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

TRUMP SPREADS “FALSE GOSPEL” WHILE IGNORING REAL THREAT “RIGHT” IN FRONT OF HIM!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/15/opinions/trump-call-white-supremacists-losers-opinion-obeidallah/index.h

Dean Obeidallah writes on CNN:

“As part of the Trump administration’s extreme vetting, they are now examining the social media accounts of people applying for visas to see if they have ties to ISIS-related groups. Well, they must do the same to determine if a person seeking to enter our country has any ties to white-supremacist or neo-Nazi organizations in their home countries.

No one wants anyone with ties to ISIS allowed in the United States. We must also guard against allowing those with ties to dangerous white supremacist groups from setting foot on our soil. They, too, are a potential threat to the people of our nation.
This sick ideology is not just limited to America, as we saw in January in Canada when a young white man described as an “ultra-nationalist white supremacist” walked into a Quebec mosque and shot and killed six Canadian Muslims as they prayed.

And after Charlottesville, white nationalist groups in various European nations cheered the attack by the man who killed Heather Heyer. Do you really want people with those views granted visas to visit our country?


Although, to be blunt, the greatest threat likely comes from white supremacists already within our own borders.

If you think Charlottesville is the only deadly white supremacist terrorist attack in recent times, you haven’t been paying attention.

In May, we saw a self-professed white supremacist in Portland, Oregon, stab two people to death on a train after they stood up to his anti-Muslim tirade directed at a young Muslim-American woman. In March, a 28-year-old white man who was a reader of white supremacist websites traveled to New York for the sole purpose of killing African-Americans. He killed one black man before being arrested and charged with terrorism by the Manhattan district attorney.

In December, another white supremacist was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting a domestic terrorist attack involving a radioactive device that he planned to kill Muslims with in New York state.

All of these domestic terrorist attacks prove that it’s time that Trump take the deadly threat of white supremacists as seriously as the threat that ISIS poses. And one big step he can take — in addition to enacting policies and allocating resources to fight their hateful ideology — is making it clear on Twitter that he views white supremacists as “losers.” The lives of Americans depend on it.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Trump never speaks to or deals with the “real” America: the diverse, multicultural, multitalented, multiracial, ecumenical America where the majority of us live. Not surprising, perhaps, considering that this is the America that by and large didn’t vote for him. Yet, it’s also the “majority America” that a much less diverse minority of Americans elected him to govern.

No, instead Trump chooses carefully orchestrated “campaign-style rallies” where he speaks to crowds of “True Believers:” nearly all white folks wearing red baseball caps, waving American flags, and chanting inane nationalist slogans like “build the wall” and cheering wildly as Trump does things like heap praise upon  the racist, scofflaw, hate-monger “Racist Joe.” Whipping up destructive and divisive passions while spreading a false narrative praising the myth of the “Great White America” is a “clear and present danger” to our national security and our national values.

Meanwhile, the Administration doubles down on the contrived message that we should fear visa holders and exhaustively vetted refugees from a few Muslim countries. When will those charged with protecting us turn their attention to the real security threats among the far right and how their own ill-conceived actions and inflammatory words actually increase the danger to all of us?

PWS

09-16-17

 

 

 

 

 

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FORMER DHS SEC MIKE CHERTOFF TELLS HOW CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS HURTS AMERICA AND ENDANGERS NATIONAL SECURITY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cutting-refugee-admissions-hurts-americans-heres-how/2017/09/14/c7c8b5e6-9987-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?utm_term=.268b590d8b01

Chertoff writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?

The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.

This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.

Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.

 

There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.

But what’s in it for the United States?

Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.

 

That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.

If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?

Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.

And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.

 

Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.

Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.

Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.

 

Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.

Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”

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I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.

But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!

Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!

PWS

09-15-17

THE WORLD HAS MORE REFUGEES THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE WWII; REFUGEES NEED THE U.S. TO SAVE THEM & WE NEED REFUGEES’ ENERGY, BRAVERY, & TALENTS! — THE RESPONSE OF WHITE NATIONALISTS LIKE MILLER & SESSIONS IS TO RECOMMEND CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS TO AN ALL-TIME LOW OF 15,000! — Don’t Let These Racist Xenophobes Get Away With It!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/trump-considers-cutting-refugee-cap-to-lowest-in-decades.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Intelligencer%20-%20September%2013%2C%202017&utm_term=Subscription%20List%20-%20Daily%20Intelligencer%20%281%20Year%29

Adam K. Raymond reports in New York Magazine:

“In 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees and set a goal of bumping that number up to 110,00 this year. Those plans changed with President Trump’s so-called travel ban, which set the refugee limit at 50,000 for 2016. Now, the administration is considering setting that number even lower for 2018, despite the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The President has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling and, the Times reports, there’s a debate raging in the White House about whether the number should be reduced to numbers not seen in decades. Leading the arguments against cutting the totals is Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk and ally of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Miller has reportedly produced cutting the number all the way to 15,000. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed its own cut to 40,000.

The Times explains their purported thinking:

 

Two administration officials said those pushing for a lower number are citing the need to strengthen the process of vetting applicants for refugee status to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country. Two others said another factor is a cold-eyed assessment of the money and resources that would be needed to resettle larger amounts of refugees at a time when federal immigration authorities already face a years long backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
This reasoning doesn’t align with the facts. Refugees are far more likely to be victims of politically motivated attacks than perpetrators. Limiting refugees does not keep America safer because refugees are not dangerous. It’s difficult not to see nativism as the motive behind pretending that they are: fear makes it easier to convince people that suffering people should be excluded from the United States. As for the cost concerns, the GOP’s feigned fiscal prudence should never be taken seriously.

By setting the refugee cap at 50,000 this year, Trump has already pushed the number lower than it’s been in decades. In the 37 years since the Refugee Act of 1980 gave the president a role in setting the cap, it hasn’t slipped lower than the 67,000 President Reagan set in 1987.

Cutting the refugee ceiling would leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people out in the cold, the International Rescue Committee said in a report last month. The humanitarian organization advocates for a ceiling no lower than 75,000 people. “An admissions level of at least 75,000 is a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values,” the report says. “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”

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Under the last three Administrations, the US has made an absolute muddle out of two ill-advised wars and Middle East policies in general. The idea that guys like Trump, Tillerson, Miller, Bannon, Sessions, and even “the Generals” can come up with a constructive solution borders on the ludicrous. Nope. They going to to fight the 21st Century version of the “100 Years War” with similar results.

If there is a solution out there that will help achieve stability and provide a durable solution to the terrorist threats, it’s more likely going to be coming from one of today’s refugees who have a better idea of what’s actually going on and how we might become part of the solution rather than making the problems worse.

Refugees represent America’s hope. The Sessions-Miller-Bannon cabal represents America’s darkest side — one that threatens to drag us all into the abyss of their dark, distorted, and fundamentally anti-American world view.

PWS

09-13-17

 

 

PETULA DVORAK IN WASHPOST: DISHONEST LEADERS SOW “FALSE FEARS” WHILE IGNORING REAL THREATS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/what-happens-when-a-presidency-runs-on-fakefears-real-fears-are-ignored/2017/09/07/83ead004-93d1-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html

Dvorak writes:

Fake fear is our new leader.

Washington’s new ruling class is not governing with compassion, common sense, measured research, knowledge of history or the future. Theirs is a doctrine of fake fears. And these same people also have a problem with things we should actually be afraid of.

Let me explain.

Fake Fear: The “bad hombres” President Donald Trump talked about during the campaign last year begot this week’s DACA repeal thing. Trump wants us to be afraid of these immigrants, and he’s ready to trash the lives of more than 800,000 Americans looking for a path to legal residency by killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The truth is that these immigrants, brought here as children by their parents, “have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans of the same age and education level,” according to a report issued last week by the nonpartisan CATO Institute.

Real Fear: Hurricanes. You know them — from Katrina to Harvey to Irma — millions of people and billions of dollars tell you hurricanes devastate lives, cities and industries.

But Trump refuses to fear them. Earlier this year, he proposed a budget that slashed about $667 million for the disaster preparedness programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That budget also proposed $6 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes and hospitals.

The fake fear administration also killed a post-Katrina rule requiring building projects eligible for federal funding to take such measures as elevating structures in flood zones away from the reach of rising water before they get government cash. And they did this just in time for hurricane season.

But hey, the $108 billion in damage and the 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina must not mean much when it your moral compass is fake fear.

Fake fear: The apparent crime wave that Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps warning Americans about.

“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said in February. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

But the facts say otherwise.

This year is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice this week that analyzed statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities.

Real fear: Though we’ve seen more and more horrifying videos of civilians being shot by police officers, we still have little comprehensive data that shows how often this happens and how agencies can prevent these tragedies.

“What we really need to know is how many times police shoot people, not just how many of those people die,” David A. Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who studies police use of force, told The Washington Post earlier this summer.

The Post began compiling this information in 2015, relying on local news, social media and our own reporting.

This is a real fear for real people. This is true whether you’re a black man, such as beloved cafeteria worker Philando Castile, who was doing nothing wrong when he was killed in Minnesota last year by a nervous police officer. And it’s true if you’re a white woman, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was seen in a viral video last week being roughed up and arrested by a Utah detective for simply doing her job. The fake fear people seem to have little interest in addressing this problem.

The FBI’s weak, self-reporting system that has been the only way to track this was called “embarrassing and ridiculous” by fired FBI director James B. Comey.

Fake fear: Muslims in America. Trump’s attempts at a travel ban, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have reinforced a growing and misplaced Islamophobia throughout our country. We’ve seen the fake-fear sentiment in workplaces, in small-town councils trying to mess with mosques that have been peaceful and unnoticed for years, and I even saw it one of my sons’ sports teams this summer.

The truth is, from 2008 to 2016, right-wing extremists carried out twice as many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than Islamist extremists, according to a recent report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Real Fear: White supremacists in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin that said white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

They issued this statement just a couple months before the protests in Charlottesville, where an avowed Nazi sympathizer was arrested after a car drove into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is no mistaking that was real.

We deserve real care and real concern from our leaders when it comes to real fears. There’s no shortage of them.

Let’s start by calling out #FakeFears when we see them. Washington is full of those these days, too.

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Dvorak succinctly captures what White Nationalist governance and propaganda is all about: fear, loathing, lies. Too cowardly to address real problems because that might offend the “White Nationalist base” that put and keeps them in power.

PWS

09-08-17

COURTSIDE COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS: AG Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions Might Be A Clown 🤡 — But His White Nationalist Plan To Destroy The American Justice System Is No Joke — He Has Already Done Untold Damage To Our Country & Our Rights — And, He And His White Supremacist Buddy Steve Bannon, The Alt-Right, And Other Haters Are Just Getting Started On Their Plan To Turn America Into A “Whites Only” Paradise!

Three articles from today show the “clear and present danger” to American democracy, our national security, and our fundamental values stemming from Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his radical right — some would say fascist is more accurate — cabal.

While Trump increasingly appears to be a looney incompetent functioning primarily in the early morning “tweetosphere,” Sessions & Co. know a thing or two about how to take over and sabotage government of the people, by the people, and for the people. (Ironically, the “Party of Lincoln” has morphed into  the “anti-Lincoln,” opposed to equality, generosity, democracy, and inclusion.)

First, Dana Milbank in the Washington Post describes “Gonzo the Clown’s” ludicrous attempts to use and abuse criminal law to suppress free public expression of opinions:

“Did you hear the one about Jeff Sessions?

I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. You see, it’s illegal to laugh at the attorney general, the man who on Tuesday morning announced that the 800,000 “dreamers” — immigrants brought here illegally as children — could soon be deported. If you were to find my Sessions jest funny, I would be an accessory to mirth.

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny).”

Yeah, I guess what Sessions, a well-established liar, probably a perjurer, really meant was “all Americans except Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, immigrants, migrants, Dreamers, gays, lesbians, transgendered, bisexual, criminal defendants, Democrats, non-Christians, protestors, non-GOP women, and the poor.” Read the rest of Dana’s article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/apparently-its-illegal-to-laugh-at-jeff-sessions/2017/09/05/86b6e48a-9278-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c6b057add449

But, the following list of hostile actions that Sessions has already taken at Justice, compiled by CNN’s Gregory Krieg, are no laughing matter:

“*Directed federal prosecutors to pursue the stiffest possible charge in every single criminal case — potentially triggering draconian mandatory minimum sentences the Obama administration tried to avoid on fairness grounds for non-violent offenders.

*Withdrawn an Obama administration directive offering protections for transgender students who wanted to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

*Reversed an Obama DOJ order that the federal Bureau of Prisons back off new deals with private facilities. “I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” Sessions said in a memo citing concerns that the “future needs of the federal correctional system” would be “impaired.”

*Launched a broad-based effort to reduce federal oversight of local police departments, like those put under increased scrutiny following investigations into alleged abuses. The deputy attorney general and associate attorney general were ordered to review lots of things, including all “contemplated consent decrees.”

*In a move criticized by voting rights advocates, asked state election officials in June to lay out their processes for purging voter rolls of individuals who have become ineligible due to, among other reasons, “death or change of residence.”

*Put in place a policy that could pave the way for an increase in a certain kind of civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice — in this case a joint federal, state and local version that some departments were accused of using to get around state law — that allows police to seize money or property from suspects who haven’t been convicted of a crime. (The DOJ says it has put new safeguards in place to prevent abuse.)

And more.
Consider Trump’s plan to end DACA. When it came down to it, the President steered clear of the spotlight and let Sessions be the public face of a decision officials from both parties have described as unfair or even cruel.
It’s not the first time Trump has been happy enough — or detached enough, depending on your assessment of the his mindset on these issues — to defer to Sessions or, in cases where executive action is required, follow his lead. Where Trump is primarily focused on how he’s covered in the press and how his actions play with “the base,” officials like Sessions and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have shown themselves to be laser-focused on very specific policy points.

. . . .

By his side? None other than a once anonymous aide turned top Trump White House official: Stephen Miller.”

Read Gregory’s complete article here:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/politics/jeff-sessions-donald-trump-daca-policy/index.html

And, in the Washington Post,  Sarah Posner puts it all in scary context by describing the Bannon-led White Nationalist’s larger program to turn America into a White Theo-Fascist State:

“Now that he is out of the White House, Bannon’s ambitions, if anything, appear to seek an even more enduring footprint on Republican politics. His grand plan is to remake American conservatism, by shifting it away from its long-standing “three-legged stool” coalition of tax-cutters, defense hawks and the religious right. His strategy is to peel away Christian conservatives from that coalition, and to build a new coalition with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, far-right nationalists, in order to make the Trump revolution permanent, even after Trump has left the White House.
Consider the headline on a prominently placed “exclusive” published on the site late last night, which heaps the most coveted of Breitbartian praise on Moore: “Judge Roy Moore Embodies Jeff Sessions.” In an interview with Breitbart, Moore says he shares Sessions’s views on immigration and trade, and that he, too, is a “very strict constructionist of the Constitution.” He says he favors impeaching federal judges, even Supreme Court justices, and singles out Obergefell v. Hodges , the landmark 2015 case legalizing same-sex marriage, as warranting impeachment.
Bannon hinted at some of his designs in an interview with me last year. He said that, without the religious right, his base alone lacks the numbers to “to ever compete against the progressive left.”
In Moore, Bannon has found an unabashed proponent of “biblical law.” Bannon doesn’t appear to care much about “biblical law,” but Moore’s overheated depiction of the overreach of the federal government dovetails with the Bannon goal of “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
Indeed, the Breitbart-Moore alliance is the most vivid example to date of the anti-government, white-nationalist Breitbart forces teaming up with a candidate with shared views on issues such as immigration and the role of the federal government, but which are driven by outwardly theocratic aspirations. Bannon is not seen as an overtly religious figure, but he has actively sought the religious right’s imprimatur for purely political purposes.
As Politico reports, Bannon himself is now using Breitbart to help “orchestrate the push” for Moore’s candidacy in high-level meetings with influential conservative groups.
There is a good deal of overlap between Bannon’s depiction of Trumpism as a revolt against global elites and Moore’s own rhetoric. Moore has long railed at elitists and “tyrannical” government overreach, albeit from a theocratic point of view. He first became a national hero to the religious right over a decade ago, after he was stripped of his post as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying a federal court order to remove a 2.6-ton Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse, because it violated the separation of church and state.
Undeterred, Moore ran unsuccessfully for governor and then again for his state’s top judicial post, regaining his seat in 2012. After a federal court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in early 2015, Moore pointedly told Alabama’s governor that complying with the federal court order could violate God’s law.
Although Breitbart hardly teems with religious language, Moore shares its conspiratorially dark vision of America, and particularly America’s perceived enemies. When I saw him speak in 2011, when Barack Obama was still president, Moore maintained: “Our government is infiltrated with communists, we’ve got Muslims coming in and taking over where we should be having the say about our principles.” On immigration, he said the government was failing “to protect against invasions” and was “letting anybody come in!”
Ultimately, the Breitbart-Moore alliance offers a hint at where the Trump base is headed. If Bannon has his way, it will evolve into a kind of coalition of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim white nationalists seeking to disrupt the GOP from within by joining forces with the Christian right, long an essential component of the GOP base. Whether or not Moore wins, if Bannon can keep pushing the Trumpist base in that direction by continuing to solidify that coalition, we can only guess at the consequences that will have for the GOP over the long term.”

Consequences for the GOP, Sarah? What about the consequences for the world and humanity of turning America into a White Fascist State incorporating the worst parts of Christian mythology, while leaving the kind, merciful, inclusive, and forgiving message of Jesus Christ in the dust?

In the first place, fortunately, only a minority of Americans share the Bannon-Sessions White Nationalist dream. So, making it come to fruition has to involve suppressing and overcoming by unlawful or unconstitutional means the will and rights of those of us in the majority.

That’s an old Bolshevik trick. And, indeed, Bannon is a self-proclaimed “Leninist revolutionary” — Sessions is his Trotsky. (Can’t really picture Stephen Miller as Stalin —  but his ability to concoct lies at a moment’s notice and his cold lack of humanity or any discernible decency or human values, along with his disdain for representative government and love of the dictatorial model certainly fits “Papa Joe” to a tee. You could definitely imagine Miller as leader of a Trump “personality cult” in a fascist regime.)

Read Sarah’s complete article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/09/05/steve-bannons-grand-disruptive-designs-are-only-getting-started/?utm_term=.80ddcfa9f294

But, that’s not all folks! Intentionally cruel, racist, and gonzo as Sessions’s grand plan of “ethnic cleansing” of Dreamers might be, it would actually cost the US economy an astounding  $215 billion, and that’s a conservative estimate that doesn’t even factor in the billions that would be wasted by DHS and EOIR in arresting and deporting America’s future stars (basically, because they aren’t White. As I’ve said before, no sane person thinks we’d be having this orchestrated “immigration debate” if the migrant population were predominantly white, English as a first language, Christians)!

According to Vanessa Wang in Buzzfeed:

“Reversing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could cost the economy $215 billion in lost GDP and cost the federal government $60 billion in lost revenue over ten years, according to the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
Ike Brannon, a visiting fellow at Cato, wrote in a recent blog post: “It is important to note that these estimates are conservative, as DACA recipients will likely end up being more productive than their current salaries indicate, as they complete their degrees and gain experience in the workplace. Nor does this analysis factor in the enforcement cost of physically deporting recipients should the program be eliminated, which we believe would be significant.”
California, New York and Florida would bear the greatest costs, according to the Cato Institute’s analysis.
The New American Economy — a coalition of business leaders and mayors “who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today” — estimated that the DACA-eligible population earns almost $19.9 billion in total income annually, contributes more than $1.4 billion to federal taxes, more than $1.6 billion to state and local taxes and represent almost $16.8 billion in spending power.
“Despite the rhetoric claiming undocumented youths are a drain on the U.S. economy, 90% of the DACA-eligible population who are at least 16 years old are employed” and contribute meaningfully to the economy, the coalition wrote in a brief.
“Ending DACA will disrupt hundreds of thousands of promising careers and cost the US economy dearly,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy in a statement on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it would shut down DACA in six months, potentially giving Congress some time for a legislative solution. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said there are DREAMers “who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution.”
“Now it’s imperative for Congress to do what’s right and economically smart – protect the young achievers who know no home but America,” said Feinblatt.”

That’s right folks! The Bannon-Sessions White Nationalists would be willing to damage our economy to the the tune of probably a quarter of a trillion dollars for the sheer joy of ruining human lives and entrenching their White Power structure. In most other contexts, there would be a name for such conduct: “domestic terrorism!”

Here’s a link to Vanessa’s article:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/scrapping-daca-could-cost-the-economy-as-much-as-215-billion?utm_term=.xdw9nKYOa#.liAZ2w8Y5

Finally, a number folks have noted that DACA is a DHS/USCIS program. So, why was the Attorney General, who pointedly was stripped of his immigration deportation functions and responsibilities by the Act creating DHS, out there acting like he is the deporter-in-chief and administrator of the DHS (which, by statute, he no longer is.)

 

Well, not suprisingly, I’m not in the Trump Administration’s “inner circle.” So, who knows for sure.

But, to me two things were evident. First, Donald Trump is a coward who didn’t have the guts to be the front man for his own inhumane policy — particularly since Sessions contradicted Trump’s public assurances that he “loved Dreamers,” understood their plight, and that they had “nothing to fear” from him and his Administration because he was going to come up with a”great solution” to their situation.

Second, Sessions has never accepted his secondary statutory and Constitutional role in immigration enforcement. With the weak Gen. Kelly in charge of DHS, Sessions simply pretended like the AG was back at the helm of immigration enforcement. After all, Sessions has spent a lifetime attempting to turn back the clock. This is just the first time that he has gotten away with it without any real opposition.

Kelly was a “bobblehead,” meekly agreeing with Sessions’s most outrageous, unlawful, and inhumane statements. He even lent his name to an infamous Sessions-Miller contrived “letter” asking the President for Travel Ban 2.0 and citing facially bogus statistics and disingenuous arguments attempting to tie individuals from Muslim countries to unrelated terrorist threats. In other words, on immigration enforcement, Kelly’s “substance” was about 1/16″ deep, and I’m being generous.

Obviously, killing the Dreamers’ future while heaping scorn on them was Session’s version of “Super Bowl Sunday:” a chance to publicly reclaim the role of deporter-in-chief, while inflicting gratuitous harm on a gallant but vulnerable (largely non-White) group of young people, and tossing in some gratuitous racist insults and nativist lies in the process. For a guy who has spent a lifetime heretofore unsuccessfully trying to “get back to Jim Crow” (where not coincentally, bogus “rule of law” arguments and “state’s rights” were used by Sessions’s Alabama antecedents to deny Black Americans not only their constitutional rights but in many cases their very lives in the process) this had to be “hog heaven.” Let’s not forget that Sessions has endorsed the blatantly racist and anti-semitic “Immigration Act of 1924” as a model for White Nationalist restrictionist policies. See, e.g.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/09/05/jeff_sessions_praise_of_1924_eugenics_immigration_law_remains_insane.html

I’m sure Gonzo pines for the “good old days” of the Chinese Exclusion Laws when America knew how to use the “rule of law”  and just how to treat the folks who built the trans-continental railroad, most of California, lots of New York, and points in between. Declare them to be an “inferior race” — a threat to our cultural integrity —  and throw them out before they can displace the White Americans who exploited their ingenuity and hard labor.

Also, make no mistake about it, if Sessions were able to carry out his gonzo plans to deport Dreamers to foreign lands that most of them have hardly lived in, some will actually die in the process. But, hey, the lives of non-Whites are just “collateral damage” in the Bannon-Sessions world vision.

Sessions is part of our nation’s racist, White Supremacist past that we will need to get beyond to continue to prosper as a country and to lead the free world. The Dreamers can help us do that! The only question for the rest of us is what legal channels are available to move Sessions and his cohorts out of the way so that the Dreamers, along with other immigrants and minorities, can help lead us to a brighter future as a proudly diverse, humane, and powerful nation.

Liz Warren was right! America is better than Jeff Sessions! It’s time we showed it!  

PWS

09-05-17

 

 

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

WISCONSIN GOP JUMPS ON BANDWAGON TO SOLVE IMAGINARY PROBLEM OF SHARIA LAW! — “[N]one in Wisconsin, thankfully!”

http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2017/07/10/wisconsin-bill-preserving-u-s-laws-promoting-islamophobia/452810001/

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal reports:

“Since 2010, at least 10 states have passed laws aimed at fighting what a network of far-right organizations insist is the encroachment of Sharia law into American courts.

Now, a group of state lawmakers would like to see Wisconsin follow suit.

State Rep. Thomas Weatherston (R-Caledonia) is spearheading an effort to pass a so-called “American Laws for American Courts” bill, which would bar Wisconsin judges from applying foreign laws — including those based on Islamic law — if doing so would violate fundamental human rights protected by the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions.

Weatherston said he’s “not concerned about Muslims.” In fact, his bill, like others across the country, doesn’t explicitly mention Sharia. But he is worried, he said, “about other countries’ laws creeping into the United States.”

“Especially religious laws, no matter what the origin is,” said Weatherston. “I’m just making sure that U.S. laws are heard in U.S. courts.”

Critics, including the American Bar Association and many non-Muslims, argue that the laws are unnecessary because such protections already exist in American jurisprudence. And they’re seen by many as part of a larger agenda to vilify Muslims.

“If you look at the promotional materials, the lobbying, it’s the same people who are pushing against Sharia around the country — holding rallies, talking about ‘Sharia creep’ and Muslims taking over,” said Asifa Quraishi-Landes, who teaches constitutional and Islamic law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves as president of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers. “They see any acknowledgment of Sharia in American Muslim life as a first step to the Trojan Horse.”

Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Legislative leaders to reject the bill, saying it’s unconstitutional and “contrary to our nation’s crucial principle of not elevating or marginalizing one faith community.”

Sharia, meaning “path,” is the Islamic law, a set of guiding principles that touch on every aspect of Muslim life, from how one dresses and prays to marriage and business contracts. Aspects of it are embedded in the legal systems of Muslim-majority countries, and its tenets are interpreted variously based on the country and schools of Islamic thought. Those who are suspicious of Islam point to its harsher punishments, such as stoning and amputations in rare cases, and its bias in many cases against women.

American Laws for American Courts, or ALAC, was developed by the nonprofit advocacy group American Public Policy Alliance, David Yerushalmi of the Center for Security Policy and others as a way to address the constitutional challenges raised against the earliest versions of the laws — in Tennessee and Oklahoma — which explicitly singled out Sharia.

The newer versions make no mention of Sharia, referencing instead “foreign laws.” But the groups that promote them openly disparage Sharia as a threat to American values and liberties and a vehicle for imposing worldwide Islamic rule.”

. . . .

“Gélé said there have been hundreds of cases in which Islamic law has been invoked in U.S. courts, often to the detriment of women and children. And Weatherston said his office has found at least 70 others, though “none in Wisconsin, thankfully.”

Quraishi-Landes, the UW-Madison professor, disputes their claims. She said courts already look to public policy and constitutional protections — for example, the right to equal protection — as the bases for their rulings. She said she has reviewed all of the cases cited by the Center for Security Policy and found none in which the courts ultimatelyenforced a religious law that violated a fundamental civil right.

“To us, that is an example of the system working,” she said.

Invoking Sharia principles in a family matter is no different from other religious minorities invoking their religious principles in civil cases, she said, pointing to the Beth Dins, or rabbinical tribunals used by Orthodox Jews to negotiate disputes, which are recognized by state courts.

The “American Laws for American Courts” bills have been criticized by Jewish and Catholic groups concerned that their rights to invoke religious principles could also be affected.

In Catholic church bankruptcies, for example, including Milwaukee’s, the church has cited canon law to defend the way it responded to the sexual abuse crisis and to protect assets.

“Americans who care about religious liberty should be concerned about anti-Sharia laws,” even those purporting to address foreign laws, said Robert Vischer, dean of the School of Law at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis.

“Suggesting that the religious convictions of citizens have no place in our courts misunderstands the function of our legal system and sends a troubling message about the place of religion in our society.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

The GOP often “fakes” concern about expenditure of public funds. However, in reality, they waste countless taxpayer dollars pursuing unnecessary, unneeded, and divisive pet projects of the far right.

PWS

07-13-17

Israel & The Middle East Are A Powder Keg — The Obvious Solution — Send A 30-Something Relative With Neither Expertise Nor Diplomatic Experience To Straighten Things Out — Nepotism Is Not Just An Ethical Problem (For A Prez Who Can’t Spell Ethics), But A Danger To The World’s Security!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/jared-kushners-road-from-jerusalem-to-nowhere.html

Jonah Shepp reports in New York Magazine:

“President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner spent the better part of last week in the Middle East, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to relaunch U.S.-brokered peace talks. Shockingly, the trip was not a great success.

Kushner, who has carved out a foreign-policy portfolio for himself at the White House despite having no relevant experience, arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Accompanied by Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, he began his trip with an apparently friendly meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a visit to the the family of Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old border police officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker in East Jerusalem the previous Friday.

. . . .

Perhaps fortunately, Kushner will likely be busy in the near future defending himself in the developing investigation into his communications with Russian officials and bank executives, as well as his personal finances and business dealings. But it should go without saying that anyone dogged by such questions should under no circumstances be running foreign policy on behalf of the United States government. If Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis can’t convince Trump to stop listening to his wunderkind adviser, that’s a big problem.

Maybe Trump thinks Kushner has some special insight into the Middle East on account of his Jewish heritage, or maybe Kushner just fancies himself a budding statesman and convinced his doting father-in-law to let him play action-hero diplomat in the most volatile region of the world. In any case, Trump’s willingness to hand his daughter and son-in-law the keys to the government whenever they want to drive it constitutes a level of reckless, corrupt nepotism the likes of which this country has rarely seen.”

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“Amateur Night at the Bijou” continues, with YOUR security at stake.

PWS

06-28-17

WORLDVIEWS IN THE WASHPOST: No Matter How The Legal Case Comes Out, Trump’s Travel Ban Will Stand As An Ugly Blot On America’s Reputation!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/06/27/trumps-travel-ban-still-doesnt-make-any-sense/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.105cc6430610

Ishaan Tharoor writes:

“But whatever the case, it’s important to remember that the travel ban on its face makes very little sense. The two federal appeals courts that ruled against it said separately that Trump’s order was both discriminatory toward Muslims and not necessary for national security, despite the White House’s continued insistence.

“There is no finding that present vetting standards are inadequate, and no finding that absent the improved vetting procedures there likely will be harm to our national interests,” the judges of the 9th Circuit wrote. “These identified reasons do not support the conclusion that the entry of nationals from the six designated countries would be harmful to our national interests.”

Not a single person has died in a terrorist attack on American soil carried out by a citizen from one of the six nations covered by the ban. Since the Refugee Act of 1980 set up a system for vetting refugees to the United States, no person accepted as a refugee has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack. Critics of the order have also nitpicked in the past about the absence of other “terror-prone” nations in the ban’s purview, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or even Saudi Arabia, whence 15 of the 9/11 attackers came. And, while Trump voices fear over foreign threats, he has been conspicuously quiet about the scourge of domestic terrorism within the United States.

Mourners at a memorial for the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (Amanda Voisard)
The broader point the ban’s opponents make is that singling out immigrants, tourists and refugees based on their country of origin will do little to keep the United States safe, while badly damaging the nation’s reputation abroad.

 

“Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident,” concluded a recent report by the New America Foundation. “In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration.”

. . . .

The underlying impetus has always been Trump’s desire to make real a campaign promise for some kind of Muslim ban — “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” as he put it in 2015. Taking into account the statements of both Trump and his allies before and after last year’s election, the 4th Circuit court had ruled that the executive order “in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday doesn’t strip away the moral validity of the arguments posed by the ban’s critics. And the court’s justices wrote “the relief we grant today” should enable the White House “to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within the 90-day life of [the order].” If the Trump administration seeks to extend the ban well beyond the summer, it will be all the more clear that its motives aren’t quite as benign as it claims.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.  “We should all be afraid all the time even of things that we have no objective reason to fear.” That’s essentially Trump’s dark, downbeat message on immigration and pretty much everything else. What would FDR think?

PWS

06-28-17

Immigrants Bridge The Gap With Local Communities — “The Haters Are Always Wrong, And The Haters Will Eventually Lose.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/working-to-build-bridges-between-immigrants-and-their-new-communities/2017/06/23/03c1bb1a-4d2a-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.2bcde1762b2f

Steven V. Roberts writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“These are all good examples that will, hopefully, ease the “cultural anxiety” Noorani writes about. But he shies away from discussing a key dimension of Trump’s appeal: racism. “A significant portion of the American electorate felt their country had been taken away,” he writes, but he doesn’t complete the thought. Taken away by whom? Let’s be honest. Many of those voters believe that their country has been overrun by dark-skinned, foreign-language-speaking aliens.

While it is wildly unfair to call all Trump supporters racists, it is equally inaccurate to ignore that the president deliberately inflamed racist impulses to win the election.

 

Moreover, Noorani lacks a larger perspective. Trump is a very American figure. Anti-immigrant fears didn’t start with globalization and weren’t “triggered” by the election of Barack Obama. Throughout our history, spasms of nativist hostility have erupted against each new group arriving on our shores: Germans and Jews, Irish and Italians, Japanese and Chinese.

Hispanics and Muslims are now the objects of this animosity, and the language directed against them is the same that’s been used to demonize newcomers for more than two centuries: This group will degrade our culture and alter our identity. But today’s targets can take comfort from the clear lessons of history.

Immigrants do change our culture — for the better. They reenergize and revitalize our civic spirit. The haters are always wrong, and the haters will eventually lose. Tiwana and Noorani himself prove that truth.

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Trump and his supporters might be on the right side of the political equation at this point in time, but they are squarely on the wrong side of history. Before joining up with the Trump Team, folks ought to think about being remembered by their grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same way that we think about such notorious racists as Alabama Governor George Wallace, Georgia Governor Lester “Pickax” Maddox, and Arkansas Governor Orvil Faubis, or those who engineered and championed such abominations as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Even iconic American historical figures like President Woodrow Wilson and Gen. Robert E. Lee have recently had their racism and support for racist causes eventually catch up with them and tarnish their reputations. In the long run, the cause of intolerance, fear, and bias promoted by Trump, Pence, and today’s GOP will look pretty bad. Yeah, we’ll all be gone by then. But, our descendants and history will remember where we stood.

PWS

06-25-17

RELIGION: Gary Silverman In Financial Times: How White Evangelicals Traded The Mercy & Hope Of Jesus Christ For The False “Profit” Donald Trump!

https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Silverman writes:

“Trump’s efforts to reach evangelicals during the campaign were marred by technical difficulties. After an appearance at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Falwell, Trump was lampooned for quoting from a section of the Bible he called “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would customarily be done. Ultimately, Liberty University split over Trump. Its current president, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed his candidacy. But Mark DeMoss, a member of the university’s board of trustees and a former chief of staff for the elder Falwell, objected and resigned as a trustee. In a Washington Post interview last year, DeMoss described Trump’s rhetoric as antithetical to Christian values.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defence — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not [the] Christ-like behaviour that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

Nonetheless, Trump was backed by 81 per cent of white voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, more than recent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to the Pew Research Center, and more even than George W Bush, whose strategist Karl Rove made wooing them a priority of the campaign. Analysts say Trump made evangelicals an offer that they could not refuse. Unlike his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — who was both disliked by conservatives and uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to choose — Trump pledged to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the vacancy on a Supreme Court that was split between conservatives and liberals.

The white evangelical flight to Trump has caused “deep heartbreak” for “evangelicals of colour” who see him as a bigot, says Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader in Washington. “It’s the most painful divide I have seen in the churches since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

. . . .

But that’s not the way things look at the house on a hill in Auburn, Alabama, where Wayne Flynt lives with his wife of 55 years, Dorothy. As evangelical Christianity has grown more successful in the political realm, Flynt fears that it has been reduced to a sum of its slogans. Lost in the transition, he says, is the traditional evangelical standard for sizing up candidates — “personal moral character”, which includes such criteria as marital fidelity, church attendance and kindness.

“No one I know of would argue that Donald Trump inculcates moral character,” Flynt says. “What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent. It’s no longer moral character. It’s policy positions on things that bother evangelicals.”

Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a “scandal”. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists.

“Jesus says four times in four different places: do not divorce,” Flynt says. “Does divorce bother evangelicals? No, absolutely not. Does adultery bother evangelicals? No, not really, because if so they wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump. So what bothers them? Abortion and same-sex marriage. Beyond that, there’s no longer an agenda.”

Flynt, who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 to protest its turn to the right, notes ruefully that his former denomination has lost members for nine years in a row.

Into this religious void, he believes, stepped Trump, an unabashed materialist and hedonist — “What is right to Donald Trump is what gives him pleasure,” Flynt says — who thinks that he alone can make America great again.

“To be sure, every politician has some element of narcissism, but he has perfected narcissism, he has made it the supreme element of his life, and not only that, evangelicals have responded in an almost messianic way that he is the saviour, which makes him feel really good because he does believe he is the saviour,” Flynt says. “It is kind of curious evangelicals would not be offended by this. I am as an American Christian. I’m offended because I already thought following Jesus was going to make us great again.”

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Whatever happened to the Christian message of humanity, humility, faith, self-sacrifice, generosity to all, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, peace, elevating the spiritual over the material, and grace? I hear those things from Pope Francis (although I’m not a Catholic). But, not from Trump and his zealots. Go figure!

PWS

06-25-17

NYT: Meet The White Nativist, Anti-Democracy Politician Kris Kobach — If You’re Non-White, He’s Out To Restrict Or Eliminate Your Right To Shape America’s Future — “implementing policies that protect the interests and aims of a shrinking white majority.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/magazine/the-man-behind-trumps-voter-fraud-obsession.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Trending&version=Full®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Read Ari Berman’s shocking profile of a minor politician who wields outsized influence within the GOP and is out to put a “White’s Only” sign on the American Dream. For Kobach, the “Jim Crow Era” was the glory day of the “rule of law” in the U.S. When Kobach talks about the “rule of law” it’s code for using the legal system to cement the rule of a disproportionately white GOP minority over the rest of us, and particularly Americans of color. Will the “sleeping majority” wake up before we’re all disenfranchised by this racist in a suit hiding behind his Yale law degree and ability to spin legal gobbledygook? Kobach isn’t just “the ACLU’s worst nightmare,” as he smugly touts himself. He’s American Democracy’s worst nightmare!

Here’s a sample of what Kobach has in store for the rest of us:

“Kobach’s plans represent a radical reordering of American priorities. They would help preserve Republican majorities. But they could also reduce the size and influence of the country’s nonwhite population. For years, Republicans have used racially coded appeals to white voters as a means to win elections. Kobach has inverted the priorities, using elections, and advocating voting restrictions that make it easier for Republicans to win them, as the vehicle for implementing policies that protect the interests and aims of a shrinking white majority. This has made him one of the leading intellectual architects of a new nativist movement that is rapidly gaining influence not just in the United States but across the globe.”

Read Berman’s lengthy article, and think about what YOU can do to put the kibosh on the plans of this self-proclaimed “fanatic” and his dream of turning America into a “White GOP Folks Only Club.” Even Republicans who might remember enough to know that the GOP in the far, far distant past was the “Party of Lincoln” might want to rethink their party’s support of and association with this dangerous extremist. Act before it’s too late and Kobach steals YOUR American Dream and turns it into a nightmare!

PWS

06-13-17

 

 

 

 

Colbert King Op-Ed In WashPost: Terror Threat On The Right!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-has-a-homegrown-terrorist-problem–and-its-coming-from-the-right/2017/05/26/10d88bba-4197-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html

King writes:

“As the Anti-Defamation League noted in a new report, “A Dark & Constant Rage: 25 Years of Right-Wing Terrorism in the United States,” the United States has experienced a long string of terrorist incidents, with many connected not to Islamist terrorists but to right-wing extremists.

The findings were startling.

The ADL analyzed 150 terrorist acts in the United States that were committed, attempted or plotted by right-wing extremists. “More than 800 people were killed or injured in these attacks,” the ADL said, noting that the attacks “surged during the mid-to-late 1990s and again starting in 2009” — the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The also looked at other acts of violence and determined that “from 2007 to 2016, a range of domestic extremists of all kinds were responsible for the deaths of at least 372 people across the country. Seventy-four percent of these murders came at the hands of right-wing extremists such as white supremacists, sovereign citizens and militia adherents.”

And, reported the ADL, the hate and terror mongers choose their marks carefully: Jews, Muslims and — the most common racial target — African Americans.

According to The Post, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino showed an overall increase of 13 percent in hate crimes reported, with 1,812 incidents reported in 2016 — the year of our nasty, hate-filled presidential race.
So how about pivoting from Saudi Arabia to turn White House attention to our own homegrown terrorist problem? After all, right-wing extremism may be the predicate that led a hate-filled white student to pick up a knife in the middle of spring commencement celebrations and stab an innocent and promising young man of color to death.

Surely that is worth a presidential thought or two.

Manchester has prompted elevation of Britain’s threat level to its highest.

In light of Richard Collins’s murder, the discovery of a noose in a fraternity house this month, as well as white supremacist fliers posted on campus earlier this year, where is the University of Maryland’s threat level? How about America’s?

After all, haters seem emboldened as never before.”

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Read King’s entire op-ed at the link.

Food for thought, particularly in our gun-fueled society.

PWS

05-29-17

HUFFPOST POLITICS: Despite Bannon’s Apparently Waning Influence, “Turbocharged” Sessions Will Keep “Ethno-Nationalist Agenda” Rolling At Full Speed At DOJ! Bad News For Immigrants, African-Americans, Refugees, Muslims, LBGT Individuals, Forensic Science, Innocent Defendants, Minor Offenders, Taxpayers, The U.S. Constitution, Many Women, & Social Justice In America!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-steve-bannon_us_58efb376e4b0bb9638e23542

Paul Blumenthal writes:

“No matter what Bannon’s fate, however, his strand of ethno-nationalism will live on in the Trump Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The 70-year-old former Alabama senator has already set the Justice Department on a new path by targeting immigrants, reining in police department reform efforts and curtailing efforts to protect voting rights.

“While many are focused on how Bannon is losing influence in the White House, those concerned with immigrant justice ― and I suspect those concerned with racial justice, police reform and voting rights, too ― are focused on the rise of a turbocharged Sessions,” Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice, said in an email to HuffPost.

Bannon and Sessions share a long history of mutual support and policy agreement. They spent months together with Stephen Miller, a former Sessions aide who now works in the White House, plotting strategy on how to enact their shared agenda of limiting immigration to the U.S. in order to maintain a European and Christian identity. In 2016, Bannon declared Sessions “one of the intellectual, moral leaders of this populist, nationalist movement in this country.” After both moved to Trump’s administration, Bannon called Sessions the White House “clearinghouse for policy and philosophy.” Like Bannon, Sessions declares his policy objective as defeating “soulless globalism.”

. . . .

In another appearance on Bannon’s radio show, Sessions endorsed the Immigration Act of 1924, which specifically limited immigration based on race and religion, in the context of current immigration trends. “In seven years, we’ll have the highest percentage of Americans, non-native born, since the founding of the Republic,” Sessions said, while praising the 1924 law that was used to prevent Jewish immigration before and during the Holocaust.

Like Bannon, Sessions believes immigration from Middle Eastern countries poses a national security risk. He agrees that Western leaders have failed to protect their Judeo-Christian heritage by opening the door to refugees.

In one radio interview, after Bannon compared the migration of Syrian refugees to an infamous racist French book, he asked Sessions.: “Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian West to actually win this war?”

“I’m worried about that,” Sessions replied.

The two nationalist Trump supporters share more than immigration policy preferences. The reversal of police reform efforts and reinvigoration of the War on Drugs pushed by Sessions as attorney general fits with Bannon’s efforts at Breitbart to label Black Lives Matter protesters as racists, while perpetuating racist stereotypes of African Americans through the site’s Black Crime section.”

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For those who hoped that President Trump’s sudden shift to more “centrist” positions on trade and foreign policy might carry over into immigration policy, dream on! Bannon might be “on the ropes,” but Sessions and Stephen Miller still have the President’s ear on their restrictionist, nationalist positions on immigration.

While badly needed, reasonable bipartisan immigration reform would be within Trump’s reach, that’s not going to happen. Buoyed by the immediate decrease in Southern Border apprehensions, Trump, Sessions, and MIller (Gen. Kelly appears to gone AWOL on immigration policy — he just parrots what Sessions and the nationalist restrictionists tell him — his stature as former General with integrity shrinks every day) intend to arrest, detain, deport, and threaten unless and until the Article III Courts stop them. And whether that will happen is still an open question.

Liz was right!

PWS

04-13-17