildlife of Upstate New York, especially along the Southern Tier, now might be a good time to schedule that vacation.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2015, 3:04 pm
  12. With Alabama legislature already facing the accusation that its decision to close a budget deficit by making it harder to get registered to vote in every predominantly black counties across the state’s “Black Belt” was part of a GOP attempt to suppress the the black vote, stories like this probably aren’t going to help with the voter-suppression suspicions:

    TPM Muckraker
    Alabama GOPer Who Spoke At Neo-Confederate Event: It’s No Hate Group!

    By Catherine Thompson
    Published October 7, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

    A Republican state official in Alabama has come under fire in recent weeks for speaking to a neo-Confederate group about his efforts to return portraits of segregationist former Govs. George and Lurleen Wallace to the state Capitol rotunda.

    But in a Tuesday phone interview with TPM, state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) flatly dismissed criticism of the neo-Confederate League of the South as a hate group—and said he’d be happy to speak before the group again.

    “There was no hate in that meeting except for one thing,” Zeigler told TPM. “They hated it when the fried chicken ran out.”

    Zeigler, 66, was elected to public office last November for the first time since he served on the state’s Public Service Commission in the 1970s. He was active in the Conservative Christians of Alabama and other religious political groups, according to The Associated Press, and as auditor has dubbed himself “Waste Cutter.” Earlier this year, Zeigler criticized the removal of Confederate flags from state Capitol grounds and accused Gov. Robert Bentley (R) of ordering the removal of Confederate flag merchandise from the Capitol gift shop in what he called a "purge of Confederate history.”

    But Zeigler’s been most persistent in calling for the return of the Wallaces’ portraits to the Capitol rotunda. The Alabama Historical Commission decided late last year to move the portraits to the building’s first floor in order to make way for Bentley’s portrait and to allow for a more “‘sequential’ presentation of the state’s history,” according to AL.com. The portraits’ relocation prompted some to speculate that the commission had bowed to political correctness, given George Wallace’s notoriety as a segregationist. Wallace is infamous for his inaugural promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” and for physically blocking a door on the University of Alabama campus to prevent two black students from entering and integrating the school. His wife, Lurleen, succeeded him as governor and carried on his segregationist policies for more than a year until she died from cancer in 1968.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog first reported last month that Zeigler addressed the September meeting of the League of the South’s Alabama chapter in Wetumpka. Hatewatch reported that Zeigler discussed his efforts to return the portraits to the Capitol rotunda at the meeting, but further details were unclear.

    So TPM spoke with Zeigler about the event, which he likened to a “Sunday school picnic.” He explained that the head of the group’s Alabama chapter, realtor Mike Whorton, is a friend of his who took an interest in the efforts to return the portraits of the Governors Wallace to their “rightful and historical place” in the Capitol rotunda. Whorton then invited him to speak on that topic at the September meeting, he said.

    “It was like a Sunday school picnic. Nicest people I’ve ever met, 70 or 80 people there,” Zeigler recalled. “They’re family-oriented. It started with a prayer, Bible reading, then my speech and a lot of questions.”

    The League of the South’s national president, Michael Hill, told TPM on Tuesday that he attended the meeting. He recalled that Zeigler spoke for 35-45 minutes, largely on the subject of the Wallaces’ portraits, and received several ovations.

    The group’s former website states that one of its core beliefs is advocating for “the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.” For his part, Hill described the group as “traditionalist” and more conservative than expressly Republican.

    But the group has long held down a spot on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups.

    “This is a group that as a matter of faith is opposed to interracial marriages. They’ve defended segregation,” SPLC spokesman Mark Potok told TPM. “They’ve defended slavery as being ordained by God. The list goes on and on and on.”

    Potok pointed to some recent writing of Hill’s in which he argued blacks, whom he referred to as “negroes,” were “more impulsive than whites” and would lose a “race war” for that reason. He chided Zeigler for claiming that the League of the South is no hate group.

    “The idea that a statewide, constitutional officer would address a group that sees the south as belonging to white people and white people alone is incredible,” Potok told TPM. “Zeigler is supposed to be taking care of our state’s financing and serving all Alabamians, black and white alike. He appears to be too thick to figure out what this group really is or perhaps the bottom line is that he’s simply sympathetic.”

    Asked if he agreed with the League of the South’s secessionist views, Zeigler responded: “I don’t know anything about that.”

    “They didn’t give a speech to me,” he told TPM. “It was the other way around. I gave a speech to them. I think they agreed that the portraits of the two Gov. Wallaces, the only female governor we’ve ever had and the only four-term governor that we ever had, should be put back up where legally they’re required to be.”

    The auditor even said he embraced the SPLC’s criticism of his address to the League of the South.

    “I thank the Southern Politically Correct Law Center for criticizing me. I hope they criticize me some more,” he told TPM. “I’m a Republican official in Alabama and it has helped me that they have harassed me about exercising my First Amendment right to go speak to whatever group I choose.”

    The League of the South issued a statement to Huntsville, Alabama TV station WAFF last week that praised Zeigler for supporting the state’s “traditional, Southern Christian heritage.”

    “The League of the South is proud to have had State Auditor Jim Zeigler speak to us recently on the matter of the removal of the George C. and Lurleen Wallace portraits from the rotunda of the Alabama State Capitol,” the statement read. “When attacked by the very liberal Southern Poverty Law Center for having met with us, Mr. Zeigler, unlike most elected officials, stood his ground and sided with those who built Alabama’s traditional culture rather than those who are busy trying to tear it down. The League encourages other Alabama elected officials to stand with Mr. Zeigler – and against the SPLC and their liberal, anti-Christian allies – in support of our State’s traditional, Southern Christian heritage.”

    Zeigler told TPM he was not a member of the League of the South and that the speech was his first interaction with the group. Hill confirmed Zeigler wasn’t a member of the group.

    It’s also worth noting that Wallace’s portait wasn’t simply moved out of the capitol rotunda earlier this year. It was remove from its place of honor in the capitol rotunda:

    Time marches on: Portraits of George and Lurleen Wallace removed from Capitol rotunda

    By Charles J. Dean
    on February 01, 2015 at 6:02 AM, updated February 02, 2015 at 6:55 AM

    MONTGOMERY, Alabama – The fourth-graders from Breitling Elementary School in Grand Bay stood in the second floor rotunda of the Capitol surrounded by four Alabama governors, all looking out on them from their official portraits.

    Fourth grade is where students are taught Alabama history. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands of them have made this same field trip over the years to visit the Capitol and walk with history.

    But the kids from Breitling on this particular day were among the first to see a subtle but I think important reordering of the state’s painful racial history, particularly that history during the Civil Rights era.

    You see, the students were among the first in about a half century to visit the rotunda and not see the official portraits of Gov. George C. Wallace and Gov. Lurleen Wallace, Alabama’s first and so far only female governor and the wife of George Wallace.

    The Wallaces are still in the Capitol but they have been moved down to the first floor, to the south wing of the old building where they now adorn the walls leading to and from the Alabama Secretary of State offices.

    It is still a prominent place to show the two portraits but in terms of what is considered the most prominent place of honor in the Capitol, the south wing is not close to the special place the rotunda is.

    I know that because in the early 1980’s the Alabama Legislature passed a joint resolution saying it was the wish of the House and Senate that the Wallace portraits hang in the first floor of the rotunda to honor the memory of the two governors.

    Sometime in the 1990’s the two portraits were moved to the second floor but still remained in the rotunda

    Legislative resolutions are not binding. They don’t have the force of law. But they do serve to express the will of lawmakers, at least those who voted for the resolution 32 years ago.

    And there the two portraits hung until late last year when the Alabama Historical Commission decided the time had come to take the them down.

    Stephen McNair, director of historic sites for the Historical Commission, said the decision to move the portraits should not be viewed as a diminishing of the legacy of the Wallaces or as a bending to political correctness in an effort to appease critics of particularly George Wallace, who in the 1960’s epitomized the often times hateful and violent resistance by the South to integration.

    Instead, McNair said the commission’s decision centers on its view that a more “sequential” presentation of the state’s history would help visitors to the Capitol better understand that history.

    Interestingly, Stephen McNair, Alabama’s Director of Historic Sites, was dismissed from his position shortly after the removal of Wallace’s portrait, although it apparently wasn’t in response to the removals. Instead, as the article below suggests, McNair was actually dismissed for a very different reason: In an attempt to save money in the face of a massive budget deficit, McNair was was trying to consolidate the commission with other state agencies to save money (something rather relevent given the closing of offices that make voting easier in predominantly black counties), which apparently didn’t go over well with some of his supervisers. So McNair may not have been fired for removing those portraits, but that didn’t stop Jim Zeigler from taking credit:

    Don’t count on Auditor Jim Zeigler for your news (Opinion)

    By Charles J. Dean | cdean@al.com

    on March 23, 2015 at 6:47 AM

    Jim Zeigler is one of those guys who knows just enough to be dangerous.

    The latest evidence of that charge is a weekend post on his Facebook page. The post was taken from a Zeigler press release.

    “Alabama’s Director of Historic Sites has been dismissed, according to state auditor Jim Zeigler,” the post begins.
    “Dr. Stephen McNair had removed the portraits of governors George and Lurleen Wallace from the Capitol rotunda in January. Now, McNair has been removed.

    Zeigler says he will renew his February request to return the portraits to their traditional places.

    Zeigler had requested McNair return the portraits, saying the move was unauthorized, violated a joint resolution of the Legislature, and was an attempt to revise Alabama history.

    McNair quietly took the two portraits from the second floor rotunda of the Capitol. This is a wrong that needs to be righted. I will request a vote of the Historical Commission to return the portraits and that a public hearing be held.”

    McNair was indeed fired Friday from his job. From Zeigler’s Facebook post you might believe (because Zeigler wants you to) that McNair’s firing is related to the moving of the two portraits.

    And that’s not true.

    Based on interviews with several sources with knowledge of the situation, McNair’s firing has no connection to the removal of the portraits. Instead McNair appears to have been let go as a result of an old Montgomery tradition: Protecting your turf.

    McNair, who has been praised for the work he has done with the commission, had supported and pushed to consolidate the commission with several other state entities as a way to end duplication of some services and to improve overall funding. Some on the commission opposed McNair’s push but he continued to work the issue.

    On Friday, commission Executive Director Frank R. White fired McNair for insubordination. Neither McNair nor Wood returned emails seeking comment.

    I’m struck that Zeigler likes to promote himself as a champion of cutting waste in government. He has even adopted the phase “Waste Cutter” to describe himself. But it appears to be McNair who might have actually been trying to cut waste, or at least trying to create more efficiency in the spending of state tax dollars.

    One other misleading thing about Zeigler’s post. He wants you to believe that McNair just woke up one morning and decided to remove the portraits. That’s not true. The decision to move the portraits was reached after months of consideration involving a number of key state officials.

    I have no idea whether McNair’s push for consolidation was or is the right thing to do. The state budget that funds entities like the commission is facing a massive budget deficit and legislators and Gov. Robert Bentley are at odds over how to fix the problem. One might think that any efforts to more efficiently use state dollars would be appreciated, but considerations like that take a back seat when a governmental entity is protecting its turf.

    Now, in fairness to critics of McNair’s proposal to consolidate the Historical Commission with the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the plan doesn’t appear to actually generate savings. But in fairness to McNair,
    the rumor is that he was tasked to develop the plan by the GOP leadership in secret and was only fired after it was discovered:

    Alabama Political Reporter

    Strategy to Combine Archives, Historical Commission Subject of Controversy

    Created on 23 Mar 2015

    By Bill Britt

    MONTGOMERY—A clandestine strategy to combine the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Department of Archives and History has developed over the last several months, according to two Goat Hill insiders.

    This is said to be another “overreach” in the Republican Supermajority’s quest to consolidate and govern under the banner of “right-sizing government.”

    According to those close to the project, the Historical Commission would be dissolved and its duties rolled into the Archives. Responsibility for the commission’s historical sites, archaeology, educational and historical learning programs would shift to the Department of Conservation and Lands.

    However, the secret plan has reportedly not shown a significant savings, in dollars or manpower and may be abandoned for the moment.

    “For instance, the Archives does not have a full-time personnel officer. There is a general administrative services person that does purchasing, personnel, budget and about four or five different things. If you combine the two agencies you wouldn’t eliminate a personnel officer because they do not have a full-time dedicated personnel officer. Everybody would be doing the same work, it would just switch around,” said our insider.

    In fact, it is believed the consolidation would create a deeper bureaucracy, overextending the director to the point of needing a deputy director or others to manage the combined entities.

    It is rumored that Dr. Stephen McNair was tasked by Republican leadership to design the consolidation plan. McNair, until recently, was the Director of Historical Sites at the commission. It is unclear at this time why McNair was terminated from the position he has held for the last two years. Rumors suggest that McNair was relieved of his duties after it was discovered he was secretly developing the consolidation plan.

    Recently, McNair had become the focal point of the controversial removal of the portraits of governors George and Lurleen Wallace from the Capitol Rotunda.

    In a press release, State Auditor Jim Zeigler said, “ Dr. Stephen McNair had removed the portraits of Governors George and Lurleen Wallace from the Capitol rotunda in January. Now, McNair has been removed.”

    Zeigler says he will renew his February request to return the portraits to their traditional place and also call for a public hearing on the matter.

    McNair is also the son-in-law of former Democrat State Representative Charles Oliver Newton, who lost an election after switching parties in 2014. Newton’s brother is acting Finance Director for the Gov. Robert Bentley administration.

    The Historical Commission focuses on historical sites and structures, while Archives works primarily with records and museum artifacts owned by the State.

    So who knows what to make of all this, but it looks like Stephen McNair removed George and Lurleen Wallace’s portrait from their honored positions in the capitol rotunda and got fired shortly after their removal, but not for removing the paintings but instead for trying to push an agency consolidation plan that he was secretly tasked to create by the GOP leadership, although the plan apparently wouldn’t actually save money. And following his firing, Jim Zeigler, the state’s auditor and an apparent friend of the pro-segregation/pro-secession League of the South, happily proclaimed that McNair’s firings were a result of the painting removal. And this all happened shortly before Alabama decided to shut down DMV offices in all of the predominantly black counties in the state due to a budget crunch. It’s all a somewhat confusing mess, although mostly just revolting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 7, 2015, 12:17 pm

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