Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sotomayor as Liberal “Enforcer” on Supreme Court?



Adam Liptak writes today about the quick evolution of Sonia Sotomayor into the liberal bulwark on the Supreme Court. People forget that there was substantial concern on the left that Sotomayor would wind up more of a moderate; those fears may or may not be more likely ascribed to Elena Kagan. But Sotomayor has become what amounts to a liberal on a conservative Court.

Liptak looks in particular at a series of discretionary writings by Sotomayor referring to why the court declined to hear a particular case.

Justice Sotomayor wrote three of the opinions, more than any other justice, and all concerned the rights of criminal defendants or prisoners. The most telling one involved a Louisiana prisoner infected with H.I.V. No other justice chose to join it.

The prisoner, Anthony C. Pitre, had stopped taking his H.I.V. medicine to protest his transfer from one facility to another. Prison officials responded by forcing him to perform hard labor in 100-degree heat. That punishment twice sent Mr. Pitre to the emergency room.

The lower courts had no sympathy for Mr. Pitre’s complaints, saying he had brought his troubles on himself.

Justice Sotomayor saw things differently.

“Pitre’s decision to refuse medication may have been foolish and likely caused a significant part of his pain,” she wrote. “But that decision does not give prison officials license to exacerbate Pitre’s condition further as a means of punishing or coercing him — just as a prisoner’s disruptive conduct does not permit prison officials to punish the prisoner by handcuffing him to a hitching post.”

You’re at least seeing a recognition in her writing of that wrongly-derided concept of empathy; the ability for a judge to understand the circumstances of an individual and apply it to the underlying facts of a case. Liptak posits Sotomayor as the counterpoint to Justice Samuel Alito, with the two almost coming across as “enforcers” for the beliefs of their ideologically aligned colleagues.

Strip away the racial or gender politics of the selection. On the merits, the Sotomayor picked has worked out pretty well for the country, and unlike some other decisions this one will definitely outlast Obama’s Presidency by several decades.


David Dayen

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Obama and Latino Punishment?

WASHINGTON – A day before the pivotal midterm elections, President Barack Obama pulled back from remarks he made last month when he called on Latino voters to punish their "enemies" on Election Day. In an interview Monday with radio host Michael Baisden, Obama said he should have used the word "opponents" instead of enemies.
Republicans were quick to criticize the president's remarks. House Minority Leader John Boehner was expected to use Obama's words in an election eve speech in Ohio to paint the president as a staunch partisan.
"Sadly, we have a president who uses the word 'enemy' for fellow Americans, fellow citizens. He used it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government," Boehner said, according to prepared remarks released in advance of his speech.
Obama's original comments came during an interview with Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo, a Hispanic radio personality. Piolin questioned how Obama could ask Latinos for their vote when many don't believe he's worked hard to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Obama responded: "If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,' if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's gonna be harder."
The president said Monday that the message he was trying to send was that voters need to support lawmakers who stand with them on the issue.
"Now the Republicans are saying that I'm calling them enemies," Obama said. "What I'm saying is you're an opponent of this particular provision, comprehensive immigration reform, which is something very different."
With Republicans poised to score sweeping victories in Tuesday's election, Obama has been imploring the Democratic base to vote in hopes of turning some close races in his party's favor.
Though Obama had no publicly announced campaign events on his schedule Monday and Tuesday, the president has been doing radio interviews targeting young people, African-Americans and voters in key states. He was also to hold a conference call Monday night with campaign volunteers in Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Hawaii

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Racial predatory loans fueled U.S. housing crisis: study

Predatory lending aimed at racially segregated minority neighborhoods led to mass foreclosures that fueled the U.S. housing crisis, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review.

Predatory lending typically refers to loans that carry unreasonable fees, interest rates and payment requirements.

Poorer minority areas became a focus of these practices in the 1990s with the growth of mortgage-backed securities, which enabled lenders to pool low- and high-risk loans to sell on the secondary market, Professor Douglas Massey of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and PhD candidate Jacob Rugh, said in their study.

The financial institutions likely to be found in minority areas tended to be predatory -- pawn shops, payday lenders and check cashing services that "charge high fees and usurious rates of interest," they said in the study.

"By definition, segregation creates minority dominant neighborhoods, which, given the legacy of redlining and institutional discrimination, continue to be underserved by mainstream financial institutions," the study says.

Redlining is the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking and insurance, to residents in specific areas, often based on race.

The U.S. economy is still struggling with the effects of its longest recession since the 1930s, which was triggered in large part by the housing crisis, which was in part triggered by the crash of the subprime loan market.

Subprime lending refers to loans made to consumers with poor credit and others considered higher risk. They tend to have a higher interest rate than traditional loans.

The study, which used data from the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, found that living in a predominantly African-American area, and to a lesser extent Hispanic area, were "powerful predictors of foreclosures" in the nation.

Even African-Americans with similar credit profiles and down-payment ratios to white borrowers were more likely to receive subprime loans, according to the study.

"As a result, from 1993 to 2000, the share of subprime mortgages going to households in minority neighborhoods rose from 2 to 18 percent," Massey and Rugh said.

They said the U.S. Civil Rights Act should be amended to create mechanisms that would uncover discrimination and penalize those who discriminated against minority borrowers.

The study is published in the October issue of the journal.
(Editing by Paul Simao)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jan Brewer at Her Best

Can we get Mexican immigrants to teach her English? Larry, Barry and Terry, please help!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glen Beck and Sara Palin "Reclaiming" Civil Rights Movement in Washington, DC, March?

OPEN LETTER TO GLEN BECK AND SARA PALIN

You can't have a march to tell the government to leave citizens alone when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's. prerogative was to demand that government live up to its democratic ideals and treat everyone equally. You are having an anti-government march with a bevy of supporters who are sleepwalking through history. Your lack of imagination and historical memory may be masked in ideology but you either fail to remember, can not do so, or find it expedient to lie to yourselves and others for the sake of political gain. And that is the most "un-American" position imaginable.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Candidate for New York State Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda Can't Say if He's for Marriage Equality

Candidate for New York State Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda Can't Say if He's for Marriage equality



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Guilty Plea In Fatal Stabbing of Latino Immigrant

Guilty Plea In Fatal Stabbing Of LI Immigrant
video
Just moments after a Long Island teenager allegedly plunged a knife into a Hispanic man targeted for violence simply because of his ethnicity, one of his friends urged him to ditch the weapon.

"Throw away the knife," Nicholas Hausch says he pleaded with Jeffrey Conroy as they and five others ran away from what would become a murder scene. Conroy insisted he had washed the blood off the weapon in a puddle, Hausch said, but he doubted they could fool authorities so easily -- he had watched too many "Law and Order" episodes to believe that.

"I said, 'We're not going to get away with it,"' Hausch told a judge on Thursday as he pleaded guilty to gang assault and hate crime charges in the Nov. 8, 2008, killing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero.

Hausch, 18, is the first of the co-defendants to plead guilty in the case that focused attention on a decade-long animosity between the largely white population that settled on Long Island after World War II and a growing influx of Hispanics, many from Central and South America suspected of illegally entering the United States.

He has agreed to testify in upcoming trials against the six others; the district attorney will then make a sentencing recommendation, but Hausch still could face a minimum of five years in prison.

The U.S. Justice Department announced in October that it has launched an investigation into hate crimes on eastern Long Island, focused particularly on police response. That followed a September report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that revealed "a pervasive climate of fear in the Latino community" in Suffolk County.

Lucero, 37, was walking with a friend near the Patchogue train station at about midnight when they were confronted by the teenagers tooling around town allegedly looking for targets, a somewhat routine avocation for them, according to prosecutors.

His friend ran away, but prosecutors say the teens surrounded Lucero, who tried desperately to fight back, smacking one of his assailants with his belt. Conroy, 18, is accused of plunging a knife into Lucero's chest before running away. Prosecutors say the other six were unaware of the stabbing until Conroy told them.

Conroy is the only one facing murder charges; his attorney did not immediately return a telephone call for comment on Thursday.

"Jeff told us he stabbed the guy," Hausch explained before entering the guilty plea. "No one said, `way to go,' or anything like that. It was more like `you're an idiot."'

Although some of the teens discussed splitting up, according to Hausch, they remained together and were arrested a short time later, just blocks from where Lucero died.

"Nick has always accepted responsibility. He has enormous remorse," defense attorney Jason Bassett said after Hausch entered the plea before state Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle. "Nick fell in with bigger guys, more popular guys and he wanted to impress them."

Besides his role in the Lucero killing, Hausch also pleaded guilty to participating in earlier attacks on Hispanics in the Patchogue-Medford area of eastern Long Island. He admitted that on several occasions, he and a number of other teens had attacked Hispanics merely because of their ethnicity. The assaults included peppering the victim with anti-Hispanic slurs, Hausch said. In one case, Hausch and others shot a BB-gun at an Hispanic man, he said.

Joselo and Isabel Lucero, the victim's brother and sister, arrived in the courtroom during Hausch's appearance.

"It's really a big surprise right now," Joselo Lucero said afterward. "I think it's a really successful moment."

Lucero said he was organizing a candlelight vigil Saturday night in Patchogue to mark the first anniversary of his brother's death. "I'm just trying to have a peaceful event," he said.

The Lucero slaying attracted worldwide headlines. A U.S. Justice Department probe of hate crimes on eastern Long Island has focused particularly on police response.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, sent Spanish speaking researchers to Patchogue to investigate allegations of other bias attacks in the area where Lucero was fatally stabbed. What it found was quote, "frightening."

Its report is based on interviews with more than 70 Latino immigrants in recent months. It says that many of them reported being beaten with baseball bats.

The report finds the violence is part of a disturbing trend, in which "Latin immigrants in Suffolk County are regularly harassed, taunted and pelted with objects hurled from cars. They are frequently run off the road while riding bicycles, and many report being beaten with baseball bats and other objects."

But former Mayor Franklin Whitey Leavandosky says there's no serious problem in Patchogue, only a series of unfortunate isolated incidents.

"I think it goes to idle hands, idle minds of teenagers that have no respect for their fellow man," said Leavandosky on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daniel Rubin: Arabic flash cards got him detained at airport

Daniel Rubin: Arabic flash cards got him detained at airport

By Daniel Rubin

Inquirer Columnist

A federal agent sizing up Nick George might peg him as Most Likely To Be Recruited By The CIA. He's a physics major at a top college, he minors in Middle Eastern studies, speaks Arabic, has lived in Jordan and is adventurous enough to have backpacked through Sudan and Egypt.

At Philadelphia International Airport last August, his interest in the world got him handcuffed.

The Wyncote native was detained for five hours after Transportation Security Administration screeners grew suspicious about something in his pockets.

Arabic-language flash cards.

George, who was 21 at the time, and about to fly back for his senior year at Pomona College in Claremont, Ca., says he answered every question to the best of his abilities, and figured he'd be quickly sent on his way.

But what questions...

According to a federal suit filed Wednesday on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, a TSA supervisor asked him, "How do you feel about 9/11?"

He said he hemmed and hawed a bit. "It's a complicated question," he told me by phone. "But I ended up saying, 'It was bad. I am against it.' "

He was asked if he knew who "did 9/11."

He answered, Osama bin Laden.

Then he was asked, "Do you know what language he spoke?"

George answered, Arabic."

The supervisor then held up his flash cards. "Do you see why these cards are suspicious?"

To George, they weren't suspicious at all. He was using them to translate Al Jazeera, whose coverage in Arabic he considers critical to understanding America's place in the world. The 200 cards included words for "terrorist" and "explosion," George said. His interest in the Middle East came not from 9/11 but from watching Lawrence of Arabia with his father, Paul George, a Philadelphia attorney and former public defender.

Nick George says he started taking classes in Middle Eastern history, politics and languages while at Pomona. He spent a semester in Amman. He has applied for a State Department program that encourages the study of Arabic and he has plans to take the Foreign Service exam after college.

He says he did the right thing when questioned.

"My mentality was, 'Do what they say, and pretty soon they'll see this is ridiculous and let you go," he said by phone. "That was my mentality until they put the handcuffs on me. Then it was surreal."

TSA called the Philadelphia Police, who marched him through the airport to a small office where he sat for more than an hour in cuffs, awaiting FBI agents.

In the suit he contends the agents asked him if he was an Islamist or a Communist. He said no. After about 20 minutes they released him. He missed his flight that day.

Neither the TSA nor the Philadelphia Police would comment yesterday, given that legal action was pending. But in a September Daily News column, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said behavioral-detection officers had selected the student for screening even before the flash cards were discovered. Those officers are trained to look for "involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered," she said.

George says he cannot imagine what they mean - he was calm.

A police official, meanwhile, was quoted as saying it was George's ID in Arabic that caught their attention - from his Jordanian studies - and police were suspicious that the student's hair was shorter that day than it was in his Pennsylvania driver's license photo. "That," Lt. Louis Liberati said, is "an indication sometimes that somebody may have gone through a radicalization."

Candace Putter, George's mother, thinks that's an amazing statement. She is a longtime advocate for teens in trouble with the law. She said she came of age in the 1960s, when long hair was associated with a different sort of radicalism.

"You can't change the world on me that completely," she said, laughing.

Putter said said she understands in the post-9/11 world why security officers would pay attention to someone who had been to Muslim countries and was learning Arabic. So can Mary Catherine Roper, George's ACLU attorney. So can I.

"Clearly we want them to be paying attention," Cutter said. "But we want them to be paying smart attention."

Security technologist Bruce Schneier was less polite.

"This is just stupid," he said. "There's no other way to explain it. Someone saw these Arabic language cards and just freaked. It should have taken TSA 15 seconds."

The problem, he said, was that there is no cost to the security agent for doing the wrong thing. "If I detain someone and he's not a terrorist, nothing happens to me. I'm probably praised. If I let him go, and he is, my career is over. The TSA incentive is to overreact. Terrorism can't do this to us. I think only we can do this to ourselves."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Latina Magazine on Sonia Sotomayor

Her Honor: A Portrait of Justice Sonia Sotomayor


America has never before met a wise Latina like Sonia Sotomayor. Latina contributor and former Editor-in-Chief Sandra Guzmán offers the first glimpse of the woman behind the robe in this exclusive profile of the newly minted Supreme Court justice.

Here is an excerpt from this fascinating story:

I first met Sonia in 1998, after she had been sworn in as a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. I was the Editor-in-Chief of Latina, and a mutual friend, New York attorney Lee Llambelis, suggested that Sotomayor was someone I should meet since I’d probably want to write an article on her (which appeared in our March 1999 issue). Sotomayor’s life story not only inspired readers, but also captivated me.

Since then, we’ve been to each other’s homes for dinner and shared many sweet, honest and confidential conversations. A doting hostess, she puts together cheese platters, makes tasty salads and hooks up a mean churrasco with a tangy lemon marinade. This past spring, she promised to share some of her culinary secrets, so we set a date to fire up the grill in her small yet superb two-bedroom condo in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village. Sonia thought things would finally slow down for her by the summer—but that’s when things really started heating up.

During those grueling confirmation hearings in July, Republican senators Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl dissected her now-famous “wise Latina” phrase, uttered during an inspirational lecture to Latino law students at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 2001.

The senators aggressively argued that her remarks proved she would bring bias and a liberal agenda to the bench. But Sotomayor repeatedly explained that her comments were part of a regrettable “rhetorical flourish that fell flat.” “I want to state up front, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging,” she said. She added that she was simply trying “to inspire young Hispanics, Latino students and lawyers to believe that their life experiences added value to the process.’’

As the new personification of an intellectual rock star, Sotomayor has been inundated with interview requests—from Vogue to Newsweek, El País to Le Monde. But the new justice has yet to agree to a sit-down, aside from one she granted C-Span for a documentary on the Supreme Court. When I asked about a formal interview for this magazine, she told me, “I am not doing interviews and have said no to everyone. I do not want to be seen as having favorites.”

She did, however, agree to have her portrait taken for the cover and inside pages. And she went as far as granting me her blessing: “You will have to write based on our history together.”

And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Sonia Maria Sotomayor, born in the South Bronx on June 25, 1954, is the oldest child of Celina Baez and Juan Sotomayor, two puertorriqueños who migrated to New York City in the 1940s in search of the American Dream. Reared in the Bronxdale housing projects, she’s a red lipstick–wearing Cancer who loves the Yankees and is credited with saving baseball by putting an end to a 232-day Major League Baseball strike in 1995.

After excelling at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, she graduated with the highest academic honors (summa cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society) from Princeton University. She went on to Yale Law School and served as an editor on the prestigious Yale Law Journal. For nearly five years, she worked as a young prosecutor under iconic Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. She practiced international business law in private practice for another nearly eight years. For the last 17 years, she served on the federal bench, first on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and most recently as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She represents many legal firsts, such as being the first person appointed to judicial posts by three U.S. presidents from two different parties (presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama)....

One evening this past spring, as we prepared dinner for a group of friends, I asked her for some advice. She listened closely as I relayed my marital problems. I still recall her words, which I carry in my heart to this day. She told me that we have been wrongfully taught the Cinderella fairy tale as a paradigm of what happy relationships are supposed to be. And when we fall short of that, we suffer for it. To find happiness in love, she said, we have to make up our own rules. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. The process may involve unlearning what we have been taught and then figuring out what makes us happy. There are all types of relationships and arrangements to choose from. Of course, the trick is finding a companion who shares those values.

Love is not the only area where Justice Sotomayor has faced her fears and worked her way through them. Even as recently as April, she had doubts about her potential rise to the Supreme Court. She had been on President Clinton’s Supreme Court short list, but no seats became vacant. When Obama won the White House, the legal world hedged their bets on the brilliant judge with the impeccable résumé. But weeks before Obama made public his pick to replace Souter, Sotomayor called her confidante and good friend Llambelis, telling her that she wanted to pull her name from consideration.

“You have to understand that Sonia is a very private person,” Llambelis explains. “She didn’t want to go through another public vetting process and a potential public dressing-down by those on the Republican right who opposed her nomination. Sonia was happy being a Federal Appeals judge, loved her life in New York and felt fulfilled. She worried about having less time to spend with her mother, family and friends, particularly given her mom’s age and potential health complications.” Llambelis recalls listening to her friend, whose “I can” mantra was being drowned out by last-minute uncertainty. She told her to think beyond herself. “At this point, this is not about you,” Llambelis said to her. “It’s about little girls and boys, brown and black, who live in the projects and in poor communities around our nation, who can dream bigger if you are in the Supreme Court. You cannot back down now.” Sotomayor promised to think about it overnight. And in the morning, she woke up with a lighter heart and a bigger purpose.

In her short tenure so far on the court, the justice we have witnessed is no shrinking violet. She asks tough questions and is not intimidated by her rookie status. Sotomayor’s charm and confidence surprise very few people who know her, including the man who nominated her. While President Obama’s staff was preparing Sotomayor for the confirmation hearings in a White House office called the War Room, the team covered all the potentially explosive questions and briefed her on every minute detail, including how to dress for the cameras. They even advised her to keep her nails a neutral shade, which she did. But on the day of the White House reception celebrating her appointment, Sotomayor asked the president to look at her freshly manicured nails, holding up her hands to show off her favorite fire engine–red hue. The president chuckled, saying that she had been warned against that color.

She sure had, but Sotomayor was not finished. She then pulled her hair back behind her ears, exposing her red and black semi-hoop earrings, a beloved accessory among Latinas across America—from the South Bronx to Houston to East Los Angeles.

Obama joked that she had been briefed on the size of the earrings as well. Without skipping a beat, Sotomayor replied: “Mr. President, you have no idea what you’ve unleashed.” He responded, “Justice: I know and remember it’s a lifetime appointment. And I and no one can take it back.” And that, as they say, is the final verdict.

To read the rest of this story, pick up the December/January issue of Latina, on newsstands Nov. 17.

from Latina by Shani Saxon-Parrish, "Her Honor: A Portrait of Justice Sonia Sotomayor"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nativist Vigilantes Adopt 'Patriot' Movement Ideas

Nativist Vigilantes Adopt 'Patriot' Movement Ideas
By David Holthouse


Camp Vigilance, Calif. — A call to arms from ResistNet blares through this makeshift camp near the small community of Boulevard: "We all know what happens when you back an animal into a corner — it fights back. The way I see it, that's exactly the direction this country is heading. They're backing us into a corner. It's getting to be time to fight back."

Located two-and-a-half miles north of Mexico in the high, rugged desert of unincorporated eastern San Diego County, Camp Vigilance, known colloquially as "Camp V," is a sizable Minuteman border vigilante compound situated amidst 170 privately owned acres.

Adjacent to active human and narcotics smuggling corridors, Camp V consists of roughly 100 tent camping sites, a half dozen or so full RV docking bays, a bunkhouse, a radio communications center, a mess hall and meeting grounds, all within a gated and well-guarded security perimeter.

On this night in late May, a dozen or so Minutemen are checking their weapons, testing batteries in their night-vision goggles and thermal-vision scopes, donning body armor and making other preparations for sundown-to-sunup reconnaissance patrols. A public address system plugged into a massive RV amplifies ResistNet, an Internet radio program broadcast by the Patriot Network, which promotes conspiracy theories and right-wing antigovernment militancy. Since the beginning of this year, ResistNet and other Patriot Network programs have become quite popular at Camp V, as well as other remote Minuteman outposts in southern California and Arizona.

The broadcast continues: "I can see the true American patriots are being backed into a corner. They're getting ready to strike back at their captors, the greedy, evil vipers in the high offices of this land."

Such exhortations have little to do with border security or undocumented immigration, the issues that launched the original Minuteman Project in 2005 and inspired its many spin-offs, imitators and splinter factions. Instead, the antigovernment screed ringing through Camp V represents a significant, ongoing shift in the nativist vigilante subculture, as major elements of various Minuteman organizations appear to be morphing into a new paramilitary wing of the resurgent antigovernment "Patriot" movement.
Waterboarding
Waterboarding for the movemement: In a recent exercise, militia members and others trained in resisting interrogation.

Increasingly, Minutemen are giving credence to the sort of fringe conspiracy theories that have long typified militia and other so-called Patriot groups. Although the Minuteman movement from its inception has been permeated with the Aztlan or "reconquista" conspiracy theory — which holds that the Mexican government is driving illegal immigration into the U.S. as part of a covert effort to "reconquer" the American Southwest — the conspiracy theories that are now taking root in the movement have little or nothing to do with border security or immigration. They include the belief that a massive cover-up has been conducted regarding Barack Obama's birth certificate, which supposedly shows that he was born in Africa and is therefore ineligible to serve as president of the United States.

At several eastern San Diego County vigilante camps in mid-May, there were serious discussions about the global banking system being controlled by an ancient secret society called the Illuminati. Another theory floated involved a cult devoted to the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Osiris, operating within the NASA space agency and perhaps arranging with extraterrestrials for a hostile takeover of Earth.

Further indicating the nativist-to-Patriot drift of the Minutemen is the fact that in recent months a number of Minuteman factions have begun promoting the ideology of so-called "sovereign citizens," a bizarre pseudo-legal philosophy whose adherents claim they're not U.S. citizens and are not subject to federal or state laws, only to "common law courts" — a sort of people's tribunal with no judges or lawyers. The most notorious advocates of sovereign citizens ideology include Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and members of the now defunct Montana Freemen, a violent militia outfit. The larger Patriot movement is made up of tax protesters, militia members and sovereign citizens.

Accompanying the rise of conspiracy theories and sovereign citizen ideology within the Minuteman movement has been a spike in online and campfire chatter about the potential need for armed insurrection in the near future. This trend toward contemplated violence was most graphically illustrated by the May 30 home invasion murders of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter in Arivaca, Ariz., that were allegedly orchestrated by the leader of Minutemen American Defense to fund her group's vigilante activities.

All of these disturbing nativist-to-Patriot trends have taken shape during a period in which, by all indications, the number of Latino immigrants attempting to cross the U.S. border has dropped to record lows, due in large part to the country's faltering economy. According to a June report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the number of U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions fell to 724,000 last year. That marked the lowest level since 1973 and a decline of more than 50% from 2000, when apprehensions peaked at 1.67 million.

Despite this marked drop in undocumented border crossings, however, the number of Minuteman border operations, paramilitary training exercises and rallies continues to increase, and new Minuteman groups continue to form. What's changed is that instead of focusing exclusively on undocumented immigration, growing numbers of Minutemen and their fellow travelers now perceive immigration as merely a glaring symptom of a much broader problem. The larger problem, they believe, involves shadowy conspiracies threatening American sovereignty, unwelcome demographic changes polluting American culture, and a potentially totalitarian government, driven by an illegitimate president, bent on seizing all firearms, trampling the Constitution and imposing a fascist-socialist system on a pathetically docile citizenry.

"We're still concerned about the border intruders, but since this all started we've become aware of the fact that border intruders are just pawns in the big game," says "Jawbone," a member of the Campo Minutemen, a particularly hard-core faction based a few miles east of Camp V. "Stopping the border intruders isn't going to keep the shit from hitting the fan. If and when it does, we'll be ready. All this [Minuteman border operations] is just a dress rehearsal for the big dance."

One of the leaders of the Campo Minutemen, Britt "Kingfish" Craig, recently appeared on "Patriot's Pipeline Radio Show" along with co-guest Lloyd Marcus, the singer-songwriter responsible for "Tea Party Anthem," a protest ditty written for the "tea party" tax protests that took place across the country April 15.

"Tea Party Anthem" has become the Campo Minutemen fight song. Most of its members know at least the first verse by heart: "Mr. President! Your stimulus is sure to bust./It's just a socialist scheme./The only thing it will do/Is kill the American Dream."

As part of their campaign to stop President Obama from killing the American Dream, various Minuteman groups, including the Campo Minutemen, are distributing a sovereign citizen "criminal complaint petition" demanding that Obama appear before an "American Grand Jury" to answer charges of treason.

Hundreds of Minutemen signed the petition at a large Minuteman "muster," or rally, in Cochise County, Ariz., in late May. More than a dozen Minuteman organizations were represented at the rally, along with members of the Arizona Citizens Militia, a traditional Patriot militia that regularly conducts armed survivalist training exercises in the mountains and woods of northern Arizona. During one recent exercise, members were "waterboarded" by a "professional interrogator."

Also present at the Cochise County muster were members of Minuteman American Defense (MAD), the Everett, Wash.-based group led by Shawna Forde, who was arrested less than a month later in the May 30 double murder in Arivaca, Ariz. Also arrested were MAD Operations Director Jason Bush and a third MAD member. According to law enforcement authorities, the three believed the man they killed was a narcotics trafficker who kept large sums of money in his trailer.

Forde's half-brother, Merill Metzger, told the Arizona Daily Star that shortly before the murders Forde started talking about forming an "underground militia" that would be funded by robbing drug dealers. "She was talking about starting a revolution against the United States government," he said.

Following her arrest, Forde was denounced by key Minuteman leaders including Jeff Schwilk, head of the San Diego Minutemen, a hard-line group with a well-deserved reputation for confrontational tactics. The fact that a hothead like Schwilk has become a de facto spokesman for the Minuteman movement indicates how radicalized the movement has become since its early days of media-friendly publicity stunts involving retirees sitting in lawn chairs armed only with binoculars.

In a mid-April mass E-mail to followers, Schwilk linked his group's resistance to "the invasion from Mexico" with the greater cause of thwarting the "socialist takeover" of America. In the same E-mail, Schwilk announced the formation of the Patriot Coalition, made up of 23 organizations including Minuteman factions, tax-protest groups, pro-gun rights groups and two anti-immigration outfits listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A subsequent press release described the common cause of the groups under the motto, "Secure Borders, Constitution and Rule of Law." It stated that "Patriotic and Constitutional American grassroots groups" had come together to "fight the growing threats to our region and to the taxpaying American citizens."

It used to be that Minutemen declared their vigilance against foreign invaders. Now they're taking a stand against perceived enemies both foreign and domestic. "Revolution is brewing!" Schwilk declared.