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Thread: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!

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    OCT 05, 2018


    America Is on the Road to Becoming a Fascist State


    COMMENTS






    Tabitha Kaylee Hawk / Flickr

    In a compelling essay for The New York Review of Books this month, Christopher R. Browning, a leading historian of the Holocaust and Nazism, outlines the frightening parallels between the United States and the Weimar Republic. “No matter how and when the Trump presidency ends,” he writes, “the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics.”
    Jason Stanley would agree. A professor of philosophy at Yale University and the author of “How Fascism Works,” he contends that failures of democratic governance have forged a society eerily reminiscent of pre-war Germany—one in which there’s a growing appetite for the kind of ultranationalism espoused by Donald Trump. Indeed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly praised the Immigration Act of 1924, which not only created quotas and bans on certain immigrant communities but served as a model of sorts for Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
    “The idea in fascism is to destroy economic politics,” Stanley tells Robert Scheer in the latest episode of “Scheer Intelligence.” “The corporatists side with politicians who use fascist tactics because they are trying to divert people’s attention from the real forces that cause the genuine anxiety they feel.”
    This anxiety is not exclusively or even primarily economic. As Stanley is careful to point out, people of color have suffered far greater hardship, and yet they are increasingly drawn to progressive populism. Instead, he posits, Trump and his ilk are channeling a noxious strain of patriotism that creates a nostalgia for a past that never existed. “When you see the dominant group made to feel like they’re the victims in the face of all the facts,” Stanley notes, “that’s when you know that fascist politics is taking grip.”

    The episode also plumbs the phenomenon of fake news, both how it’s constructed and deployed. Stanley argues that many of our most cherished beliefs are based on mythologies, with the notion that we’re spreading democracy to the rest of the world perhaps the deadliest of all.
    “America has never been great,” he concludes. “But the idea of America can be great. It’s a future thing, our greatness, not a past thing. The past is something we’re trying to overcome, and we’re trying to realize our greatness with certain ideals.”
    Listen to the full interview or read the transcript below:

    Robert Scheer: Hi, I’m Robert Scheer, and this is another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, Jason Stanley, who has written a book called “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,” published by Random House. And you teach at Yale, right? And you’ve written a number of interesting books about propaganda, and this fits in. The basic hook here is Trump, and people being frightened about the echoes of fascism, not only in this country but throughout the world. And your book attempts to examine the architecture of fascism, its origins and so forth.
    Jason Stanley: Though I would say that though the hook is Trump I agree with President Obama that Trump is a symptom and not a cause.
    RS: The interesting thing about your book is you really talk about society in disarray. There’s an emotional feeling behind this, that what happens when societies fall apart, and when authoritarian figures hold up a notion of law and order, and the proper nationalism. And basically what we’re talking about is mythology, and that’s the Trump connection; they develop a mythology about the past, and about when Germany was great; now we have when America was great. And they use that as a springboard for basically developing an us-them philosophy. Is that not the basic architecture?
    JS: That’s the basic architecture. In “How Fascism Works,” however, what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to sort of draw attention to the fact that there are familiar aspects of fascist politics that have always been here, and to which our country has always been vulnerable. One thing about coming from my Holocaust background—my parents are both survivors, were refugees; they weren’t in camps, but they were refugees—they were always attendant to these details. And even more so because my mother was a court stenographer in Manhattan district court, in criminal court, so she could see some of these features up front. And she would often note the similarities between what was happening with racism in the United States, and what faced Jewish people in Poland, which she experienced as a young child. She would note, you know, they’re targeting black Americans here. James Baldwin has a classic piece called “Negroes are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White.” And in it he says, “You think—addressing Jewish-Americans like myself—You think that you’re closer to us because of our shared history of oppression. But our shared history of oppression makes us dislike you more, because we know you’re glad not to be us. We know you understand what we face, and you’re glad not to be us.”
    Our history of racism makes us especially vulnerable to certain elemental features of fascist politics. For example, fake news. I mean, fake news has always been directed against black Americans, from what Angela Davis calls “the myth of the black rapist,” the mad conspiracy theory underlying the horrors of lynching, that there was some epidemic of rape of white women by black men, to superpredator theory in the mid-1990s, which was promulgated at a time when violent crime was rapidly dropping, yet these theorists such as John DiIulio were saying that violent crime was going to rise because young black Americans were superpredators. So when you have this history of fake news, when you have political parties trafficking in coded racist messages, then you have an especially ripe background. People say oh, well, we’re not Germany; well, in some respects, we’re even better set up for this kind of politics. So when structures break down; when you have an Iraq War and a financial crisis; when, you know, you can legitimately blame the quote unquote elite for failures of democratic governance and to adhering to proper norms, when you have those failures and you have our past that in fact deeply influenced Nazi Germany, then you have real worry.
    RS: Let’s begin with that, we are not Germany. Because we are. We are actually the society that is closest to what Germany was, and people forget that. But the fact is, they were the people most like us, and people like Henry Ford, as you point out in your book, and others, had great admiration for Germany. It was the best educated, most scientific, highest level of music, big economy, and then it all started to fall apart. And the people that were most like us became the most evil barbarians in modern history. And it was very confusing to Americans, and you capture that in your book, that ambiguity about it.
    JS: That’s right, because we have these two traditions. On the one hand, we do have a glorious tradition of liberal democracy that I cherish and venerate, and that is used—the civil rights movement used it, black intellectual leaders all the way back at least to Frederick Douglass, but even David Walker and Martin Delaney would appeal to our tradition of liberty and equality, to point out hypocrisies in American life. And Frederick Douglass used that, for example, in “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” his speech, to say look, you venerate liberty? Well, you know—so we have these ideals, but we also have a long history of incredible hypocrisy among these ideals. And we have a long history of, in addition to anti-black racism and the genocide of Native Americans, both of which deeply affected Hitler, the anti-immigrant laws and sentiment. “Mein Kampf”—“My Struggle”, Hitler’s main book—is about a call to create a national state, to tear down the state and replace it by a national state based around national ethnic identity, and not democratic norms, not citizenry that is multiethnic, but around the nation. And his model there is the United States. As he writes, “I know that this is unwelcome to hear, but anything crazier and less thought-out than our present laws of state citizenship is hardly possible to conceive.”
    So he rails against Germany’s immigration laws. Very familiar vocabulary to us. “But there is at least one state in which feeble attempts to conceive a better arrangement are apparent. I of course do not mean our German republic, but rather the United States of America, where they are trying, partially at any rate, to include common sense in their councils. They refuse to allow immigration of elements which are bad from the health point of view, and absolutely forbid naturalization of certain defined races, and thus are making a modest start in the direction of something not unlike the conception of the national state.” So there, Hitler is praising the United States, and in particular the 1924 Immigration Act, which Jeff Sessions praised in October 2015, called for a return to; he praises it as a basis, he praises the United States anti-Immigration Act of 1924, and the United States, as a model for what he wants to create in Germany. Now, I think Hitler was wrong about our country; I think that subsequent history of our country showed that he was wrong. But we need to bear that in mind, that there are enough elements in our country that Hitler did take it, in “Mein Kampf,” as something of a model.
    RS: Well, in your book, you make it pretty clear that we have—I mean, let’s not gloss over these similarities. You quote liberally from our tradition, in which “the other” was persecuted viciously. It wasn’t Donald Trump who is reminding—oh, we have to be great by excluding people, which is basically Hitler’s message, trying to find some mythic, pure German. We did that with the Chinese Exclusion Act; we rounded up the Japanese; before all that, we had killed the Native Americans. And I want to bring up, you know, we can talk all we want about our liberal tradition, but the thing that comes through in reading your book—and I highly recommend it; I’m talking to Jason Stanley, and it’s “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them”—“them” of immigrant-bashing, or incarceration of black people, which you have a whole chapter on. I mean, I was amazed at a statistic I haven’t seen, but then I did the math, and you’re absolutely right: black people, male and female, represent 13 percent of the American population; they’re well over 50 percent of the imprisoned population that is now two and a half million people. But they represent, as you mention in your book, nine percent of the imprisoned population of the entire world.
    JS: If their representation in the world prison population reflected their world population, then the nation of black America should be the third largest nation on earth, behind China and India.
    RS: I want to pick on one word in particular, patriotism. And in your architecture of fascism, patriotism, the pure German, make Germany great again—those exact words weren’t used in your book, but I mean, the fact of the matter is, Hitler’s message—and he was as odd a figure as Trump. Trump with his orange hair; well, there was Hitler with his funny little mustache, obviously was an unattractive, cartoonish figure, very much like Trump. But yet he invoked some idea of the perfect Aryan, blonde German, and a mythical history, and he’s doing this in a Germany that’s falling apart. The echo that I found there was this patriotism. You even mention people taking the knee at football games and so forth as a way of legitimately objecting to a kind of false patriotism. And patriotism was really the key to the whole fascist message, wasn’t it?
    JS: I would say it’s ultranationalism. So a certain form of patriotism. Because my American patriotism takes the form of veneration of liberty and equality, which are two values which are abstract. And they’re not connected to a particular mountain range, they’re not connected to a particular past; they’re abstract, they’re liberal democracy. My venerate—you know, I’m patriotic about that.
    RS: What does that mean? I mean, it goes back to the French, it goes back to the Greeks? I mean, we didn’t invent it. You raise a big challenge in this book. Where does the ultimate madness come from? And if you’re going to talk about Trump as a fascistic figure, he didn’t invent himself; he’s a product—yes, his father was from Germany, and so forth. But the fact of the matter is, Trump is a familiar figure in American life.
    JS: That’s right. And I don’t want to deny the toxicity that certain forms of patriotism can take. It’s just that, as our own history teaches—for example, the civil rights movement, which did not take place in Vermont; it took place in Alabama in the early 1960s, a terrifying place to hold it. That happened here, and those were Americans who did it. And so I want to honor their legacy and what they did to struggle for advances that, although sometimes it’s hard to see those advances in the face of mass incarceration and the various forms of anti-black racism and oppression of all of us that occurred after the civil rights movement.
    But we have things in our past that are worth celebrating, and they’re worth celebrating because they’re connected to certain virtuous ideals. On the other hand, when patriotism takes the form that we’re seeing it now—a nostalgia for a white past, a white Christian past—what fascism does, when fascist politics—what you do is you create a sense of aggrieved, intense victimization by the dominant group. Whenever you see the dominant group feeling, yearning for a past that never was, where they got the appreciation they deserved, and feeling that this was yanked away from them—that’s what fascism tries to do. It creates this mythic past so that the dominant group feels like they’re the world’s greatest victims. When you see white Christians in the United States saying they’re the most discriminated group, then you know that fascist politics has taken hold, that fascist politics is working the way it does.
    That’s what Hitler did in Germany. He constantly railed against—Germans were the greatest victims of world history. He had Versailles to use, of course, but he blamed Versailles, bizarrely, on Jews. And he said, the Germans are the greatest victims. So when you see the dominant group being made to feel like they’re victims, that they’re terrible victims, in the face of all the facts, that’s when you know that fascist politics is taking grip. That’s what the function of this sort of bizarre, fake view of the past is supposed to be. It’s supposed to create this model, like, we once were victorious, we once ruled, and then foreigners, and foreigners came, and liberals made us share our power with foreign forces. Liberalism and cultural Marxism destroyed our supremacy and destroyed this wonderful past where we ruled and our cultural traditions were the ones that dominated. And then it militarizes the feeling of nostalgia. All the anxiety and loss that people feel in their lives, say from the loss of their health care, the loss of their pensions, the loss of their stability, then gets rerouted into a sense that the real enemy is liberalism, which led to the loss of this mythic past.
    RS: Yeah, I get that. But I want to push back a little bit on patriotism. Because it’s this glorification of your nation’s history. And so when Trump said he wanted to make America great, Hillary Clinton one-upped him and said, we’ve always been great. So saying we’ve always been great means we were great when we enslaved people, we were great when we committed genocide against Native Americans, we were great when we treated the Chinese population as near slaves, and no fundamental human rights, and we were great when we rounded up innocent Japanese and put them in concentration camps. And I could go down the list; we were great when we had slavery and we were great when we had segregation. It’s an absurd notion, and you know, it was George Washington in his farewell address who warned us about the impostures of pretended patriotism.
    This patriotic appeal is a menace. And the fact is, even reasonable people are afraid to say that. You know, we look at Hitler and we say, oh, they had issues; they got a bad deal after World War I, they could say we have foreign enemies, they had serious economic problems, right, of the kind that we have been experiencing. And patriotism becomes blaming the other, becomes scapegoating the other. And it’s interesting; in Germany, by the way, Hitler didn’t scapegoat BMW and Mercedes and the big German financiers and so forth. He scapegoated unions, he scapegoated people resisting, he scapegoated the Jews and handicapped people and homosexuals. He didn’t go after the big-shots. And in this country, that’s what Trump does. You know, blaming everybody except Wall Street for our problems.
    JS: Right. Because the idea in fascism is to destroy economic politics. Because you want people to connect along racial lines, along ethnic lines. So that’s why you go after trade unions. You don’t mention the sort of actual economic forces, because you want to create a fictitious bond, both between you and your followers and between the followers along non-economic lines. Fascist movements always work in tandem with corporatists, and we’re seeing that here now with the connections between, for example, the Koch brothers and attendant interests, and the nationalist wing of the Republicans.
    The nationalist wing of the Republicans is delivering the corporatist wing everything they’re ever desired; they’ve delivered them right-to-work laws in the Janus decision; they’re delivering them an endless string of Federalist-Society-approved judges. And this, history tells us, is always what happens; that the corporatists side with politicians who use fascist tactics because they’re trying to divert people’s attention from the real forces that cause the genuine anxiety they feel.
    RS: Yes, and what happened in Germany is that the reasonable, responsible, even the best of people, many of them went over to Hitler.
    JS: Absolutely. Because what you do in fascist politics is you paint the ordinary Democratic Party, the ordinary center-left party, as communists. And you create terror about that. Goebbels writes, in one essay or speech: The less Bolshevism threatens, the less Marxism threatens, the less the ordinary citizen cares about us. So what Goebbels is saying, and he says it at greater length in this piece called “The Radicalization of Socialism,” where he says what you want to do is you want to paint the center-left party as Marxists and as socialists, and that will drive—he says, you know: The middle class sees in Marxism not so much the subverter of national will, but mainly the thief of its property, the uncomfortable disturber of peace and quiet.
    So in fascist politics, you paint the center-left as socialists, as communists, and then you say they’re coming for your property. And then you send all the property owners into your arms, because you create this false fear and panic by painting the ordinary center-left party as socialists. And then you promise the corporatists, you say, we’re against labor unions, we’re going to break their power. We’re against any mass movement that challenges our power.
    And then, of course, as Arendt warned us, there’s the temptations of one-party rule. Arendt talks about “party over parties.” She says it’s a great danger when politicians start to feel loyalty for their political party rather than multi-party democracy. And we are already in a phase of party over parties, we’re already facing the threat of one-party states. A minority of Americans voted for this president, a minority of Americans voted for the Senate, and it looks like we’re going to have not just a right-wing Supreme Court, but a hard-right Supreme Court for generations to come.
    RS: On that depressing note, it’s time for a break, and we’ll be back in a moment with Scheer Intelligence and our guest Jason Stanley, the author of the provocative, but—and unfortunately—highly relevant book, “How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,” Random House. [omission for station break] So let’s talk a little bit about how fascism works, not just in Nazi Germany, but how it may be working here. And clearly, Trump is a very frightening figure, and your book makes that clear; the rhetoric, the style, it’s all an echo of the us-them, scapegoat immigrants, scapegoat minorities, scapegoat labor unions, scapegoat anybody gets in the way. But I must say, I want to push back a little bit. I think you’re a little too kind on the people you call liberal Democrats. And I just want to give you two quotes from your book. You say, “A liberal Democrat does not pick makers against takers.” That’s a reference to Ryan and others, right?
    JS: Yes. And Romney.
    RS: “A generous social welfare state unites a community in mutual bonds of care.” That’s what liberals believe, in your view, OK. But it was all—
    JS: Liberals ought to believe.
    RS: Well, OK, thank you.
    JS: [Laughs]
    RS: Because reading your book, I thought, wait a second! It was Bill Clinton who said he would end welfare as we know it, and he did.
    JS: What philosophers call liberal democracy, not the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, Bill Clinton—you are absolutely right. Bill Clinton engaged in the most heinous and problematic racially coded messages. He took over the Republican strategy, the Republican Southern strategy, with his 1992 campaign to end welfare as we know it, thereby race-baiting with that vocabulary. So, yeah, I mean liberal democracy in the philosophical sense. What happened in the United States is both political parties—and I hold both political parties to blame—kept racism alive with these coded messages. And when you do that, you open yourself up to a politician who’s going to come and decode the messages. And by decoding the messages, by being explicitly racist, that politician is going to seem like a breath of fresh air. They’re going to seem non-hypocritical. They’re going to be welcomed—finally, someone telling it like it is, rather than ending welfare as we know it.
    RS: Well, but Clinton did end the federal anti-poverty program, the main one, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Thirty percent were mothers, and 70 percent were their children, and he ended it, and he turned it over to the tender mercies of the state. And when he was running Arkansas, that was not a great place to be poor, and certainly not to be black and poor. But the reason I’m pushing on that is, and it goes to a statement you made earlier, that President Obama made, that Trump is a symptom. And he’s building on a lot of hysteria, often about non-problems; we didn’t have an immigration problem, we had more people going back, you know, on the southern border than were coming over, because of the recession and so forth. It’s all largely, as was the Jewish problem in Germany, an invented—
    JS: Absolutely, yeah, I was about to say, they’re all invented, yeah, they’re invented.
    RS: Yeah, they’re all invented, and your book is very clear on that. But let’s be clear, also, that the Democrats helped invent it. And I want to get back to this—I found your book quite powerful in talking about how we’ve treated the other in this country. Because people think, well, we’re not Germany—oh, come on, we have a horrible record of treating the others.
    JS: Horrible.
    RS: But yet your figures in that one chapter you have on black people was startling to me, both—first of all, economically; you have a figure that for every hundred dollars of accumulated wealth that whites have, blacks have only five dollars. You talk about the Great Recession—I mean, after all, one reason why Trump is viable to voters is that they’re hurting economically. White workers are hurting economically; the white middle-class is being eroded. But the black and brown college graduates, Federal Reserve study of St. Louis said they lost 60, 70 percent of their wealth, accumulated family wealth, college graduates who are black and brown. And then when you get to the prison population, which I referred to before—you have a statistic in your book, you say if you’re a black male—if you’re a white male, you have a one in 17 chance ending up in the prison system. But if you’re a black male, you have a one in three chance.
    JS: And our prison system is mind-boggling. Just a note on the whole white economic anxiety, it’s worth mentioning that although the Great Recession absolutely hammered black and brown populations, much more so than white populations, they didn’t turn to fascism. So the whole economic anxiety argument, that that’s behind Trump, is a little dubious. Because, you know, it’s not like black Americans moved en masse to a strong-man authoritarian to embrace after, despite their greater economic anxiety.
    RS: No, but they did move to people who have a more progressive, populist message, as opposed to Hillary Clinton celebrate—talk about fake news and everything. Hillary Clinton, in those speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs and other bankers, she has not one sentence mentioning the crimes of these people, the damage they did to black, brown, and white people. But the fact is, in her speeches she said, I need you—we need you to come down to Washington and fix this problem. These are the people who created the problem.
    JS: The financial crisis opened up our democratic system, which is flawed in the best of its moments, to charges of corruption. And I’m shocked by what was allowed to happen to us unpunished. Not that I’m for strict punishment, but that all this titanic wealth was given back to the very people who created the jobs—I’m furious about it. And what that did is it opened us up to a figure like Trump. Because what fascist politics does is it represents the system as corrupt, and when you represent the system as corrupt, then you can run against the system even if you are incredibly corrupt. Because you can, for example, say: Look, the fact that I’m corrupt makes me a good champion of the people, because I know how this corrupt system works. That’s why when Trump says, “I didn’t pay any taxes, that means I’m smart.”
    So there’s some good research out of MIT, a paper called “The Authentic Appeal of the Lying Demagogue,” that shows that when people can be brought to believe that a system is corrupt, then they’ll think that the person who is lying when playing the game that they think is corrupt, is the more authentic person. So what our leaders, including Hillary Clinton, did is they opened up the system to legitimate charges of corruption and then allowed somebody to come and say: “That whole system is corrupt, I’ll be a strong-man, I’ll come in and bash it and tear it down, and I’ll run it from now on.”
    RS: I want to get into this fake news. Because you’re an expert on propaganda. By your definition, and you have an actually brilliant analysis of propaganda, usually based on evoking a foreign enemy that’s attacking the virtues of a mythically beautiful German society going back thousands of years, et cetera, et cetera. And you have an idea of shared reality. Shared reality—that’s the basis of enlightened, rational society. And you defend mainstream media in that regard, that Trump attacks—we know, we accept certain logic, certain facts—well, we accepted an idea of the Cold War, that there was an international communist conspiracy with a timetable for the takeover of the world. And there was never an international communist movement. And this was a reality known to what David Halberstam called “the best and the brightest.” And they acted as if, you know, they told the Americans quite the opposite.
    JS: I couldn’t agree more that our history, especially the military-industrial complex—the whole concept of empire is based on fake news. All of colonization is based on fake news. I mean, really? You know, we’re invading other people and killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in order to free them? You don’t kill people by freeing them. The whole idea that we have the right to invade other countries, because we’re better, is based on mythology and based on—I mean, colonization doesn’t work unless you have this myth of being better. So whenever you find the massive military incursions justify, that clearly do terrible harm to other countries, you have done under the banner of, oh, we’re spreading democracy or spreading civilization or spreading Christianity, you’re going to have myth, you’re going to have fake news.
    But I also want to emphasize in my work that, no, America has never been great. But the idea of America can be great. It’s a future thing, our greatness, not a past thing. The past is something we’re trying to overcome, and we’re trying to realize our greatness with certain ideals. But of course, our past is replete with fake news; we are an empire, we’re a military empire. Whenever you find a military empire, it’s going to justify its invasions on the basis of fake news. Think of the European invasion of the United States that resulted in the genocide of our native population. That was based on complete fakery, that the Native American population was somehow uncivilized, and the barbarian savages who were slaughtering them were civilized. When you have mass violence, it’s going to be based—because humans need this in order to justify mass violence—it’s going to be based on these deep myths and fake news. And so since we’re an empire, we have this long history of fake news.
    And a particularly dangerous moment is when the empire starts to lose its status; when it starts to lose its status, then the myths are no longer so comforting, and a fascist leader can come and say, look how we used to be great, we used to be happy with our myths. So, that’s how the structure works. The structure wouldn’t work if you didn’t have an empire that was based on fake news. We had this past. And sometimes Trump shows his hand; so he said, you know, we’re not so great; look at the Iraq War. So he was very explicit about that. What you have happening with some of these figures is they want to say, well, let’s go back and not fake it; let’s just say we’ll invade people and take their oil, let’s not pretend. And so that’s seen as more authentic. Like any military empire, we’ve had a titanic amount of fake news. And what I’m hoping is that people can now recognize how dangerous that is. Because the danger is that then someone can come and say, the mainstream media? Really? Look at the Iraq War, look at all the lying we’ve done in the past. So insofar as elites care about even the simulacrum of democracy that we’ve had in the United States, even the sort of vague shadow of democracy that we’ve had in the United States, even keeping up the pretenses—they shouldn’t lie anymore.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #1042

    Default Trump

    I had some sympathy for Trump because:

    1. I liked him better than any other Republican besides Ben Carson.

    2. He was seemingly battling the Deep State.

    However, the Kavanaugh situation proves that the Deep State has run rough-shod over Trump and that the Skull and Bones clique is now running the country with the help of Goldman Sachs and Silly-cone Valley.

    Does anyone know anything about the Democratic Socialist Party? We are going to need some group of this type to stand up against the Deep State-controlled media. The Democratic Party has obviously been co-opted by the billionaire class.

    If I find out more, I will post here!

    James Lateer

  3. #1043

    Default

    OCT 22, 2018

    The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Tyranny or Revolution - Chris Hedges
    Mr. Fish / Truthdig
    At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.
    It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.
    It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power. These pathologies inform Donald Trump, his children, the Brett Kavanaughs, and the billionaires who run his administration. The uber-rich cannot see the world from anyone’s perspective but their own. People around them, including the women whom entitled men prey upon, are objects designed to gratify momentary lusts or be manipulated. The uber-rich are almost always amoral. Right. Wrong. Truth. Lies. Justice. Injustice. These concepts are beyond them. Whatever benefits or pleases them is good. What does not must be destroyed.
    The pathology of the uber-rich is what permits Trump and his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to conspire with de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, another product of unrestrained entitlement and nepotism, to cover up the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom I worked with in the Middle East. The uber-rich spend their lives protected by their inherited wealth, the power it wields and an army of enablers, including other members of the fraternity of the uber-rich, along with their lawyers and publicists. There are almost never any consequences for their failures, abuses, mistreatment of others and crimes. This is why the Saudi crown prince and Kushner have bonded. They are the homunculi the uber-rich routinely spawn.
    The rule of the uber-rich, for this reason, is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes—they don’t. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job—they don’t. We have to pay for our failures—they don’t. We are prosecuted for our crimes—they are not.
    The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality. Wealth, I saw, not only perpetuates itself but is used to monopolize the new opportunities for wealth creation. Social mobility for the poor and the working class is largely a myth. The uber-rich practice the ultimate form of affirmative action, catapulting white, male mediocrities like Trump, Kushner and George W. Bush into elite schools that groom the plutocracy for positions of power. The uber-rich are never forced to grow up. They are often infantilized for life, squalling for what they want and almost always getting it. And this makes them very, very dangerous.
    Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. It’s a funny thing about the uber-rich: No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. This life of endless desire often ends badly, with the uber-rich estranged from their spouses and children, bereft of genuine friends. And when they are gone, as Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol,” most people are glad to be rid of them.
    C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite,” one of the finest studies of the pathologies of the uber-rich, wrote:
    They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, entered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. They made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspapers and bought editors; they killed off competing and independent businesses and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons.
    Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.
    The uber-rich care inordinately about their image. They are obsessed with looking at themselves. They are the center of their own universe. They go to great lengths and expense to create fictional personas replete with nonexistent virtues and attributes. This is why the uber-rich carry out acts of well-publicized philanthropy. Philanthropy allows the uber-rich to engage in moral fragmentation. They ignore the moral squalor of their lives, often defined by the kind of degeneracy and debauchery the uber-rich insist is the curse of the poor, to present themselves through small acts of charity as caring and beneficent. Those who puncture this image, as Khashoggi did with Salman, are especially despised. And this is why Trump, like all the uber-rich, sees a critical press as the enemy. It is why Trump’s and Kushner’s eagerness to conspire to help cover up Khashoggi’s murder is ominous. Trump’s incitements to his supporters, who see in him the omnipotence they lack and yearn to achieve, to carry out acts of violence against his critics are only a few steps removed from the crown prince’s thugs dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw. And if you think Trump is joking when he suggests the press should be dealt with violently you understand nothing about the uber-rich. He will do what he can get away with, even murder. He, like most of the uber-rich, is devoid of a conscience.
    The more enlightened uber-rich, the East Hamptons and Upper East Side uber-rich, a realm in which Ivanka and Jared once cavorted, look at the president as gauche and vulgar. But this distinction is one of style, not substance. Donald Trump may be an embarrassment to the well-heeled Harvard and Princeton graduates at Goldman Sachs, but he serves the uber-rich as assiduously as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do. This is why the Obamas, like the Clintons, have been inducted into the pantheon of the uber-rich. It is why Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump were close friends. They come from the same caste.
    There is no force within ruling institutions that will halt the pillage by the uber-rich of the nation and the ecosystem. The uber-rich have nothing to fear from the corporate-controlled media, the elected officials they bankroll or the judicial system they have seized. The universities are pathetic corporation appendages. They silence or banish intellectual critics who upset major donors by challenging the reigning ideology of neoliberalism, which was formulated by the uber-rich to restore class power. The uber-rich have destroyed popular movements, including labor unions, along with democratic mechanisms for reform that once allowed working people to pit power against power. The world is now their playground.
    In “The Postmodern Condition” the philosopher Jean-François Lyotardpainted a picture of the future neoliberal order as one in which “the temporary contract” supplants “permanent institutions in the professional, emotional, sexual, cultural, family and international domains, as well as in political affairs.” This temporal relationship to people, things, institutions and the natural world ensures collective self-annihilation. Nothing for the uber-rich has an intrinsic value. Human beings, social institutions and the natural world are commodities to exploit for personal gain until exhaustion or collapse. The common good, like the consent of the governed, is a dead concept. This temporal relationship embodies the fundamental pathology of the uber-rich.
    The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom—the freedom “to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage.” At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.”
    The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own. We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally. Watch any reality television show. Examine the state of our planet. We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be—the help.

    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 10-24-2018 at 07:00 AM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  4. #1044

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    Personally, I think is insane and wrong-headed to have any sympathy for Trump. He is battling for white Christian male supremacy, the rule of the ultra-Rich, neo-fascist policies, isolationism, a police-state, anti-science, religious-minority hegemony, war and covert-operations up the yazoo, an immoral domestic and international set of policies, abandonment of the poor, ill, in need, downtrodden, old, disadvantaged by any definition. He is setting the World near to nuclear, environmental and economic apocalypse. He is not battling the Deep State and I think that view is totally wrong headed. Aspects of the Deep State feel they can use Trump for their purposes and he doesn't oppose their morality [lack of] nor their goals....never did. True, he is not 'one of them', but for them he is a useful idiot as well as a real idiot. Sympathy for Trump is 'sympathy for the devil'. IMO

    Quote Originally Posted by James Lateer View Post
    I had some sympathy for Trump because:

    1. I liked him better than any other Republican besides Ben Carson.

    2. He was seemingly battling the Deep State.

    However, the Kavanaugh situation proves that the Deep State has run rough-shod over Trump and that the Skull and Bones clique is now running the country with the help of Goldman Sachs and Silly-cone Valley.

    Does anyone know anything about the Democratic Socialist Party? We are going to need some group of this type to stand up against the Deep State-controlled media. The Democratic Party has obviously been co-opted by the billionaire class.

    If I find out more, I will post here!

    James Lateer
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  5. #1045

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    TROLLING FOR ASSASSINS

    President Donald Trump. Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. (bottom). Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) and mugshot.
    As everyone knows by now, authorities have arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc in South Florida in connection with pipe bombs sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, CNN, George Soros, and others. His van, plastered with pro-Trump/anti-Democrat stickers, was impounded by the FBI. Video shots of some of the stickers reveal Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein with crosshairs over their faces. Obama is pictured as a toddler on a tricycle — also with crosshairs. Social media images of Sayoc adorned with a red MAGA hat at a Trump rally in 2016 have now emerged. Early reports suggest that Sayoc has a criminal record. The initial psychological and criminal profile of the suspect is strikingly similar to those of the domestic terrorists introduced within the article below.
    The obvious question on everyone’s mind is what motivated the suspect to carry out these attempted acts of terror. The investigation is still ongoing, but it is natural to speculate whether he was in some way incited by far-right rhetoric. Perhaps even more disturbing is the possibility that the incitement could have originated with the president of the United States.
    America is no stranger to home-grown, far-right extremists who have used violence — whether to draw attention to themselves, or to a particular cause, or as a way to vent their anger. In some cases, these motives are coupled with mental illness. Indeed, this dark phenomenon has roots in past decades, when the political names and faces were different, but the rage just as volatile. Only now, more and more Americans are wondering if these tensions are being ratcheted up to a new and dangerous level.
    Stephen Singular is a New York Times bestselling author and investigative reporter, and is the author of Stolen Future: The Untold Story of the 2000 Election, just published by WhoWhatWhy with a foreword by Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker. In the following commentary, he explores the intersection of calculated political appeals, domestic terrorism, and mental instability, warning us of what may lie ahead.
    Introduction by WhoWhatWhy Staff

    As the pipe bombs started arriving at the addresses of prominent Americans during the week of October 22, setting off panic in the streets of New York and beyond, I couldn’t help thinking that all of this was so… predictable.
    Meghan Stabler
    @MeghanStabler





    This is the domestic terrorist’s vehicle prior to being wrapped in blue tarp by law enforcement.

    Whomever says Trump doesn’t incite violence is culpable in America’s demise.

    Where is the GOP anger? Where is the President’s sanity? Leadership is missing.

    h/t @Tylerhartling
    5:12 PM - Oct 26, 2018



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    For more than three decades, I’d been writing about terrorism and terrorists and was often struck by how the people who actually carried out the violence were usually taking their cues from those far removed from the bloodshed. Hatred, dog whistling, subtle calls for removing certain obstacles or people were laid down by their perceived leaders like bread crumbs for them to follow — a phrase here or there, or the mention of someone’s name, or the repeated showing of the person’s face was all it took.
    As every good advertising executive knows, repetition has a cumulative effect; it can bend the incredible into the credible. As all good terrorists know, there are people willing to kill and die for causes because they believe that’s what they’re being asked — or told — to do. Even if this isn’t true, one or two people can shake the most powerful nation on earth to its roots, or conjure up images of a new civil war.
    Target identification works.
    That thought carried me back to one fall afternoon when I stood in front of northern Idaho’s Aryan Nations headquarters: a compound surrounded by a chain-link fence, with armed guards, a rifle range, German shepherds, and Doberman pinschers. On a wooden shed were two words painted in red and blue letters: “Whites Only.” Some people called this God’s Country, but others referred to it as the “Heavenly Reich.”
    On a June evening in 1984, four men in the radical right movement known as “The Order” came to Denver and gunned down Alan Berg, a liberal, controversial radio talk show host, in his driveway. Bruce Pierce shot him 12 times in the face and torso with a .45-caliber MAC-10 machine pistol (and silencer).
    The image of Berg lying dead beside his car became one of the iconic pictures of the violent rise of America’s extreme right. The Order had plans to kill some better-known Jewish targets, like TV producer Norman Lear and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, but the Berg assassination was the starting point for a white power revolution intended to cleanse the US of Jews, African Americans, Hispanics, gays, feminists, liberal judges, and many others on their massive enemies list.
    The Order turned racist rhetoric into action and left blood on the pavement in Denver.

    The group, numbering fewer than 25 members, committed 240 crimes, including four other murders. They also created a template, almost an equation, for a certain kind of violence that would resonate deep into our nation’s future and bring us to the pipe bombs of today.
    They’d been drawn to the Aryan Nations compound by the sermons of Richard Butler, who provided the “religious” justification for the deeds they eventually carried out.
    In 1984, when The Order began turning Butler’s ideas into crimes, he immediately tried to distance himself from them. After all, he was just a country pastor, and what others did with his incendiary words didn’t concern him. Nor did it matter that his rhetoric had drawn in someone like Bruce Pierce, a high school dropout from Kentucky with a hair-trigger temper and major emotional problems.
    Over the next few decades a name would emerge for what Butler had engaged in: “trolling for assassins.”
    Insignia of The Order
    Photo credit: Yorkshirian / Wikimedia

    Researching The Order for a couple of years was highly unsettling — while delving into pockets of toxic hatred in America, I received several threats:
    “If you write anything we don’t like, we’ll come looking for you.” This brought on more than a few nightmares about neo-Nazis kicking in my front door.
    After the 1987 publication of Talked to Death — my book about Alan Berg and those who’d killed him (followed two years later by the Oliver Stone movie Talk Radio) — I vowed never to touch this subject again. Twenty years later, with the dynamics around the talk show host’s murder now much larger and more pervasive, I broke that vow.
    When the phone rang in late May 2009, a friend from Kansas was calling with breaking news. Wichita’s George Tiller, the nation’s most prominent and controversial abortion doctor, had just been shot with a .22-caliber pistol in the lobby of his Reformation Lutheran Church.
    Police and first responders were racing to the scene. Attempts to revive the physician were futile and the message sent out to emergency medical personnel was blunt: “Code Black.” Dr. Tiller was dead and his assassin, Scott Roeder, was on the run in a blue Ford. A few hours later, he was captured south of Kansas City. That afternoon President Barack Obama released a statement from the White House:
    I was shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller, as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences over difficult issues, such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.
    Within a few weeks of Dr. Tiller’s death, I was sitting in Wichita’s Sedgwick County Jail with Roeder, a hulking, balding man, who wore a red jumpsuit and had an overly friendly manner. We spoke on telephones and were separated by about 18 inches and a glass wall.
    “Jail is hard, man,” he said. “The only thing worse than jail is being in a mental hospital. I was there once and I’m never going back.”
    As a teenager, he’d been diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on mood-altering drugs, which he soon threw away. I brought this up and he aggressively denied ever being mentally ill. He seemed happy behind bars and openly bragged about shooting Dr. Tiller: “My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. I stopped abortion in Wichita.”
    Twenty-five years had passed between the assassination of Alan Berg and that of George Tiller. During that quarter century, something kept growing beneath our society, spreading and festering as it still is today.

    Bruce Pierce, Berg’s murderer, had been supported by a tiny church and a couple dozen neo-Nazis. Scott Roeder had more support. His views on abortion were shared by many religious groups and prominent political leaders, but they were reinforced most strongly by a man who addressed millions of people each night from his television platform.
    Right-wing violence did not arrive with the election of Donald Trump, but had been coming for decades. My 2011 book, The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle Over Abortion, addresses this profound shift in our culture.
    On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly built a reputation for attacking not merely those in the legal system with whom he disagreed, but on occasion the system itself — the rule of law and the very thin veneer of social agreements Americans live by.
    Expressing his feelings was more important than due process, constitutional rights, courtroom evidence, the presumption of innocence, and even expert forensic analysis. He’d become the most successful voice on talk TV — not in spite of this behavior, but precisely because he embraced it and encouraged viewers to do the same.
    As a journalist and author with 35 years of experience and numerous published books about high-profile crimes, I found watching O’Reilly a haunting experience. No mere reporter trying to uncover the truth could compete with the spectacle unfolding on Fox News and elsewhere (countless others were doing what O’Reilly was, but he had the biggest megaphone).
    Facts were out; heated opinions were in. In case after criminal case, across all media platforms, people were tried and convicted by talking heads who never heard a word of testimony.
    Old-fashioned journalism appeared to be staggering toward its death. The new media megastars weren’t held accountable to any standards — they were entertainers, representing a new form of mass amusement, and their only job was to generate viewers and ad sales.
    They stimulated audiences by demonizing individuals and, at times, our government or legal system. Their mindset, once isolated on the fringes, had become a hot commodity. Their glorification of the “us versus them” mentality — “I’m right and you’re dead wrong” — was perhaps the biggest change in the United States in my lifetime.

    Some nights O’Reilly reached 3.5 million viewers, and when he grew tired of castigating our political or justice system, he took on the field of medicine and especially Dr. George Tiller, who’d become the preeminent national, if not international, resource for dealing with the most complex, difficult, and tragic circumstances surrounding a woman’s pregnancy — chromosomal deficiencies, genetic disorders, and other confounding realities.
    By the time O’Reilly began launching his verbal assaults on the physician, seven doctors or their co-workers had already been murdered by anti-abortion activists. Dr. Tiller himself had had his women’s clinic bombed (1986) and been shot in both arms (1993).
    In 2005, with the abortion battle against Dr. Tiller intensifying in Kansas, O’Reilly started referring to him as “Tiller the Baby Killer.”
    One of his Fox-TV programs started with this line, “In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000 if the mother is depressed.”
    The physician had “blood on his hands… Tiller destroys fetuses for just about any reason… He’s guilty of Nazi stuff… This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union.”
    On a 2006 radio program, O’Reilly said, “If I could get my hands on Tiller… Can’t be vigilantes. Can’t do that. It’s just a figure of speech.”
    In the spring of 2007, O’Reilly said on the air, “Tiller is executing fetuses in his Wichita clinic for $5,000. And records show he’ll do it for vague medical reasons. That is, he’ll kill the fetus, viable outside the womb, if the mother wants it dead. No danger to the mother’s life, no catastrophic damage if the woman delivers.”
    The repetition continued. By early 2009, the talk show host and others had created enough momentum for charges to be brought against Dr. Tiller in Wichita. That March, he went on trial, and one of those watching him in the courtroom and anxiously awaiting the verdict was Scott Roeder.

    As a native son of Kansas, I can assure you that it’s a very conservative state. Yet, after deliberating for less than 30 minutes, the jury acquitted Dr. Tiller on all 19 counts. Before leaving the courthouse that day, they slipped a note to the physician.
    “In the note,” said Tiller’s trial attorney Dan Monnat, “they wanted him to know they were happy to do this for him, and they were proud that a safe, secure, and sanitary clinic existed for these operations, as opposed to the back alleys and motel rooms women had once used to get abortions.”
    Commenting on Dr. Tiller’s resounding legal victory, O’Reilly said on the air:
    “Now, we have bad news to report, that Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas — acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies. I wasn’t in the courtroom. I didn’t sit on the jury. But there’s got to be a special place in hell for this guy.”
    On April 3, O’Reilly reiterated, “Tiller got acquitted in Kansas, Tiller the baby killer.”
    Eight weeks later, on Saturday morning, May 30, Scott Roeder arose very early and at 5:45 AM drove to Kansas City’s Central Family Medicine clinic. As he stood in the parking lot and prepared to sabotage the clinic’s locks by gluing them shut, a female employee was inside watching him. When he approached the back door, she ran outside and gave chase. Lumbering to his car, he glanced over his shoulder and echoed O’Reilly’s words, calling her a “baby killer.”
    The next day, he drove to Wichita and assassinated Dr. Tiller in his church.
    On his first show after the murder, O’Reilly did exactly what Richard Butler had done following the murder of Alan Berg, declaring that “quick-thinking Americans” should condemn this action: “Anarchy and vigilantism will assure the collapse of any society. Once the rule of law breaks down a country is finished.”
    What concern was it of O’Reilly’s that Dr. Tiller’s assassin had been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young man and struggled with serious mental health issues throughout his life? The talk show host didn’t dwell on how many people exposed to inflammatory rhetoric were part of the nation’s at-risk population.
    More than 40 million Americans, or nearly 20 percent of adults, suffer from some form of mental illness, like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. While it’s both inaccurate and wrong to assume that any significant portion of these individuals is violent, it only takes a few, or just one, to unleash great destruction.

    Trolling for Assassins

    Decades of writing about homicide has taught me one thing above all: You don’t have to intend tragedy to help create it. You just need to be unaware of — or in denial about — the role you were playing and the effect you were having in the run-up to a disaster. Build it up long enough, ignore the warning signs, raise the stakes a step at a time, and eventually something goes irrevocably wrong. Then the rationalizing begins.
    But still, O’Reilly was just an entertainer… not a politician or national leader.
    Prior to the 2016 presidential election, candidate Donald Trump made a point of playing on racial dynamics and xenophobia by talking about Mexican criminals entering the US, and about Muslim terrorists. He flirted with the politics of ethnic superiority, and his most visible ally in this was Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, which Bannon himself had once described as “the platform for the alt-right.” The alt-right could be loosely defined as those who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of “white nationalism” — a phrase meant to be more palatable than “white supremacy.”
    The white supremacist Richard Spencer coined this new term in 2010 to describe a burgeoning movement centering on just this issue: white nationalism. The dog whistles had come out again and the template for the Berg and Tiller murders had already shown what can flow from statements at the top as they filter down into the general population, reaching people who are stable — and people who are not.
    In August 2017, seven months into the Trump presidency, ABC News and the Washington Post conducted a poll about America’s views on white nationalism and neo-Nazi beliefs. The results revealed that nine percent of the US population thought that it was acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. This amounted to about 22 million people. A slightly higher percentage, one in 10, said they supported the alt-right movement.
    The explosion in these numbers was stunning. Years earlier, when I was writing Talked to Death, I never met anyone outside of the neo-Nazi/Aryan Nations/KKK camp who supported their beliefs. Maybe Steve Bannon’s ideas weren’t so marginal anymore. Maybe he and others in very visible positions had lent enough credence to them to stir up or unleash racial animus across the populace.
    James A. Fields Jr. never met his father, who was killed in a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver before the boy was born. Another car wreck left his mother, Samantha Bloom, paralyzed below the waist. Growing up in northern Kentucky, James was a loner who developed a fascination with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.
    In high school, he wrote a three-page paper praising Nazi ideology and the armed forces commanded by the Fuhrer. Following graduation, he hoped to join the Army, but was rejected because of his psychiatric background. He suffered from schizophrenia and took antipsychotic drugs to try to manage his condition. As a youngster, Fields had engaged in violent abuse of his disabled mother. The police were summoned to their home four times while he was in the eighth and ninth grades. The 911 dispatcher on one of his mother’s calls wrote this in capital letters:
    “13 YO MALE TOOK CALLER’S PHONE SMACKED CALLER IN THE HEAD. … IS THE SON. …PUT HIS HANDS OVER HER MOUTH. … ON MEDS TO CONTROL TEMPER. … STARTED BECAUSE CALLER TOLD HIM TO STOP PLAYING VIDEO GAMES TOLD HER THAT HE WOULD BEAT HER UP WAS RESTRAINING CALLER EARLIER SAYS SHE IS AFRAID OF HIM…”
    After another outburst, Fields was arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center.
    By August 2017, as the Post and ABC were conducting their poll, the 20-year-old Fields was working as a security guard in Ohio and learned about an upcoming rally in Charlottesville, VA. Right-wing groups had organized the event to make a statement against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
    Fields drove to Virginia in his souped-up 2010 Dodge Challenger, with tinted windows and spiked wheels. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, he located the rally and steered his vehicle toward a pedestrian mall, ramming into another car. Then he aimed the Dodge at the crowd and sent bodies sprawling — killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter-protester, and injuring 19 others.

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    Prior to the attack, Fields had been hanging out with some self-proclaimed fascists at the protest, known as Vanguard America. After Heyer’s death, the group went out of its way to say that he wasn’t one of them.
    President Trump wasn’t so quick to distance himself from the murder in Charlottesville. He lashed out at his critics, especially journalists covering the event, proclaiming that there were “very fine” people on both sides of the rally and that protesters and counter-protesters alike had engaged in violence.
    The dog whistle and the megaphone now belonged to the loudest voice in the world: the president of the United States, who’s lately begun calling himself a “nationalist.”
    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups, the number of those organizations rose four percent from 2016 to 2017 (following Trump’s election), and neo-Nazi outfits in America increased from 99 to 121. In the past four years, the SPLC maintains, the alt-right and its loose band of associates has been connected to the murder of 43 Americans and to injuring 67 more. Ever since 9/11, our government has often been quicker to focus on or denounce international terrorism than the home-grown, right-wing kind.
    Related: The Hate Group Next Door
    “Words have consequences,” says Mark Potok, former editor-in-chief of the SPLC’s quarterly journal — the Intelligence Report — and an expert on the radical right:
    The people who use inflammatory rhetoric that others then act upon with violence are not criminally responsible, but they are morally responsible. At SPLC, we found that a significant portion of the people who commit hate crimes don’t think of themselves as criminals. They respond to what they think their leaders are saying and see themselves as carrying out the wishes of important people in their community.
    Who’s more important, in terms of public exposure, than the POTUS? Whose words carry more weight? All of which makes the attendant violence so… predictable.
    While digging into Alan Berg’s past, I met a Chicago lawyer named Frank Oliver, who told me something I never forgot: “Free speech isn’t free at all. It’s a very expensive commodity.”
    The richness and beauty of our messy democracy provides protection for Americans to exercise our freedom of speech under the First Amendment. We have the free will to say what we want, but what about “free won’t” — the conscious choice not to do or say certain things in the interest of the greater good? When does managing one’s feelings and monitoring one’s utterances become part of being a responsible citizen in contemporary America? When does emotional awareness become a piece of one’s political and social identity? We’ve seen enough to know that when leaders condone violence, even indirectly, violence often comes.
    In the 30 years since Talked to Death was published, I’ve often felt that I was watching a national drama that cuts deeper than politics. That drama is now woven into the culture and has to do with a general loss of self-control and an unwillingness to cooperate with the larger principles we’ve inherited as Americans, which we claim to so devoutly believe in. Things like the presumption of innocence, the rule of law, respect for opinions not our own, and the understanding that the only people who can manage our feelings are ourselves. These are non-partisan issues and more subtle than voting for a Democrat or a Republican. They call for a new mindset and for us to utilize more self-awareness and more awareness of the effect we’re having on others, particularly if we’re reaching a mass audience — and especially if we know that some in that audience are unstable.
    When pipe bombs showed up at the homes of, among others, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro, and at the CNN office in New York, I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t even surprised, as so many seemed to be. We’re naïve about what we’ve been doing as a country. The dynamics of terrorism are in place and the equation holds true. For a generation, we’ve been dividing and attacking and undermining ourselves from within.
    Something’s gonna give.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  6. #1046

    Default Voter Suppression is in high gear all over!

    On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) acknowledged that voter suppression efforts by Republicans are significant enough to swing key Senate races in Arizona and North Dakota.
    In Arizona, where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is virtually tied with Republican Martha McSally, outdated voter databases which do not automatically update new home addresses could mean up to 300,000 Arizonans will be unable to vote on Election Day, according to the ACLU’s Dale Ho.
    In North Dakota, a new and strict voter ID law requires a home address to vote. However, over five percent of the state’s population is Native American, and Native Americans living on reservations typically do not have traditional home addresses. Because the state’s population is only 800,000, every vote is crucial.
    Students at Texas State were surprised to learn that the polling station on campus closed after only three days, when normally polling locations are open for two weeks during early voting periods.
    Students have contacted election officials to re-open the polling location. When Democratic official Debbie Ingalsbe contacted Republican official Wally Kinney to ask about the Texas State polling location, Kinney responded, “If Debbie is bringing it forward, it probably means that it is going to favor Democrats, so maybe I should not be in favor of this.”
    Dodge City, Kansas, which is 60 percent Latino, was recently told that its one polling location would be moved beyond city limits — over a mile away from the nearest bus stop.
    Further complicating matters, newly registered voters in Dodge City were mailed a document directing them to the former polling location.
    Dodge City is home to 27,000 residents, most of them Latino, and as many as 13,000 voters are expected to vote at this one polling location. The average polling location in Kansas sees about 1,200 voters.
    The Republican nominee for Kansas Governor, Kris Kobach, has been a vocal proponent of strict voter ID laws, even heading President Donald Trump’s short-lived Voter Fraud Commission.
    Finally, some good news. While many states are making it harder to vote, some states are trying to increase voter turnout.
    Michigan has a ballot referendum, known as Prop 3 or “Promote the Vote,” which would introduce many reforms to increase voter participation, including automatic voter registration for people getting driver’s licenses, allowing for same day voter registration, easing restrictions on military personnel to vote, introducing no-excuse absentee voting, and allowing for straight-party ticket voting, where a voter can select one box and all of those party’s officials down-ballot are selected.
    The referendum is expected to pass.
    ---------------------------------------------

    POLLING SITE CLOSURES IN TEXAS THREATEN UPCOMING MIDTERM ELECTION

    If Democratic challenger Beto O’ Rourke wins in Texas, it could mean a significant power shift within the Senate. Photo credit: Beto O’Rourke / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

    A little-known provision in the Texas Election Code allows polling locations to be switched with hardly any notice — and voting rights advocates fear that it could be used to disenfranchise low-income voters. That provision is particularly concerning this year, as this type of issue could constitute a tipping point in the hotly contested race between Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.
    Texas officials can change — or close — polling locations up to 72 hours before an election. The provision was part of a sweeping law that Lone Star State Republicans pushed through in 2013. They did so after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision freed the state from the obligation to get federal approval for changes to its voting procedures.

    Related: 5 Years After ‘Shelby County,’ Democracy Has Suffered
    Texas took full advantage and put in place provisions in the Texas Election Code allowing these last-minute closures. In recent years, Republicans have increasingly focused on shutting down polling locations. Although there have been some efforts at the county level to address voting obstacles, most minority and low-income voters in Texas remain vulnerable.
    In 2016, the state closed more polling locations than any other state in the country with a total of 403 closures, according to a report from the US Commission on Civil Rights(USCCR). Much less publicized than these closures, however, were the last-minute changes to polling locations.
    Related: Shuttered Polling Sites Cast Shadow Over Midterm Elections
    Experts say this tactic primarily affects African American, Latino, and low-income voters because of limited time and access to polling locations. According to the USCCR, most of these polling closures occurred in counties with a long history of Voting Rights Act violations.
    Whether a person is impacted or not by these closures comes down to “voting privilege,” Wanda Zamorano, a representative of the Texas League of Women Voters, told WhoWhatWhy.
    “Too often a voter does not have the time to search for a new location,” Zamorano explained. “They may have work or family responsibilities. And too often, if finding the place becomes difficult, the voter might say ‘just forget it,’ especially if there is little gas in the car and no money until payday to fill the gas tank. Driving to the grocery store will take precedence over finding the right polling location.”
    These polling closures are both intentional and likely to happen again, critics charge.
    Zamorano believes that election officials in some places are deliberately trying to discourage people from voting. By “slowing things down” and keeping lines long, they hope that voters who may be ideologically opposed to those in power will give up and go home instead of waiting to cast their ballots.
    The populations affected by poll closures or changes are more likely to support Democrats. With Texas in the middle of a Senate race that is tighter than most in recent memory — and that could hand control of the Senate to the Democrats if O’Rourke manages to upset incumbent Cruz — the outcome could hinge on turnout.
    Texas has the fifth lowest voter turnout in the nation and experts agree that any threat to voting rights will only reduce the state’s abysmal numbers. Josh Blank of the Texas Politics Project told WhoWhatWhy that in addition to voter suppression, voter apathy is a major factor.
    “Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide since 1994,” Blank said. “Most elections in Texas are not competitive. That’s another thing that tends to drive people away from the polls is the feeling that their vote isn’t going to impact the outcome.”
    In a state where turnout is low, and suppression and apathy are high, any additional threat to voting rights, including new polling closures, is worrisome, especially considering Texas’s track record of Voting Rights Act violations.
    A possible solution down the road, according to Dianne Trautman, a candidate for Harris County Clerk, is the Countywide Polling Place Program.
    The Countywide Polling Place program permits certain Texas counties to allow voters to cast their ballot at any polling location in their county. This program would allow voters to vote at any voting location on Election Day, just as they can during early voting, thereby eliminating much of the inconvenience caused by polling closures and changes.
    Trautman noted that the program, which is currently being used in 52 of the 254 counties in Texas, has helped increase voter turnout.
    While this program could be a partial solution to the adverse effects of polling site closures, it requires counties to meet certain requirements and go through a lengthy application process. And it is up to the Texas Secretary of State to approve each county’s application.
    In light of the Lone Star State’s track record of discouraging voters who might turn the state purple, getting this program implemented across Texas could pose a high hurdle to climb.
    -----------------------------------------------
    Number of Georgia Voters Purged by
    Brian Kemp Continues to Climb

    Investigation reveals 340,000 voters were improperly removed
    By Peter Wade, Rolling Stone

    Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp incorrectly canceled some 340,000 voter registrations, according to a recent investigation. Although Kemp claimed the voters left the state of Georgia or moved to another county, they hadn’t, Greg Palast, who filed suit against Kemp.
    Don’t miss this 7-minute film of Palast's Georgia Investigation (for Salon TV)


    According to John Lenser, who is CEO of CohereOne and who led a review of the list of purged voters for Palast, “340,000 of those voters remained at their original address. They should have never been removed from the voter registration rolls.”
    Palast only obtained the list after he filed suit against Kemp. “It began five years ago, when Kemp stonewalled my first requests for information on purges in Georgia, first for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone, now for Truthout and Democracy Now!” Palast wrote, “It took my lawyer’s threat of a federal lawsuit, filed last week in Atlanta federal court, to blast the list of the electorally doomed from Kemp’s hands.”

    After he received the list, Palast said he analyzed it and discovered that 340,134 voters were purged when they shouldn’t have been. To do this, he consulted experts who cross-referenced voter data with a number of other databases including cell phone bills and tax filings to see if, in fact, any of these voters had actually moved. Many had not. A list of the purged voters’ names is available on Palast’s website. While it is too late for them to register for the upcoming midterm elections, they are still eligible to re-register for the 2020 presidential election.

    Kemp used a tactic Palast calls “Purge by Postcard” to remove eligible voters from the rolls. Kemp sent a postcard that could have easily been mistaken for spam to voters who did not vote in the prior election. If a voter did not return the postcard, Kemp purged their registration without informing the voters it was happening.

    Thanks to a June 2018 Supreme Court ruling that reversed the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, this practice is now legal. If a voter misses an election and fails to respond to a notice by mail, the court ruled it legal to remove them from the list of registered voters. In a dissent to the majority opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the practice part of “concerted state efforts to prevent minorities from voting and to undermine the efficacy of their votes” and said they were “an unfortunate feature of our country’s history.”

    Kemp also faces a lawsuit for exposing the records of 6 million registered Georgia voters and potentially the state’s election system to foreign hackers. Kemp has become notorious for his efforts to cull voter registrations, especially those of Democratic and minority voters. Rolling Stone recently obtained audio of Kemp speaking to donors, saying his opponent Stacey Abrams’s campaign “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.”
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  7. #1047

    Default

    A very different world' - inside the Czech spying operation on Trump



    Exclusive: files reveal Trump was the target of an extensive spying operation in the late 1980s by the country’s intelligence service, with ‘friends’ from the KGB

    Luke Harding in Prague
    Mon 29 Oct 2018 06.00 GMTLast modified on Mon 29 Oct 2018 11.31 GMT


    Donald and Ivana Trump during the funeral of her father, Miloš Zelníček, in 1990 in Zlín. Photograph: APThe three visitors from the eastern bloc looked somewhat incongruous as they stood in front of Trump Tower. It was September 1989. Leading the delegation was František Čuba, a bulky and bespectacled figure, the chairman of Czechoslovakia’s showcase model farm. With him were his deputy Miroslav Kovařík and the farm’s communist party boss, Pavel Čmolík.

    Czechoslovakia ramped up spying on Trump in late 1980s, seeking US intel


    The trio walked into the gleaming lobby and took the lift up to the executive floor. Their meeting was with Donald J Trump. For the men from behind the Iron Curtain, Trump was a celebrity capitalist. He was also, we now know, the target of an extensive spying operation conducted by Czechoslovakia’s Státní bezpečnost (StB) intelligence service – together with “friends” from the KGB.
    The StB had been interested in Trump since 1977, when he married a Czechoslovak-born woman, Ivana Zelníčková. News of the wedding reached the StB bureau in Zlín, the town in Moravia where Ivana grew up and where her parents lived. Ivana’s father Miloš regularly gave the StB information on his daughter’s visits from the US and his son-in-law’s burgeoning career.
    The StB’s work on Donald and Ivana intensified in the late 1980s, after Trump let it be known he was thinking of running for president. The StB’s first foreign department sat up. Inside the Soviet bloc, Czechoslovakia’s spies were reputed to be skilled professionals, competent and versatile English-speakers who were a match for the CIA and MI6.
    Čuba was on a 14-day business trip to Brazil, the US and Canada. Trump, who had recently launched his Trump Shuttle, appears to have told his guests to buy a Sikorski helicopter, possibly from him and used by his airline for short hops. Čuba invited Trump to visit the farm, Slušovice. Trump reportedly agreed.
    We know this because of a two-page write-up of the encounter based on details supplied by agent Jarda. Jarda was one of four StB collaborators who spied on the Trumps during the cold war. Jarda’s real name was Jaroslav Jansa. It’s unclear if Jansa was present in New York, or learned of the visit once the official delegation flew home.
    Now aged 74, and living in an apartment bloc on the outskirts of Prague, Jansa is reluctant to talk about his past. When the Guardian and the Czech magazine Respekt knocked on his door, he refused to open it. In an email, he said he was tired and wanted to be left in peace. He added: “You are trying to put me in the tomb.”

    The StB security file of Jaroslav Jansa who spied on Donald Trump in 1980’s while he was married to Ivana. Photograph: StB‘A very different world’

    Jansa’s shadow career began in summer 1986, when he met an StB officer in the town of Vsetín, files reveal. After a meal in the box-like Vsacan hotel, Jansa agreed to become a secret collaborator. Regular meetings followed. They were noted in an agent file. He got modest amounts of cash – on one occasion, 29 crowns ($5-$7).
    Jansa was one of tens of thousands of informers in the ČSSR, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. He spoke five languages, had a scientific background and was head of foreign cooperation at Slušovice. This meant he came into contact with prestige visitors including congressional delegations from Washington and foreign TV crews.
    The StB’s records are a window into a vanished age. As well as Trump, Jansa spied on an American diplomat based at the embassy in Vienna, James Freckmann. Jansa drove regularly to west Germany and Heidelberg. His handlers told him to befriend Americans and to look out for US military convoys. If challenged, he was to deny he was a spy.
    Jansa set out to make western contacts, and came back with business cards. One of them belonged to an American graduate researcher, Gary Geipel, who was writing a thesis on communist east Germany’s technology policy. He thinks he may have met Jansa in 1987 or 1988 during a visit to the Leipzig trade fair.
    “It was a very different world. It’s hard to imagine the level of mutual distrust that existed,” Geipel said. “The assumption was that any American interested in IT was working for the CIA.” After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Geipel discovered the Stasi had spied on him too – and had visited his relatives in east Germany, bringing flowers.
    He added: “Trump was married to someone of Czech origin. He was a prominent figure in an adversary society. It would be natural for them to have contact with him. I went to graduate school in Columbia. You could not be unaware of Donald Trump in 1980s New York.”
    Jansa’s New York report was added to a bulging Trump file. It joined earlier secret documents, some of them recording little more than family gossip. In November 1979 Ivana Trump went back to Czechoslovakia, bringing her two-year-old son, Donald Jr, with her. Her parents, Miloš and Marie Zelníček, picked her up at Prague airport.
    The StB discovered that Ivana was no longer a model and was now “helping her husband in his business activities” – designing the interiors of Trump-financed buildings. Donald Jr had two nannies – one American, one Swiss – and had recently fractured his leg. And: “Her husband is connected to the election campaign of the current US president [Jimmy] Carter”.
    The StB’s source was Ivana’s father. The note, typed up by Lt Josef Knopp, said the agency would give Mrs Trump “operational attention” during her stay in Zlín. Intriguingly, it was copied to the 23rd section of the first directorate in Prague, which was responsible for running “illegals”, or deep-cover agents abroad. Its most famous asset, Karl Koecher, was embedded inside the CIA.


    Secret police files on Ivana Trump at the Security Service Archive in Prague, Czech Republic. Photograph: Petr David Josek/APEight years later, Miloš Zelníček was still briefing the StB, though by now Trump was a person of major interest. When Ivana visited in October 1988, Zelníček passed on her tip that George HW Bush would win November’s presidential election. He did, leading the StB to “deepen” its activity and to try and exploit Trump’s proximity to the “highest echelons of US power”.
    It’s unclear to what degree the KGB and StB shared or coordinated Trump material. The two spy agencies worked closely together, signing cooperation agreements in 1972 and October 1986. The KGB was always the dominant partner – it would have closely monitored Trump when he and Ivana visited the USSR in summer 1987, following a Kremlin invitation.
    According to Kieran Williams, a professor of political science at Drake University, the StB’s chief concern was with dissidents and emigres living in the west. It was keen to “shut up enemies” including journalists working for Radio Free Europe. It also wanted to stop the flow into Czechoslovakia of samizdat and tamizdat – literature banned by the state.
    “Ivana was unusual in that she had achieved a status in US society. You therefore try and get information on her,” Williams said. “But she was never politically active and I don’t think there was a long-term goal here. It was purely opportunistic. I don’t think there was any strategy to compromise Trump. If anyone was going to do this it would be the Soviets.”
    Williams said the StB’s first directorate – like its elite KGB counterpart – was highly trained and competitive. Its attention to Trump post-1988 was signifiant.
    “There was more buzz about Trump’s political ambitions after the election,” he said, adding that the first directorate’s involvement was “a big step-up”.
    “They were looking at a long-term operation,” he said.
    This was curtailed, however, by the dramatic and sudden collapse of the communist bloc. This happened in November 1989, soon after the Slušovice representatives met Trump on Fifth Avenue. Their plan to forge relationships with “large capitalist firms” fell into history’s dustbin. The StB kept the identities of its informants secret by burning many files.



    František Čuba, the the chairman of Czechoslovakia’s showcase model farm, met with Trump in Trump Tower in 1989. Photograph: Respekt Magazine‘A forceful personality’

    Trump eventually made it to Slušovice. According to Čuba, the collective farm sent its small twin-engine plane to collect the Trump family from Prague airport and to take them to Zlín. The event, in November 1990, was a sad one: the funeral of Ivana’s father. One of the mourners was Jansa, the secret collaborator, who stood 100 metres away from the Trumps.
    During the same trip, Čuba says, he showed Trump his collective’s biotech and electronic operations. By this point the farm – given unprecedented entrepreneurial freedom in communist times – was bereft of purpose. “He was a forceful personality,” Čuba said of Trump. Čuba’s colleagues Kovařík and Čmolík are both dead, one murdered, the other killed in the 1990s in a car accident.
    None of the StB intelligence officers who spied on the Trumps for more than a decade appear to have suffered much in the transition to democracy. Vlastimil Daněk – the local Gottwaldov StB chief – was known as a hardliner who jailed and persecuted dissidents. He now lives peacefully in retirement, in a pleasant house with a front garden and a satellite dish.
    “It’s the past. I would like to forget,” he said.



    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  8. #1048

    Default

    Thousands signed a letter saying Trump was not welcome in Pittsburgh. He plans to visit anyway.













    Community holds vigil to mourn victims of synagogue shooting







    Hundreds gathered at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh Oct. 28 for a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue. (Drea Cornejo , Zoeann Murphy, Luis Velarde/The Washington Post)


    By Allyson Chiu and

    Amy B Wang



    October 29 at 3:15 PM

    More than 35,000 people have signed an open letter to President Trump from the leaders of a Pittsburgh-based Jewish group who say the president will not be welcome in the city unless he denounces white nationalism and stops “targeting” minorities after a mass shooting Saturday at a local synagogue left 11 dead.
    Nevertheless, the White House announced Trump would travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, ignoring the letter as well as a plea from Pittsburgh’s mayor that the president at least refrain from visiting “while we are burying the dead.” The first of the funerals for the 11 shooting victims is expected to take place Tuesday.
    The open letter, which was published and shared on Sunday, was written by 11 members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc, a national organization for progressive Jews focused on social justice, following what is being called the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. The shooting at Tree of Life synagogue also left several people injured, including law enforcement.
    “For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the Jewish leaders wrote. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence."
    The letter continued: “Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted. You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”

    President Trump at the White House on Friday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
    The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the letter.
    Trump has continued tweeting incendiary statements since the synagogue massacre, indicating he does not intend to tone down his rhetoric. On Sunday night and Monday morning, the president blamed “Fake News” for causing division, hatred and “great anger” in the country. He reinstated his controversial branding of the press as “the true Enemy of the People.”
    In a subsequent tweet, Trump congratulated the newly elected president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist with a history of denigrating women, gays and minorities. He also once again amplified unsubstantiated statements about the Central American migrant caravan, claiming without evidence there were gang members and “some very bad people” mixed into the group and warning it was an impending “invasion” of the United States.
    During a television appearance Monday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway responded to another request for the president to stay away from Pittsburgh from Lynette Lederman, the former president of Tree of Life synagogue, who has said she considers Trump a “purveyor of hate speech.”
    “I know that she’s very grief stricken, I can imagine, and my heartfelt condolences go to her, and everybody in that congregation regardless of politics,” Conway said on CNN. “Many people are welcoming the president to go there and to help heal.”
    On Saturday, Trump strongly condemned the shooting as “pure evil,” adding the “vile, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism” and all other forms of prejudice must be rejected, The Washington Post reported. The president also announced he would be making a visit to Pittsburgh.
    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    · Oct 27, 2018



    All of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries...


    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump



    ...This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.
    10:41 PM - Oct 27, 2018



    Twitter Ads info and privacy









    News of the president’s possible travel plans did not sit well with Joshua Friedman, who is one of the leaders of Bend the Arc’s Pittsburgh chapter.
    “My immediate reaction was he is not welcome here,” Friedman, who does not attend services at Tree of Life, told The Post in a Sunday phone interview. “I immediately wrote to the rest of our steering committee that he is not welcome, we have to make that clear.”
    Four boldfaced lines stand out from the rest of the letter’s 338 words.
    “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.”
    “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.”
    “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.”
    “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”
    Bend the Arc was founded in 2012 as an advocacy organization. Three years later, with the help of Alexander Soros, son of liberal philanthropist George Soros, the group launched the first Jewish political action committee focused on dealing solely with domestic issues, the Forward reported. According to its website, the group supports “everyone threatened by the Trump agenda,” and Alexander Soros is the chair of its board of directors. The Pittsburgh chapter was created shortly after the 2016 election, Friedman said.
    On Sunday, Friedman read the letter, which is also signed by the group’s other 10 leaders, aloud in front of the White House during an afternoon vigil organized by Bend the Arc. To his surprise, he said the crowd began reading the boldfaced sentences with him.
    “People are on board,” Friedman said, describing the experience as “powerful” and “energizing.” “People are hearing the words. People understand why we need do this.”
    In recent days, Trump’s critics have alleged his incendiary rhetoric has contributed to the current climate of violence — a claim the president and members of the GOP vehemently oppose. Last week, more than 10pipe bombs were discovered nationwide targeting people including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as employees at CNN. Cesar Sayoc, who is suspected of mailing the bombs, is a vocal Trump supporter who often ranted about people or organizations the president clashed with, The Post reported.







    Politicians respond to 'evil' synagogue shooting





    After the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, many politicians condemned the violence and blamed divisive political rhetoric around the country. (Jenny Starrs /The Washington Post)


    Trump has also come under fierce criticism for failing to condemn white supremacists, such as the ones present in Charlottesville last year. After violence broke out at the city’s Unite the Right rally in August 2017, leaving one woman dead and many others injured, the president said he thought there was “blame on both sides,” The Post’s David Nakamura reported.
    Robert Bowers, the man arrested after Saturday’s deadly mass shooting, was active on a social media site known to be frequented by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others with extreme beliefs that may not be tolerated on more-mainstream platforms, The Post reported. A user with Bowers’s name espoused anti-Semitic views — comparing Jews to Satan, for example — and often expressed racism against African Americans, using the n-word in nearly 20 posts.
    [Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews]
    “We feel like there have been multiple communities under attack in the United States from the vitriol that the president has been spreading,” Friedman said. “It was the Jewish community’s turn. Blowback from his words came and cost people’s lives, and we said enough is enough.”
    If the president decides to visit Pittsburgh without meeting the letter’s demands, Friedman said, he expects Trump will “only be met with derision.”
    “We will let him know how unhappy we are with his presence, with his lack of leadership,” he said. “He will see all of Pittsburgh in the streets. It’s not just going to be the people that signed on to the letter. It’s going to be everybody."
    Friedman added, “If he’s going to come to our city, he’s going to come on our terms.”
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  9. #1049

    Default

    President Trump said Monday he will sign an executive order ending the constitutionally protected birthright citizenship for children of noncitizens born on U.S. soil. Trump was speaking with reporters for the documentary series “Axios on HBO.”
    President Donald Trump: “How ridiculous. We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
    Jonathan Swan: “Have you talked about that with counsel?”
    President Donald Trump: “Yeah, I have.”
    Jonathan Swan: “So, where in the process do”—
    President Donald Trump: “It’s in the process. It’ll happen.”
    Trump’s executive order would violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  10. #1050

    Default

    The facts about Republicans’ hysteria over brown people

    Immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born U.S. citizens. Period.


    FRANK DALE NOV 1, 2018, 7:05 PM

    President Donald Trump tweeted a new ad that is almost too racist to believe on Wednesday.
    The ad from Trump’s campaign, which accuses Democrats of allowing Mexicans and Central Americans to murder Americans, is the latest escalation in Republicans’ very obvious attempts to stoke fear about brown people and distract from unpopular conservative policies. The president’s party is widely expected to lose control of one chamber of Congress in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
    While smearing immigrants is a time-honored tradition for many on the right, the president’s efforts to make a major campaign issue out of a migrant caravantraveling north from Central America (and currently 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border) has been echoed by prominent Republicans, Fox News, and numerous other propagandists in conservative media.
    But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s dig into the data to show why Republicans’ recent cherry-picking has no basis in reality.
    Luis Bracamontes, who is featured in Trump’s racist ad, was sentenced to death earlier this year for murdering two California police officers in 2014. Though the ad claims “Democrats let him into our country” and “Democrats let him stay,” reports revealed Thursday that Bracamontes actually reentered the U.S. under then-President George W. Bush after being deported back to Mexico in 1997. The Daily Beast also noted that Bracamontes killed the officers with an AR-15, an assault rifle used in many mass shootings that Republicans have refused to ban.
    Despite the Trump campaign’s decision to highlight Bracamontes, data shows undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens. In fact, it is often the opposite.
    According to a 2015 Cato Institute report that analyzed crime rates in Texas, undocumented immigrants accounted for 5.4 percent of homicide convictions. Native-born Americans were responsible for 93 percent of murder convictions during the same time period, as the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale explained in a June tweet.
    Daniel Dale
    @ddale8

    · Jun 22, 2018

    Replying to @ddale8
    Texas data: 495 homicide charges against illegal immigrants since June 2011. There have been more than 7,500 homicides in Texas in that time. And Texas has the second-largest illegal immigrant population. No good national data, but "63,000" is nonsense. https://www.dps.texas.gov/administration/crime_records/pages/txCriminalAlienStatistics.htm …

    The American Immigration Council (AIC) reached the same conclusions about undocumented immigrants in a 2015 study that used data from the 2010 census.
    The 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma. In 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent—more than triple the 2.8 percent rate among foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than the 1.7 percent rate among foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.
    AIC also found that “roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born.”
    In what was apparently a big year for debunking conservative smears of immigrants, another 2015 study from the National Academies of Sciences also determined that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
    Despite the facts, the Trump administration started an office in 2017 to highlight crimes committed by immigrants that was called “blatantly racist and a dangerous new tool for extremists and white supremacists.” At a June event with relatives of people who were killed by undocumented immigrants, the president falsely claimed that 63,000 Americans had been killed by undocumented immigrants since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
    Though Republicans have obsessed over the migrant caravan that is making the dangerous journey north to escape violence, natural disasters, and brutal authoritarian crackdowns in their home countries, even members of Trump’s administration have admitted there is no proof to the baseless claims that the caravan is being funded by philanthropist George Soros or contains “unknown Middle Easterners.”
    Conspiracy theories about Soros paying the caravan — which Trump absurdly repeated again on Wednesday — reportedly drew the ire of the anti-Semite who is charged with murdering 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue last weekend.
    Numerous prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), have amplified smears about Soros and the migrant caravan in recent weeks. The 88-year-old Holocaust survivor was one of the targets of last week’s spate of attempted bombings of almost a dozen prominent Democrats.
    Trump has sent thousands of active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempted justification of his caravan fear-mongering; meanwhile, the number of migrants traveling with the group continues to shrink and it remains legal for the migrants to claim asylum at a port of entry along the border.
    Reporters have noted the similarities to the 2014 midterm elections, when Republicans fear-mongered about Ebola and ISIS en route to taking back control of the Senate. Forty-three percent of respondents in an October 2014 poll said they “were worried about the possibility that they or someone in their immediate family might catch Ebola.” A total of four Americans wound up being diagnosed with Ebola.
    In addition to contributing to the “melting pot” of American culture, immigrants are also very important to the U.S. economy, as a 2015 ThinkProgress piece explained.
    An April 2015 Institute on Taxation and Economy policy study found that undocumented immigrants paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes in 2012. Immigrants also are 30 percent more likely than non-immigrants to start a business in the country and their businesses create jobs for American workers. And immigrants boost the earnings of American workers by about 0.7 percent, according to a University of California at Davis study.







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