There's an old saying in Texas: Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again. Drudge and the far-right media have been suckered into promoting another James O'Keefe prank, taking the fraudster at face-value despite his lengthy track-record of selectively edited videos. This time, O'Keefe tackled the immigration issue, but before we jump into it, let's review O'Keefe's greatest hits.
--ACORN - His original claim to fame was a 2009 video in which he dressed up as a pimp and attempted get advice from low-level ACORN workers about evading taxes. The news media widely debunked the videos proving they were selectively edited to make it seem as if the workers were guilty. The fraudulent nature of the videos hasn't stopped the House Republicans from voting to de-fund ACORN dozens of times, even after ACORN shut-down its operations amid the non-scandal. O'Keefe's financier, Andrew Breitbart admitted the hoax: "So I'm going to have to stage a series of tricks to get the mainstream media to have to pay attention to it. So that's what I did. I admit it, I tricked you."
--NPR - O'Keefe released another video in which he claimed that NPR executives agreed to meet with representatives from the infamous Muslim Brotherhood about donating money to the organization. The video appeared to show an NPR executive, Ron Schiller, observing that the tea party is driven by xenophobia and race, and its leaders employ race as a wedge. Two of NPR's top executives including Schiller were fired. But amazingly, Glenn Beck's The Blazeouted the video as having been selectively edited. And yet, once again, the House Republicans ignored the debunking and voted to de-fund NPR, based on O'Keefe's scam.
--Planned Parenthood - An O'Keefe co-conspirator, Lila Rose, carried out another pimp-style prank video, this time against Planned Parenthood. What happened? Take a guess. The video was heavily edited, but that didn't stop the House Republicans from voting dozens of times to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
See the pattern here? To be clear: the congressional votes were in direct response to O'Keefe's videos in spite of being debunked by both the right and the left. See our previous post on President Obama's observation about the GOP's difficulties with "fact-based, reason-based" positions.
This leads us to O'Keefe's latest.
Ballyhooed by Newsmax, Drudge, The Washington Times and others, O'Keefe set out to tackle yet another far-right bugaboo: the alleged border crisis and immigration. He and his crew traveled to Hudspeth County, Texas where O'Keefe filmed himself wading across the Rio Grande (or is it?) as both himself and wearing an Osama Bin Laden costume. In addition to that, O'Keefe talks with the Hudspeth County sheriff about the apparent gaps in the border fence there. At one section of the fence, a steel and cement barrier ends, but is continued with what appears to be a flimsy post and wire fence.
No, we're not making this up. There are, of course, more than a few problems here.
1) O'Keefe is a proven liar. Who the hell knows if the body of water he crossed was really the border between Mexico and Texas? He didn't include any other landmarks or signs in the video proving that the creek was part of the Rio Grande or that it formed the border. His past shenanigans should immediately cast doubt as to the veracity of any claims he makes, real or unreal.
2) Osama Bin Laden is DEAD. While, sure, he was making a point about terrorists entering the U.S. via the Mexico border, Bin Laden is dead! He's been dead since 2011. Why would a dork in a Bin Laden mask frighten anyone other than, maybe, someone who's been living under a rock for the last three years?
3) Cana-duh. If the primary complaint is really about preventing terrorists from crossing into the U.S., then shouldn't border activism also include our northern border with Canada, which isn't protected by any fence at all? Of course it should. It's actually much easier for terrorists to cross the border from Canada, especially because the militias and other weekend warriors aren't bothering with it as much as the southern one. But this isn't a concern for O'Keefe and his easily-duped followers. Why? Take a big brown guess.
4) The Border is Very, Very Long. Deploying the border patrol and building a fence along every last mile of the nearly 3,000 mile border is both expensive and impractical. Therefore, there will always be gaps along the way. O'Keefe, if we're to believe he was actually at the border, probably tracked down a particularly exposed section for propaganda purposes. O'Keefe doesn't say why the border fence in that section is only barbed wire. It could be that the owner of the property refused to allow a proper fence to be built there. Who knows? All of this raises the next question...
5) What about states' rights? I thought these guys were all about de-funding the Executive Branch of government and allowing the Tenth Amendment to take over. Since there's nothing in the Constitution explicitly covering the federal government's power to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing into the U.S., then according to the far-right's own (flawed) interpretation of the Constitution, the border states should be responsible for it. Now, they've tried to justify the federal government's involvement via Article IV, Section 4, spinning border crossings as an invading army, but that's an extraordinarily hilarious bastardization of the article. Meanwhile, officials in Hudspeth County, where O'Keefe shot his video, have been asking for the federal government to reimburse it for its border checkpoint. Funny how all of the states' rights guff ends when small-government nullification disciples need money -- then suddenly it's okay to redistribute tax revenue from Hawaii, Illinois and Massachusetts into Texas. And by the way, the sheriff of Hudspeth was standing right there with O'Keefe in the video. Why doesn't he deputize a gaggle of citizens to monitor the border? Oh, that's right. It's the federal government's job.
Congress isn't in session right now so we shouldn't expect any votes until after the recess. But don't be surprised if they're once again suckered into O'Keefe's latest flimflam. The House Republicans obviously don't require actual evidence to act; all they need is a doofus in a Bin Laden mask wading across a creek. And just after they vote to de-fund the Executive Branch, which includes United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the border patrol, they'll vote to censure the president for allowing Bin Laden to march from Mexico into Texas. Sounds crazy, but it's just about their speed.