GEORGE WILL: Government By the Sinister – How Anti-American Hacks Like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and Jeff Sessions Have Taken Power In The Age Of Trump!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sinister-figures-lurk-around-our-careless-president/2017/10/13/09c9448c-af6e-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

Will writes in today’s Washington Post:

“With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump’s poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump’s adolescent bidding with last Sunday’s preplanned virtue pageant of scripted indignation — his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.

A man who interviewed for the position Pence captured, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is making amends for saying supportive things about Trump. In 2016, for example, he said he was “repulsed” by people trying to transform the Republican National Convention from a merely ratifying body into a deliberative body for the purpose of preventing what has come to pass. Until recently, Corker, an admirable man and talented legislator, has been, like many other people, prevented by his normality from fathoming Trump’s abnormality. Now Corker says what could have been said two years ago about Trump’s unfitness.

The axiom that “Hell is truth seen too late” is mistaken; damnation deservedly comes to those who tardily speak truth that has long been patent. Perhaps there shall be a bedraggled parade of repentant Republicans resembling those supine American communists who, after Stalin imposed totalitarianism, spawned the gulag, engineered the Ukraine famine, launched the Great Terror and orchestrated the show trials, were theatrically disillusioned by his collaboration with Hitler: You, sir, have gone too far.

Trump’s energy, unleavened by intellect and untethered to principle, serves only his sovereign instinct to pander to those who adore him as much as he does. Unshakably smitten, they are impervious to the Everest of evidence that he disdains them as a basket of gullibles. He understands that his unremitting coarseness satisfies their unpolitical agenda of smashing crockery, even though his self-indulgent floundering precludes fulfillment of the promises he flippantly made to assuage their sense of being disdained. He gives his gullibles not governance by tantrum, but tantrum as governance.

With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America’s premises. The faux nationalists of the “alt-right” and their fellow travelers such as Stephen K. Bannon, although fixated on protecting the United States from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In “Answering the Alt-Right” in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago PhD candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump’s election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence’s doctrine of natural rights.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Oct. 8 called the White House “an adult day care center” after President Trump criticized him on Twitter. The president hit back on Oct. 10, calling the senator “Liddle’ Bob Corker.” (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

With their version of the identity politics practiced by progressives, alt-right theorists hold that the tribalism to which people are prone should not be transcended but celebrated. As Lopez explains, the alt-right sees society as inevitably “a zero-sum contest among fundamentally competing identity groups.” Hence the alt-right is explicitly an alternative to Lincoln’s affirmation of the Founders’ vision. They saw America as cohesive because of a shared creed. The alt-right must regard Lincoln as not merely mistaken but absurd in describing America as a creedal nation dedicated to a “proposition.” The alt-right insists that real nationhood requires cultural homogeneity rooted in durable ethnic identities. This is the alt-right’s alternative foundation for the nation Lincoln said was founded on the principle that all people are, by nature, equal.

Trump is, of course, innocent of this (or any other) systemic thinking. However, within the ambit of his vast, brutish carelessness are some people with sinister agendas and anti-constitutional impulses. Stephen Miller, Bannon’s White House residue and Trump’s enfant terrible,recently said that “in sending our [tax reform] proposal to the tax-writing committees, we will include instructions to ensure all low- and middle-income households are protected.” So, Congress will be instructed by Trump’s 32-year-old acolyte who also says the president’s national security powers “will not be questioned.” We await the response of congressional Republicans, who did so little to stop Trump’s ascent and then so much to normalize him.”

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Leave it to Trump and his White Nationalist gang to have me agreeing with George Will, something that rarely happened in the pre-Trump era. But, the folks who perpetrated this mess are our fellow citizens who voted for Trump notwithstanding his clearly established philosophy of sowing and pandering to hate, incompetence, and his glaring unsuitability for any public office. And, too many of those “core supporters” are still out there, coarsely and ignorantly screaming their approval for an Administration that is destroying America, and endangering the lives, rights, and human dignity of many of their fellow Americans, one day at a time.

PWS

10-15-17

WHITE NATIONALISM (NOT ISLAMIC TERRORISM) IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO WESTERN CIVILIZATION!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/opinion/sunday/white-nationalism-threat-islam-america.html

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY writes in the NY Times:

“When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of jihadists (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on Islamic State attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing the Islamic State, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.

But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.

Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.

The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.

Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.

Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.”

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Read the entire article at the link.

I’ve said it before: Donald Trump and his “fellow travelers” are the biggest threat to our democracy, safety, and security.

PWS

10-15-17

“AYATOLLAH ROY” Preaches A Gospel Of Hate & Bigotry That Jesus Would Never Regognize

Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post:

“The strongest objection to Moore’s hardness and harshness is theological. On the consistent evidence of Jesus’ ministry, what public attitude did he condemn the most? He stood against people who talked constantly of the law, who thought they were especially virtuous, who enjoyed scolding people, who judged others without tenderness and understanding. He was at constant war with the self-righteous and took the side of the social outcasts they condemned.

Now we see the return of the Pharisee.”

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Read the rest of Gerson’s “spot on” op ed at the link.

Jeff Sessions are you listening?

PWS

09-29-17

 

NYT OP-ED: “MAINSTREAMING” HATE: How Trump & His Supporters Help Legitimize A Global White Hate Movement!

Jessie Singal writes:

Last September, Patrik Hermansson, a 25-year-old graduate student from Sweden, went undercover in the world of the extreme right. Posing as a student writing a thesis about the suppression of right-wing speech, he traveled from London to New York to Charlottesville, Va. — and into the heart of a dangerous movement that is experiencing a profound rejuvenation.

Mr. Hermansson, who was sent undercover by the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, spent months insinuating himself into the alt-right, using his Swedish nationality (many neo-Nazis are obsessed with Sweden because of its “Nordic” heritage) as a way in. It wasn’t always easy. “You want to punch them in the face,” he told me of the people he met undercover. “You want to scream and do whatever — leave. But you can’t do any of those things. You have to sit and smile.”

What he learned while undercover is one part of a shocking, comprehensive new report from Hope Not Hate that sheds light on the strange landscape of the alt-right, the much discussed, little understood and largely anonymous far-right movement that exists mostly online and that has come to national attention in part because of its support for Donald Trump.

As a result of the growing influence of the far-right social-media ecosystem, once-moribund hate groups in both the United States and Europe — groups that mostly existed long before “alt-right” entered the vernacular — are enjoying a striking uptick in recruitment.

This latest wave of potential members is young — teenage and 20-something men (they’re mostly men) appear to be exhibiting interest in far-right ideas in numbers that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These young men are being radicalized largely through the work of a popular group of new far-right internet personalities whose videos, blog posts and tweets have been consistently nudging the boundaries of acceptable conversation to the right — one of the explicit goals of racist extremists everywhere.

And while “globalist” may be one of the alt-right’s favorite slurs, Hope Not Hate conclusively shows that the alt-right is itself now a global movement with regular interaction among far-right figures from Scotland to Sweden to Seattle.

Mr. Hermansson’s story offers vital insights into these groups’ tactics and their sometimes bizarre practices. During his time undercover, he hung out with heavily armed Holocaust deniers and attended gatherings where extremists drank mead from a traditional Viking horn and prayed to the Norse god Odin. In Charlottesville, he marched alongside hundreds of young neo-Nazis and white supremacists before he was sprayed with Mace by a counterprotester and witnessed the car attack that killed Heather Heyer.

In Britain, Mr. Hermansson attended a private dinner of extremists where Greg Johnson, a reclusive leading American far-right figure who is editor in chief of Counter-Currents Publishing, explained the need to “mainstream this stuff — or, more precisely, we need to bring the mainstream towards us.”

. . . .

“If Mr. Jorjani wasn’t exaggerating to Mr. Hermansson, and he did have a relationship with White House officials, that would certainly be alarming. But even if he was exaggerating, it’s still important to understand how messages like his could travel from the far reaches of the right-wing internet and all the way into — or close to, at least — the White House.

The extreme alt-right are benefiting immensely from the energy being produced by a more moderate — but still far-right — faction known as the “alt-light.”

The alt-light promotes a slightly softer set of messages. Its figures — such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich — generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals. Many of them, in fact, have renounced explicit racism and anti-Semitism, though they will creep up to the line of explicitly racist speech, especially when Islam and immigration are concerned.

This apparent moderation partly explains why they tend to have much bigger online audiences than even the most important alt-right figures — and why Hope Not Hate describes them as “less extreme, more dangerous.” Alt-light sites like Breitbart, formerly home to Mr. Yiannopoulos, as well as Prison Planet, where Mr. Watson is editor at large, draw millions of readers and are key nodes in a hyperkinetic network that is endlessly broadcasting viral-friendly far-right news, rumors and incitement.

Fluent in the language of online irony and absurdism, and adept at producing successful memes, alt-lighters have pulled off something remarkable: They’ve made far-right ideas hip to a subset of young people, and framed themselves as society’s forgotten underdogs. The alt-light provides its audience easy scapegoats for their social, economic and sexual frustrations: liberals and feminists and migrants and, of course, globalists.

The alt-light’s dedicated fan base runs into the millions. Mr. Watson has more than a million YouTube followers, for example, while Mr. Yiannopoulos has more than 2.3 million on Facebook. If even a tiny fraction of this base is drafted toward more extreme far-right politics, that would represent a significant influx into hate groups.

According to researchers, the key to hooking new recruits into any movement, and to getting them increasingly involved over time, is to simply give them activities to participate in. This often precedes any deep ideological commitment on the recruits’ part and, especially early on, is more about offering them a sense of meaning and community than anything else.

Intentionally or not, the far right has deftly applied these insights to the online world. Viewed through the filters of alt-light outlets like Breitbart and Prison Planet, or through Twitter feeds like Mr. Watson’s, the world is a horror show of crimes by migrants, leftist censorship and attacks on common sense. And the best, easiest way to fight back is through social media.

The newly initiated are offered many opportunities to participate directly. A teenager in a suburban basement can join a coordinated global effort to spread misinformation about Emmanuel Macron, France’s centrist president, in the hopes of helping far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Anyone who wants to do so can help spread the word about supposed mainstream media censorship of the Muslim “crime wave” the far right says is ravaging Europe.

These efforts — a click, a retweet, a YouTube comment — come to feel like important parts of an epochal struggle. The far right, once hemmed in by its own parochialism, has manufactured a worldwide online battlefield anyone with internet access can step into.

And if you’re one of those newcomers happily playing the part of infantryman in the “meme wars” that rage daily, maybe, along the way, one of your new online Twitter buddies will say to you, “Milo’s O.K., but have you checked out this guy Greg Johnson?” Or maybe they’ll invite you to a closed online forum where ideas about how to protect Europe from Muslim migrants are discussed a bit more, well, frankly. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you’ll eventually discover a whole new political movement to join.

All of which can explain why members of the hard-core alt-right are watching the explosive success of their more moderate counterparts with open glee, unable to believe their good luck. “I’m just fighting less and less opposition to our sorts of ideas when they’re spoken,” Mr. Johnson, the Counter-Currents editor, told Mr. Hermansson. His optimism, unfortunately, appears to be well founded.”

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Read the entire shocking article at the link!

Think that a return of Naziism is impossible in our lifetimes? Not if these evil dudes have anything to say about it, And, they well might. That’s due in large part to the GOP’s acceptance of Trump, his inappropriate hate speech, and his pandering to the worst undercurrents in American politics and society which has assisted the mainstreaming of hate and racism as a legitimate political and philosophical stance! Shrugging it off as “it’s just Donald being Donald” or even applauding his willingness to be “politically incorrect” is only making things worse.

And, if some of this sounds familiar, it should. It’s pretty much the same false narratives that guys like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have been spreading: migrants and Latinos are drug peddlers, rapists, and criminals who endanger American communities; migrants steal jobs from Americans; Muslims and refugees are terrorists and even those who aren’t are a drag on our society; multiculturalism weakens the “homeland,” laws protect Muslims and gays but not (white, straight) Christians, etc.

PWS

09-20-17

OUR BETTER ANGELS: The Gibson Report For 09-05-17 & “A Message For Dreamers”

“We are here for you.

We are inspired by you.

We know you belong here.

We share your dream.

We will fight alongside you.”

—- From The Gibson Report

The Gibson Report 09-05-17

Here are this week’s headlines:

Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

 

Effective immediately, the Department:

  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case-by-case basis—properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum.
  • Will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after the date of this memorandum.
  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case by case basis—properly filed pending DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between the date of this memorandum and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted by the Department as of October 5, 2017.
  • Will reject all DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed outside of the parameters specified above.
  • Will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action or revoke Employment Authorization Documents solely based on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program, although it will generally honor the stated validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole. Notwithstanding the continued validity of advance parole approvals previously granted, CBP will—of course—retain the authority it has always had and exercised in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border and the eligibility of such persons for parole. Further, USCIS will—of course—retain the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.
  • Will administratively close all pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole filed under standards associated with the DACA program, and will refund all associated fees.
  • Will continue to exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.

 

Trump administration announces end of immigration protection program for ‘dreamers’

WaPo: “The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would begin to unwind an Obama-era program that allows younger undocumented immigrants to live in the country without fear of deportation, calling the program unconstitutional but offering a partial delay to give Congress a chance to address the issue…The Department of Homeland Security said it would no longer accept new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 dreamers. The agency said those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire; those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals as long as they do so by Oct. 5.”

 

From NYIC:

  • The Mayor will have some type of press conference at 5, after which there will be a rally/civil disobedience starting at City Hall. Text “NYIC” to 864-237 for updates. The NYIC will also email updates and put them on our social media.
  • Immigrant ARC is working with MOIA for a large scale event. More details coming soon.
  • If you are an Immigrant ARC member and develop materials etc. that can be shared, please send them my way and I will upload them into the databank.
  • We will be uploading flyers for events, etc onto the nyic calendar (link on our front page).

 

TOP UPDATES

 

Article: Immigration Agency May Be Expanding Anti-Fraud Program

Posted 8/31/2017

Bloomberg reports that immigration attorneys are seeing what could be an expansion of a USCIS effort to root out fraud in the immigration system. It’s “clear” the agency is looking for fraud across all visa categories, AILA Treasurer Allen Orr said.

AILA Doc. No. 17083138

 

Article: Federal Judge Blocks Texas Ban on Sanctuary Cities in Blow for Trump

Posted 8/31/2017

The Guardian reports that a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks key parts of Texas’s ban on sanctuary cities, two days before the law was scheduled to go into effect. AILA moved its 2018 conference out of the Dallas area in protest at SB 4.

AILA Doc. No. 17083140

 

CALLS TO ACTION

 

DACA Rally – The Mayor will have some type of press conference at 5, after which there will be a rally/civil disobedience starting at City Hall. Text “NYIC” to 864-237 for updates.

 

NYIC SIJS Request: As a follow up to ongoing conversations that have come out of our liaison meetings and other conversations with the local USCIS office, they have asked me to put together a list of A numbers of over 18 year old SIJS cases that have been pending with no movement or decision so that they can get more information from the NBC. If you have cases like that could you let me know. I would love to get this to them in mid-September so that they have the information by our next liaison meeting.

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In times like these, all of us on the “right side of history” —  who have reflected on things like the causes of World War I and World War II, the horrors of Communism, Jim Crow Laws, the failure of the American Legal System to stand up to racism during most of the century following the Civil War, and the costs of “science deniers” —  need to stick together and work as a team to resist and ultimately defeat the forces of darkness and evil that have taken over our Government, our country, and are now threatening the future and safety of our world. They can’t be allowed to prevail with their ignorant, yet disturbingly arrogant, messages and actions of hate, disdain, racism, and selfishness.

Time for the “good hombres” to stand up and be counted in opposition to the “bad hombres!”

PWS

09-05-17

 

PAUL KRUGMAN IN THE NYT: THE NEW AMERICAN FASCISTS — TRUMP & ARPAIO!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/opinion/fascism-arpaio-pardon-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170828&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Krugman writes:

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

 

So how did we get to this point?

Trump’s motives are easy to understand. For one thing, Arpaio, with his racism and authoritarianism, really is his kind of guy. For another, the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.

. . . .

This bodes ill if, as seems all too likely, the Arpaio pardon is only the beginning: We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does?

As I said, there’s a word for people who round up members of ethnic minorities and send them to concentration camps, or praise such actions. There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.”

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Read Krugman’s entire op-ed at the link.

A most unhappy commentary. My parents’ generation fought the fascists. Our generation appears to have handed the reins of the US Government over to them.

PWS

08-29-17

TRUMP & PUTIN USE THE SAME BOGUS TACTIC TO CHANGE THE DIALOGUE: “Whataboutism”

http://wapo.st/2fPY0v

Dan Zak writes in the Washington Post:

“What about antifa? What about free speech? What about the guy who shot Steve Scalise? What about the mosque in Minnesota that got bombed? What about North Korea? What about murders in Chicago? What about Ivanka at the G-20? What about Vince Foster? If white pride is bad, then what about gay pride? What about the stock market? What about those 33,000 deleted emails? What about Hitler? What about the Crusades? What about the asteroid that may one day kill us all? What about Benghazi?

What about what about what about.

We’ve gotten very good at what-abouting.

The president has led the way.

His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President Trump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic. Tuesday’s bonkers news conference in New York was Trump’s latest act of “whataboutism,” the practice of short-circuiting an argument by asserting moral equivalency between two things that aren’t necessarily comparable. In this case, the president wondered whether the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville — where white supremacists clashed this weekend with counterprotesters — would lead to the teardown of others.

Donald Trump’s news conference on Tuesday offered a crash course in whataboutism. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Robert E. Lee? What about George Washington?

“George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said to journalists in the lobby of his corporate headquarters. “Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?”

Using the literal “what about” construction, Trump then went on to blame “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” the president said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

For a nanosecond, especially to an uncritical listener, this stab at logic might seem interesting, even thought-provoking, and that’s why it’s a useful political tool. Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing the hell out of rational listeners.

“Not only does it help to deflect your original argument but it also throws you off balance,” says Alexey Kovalev, an independent Russian journalist, on the phone from Moscow. “You’re expecting to be in a civilized argument that doesn’t use cheap tricks like that. You are playing chess and your opponent — while making a lousy move — he just punches you on the nose.”

Vladi­mir Putin has made a national sport of what-abouting. In 2014, when a journalist challenged him on his annexation of Crimea, Putin brought up the U.S. annexation of Texas. The American invasion of Iraq is constantly what-abouted on state television, to excuse all kinds of Russian behavior.

In Edward Snowden, “Russia has found the ultimate whataboutism mascot,” the Atlantic’s Olga Khazan wrote in 2013. “By granting him asylum, Russia casts itself, even if momentarily, as a defender of human rights, and the U.S. as the oppressor.”

The term was first coined as “whataboutery” and “the whatabouts,” in stories about the Irish Republican Army in the 1970s, according to linguist Ben Zimmer. But the practice goes back to the chilly depths of the Cold War.

“An old joke 50 years ago was that if you went to a Stalinist and criticized the Soviet slave-labor camps, the Stalinist would say, ‘Well what about the lynchings in the American South?’” philosopher Noam Chomsky once said.”

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Read the entire article at the link.

Trump is an expert on this; most of us “bite” at least some of the time. He’s also a master practitioner of the “big lie” — a technique used by Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, among others.

PWS

08-19-17

FORMER SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP’s WHITE SUPREMACISM IS PART OF THE GOP AGENDA!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/republican-party-white-supremacists-charlottesville

Feingold writes:

“It takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda.

The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.

There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?

Republicans on the voter suppression commission are enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia
Words mean nothing if the Republican agenda doesn’t change. Governors and state legislatures were so quick to embrace people of color in order to avoid the impression, they too share Trump’s supreme affinity for the white race. But if they don’t stand up for them they are not indirectly, but directly enabling the agenda of those same racists that Republican members were so quick to condemn via Twitter.

Gerrymandering, strict voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement are all aimed at one outcome: a voting class that is predominantly white, and in turn majority Republican.

 

The white supremacist chant of, “you will not replace us,” could easily and accurately be the slogan for these Republican politicians. Their policies will achieve the same racial outcome as Jim Crow – the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people of color.

It is a sad day when more CEOs take action by leaving and shutting down Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, and Manufacturing Council, than elected officials take action leaving Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

Businessman are acting more responsive to their customers than politicians are to their voters. At the end of the day, which presidential council is more dangerous? Which most embodies the exact ideology that Trump spewed on Monday? A group of businessmen coming together to talk jobs or a group of elected officials coming together to disenfranchise voters of color?

Anyone still sitting on the voter suppression commission is enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia that stormed Charlottesville to celebrate a time when the law enforced white supremacy.

If Republican lawmakers want to distinguish themselves from Trump’s comments, they need to do more than type out 144 characters on their phone. They need to take a hard look at their party’s agenda.”

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Read the full article at the link.

I’ve noticed the clear pattern going back to the beginning of the campaign: Trump says or does something totally outrageous; GOP leaders disassociate themselves and claim it doesn’t represent the “real” GOP (whatever that might be); shortly thereafter the same folks go back to supporting Trump and the GOP agenda directed at insuring White control. Nobody switches party, resigns in protest, or tells voters how incompetent and dangerous Trump is. Indeed, these guys are scared silly that they will actually turn off Trump’s White Nationalist base that insures them power even though it’s been many years since they racked up a majority of the popular vote in a national election. Trump then goes on to the next outrage, and the process repeats itself.

Someday, the majority of American voters might actually get a Government that represents their interests rather than those of a White Nationalist minority. But, not any time soon if the GOP can prevent it. So far, they are doing a bang up job of it.

PWS

08-19-17

 

 

 

 

ALLAN SLOAN IN THE WASHPOST: TRUMP’S CODDLING OF WHITE SUPREMICISTS & HATE GROUPS BETRAYS MORE THAN AMERICAN VALUES — HE FAILED TO DEFEND HIS OWN FAMILY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trumps-biggest-failure-not-standing-up-for-his-own-family/2017/08/18/e90f1bc4-8423-11e7-902a-2a9f2d808496_story.html?utm_term=.f40245641dbb

Sloan, a business columnist, writes:

“But Trump’s behavior shows, unfortunately, how right I was two weeks ago when I wrote that he’s making a classic business mistake — by surrounding himself with flunkies who kiss up to him and by not listening to the handful of strong subordinates whom he’s appointed.

If you’re a competent chief executive, you try to surround yourself with competent subordinates who don’t shrink from telling you when they think you’re wrong. You put them in a room and let them duke it out. And if you’re smart, you pay attention to what they say, because you’re secure enough to realize that they may know more about certain things than you do.

As we’ve seen from Charlottesville, Trump isn’t remotely like that.

As a business columnist, I know that I’m expected to write how some CEOs bailed on two presidential advisory committees that Trump created. And how Trump, true to form, disbanded the committees and embarrassed the CEOs who had stood by him, just so he could claim to get the last word.

But when it comes to analyzing the big picture, which is what I’m trying to do here, the advisory committees debacle isn’t even a rounding error. What really matters is that Trump is exhibiting the same behavior that led businesses he controlled into six Chapter 11 bankruptcies (which is why I call him Donald 66 Trump) as his casino-real estate empire collapsed in the 1980s and 1990s.

But that’s just business. What makes me truly angry about Donald 66 — who, like me, has Jewish children and grandchildren — is that he can’t be bothered to defend his own family. Unbelievable, isn’t it? But true.

It’s inconceivable to me that Trump, whose daughter Ivanka joined the Jewish people, married a Jew and has produced three Jewish grandchildren, can’t bring himself to tweet (let alone say) that he has a problem with a crowd chanting “Jew will not replace us.” Or with them chanting “Heil, Trump”— the Nazi salute — while wearing Trump gear.

What is wrong with this man? You can argue politics and taxes and health care and other bones of contention 100 different ways. But for God’s sake — pun intended — Trump isn’t even defending members of his own family, two of whom are among his closest advisers, against religious bigotry.

I’m especially sensitive to this because I’m an American who’s Jewish. Please note that “American” comes first; I loathe identity politics. Trump and I are from the same generation. I know, as Trump must know, what the Nazis were about. One of the many reasons that I love this country is that without America, I think the Nazis would have won World War II and murdered every Jew on Earth.

 

It’s one thing for Trump to use “America First” — a phrase that evokes 1930s Nazi sympathizers like Charles Lindbergh (a onetime aviation hero) and Father Charles Coughlin (the “radio priest” from Royal Oak, Mich., who spewed hate, was finally silenced by the pope, and whose Shrine of the Little Flower I passed twice daily during my first year at the Detroit Free Press). I’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt on that one, and say he didn’t know what “America First” evoked before he started using it.

But for Trump to not tweet that he doesn’t want to see “heil” and “Trump” in the same sentence? To not come to the defense of the Jewish members of his family? Or the Jews among his presidential appointees? What the hell is wrong with this man?

The best thing I’ve read since Charlottesville erupted was what Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said. To wit, “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged.” That’s exactly right. And my late father-in-law, who was a total mensch, didn’t spend five of the prime years of his life in the Seabees for Nazi ideals to go unchallenged. Nor did the millions of other Americans who took up arms to defend our country against overwhelming evil.

 

The Charlottesville counter-demonstrators were fools who fell into the demonstrators’ trap. (That’s one thing that Trump has gotten right. As the saying goes, “Even a blind pig can find an acorn.”)

But the counter-demonstrators, however foolish and out of control, aren’t remotely equivalent to swastika-toting provocateurs and Ku Klux Klan Kreeps demonizing blacks and Jews and immigrants, praising Hitler’s evil crew and by implication demeaning the Americans who fought to subdue the Nazi menace.

To return to sports analogies, you deal with these trolls by using what the late Muhammad Ali called “rope a dope” strategy. You let them march, you don’t physically confront them, you don’t help them get the attention they crave, you let them punch themselves into exhaustion. No harm, no foul, no mainstream publicity. They’re publicized by the Daily Stormer, today’s iteration of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic Der Sturmer newspaper? Who cares? Let it go.

 

At this point, unfortunately, I don’t think Donald 66 can change enough to become a competent chief executive instead of a faux CEO, even if he wants to. But maybe he can learn to be a decent father and grandfather, and stand up for his kids and grandkids. We need a lot more from him than that, but I’ll take what little I can get.”

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PWS

08-19-17

How The Trump Administration Deliberately Uses The Term “Criminal” To Dehumanize Migrants!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/opinion/who-is-a-criminal.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170501&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=6&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

From Jason Stanley’s op-ed in the NY Times:

“In the United States, Donald Trump rode to victory with a call to expel “criminal aliens.” In his announcement of his run for office, he spoke of Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” Since he has taken office, he has harshly targeted immigrants in the United States; at his rally on Saturday in Harrisburg, Pa., he compared immigrants — as he did last year — to poisonous snakes, to great applause. It is worth noting that this tactic of dehumanization — referring to humans as animals — has historically been used to foment hatred and violence against chosen groups. In the lead up to the Rwandan genocide, for instance, Tutsis were regularly described as snakes.

Photo

The author’s grandmother, right, at age 10.

While President Barack Obama set deportation priorities by making a distinction between undocumented immigrants with serious criminal convictions and everyone else, Trump’s executive orders vastly expand the criminal category — so much so that it essentially criminalizes anyone in the country who is without status and makes the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States a top priority for deportation. Between January and March of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, a 32.6 percent increase from the same period last year. Of those arrested, 5,441 of them had no history of violating a law.

The administration’s hard line on the standard for criminalization has gone so far as to alarm several members of the Supreme Court, as demonstrated during an argument before the Court last week (Maslenjak v. United States), in which a Justice Department lawyer argued that, as The Times reported, “the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings,” including not disclosing a criminal offense of any kind, even if there was no arrest. To test the severity of that position, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., confessed to a crime — driving 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone many years ago without being caught. He then asked if a person who had not disclosed such an incident in his citizenship application could have his citizenship revoked. The lawyer answered, yes. There was “indignation and incredulity” expressed by the members of the Court. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told the lawyer, “Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship.” Roberts put it simply. If the administration has its way, he said, “the government will have the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want.”

EXILE FROM ONE’S HOME is historically considered one of the worst punishments the state could employ; it was, after all, one of the traditional Greek and Roman punishments for murder, their alternative to the death penalty. In the opening pages of her book, my grandmother speaks to its harshness, as well as to the complex relationship between expulsion and death:

“With millions of others, I was singled out to live two lives. One day, which seemed to be like any ordinary day, I was told: ‘“Stop just where you are. This life of yours is finished. Fulfilled or not — it stops right now. You are not going to die — go and begin another.’ ”

She continues:

“My roots were stuck deeply in their native German soil. Perhaps a part broke and remained there, for how am I to explain that my heart at times seems to be drawn by a force thousands of miles away?” The pain of being torn from her roots, she wrote, stayed with her throughout her life “as the stump of an amputated leg causes a man to say, ‘My foot hurts’; and yet he knows there is no foot to hurt.”

The president and his administration regularly stoke fear of immigrants by connecting them to criminality. Again and again, we are presented with the specter of “criminal aliens” — and not just in remarks but also in official documents, like the announcement of a new office in the Department of Homeland Security devoted to helping “victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens.”

The word “criminal” has a literal meaning, of course, but it also has a resonant meaning — people who by their nature are insensitive to society’s norms, drawn to violate the law by self-interest or malice. We do not generally use the term to describe those who may have inadvertently broken a law or who may have been compelled to violate a law in a desperate circumstance. Someone who runs to catch a bus is not necessarily a runner; someone who commits a crime is not necessarily a criminal.

Politicians who describe people as “criminals” are imputing to them permanent character traits that are frightening to most people, while simultaneously positioning themselves as our protectors. Such language undermines the democratic process of reasonable decision-making, replacing it with fear. Discussion that uses terms like “criminal” to encompass both those who commit multiple homicides for pleasure and those who commit traffic violations distorts attitudes and debates.

Deliberately obscuring the crucial distinction between someone who violates a law and someone whose character leads them to repeatedly commit serious crimes is an effective strategy for masking gross injustice. Our current administration is vigorously employing that strategy, and history suggests that it is rarely constrained to just one group. If we look away when the state brands someone a criminal, who among us then remains safe?

HISTORY: GEORGE WILL: War Is Hell On The Home Front Too — World War I Unleashed Deadly Nationalism, Xenophobia, & Racism In America, All In The Guise Of False “Patriotism” — Set The Stage For Even Worse Things To Follow!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-world-war-i-unleashed-in-america/2017/04/07/4a8412b4-1b07-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.e64d2fbd91cf

“Woodrow Wilson imposed and incited extraordinary repressions: “There are citizens of the United States . . . born under other flags . . . who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life. . . . Such creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy must be crushed out. . . . They are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them.”

His Committee on Public Information churned out domestic propaganda instructing the public how to detect pro-German sympathies. A 22-year-old Justice Department official named J. Edgar Hoover administered a program that photographed, fingerprinted and interrogated 500,000 suspects. Local newspapers published the names of people who were not buying war bonds or otherwise supporting the war. People were fired or ostracized for insufficient enthusiasm. The Espionage Act of 1917 made it a crime to “collect, record, publish or communicate” information useful to the enemy.
In Illinois, Robert Prager, a German American coal miner suspected of spying, was stripped, marched through the streets and hanged. The Post deplored such “excesses” but applauded the “healthful and wholesome awakening in the interior part of the country.”

Josef Hofer and his two brothers were South Dakota Hutterites whose faith forbade any involvement in war, including wearing a military uniform. They were arrested in March 1918, and a week after the armistice they were sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Arriving at the military prison around midnight, they stood naked for hours in a 17-degree November night. Then they were suspended naked from the bars of their cells, their feet barely touching the ground, refusing to wear the uniforms left in their cells. Fed only bread and water, after two weeks David Hofer was allowed to telegraph Josef’s wife, telling her that her husband was dying. He died the morning after she arrived. Prison guards mocked his corpse by dressing it in a uniform.”

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I have to admit that the experience of the Trump Administration is making me look at George Will, whom I had previously related to on few topics than baseball, in a new, more appreciative, light.

I continue to be amazed at how many folks seem to delight in the idea of their country going to war. Of course, the overwhelming number of celebrants are those who don’t actually fight the wars.

But, it’s still going on! Donald Trump has been bumbling through the first hundred days of his Presidency. But, finally, in contradiction to his recent statements, his campaign promises, and his cutting America’s already inadequate humanitarian response to vulnerable Syrian refugees, he lobs some missiles at a Syrian airbase.

The result, of course, was militarily insignificant, particularly since we warned the Russians (who presumably warned their  Syrian clients) in advance. Syrian (or Russian) bombers took off from the same airbase the next day to hit the same Syrian cities, only this time being careful to kill civilians with “conventional” weapons rather than gas. Are civilians hit with conventional bombs really less dead than those killed in gas attacks?

Trump couldn’t begin to tell you what his strategy is or what he sees as the “endgame” in Syria. Yet, the next morning, many (not all) of his critics were congratulating him for finally doing something “Presidential.” I guess it doesn’t get much more “Presidential” than ordering a missile attack.

Back to World War I. It started for no apparent reason, and there were no discernible principles or values at stake. It was a product of weak leaders, irrational nationalism, a gullible public, and imbecilic generals on all sides. In the end, it not only killed and maimed millions, but set the stage for Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, large scale genocide, and the absolute horror of World War II.

Although the U.S. has fought some smaller wars since World War II, we haven’t really “won” any of them (except for fairly insignificant skirmishes like Grenada and Kuwait). But, that hasn’t stopped folks from thinking that the next one will be the “best war ever,” and Presidents from believing that dropping bombs and sending missiles will make them look like brave, courageous, and wise leaders — in other words, “Presidential.”

PWS

04-09-17