Sunday, August 20, 2017

Do You Know Anyone Who's Fashy-- As In Fashionably Fascist?


Ugly Nazi with ugly Nazi hairdo

Not surprisingly, Israel's most respectable newspaper, Haaretz, covers American news very thoroughly. Señor Trumpanzee, who, despite-- in at least one case-- his long association with virulent anti-Semites, is only popular in two foreign countries (Russia and Israel). Soon after he moved into what he calls "a dump," but what most Americans call the White House, Haaretz ran a story about how Trump male supporters started sporting their neo-Nazi haircuts.
In November, just four days after the presidential election, a somewhat unusual post appeared on the neo-Nazi news site Daily Stormer. The writer, Andrew Anglin, called on white people to make New Balance clothing their uniform. The idea was inspired by a New Balance executive’s statement that he was “optimistic about Donald Trump.”

“This will be fantastic,” Anglin told his followers. “We will be able to recognize one another by our sportswear.”

Despite Anglin’s urging, this proposed repurposing of the New Balance label as a neo-Nazi label did not take off. But Anglin’s post still made it clear that the American so-called alt-right-- or “alternative right”-- is eager to find new identifying signs that will distinguish it from the mainstream. No more shaved heads, tattoos and military boots, but rather fashion symbols that will enhance the movement’s appeal and legitimacy among the American public at large.

White nationalist leader Richard Spencer said in a 2013 interview with Salon, “We have to look good,” explaining that middle-class folks won’t want to be part of something that is “crazed or ugly or vicious or just stupid.”

Spencer himself always wears three-piece Brooks Brothers suits, and an expensive gold watch and cufflinks. And the charismatic leader also adopted an iconic hairstyle: short on the sides and long on top. The look was very popular around the start of this decade, first with hipsters from Brooklyn and later among fans of David Beckham and Brad Pitt, with whom it had come to be identified.

Lately, especially after a video of Spencer being punched in the head went viral, more and more white supremacists have been adopting the hairstyle, known as the “fashy” (for “fashionable fascist”). The Washington Post reported in December that a conspicuous number of attendees at a neo-Nazi convention in the capital were sporting the fashy, and that some were also giving the straight-armed salute.

Over the past months, the hairstyle has become associated with dedicated members of right-wing American movements, as well as with others who just identify with their ideology. So strongly associated, in fact, that a lot of other people are becoming wary of those sporting the look. For example, in an article published last weekend on the Refinery 29 women’s fashion website, several women said they always “swipe left” on Tinder whenever someone with that hairstyle turns up, so as to avoid a potential date with a far-rightist.

“I’m literally so afraid of every man on Tinder now,” said Brooklyn-based writer Allison Davis. “I never know now if it’s a white guy who’s trying a little too hard to be hip, or an actual neo-Nazi,” she confessed.

The alt-right’s appropriation of the hairstyle has also impacted men who hitherto were fond of the look and didn’t associate it with political views of any sort. Dan H., also of Brooklyn, who preferred not to give his full name, told the site that he’d been getting his hair cut that way for five years, but lately he’d started getting comments from people who pointed out its fascist connotations. He described running into a woman he’d dated a few years before, who asked him, “Did you get a haircut? You look like a neo-Nazi.” Dan says that until then, he didn’t realize what kind of vibe it was giving off.

The hairstyle first appeared in England in the Victorian age. Then, too, it was associated with young hooligans, called Scuttlers. The Scuttlers belonged to gangs found predominantly in and around the poorer sections of Manchester. They used the hairstyle, plus accessories such as colorful scarves, to set themselves apart. The hairstyle remained associated with hooligans until the 1930s and 1940s, when it was adopted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement in Germany. The Washington Post article said German soldiers of the time requested that haircut to make it easier to don and remove their helmets. The fact that many Nazi posters and other propaganda from the period feature young men with the fashy hairstyle surely doesn’t detract from the appeal it holds for Spencer and others like him.

The Washington Post article took a humorous look at the evolution the hairstyle has undergone in the past months, from hipster affectation to neo-fascist show of power: “Until a few weeks ago, you saw a man with that haircut and assumed he might be a good person to hit on, or to buy small-batch beer from, or to ask the whereabouts of the nearest bicycle shop. Now you see him and wonder if he’s trying to deport half the nation.”

How can one avoid such confusion? Heidi Beirich, who monitors hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told New York Magazine, “The guys in the suits are the ones we have to worry about.” And she warns, “Beneath the benign-looking guy and the benign-sounding name, the purpose of the [alt-right] National Policy Institute is to push the idea that all men are created unequal.”

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Julius Krein, A Trump Propagandist Plays The “We Didn’t Know” Card


-by Noah

First, some background: Julius Krein is the founder of American Affairs a pro-Trump quartely, and founder of the Journal of American Greatness. He is from South Dakota and is a graduate of Harvard. He went into the financial world and worked for the Bank Of America and the Blackstone Group, a private equity and hedge fund operation that specializes in leveraged buyouts and has its roots in Lehman Brothers. Take a few moments and let the significance of that sink in.

Krein says he formed American Affairs” to, quote, “give the Trump movement some intellectual heft.”

OK, so now that we know all of this, I guess we can assume that Krein is not a stupid man, but, he is a man with a predator background who had a voice that was larger than most, and, sadly, he used it in the service of promoting Donald Trump and Trump’s brand of fascism. It’s hard to think of Krein as a “very fine” person. No, he used his money and what intelligence he has to promote Trump and the evil for which he stands.

Just think of the idea of giving Trump’s fascism “intellectual heft.” Provide cover is more like it. Anyway, Trump and intellect are not two things that would come together in any kind of word association game, unless that game required you to deal in opposites. The only real world way to associate Trump with intellect, and, more importantly, anything good and decent is through the use of propaganda.

So, there you have it, Krein is a propagandist, a press flak, a brainwasher for Trump. Calling him anything else is an insult to caring, intelligent people anywhere (Although I do have to admit that I have thought of a other few things I could call him.)

On Thursday, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Krein titled “I Voted For Trump. And I Sorely Regret It.” The alternative title should be “I Voted For Trump And All I Got Was This Shitty Red Hat.”

In his mea culpa opinion piece, Krein admitted that he had made statements such as Trump being “the most serious candidate in the race” and writing dozens of articles and making a similar number of radio and TV appearances in support of his guy, even when “conservative friends and colleagues said I had to be kidding.” Krein also admits to knowing that Trump was “Crude and meandering for almost all of the primary campaign”, but, he saw Trump as being different than the more “conventional candidates.” True that.

Krein says he liked that Trump was a critic of corporations for off-shoring jobs and attacked financial industry executives for avoiding taxes. I guess how Trump handled his own taxes and off-shored the work of his own companies never bothered him.

The first half of the Krein piece is a catalog of all the things he liked that Trump was saying about foreign and domestic issues. Apparently he never once questioned Trump’s sincerity, perhaps seeing what he wanted to see. It’s a pathetic attempt to justify his actions. He even states that he tried to steer Trump “in the right direction,” as if anyone could. It takes an out of control ego to think you could. I’m guessing Krein saw a bit of himself when he saw Trump.

According to the incredibly self-important Krein, the support he provided to Trump through the Journal of American Greatness was him acting as “one of the leading voices supporting certain themes of Trump’s campaign.” Michael Anton, now an advisor on the National Security Council was one of the journal’s predecessor, simply called American Greatness, most prolific writers.

Once Krein’s mission was accomplished and Trump was in the White House, he formed his previously mentioned quarterly to continue what he’d started. In another moment of self-aggrandizement (that right there could be a also be big part of his attraction to Trump), Krain states that
In this role, as one of the few people in the media who has been somewhat sympathetic to Mr. Trump, I am often asked to comment on his surprise victory, or more recently on his statements, and the gusher of news pouring out of this White House. For months, despite increasing chaos and incoherence, I have given Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt: ‘No I don’t think he is a racist’, I have told skeptical audiences. ‘Yes, he says some stupid things, but none of it really matters; he’s not really incompetent.’
Really? Well, it seems his idol’s handling of what happened in Charlottesville was too much even for a professional apologist and propagandist like Krein. More likely, he just wants credit for being one of the first rats off the ship.
It is now clear that my optimism was unfounded. I can’t stand by this disgraceful administration any longer, and I would urge anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president… Far from making America great again, Mr. Trump has betrayed the foundations of our common citizenship.
Krein even has the gall to say
It is now clear that we were deluding ourselves.
Oh boy. Wow. And to think, this assclown went to Harvard! What the hell do they teach people there? Certainly, in his case, it wasn’t any kind of analytical or critical thinking ability. Then again, maybe we should demand to see his diploma.

Think about this: The birtherism that his boy Trump founded his campaign on never tipped Krein off. The Central Park 5 case, the housing discrimination suits, the treatment of African-Americans at his casinos, his relationships with mafia and Russian mob figures, the ripped off contractors, the treatment of women, the treatment of underage beauty contestants, his racist stances on Muslims and immigrants, the refusal to hand over his tax records, the hypocrisy of talking about off-shoring of jobs while he and his family have their clothing lines made in China, his obvious lack of ANY knowledge of the Constitution, the psychotic desire to take Chemo away from American cancer patients, The destruction of national parks while he tries to protect monuments to treason and slavery, the making fun of the disabled, the Hitler salutes at his rallies, and the fact that anyone with half a brain could watch Trump speak for 2 minutes and see that he is severely mentally ill… none of that tipped off Julius Krein. Fuck you Julius Krein. Lying, disingenuous, 2-bit Goebbels wanna be scumbag. Accessory to treason. Fuck you.

Krein’s piece in Thursday’s Times is like someone saying “I know I didn’t get my brakes fixed. I thought they’d be fine,” after he’s just run over a dozen school kids and a crossing guard.

In Chaucerian times, people wore hairshirts and crawled on their bellies for a hundred miles to ask for forgiveness. This assclown thinks a disingenuous, self-promoting, half-wit not even half apology article in the New York Times will suffice. Not only that, but he still adheres to the republican agenda. Some Republicans are acting all “shocked, shocked I tell you, shocked and surprised” that Trump is what he is. It’s all “gee, we didn’t know.” This is part of an attempt that Republicans are making to create the impression that they are somehow separate from their President Trump.

But, I will be fair to Krein. Regardless of his motivations, he has spoken up. That, I suppose, makes him better than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who took even longer than Trump to address Charlottesville and pretend he was affronted not that we would have ever expected him to address it at all, especially after seeing his wife by Trump’s side nodding her approval while he said that some Nazis are “fine people” during his now infamous press tantrum. It also makes Krein better in my eyes than Speaker Paul Ryan, an American terrorist in his own right, who once said he couldn’t endorse Trump, went ahead and did so anyway, and continues to support the Trump agenda every hour of every day. It also makes him better than that full staff of Nazi sympathizers that infest the White House and say nothing. Anything any of these cretins have to say from now on will have no credibility because they have given away what is in their charred little hearts. Their silence has spoken. Their words will mean nothing, and you can say that about 99.9% of their party. Only a change of actions and attitudes will matter. Don’t hold your breath.

It’s hard to say that anything good came of Charlottesville but it did expose, once and for all, what lies at the core of the Republican Party, so much so that even a smug, self-important asswipe like Julius Krein could see it. Polls show, however, that the majority of republican voters still support Trump. Trump’s poll numbers may be sinking over all, but, if the election were held today, he would still win in most places where he won last November, just by smaller margins.

One final note: On Thursday night, Krein went on CNN, the Neville Chamberlain of news channels, to make his case for redemption. Oh wait. No, that wasn’t it at all. He just loves being on TV, like someone else I could name. Fuck you again, Julius Krein. May I send you a set of Hari Kari knives?

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Blue America's Newest Endorsed Candidate-- Derrick Crowe (TX-21)


Blue America has been busily vetting new congressional candidates since spring. Sometimes it takes a while since we don't base our endorsements on questionnaires but, rather, on "getting to know" the candidates and what they stand for and what their capabilities are. We've certainly gotten to know Derrick Crowe, our newest endorsee-- a progressive Texas Democrat who is running a campaign based on what he wants to do to represent the interests of TX-21 working families in Congress. The district stretches from Fort Sam Houston, Alamo Heights, Oleos Park, Castle Hills and the South Texas Medical Center north of San Antonio up through a corridor past New Braunfels, San Marcos and Buda into Clarksville and Downtown Austin almost to UT and then west into the Hill Country past Fredericksburg, Bandera and Kerrville. It was drawn to minimize the solidly blue Travis County vote but last year Trump underperformed past GOP nominees and barely won a majority (52.5%).

And Derrick is up against one of Congress' worst-- Lamar Smith, a decrepit Science denier who Paul Ryan put in charge of the House Science Committee where he has labored to undermine every effort to combat Climate Change. Derrick reminded us that he was also "Trump’s first donor in Congress, and thanks to him and his fossil fuel backers, every year my son has been alive has been the hottest year on Earth. I will not stand by while he ruins my son’s future. Mr. Smith has contributed to and lived off of this ugly, rigged system for three decades while the rest of us paid the price. Well, I’ve got news for him: we’re done paying."

Derrick has a very different vision of Climate Change than Smith, Trump and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt do. "A free, prosperous, just future depends on a stable environment. Climate change is already triggering severe impacts, as the recent draft climate report put it, 'from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the sea.' Folks in my district have already suffered through one of the clearest examples of a climate-change-driven disaster in the floods of 2015. More is on the way. We must act now to get carbon emissions down by electrifying our energy use, switching to renewables, and ratcheting up efficiency standards. If we do that rapidly, we have a chance to save the future."

My first experience with Derrick goes back to when George W. Bush was still president and he was the organizing force behind Brave New Film's "Rethink Afghanistan" project. He has a visceral understanding of progressive issues and appears to be someone who will be more than just a "good vote" in Congress, but someone-- like Pramila Jayapal, Ted Lieu and Ro Khanna can come forward as a natural thought leader. He's certainly running his campaign that way. "We are organizing around the solid, time-tested values of 'Liberty and Justice. For All.' Those principles are the heart of our democracy, and I’m tired of watching corporate-backed career politicians like Smith drag them through the mud," he explained to me yesterday. "Liberty means that your choices matter. It means that monopolies and corporate bosses can’t kill your small business dreams and pick your politicians for you. Justice means that trillions in financial fraud will send you to jail, a gram of marijuana doesn’t ruin your life, and that when you put in a full day’s work, you get paid a living wage. Liberty and justice for all means we respect every person and relationship, and we don’t target people for deportation or incarceration or harassment based on the color of their skin, their gender identity, or their sexual orientation."

Goal ThermometerHis perspective on the battle over healthcare is just what we're looking for at Blue America as well: "Health care," he told us, "should be a right in this country, not a privilege. Unfortunately, the bills the GOP has put on the table over the past several months would let us get sick, go bankrupt, and die early just so they and their rich friends can have tax cuts. That’s a stark vision. We have to answer that with an equally powerful vision: an America where everyone gets the care they need, achieved through Medicare For All." Please help us welcome Derrick to the Blue America ActBlue page by clicking on the thermometer on the right and contributing what you can to his campaign. Taking back Congress means making inroads in districts like Texas' 21st, despite the gerrymandering. With an extraordinary candidate like Derrick it's a winnable seat, especially as more and more independent voters and even mainstream Republicans continue to sour on Trump and his enablers, like Lamar Smith, in Congress.

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Is Señor Trumpanzee An Anti-Semite?


I went to PS 197 and then James Madison High School in a very Jewish part of Brooklyn. And politically, a very liberal part of Brooklyn. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bernie Sanders grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same schools. It's still a very Jewish neighborhood... but not as liberal. Russian Jewish immigrants went heavily for Trump in this area and, in fact, Trump beat Hillary in precinct after precinct all over this part of Brooklyn. In an analysis right after the election, the Pew Research Center concluded that, nationally, 71% of Jews backed Hillary-- significantly less than the 78% who turned out for Obama in 2008, the 74% who voted for Kerry in 2004, or the 79% who voted for Gore in 2000, but 71% isn't bad. However, just before the election, the American Jewish Committee published a poll that found around half the Orthodox Jewish registered voters planned to back Trump and just 21% planned to vote for Clinton-- with 15% saying they would abstain.

Thursday, a prominent Jewish author, Pulitzer Prize and Hugo Award winner, Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union), who, 2 months ago enraged conservatives when he was interviewed on the radio and said "Every morning I wake up and in the seconds before I turn my phone on to see what the latest news is, I have this boundless sense of optimism and hope that this is the day that he’s going to have a massive stroke, and, you know, be carted out of the White House on a gurney and every day so far, I have been disappointed in that hope, but, you know, hope springs eternal; he’s an old guy, he doesn’t eat well, he’s overweight, he has terrible nutrition, he doesn’t exercise and it’s not that hard to imagine," penned an open letter to our fellow Jews.
To our fellow Jews, in the United States, in Israel, and around the world:

We know that, up to now, some of you have made an effort to reserve judgment on the question of whether or not President Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, and to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of you voted for him last November. Some of you have found employment in his service, or have involved yourself with him in private business deals, or in diplomatic ties.

You have counted carefully as each appointment to his administration of a white supremacist, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi or crypto-fascist appeared to be counterbalanced by the appointment of a fellow Jew, and reassured yourself that the most troubling of those hires would be cumulatively outweighed by the presence, in his own family and circle of closest advisors, of a Jewish son-in-law and daughter.

You have given your support to the President’s long and appalling record of racist statements, at worst assenting to them, at best dismissing them as the empty blandishments of a huckster at work, and have chosen to see the warm reception that his rhetoric found among the hood-wearers, weekend stormtroopers, and militias of hate as proof of the gullibility of a bunch of patsies, however distasteful.

You have viewed him as a potential friend to Israel, or a reliable enemy of Israel’s enemies.

You have tried to allay or dismiss your fears with the knowledge that most of the President’s hateful words and actions, along with those of his appointees, have targeted other people--  immigrants, Black people, and Muslims--  taking hollow consolation in how open and shameless his hate has been, as if that openness and shamelessness guaranteed the absence, in his heart and in his administration, of any hidden hatred for us.

The President has no filter, no self-control, you have told yourself. If he were an anti-Semite--  a Nazi sympathizer, a friend of the Jew-hating Klan--  we would know about it, by now. By now, he would surely have told us.

Yesterday, in a long and ragged off-the-cuff address to the press corps, President Trump told us. During a moment that white supremacist godfather Steve Bannon has apparently described as a “defining” one for this Administration, the President expressed admiration and sympathy for a group of white supremacist demonstrators who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, flaunting Swastikas and openly chanting, along with vile racist slogans, “Jews will not replace us!” Among those demonstrators, according to Trump, were “a lot” of “innocent” and “very fine people.”

So, now you know. First he went after immigrants, the poor, Muslims, trans people and people of color, and you did nothing. You contributed to his campaign, you voted for him. You accepted positions on his staff and his councils. You entered into negotiations, cut deals, made contracts with him and his government.

Now he’s coming after you. The question is: what are you going to do about it? If you don’t feel, or can’t show, any concern, pain or understanding for the persecution and demonization of others, at least show a little self-interest. At least show a little sechel. At the very least, show a little self-respect.

To Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and our other fellow Jews currently serving under this odious regime: We call upon you to resign; and to the President’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen: Fire your client.

To Sheldon Adelson and our other fellow Jews still engaged in making the repugnant calculation that a hater of Arabs must be a lover of Jews, or that money trumps hate, or that a million dollars’ worth of access can protect you from one boot heel at the door: Wise up.

To the government of Israel, and our fellow Jews living there: Wise up.

To Jared Kushner: You have one minute to do whatever it takes to keep the history of your people from looking back on you as among its greatest traitors, and greatest fools; that minute is nearly past. To Ivanka Trump: Allow us to teach you an ancient and venerable phrase, long employed by Jewish parents and children to one another at such moments of family crisis: I’ll sit shiva for you. Try it out on your father; see how it goes.

Among all the bleak and violent truths that found confirmation or came slouching into view amid the torchlight of Charlottesville is this: Any Jew, anywhere, who does not act to oppose President Donald Trump and his administration acts in favor of anti-Semitism; any Jew who does not condemn the President, directly and by name, for his racism, white supremacism, intolerance and Jew hatred, condones all of those things.

To our fellow Jews, in North America, in Israel, and around the world: What side are you on?

Meanwhile, Ayoub Kara, the crackpot Druze right-wing Israeli Communications Minister, told the Jerusalem Post and his Jewish countrymen to ignore Trump's flirtation with Nazis because Trump allows Netanyahu to dictate America's Middle East policies. "Due to the terrific relations with the US, we need to put the declarations about the Nazis in the proper proportion... Trump is the best U.S. leader Israel has ever had. His relations with the prime minister of Israel are wonderful, and after enduring the terrible years of Obama, Trump is the unquestioned leader of the free world, and we must not accept anyone harming him."

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If Ole Trumpanzee Doesn't Even Have Any Coattails In An Alabama GOP Primary...


The final count in the Republican primary in Alabama was 164,524 (38.87%) for crackpot Roy Moore and 138,971 (32.83%) for Trump and McConnell-backed establishment incumbent Luther Strange. Another crackpot, Rep. Mo Brooks took 83,287 votes (19.68%) and a scattering of 7 vanity candidates split another 30-some-odd thousand votes between them. Moore and Strange will face off in a runoff on September 26, the winner of which will then face Democrat Doug Jones, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, who won his 8-person primary with 109,105 votes (66.12%) on December 12. The only poll out for the GOP runoff shows Moore beating Strange 45-34%. As of August 18, Strange and PACs backing him spent had spent $3.4 million and Team Moore had spent $127,000. Much of Strange's money came from McConnell and Trump.

So how will Trump and McConnell handle the runoff? Trump is already trying to protect his own tarnished image by claiming Strange only did as well as he did because of the Trumpnazee seal of approval. McConnell will spend more millions of dollars.
And while Moore has plenty of detractors in-state who see him as a fringe rabble-rouser, even Strange’s allies admit the race is an uphill battle-- one where heavy attacks from Washington-based outside groups risk backfiring on their candidate in a state where voters detest being told what to do.

“Luther’s liabilities are how he got there and that the McConnell Washington crowd have been so heavy-handed in supporting him,” said one Alabama Republican strategist who supports Strange in the race.

“We’re a state full of folks who like to fight, who are defiant, we don’t like following rules, and that’s why Roy Moore is popular,” said David Azbell, a longtime Alabama GOP strategist. “A lot of folks think he can shoot off a lot of fireworks in D.C. while not doing a lot of harm.”

Alabama voters are also furious over a series of scandals that have rocked statehouse, and that taint got all over Strange with his appointment to the Senate. Strange had been the state attorney general in charge of the investigation into disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley (R)-- until Bentley appointed him to fill Sessions’ seat shortly before Bentley was forced to resign over a sex scandal.

Some saw Bentley’s support as a quid-pro-quo to get Strange out of his business. That’s a problem when paired with the association with McConnell, who has become a bogeyman on the right.

“Any time you’re the incumbent and 70 percent of people voted against you it’s hard to bounce back,” said Alabama GOP strategist Chris Brown, who ran the campaign of the fourth-place finisher, state Sen. Trip Pittman (R), and is neutral in the runoff.

Azbell, who backed Pittman in the primary, dislikes Moore enough that he’s never voted for him, skipping his line on the ballot both times Moore was the GOP nominee and working against him in past primaries. But he’s ready to break with precedent.

“I really don’t want Mitch McConnell and Robert Bentley telling me who my senator is going to be,” he said.

Moore is already looking to jiu jitsu McConnell’s backing, blasting the “silk-stockinged Washington elitists” supporting Strange.

It’s not the first time that’s worked for him: Moore won back his judicial seat by running against, and handily defeating, another Bentley appointee in 2012.

Strange’s allies argue that Moore will struggle to grow his appeal outside of his intense core of loyal followers. But the combination of an off-year primary, voters’ intense dislike of the traditional GOP establishment both in-state and in D.C. create the perfect climate for a Moore insurgency.

“Roy Moore has the intensity,” said GOP strategist Jon Coley, a Strange supporter. “Roy will turn his people out. Luther’s got to turn his people out and find a bunch more.”

The big question is how to do that.

The appointed senator will need to boost his support in a big way in the state’s more urban business communities-- especially in and around Huntsville, Brooks’ base-- and his allies worry that a deeply negative race may just turn off voters and convince them to stay home, leaving Moore with his rabid but limited base of support with the upper hand.

The strategy from the pro-McConnell Senate Leadership Fund of playing for a Strange runoff with Moore by destroying Brooks paid off. And while they’re off TV right now, they offered a glimpse of how they plan to attack Moore going forward, with ads attacking him for taking a $1 million salary from the Christian organization he runs and for flying on private airplanes with the organization’s money. A Washington Republican strategist said the group is now finalizing their strategy for the runoff.

Moore has deep support on the hard right for his repeated stands athwart the tide of social change-- in a state whose official motto is “We dare defend our rights.”

Moore has twice been forced from the state Supreme Court bench for disobeying court orders, first for installing, then refusing to remove, a monument to the Ten Commandments outside his courthouse, then just a few years ago for ordering his state to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

And Strange faces another challenge, with one of his best surrogates sidelined and another being notoriously unpredictable.

Sessions is a close ally-- Strange helped on his campaigns and followed him as state attorney general. But Sessions doesn’t plan to have any involvement in the race because of the ethical constraints of his current job.

And while President Trump’s endorsement was a huge boost for Strange in the first round, it’s unclear what he’ll do going forward.

Trump’s tweets and a late robocall backing Strange likely helped boost him to second place and kept alive his hopes of staying in Washington. But Trump hasn’t been unequivocal in his support. The president’s reaction to the runoff result was a pair of tweets congratulating both candidates-- and himself.

“What Trump does from here will be interesting to see. Luther must be holding his breath that Trump doesn’t have another post-Charlottesville and start flip-flopping on this. I’m holding my breath if I’m in his camp that this thing sticks for six weeks,” said the Alabama strategist supporting Strange.

It’s unclear how the next six weeks will shape up. But one thing’s for sure, according to Coley: “It’s going to be nasty.”

So what about the Democrat Doug Jones? A friend of mine active in local Alabama politics told me that "Jones is not the Joe Manchin of Birmingham. Doug Jones is a progressive, and I don't mean 'the most progressive candidate you can hope for from Alabama.' Doug Jones is a progressive in Alabama and he'd be a progressive in Maryland or Oregon or California or anywhere else. Jones was US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama during the Clinton administration. He reopened the dormant case of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and sent two klansman to jail for it. He was on scene at the Birmingham abortion bombing within minutes and brought the indictment against Eric Rudolph for it. Take a look at his issues page. He isn't hedging. He lists as 'priorities' strengthening public schools, paying a living wage, affordable college, affordable child care, combatting climate change, rejoining the Paris Accords, preserving access to contraception and abortion care, funding Planned Parenthood, equal pay for equal work, preserving and expanding ACA, and healthcare as a right. Doug Jones," he continued in an e-mail, "is a quality candidate who can raise money and stands for our values. I'm not being pollyannaish. This is going to be hard. We're still the underdog. But if we organize and direct overwhelming national resources, this can be done and we can take one more vote away from Mitch McConnell."

I tried confirming Jones' progressiveness personally but haven't heard back from him or his campaign yet. Jonathan Lee Krohn, writing for The Intercept, reported that "In the Deep South state of Alabama, Jones isn’t shrinking from a fight against white nationalism. 'Fifteen years ago, I actually went up against the Klan, and we won,' Jones began his victory speech Tuesday night. 'I thought we’d gotten past that, but obviously we haven’t.' All of a sudden, it matters who Doug Jones is."
So who is he? Best known for his work as U.S. attorney here in Alabama, Jones, in 1998, famously re-opened his office’s investigation of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. Before he left office in 2001, Jones brought murder charges against two of the surviving Klansmen responsible for the attack, ultimately seeing both men convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Republicans in Washington see Jones as a major threat-- the perfect candidate to take down Moore. The question is whether there’s a state party behind him.

Once upon a time, Democrats controlled Alabama.

As a matter of fact, Democrats controlled state government in Alabama for over 100 years-- from Reconstruction until 2010-- and near the end they seldom agreed with each other on much of anything. But that didn’t seem to matter; they were in charge.

“Alabama’s Democratic Party, it was just an umbrella,” Jones told The Intercept. “You had people standing for civil rights, and at the same time you had people standing in the schoolhouse door.”

Around the turn of the century, the main dispute was between the white, socially conservative Blue Dogs from up north and the more progressive-minded, largely black representatives from the cities. The salve that kept everyone together was patronage, the party’s deep war chests, a voter turnout machine that bussed thousands of Alabamian Democrats to the polls, and the fact that they just kept on winning.

“[T]he party at the time was really just a confederation of factions that elected whoever they’re going to elect. And the only time it was really important was when a president was elected and there was patronage,” former Jones continued. “You know, U.S. attorneys and judgeships, that sort of thing.”

The bombing case was the only major civil rights case Jones worked on. Since leaving public service in 2001, while Jones has worked on the occasional corporate civil rights case, he’s primarily worked as a defense attorney for businesses and white collar criminals.

That included one particularly high-profile defendant: In 2004, Jones defended former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, in his first trial regarding bribery charges. Legendary District Court Judge U.W. Clemon dropped the case, saying the allegations against Seigelman were unfounded, but in 2006 the Bush administration’s Department of Justice again began vigorously pursuing Siegelman, claiming he had used the governor’s office to benefit campaign donors.

Siegelman has long claimed his case was the result of a political hit ordered by Karl Rove, who had previously worked as a consultant for the Alabama GOP and was pushing for his conviction in order to help Alabama Republicans. Local politicians in both parties condemned the prosecution, but he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Whatever Rove’s intention, inside Alabama, the fall of Don Siegelman was a major blow to the state’s Democrats, helping contribute to the party’s ultimate collapse in 2010. The GOP picked up eight Senate seats and 18 House seats in 2010, winning a supermajority in both chambers in the national tea party wave.

Once Republicans had taken over, they began doing what they do so much better than Democrats: tilting the rules so they can stay in power. In December 2010, just a month after the Republicans had won both houses of the State Legislature, Gov. Riley called a special session. Immediately, the Republicans introduced legislation making it illegal for professional associations to take money for dues out of state employees’ paychecks. This made it impossible for the Alabama Education Association (AEA) to collect membership dues from teachers’ paychecks.

The ban decimated the AEA and similar organizations that had bankrolled Democrats for decades. Suddenly, the state party was in free fall, with no money to cushion their fall.

Nancy Worley became party chair three years after the cataclysmic events of 2010. “I came into this office in 2013 and we were broke,” she said. “In fact, people were here waiting to turn off our power, that kinda thing.”

After Siegelman’s conviction, Jones continued to fight on on his client’s behalf. In 2007, Jones testified in front of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that he believed Siegelman’s conviction was “driven by politics” and not by a pursuit of the facts.

“There is no question in my mind,” Jones told the committee, according to a contemporary report in The Nation, “that the Justice Department in Washington was behind the investigation.”

While Siegelman was finally released from prison earlier this year, and has recently begun speaking around the country in support of a documentary about his trial, he has not yet appeared on the campaign trail or publicly endorsed Jones.

After his victory Tuesday night Jones said he wants to let Siegelman take care of himself and revisit with friends and family before concerning him with the rat-race of Alabama politics again.

The last candidate to come close to winning as a statewide Democrat in Alabama was a little-known circuit court judge named Bob Vance, who ran for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012.

The man he lost to-- by a mere 2 points-- was Judge Roy Moore, the current front-runner in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate... Vance finished the race with 48.2 percent of the vote, unheard of for a Democrat in Alabama these days. But in the end, Mowrey says, the campaign couldn’t overcome the fact that many Alabamians support Moore’s bigotry, his “states rights” stance on gay marriage, and his distaste for federal interference in what he deems religious affairs.

Vance finished the race with 48.2 percent of the vote, unheard of for a Democrat in Alabama these days. But in the end, Mowrey says, the campaign couldn’t overcome the fact that many Alabamians support Moore’s bigotry, his “states rights” stance on gay marriage, and his distaste for federal interference in what he deems religious affairs.

“It’s very hard to communicate that [Moore] puts himself above the law,” he explained, “because there’s this section of the Alabama electorate who says there’s nothing wrong.”

Jones said that moderates like those Vance appealed to voters in the Birmingham suburbs of Shelby and Blount County-- which in 2016 went 72 percent and 89 percent, respectively, for Trump-- are the key to “narrowing the gap.” And while he admits he has no chance of winning most voters in these heavily white, Republican counties, he says he’ll consider his campaign a success if he can simply make inroads.

“I don’t have to win Shelby County or Blount County, I just have to narrow the gap and get people rethinking how they’re gonna vote,” Jones said, his Birmingham drawl getting stronger as he gets excited, “And when you start narrowing that gap in those counties you’re gonna start narrowing the gap on a statewide basis and people are gonna have to take you seriously and they’re gonna have to talk to ya.”

The reason Jones is so optimistic about getting his message out there is that the Republican Party of Alabama has given him a very good reason to be.

The two top contenders, Moore and Strange, are both damaged goods, and are widely reviled across the state. Moore, who says that trans women are just trying to get “special treatment” by identifying as female, has a strong base within the state’s massive evangelical population. But outside of those voters, even within the Republican Party he is seen as a liability. A staffer for a competing campaign compared him to Todd Akin, a former GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri whose odd thoughts on “legitimate rape” cost him the race.

Strange, meanwhile, was appointed to hold this Senate seat in February after Jeff Sessions became Donald Trump’s attorney general until this special election could be held. At the time of his appointment by Gov. Robert Bentley, however, Strange was the attorney general and his office was investigating Bentley for alleged use of state resources to cover up an extramarital affair he’d been having with a senior staffer.

Many Alabamians thought at the time there must have been a quid pro quo between the governor and Strange, but he took the seat anyway. Subsequently, Strange has also come under investigation for alleged campaign finance violations in both his Senate campaign and his prior AG campaigns. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 16, the day after the primary.

Both of these candidates would, in an ideal world, be perfect opponents for the squeaky-clean Jones. But, despite being well-liked by every Alabamian I meet, Republican and Democrat, he has one fatal flaw.

“He’s got one big issue,” Strange’s campaign manager, Michael Joffrion, points out. “He’s got a ‘D’ after his name.”

In a state Donald Trump won with 62 percent of the vote, Jones knows victory is a long-shot. On Tuesday night, Moore alone got roughly as many votes as all of the Democrats combined. But the Jones campaign is still ebullient.

“Do not let anybody ever tell you Doug Jones cannot win this special election,” said Jones’ son-in-law, who introduced him Tuesday night. “What you will find if you look at the numbers tomorrow-- this is gon’ be close-- right now in Jefferson County, this county, … right now he has as many votes in this county where you worked as Luther Strange and Roy Moore combined.” (Jefferson County is an urban, solidly Democratic county.)

While Jones won comfortably, his vote total would have only been enough to finish third in the GOP primary. To win, he’ll have to bring new voters to the polls in December, and win votes from Republicans who despise Moore-- which, fortunately for Jones, exist in healthy proportions.

Jones, the former U.S. Attorney who prosecuted two Klansmen responsible for the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing, has begun pushing the issue of Charlottesville onto his Republican opponents. Endorsed by a plethora of national Democratic figures, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the Congressional Black Caucus, and former Vice President Joe Biden, Jones is attempting to appeal to the heart of a deeply conservative state with his record on civil rights.

...For Jones, though, this campaign began more as an opportunity to spread the Democratic message to the farthest reaches of Alabama than an attempt to turn Alabama blue. “We’ve got to get back into areas where we’ve been traditionally losing races and we’ve got to start narrowing the gap,” he told The Intercept. “For our campaign, our goal is to reach as many people as we can.”

But “narrowing the gap” in Alabama is a big ask.

Since 2014, Democrats have retained control in just eight of the state’s 35 Senate districts. While these districts comprise less than half the state’s population, they include a whopping 94.3 percent of Alabama’s black population and just a quarter of the state’s much large white population.

That means Doug’s gap exists somewhere among that vast majority of white Alabamians who live outside Democratic districts and voted overwhelmingly for Trump last fall. The problem is, these are the very voters Alabama Democrats have done precious little to court in recent years.

The chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, Worley, seems resigned to the party’s fate.

“You need to look at the demographics in North Alabama,” she said. “I don’t have to tell you that there’s a huge racial divide in the state of Alabama, along with the whole south. I mean, LBJ predicted that when he signed the Civil Rights legislation, you know, that he was crossing out the south.”

During the last legislative election cycle in 2014, in Worley’s second year as chair, Democrats lost seven seats in the state legislature, and didn’t even bother to field a candidate against Republican incumbents in another 58 districts.

Instead of attempting to compete, Worley’s strategy has been to stay put. Democrats now only have four legislative districts in North Alabama, for example, where they once had a majority of seats. The Democratic retreat to Birmingham and Black Belt is a microcosm of the national Democratic retrenchment on the coasts and in cities. More than a decade after former DNC Chair Howard Dean launched his 50-state strategy, the party is effectively nonexistent in many parts of the country. That makes capitalizing on an opportunity like the one Moore presents that much more difficult.

One of those remaining North Alabama Democrats is Rep. Craig Ford, the former minority leader in the state House. He has just two words for Worley and her fellow Democratic leaders who have given up on white Alabamians. “Party leadership,” he said. “I’m tellin’ ya man, I can’t tell ya enough: Party leadership is everything.”

Craig blames the leadership in the party that “made it all about race” and failed to tailor their message to a changing state. He also blames Worley, by name, for not encouraging Democrats to compete outside Birmingham and the Black Belt.

Doug agrees that the party is in shambles, though he refuses to go after Worley and the leadership. He traces things back to 2010, when the Democrats lost majorities in both houses of the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, ushering in seven years of complete Republican control.

“When folks started losing their base, their offices, people didn’t know how to respond,” he said. “They didn’t know how to be a two-party state so instead of gelling around a cohesive party theme-- not that it’s check the box, check the box, check the box, but general themes of Democratic party politics-- they tried to outmaneuver Republicans to the right and you can’t do that. And so they continued to lose races, and then you get demoralized.”

Up until this point, Democrats have “never really had a party,” Jones continued. Instead, it was a coalition of politicians in a one-party state who called themselves Democrats for political necessity.

“I think if we can get those candidates out there, we will end up with a party structure,” Jones concluded, optimistically. “The rest will kind of fall into place.”

Ford is even more optimistic. With the right party leadership and the right candidates, he thinks Alabama’s Senate seat could turn blue.

“A Democrat could win that U.S. Senate seat,” he said, though he clarifies himself with the help of a friend. “Somebody besides a Republican could win that race.”

UPDATE: Sometimes I Get Crazy Email

This one, very badly formatted by someone who is unfamiliar with how to work online, came from Roy Moore's campaign:

"Being within 10 points or less, (Strange's supporters) may pour another $3 million to $5 million into the runoff. There will be a negative onslaught on Roy Moore that he's never seen before."
-- Alabama Veteran Political Analyst Steve Flowers


After Tuesday night's first-round victory over Mitch McConnell, all eyes nationwide are focusing in on the battle brewing for U.S. Senate in the upcoming September 26 run-off election.

And Howie, the pundits all seem to agree on one thing -- It’s going to get nasty over the next 6 weeks

Can I count on you to stand with me by chipping in a generous contribution of $1,500, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $75, $50, $35 or $25 to my campaign’s “Conservatives United” Money Bomb to help me fight back and win?

Howie, the September 26 run-off election is THE ultimate national showdown between the Washington insiders and conservative Republicans who are sick of Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the rest of the establishment in Washington.

Unless conservatives rise up and deliver the final blow to the Washington establishment on September 26, you and I could be staring down the barrel of Mitch McConnell entrenched as Senate Majority Leader.

That means ZERO chance at REPEALING ObamaCare!

 ZERO chance at securing our border and building Trump’s wall.

ZERO chance of cracking down on illegal immigration.

ZERO chance of rebuilding our military.

And ZERO chance of restoring respect for the Constitution and the rule of law in Washington.

You and I must not allow that to happen.

That’s why I’m counting on your immediate financial support to help my campaign finish the job and DEFEAT Mitch McConnell on September 26.

You see, my establishment backed opponent begins the run-off with MILLIONS of dollars in his campaign coffers.

And that doesn’t include the tens of millions of dollars Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove plan to spend viciously attacking me and my campaign.

Friend, the situation is dire.

According to my Finance Team my campaign coffers are exhausted from yesterday’s election.

Based on current budget estimates, the first Phase of our Two-Phase Voter Contact and Outreach Victory Operation will cost roughly $150,000 to execute effectively.

And the bad news is, the deadline to fund this critical program is midnight on August 31.

So won’t you please stand with me in this all-out fight against McConnell and the establishment by chipping in the maximum amount you can afford to donate to my campaign’s "Conservatives United" Money Bomb immediately?

Of course, I understand only a few people are able to afford $2,700 ($5,400 per couple) -- the maximum legal amount under federal law.

If you are such a person, I believe this run-off election is an investment worth making. The future of the U.S. Senate -- and our country -- depends on the outcome.

But I also understand that $250 or $100 may be all many folks can give.

In fact, I know for some, $25 or $35 is a stretch.

And for others -- $10 or $15 can be a major sacrifice.

Whatever amount you can chip in to help out at this time, your contribution is greatly appreciated and will be put to immediate use to fund our Voter Contact and Outreach Victory Mobilization Program.

You and I are on the verge of defeating the establishment and taking our country back.

But Howie, Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove are ruthless.

Rumors are circulating they’re already scheming to pull the same dirty tricks on me that they pulled on Chris McDaniel in the 2014 run-off election for Senate in Mississippi.

This includes spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy Democrat votes in the September REPUBLICAN run-off.

To defeat McConnell and the establishment, I must be able to count on your immediate support.

So please stand with me in this historic fight against Washington by chipping in a generous contribution to my “Conservatives United” Money Bomb.

Thank you in advance for your support!


Judge Roy Moore

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Midnight Meme Of The Day


-by Noah

When Herr Trump decided to further embolden, legitimize, and normalize American Nazis, the KKK, and other White Supremacy advocates the other day, it wasn’t the first time. It was just the most forceful time he’s done it. He was no longer just re-tweeting the tweets and sentiments of these groups, as if that wasn’t horrific enough. It also wasn’t just like when he encouraged these sick people by accepting and welcoming their attendance at his campaign rallies last summer. No, this time it was at a nationally televised press conference at his home, surrounded by his staff and other members of his team. It was at Trump Tower, a place that now might as well be flying a Nazi flag above its Fifth Avenue doorway.

As Trump spoke and gave succor to people who, like him, stand for fighting against the America our founding fathers envisioned, I thought of my father’s generation and how that generation came together to crush like-minded people in World War II.

I can’t speak for my father’s generation, a generation often called “the greatest generation.” But, to say the least, I, and so many others, have a good idea that they would be more than a little dismayed and saddened to see that we now have to fight such human perversions again; this time in our own streets and towns, while an elected President Of The United States, his White House staff, and even the vast majority of his party, try to grow their numbers. Such people who fought fascists were not “alt-left”; they were patriots.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Is There Anything Trump Won't Lie About? Trump Winery Is Not The Biggest Winery And He Doesn't Own It Anyway


The Bird is a restaurant in Northwest DC, in the Shaw neighborhood a nd, according to the Washingtonian's Jessica Sidman, they were so excited a couple weeks ago when Señor Trumpanzee fired The Mooch that the began a new policy: offering discounted drinks whenever Trumpanzee offs one of his co-conspirators-- happy hour cocktails, beers, and wines for $4. Same deal yesterday when Trumpanzee kicked out notorious meth manufacturer and neo-Nazi Steve Bannon. What about the Trump Winery in Charlottesville? Wondering if they offer discounted wine when the owner offs a Nazi? They don't-- and Trump was lying about the winery anyway. Here's a disclaimer they added a year or so ago at the bottom of their official website:

In case you don't know what I'm talking about here, remember back to the fateful press conference when the Baboon-in-Chief gratuitously ended a press conference by claiming that he owns Charlottesville's Trump Winery, claiming it one of the largest wineries, not just in Virginia but anywhere in the country? Our poor delusional fake president! PolitiFact smelled a rat when he first started making the claim at election rallies and over a year ago rated Trump's claims another lie.
"It’s the largest winery on the East Coast," Trump said.

The Republican frontrunner added that he owns the winery "100 percent." Trump did purchase the 1,300-acre vineyard in 2011 where the winery is based and turned over the management to his son, Eric.

A legal disclaimer on the winery website says the GOP presidential candidate doesn’t own the winery. The venture is a limited liability corporation, and its owners are not a matter of public record.

That point aside, let’s move to the focus of this Truth-O-Meter: Is the winery really the largest on the East Coast, as Trump claimed? We emailed his campaign three times seeking backup for the statement but didn’t hear back. So we began our own investigation.

First, we contacted the Virginia Wine Board, a panel created by the Virginia General Assembly to promote state wineries and vineyards. Annette Boyd, the board’s director, said Trump Winery has planted 200 acres of vines. By that measure, called "acres under vine," Boyd said Trump Winery has the largest vineyard in Virginia.

The Trump Winery website, citing the same 200-acre figure, also says it’s the largest vineyard in the state. It additionally claims that it’s the largest "vinifera vineyard" on the East Coast, referring to a species of grape.

But the website never goes as far as Donald Trump did in making an unconditional claim that the winery is the largest on the East Coast. He’s made that statement a number of times.

Several wine industry analysts told us that when calculating a winery’s size, the best measure is not the acreage of vines that have been planted-- it’s the volume of wine produced. By that standard, wine experts told us there’s no way Trump Winery is the biggest on the East Coast.

"That’s not correct," Michael Kaiser, spokesman for the National Association of American Wineries, told us about Trump’s claim.

In fact, by that measure Trump Winery is not even the largest in Virginia. The Trump Winery produces about 36,000 cases of wine each year, according to Boyd. The top producers in the state are the Williamsburg Winery and Chateau Morrisette in Floyd County-- each making about 60,000 cases a year, Boyd said. Barboursville Winery in Orange County, meanwhile, makes about 37,000 cases a year, Boyd said.

It’s not hard to find wineries along the East Coast that make even more. Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, N.C., produces about 390,000 cases of sweet wine a year, Dave Fussell Jr., Duplin’s president, told us in an email.

Duplin, on its website, claims to be the "largest winery in the South." Its grapes come from more than 1,000 acres, the vast majority from farmers who grow them off-site.

The Biltmore Winery in Asheville, N.C., says on its website that it produces about 150,000 cases of wine a year.

Lastly, we wondered whether there are wineries on the East Coast that have more grapes than Trump Winery’s 200 acres of vines. The answer is yes.

The Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York says it cultivates 250 acres of grapes (and makes 50,000 cases of wine a year). The vineyard manager at Pindar Vineyards on New York’s Long Island said in a November 2015 interview that its vineyard has more than 300 acres of grapes. Pindar says it makes 70,000 cases of wine a year.

Our ruling

Trump said that Trump Winery is the "largest winery on the East Coast." It’s not, regardless of whether you measure it by acreage of vines or the production of wine.

We rate Trump’s statement False. offered a Fake wine news alert this week. "The winery that bears Donald Trump’s name," they reported, "which is located in Charlottesville, Virginia, has long denied having anything to do with the current president of the United States... Fake winery news aside, Trump has an unethical habit of mixing his personal business with policy matters. Whether entertaining heads of state at the restaurants inside his D.C. hotel, hosting foreign dignitaries at his properties, or plugging his businesses during official statements Trump has more conflicts of interest than hairs on his head."

Yesterday, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a resolution in the House that Paul Ryan is likely to bury and prevent from ever coming to a vote. The resolution calls for Señor Trumpanzee President Donald Trump to get a psychiatric examination to determine if he should be removed from office. The resolution reads, in part, "President Donald J. Trump has exhibited an alarming pattern of behavior and speech causing concern that a mental disorder may have rendered him unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional duties" [and urges Pence and the Trumpanzee Cabinet to] "quickly secure the services of medical and psychiatric professionals to examine the President… to determine whether the President suffers from mental disorder or other injury that impairs his abilities and prevents him from discharging his constitutional duties."

She speculated that either Trump "has early stage dementia" or that "the stress of office aggravated a mental illness crippling impulse control."

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How "Both Sides" Forge U.S. Supremacy: The Nationalistic Hypocrisies of "Violence" and "Free Speech"


-by Sam Husseini

Many have focused on President Donald Trump's statements on Charlottesville condemning the "violence" from "both sides." Which is understandable, since the killing of Heather Heyer and overwhelming violence came from white supremacists. But virtually no one has scrutinized the first half of his remarks: Trump criticizing the "violence" of others.

How is it that Trump is designated to be in a position of judging the perpetrators of violence? The U.S. government is regularly bombing a number of countries. Just last week, Trump threatened North Korea with nuclear destruction in unusually blunt language-- "fire and fury" rather than the typical Obama administration veiled nuclear attack code lingo "all options are on the table."

On Monday, the same day Trump read a scripted condemnation of white supremacist violence, reported that in Syria: "Marwa, Mariam and Ahmad Mazen died with their mother and 19 other civilians in a likely Coalition strike at Raqqa."

You'd be hard pressed to find a "news" story about them. That's the concern with the effects of "violence" when it emanates from the U.S. government.

But the threats and use of violence are not new, nor is the hypocrisy. As he was ordering the ongoing bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, President Bill Clinton took time out of his schedule to address the shooting at Columbine High School: “We must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

Such outbreaks of domestic political violence are used not as openings for introspection about longstanding violence in U.S. society, but for rallying cries to uphold alleged virtues of the nation. The recent attacks are "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans" Trump claims.

Since we live "under law and under the Constitution...responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice. No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God."

The words Trump uttered seemed to echo Saint Augustine. Charles Avila in Ownership: Early Christian Teaching, outlines Augustine's beliefs: "The Creator, who alone is Absolute Owner, did not make us human beings so many 'islands,' without any relation to each other, but one human family, 'made from one mud' and sustained 'on one earth.'...We enjoy the same natural conditions: 'born under one law, living by one light, breathing one air and dying one death.'"

Thus, what seemingly originated as a universal theological admonition-- to attack the notion of private property no less-- has been perverted into a narrow nationalist one with universalist trappings. It simultaneously seems to condemn violence while actually facilitating it.

Nor is this new, either. during the presidency of Bill Clinton, he ordered up an "Initiative on Race". It's largely forgotten because its primary goal wasn't actually improving relations between different ethnic groups. Its goal was noted in its title: "One America in the 21st Century.” Not “Finally Overcoming Racism.” Not “Towards an America of Equality.”

National cohesion is the driving concern here. How can we make these differing ethnicities get along well enough to ensure that this stays one nation is a question elites must ask themselves. See my piece at the time: "'One America'-- To what Ends?"

There's a tightrope being walked here. There's a functionality to the "debate" between "both sides." The system requires a great deal of tension to keep people in their partisan boxes. The main thing that each political faction has going for it is the hatred towards the other.

But there's the threat that it could reach a threshold that tears at national unity, which is why you get Terry McAuliffe and other political figures making Trump-like brazen contradictory statements, pleading for unity one minute and denouncing white supremacists as being repugnant to American values the next, wholly unworthy of engagement.

The Democratic Party has to offer people something more than Russia-bashing, and that something seems to be opposition to a war that the party of Jefferson was on the losing side of.

Many were aghast at Trump's remarks about Washington and Jefferson: "So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"

If we do honest history, it doesn't stop. That's the point. It condemns most of the political class. And would do so to most of current political class. But that's not a conclusion many in the political class are interested in. A line can certainly be drawn from Washington to Lee, as Confederates frequently argued.

As historian Gerald Horne has argued, the U.S. Revolutionary War was largely a war to ensure the continuation of slavery. Part of the "genius" of the U.S. was the "unification" of many non-black and non-native people as "white," including southern and eastern Europeans and Arabs. So you have a large immigration pool to forge the nation.

Nor of course is slavery the only crime. It's perhaps focused on to at least some extent in our current political discourse because it's the main aspect of the imperial project that created, rather than destroyed, a major domestic constituency that was a victim of it. Native Americans are not a major domestic constituency because, unlike black folks in the U.S., their ancestors were not chained and brought to U.S. shores as slaves, but were driven out, killed en mass or made to die or be confined and marginalized.

And that project predated the formal creation of the United States. Kent A. MacDougall notes in "Empire-- American as Apple Pie" in Monthly Review that "George Washington called the nascent nation 'a rising empire.' John Adams said it was 'destined' to overspread all North America. And Thomas Jefferson viewed it as 'the nest from which all America, North and South, is to be peopled.'"

Of course, Trump isn't raising Washington and Jefferson to broaden the critique of the crimes of white supremacy, but to try to limit it. This is somewhat similar to when Bill O'Reilly said in an interview with Trump that Putin is "a killer"-- Trump replied: "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Trump thus becomes the only honest person on the national stage, but largely not for the purpose of positive change. He's using what is mostly a left wing critique to entrench the establishment, which is similar to what "neocons" have done.

Trump's statements, understated as they were, about current U.S. government violence were roundly condemned by most of the political class. CNN's "chief national security correspondent" Jim Sciutto called them "relativistic"-- when they were they are the exact opposite. What's relativistic is condemning the actions of others while approving of similar actions by one's "own side." Of course, Trump is relativistic when he condemns the violence from "many sides" in Charlottesville.

So we have two relativistic dead ends: Trump "vs" the rest of the establishment. One victim for the time being is people's brain cells who have to endure and try to parse through the constant machinations.

Comments like those about U.S. violence or the history of Washington give Trump a legitimacy of sorts. The establishment media effectively keep the microphone away from anyone else who would note such defining facts, while giving reams of coverage to Trump. He effectively becomes the leading "dissident" while also being the head inquisitor. This discourse effectively immunizes the establishment from meaningful change or even dialogue.

Contrast Trump's realistic statement with what passes for dissent on Democracy Now, which recently reverentially interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates of the once somewhat dignified journal The Atlantic. Coates stated: "The Civil War was the most lethal war in American history. The casualties in the Civil War amount to more than all other wars-- all other American wars combined. More people died in that war than World War II, World War I, Vietnam, etc."


Martin Luther King warned African Americans were "integrating into a burning house." Robert E. Lee said of blacks in the U.S.: "The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things." Many have seemingly accepted such instruction.

A path for "acceptance" by the establishment for African Americans, immigrants and others is to kiss the ring of U.S. supremacy.

This insular discussion of "both sides" in the U.S. context frequently renders the non-U.S. "other" even more expendable. As I wrote in 2015: "How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life":

Both sides limit who they mean by “lives.” They effectively exclude the victims of the U.S.’s highest officials. When most people use #BlackLivesMatter, they seem to be saying that all black U.S. lives matter when taken unlawfully by the government. And when most people who use #AllLivesMatter use it, they seem to be saying all U.S. lives matter when taken at the hands of police authorities-- not just black U.S. lives. But the formulation effectively excludes the lives of millions of people who U.S. officials have deemed expendable for reasons of state.

Coates also claimed: "What you have to understand is, Donald Trump’s very essence, his very identity, is the anti-Obama. ... I mean, there was a piece, I think, like just last week in BuzzFeed. It was talking about, you know, Trump’s foreign policy. And his basic deal is: 'Is Obama for it? Well, I’m against it.'"

This shows remarkable ignorance or deceit about the continuity of U.S. foreign policy in recent decades, which obviously extends to include Obama and Trump. This is especially the case for someone who lives outside the United States. Certainly, the branding and rhetoric is different, but it's supposed to be the job of "public intellectuals" to see beyond that, not calcify it.

There are many ramifications of the nationalistic blinders that are dutifully imposed by so many. Take the discussion of the ACLU's role in defending the white supremacists marching. The "both sides" here are: We should care so much about bigotry and violence that we should curtail the right of gun wielding white supremacists to march wherever they want. The other side is: Our devotion to free speech is so great that we should even allow this.

They both ring hollow to me. It is not at all clear that what is happening will root out structural racism; it has been at the level of symbols, which is where the establishment wants it to remain contained. Nor do I see a serious commitment to freedom of speech being displayed by the ACLU and others, as serious infringement of freedom of speech occur with hardly an objection. Partisan establishment apparatchiks dominate media at virtually every level, with government facilitation. Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have effectively taken over much of the town square and are increasingly skewing what speech gets heard. Such is the nature of corporate power, backed by the state, right now.

The likely "collateral damage" of such "debates" will be critics of U.S. empire. Consider that as the national ACLU seemed to be backtracking from their position, the California ACLU put out a statement that read in part "First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence." Who is going to be the likely victim of this? White supremacists-- or someone who explains why Hezbollah might want to lob missiles at Israel? The line that the California ACLU seeks to draw would seemingly ironically lynch John Brown, whose actual execution was overseen by none other than Robert E. Lee in blue uniform.

Twitter suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts last year allegedly linked to ISIS, with hardly a word of protest.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel-- possibly the most anti-ISIS outlet going-- is banned in the U.S. without outcry; with barely a note.

The very discussion about "hate groups" is perverse. The entire political culture in the U.S. lives off of hate. The pro Hillary Clinton rhetoric is "Love Trumps Hate," but Clinton, like Trump, feeds off hate. There certainly are explicitly white supremacist groups. And there can be some distinction made between them and the merely implicitly structurally racist establishment. But the Democratic and Republican Parties would implode in a minute if it were not for the hatred of the other.

What's needed is that freedom of speech triumph and in today's world it's not clear if that is compatible with the nation state and corporate power in their current construct. In its present form and use, the internet is ceasing to be "world wide web"-- it is constricted in a myriad of ways by national boundaries and unaccountable corporate diktat that need to be questioned if not obliterated in our contemporary world.

The taking down of Confederate monuments poses a some opportunity-- a groundswell of democratic grassroots action could happen. But the tearing down needs to be built upon. In Baltimore, faced with the prospect of activists taking down Confederate statues, city officials abruptly arranged for their overnight disappearance. Local artists put a sculpture of an African American woman atop the pedestal in their place.

This hints at a greater solution to the immediate controversy over Confederate monuments. I recall the first time I saw, or at least comprehended, a Confederate memorial-- with Lee or some other general atop a horse, I think in New Orleans. I thought the solution would be not to remove them, but to build around them. A tree could hover above with strange fruit hanging down, for example.

This would diminish the "beauty" that Donald Trump sees in the Confederate statues while acknowledging the history, both in its illusion as to what it pretends to depict-- and the reality of the selective erection of such statues.

Indeed, perhaps we need more-- not fewer-- monuments to the Civil War, to all wars. If done right, they would actually be monuments for peace. Consider the nature of war, the consequences, the actual reality of mangled corpses beneath the "great men" atop their horses.

But there are perils at every turn. When the U.S. Treasury decided to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill last year, many welcomed it. But it seemed to me to be a subtle but real step to co-opting the legacy of the Underground Railroad to one that could be used to help justify "humanitarian interventionism"-- ie, U.S. militarism with some bogus moral pretext attached. That is, the language of the U.S. Civil War could be used to "free" people around the world as the State Department sees fit, as now with Venezuela. As Simon Bolivar said: “The United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with torments in the name of freedom.”

Ironically, some denouncing Trump's "fascist" proclivities have taken refuge in the actions of corporate bosses who have resigned from the American Manufacturing Council that Trump launched earlier this year. As Noam Chomsky [see video up top] and others have long noted, corporate structure is totalitarian. The saviors here are part of the threat. Perhaps doubly so since the Council was a corporate-government cooperative entity.

The pretexts and posturing run throughout public discourse in the U.S., as it's dominated by apparatchiks around Trump and around the Democratic Party. Only an ever vigilant parsing of the deceits and actions that are rooted in principles and a sense of the global commons will see us through.

Sam Husseini is founder of, which advocates principled left-right cooperation to break the duopoly. He's also the founder of, an art project to make apparent the one world we inhabit. Special thanks to Berkley Bragg.


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