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FTR #882 The Perfect “Sturm”: Machiavelli 3.0 and the Rise of Global Fascism

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment

ISIS recruits pledging allegiance. They are NOT auditioning for an anti-perspirant commercial.

Introduction: In FTR #830, we noted the mirrored ideological constructs central to Muslim Brotherhood-based Islamic fascism and the American and European fascists who have used anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim fervor to mint valuable political coinage.

Quoting from the introduction to that program: “. . . . European fascists of the National Front variety can point to the attacks and say “See! We told you so! You can’t trust these (‘Muslims;’ ‘immigrants;’ ‘Muslim immigrants’ etc.)! We are your only hope! Join with us!”

By the same token, the Islamic fascists of the Muslim Brotherhood can point to the xenophobic reaction and say “See! We told you so! You can’t trust these infidels! We are your only hope! Join with us!”

In that context, we should note that both non-Muslim Europeans and Muslim residents of that continent [Europe] are being squeezed to the breaking point by the austerity mandate being imposed on the EU by Germany and its corporate allies–von Clausewitzian economics. . . .”

In a bellwether of how acute the situation has become, The New York Times featured no fewer than four op-ed pieces on successive days in December of 2015 (12/11 and 12/12) highlighting the march of fascist sentiment and political success around the world.

The first of the New York Times op-ed pieces from successive days that we examine is a piece by Timothy Egan noting the embrace of Donald Trump by Nazis and white supremacists. Taking note of the support for Trump expressed by David Duke and the Daily Stormer website, Egan bemoans the GOP turn to the right.

Otto von Bolschwing

A column by Paul Krugman the previous day took note of the same dynamic, driven in part by xenophobia and fear of terrorism, the angst-driven fascism is also fueled by economic oppression.

The same day that Egan’s column ran, the opposite side of the op-ed page featured discussion of Poland’s slide into blind reaction, driven by the citizens blaming ” . . . the loss of control over their lives, real or imagined, on a conspiracy between cosmopolitan-minded elites and tribal-minded immigrants.”

On the previous day, “The Grey Lady” published an insightful piece by Aatish Tasheer that expanded the focus and the depth of analysis, citing the desire to return to a mythically idealized past as a common denominator fueling arch-reaction all over the world, including the developing nations. (We highlighted this in our discussions with Peter Levenda.)

Much of the baleful media analysis in recent days has focused on the pronouncements of Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race for the GOP Presidential nod. Not the outlier he (and others) is said to be, Trump is part and parcel to the fascism manifested by the GOP and the political right in this country.

Program Highlights Include: 

1a. Paul Krugman noted the role of long-term economic malaise in generating the rise of fascism:

“That 30s Show” by Paul Krugman; The New York Times [Blog: “The Conscience of a Liberal”]; 12/07/2015.

A few years ago de Brom­head, Eichen­green, and O’Rourke looked at the deter­mi­nants of right-wing extrem­ism in the 1930s. They found that eco­nomic fac­tors mat­tered a lot; specifically, what mat­tered was not the cur­rent growth of the econ­omy but cumu­la­tive growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumu­la­tive reces­sion. One year of con­trac­tion was not enough to sig­nif­i­cantly boost extrem­ism, in other words, but a depres­sion that per­sisted for years was.

How’s Europe doing on that basis?

And now the National Front has scored a first-place fin­ish in regional elec­tions, and will prob­a­bly take a cou­ple of regions in the sec­ond round. Eco­nom­ics isn’t the only fac­tor; immi­gra­tion, refugees, and ter­ror­ism play into the mix. But Europe’s under­per­for­mance is slowly erod­ing the legit­i­macy, not just of the Euro­pean project, but of the open soci­ety itself.

1b. The first of the New York Times op-ed pieces from successive days that we examine is a piece by Timothy Egan noting the embrace of Donald Trump by Nazis and white supremacists.

“Goose-Steppers in the GOP” by Timothy Egan; The New York Times; 12/12/2015.

Well, he’s got the Hitler vote. The neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, was out and proud earlier this week: “Heil Donald Trump — the Ultimate Savior.” After endorsing the Republican presidential front-runner earlier this year for his call to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, the fomenters of American fascism have now added an apt twist to his slogan, one not far from the truth of the campaign: “Make America White Again.”

Nazis — I hate these guys. Oh, but they’re a tiny minority of pink-faced malcontents living in basements with the windows taped up. Everybody hates them. Add to that supporters of the Ku Klux Klan, who’ve thrown in with Trump as well. David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Klan, liked everything he heard from Trump this week, embracing him for standing up for white nationalism.

And sure, all the little Hitlers probably don’t amount to a hill of beans. But what about the 35 percent of Republican voters, in the New York Times/CBS News poll, who say they’re all in with the man sieg heiled by aspiring brownshirts and men in white sheets?

It’s a very ugly political moment, but there it is: The Republican Party is now home to millions of people who would throw out the Constitution, welcome a police state against Latinos and Muslims, and enforce a religious test for entry into a country built by people fleeing religious persecution. This stuff polls well in their party, even if the Bill of Rights does not.

Trump’s proposal — “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — is not just flotsam from the lunatic fringe. Well, it is. But the fringe is huge: Early polls show a plurality of Republican voters agree with Trump on banning all Muslims. And many would go even further.

“Add in every other kind of immigrant and it’s perfect,” tweeted Ann Coulter, who sells xenophobia as a mean girl provocateur, with many friends in the far right media universe.

Trump himself doesn’t seem to care about comparisons to the buffoonish (Mussolini), the truly scary (the evil one admired by the Daily Stormer) or the fictional — worse than Voldemort, as J. K. Rowling tweeted.

He sloughed off the fascism talk by associating his proposal with the internment in America of the Japanese during World War II. There’s a winning thought. I was wondering when he was going to get around to alienating Asian-Americans, the highest-earning, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States, according to Pew.

To review: He started with “the blacks,” through his smear campaign on the citizenship of the nation’s first African-American president. Moved on to Mexicans, war veterans, women who look less than flawless in middle age, the disabled, all Muslims and now people whose grandparents were rousted from their American homes and put in camps.

Which gets us back to his base and their awful bedfellows in the neo-Nazi bunkers. Who are these people? His supporters, most of them, do not see the shadow of the Reich when they look in the mirror. They are white, lower middle class, with little education beyond high school. The global economy has run them over. They don’t recognize their country. And they need a villain.

Still, it’s hard to take seriously House Speaker Paul Ryan’s rare objection to a lunatic suggestion from his party’s presidential front-runner when he says he would also back Trump should he be the nominee.

“It’s not our party,” lamented Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. “It’s not our country.” As a Mormon, the senator has to be familiar with a time when there was an open war on his faith, when Mormons were considered not only un-American but domestic terrorists.

That history is instructive, as we struggle with Trump’s hysteria and the millions fired up by his hate. But the only way to get rid of the goose-steppers drawn to the G.O.P. is to vow to never support the man giving them something to march to.

2. The previous day, Paul Krugman noted the effects of xenophobia on electorates in Europe and the U.S.

“Empowering the Ugliness” by Paul Krugman; The New York Times; 12/11/2015.

We live in an era of political news that is, all too often, shocking but not surprising. The rise of Donald Trump definitely falls into that category. And so does the electoral earthquake that struck France in Sunday’s regional elections, with the right-wing National Front winning more votes than either of the major mainstream parties.

What do these events have in common? Both involved political figures tapping into the resentments of a bloc of xenophobic and/or racist voters who have been there all along. The good news is that such voters are a minority; the bad news is that it’s a pretty big minority, on both sides of the Atlantic. If you are wondering where the support for Mr. Trump or Marine Le Pen, the head of the National Front, is coming from, you just haven’t been paying attention.

But why are these voters making themselves heard so loudly now? Have they become much more numerous? Maybe, but it’s not clear. More important, I’d argue, is the way the strategies elites have traditionally used to keep a lid on those angry voters have finally broken down.

Let me start with what is happening in Europe, both because it’s probably less familiar to American readers and because it is, in a way, a simpler story than what is happening here.

My European friends will no doubt say that I’m oversimplifying, but from an American perspective it looks as if Europe’s establishment has tried to freeze the xenophobic right, not just out of political power, but out of any role in acceptable discourse. To be a respectable European politician, whether of the left or of the right, you have had to accept the European project of ever-closer union, of free movement of people, open borders, and harmonized regulations. This leaves no room for right-wing nationalists, even though right-wing nationalism has always had substantial popular support.

What the European establishment may not have realized, however, is that its ability to define the limits of discourse rests on the perception that it knows what it is doing. Even admirers and supporters of the European project (like me) have to admit that it has never had deep popular support or a lot of democratic legitimacy. It is, instead, an elite project sold largely on the claim that there is no alternative, that it is the path of wisdom.

And there’s nothing quite like sustained poor economic performance – the kind of poor performance brought on by Europe’s austerity and hard-money obsessions — to undermine the elite’s reputation for competence. That’s probably why one recent study found a consistent historical relationship between financial crises and the rise of right-wing extremism. And history is repeating itself.

The story is quite different in America, because the Republican Party hasn’t tried to freeze out the kind of people who vote National Front in France. Instead, it has tried to exploit them, mobilizing their resentment via dog whistles to win elections. This was the essence of Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” and explains why the G.O.P. gets the overwhelming majority of Southern white votes.

But there is a strong element of bait-and-switch to this strategy. Whatever dog whistles get sent during the campaign, once in power the G.O.P. has made serving the interests of a small, wealthy economic elite, especially through big tax cuts, its main priority — a priority that remains intact, as you can see if you look at the tax plans of the establishment presidential candidates this cycle.

 

3. On the same day that Egan’s op-ed piece ran, The Times featured a piece about Poland’s rightward shift:

“Poland’s Illiberal Turn [Why Poland Is Turning Away from the West] by Ivan Krastev;” The New York Times; 12/12/2015. 

During the recent electoral campaign in Poland, a constant question raised by pundits and politicians was not whether the country would go right, but whether it would go wrong.

Would the conservative Law and Justice Party, the expected victors in the poll, go the way of Viktor Orban’s increasingly authoritarian Hungary, or would it stay closer to the center? Given the nationalist, anti-liberal slant of the party’s campaign platform, could Poland’s seemingly consolidated liberal institutions reverse course? Law and Justice won decisively, and after only three weeks we have an answer: a distressing yes. . . .

. . . . These populist and radical parties aren’t just parties; they are constitutional movements. They promise voters what liberal democracy cannot: a sense of victory where majorities — not just political majorities, but ethnic and religious ones, too — can do what they please.

The rise of these parties is symptomatic of the explosion of threatened majorities as a force in European politics. They blame the loss of control over their lives, real or imagined, on a conspiracy between cosmopolitan-minded elites and tribal-minded immigrants. They blame liberal ideas and institutions for weakening the national will and eroding national unity. . . .

4. On the same day that the Krugman column above ran, The Times featured an insightful op-ed piece that extended the analysis. Noting a fixation on a mythical, idealized past, Aatish Taseer set forth the fundamental position of that dynamic in the Islamic fascism propounded by ISIS, the Hindu nationalist fascism of Modi’s India.

Taseer notes, correctly, that this is happening “all over the world.”

“The Return of History” by Aatish Taseer; The New York Times; 12/11/2015.

An Islamic philosopher in Karachi, an ideologue who provides violent ideas to some of Pakistan’s fiercest extremist groups, once told me that there are two kinds of history: dead and living. “Dead history is something on a shelf or in a museum,” he said. “Living history is part of your consciousness, something in your blood that inspires you.”

I was reminded of this last month during a conversation with a different kind of scholar. William McCants is the author of the excellent new book “The ISIS Apocalypse,” and he is nothing if not a student of “living history.” Mr. McCants looks at the Islamic State’s idea of the past and how the group’s adherents view their place in it. The picture that emerges is one of a terrific tension between the dead past and the ways in which it is being remade to fit the needs of the living present. The Islamic State’s treatment of history is particularly extreme, but a similar return of history is occurring with varying degrees of intensity all across the old world.

The jihadists in Syria and Iraq, Mr. McCants told me, are “infatuated” with Harun al-Rashid, the great Abbasid caliph whose court reportedly inspired “One Thousand and One Nights.” “They see him as the pinnacle of success, and the caliphate that he ruled over as the golden age,” Mr. McCants said, “but they elide all those parts of his rule that don’t mesh with their own.” The eighth-century caliph being idolized by the Islamic State practiced a far more lenient rule than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi does. Harun was tolerant of Shiites and religious minorities. His court would engage in freewheeling debates over matters of faith. “You could play musical instruments,” Mr. McCants said. “He loved to drink wine, he loved men.”

That the Islamic State has made violent use of history shouldn’t come as a surprise. Perhaps more surprising is that in all those places where a modern nation has been grafted onto an ancient culture, history has returned with a vengeance. From Confucian China to Buddhist Myanmar to Hindu India, history has become the source of a fierce new conservatism that is being used to curb freedoms of women and stoke hatred of minorities. As the ultimate source of legitimacy, history has become a way for modernizing societies to procure the trappings of modernity while guarding themselves from its values.

When I was in Sri Lanka in 2013, the Bodu Bala Sena, a radical Buddhist nationalist group, had conjured up a prudish Buddha who scolded young girls about their clothes and told them what time they should be home at night. In reality, the Buddha, like many Eastern thinkers, was generally reticent on the subject of sexual morality. Sex concerned him only to the extent that it interfered with men realizing the fullness of their spiritual lives.

Similarly, in India, a breach has appeared between a sensuous and liberal past and an ugly, puritanical present. In my daily reading of Sanskrit poetry, there are women with disheveled hair, half-open eyes and cheeks covered in sweat from the exertion of coitus. But turn on the television and the minister of culture, who says that the Hindu holy books are ideal texts for teaching moral values, informs modern Indians that “girls wanting a night out” may be all right elsewhere, but it is “not part of Indian culture.” (He seeks to cleanse Indian culture of the pollution of the West, but if it’s sex the minister worries about, he’ll have to cleanse Indian culture of itself. No one did it better than ancient India.)

The past is alive as it never has been before. It seems almost to serve as a kind of armor against an alien and impure present. And modernity, in the shallow sense of the word — that world of highways and blue-glass malls and men in the uniforms of foreign companies — does not satisfy the demands for this “living history.” In fact a certain dispiriting experience of modernity, felt often as the loss of a sense of self and of old ways, exacerbates these demands. This is what lies behind this violent need to reclaim history. “We are called from the past and must make our home in the future,” the great South Asian philosopher and art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy wrote almost a century ago. “But to understand, to endorse with passionate conviction, and to love what we have left behind us is the only possible foundation for power.”

But there is all the difference in the world between loving the past and wishing to return to it. Love contains the spirit of regeneration; perverse nostalgia is almost always a violent enterprise. Mr. McCants pointed out the inorganic newness of the Islamic State’s experiment. “They purport to be reviving a medieval tradition of rule,” he said, “but, to my knowledge, we never had in medieval Islam a state that was so eager to impose what’s in scripture, and tradition.”

Islam, with its rich textual history and detailed recordings of the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad, offers the faithful an especially aggressive blueprint for turning the past into a weapon against the present. But the return of history is not specific to Islam. All over the old world, the spread of modernity and the wearing down of tradition have led to a frantic need to repossess the past. But this act of reclamation, through an ever-closer adherence to text without context, does not give back what was lost. It creates something radical and new — and dangerous.

5. In our discussions with Peter Levenda, we noted that an element common to fascism of various kinds is a preoccupation with, and desire to return to, a mythical, idealized past.

The Hitler Legacy by Peter Levenda; IBIS Press [HC]; Copyright 2014 by Peter Levenda; ISBN 978-0-89254-210-9; pp. 85-89.

. . . . Both the American Nazi and the Klan movements wanted America to go back to the way it was before the Great Depression, before the First World War, to a time that never really existed the way they thought it did: a time before the advent of Communist states like the Soviet Union; a time before blacks and Jews could be considered equal citizens of the nation. Like many of today’s extreme right protestors, the Nazis and Klansmen of the 1920s and 1930s wanted to “take their country back,” in this case–and possibly in the present case also–“back” meant “back in time.” . . . .

. . . . This focus on purity could be seen as a desire to return to a more primitive time–in illo tempore–when the world was pristine. That this time probably never existed did not occur (or was not acceptable) to those promoting this “return to nature” and “return to our roots”  philosophy. Legends of ancient Greece and Rome were conflated with legends concerning Atlantis and Thule: the latter the presumed ancient homeland of the Aryans. With the coming of Western civilization–according to this theory–much of humanity’s basic goodness and inherent physical and psychic powers were lost, a kind of Samson and Delilah moment when the virile and pure Samson is shorn of his hair and thus loses his potency and strength to the Levantine, Semitic seductress. . . . It is also an implicit acknowledgment of failure. This yearning for a return to some other state in the distant indicates an incapability of dealing with present-day issues in any other way. It represents a desire to wipe the slate clean and start over, which may be attractive as a fantasy but not practicable in life. . . .

6a. GOP front-runner Donald Trump has garnered much attention for his pronouncements in the racist/xenophobic vein. We note his close association with Norman Vincent Peale and former Joe McCarthy aide Roy Cohn.

“The USFL’s Trump Card” by Robert Boyle; Sports Illustrated; 2/13/2015.

. . . . As might be expected, the Trumps travel in rarefied circles. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale is their pastor, Roy Cohn their attorney. “Donald Trump is an extraordinary young man,” says Peale. “He has the elements of genius.” Cohn says Trump is “one of the most enterprising, ingenious businessmen on the American scene…a miracle man who can’t seem to make a mistake even if he tries.” . . . .

6b. Trump is close to Helene Von Damm, the Otto von Bolschwing protege who selected the personnel for Ronald Reagan’s cabinet. Von Damm became Reagan’s Ambassador to Austria. It would not be unreasonable to ask if Trump’s business dealings are involved with the Bormann capital network?

“Helene Von Damm’s Viennese Waltz” by William Drodziak; The Washington Post; 3/5/1985.

. . . . She would like to divide her time between Vienna and New York, where her campaign days reaped several close friendships in big business circles, notably with construction magnate Donald Trump. . . .

7. Among the Christian prelates operating on behalf of the Nazi cause was The Reverend Norman Vincent Peale Among the Christian prelates operating on behalf of the Nazi cause. Best known as the exponent of “the power of positive thinking,” Peale long graced the pages of publications like Reader’s Digest and his name became synonymous with wholesome, mainstream Americana in the postwar years. Prior to and during the war, however, Peale fronted for Edward A. Rumely, a spy and agitator for Germany during both World Wars. Like so many others, Rumely, too, benefited from his association with Hitler benefactor Henry Ford. Note that another of Rumely’s fellow travelers in the Fifth Column movement was Frank Gannett, founder of the newspaper chain that bears his name.

Under Cover–My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld in America by John Roy Carlson; E.P. Dutton [HC]; 1943; pp. 474-475.

. . . . Rumely is boss of the Committee for Constitutional Government and second in command to Frank E. Gannett, publisher of a string of newspapers and founder of the committee in 1937. As soon as the Senatorial investigation was over, Rumely literally went underground and erased his name from the Committee stationery. But he continued to run it by appointing a docile Protestant clergyman as ‘acting chairman and secretary’ who visited the office only occasionally. He was the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, once a joint speaker with [American fascist] Mrs. Elizabeth Dilling and the Reverend Edward Lodge Curran [key aide to Father Coughlin] at a ‘pro-American mass meeting sponsored by more than 50 patriotic organizations’ at the Hotel Commodore in New York. . . . Rumely’s friendship with Henry Ford dated prior to the summer of 1918 when Ford rushed to Washington in an unsuccessful attempt to save Rumely from being indicted. . . .”

8. Reviewing part of the political history of McCarthyism, we detail “The Pond”–an intelligence network run by John “Frenchy” Grombach. A portion of the historical depth to the development of American fascism is contained in this analysis. The New York Times–predictably–does not discuss dynamics like this.

SS general Karl Wolff began feeding information to “Frenchy” Grombach, a former military intelligence agent who formed a network of operatives who fed information to the CIA, among others. As indicated here, one of Grombach’s major sources in his efforts was Wolff.

Blowback by Christopher Simpson; Collier [Macmillan] {SC}; Copyright 1988 by Christopher Simpson; ISBN 0-02-044995-X; p. 236.

 . . . One of Grombach’s most important assets, according to U.S. naval intelligence records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, was SS General Karl Wolff, a major war criminal who had gone into the arms trade in Europe after the war. . . . Grombach worked simultaneously under contract to the Department of State and the CIA. The ex-military intelligence man succeeded in creating ‘one of the most unusual organizations in the history of the federal government,’ according to CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick. ‘It was developed completely outside of the normal governmental structure, [but it] used all of the normal cover and communications facilities normally operated by intelligence organizations, and yet never was under any control from Washington.’ By the early 1950s the U.S. government was bankrolling Grombach’s underground activities at more than $1 million annually, Kirkpatrick has said. . . .

9. Among the primary recipients of Grombach’s and Wolff’s information was Senator Joseph McCarthy, who utilized dirt given him by the network to smear his opponents.

Blowback by Christopher Simpson; Collier [Macmillan] {SC}; Copyright 1988 by Christopher Simpson; ISBN 0-02-044995-X; p. 237.

. . . Grombach banked on his close connections with Senators Joseph McCarthy, William Jenner, and other members of the extreme Republican right to propel him to national power. . . .Grombach’s outfit effectively became the foreign espionage agency for the far right, often serving as the overseas complement to McCarthy’s generally warm relations with J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI at home . . . . U.S. government contracts bankrolling a network of former Nazis and collaborators gave him much of the ammunition he needed to do the job. Grombach used his networks primarily to gather dirt. This was the American agent’s specialty, his true passion: political dirt, sexual dirt, any kind of compromising information at all. ‘He got into a lot of garbage pails,’ as Kirkpatrick puts it, ‘and issued ‘dirty linen’ ‘reports on Americans. ‘Grombach collected scandal, cataloged it, and used it carefully, just as he had done during the earlier McCormack investigation. He leaked smears to his political allies in Congress and the press when it suited his purposes to do so. Grombach and congressional ‘internal security’ investigators bartered these dossiers with one another almost as though they were boys trading baseball cards. . . .

 

 

 

Discussion

32 comments for “FTR #882 The Perfect “Sturm”: Machiavelli 3.0 and the Rise of Global Fascism”

  1. If you found Donald Trump’s recent comments on the ‘nuclear triad’ more than a little disturbing, get ready to be much more disturbed:

    Mediaite
    Trump Spox Asks What the Purpose Is of Nuclear Triad ‘If You’re Afraid to Use It’
    by Josh Feldman | 8:47 pm, December 18th, 2015

    A Donald Trump spokeswoman tonight asked what the point is of having nuclear weapons if the United States is “afraid” to use them.

    This comes on the heels of one of Trump’s big flubs from this week’s debate––not knowing what the nuclear triad (the three different systems the U.S. has to fire nuclear weapons) is.

    On The O’Reilly Factor tonight, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson attacked Republicans for pushing endless war and talking tough. And then she asked, “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?”

    Now, it might strike you as odd when you watch the video below how cavalierly Pierson just says the U.S. shouldn’t be afraid to use nuclear weapons. Kind of a big issue there.

    And minutes later, as Kurt Schlichter was going off on Trump’s ignorance on the nuclear triad, he practically cried to Pierson, “The point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing! You want to scare the hell out of the other side.”

    He added, “And frankly, my side’ll be more scared if Donald Trump gets his finger on the button.”

    Yes, compared to Trump spokeswoman katrina Pierson, the far-right Breitbart blogger Kurt Schlichter was a voice of reason. And this is the same voice that’s prone to writing things like “razing the town, killing the men, selling the women and children into slavery and plowing the ground with salt was the kind of can-do, outside-the-box thinking that made the Romans people who were just plain not to be screwed with.” This is where we are.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 19, 2015, 1:18 pm
  2. Here’s a nice overview of how Donald Trump got his background in Machiavelli 101 public relations and wasn’t just from his long-time adviser Roger Stone. He also got quite an education from the fellow that introduced Trump to Stone back in 1979, Joseph McCarthy’s chief aide Roy Cohn:

    Salon.com
    Mentored in the art of manipulation: Donald Trump learned from the master — Roy Cohn

    Cohn modeled a style for Trump that was one part friendly gossip and one part menace

    Michael D’Antonio
    Saturday, Sep 26, 2015 10:59 AM CDT

    When the country finally ended Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s secular inquisition—“Have you no decency, sir?” asked one witness—his chief aide said that the witch-hunting Democrat from Wisconsin had been silenced by his colleagues because he “would not observe the social amenities.” In today’s parlance, Roy Cohn might say that McCarthy suffered because he refused to be politically correct.

    McCarthy was such an effective tormentor of the innocent that his name became synonymous with character assassination. He was eventually driven out of the Senate. Disgraced alongside his boss, Cohn departed Washington for his hometown of New York City where he became the ultimate political fixer and a terror in his own right. If you needed a favor, or wanted to hurt an enemy, Cohn could do the job. He talked like a make-believe mobster and counted real ones among his clients.

    Having spent years under the shadow of ethics complaints, Cohn lost his license to practice law in 1986, just before he died of HIV/AIDS, a diagnosis he denied. A gay Jewish man who spewed anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist remarks, he was actually quite charming in his way and left behind many friends. Among them were gossip columnists (like McCarthy, Cohn cultivated them) and two men he mentored in the art of manipulation: Roger Stone and Donald Trump.

    When Trump was still in his 20s he hired Cohn and began to move in the same circles. Both were members of Le Club, a private hot spot where the rich and famous and social climbers could meet without suffering the presence of ordinary people. Later, when Studio 54 served the glitter and cocaine crowd, Cohn and Trump were there too. Cohn modeled a style for Trump that was one part friendly gossip and one part menace. Cohn looked and sounded like someone who could hurt you if you crossed him. Trump kept a photo of the glowering Cohn so he could show it to those who might be chilled by the idea that this man was his lawyer.

    It was Cohn who introduced Trump to a young political operator named Roger Stone in 1979. Stone had cut his teeth in the Nixon campaign of 1972 where he posed as a student socialist who donated to an opponent and then made the contribution public. The fake scandal helped scuttle antiwar congressman Rep. Pete McCloskey’s presidential bid and ensured that Nixon was around to give America three more years of a disastrous war and Watergate.

    Brilliant and perpetually aggressive—“attack, attack, attack” is his motto—Stone teamed up with Trump to create an ersatz presidential bid in 1987, and the two have been political partners ever since. Like Cohn, Stone is a risk-taker. He and Trump got caught breaking campaign rules as they fought the development of Indian casinos and state officials levied a hefty fine. Stone counsels clients to “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack.” He once told a reporter that it was his practice to always, “Get even.” “When somebody screws you,” he added, “screw ‘em back—but a lot harder.”

    Trump’s version of the Stone credo, as he told me, is to “hit back 10 times harder” whenever he feels attacked. Like McCarthy and Cohn and Stone, Trump loves to gossip and trade in information. He too cultivates an air of menace to keep his opponents off-guard and he hates to apologize, or back down. And, like Cohn, he insists that the kind of talk his critics consider offensive is really just the truth expressed without the social amenities. This is an ingenious tactic for someone who wants to be free to say almost anything, even if it’s insulting, and get away with.

    Much of what Trump says and does comes straight out of the Cohn/Stone playbook, including his eagerness to make people uncomfortable and confused. As a campaign consultant Stone advises candidates to open multiple battlefronts, and as a source for reporters he often mystifies anyone who seeks to understand what he’s up to. For his part, Trump is a man prone to outrageous statements that defy fact-checking and our fascination with him stems, at least in part, from the delightful challenge of trying to figure out when he’s serious and when he’s putting us on.

    “Much of what Trump says and does comes straight out of the Cohn/Stone playbook, including his eagerness to make people uncomfortable and confused.”
    Well, let’s hope Trump’s eagerness to make people uncomfortable and confused remains his key focus. It’s far better to be made uncomfortable and confused by some of Trump’s political pedigree than inspired.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 21, 2015, 3:18 pm
  3. Here’s another indication that the GOP unofficial establishment’s plan for the 2016 elections isn’t simply to run against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Running against the ‘official’ GOP establishment, like the new House Speaker Paul Ryan, is going to be a key selling point for the GOP. It’s all part of the narrative getting peddled by a growing number key far-right thought leaders that Donald Trump is your only hope:

    WND EXCLUSIVE
    Phyllis Schlafly: Trump is ‘last hope for America’
    ‘I don’t see anyone else who’s eager to fight’

    Published: o12/20/2015

    Phyllis Schlafly, an icon of the conservative movement who has been active for half a century, is warning the nation: Donald Trump is the last hope for America.

    Schlafly unloaded on Republicans in Congress for passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill last week, a move she called a “betrayal.”

    “This is a betrayal of the grassroots and of the Republican Party,” Schlafly said in an exclusive interview with WND. “We thought we were electing a different crowd to stand up for America, and they didn’t. We’re extremely outraged by what Congress has done. Nancy Pelosi couldn’t have engineered it any better. I think the people are going to react by electing Donald Trump.”

    Trump put out a statement Friday to ABC News saying, “If anyone needs morde evidence of why the American people are suffering at the hands of their own government, look no further than the budget deal announced by Speaker Ryan. In order to avoid a government shutdown, a cowardly threat from an incompetent president, the elected Republicans in Congress threw in the towel and showed absolutely no budget discipline.”

    Trump continued, “Congress cannot seem to help itself in bending to every whim of special interests. How can they face their constituents when they continue to burden our children and grandchildren with debts they will never be able to repay? Our government is failing us, so we must do something about it. Who knows how bad things will be when the next administration comes in and has to pick up the pieces?”

    Schlafly applauded the GOP front-runner’s fighting spirit.

    “It sounds like Donald Trump is the only one who has any fight in him,” she said. “He will fight for the issues that we really care about and are very hot at the present time, such as the immigration issue. I don’t see anyone else who’s eager to fight.”

    The Republican-controlled Congress just sold America down in river in the “worst kind of betrayal,” Schlafly told WND.

    “It’s the worst kind of a betrayal because we thought we elected a bunch of good guys who would shape up the party,” she said. “We had a lot of fancy promises that the Republicans were going to shape up and change course. And they disappointed us. Betrayal is an appropriate word to describe it.”

    WND asked Schlafly if she believes Donald Trump is the last hope for America.

    “He does look like he’s the last hope [for America],” Schlafly said. “We don’t hear anybody saying what he’s saying. In fact, most of the people who ought to be lining up with him are attacking him. They’re probably jealous of the amount of press coverage he gets. But the reason he gets so much press coverage is the grassroots are fed up with people who are running things, and they do want a change. They do want people to stand up for America. It really resonates when he says he wants to ‘Make America Great Again.’”

    Schlafly said it’s not only Republicans who feel betrayed, but Democrats, too.

    “They are betrayed,” she said. “There’s no doubt about it. The working man and woman have been betrayed by both parties. They’re ready for a change … anything they think would be better.”

    ….

    “There’s no doubt about it. The working man and woman have been betrayed by both parties. They’re ready for a change … anything they think would be better.”
    Yes, following the 2013 GOP “autopsy”, when the party appeared to conclude that it was dangerously out of touch with a large swathe of the American public and needed to find a way to moderate itself if it was going to have any chance of not alienating Millennials, we got to watch the GOP go even more insane than ever over the following two and half years and basically guarantee almost nothing that can help the average voter is allowed to become law. And now we’re finally seeing the rational for that “crazier than ever” strategy: If the GOP can fill a large enough chunk of the electorate with a sense of political despair, the rabble just might get to the point where “anything would be better.” And that “anything” is, in the hopes of the GOP, Donald Trump.

    So instead of moderating itself following the 2012 loss, the party decided to run against itself (in the form of a laughable “Paul Ryan is a RINO”style campaign) in the hope of ridding itself of its own taint!

    ….

    Schlafly unloaded on Republicans in Congress for passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill last week, a move she called a “betrayal.”

    “This is a betrayal of the grassroots and of the Republican Party,” Schlafly said in an exclusive interview with WND. “We thought we were electing a different crowd to stand up for America, and they didn’t. We’re extremely outraged by what Congress has done. Nancy Pelosi couldn’t have engineered it any better. I think the people are going to react by electing Donald Trump.”

    Given the unpopularity of the GOP’s “brand” among anyone that isn’t already part of the cult and the unwavering desire to drag the nation back to the 19th century (which sort of precludes any actual moderation in the party), it’s a pretty clever strategy. Not exactly surprising, but clever.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 21, 2015, 8:20 pm
  4. Following his defense of Vladimir Putin over the suggestion that Putin’s government has had journalists killed, Donald Trump just joked about killing journalists into his campaign rallies. And because this was Trump, it wasn’t actually clear he was joking:

    Reuters
    Trump’s journalism rhetoric is no laughing matter
    By Emily Flitter
    December 22, 2015

    Near the beginning of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rallies, he likes to call attention to a small penned-off area in the middle of the room to which we journalists are relegated.

    Then, with everybody looking at us, he complains about the media. It’s a part of his stump speech, and three months ago it resulted in harmless boos and jeers from a crowd thousands strong, but Monday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan the exercise took a sinister turn when, briefly but unmistakably, the audience cheered at the idea that journalists ought to be killed, a suggestion from within the crowd.

    Here’s what happened: Trump brought up Putin, who said last week he welcomed warm relations with the Republican front-runner.

    “He said nice things,” Trump said. “All of a sudden I’m hearing things like ‘Oh isn’t it terrible that Putin’s saying n—’. That’s not terrible, that’s good! That’s like a good thing not a bad thing. He can’t stand Obama, Obama can’t stand him, they’re always fighting, wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with, like, people?”

    Cheers came from the crowd. Trump went on:

    “Then they said, you know, he’s killed reporters, and I don’t like that. I’m totally against that. By the way I hate some of these people” – he pointed at the group of us journalists – “but I’d never kill them.”

    Laughter ensued, and that was when someone called out that journalists should be killed. It wasn’t Trump, of course; it was just one person among 9,000. The video feed that was broadcast didn’t pick it up. But plenty of us heard it, and we heard how others nearby responded: They seemed to like the idea. A cheer grew, louder and louder, as we reporters continued to scribble in our notebooks.

    “I would never do that,” Trump said, smiling. (You can watch it for yourself here and hear the crowd cheering but the original audience member’s rallying cry isn’t discernible).

    He continued, pretending to toy for a moment with the idea of killing one or two after all:

    “Ah…let’s see…meeeeh— no, I wouldn’t. I would never kill them. But I do hate them, some of them are such lying, disgusting people, it’s true. It’s true. But I would never kill them and anybody that does I think would be despicable.”

    During this period of half a minute, I became aware that I was sitting in a room full of people cheering about the idea of my death, or the death of someone in my profession. My face grew warm, my heart fluttered with fear, but I tried to show nothing, to just keep watching, keep listening, and stay alert.

    Trump, meanwhile, continued and almost in the same breath added: “But you know nobody said: ‘They say he killed reporters.’ I said ‘really’? He says he didn’t, other people say he didn’t, who did he kill? Well we don’t know but we hear that.”

    ‘Tis the season for things that should be satire but aren’t. It’s one of seasons that you really don’t want to become a regular tradition.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 24, 2015, 3:52 pm
  5. Well, the inevitable just happened, although it happened in a manner that was far, far worse than was inevitable: It was probably inevitable that, at some point, a group of Muslim refugees in Europe was going to do something so awful and stupid that a large swathe of the general public were going to start homogenizing all Muslims in their heads and adopt the attitude, “hey, maybe it really is impossible for Muslims to live here, even temporarily, because they’re just too dangerous. Let’s deport them all and ban further entry (and generally cut our society off from the Muslim world).” Given the volume of the refugees flooding into Europe and the reality that many of them are coming from societies where attitudes that are highly incompatible with contemporary European values (like gross misogyny), it was pretty much an inevitability that, at some point, a group of refugees were going to do something that basically sends their hosts into a reactionary freak out mode. With over a million refugees flowing into Europe in 2015 alone, some sort of horrible incident that ends up smearing the entire refugee community really was just a matter of time.

    And on New Years Eve, that inevitable happened when a wave of sexual assaults committed by highly-intoxicated Muslim migrants and refugees shocked and appalled Europe. But it wasn’t just one group of men in one city and that did this. It happened in Cologne, Frankfurt, Helsinki, to name a few, all on the same night. While some sort of horrible act was inevitable, multi-city simultaneous acts of this nature were certainly not inevitable. That’s just awful. Even worse, there are indications that the worse-than-inevitable acts which are currently roiling Europe were planned in advance, which potentially points towards either intentional sabotage by some refugees who want to encourage anti-Muslim attitudes or just a shocking degree of chauvinistic cluelessness.

    Regardless of the possible planning, or drunken lack thereof, that may have been behind the New Years Eve sexual assaults, a far-right backlash and wave of anti-immigrant attacks and firebombings has already taken place too, which was also probably inevitable given the waves of far-right anti-immigrant attacks and firebombings that were taking place against refugees even before the assaults.

    So the inevitable happened, although it was far worse than was inevitable. And the inevitable backlash, which isn’t really a backlash since it was already taking place, has grown even more intense:

    Euractive.com
    German minister hints sexual assaults were planned

    11 Jan 2016 – 07:45

    Attacks on women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve have prompted more than 600 criminal complaints, and a German minister said the sexual assaults may have been planned or coordinated.

    The attacks, mostly targeting women and ranging from theft to sexual molestation, have prompted a highly-charged debate in Germany about its welcoming stance for refugees and migrants, more than one million of whom arrived last year.

    The sudden nature of the violent attacks and the fact that they stretched from Hamburg to Frankfurt prompted German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas to speculate in a newspaper that they had been planned or coordinated.

    The debate on migration will be further fuelled by the acknowledgement by the authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia that a man shot dead as he tried to enter a Paris police station last week was an asylum seeker with seven identities who lived in Germany.

    In Cologne, police said on Sunday (9 January) that 516 criminal complaints had been filed by individuals or groups in relation to assaults on New Year’s Eve, while police in Hamburg said 133 similar charges had been lodged with the north German city.

    Frankfurt also registered complaints, although far fewer.

    The investigation in Cologne is focused largely on asylum seekers or illegal migrants from North Africa, police said. They arrested one 19-year-old Moroccan man on Saturday evening.

    In Cologne, where a 100-strong force of officers continued their investigations, around 40% of the complaints included sexual offences, including two rapes.

    Dwindling trust

    The attacks, which prompted violent far-right protests on Saturday, threatens to further erode confidence in Merkel, and could stoke support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ahead of three key state elections in March.

    Merkel’s popularity has declined, as she refused to place a limit on the influx of refugees.

    A survey sponsored by state broadcaster ARD showed that while 75% of those asked were very happy with Merkel’s work in April last year, only 58% were pleased now.

    Almost three quarters of those polled said migration was the most important issue for the government to deal with in 2016.

    The Cologne attacks also heated up the debate on immigration in neighbouring Austria.

    “What happened in Cologne is unbelievable and unacceptable,” Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, a member of the conservative People’s Party that is junior coalition partner to the Social Democrats, told newspaper Oesterreich.

    There had been a handful of similar incidents in the border city of Salzburg. “Such offenders should be deported,” she said, backing a similar suggestion by Merkel.

    Swiss media contained numerous stories about sexual assaults on women by foreigners, fuelling tensions ahead of a referendum next month that would trigger the automatic deportation of foreigners convicted of some crimes.

    In Germany, on Monday (11 January), a regional parliamentary commission will quiz police and others about the events on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.

    The anti-Islamic nationalist group PEGIDA, whose supporters threw bottles and fire crackers at a march in Cologne on Saturday before being dispersed by riot police, will later hold a rally in the eastern German city of Leipzig.

    “The sudden nature of the violent attacks and the fact that they stretched from Hamburg to Frankfurt prompted German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas to speculate in a newspaper that they had been planned or coordinated.”
    Keep in mind that there’s no evidence yet that the multi-city wave of assaults really was planned. Except for Helsinki, where authorities were tipped off about plans in advance:

    The Telegraph
    Unprecedented sex harassment in Helsinki at New Year, Finnish police report
    Finnish police ‘tipped off’ about plans by groups of asylum seekers to sexually harass women

    By Richard Orange, Malmo

    3:48PM GMT 08 Jan 2016

    Asylum seekers who met in central Helsinki to celebrate New Years’s Eve “had similar plans” to commit sexual assault and other crimes as those who targeted women in the Germany city of Cologne, Finnish Police have reported.

    Three Iraqi asylum seekers have been arrested for committing sexual assaults during the celebrations in the city’s Senate Square, where some 20,000 had gathered.

    Security personnel reported “widespead sexual harrassment” during the celebrations, police added, with women complaining that asylum seekers had groped their breasts and kissed them without permission.

    “This phenomenon is new in Finnish sexual crime history,” Ilkka Koskimaki, the deputy chief of police in Helsinki, told the Telegraph. ”We have never before had this kind of sexual harrassment happening at New Year’s Eve.”

    He said that the police had received tip-offs from staff at the asylum reception centres.

    “Our information from these reception centres were that disturbances or other crimes would happen in the city centre. We were prepared for fights and sexual harrassment and thefts.”

    He said that police had established a “very massive presence” to control the estimated 1,000 Iraqi asylum seekers who had gathered in the tunnels surrounding the central railway station by 11pm, many of whom appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

    Mr Koskimaki said that sexual assults in parks and on the streets had been unknown in Finland before a record 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in 2015, making the 14 cases last year “big news in the city”.

    “We had unfortunately some very brutal cases in autumn,” he said. “I don’t know so well other cultures, but I have recognised that the thinking of some of them is very different. Some of them maybe think that it is allowed to be aggressive and touch ladies on the street.”

    Jamel Saltne, a Finnish-speaking Iraqi, said that from what he had seen on Arabic social media, police had wrongly portrayed events.

    “What happened was not the result of an action planned in advance,” he told the Telegraph. “It was totally expected that young men would go to the centre of the capital as that is the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.”

    “I’m not accusing the police of racism, but maybe they have received complaints intended to smear people.”

    Unarmed militia groups calling themselves “Soldiers of Odin”, wearing black jackets and hats marked “S.O.O”, have sprung up in several towns in Finland where asylum seekers are housed, claiming they want to protect citizens from “Islamic intruders”.

    Petteri Orpo, Finnish interior minister, condemned the groups in an interview with national broadcaster YLE on Thursday.

    “There are extremist features to carrying out street patrols. It does not increase security,” he said.

    “Our information from these reception centres were that disturbances or other crimes would happen in the city centre. We were prepared for fights and sexual harrassment and thefts.”
    That was the report from the Helsinki police. There were plans for disturbances that would happen, specifically in the city centre, which suggests that plans were for high-profile attacks that would capture a lot of attention. And if that report is accurate and there really were these plans, it suggests that at least some of those refugees actively want to drive a wedge between the refugees and their host community, which is pretty stunning, especially given the fact that a Finnish refugee center was firebombed back in September. Stunning, but then again, given the volume of refugees, it was probably inevitable that some of them would share ISIS’s declared desire to eliminate “the Gray Zone of co-existence” that allows Muslims and non-Muslims to live side-by-side. Compared to all the other things that groups like ISIS do to fellow Muslims who don’t tow their psycho-fundamentalist line, planning acts that smear all Muslims as rapists is almost tame. So who knows, maybe the multi-city wave of simultaneous assaults really was planned, not just in Helsinki, but as Germany’s Minister of Justice hinted at above, maybe it was a multi-city plan.
    Of course, we have to consider another possibility raised:


    Jamel Saltne, a Finnish-speaking Iraqi, said that from what he had seen on Arabic social media, police had wrongly portrayed events.

    “What happened was not the result of an action planned in advance,” he told the Telegraph. “It was totally expected that young men would go to the centre of the capital as that is the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.”

    “I’m not accusing the police of racism, but maybe they have received complaints intended to smear people.”

    Could it be that these reported assaults are either getting improperly attributed to Muslim refugees or never took place at all and were intended to smear the refugees and Muslims in general? Well, considering it’s already sort of happened, yeah, that seems possible. For example, Pamela Geller posted videos of a blond women getting assaulted by Arabic men that was supposed have taken place over New Years in Cologne, but later retracted the video when it turned out to have taken place in Egypt. Similarly, Geller has been floating a video of what appear to be Muslim men aggressively brandishing and shooting guns wildly on New Years Eve in Berlin. Of course, it turns out that firing blanks on New Years Eve in Germany is not that uncommon. And this is exactly what we would expect from folks like Geller and she’s not alone. So could there be at least some unfair smearing taking place? Well, it does seem rather inevitable. Folks like Geller aren’t nearly as rare as they should be.

    Of course, it’s hard to ignore the reality that the attitudes towards women that prevail in many fundamentalist Muslim-dominated cultures really are incompatible with contemporary Western values, which is why it’s entirely possible that some of these assaults were planned while others really were the actions of genuinely clueless misogynists who really do need a lesson in what is acceptable in their host society:

    The New York Times
    Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women

    By ANDREW HIGGINS
    DEC. 19, 2015

    SANDNES, Norway — When he first arrived in Europe, Abdu Osman Kelifa, a Muslim asylum seeker from the Horn of Africa, was shocked to see women in skimpy clothes drinking alcohol and kissing in public. Back home, he said, only prostitutes do that, and in locally made movies couples “only hug but never kiss.”

    Confused, Mr. Kelifa volunteered to take part in a pioneering and, in some quarters, controversial program that seeks to prevent sexual and other violence by helping male immigrants from societies that are largely segregated or in which women show neither flesh nor public affection to adapt to more open European societies.

    Fearful of stigmatizing migrants as potential rapists and playing into the hands of anti-immigrant politicians, most European countries have avoided addressing the question of whether men arriving from more conservative societies might get the wrong idea once they move to places where it can seem as if anything goes.

    But, with more than a million asylum seekers arriving in Europe this year, an increasing number of politicians and also some migrant activists now favor offering coaching in European sexual norms and social codes.

    Mr. Kelifa, 33, attended the education program at an asylum center in this town near the western Norwegian city of Stavanger. Like similar courses now underway in the village of Lunde and elsewhere in Norway, it was voluntary and was organized around weekly group discussions of rape and other violence.

    The goal is that participants will “at least know the difference between right and wrong,” said Nina Machibya, the Sandnes center’s manager.

    A course manual sets out a simple rule that all asylum seekers need to learn and follow: “To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person.”

    It skirts the issue of religious differences, noting that while Norway has long been largely Christian, it is “not religion that sets the laws” and that, whatever a person’s faith, “the rules and laws nevertheless have to be followed.”

    In Denmark, lawmakers are pushing to have such sex education included in mandatory language classes for refugees. The German region of Bavaria, the main entry point to Germany for asylum seekers, is already experimenting with such classes at a shelter for teenage migrants in the town of Passau.

    Norway, however, has been leading the way. Its immigration department mandated that such programs be offered nationwide in 2013, and hired a nonprofit foundation, Alternative to Violence, to train refugee center workers in how to organize and conduct classes on sexual and other forms of violence. The government provided funding for two years to pay for interpreters for the classes and is now reviewing the results and whether to extend its support.

    “The biggest danger for everyone is silence,” said Per Isdal, a clinical psychologist in Stavanger who works with the foundation, which developed the program Mr. Kelifa attended in Sandes.

    Many refugees “come from cultures that are not gender equal and where women are the property of men,” Mr. Isdal said. “We have to help them adapt to their new culture.”

    The first such program to teach immigrants about local norms and how to avoid misreading social signals was initiated in Stavanger, the center of Norway’s oil industry and a magnet for migrants, after a series of rapes from 2009 to 2011.

    Henry Ove Berg, who was Stavanger’s police chief during the spike in rape cases, said he supported providing migrants sex education because “people from some parts of the world have never seen a girl in a miniskirt, only in a burqa.” When they get to Norway, he added, “something happens in their heads.”

    He said, “there was a link but not a very clear link” between the rape cases and the city’s immigrant community. According to the state broadcaster, NRK, which reviewed court documents, only three of 20 men found guilty in those cases were native Norwegians, the rest immigrants.

    The claim that refugees and immigrants in general are prone to commit rape has become a main rallying cry of anti-migrant activists across Europe, with each case of sexual violence by a newcomer presented as evidence of an imported scourge.

    Hege Storhaug, a former Norwegian journalist who runs Human Rights Service, an organization fiercely critical of Islam, has seized on the issue to rally public opposition to refugees, asserting on her group’s website that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had opened the way to an “epidemic of rape” with her welcoming approach to migrants.

    Norway, like most European countries, does not break down crime statistics by ethnicity or religion. A 2011 report by Norway’s state statistical bureau noted that “immigrants are overrepresented in the crime statistics” but suggested that this was not due to cultural differences but because many of the immigrants were young men.

    “It should not be surprising if groups with large proportions of young males have higher crime rates than groups with large proportions elderly women,” the report said.

    Hanne Kristin Rohde, a former head of the violent crime section of the Oslo Police Department, said she ran into a wall of hostility when, in 2011 while still in the police force, she blamed sexual violence by foreign men on cultural factors and went public with data suggesting that immigrants committed a hugely disproportionate number of rapes.

    “This was a big problem but it was difficult to talk about it,” Ms. Rohde said recently, asserting that there was “a clear statistical connection” between sexual violence and male migrants from countries where “women have no value of their own.” The taboo, she added, has since eased somewhat.

    “There are lots of men who haven’t learned that women have value,” said Ms. Rohde, who wants mandatory sexual conduct classes for all new male migrants. “This is the biggest problem, and it is a cultural problem.”

    But many question whether there is a clear link between migrants and crime. Last month, the German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said that asylum seekers were no more prone to crime, including sexual violence, than Germans.

    “In general, the available recent trend findings show that refugees commit just as few or as many crimes as groups of the local population,” he said.

    Mr. Kelifa, the African asylum seeker, said he still had a hard time accepting that a wife could accuse her husband of sexual assault. But he added that he had learned how to read previously baffling signals from women who wear short skirts, smile or simply walk alone at night without an escort.

    “Men have weaknesses and when they see someone smiling it is difficult to control,” Mr. Kelifa said, explaining that in his own country, Eritrea, “if someone wants a lady he can just take her and he will not be punished,” at least not by the police.

    Norway, he said, treats women differently. “They can do any job from prime minister to truck driver and have the right to relax” in bars or on the street without being bothered, he added.

    Mr. Isdal, the Stavanger psychologist, said refugees, particularly those traumatized by war, represent a “risk group” that is not predestined to violent crime but that does need help to cope with a new and alien environment.

    The program he helped design focuses on getting newly arrived refugees to open up about their attitudes toward sex, through discussions in small groups supervised by a monitor, usually a native Norwegian. A manual prepared for the course includes sections on “Norwegian laws and values,” as well as violence against children and women.

    A class held on Wednesday in Lunde, a village southwest of Oslo, focused on differing perceptions of “honor” and how violence that might be seen as honorable in some cultures is shameful and also illegal in Norway.

    A rival program, developed by a private company called Hero Norge, which runs asylum centers under a contract with the government, also promotes discussion as the best way to expose and break down views that can lead to trouble.

    Berit Harr, a course monitor at a refugee center in Ha, a coastal village south of Stavanger, said it was important to avoid making migrants feel as if they were under suspicion while getting them to talk about their own views on relations between the sexes.

    “It is difficult to talk about sex,” she said. But, she added, doing so can help refugees navigate potentially dangerous situations in a strange land.

    “It is normal here for boys and girls to be friends,” she said. “Smiling and flirting are normal. It doesn’t mean anything. If a girl is drunk it does not mean she is willing to do anything.”

    As the article indicates, for at least some refugees and immigrants, there really is a genuine, deep, cultural clash that they feel upon arriving in a society where women can wear miniskirts and not expecting to be sexually assaulted. On the one hand, it’s sad and depressing that such attitudes are still so prevalent in societies across the world. On the other hand, it’s pretty sad and depressing that the West has similar attitudes towards women, what, like two generations ago? In other words, it’s sad and depressing that misogyny is still so prevalent in human cultures and so many people are walking around with such dehumanizing views of women, but that sad and depressing reality and only one aspect of a much larger, and sadder reality that the human condition has been dominated by such attitudes across cultures and throughout history. So, in some sense, the people of West can sort of think of the refugees that hold such backwards views as basically being similar to their great grandparents. Or grandparents. Or radical fundamentalist Christian current neighbors.

    So yes, it’s sad and depressing that humanity still needs to all get “on the same page” regarding what should be such a simple and basic moral understanding about how people, men or women, treat each other. But not too long ago it was sad and depressing and similar ways throughout the West. Sure, there’s no shortage of incredibly sick customs like honor killings that are still the norm in some Muslim cultures, but since fears of Muslim male misogyny are frequently brought up as a reason for why the West should ban Muslims, it’s worth remember that many of the West’s ancestors would probably be banned too by the same standards. It’s something that’s especially important to keep in mind these days not only to give some historic perspective on long and widespread tradition of the dehumanizing of women, but also because many of the groups that are leading the anti-refugee charge are, themselves, examples of the kind of movements that would love to drag modern Europe back to its bigoted, chauvinistic past. For example…:

    The Daily Mail
    Terrifying echoes of Kristallnacht: Mayor condemns ‘naked violence’ after far-right thugs rampage through streets of Germany smashing windows of kebab shops

    * Anti-refugee rioters went on a rampage in the German town of Leipzig, trashing doner kebab fast food restaurants
    * 250 hooligans – part of the local branch of PEGIDA known as LEGIDA – set cars on fire and vandalised shops
    * Mayor Burkhard Jung condemned the ‘naked violence that took place’ and has described ‘terror on the streets’
    * Scenes of smashed windows in the city are reminiscent of the anti-Semitic Kristallnacht attacks in 1938

    By Allan Hall In Berlin and Jenny Stanton and Tom Wyke for MailOnline

    Published: 03:50 EST, 12 January 2016 | Updated: 16:41 EST, 15 January 2016

    The mayor of a German city has spoken of ‘terror on the streets’ of his city after far-right thugs ran riot in scenes reminiscent of the anti-Semitic Kristallnacht attacks in 1938.

    Burkhard Jung, mayor of Leipzig, has condemned the ‘naked violence that took place’ after doner kebab fast food restaurants were destroyed, cars were set ablaze and shop windows were smashed by around 250 hooligans of LEGIDA – the local branch of PEGIDA, an anti-migrant, anti-EU organization – on Monday night.

    The rampage in Leipzig evoked memories of the wave of violence against Jews that erupted across Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on November 9, 1938.

    On Monday, hundreds of anti-refugee rioters caused chaos in Leipzig after a demonstration where they called for asylum seekers to be deported and their nation’s borders closed.

    The right-wingers broke away from a largely peaceful march in the eastern city to trash the suburb of Connewitz.

    At one point the demonstrators, who threw fireworks at police, attempted to build a barricade in a main street with signs and torn up paving stones before they were dispersed.

    Firemen had to tackle a blaze in the attic of one building set alight by a wayward rocket fired by the rioters. A bus carrying leftist pro-asylum demonstrators was also attacked and seriously damaged.

    ‘It was naked violence that took place here, nothing more,’ Jung said. ‘That has been established and there must be consequences.’

    Police said they have identified and arrested 211 of the crowd of right-wing hooligans, many of them with criminal records for violence.

    ‘This was a serious breach of the peace,’ said a police spokesman, confirming that several police officers were injured in the clashes triggered by simmering anger over the New Year’s Eve mass sex attacks against women in Cologne and several other German cities.

    ‘Rape Refugees stay away’ was one of the banners carried during the march, the wording above a silhouette of women running from knife-wielding attackers, one of whom resembled a caricature from Aladdin.

    When daylight broke in Leipzig, scenes were similar to those that followed Kristallnacht – the name referring to the shards of glass left strewn across cities in the aftermath of the bloody pogroms.

    In Leipzig, hundreds of families were persecuted and more than 500 men were taken to Buchenwald concentration camp.

    A Kristallnacht memorial in the city is now cleaned each year to ‘make the Nazi crimes visible’ across Europe.

    The anniversary of the night in November was due to coincide with a weekly demonstration by LEGIDA and the right-wing movement had planned to walk past the site of a synagogue that was burned to the ground during Kristallnacht.

    However, the city ruled that until the end of the year, the LEGIDA could not march through the city, only rally.

    Yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said; ‘Now all of a sudden we are facing the challenge that refugees are coming to Europe and we are vulnerable, as we see, because we do not yet have the order, the control, that we would like to have.’

    She also said the euro was ‘directly linked’ to freedom of movement in Europe, adding: ‘Nobody should act as though you can have a common currency without being able to cross borders reasonably easily.’

    Merkel said that if countries did not allow their borders to be crossed without much difficulty, the European single market would ‘suffer acutely’ – meaning that Germany, at the centre of the European Union and its largest economy, should fight to defend freedom of movement.

    And tonight, Germany feared a new march of the far right following the riots in Leipzig, which added to long-held concerns from German intelligence services that the far right groups are organising into terrorist cell structures.

    The violence in Leipzig followed on from weekend attacks in Cologne by a vigiliante mob which used the social networking site Facebook to marshall young men – rockers, bodybuilders and club bouncers – to go on a ‘manhunt’ for immigrants.

    Two Pakistani men were hospitalized and a third Syrian man was lightly injured before a stiff police presence on the streets thwarted further attacks.

    It is unclear what their condition is although the police are looking to press charges of ‘serious bodily harm’ against their attackers who kicked, beat and abused them verbally.

    The Express said the Facebook vigilante groups had promised an ‘orderly clean up’ of the old town centre in their ‘manhunt.’

    Police confirmed one Syrian man was also hurt in an attack on Sunday, which took place just 20 minutes after the first, but is believed to have been carried out by a separate group of five men.

    “When daylight broke in Leipzig, scenes were similar to those that followed Kristallnacht – the name referring to the shards of glass left strewn across cities in the aftermath of the bloody pogroms.”
    Yep, one of the beneficiaries of the anti-immigrant rage, the far-right neo-Nazi organization Pegida, and how do they choose to capitalize on the turmoil? By going on a Kristallnacht-esque rampage and that’s on top of the general spike in violent attacks on immigrants.

    It’s all pretty disturbing. But it’s important to keep in mind that the violent backlash from groups like Pegida and other xenophobic organizations aren’t just disturbing. They also point towards a very obvious path forward. How so? Well, if someone was to wave a magic wand and suddenly transformed all the misogynistic Muslims of Europe into ardent feminists, Europe would still have a problem with misogyny and dehumanizing attitudes towards women. And the source of that problem would be the non-Muslim far-right which generally view feminism as a plague on society and which happens to be the same group that’s leading the anti-Muslim charge. So why not take the New Years Eve assaults as a great opportunity to start deal with with this “clash of civilizations” into a conversation of civilization. Clashes of civilizations are inevitable. Things that differ tend to clash. That’s how it’s always been. But that doesn’t mean a clash of civilizations has to be an actual violent conflict. Conversations can create clashing too and are probably a lot more effective when you’re talking about encouraging changes in social attitudes and values. And what better way to start off the “conversation of civilizations” than for the West to both critique the rampant misogyny the dominates many Muslim cultures while also examining its own enduring misogyny? So instead of it being a conversation that goes along the lines of “the West thinks Muslims don’t treat women well,” to a much more realistic and persuasive conversations that goes along the lines “there is no society on the planet that has truly overcome misogyny, although some are certainly farther along than others. In Europe we still have to deal with [insert bigoted group here], and that’s a challenge. Here’s why it’s an important challenge to be overcome. How can we help the misogynistic elements of the Muslim world address its own challenges in this department and what of the Muslim feminist groups we can help support?” What’s going to be more likely to catalyze the change fundamentalist Muslim societies? A conversation like that, or recreating Kristallnecht and helping ISIS destroy “the Grey Zone”?

    Who would lead the conversation of civilizations? Well, that’s part of the fun. Ideally you would want people from all stripes participating, especially the misogynist of all stripes. Let them articulate their views, but make them have this conversation with the kind of people that Rush Limbaugh calls “Feminazis”, otherwise known as feminists (otherwise known as people who think the genders should be treated equally). Let’s start a conversation of civilizations and watch the “Feminazis” verbally dominate the opposition. :

    The New Statesman
    After Cologne, we can’t let the bigots steal feminism

    Why can’t we always take sexual assault as seriously as we do when migrants and Muslims are involved as perpetrators?

    By Laurie Penny
    10 January 2016

    In a perverse sort of way, it’s progress. After months of dog-whistle xenophobia, European authorities have finally started to treat migrants as they would treat any other citizen. They have achieved this by choosing not to make a fuss when migrants are accused of raping and assaulting women.

    On New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, hundreds of men, almost all of reportedly ‘Arabic and North African’ appearance and including many asylum seekers, viciously attacked women who were celebrating in the central plaza, robbing and groping and tearing off clothes. At least one rape complaint has been filed. The police and the press were initially slow to react, and the Mayor of Cologne reacted to eventual protests by suggesting that women should adopt a code of conduct in public and keep an ‘arm’s length’ distance between themselves and strange men.

    This is not the first time a European city administration has responded to an outbreak of sexual violence by blaming the women. It is the first time in recent history that the right-wing press has not joined in the condemnation of these wanton strumpets who dare to think they might be able to have a good time without worrying what ‘invitation’ they’re sending to men. Instead, the right wing blames… liberals. Who apparently caused all this by daring to suggest that refugees should be able to come to Europe in safety.

    It’d be great if we could take rape, sexual assault and structural misogyny as seriously every day as we do when migrants and Muslims are involved as perpetrators.The attacks in Cologne were horrific. The responses – both by officials and by the armies of Islamophobes and xenophobes who have jumped at the chance to condemn Muslim and migrant men as savages – have also been horrific. Cologne has already seen violent protests by the far-right anti-migrant organisation Pegida, a group not previously noted for its dedication to progressive feminism. Angela Merkel has responded by tightening the rules for asylum seekers, but for many commentators, it’s not enough.

    It’s a miracle! Finally, the right wing cares about rape culture! Finally, all over the world, from Fox News to 4chan, a great conversion has taken place and men who previously spent their time shaming, stalking and harassing women are suddenly concerned about our rights! And all it took was a good excuse to bash migrants and Muslims and tell feminists they don’t know what’s good for them.

    You know what has never yet prevented sexual violence? Unbridled racism.

    This theft of feminist rhetoric in the name of imperialism and racism has been going on for centuries. It’s been an active part of the political conversation in the West since 2001. In the week since the Cologne attacks have been reported in the global press, a great many men have taken it upon themselves to educate me and other feminists on the point that only Muslim men are sexist. They have chosen to do this by sending orchestrated waves of abuse and sexual slurs to any woman whose opinion they dislike. Nobody has to pass a self-awareness test to go on Twitter.

    Personally, I just love it when random men on the internet tell me what my feminism should like, because gosh, you know, this whole resisting oppression thing is really hard sometimes and it’s great to have people who know what they’re talking about take over for me so I can get on with the ironing. These people have repeatedly demanded that I ‘condemn’ the attacks in Cologne, which is a lazy way of implying that somebody doesn’t really care about an issue.

    So let me be clear: sexual violence is never, ever acceptable. Not for cultural reasons. Not for religious reasons. Not because the perpetrators are really angry and disenfranchised. There can be no quarter for systemic misogyny. And if we’re serious about that, there’s not a country or culture on earth that won’t have to take a long, hard look at itself. I stand with the many, many Muslim, Arab, Asian and immigrant feminists organising against sexism and misogyny within and beyond their own communities. Nobody seems to have thought to ask them how best to deal with systemic sexual violence – even though attacks on Muslim women have increased since the terrorist attacks in Paris last year.

    The sensible thing to do in response to the Cologne attacks would be to call, as many German feminists are doing, for a far more rigorous attitude to rape and sexual assault across Europe. Instead, the solution on the table seems to be to clamp down on migration. That fits in with the shibboleth that only savage, foreign men and hardened criminals rape and abuse women – despite the fact that most rapes, in Germany and elsewhere, are committed by people known to the victim, and migrants have not been shown to be more or less sexually aggressive than any other group. As usual, white supremacist patriarchy only concerns itself with women’s safety and women’s dignity when rape and sexual assault can be pinned on cultural ‘outsiders’.

    Saying ‘sexism is also part of Western culture’ does not mean that the experience of women in the West is exactly the same as the experience of women in Middle Eastern dictatorships and war zones. Do you know why that is? Can you guess? It’s because the world is not divided into ‘things that are exactly the same as each other’ and ‘things that are total opposites.’

    I actually can’t believe I’m having to explain this right now. I thought we covered this in kindergarten. Those of us who have moved beyond that level can, if we really try hard, understand that it’s not either ‘sexism is exclusively practised by Muslim men’ and ‘sexism is exactly the same everywhere.’ This is what we call a ‘false dichotomy’ when we get to big-kid school.

    The oppression of women is a global phenomenon because patriarchy is a global phenomenon. It’s embedded in the economic and social structures of almost every nation and community on earth. Sexism and misogyny, however, look different across boundaries of culture and religion, as well as across divides of race and class and between generations. This is not a complicated thing to understand. I’m really trying not to be patronising. But a lot of people are behaving like vicious children over this issue, so if you’re not one of them, I hope you understand why right now I wish I could put half the Internet on time out in a nice safe room where they can scream and break things without hurting themselves or anyone else.

    I’ll be blunt. I think some people out there are very excited by their conception of ‘Islamic’ violence against women. It allows them to enjoy the spectacle of women being brutalised and savaged whilst convincing themselves that it’s only foreign, savage men who do these things. If hearing that makes you angry, if it makes you want to smash my bitch face in and tell me I’m a whore who deserves to be raped to death by ISIS, then congratulations, you’ve just proved my point.

    The point is that misogyny knows no colour or creed, and perhaps it’s time we did something about that. We’re used to a society where a basic level of everyday sexism, sexual violence and assault is accepted. So if you’re saying this act of violence isn’t entirely different from all of those, and if you’re saying that refugees should be treated the same as European citizens, you must be saying that everyone should get a free pass to treat women like walking meatbags, right?

    Wrong. It’s time to take rape, sexual assault and structural misogyny as seriously every day as we do when migrants and Muslims are involved as perpetrators. That means that, yes, refugees must learn to respect women as human beings. Citizens, too, must learn to respect women’s agency and autonomy. Men and boys of every faith and none must learn that they are neither entitled to women’s bodies nor owed to our energy and attention, that it is not okay, ever, to rape, to assault, to abuse and attack women, not even if your ideology says it’s okay. That goes for the men’s rights activists, the anti-feminists and fanatical right-wingers much as it does for religious bigots.

    If we want to hold up Europe as a beacon of women’s rights, that’s fantastic. Let’s make it happen. If we’re suddenly a continent with a zero-tolerance policy on sexual violence and ritualised misogyny, let’s seize that energy. Let’s see real investment by the state and individuals in holding aggressors to account and supporting victims. It’s easier to pin misogyny on cultural outsiders than it is to accept that men everywhere must do better – but any other attitude is rank hypocrisy.

    “The sensible thing to do in response to the Cologne attacks would be to call, as many German feminists are doing, for a far more rigorous attitude to rape and sexual assault across Europe.”
    Yep, if you want to change the attitudes of conservative Muslim in Europe regarding violence towards women, why on earth would you make this a conversation targeting Muslims alone given the prevalence of misogyny across all societies unless you wanted to protect the feelings of the non-Muslim misogynists? And yes, there would be charges of equivocations and the suggestion that the theocracy of Saudi Arabia is just as misogynistic as Germany. But as Laurie Penny notes, those would also be childlike attitudes that would be laughable if they weren’t so prevalent


    Saying ‘sexism is also part of Western culture’ does not mean that the experience of women in the West is exactly the same as the experience of women in Middle Eastern dictatorships and war zones. Do you know why that is? Can you guess? It’s because the world is not divided into ‘things that are exactly the same as each other’ and ‘things that are total opposites.’

    I actually can’t believe I’m having to explain this right now. I thought we covered this in kindergarten. Those of us who have moved beyond that level can, if we really try hard, understand that it’s not either ‘sexism is exclusively practised by Muslim men’ and ‘sexism is exactly the same everywhere.’ This is what we call a ‘false dichotomy’ when we get to big-kid school.

    The oppression of women is a global phenomenon because patriarchy is a global phenomenon. It’s embedded in the economic and social structures of almost every nation and community on earth. Sexism and misogyny, however, look different across boundaries of culture and religion, as well as across divides of race and class and between generations. This is not a complicated thing to understand. I’m really trying not to be patronising. But a lot of people are behaving like vicious children over this issue, so if you’re not one of them, I hope you understand why right now I wish I could put half the Internet on time out in a nice safe room where they can scream and break things without hurting themselves or anyone else.

    It’s pretty hard to argue with Laurie on these points. And that’s why a “conversation of civilizations” about how ALL civilizations could really improve themselves in a variety of ways really should be the method of choice for the contemporary clash of civilizations. If it actually came down to the quality of the arguments, the “feminazis” would make the neo-Nazis and Islamofascists look like children.

    Conservative Muslim cultures are obviously on the wrong side of history regarding the treatment of women and as such, some sort of clash of civilizations is inevitable given the rapid globalization of the 21st century. It’s a small world. But every culture is, in reality, a myriad of interwoven subcultures and Islam has its feminists too. So how do we weaken the appeal of misogynistic subcultures while encouraging the growth their more enlightened brethren? So with Europe starting off 2016 with a growing number of people embracing the idea that the West should declare a Cold War on Muslims everywhere, we really need to ask ourselves what would be more effective: allow groups like Pegida or the AfD (or Donald Trump) lead us in a new Cold War on Islam and minimize the cross-cultural exchange taking place today? Or invite misogynists everywhere, Muslim and non-Muslim, to engage feminists in an actual conversation and allow today’s children, Muslim and non-Muslim, refugee and non-refugee, watch the misogynists make themselves look like preschoolers?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 16, 2016, 6:40 pm
  6. Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker just raised the stakes in the negotiations over how to distribute the responsibilities for dealing with Europe’s refugee crisis: If more EU nations don’t take in more refugees, Germany is going to close its borders. Within months. And if that happens, it just might start printing Deutschmarks too:

    Reuters
    End of Europe? Berlin, Brussels’ shock tactic on migrants

    BRUSSELS/BERLIN | By Alastair Macdonald and Noah Barkin
    Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:07am EST

    Is this how “Europe” ends?

    The Germans, founders and funders of the postwar union, shut their borders to refugees in a bid for political survival by the chancellor who let in a million migrants. And then — why not? — they decide to revive the Deutschmark while they’re at it.

    That is not the fantasy of diehard Eurosceptics but a real fear articulated at the highest levels in Berlin and Brussels.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel, her ratings hit by crimes blamed on asylum seekers at New Year parties in Cologne, and EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker both said as much last week.

    Juncker echoed Merkel in warning that the central economic achievements of the common market and the euro are at risk from incoherent, nationalistic reactions to migration and other crises. He renewed warnings that Europe is on its “last chance”, even if he still hoped it was not “at the beginning of the end”.

    Merkel, facing trouble among her conservative supporters as much as from opponents, called Europe “vulnerable” and the fate of the euro “directly linked” to resolving the migration crisis — highlighting the risk of at the very least serious economic turbulence if not a formal dismantling of EU institutions.

    Some see that as mere scare tactics aimed at fellow Europeans by leaders with too much to lose from an EU collapse — Greeks and Italians have been seen to be dragging their feet over controlling the bloc’s Mediterranean frontier and eastern Europeans who benefit from German subsidies and manufacturing supply chain jobs have led hostility to demands that they help take in refugees.

    Germans are also getting little help from EU co-founder France, whose leaders fear a rising anti-immigrant National Front, or the bloc’s third power, Britain, consumed with its own debate on whether to just quit the European club altogether.

    So, empty threat or no, with efforts to engage Turkey’s help showing little sign yet of preventing migrants reaching Greek beaches, German and EU officials are warning that without a sharp drop in arrivals or a change of heart in other EU states to relieve Berlin of the lonely task of housing refugees, Germany could shut its doors, sparking wider crisis this spring.

    GERMAN WARNINGS

    With Merkel’s conservative allies in the southern frontier state of Bavaria demanding she halt the mainly Muslim asylum seekers ahead of tricky regional elections in March, her veteran finance minister delivered one of his trademark veiled threats to EU counterparts of what that could mean for them.

    “Many think this is a German problem,” Wolfgang Schaeuble said in meetings with fellow EU finance ministers in Brussels. “But if Germany does what everyone expects, then we’ll see that it’s not a German problem — but a European one.”

    Senior Merkel allies are working hard to stifle the kind of parliamentary party rebellion that threatened to derail bailouts which kept Greece in the euro zone last year. But pressure is mounting for national measures, such as border fences, which as a child of East Germany Merkel has said she cannot countenance.

    “If you build a fence, it’s the end of Europe as we know it,” one senior conservative said. “We need to be patient.”

    A senior German official noted that time is running out, however.

    “The chancellor has been asking her party for more time,” he said. “But … that narrative … is losing the persuasiveness it may have had in October or November. If you add in the debate about Cologne, she faces an increasingly difficult situation.”

    SCHENGEN FEARS

    Merkel and Juncker explicitly linked new national frontier controls across Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone to a collapse of the single market at the core of the bloc, and of the euro. Both would ravage jobs and the economy.

    “Without Schengen … the euro has no point,” Juncker told a New Year news conference on Friday. Historic national resentments were re-emerging, he added, accusing his generation of EU leaders of squandering the legacy of the union’s founders, survivors of World War Two.

    Merkel has not suggested — yet — that Berlin could follow neighbors like Austria and Denmark in further tightening border checks to deny entry to irregular migrants. But she has made clear how Europe might suffer.

    “No one can pretend that you can have a common currency without being able to cross borders relatively easily,” she said at a business event last week.

    In private, German officials are more explicit. “We have until March, the summer maybe, for a European solution,” said a second German official. “Then Schengen goes down the drain.”

    A senior EU official was equally blunt: “There is a big risk that Germany closes. From that, no Schengen … There is a risk that the February summit could start a countdown to the end.”

    The next summit of EU leaders one month from now follows meetings last year that were marked by agreement on a migration strategy as well as rows over failures to implement it.

    Of the 160,000 asylum seekers EU leaders agreed in September to distribute among member states, fewer than 300 have been moved.

    Berlin and Brussels continue to press for more distribution across Europe. But few place much hope in that — one senior German official calls it “flogging a dead horse”.

    TURKISH KEY

    EU leaders’ hope is for help from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, a man many of them see as an embryonic dictator.

    Berlin is pressing for more EU cash for Ankara, beyond an agreed 3 billion euros, which Italy is blocking. Some Germans suggest simply using German funds to stem the flow from Turkey.

    EU officials say it is too early to panic. Arrivals have fallen this month. U.N. data show them running in January at half the 3,500 daily rate of December. Progress includes a move to let some of the 2.1 million Syrian refugees in Turkey take jobs. The EU will fund more schools for refugee children.

    Yet EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who travels to Berlin on Monday, told the European Parliament last week: “The situation is getting worse.”

    The refugee crisis was jeopardizing “the very core of the European Union”, he said, offering no grounds to be optimistic other than that “optimism is our last line of our defense”.

    “No one can pretend that you can have a common currency without being able to cross borders relatively easily.”
    That was the warning from Angela Merkel. And while it might be a bluff at this point, don’t forget that Angela Merkel really is facing a growing rebellion that could force her to close Germany’s borders. And if that happens for an extended period of time, who knows how many other eurozone members close their own boarders but we could see a wave of border closures. And if that happens, what happens to the euro?

    While it’s hard to be super distraught over the prospect of the eurozone collapsing given what a disaster the eurozone has become for its weaker member states, it’s still going to be pretty traumatic. That said, given all the intra-European acrimony that has been growing ever since the start of the eurozone crisis, with the “core” and “periphery” increasingly wondering if a divorce isn’t the best option, it might in a perverse way actually be a long-term benefit for the collective psychology of the European nations if the catalyst for the implosion of one of the key elements of “the European Project” isn’t a massive squabble that results in different nations saying, “I hate living with you and I want a divorce!” Instead, it will be a massive squabble of different nations saying, “I hate all these poor, desperate foreigners fleeing for their lives, and I need to divorce you in order to protect myself from them!”

    Sure, refugee-induced spite is a twisted reason for imploding the eurozone, but at least the intra-European acrimony isn’t going to be solely inwardly directed under that scenario. Now that the refugee crisis is taking the focus off of the various economic/political disputes over recent years, Europe’s long-standing internal squabble over how to manage itself now has an “other” that all the member states can simultaneously unite behind hating. And yes, that united loathing of the Muslim refugees might still lead to eurozone’s implosion, but since it seems like the eurozone could implode for a growing number of reasons that go beyond the refugee crisis, at least the refugee freak out could still ironically prevent even greater damage to Europe’s general identity and unity by framing the implosion within the context of a refugee invasion as opposed to the unworkable and increasingly undemocratic direction of the eurozone’s government structure.

    Is a fragmented Europe united in a desire to keep out the refugee hordes the European social contract of the future? Well, the xenophobia probably isn’t going anywhere and all the other systemic issues with the eurozone show no signs of dissipating. And the refugee hordes are only going to get larger. So we can’t dismiss Merkel’s and Juncker’s threats as sheer bluster. It could happen. And if it does, while Europe’s own internal solidarity might avoid the damage it would have sustained if, say, an austerity-revolt resulted in a eurozone breakup, you have to wonder what’s going to happen to Europe’s ties to the Muslim world. Dissolving the eurozone over anti-Muslim sentiments is going to be kind of hard for the Muslim world to ignore.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 18, 2016, 10:41 am
  7. Politico has an piece summarizing Donald Trump’s path to victory as envisioned by GOP pollsters and Trump staffer. While their vision unsurprisingly relies on factors like “news of small-scale terror plots on American soil, foiled or successful, keep voters in a state of anxiety,” some of the other political techniques Trump is expected to deploy to put him over the edge were a little counter-intuitive. For instance, they expect Trump to win a larger-than-normal share of the African-American vote. And given the GOP’s typical single-digit showing with that voting demographic it’s possible. And then there’s the plan for Trump appealing to female voters that goes beyond the expected Roger Stone-style attack Bill and Hillary Clinton (assuming she’s the nominee) as a pair of womanizers: Trump is going to win over the ladies with his sex appeal:

    Politico
    How Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton

    Obama’s black supporters are crucial to a Trump win, and pollsters say he has a chance with this bloc.

    By Ben Schreckinger

    01/19/16 05:17 AM EST

    If Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States, there will be plenty of surprises along the way. One of the biggest will be the help he gets from black voters.

    According to Republican pollsters and Trump’s allies, the GOP poll-leader — who has been dogged by accusations of racism, most recently for tweeting out a chart that exaggerated the share of murders committed by blacks — is poised to out-perform with this demographic group in a general-election matchup with Hillary Clinton.

    v“If he were the Republican nominee he would get the highest percentage of black votes since Ronald Reagan in 1980,” said Republican messaging guru Frank Luntz, referring to the year Reagan won 14 percent of that bloc of voters. “They listen to him. They find him fascinating, and in all the groups I have done, I have found Obama voters, they could’ve voted for Obama twice, but if they’re African-American they would consider Trump.”

    Another longtime Republican pollster and veteran of multiple presidential campaigns has tested Trump’s appeal to blacks and Hispanics and come to the same conclusion. “He behaves in a way that most minorities would not expect a billionaire to behave,” explained the pollster, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships within the party. “He’s not a white-bread socialite kind of guy.”

    There’s more. The rest of Trump’s path to general-election victory, as laid out to POLITICO by pollsters, his campaign and his former advisers, looks like this: After winning the nomination on the first ballot, Trump unifies the party he has fractured behind him and reinvents himself as a pragmatic businessman and family man at the Republican National Convention. News of small-scale terror plots on American soil, foiled or successful, keep voters in a state of anxiety. Trump minimizes his losses with Hispanics by running Spanish-language ads highlighting his support for a strong military and take-charge entrepreneurial attitude, especially in the Miami and Orlando media markets. He draws the starkest possible outsider-insider contrast with Hillary Clinton and successfully tars her with her husband’s sexual history.

    If he does all that, holds Mitt Romney’s states, and drives extraordinary levels of working-class white voter turnout in the suburbs and exurbs of Ohio and Virginia, as well as in the Florida panhandle and Jacksonville, he can flip those three Obama states and rack up 266 electoral votes. Winning any one of Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico would put him over the top and make Donald John Trump the 45th president of the United States.

    Shrinking Democrats’ edge with black voters is just one of the counterintuitive wrinkles to the scenario in which Trump stuns the world and wins the White House. His path also includes playing the gender card against Clinton, a Karl Rovian gambit to turn his opponent’s strength — her feminist appeal — into a weakness.

    In October, Roger Stone, Trump’s former longtime political adviser who left the campaign amid acrimony in August, published “The Clintons’ War on Women,” a book that portrays Bill Clinton as a serial sexual abuser and Hillary Clinton as complicit in silencing his victims.

    Trump has seized on that line of attack this month. He greeted the New Year by tweeting, “I hope Bill Clinton starts talking about women’s issues so that voters can see what a hypocrite he is and how Hillary abused those women!” on Jan. 2. Five days later, his campaign released an Instagram video that features images linking the Clintons to Monica Lewinsky, Anthony Weiner and Bill Cosby and declares Trump “the true defender of women’s rights.”

    It is an especially audacious move for Trump – who left the first of his three wives for his then-mistress and was the subject of a since-recanted accusation of marital rape – but one that has already re-injected Bill Clinton’s sexual history into the political conversation.

    While many Republicans say Trump’s nomination would hand the presidency to Clinton, others see the former secretary of state as a deeply flawed candidate who could squander Democrats’ structural advantages in the race, including in a matchup with Trump.

    “I’m not willing to say he’s the most electable candidate for president because of the hostility he has generated from women and Latinos,” said Luntz. But he added, “I’m unwilling to write Trump off any more. It’s foolish.”

    Already, Trump has been laying groundwork in the African-American community that could pay dividends in a general election. With the help of his political and business adviser Michael Cohen, Trump has spent years cultivating black faith leaders. Last year, he held meetings with black pastors in Georgia and at Trump Tower in New York. Trump’s team has also made a pair of black female video bloggers, Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, prominent surrogates online and on the trail.

    Still, he has alienated Hispanics and women and his favorability rating with all voters is further underwater than Clinton’s. Indeed, a race between Clinton and Trump could open the window for a third candidate to spoil Trump’s chance.

    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who ran for president as the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2012 and is again seeking the party’s nomination, told POLITICO he views a Trump nomination as an opportunity to poach Republican voters. “It’s ripe pickings,” said Johnson, citing Trump’s positions on trade, his support for eminent domain and his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also reportedly polled on a three-way matchup with Trump and Clinton, and it is unclear how the entrance of a second billionaire and third New Yorker would reconfigure the race.

    While few if any Republicans view Trump as the party’s most electable nominee, some say he would bring unique assets to a general election.

    “You can say whatever you want about Donald but it’s going to be really tough to nail Donald on abortion,” said the veteran Republican pollster who has studied Trump’s appeal. “It’s going to be really tough to nail Donald on gay marriage. It’s going to be really tough to nail Donald on Planned Parenthood. It’s just not who he is, while Cruz has fought and died on every one of those hills.”

    Though Trump has been dogged by allegation of sexism, and he apparently insinuated that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was menstruating when she asked him tough questions during the first Republican debate, his former political aide Sam Nunberg, said the businessman can still attract many female voters.

    Though Nunberg left Trump’s campaign in August, in a recent poll conducted for another client, Nunberg asked women in Connecticut who opposed marijuana legalization who they respected more: a politician who is also charitable and a world-renowned businessman, father and grandfather or an “Elderly woman who not only openly allows her husband to have affairs but tries to silence the women.” The figure with the favorable abstract framing of Trump beat the figure with the negative abstract framing of Clinton by more than 20 points, according to Nunberg.

    The limited sample, tilted framing and withholding of candidate names all qualify the finding, but it does suggest that if Trump can somehow shed his baggage and impose his preferred narrative on the match-up with Clinton, he can appeal to female voters. “He’s a masculine figure and that will attract women to him,” said Nunberg. “It’s their dirty little secret. They like Donald Trump.”

    Campaign manager Corey Lewandwoski said Trump’s operation remains focused on winning the nomination, but suggested that the businessman would outperform recent Republican nominees in rust belt states ravaged by free trade, naming Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    In a follow-up conversation, Lewandowski took a more expansive view of Trump’s general election prospects, suggesting the businessman could expand the electoral map to include California, Illinois and New York. Several Republican strategists and pollsters laughed off the suggestion. But 2015’s lesson for 2016 may be this: Never say never.

    “Already, Trump has been laying groundwork in the African-American community that could pay dividends in a general election. With the help of his political and business adviser Michael Cohen, Trump has spent years cultivating black faith leaders. Last year, he held meetings with black pastors in Georgia and at Trump Tower in New York. Trump’s team has also made a pair of black female video bloggers, Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, prominent surrogates online and on the trail.”
    That’s right, the meeting with the black pastors at the Trump Tower that resulted in Trump canceling the press conference after the pastors made it clear that it wasn’t an endorsement, sure was some great outreach.

    So minority outreach is one of the Trump campaign’s perceived secret weapons (it’s certainly been a secret so far). But that’s probably nothing compared to his most potent secret weapon: Trump lust:


    The limited sample, tilted framing and withholding of candidate names all qualify the finding, but it does suggest that if Trump can somehow shed his baggage and impose his preferred narrative on the match-up with Clinton, he can appeal to female voters. “He’s a masculine figure and that will attract women to him,” said Nunberg. “It’s their dirty little secret. They like Donald Trump.”

    Uh oh. America has a dirty little Trumpian secret: He’s irresistible! At least according to his campaign staffers. And if they’re correct, who knows, maybe we really will see Trump take states like California, Illinois and New York as his campaign predicts.

    But don’t forget that if ‘Trump lust/minority outreach’ path to victory doesn’t pan out for the Trump campaign, there are other paths available, some of which the Trump campaign is already walking.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 21, 2016, 12:09 pm
  8. Oh look, Donald Trump just retweeted a neo-Nazi. Once again:

    The Washington Post

    Did a Donald Trump intern do this Retweet of ‘@WhiteGenocideTM?’

    By Philip Bump January 22 at 12:16 PM

    The eye naturally travels to the picture first, an edited photo showing a small-headed Jeb Bush standing outside Trump Tower holding a cardboard sign on which “VOTE TRUMP” is written. The gag itself doesn’t make much sense; why would Bush be telling people to vote Trump? And couldn’t his well-heeled Right to Rise super PAC put up the cash for a nicer placard?

    Then, you notice whose tweet Donald Trump was retweeting: @WhiteGenocideTM. “White genocide.”
    [see Trump’s retweet]

    This Twitter user, whose profile page says his name is “Donald Trumpovitz” and that he lives in “Jewmerica,” has a series of tweets espousing racist or Nazi-sympathetic views and sharing anti-Semitic photos and news stories. He or she also regularly tweets racist things in response to Trump’s tweets, with the obvious hope of being seen by other people who are viewing Trump’s tweets or getting a retweet from Trump himself.

    Here’s a response from @WhiteGenocideTM to a tweet a few hours ago.
    [see tweet response of @WhiteGenocideTM to Trump’s tweet about the National Review Online]
    (Notice the use of “cuckservative” in that image. We looked at that newly crafted insult last summer, including its racial undertones.)

    The expression “white genocide” is commonly used by white supremacy groups as a way of suggesting that white people in the United States are under threat by virtue of shifting demographics or, more recently, political correctness. Trump’s campaign has been embraced by white supremacists for its focus on deporting undocumented immigrants and barring Muslims from entering the country. Earlier this month, a prominent white supremacist produced a robocall endorsing Trump that was sent to voters in Iowa.

    Trump’s Twitter account has had a few controversial and racially loaded moments. There was the time he tweeted a picture that included a swastika. The time he retweeted deliberately misleading numbers on blacks and violence. The time an official campaign image included German soldiers.

    And, of course, the time he insulted Iowans via retweet, questioning whether GMOs had addled their brains as Ben Carson gained in polling in the state. After that one, Trump’s Twitter account apologized. “The young intern who accidentally did a Retweet apologizes,” he wrote.

    We asked the campaign for comment on this incident. We have not yet heard back.

    Update: Trump deleted a tweet since the WhiteGenocideTM one — but it was a tweet that didn’t express enough enthusiasm about poll numbers he wanted to share. The original version, as captured by our automatic candidate tweet collector:

    “This Twitter user, whose profile page says his name is “Donald Trumpovitz” and that he lives in “Jewmerica,” has a series of tweets espousing racist or Nazi-sympathetic views and sharing anti-Semitic photos and news stories. He or she also regularly tweets racist things in response to Trump’s tweets, with the obvious hope of being seen by other people who are viewing Trump’s tweets or getting a retweet from Trump himself.
    Getting Trump to retweet your neo-Nazi tweets is like an internet sport now. Wonderful. Well, it looks like a certain GOP candidate is going to have a lot more robocalls on his behalf to “disavow”.

    In other news, the Nation Review has an issue dedicated to why they don’t think Donald Trump should be the nominee. The thrust of their argument? He’s too moderate.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 22, 2016, 1:39 pm
  9. This probably isn’t going to help alleviate concerns over Donald Trump’s seeming encouragement of acts of violence by his supporters: Trump is so impressed with the loyalty of his base that he just opined that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and would lose a vote:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    Trump: I Could ‘Shoot Somebody And I Wouldn’t Lose Any Voters’ (VIDEO)

    By Caitlin MacNeal
    Published January 23, 2016, 2:21 PM EST

    Updated at 2:45 p.m.

    During a Saturday rally in Iowa, Donald Trump said he wouldn’t lose any support in the presidential race from voters even if he shot someone.

    “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” Trump said, according to video from NBC News. “It’s, like, incredible.”

    Trump made the comments while discussing how solid support for him is.

    “I have the most loyal people,” he said after citing his wide lead in the polls.

    He said that support for his Republican rivals is “soft.” Trump said that when people learned that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was born in Canada, he lost supporters.

    Watch the video from NBC News:

    “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? … It’s, like, incredible.”
    It is indeed pretty incredible, especially since Trump presumably shared that insight about not losing votes after shooting someone as part of a campaign tactic to gain even more votes. And yes, this means the GOP’s previous flirtation with violent rhetoric, like Sarah Palin’s “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD,” ‘cross-hairs’ map of 2010, are now a time relatively innocence for the US’s political culture. Ah the good ‘ol days, when the GOP’s thought leaders only spoke in code.

    So no we have the leading GOP candidate is joking about shooting people. Perhaps this might be an example of why some in the GOP’s “establishment” are in such a tizzy over the prospect of what a Trump candidacy will do to the party’s long-term branding issues? Perhaps, but that apprehension by some doesn’t change the fact that a growing number of GOP “establishment” insiders are coming to terms with the reality that Donald Trump has an ever-growing chance of winning the nomination and rebranding the GOP as “Trump’s own Party”.

    It’s all part of why it will be extra interesting to see how the “establishment’s” dwindling Trumphobia evolves given the sudden news of a whole new third party candidate. Like Trump, this new candidate is a billionaire. But unlike Trump, this new candidate is probably just going to take votes from the Democrats. And he’s made stopping people from shooting other people one of his signature issues over the years. And the entrance of this new candidate could make a Trumpian victory (or any GOPer victory, regardless of who gets the nomination), a lot more likely. But this candidate is also apparently only likely to run specifically if the GOP nominates either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump and the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary. Yes, Michael Bloomberg, one of the the leading backers of stricter gun control in the US, is considering an independent run for the White House under certain conditions:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    Report: Bloomberg Considering Independent Presidential Bid

    By Caitlin MacNeal Published January 23, 2016, 10:34 AM EST

    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked his advisers to create a campaign plan for an independent presidential bid since the billionaire sees a potential opening in the race, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

    Bloomberg has told friends that he is considering spending at least $1 billion on the race and that he will decide on a run by early March, according to the New York Times.

    He has said he’s likely to launch a bid if Republicans nominate either Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Democrats nominate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), according to the Times.

    The Times reported that Bloomberg commissioned a poll in December to test his chances in the general election and plans on conducting another poll after the New Hampshire primary in February.

    According to an online Morning Consult poll conducted in January, Bloomberg would receive 13 percent support in a three-way race with Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump received 37 percent support and Clinton received 36 percent support.

    According to the poll, Bloomberg’s entrance into the race would hurt Clinton more than Trump. Compared to a two-way race between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s support dropped by 5 points with Bloomberg in the running and Clinton’s support dropped by 8 points.

    “According to an online Morning Consult poll conducted in January, Bloomberg would receive 13 percent support in a three-way race with Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump received 37 percent support and Clinton received 36 percent support.”
    As we can see, Michael Bloomberg is basically telling the world that he’ll do what he can to ensure the GOP takes the White House should the Democrats nominate Bernie. It’s a declaration that double as both a threat to the Democrats that they could pay a very high price if they nominate Bernie over Hillary, but also a hint to the GOP that they could be given a free pass to the White House if they nominate Trump or Cruz…but only if they can somehow get the Democrats to nominate Bernie. So the more it looks like Trump is going to win the nomination, the greater the GOP’s incentive to see Bernie get the nomination. At the same time, recent polls of head to head match ups of Bernie vs Trump or Hillary vs Trump show Bernie with a bigger lead.

    Granted, poll have limited value this far out and can change substantially as the race unfolds, but it highlights how strange the 2016 race is shaping up to be: The GOP’s “establishment” is freaked out over the stunning rise of Donald Trump, a candidate who jokes about how his cult personality is so great he can get away with shooting people on the streets. And yet if they nominate Trump and then somehow get the Democrats to nominate Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton (despite Bernie polling better than Hillary vs Trump), the GOP just might get a giant gift from the one of the nation’s top gun-control advocates, Michael Bloomberg. Strange times. Err…stranger times.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 23, 2016, 5:37 pm
  10. A temporary suspension of Schengen area is looking more and more likely. Not only have EU migration ministers decided that extending the “shorter-term dispensations for border controls” for two years, but it also sounds like there’s a growing consensus that Greece, yes Greece, is a major source of Europe’s refugee crisis due to its inability to deal with the flood of refugees hitting its shores. And that “let’s blame Greece!” meme is exactly the kind of thing that makes a two year closing of the Schengen area a lot more likely. Greece makes a great scapegoat. It’s familiar. And it’s part of what the Schengen area may be going on a long vacation. Although it may not be the entire Schengen area that collapses over the next two years. A ‘mini-Schengen’ of the “core” EU nations is also looking likely:

    Reuters
    ‘Running out of time’, EU puts Greece, Schengen on notice

    AMSTERDAM | By Gabriela Baczynska and Alastair Macdonald
    Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:40pm EST

    The European Union edged closer on Monday to accepting that its Schengen open-borders area may be suspended for up to two years if it fails in the next few weeks to curb the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

    Shorter-term dispensations for border controls end in May. EU migration ministers meeting in Amsterdam decided they may be extended for two years – an unprecedented extension – because the migrant crisis probably will not be brought under control by then, according to the Dutch migration minister, who chaired the meeting.

    Some ministers made clear such a – theoretically temporary – move would cut off Greece, where more than 40,000 people have arrived by sea from Turkey this year, despite a deal with Ankara two months ago to hold back an exodus of Syrian refugees. More than 60 have drowned on the crossing since Jan. 1.

    Greek officials noted that closing routes northward, even if physically possible, would not solve the problem. But electoral pressure on governments, including in the EU’s leading power Germany, to stem the flow and resist efforts to spread asylum seekers across the bloc are making free-travel rules untenable.

    “We are running out of time,” said EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. He urged states to implement agreed measures for managing movements of migrants across the continent — or else face the collapse of the 30-year-old Schengen zone.

    But the Dutch minister, Klaas Dijkhoff, said time has effectively already run out to preserve the passport-free regime. The system has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to make chaotic treks from Greece and Italy to Germany and Sweden over the past year.

    “The ‘or else’ is already happening,” he said. “A year ago, we all warned that if we don’t come up with a solution, then Schengen will be under pressure. It already is.”

    Under pressure from domestic opinion, several governments have already reintroduced controls at their borders with fellow EU states. Those controls should be better coordinated, said Dijkhoff, whose government last year floated the idea of a “mini-Schengen”, which critics saw as a way for Germany and its northern neighbors to bar the influx from the Mediterranean.

    FEAR AND LOATHING

    But the EU executive and leading power Germany are bemoaning a nationalistic tide that could put at risk not just Schengen but the euro and even the foundations of the EU. In that light some diplomats saw the talks in Amsterdam as another scare tactic from those refusing to close the door to migrants.

    “The discussion is full of these apocalyptic predictions,” one said. “But things won’t really change in two months.”

    With many EU states, vocally led by the ex-communist East, refusing to take in significant numbers of refugees, the only way to stop chaos in Europe was, he said, to stop arrivals in Greece. Given legal and moral obligations to pluck people from the sea, that leaves the EU reliant on uncertain ally Turkey, which is seeking European cash and other favors.

    Unless the numbers drop before Merkel meets fellow EU leaders at a summit in mid-February, some form of border closing by the bloc’s leading power would be increasingly likely — not least as Germans vote in key regional elections in March. That decision would have a knock-on effect across Europe.

    The Commission, the EU executive, is already reviewing whether Greece’s difficulty in processing constitute “persistent serious deficiencies” on the external EU frontier. Such a finding would justify a historic move to allow states to re-impose controls on those arriving from Greece.

    The Commission is due to make recommendations next month. Athens would then have three months to respond. Existing measures taken by some states under a different rule expire in mid-May. Minister Dijkhoff made clear that few expect the situation to improve by then, so the longer-term suspension should be ready.

    Under that rule, Article 26 of the Schengen code, countries could re-impose controls on documents for six months, renewable three times, until May 2018. EU officials acknowledged, however, that no one knows what would happen after that if governments were not prepared to return to the status quo before last year.

    SCHENGEN ON THE BRINK

    “Everyone understands that the Schengen zone is on the brink,” said Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, whose government has warned it will limit entry to migrants.

    “If we cannot protect the external EU border, the Greek-Turkish border, then the Schengen external border will move toward central Europe … Greece must … accept help.”

    Her Swedish colleague, Anders Ygeman, whose government called a halt after taking proportionately the greatest share of refugees, told Reuters that if Greece and Italy failed to set up “hot spot” centers to separate refugees from possible terrorists and economic migrants, then they would face isolation from the Schengen area.

    Appearing anxious to calm a confrontation with Athens – which had already clashed with Berlin last year over bailout loans to keep Greece in the euro zone – the German interior minister was more reserved: “Blaming people in public doesn’t help,” Thomas de Maiziere said.

    Senior EU officials have warned of the costs to trade that new border checks could impose, although few analysts foresee a return to lines halted at frontiers around Germany, France or the Benelux countries, across which millions commute daily to work.

    The EU has taken various steps to give cash-strapped Athens financial assistance to deal with the crisis, but many member states believe Athens is not using that enough. The EU has now proposed establishing over the coming months a common European Border and Coast Guard to tighten control of the EU frontiers.

    “Senior EU officials have warned of the costs to trade that new border checks could impose, although few analysts foresee a return to lines halted at frontiers around Germany, France or the Benelux countries, across which millions commute daily to work.
    That’s a reminder that, while the Schengen area might effectively close down for the next two years, that doesn’t mean a “mini-Schengen” can’t remain open. And it sounds like that’s exactly what EU officials are expecting to happen.

    So it appears that a partial temporary collapse of the Schengen area is now under serious considering which means we’re going to see a new experiment unfold. There’s been high-level chatter for a while now about whether or not the eurozone would completely collapse if the Schengen area collapsed. At the same time, there’s also been chatter about creating a “mini-Schengen” zone that just includes the “core” members. So what happens to the eurozone as whole if the “core” nations maintain a mini-Schengen and it’s just the “periphery” (Greece, Italy, Spain, Eastern European members) that lose their Schengen rights? Would the eurozone still keep chugging along at that point if the mini-Schengen area is the only region where border controls don’t become the norm? We’re apparently on track to find out because it sure sounds like a partial collapse of the Schengen area is increasingly seen as the only politically viable solution. If it all doesn’t work out and the eurozone implodes they can always blame Greece. And, of course, the refugees.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 26, 2016, 10:23 am
  11. Check out Denmark’s latest attempt to stem the flow of refugees: Take their valuables:

    The Local DK
    Denmark passes controversial bill to take migrants’ valuables

    Published: 26 Jan 2016 08:15 GMT+01:00
    Updated: 26 Jan 2016 19:49 GMT+01:00

    Despite widespread condemnation, Denmark’s parliament on Tuesday approved drastic reforms curbing asylum seekers’ rights, including delaying family reunifications and confiscating migrants’ valuables.

    The bill presented by the right-wing minority government of Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen was approved by a huge majority of 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats backed the measures.

    The bill was watered down significantly since it was originally proposed, with wedding rings and low-value items explicitly excluded from threat of confiscation in the final draft.

    Approval had been widely expected, as the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, backed the measures as did government support parties the Danish People’s Party, the Conservatives and Liberal Alliance.

    “There’s no simple answer for a single country, but until the world comes together on a joint solution (to the migrant crisis), Denmark needs to act,” MP Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of Rasmussen’s Venstre party said during the debate.

    The Danish government has insisted the new law is needed to stem the flow of refugees even though Denmark and Sweden recently tightened their borders, a move that prompted Germany and Austria to turn back new arrivals heading for Scandinavia.

    While international outrage has focused on a proposal allowing police to seize cash and valuables from refugees to help pay for their stay in asylum centres, rights activists have blasted a proposed three-year delay for family reunifications which they say breaches international conventions.

    ‘What is the alternative?’
    Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen of the right-wing Venstre party has shrugged off criticism by calling it "the most misunderstood bill in Denmark’s history", seemingly more concerned with opinion polls that show 70 percent of Danes rank immigration as their top political concern.

    Social Democrat Dan Jørgensen addressed opponents of the bill, demanding: “To those saying what we are doing is wrong, my question is: What is your alternative?
    who
    “The alternative is that we continue to be (one of) the most attractive countries in Europe to come to, and then we end up like Sweden.”

    Asylum-seekers will now have to hand over cash exceeding 10,000 kroner (€1,340, $1,450) and any individual items valued at more than that amount, up from the initial 3,000 kroner proposed.

    After thorny negotiations with the other parties, Integration Minister Inger Støjberg agreed to exempt wedding rings and other items of sentimental value.

    The government points out that Danes seeking to qualify for social benefits sometimes also have to sell their valuables. However, they are not subjected to the kind of searches proposed in the new asylum law.

    Some have likened the Danish proposals to the confiscation of gold and other valuables from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

    The plan has “a particularly bitter connotation in Europe, where the Nazis confiscated large amounts of gold and other valuables from Jews and others,” The Washington Post wrote.

    ‘Just plain wrong’
    Once a champion of refugee rights, the Scandinavian country’s goal is now to become “significantly less attractive for asylum-seekers”, Støjberg said.

    “The tone in the public debate about refugees and immigrants has undoubtedly become tougher,” Kashif Ahmad, the leader of the National Party (Nationalpartiet), which hopes to enter parliament by targeting the immigrant vote, told AFP.

    John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia director at Amnesty International, said the law was “plain wrong” and “a sad reflection of how far Denmark has strayed” from its historic support of international norms in the Refugee Convention.

    “European states must stop this dismal race to the bottom and begin to meet their international obligations, by upholding refugees’ human rights and dignity,” said Dalhuisen. “Anything less is a betrayal of our common humanity.”

    But Marcus Knuth, Venstre’s spokesman on integration issues, said such criticism was unfair.

    “Denmark continues to be one of the most welcoming and caring places that you can seek asylum in. So the criticism that all of a sudden we were doing something wrong we find highly, highly unfair,” he told AFP.

    “We simply wish to be put more at par with other European countries so that we are not one of the countries that receive by far the most asylum-seekers.”

    International criticism
    Home to 5.6 million people, Denmark registered 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, making it one of the top EU destinations per capita for migrants but putting it far behind the 163,000 registered in neighbouring Sweden.

    International criticism had mounted in the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, with refugee agency UNHCR claiming it violates the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the UN Refugee Convention.

    But Rasmussen, whose Venstre party won a June 2015 election after promising an “immediate slowdown” of Denmark’s refugee influx, has been unfazed, arguing that the UN Refugee Convention may need to be changed if refugees keep pouring into Europe.

    Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen defended the new law last week as he appeared before the United Nations for a review of Denmark’s human rights policies.

    “The Danish welfare state is based upon the very simple principle that the state will provide and pay for those unable to take care of themselves, not for those who are able,” he told the Human Rights Council.

    He and Støjberg reiterated the same line as they faced questioning from European MPs in the civil liberties committee on Monday.

    Twenty-seven MPs voted against the bill in the one-chamber parliament, including three dissenting Social Democrats. A legislator for Greenland, a Danish territory, abstained and 70 MPs did not take part.

    The bill is scheduled to be signed into law by Queen Margrethe within a few days.

    Danish lawmakers last week also passed a resolution pushing the government to look into the consequences of building temporary housing complexes outside cities for refugees, like the country did during the Balkans war in the 1990s.

    The move is backed by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which sees it as a first step towards building state-run camps where refugees would stay without integrating into Danish society.

    “After thorny negotiations with the other parties, Integration Minister Inger Støjberg agreed to exempt wedding rings and other items of sentimental value.”
    That’s right, this was the moderate version of what the Danish government original envisioned.

    So might we see an EU probe into Denmark’s new law? Ummm….probably not:

    The Local DK
    Germany confiscates more from refugees than Denmark

    Published: 28 Jan 2016 10:41 GMT+01:00

    Denmark has faced stinging international criticism for a new law allowing refugees’ valuables to be confiscated – but Germany already has stronger rules in place.

    The new Danish legislation passed on Tuesday, which would allow authorities to confiscate valuables worth more than 10,000 Danish Krone (€1,340) from refugees,was described as despicable by US-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    “Does a rich country like Denmark really need to strip the very assets of these desperate asylum seekers before providing them basic services?” HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth asked in a press conference in Istanbul on Wednesday.

    Some critics have even likened the Danish proposals to the confiscation of gold and other valuables from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

    Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who is currently a guest professor at the University of Art in Berlin, pulled an exhibition in Denmark in disgust.

    But Germany actually has long established rules on confiscating refugees’ valuables which are stricter than those set out by the new Danish law.

    For Matthias Höhn, chief whip for Die Linke (the Lefty Party) in the federal parliament, this is a “heartless” treatment of vulnerable people.

    “Because refugees are denied legal ways into Europe, they become dependent on the dirty trade of smugglers – that means selling belongings and property for the expensive journey which comes at enormous risk to their lives,” Höhn told The Local

    “Taking away their remaining money and last heirlooms is perhaps strictly legal, but it’s more than a bit heartless.”

    Mandatory searches

    In Bavaria – where the vast majority of refugees arrive in the country – cash and valuables can be confiscated with a value of over €750.

    A spokesperson for the Bavarian social ministry confirmed to The Local that upon arrival “refugees are searched for documents, valuables and money.”

    “When we suspect that the an asylum seeker is holding large sums and does not agree to be searched, the police are called in.”

    The spokesperson explained that valuables taken from refugees are put into the state budget and go towards financing the costs of housing refugees, so that “available assets are used before the state raises extra taxes.”

    In the neighbouring southern state of Baden-Württemberg the rules are even stricter. There, refugees can have valuables worth more than €350 taken from them.

    Meanwhile in North Rhine-Westphalia refugees are only allowed to have €200 in valuables before local authorities can start taking their possessions.

    They ‘must repay costs’

    All three states are implementing federal laws, which require asylum seekers to use up their own resources before receiving state aid.

    “If you apply for asylum here, you must use up your income and wealth before receiving aid,” Aydan Özoguz, the federal government’s integration commissioner, recently told Bild newspaper.

    “That includes, for example, family jewellery. Even if some prejudices persist – you don’t have it any better as an asylum seeker as someone on unemployment benefit,” Özoguz added.

    But, outside Die Linke, there were few critics of the practice inside Germany.

    “The spokesperson explained that valuables taken from refugees are put into the state budget and go towards financing the costs of housing refugees, so that “available assets are used before the state raises extra taxes.””
    That’s something to keep in mind when you hear complaints in Germany or Denmark about the all these refugees using public services once they get asylum: not only do they not have a choice on the matter, after the refugees risk their lives to get there, they’re the first ones to pay the costs of those services and it’s paid with their life savings. And family jewels.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 28, 2016, 7:40 pm
  12. This doesn’t bode well for the refugees in Europe who initially found a surprisingly champion in the form of Europe’s ‘Queen of mean‘ Angela Merkel: Following record high domestic popularity ratings for Merkel early last year, a recent poll indicates that 40 percent of Germans want her to resign over her refugee policies:

    Reuters
    Forty percent of Germans say Merkel should resign over refugee policy: poll

    BERLIN
    Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:03pm EST

    Forty percent of Germans want Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign over her refugee policy, a poll showed on Friday, in a sign of rising dissatisfaction with her welcoming stance towards people fleeing conflict and economic hardship in the Middle East and Africa.

    Merkel, who enjoyed record high popularity ratings early last year, has grown increasingly isolated in recent months as members of her conservative bloc have pressed her to take a tougher line on asylum seekers and European allies have dragged their feet on the issue.

    Responding to popular pressure, Merkel’s conservatives and their left-leaning Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners agreed on Thursday to tighten asylum rules, reaching a compromise on how to stem the influx of migrants.

    The Insa poll for Focus magazine surveyed 2,047 Germans between Jan. 22 to Jan. 25. It showed 45.2 percent believed Merkel’s refugee policy was not a reason for her to resign. It was the first time the pollster had asked voters whether Merkel should quit.

    Another poll released on Friday, by the Elector Research Group, showed support for Merkel’s conservative bloc steady at 37 percent. As recently as September, they were on 42 percent. Support for the SPD was also unchanged, at 24 percent.

    The poll put the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), which supports a hard line on immigration, on 11 percent.

    The three ruling parties – Merkel’s Christian Democrats, their Bavarian allies, and the SPD – are eager to show voters that the government is in control of the refugee crisis before three state votes in March and a general election next year.

    A dispute over tighter immigration rules has nonetheless been straining the ruling coalition.

    “The three ruling parties – Merkel’s Christian Democrats, their Bavarian allies, and the SPD – are eager to show voters that the government is in control of the refugee crisis before three state votes in March and a general election next year.”
    Keep in mind that Merkel has already indicated she’s running for a fourth term in 2017. And this is on top of Finland and Sweden both announcing plans for mass deportations. And this raises another issue now that Europe is leaning towards sending the refugees back: One of main arguments you hear in the US against accepting more refugees is that they lacked the proper documentation to vet them for terrorist ties. Well, in those cases where there is indeed a lack of documentation, it also means it’s not necessarily going to be be so easy sending them back to where they came from. Why? Because they won’t be able to prove they’re citizens of where they came from either:

    Associated Press
    Mass expulsions ahead for Europe as migrant crisis grows

    By Karl Ritter January 28 at 2:56 PM

    STOCKHOLM — Dazzled by an unprecedented wave of migration, Sweden on Thursday put into words an uncomfortable reality for Europe: If the continent isn’t going to welcome more than 1 million people a year, it will have to deport large numbers of them to countries plagued by social unrest and abject poverty.

    Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said Sweden could send back 60,000-80,000 asylum seekers in the coming years. Even in a country with a long history of immigration, that would be a scale of expulsions unseen before.

    “The first step is to ensure voluntary returns,” Ygeman told Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri. “But if we don’t succeed, we need to have returns by coercion.”

    The coercive part is where it gets uncomfortable. Packing unwilling migrants, even entire families, onto chartered airplanes bound for the Balkans, the Middle East or Africa evokes images that clash with Europe’s humanitarian ideals.

    But the sharp rise of people seeking asylum in Europe last year almost certainly will also lead to much higher numbers of rejections and deportations.

    European Union officials have urged member countries to quickly send back those who don’t qualify for asylum so that Europe’s welcome can be focused on those who do, such as people fleeing the war in Syria.

    “People who do not have a right to stay in the European Union need to be returned home,” said Natasha Bertaud, a spokeswoman for the EU’s executive Commission.

    “This is a matter of credibility that we do return these people, because you don’t want to give the impression of course that Europe is an open door,” she said.

    EU statistics show most of those rejected come from the Balkans including Albania and Kosovo, some of Europe’s poorest countries. Many applicants running away from poverty in West Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh also are turned away. Even people from unstable countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia can’t count on getting asylum unless they can prove they, personally, face grave risks at home.

    Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s vice president, told Dutch TV station NOS this week that the majority of people seeking asylum in Europe are not refugees.

    “More than half, 60 percent, should have to return much more quickly. If we start with doing that, it would already make a huge difference,” he said.

    Sending them back is easier said than done. In 2014, EU nations returned less than 40 percent of the people who were ordered to be deported.

    Sometimes those seeking asylum go into hiding after receiving a negative decision. Sometimes their native country doesn’t want them back.

    EU countries, including Sweden and Germany, have had some success sending people back to the Balkans on chartered flights. Of the 37,000 who returned from Germany on their own accord last year, all but about 5,000 were from the Balkans.

    “It’s been more difficult with Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Mikael Ribbenvik, director of operations at the Swedish Migration Agency. “The returns have worked during some periods, and not so well during others.”

    One of the biggest obstacles to sending people back is to obtain travel documents from their home countries. People routinely lose or even destroy their travel papers coming to Europe, creating confusion about where they are from.

    “Most countries in the world don’t accept someone if cannot be proved that it’s one of their citizens,” Ribbenvik said.

    Sweden has urged the EU and its Frontex border agency to help establish return agreements with the countries of origin.

    Frontex’s budget for deporting people was significantly increased this year, allowing it to coordinate more flights and help countries prepare their own.

    Under U.N. rules, countries are supposed to offer protection to refugees fleeing war and persecution. But some European countries also offer protection to people deemed at risk of torture or the death penalty or who are suffering from an exceptionally serious disease.

    “One of the biggest obstacles to sending people back is to obtain travel documents from their home countries. People routinely lose or even destroy their travel papers coming to Europe, creating confusion about where they are from.”
    Yep, Europe has a whole bunch of freezing ‘hot potatoes’ it doesn’t want and may not be able to toss back to their home countries. It’s unclear what their options are that don’t involve sending people back to their doom, although Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris probably has some suggestions (involving letting him create a refugee island nation). It will be interesting to see if this is the year he get Europe’s ear.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 29, 2016, 4:03 pm
  13. Back in November, Donald Trump’s raised a few eyebrows when he suggested, in response to a protester getting aggressively thrown out of one of his events, that “maybe he should have been roughed up.” So it was already becoming apparent that the Trump campaign was going to be flirting with endorsing political violence and incorporating the psychology of a violent mob as part of the campaign’s popular appeal.

    Well, last month Trump appeared to have answered his rhetorical question about whether or not protesters deserve to be “roughed up” when he told a rally that his security was going to get “so tough and so nasty, and when that happens we’re not gonna have any more problems… Pretty soon they’re gonna get so nasty that we’re not gonna have any more protesting, you know that right?”:

    Raw Story
    Trump vows security will get even more ‘nasty’ as more rally attendees are manhandled for no reason

    Bethania Palma Markus
    13 Jan 2016 at 10:28 ET

    The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur accused GOP front runner Donald Trump of creating a dangerous “mob mentality” among his supporters after TYT reporter Jordan Chariton captured footage of supporters throwing people out of a rally, apparently for no reason.

    The footage shows Trump supporters stand and surround a young woman who was sitting quietly at a rally in Burlington, Vermont on Tuesday. They loudly demand she be thrown out by security. As she is being forced out, the woman frantically insists she wasn’t doing anything except sitting in her seat.

    “If you think this isn’t dangerous, you’re not paying attention,” Uygur cautions. “This is exactly what has happened in countries in the past… We haven’t even chosen if we’re going to go in this direction yet. But this is how it begins, when you start that mob and you empower that mob… This is exactly how fascism begins.”

    In the video shot by the TYT crew, Trump tells his supporters, “We’ll get more and more angry as we go, is that okay?”

    He then said his security would be “so tough and so nasty, and when that happens we’re not gonna have any more problems… Pretty soon they’re gonna get so nasty that we’re not gonna have any more protesting, you know that right?”

    As one man is thrown out of the rally, Trump directs his security not to give him his coat, and to throw him out in 10-below weather.

    “If it’s joking around, I’m no longer amused,” Uygur says. “This is exactly how fascism starts. You start roughing people up, and you get your own supporters to rough them up. You start taking their stuff, you start throwing them out in the cold.”

    Chariton then describes how he and the rest of the TYT crew were treated by Trump rally staffers. Producer Eric Byler’s video shows police officers telling them they have to leave, because “they don’t want you here.”

    “As one man is thrown out of the rally, Trump directs his security not to give him his coat, and to throw him out in 10-below weather.”
    Throwing people out into freezing weather without a jacket is indeed pretty nasty. And guess what: Trump’s mob security just got a big endorsement to get a lot nastier:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    Trump To Crowd: ‘Knock The Crap Out Of’ Tomato Throwers, I’ll Cover Legal Fees

    By Sara Jerde
    Published February 1, 2016, 3:42 PM EST

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told the crowd gathered at his campaign rally on Monday to “knock the crap” out of anybody who threw a tomato at him.

    Trump said the event’s security staff told him there was a risk people would throw the juicy fruit.

    “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them,” Trump said at his rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    “I will pay for the legal fees. I promise,” he added. “They won’t be so much because the courts agree with us too.”

    A protestor was arrested last week for throwing tomatoes at Trump at a different Iowa event.

    “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them…I will pay for the legal fees. I promise…They won’t be so much because the courts agree with us too.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2016, 3:13 pm
  14. Before Donald Trump thumped the competition in New Hampshire, there was the stumble out of the Iowa gate was inevitably going to rattle the confidence of some of Trump’s supporters. Especially those driven to the charisma of a pathological ‘winner’. But for those drawn to Trump for more ideological reasons, Trump’s loss was likely just seen as a bump in the road to victory and national greatness. Especially for those that have already embraced Trump as America’s Belated Great White Hope:

    Talking Points Memo Muckraker

    White Nationalist Supporters Are Undeterred By Trump’s Iowa Caucus Loss

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published February 2, 2016, 4:20 PM EST

    The founder of a white nationalist super PAC that launched a robocall campaign for Donald Trump in Iowa is undeterred by his favored candidate’s second-place finish, and plans to move forward with another robocall campaign to get out the vote for Trump in New Hampshire.

    William Johnson, chairman of the white nationalist American Freedom Party and founder of the American National Super PAC, told TPM in a Tuesday phone interview that he believes Trump is “well-placed to move forward in the other primaries.”

    Johnson said Iowa caucus winner Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) simply “had a longer-term ground game in a state that is amenable to ground games. And Trump didn’t have that involvement in the state.”

    Johnson’s PAC made national headlines in January after it rolled out a robocall campaign in the Hawkeye State that lavished praise on Trump’s anti-immigrant policy proposals. The call featured endorsements from a Filipino-American minister, Rev. Donald Tan, and Jared Taylor, the founder of the white supremacist American Renaissance magazine.

    “We don’t need Muslims,” Taylor said on the robocall. “We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”

    When asked about the campaign in late January, Trump, who is not affiliated with the American National Super PAC, told CNN he “would disavow” the robocalls. But he added that he wasn’t surprised by their content.

    “Nothing in this country shocks me. I would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me,” he said.

    Trump explained the calls by repeating his claims that undocumented immigrants commit crimes against U.S. citizens.

    “People are angry, they’re angry at what’s going on,” he continued. “They’re angry at the border. They’re angry at the crime. They’re angry at people coming in and shooting Kate [Steinle] in the back in California, in San Francisco. They’re angry when Jamiel Shaw was shot in the face by an illegal immigrant. They’re angry when the woman, the veteran, 65 years old, is raped, sodomized, and killed by an illegal immigrant.”

    In a Tuesday phone interview with TPM, Taylor noted that Trump’s explanation dovetailed nicely with the white nationalist views espoused by the super PAC.

    “He didn’t put it in racial terms when he was asked to disavow the calls,” Taylor said. “He said people are furious about some of the immigrants who come in illegally and commit all sorts of problems. He is expressing sympathy not with the consciousness of race and the wish of whites to remain the majority; what he’s expressing solidarity with is the idea that we shouldn’t be letting in immigrants who are going to kill us and commit crimes. But in many respects it boils down to the same thing as a practical matter.”

    Numerous studies, including one released last summer by the non-partisan American Immigration Council, have found that undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit serious crimes than U.S.-born citizens.

    Taylor said the people who actually experience—or, in his words, “suffer from”— diversity “are behind the kind of support that Trump, and to some extent Cruz, are getting.”

    Neither Johnson nor Taylor said they view Cruz as a viable alternative to Trump, despite his win in Iowa and his similarly strong rhetoric about undocumented immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries.

    “I don’t support Cruz for a variety of reasons,” Johnson said. “Cruz is a conservative and I’m a populist and a nationalist…Cruz is just not the man for the job so I would not support him at all.”

    As for Taylor, he said he admires Trump’s “less politically correct instincts” and trusts him to not compromise on his positions if elected.

    “I can imagine Donald Trump saying something like, ‘What’s wrong with white people preferring to remain the majority in the United States?'” Taylor said. “I can’t imagine Ted Cruz saying something like this.”

    In Taylor’s mind, Cruz has simply modeled his increasingly hardline stance on immigration off Trump’s.

    “I prefer the original rather than the imitation,” he said.

    “In a Tuesday phone interview with TPM, Taylor noted that Trump’s explanation dovetailed nicely with the white nationalist views espoused by the super PAC.”
    Yeah, that’s a pretty good way to describe this:


    When asked about the campaign in late January, Trump, who is not affiliated with the American National Super PAC, told CNN he “would disavow” the robocalls. But he added that he wasn’t surprised by their content.

    “Nothing in this country shocks me. I would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me,” he said.

    Trump explained the calls by repeating his claims that undocumented immigrants commit crimes against U.S. citizens.

    “People are angry, they’re angry at what’s going on,” he continued. “They’re angry at the border. They’re angry at the crime. They’re angry at people coming in and shooting Kate [Steinle] in the back in California, in San Francisco. They’re angry when Jamiel Shaw was shot in the face by an illegal immigrant. They’re angry when the woman, the veteran, 65 years old, is raped, sodomized, and killed by an illegal immigrant.”

    The ‘ol “I disavow this group I completely agree with for the following reasons” non-disavowal disavowal. It’s not hard to see why White Supremacists continued robo-calling for Trump in New Hampshire.

    But it’s still a little suprising to see so little White Nationalist enthusiasiam towards Ted Cruz, which says a lot of what Trump says, but apparently without the white nationalist pizazz that Trump possesses:


    As for Taylor, he said he admires Trump’s “less politically correct instincts” and trusts him to not compromise on his positions if elected.

    “I can imagine Donald Trump saying something like, ‘What’s wrong with white people preferring to remain the majority in the United States?'” Taylor said. “I can’t imagine Ted Cruz saying something like this.”

    In Taylor’s mind, Cruz has simply modeled his increasingly hardline stance on immigration off Trump’s.

    “I prefer the original rather than the imitation,” he said.

    Ouch. That’s a pretty big lack of faith in Ted from an increasingly important GOP primary constituency. So with polls closed in South Carolina’s primary and Donald Trump the projected strong first place finisher and Ted Cruz fighting Marco Rubio for a distant second or third place, it’s probably safe to say that Ted Cruz didn’t do super well with South Carolina’s White Nationalists. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t try:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    Pro-Cruz Robocall Knocks Trump On ‘Our’ Confederate Flag In South Carolina

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published February 19, 2016, 5:11 PM EST

    A super PAC supporting Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential bid has launched a robocall campaign knocking his rival Donald Trump for his comments about taking down the Confederate flag, the Charleston Post and Courier reported Friday.

    “People like Donald Trump are always butting their noses into other people’s business, but Trump talks about our flag like it’s a social disease,” a male narrator’s voice says on the call.

    The minute-long call was bankrolled by the Courageous Conservative Political Action Committee, a pro-Cruz group. A sped-up message at the end of the recording says the Cruz campaign had no involvement in the creation of the robocall.

    The ad aligns Trump with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the state Capitol grounds after a gunman with white supremacist sympathies killed nine black parishioners last summer at a historic Charleston church. [Defenders of the flag denied its racist connotations, calling it a symbol of Southern heritage.]

    “Put it in a museum; let it go,” Trump’s voice can be heard saying repeatedly during the robocall.

    Listen to the ad here and read the full text below:

    “Put it in a museum; let it go.”
    “That’s Donald trump supporting Nikki Haley removing the battle flag from the confederate memorial in Columbia.”

    “Respect whatever it is you have to respect, because it was a point in time, and put it in a museum.”
    “People like Donald Trump are always butting their noses into other people’s business, but Trump talks about our flag like it’s a social disease.”

    “Respect whatever it is you have to respect. Let it go; put it in a museum.”
    “Donald Trump has bankrolled nearly every Democrat in the country. He’s funded our enemies. He’s ridiculed our values.”

    “Respect whatever it is you have to respect. Let it go; put it in a museum.”
    “On Saturday send Donald Trump and his New York values back to Manhattan. Ted Cruz for president. Let’s take our country back now—before it’s too late.”

    “The ad aligns Trump with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the state Capitol grounds after a gunman with white supremacist sympathies killed nine black parishioners last summer at a historic Charleston church. [Defenders of the flag denied its racist connotations, calling it a symbol of Southern heritage.]”
    While Ted’s line of attack clearly didn’t work in time for South Carolina, since Ted Cruz is looking like the closest thing to real competition for Trump, it’s looking like one of the emerging dynamics for the rest of the GOP primary could be a growing attempt by the second place candidate to assert that he, and not the leading candidate, is the real white nationalist candidate.

    Will Cruz succeed? It’s a long shot, but it’s possible. Cruz makes a point of highlighting how much Ronald Reagan has influenced him on the campaign trail. If he can sell that as a genuine sentiment and the real and only leading candidate that would truly follow in Reagan’s footsteps, who knows, Ted Cruz just might get the support he needs. Especially when it comes to Reagan and “states’ rights”. There’s some GOP-base issue-space synergy there for Ted. And Ted knows it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 20, 2016, 5:34 pm
  15. The white supremacist “American National Super PAC” expanded its pro-Trump robocalling efforts to Vermont and Minnesota. Guess what the message is now that the race has narrowed considerably and Trump has two Cuban-Americans as his primary remaining opponents: “don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump”. And, of course, there’s also some stuff about white genocide.

    So if you’re living in Minnesota or Vermont, try not to be super shocked if and you get a disturbing phone call about white genocide in the next week. Sure, you can be disturbed since you’re name was somehow added to a ‘white nationalist friendly’ call list and generally shocked that this is where US politics finds itself, but try not to be super shocked about getting the actual phone call:

    Talking Points Memo Muckraker

    New White Supremacist PAC Robocalls: ‘Don’t Vote For A Cuban,’ Vote Trump! (AUDIO)

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published February 24, 2016, 4:52 PM EST

    A white supremacist super PAC is rolling out a fresh robocall campaign this week in Vermont and Minnesota telling voters, “Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump.”

    In a recording of the robocall sent to TPM, American National Super PAC founder William Daniel Johnson calls on white Americans to brush aside their fears of being branded as racist and stop the “gradual genocide against the white race” by electing Trump.

    “The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called ‘racist,’” Johnson says in the recording, which will be pushed out Wednesday in Vermont and Thursday in Minnesota. Voters in both states will head to the polls on Super Tuesday to vote in the Republican presidential primary.

    Johnson, who serves as the head of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, has pushed out similar robocall campaigns through his PAC in Iowa and New Hampshire. Both the party and PAC explicitly praise Trump for championing what they see as a pro-white, anti-immigrant message.

    The PAC is not affiliated with Trump’s campaign, and Johnson previously told TPM that he has never communicated with the Republican presidential candidate. Just before the New Hampshire primary, Trump said he planned to return a $250 donation from Johnson.

    Though Trump has said he “would disavow” the message espoused by his white nationalist supporters, he’s expressed sympathy with voters who are “angry” about the presence of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

    The real estate mogul also has suggested that his leading rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), may not be eligible to serve as president. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and an American mother, while Rubio was born in Miami to Cuban immigrants.

    “Though Trump has said he “would disavow” the message espoused by his white nationalist supporters, he’s expressed sympathy with voters who are “angry” about the presence of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.”
    Note that while Trump merely ‘expressing sympathy’ with the white supremacists when directly asked to disavow their previous pro-Trump robocall campaigns, recall that the initial statements about Mexican immigrants that led to such white nationalist enthusiasm for Trump in the first place went a lot farther than just expressing sympathy.

    So we’ll see how much ‘white genocide’ becomes a factor in the 2016 presidential election as a Trump campaign centered around nativist themes proceeds to crush the GOP competition. Trump will presumably be downplaying these topics once he gets the general election where ‘white genocide’ and ‘don’t vote for the Cubans’ probably isn’t going to play well. But as is becoming increasingly clear, white supremacists robocalls probably aren’t going to hurt him too much with his existing base of support either:

    The New York Times
    Measuring Donald Trump’s Supporters for Intolerance

    Lynn Vavreck
    FEB. 23, 2016

    Exit poll data from the South Carolina primary revealed that nearly half the Republicans who turned out on Saturday wanted undocumented immigrants to be deported immediately. Donald Trump won 47 percent of those voters.

    Voters were asked if they favored temporarily barring Muslims who are not citizens from entering the United States, something Mr. Trump advocates, and 74 percent said they did. He won 41 percent of that group.

    Mr. Trump, who handily won that South Carolina primary and all its delegates, is attracting Republican voters across demographic groups — conservatives, moderates, evangelicals and those who are not born-again Christians. In a sense, he is uniting parts of the party that have been on opposite sides of recent nomination battles.

    A new set of public opinion survey results asking atypical but timely questions has shed some light on the Trump coalition. The results suggest how Mr. Trump has upended the contemporary divide in the party and built a significant part of his coalition of voters on people who are responsive to religious, social and racial intolerance.

    New data from YouGov and Public Policy Polling show the extent to which he has tapped into a set of deeply rooted racial attitudes. But first, two caveats about these data are worth bearing in mind. The national YouGov survey was done near the middle of January, before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. Public Policy Polling is a company aligned with the Democratic Party, and some of its results over the years have been suspected of bias. Taken by itself, its conclusions could be doubted. Taken with the YouGov and exit poll data, however, these three surveys can give us a better idea of Mr. Trump’s backers.

    Possibly more surprising are the attitudes of Mr. Trump’s supporters on things that he has not talked very much about on the campaign trail. He has said nothing about a ban on gays in the United States, the outcome of the Civil War or white supremacy. Yet on all of these topics, Mr. Trump’s supporters appear to stand out from the rest of Republican primary voters.

    Data from Public Policy Polling show that a third of Mr. Trump’s backers in South Carolina support barring gays and lesbians from entering the country. This is nearly twice the support for this idea (17 percent) among Ted Cruz’s and Marco Rubio’s voters and nearly five times the support of John Kasich’s and Ben Carson’s supporters (7 percent).

    Similarly, YouGov data reveal that a third of Mr. Trump’s (and Mr. Cruz’s) backers believe that Japanese internment during World War II was a good idea, while roughly 10 percent of Mr. Rubio’s and Mr. Kasich’s supporters do. Mr. Trump’s coalition is also more likely to disagree with the desegregation of the military (which was ordered in 1948 by Harry Truman) than other candidates’ supporters are.

    The P.P.P. poll asked voters if they thought whites were a superior race. Most Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 78 percent — disagreed with this idea (10 percent agreed and 11 percent weren’t sure). But among Mr. Trump’s supporters, only 69 percent disagreed. Mr. Carson’s voters were the most opposed to the notion (99 percent), followed by Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz’s supporters at 92 and 89 percent. Mr. Rubio’s backers were close to the average level of disagreement (76 percent).

    According to P.P.P., 70 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters in South Carolina wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds. (It was removed last summer less than a month after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.) The polling firm says that 38 percent of them wish the South had won the Civil War. Only a quarter of Mr. Rubio’s supporters share that wish, and even fewer of Mr. Kasich’s and Mr. Carson’s do.

    Nationally, the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states during the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.

    Mr. Trump’s popularity with white, working-class voters who are more likely than other Republicans to believe that whites are a supreme race and who long for the Confederacy may make him unpopular among leaders in his party.. But it’s worth noting that he isn’t persuading voters to hold these beliefs. The beliefs were there — and have been for some time.

    Mr. Trump has reinvigorated explicit appeals to ethnocentrism, and some voters are responding.

    “Nationally, the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states during the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.”
    Yep, Donald Trump has a disproportionate level of support within the GOP from people who also support slavery. Of course, as the rest of his primary opponents fall to the wayside that relative level of slavery-supporters should be diluted as he picks up his opponents’ less-pro-slavery supporters. Unless, of course, Trump manages to bring in white supremacist voters who would have otherwise voted third party or just skipped the election altogether. If that happens, who knows how high a fraction of Trump’s supporters will be pro-Slavery before this election is over.

    In other news, guess who just declared that whites who don’t support Trump are committing treason against their heritage? Hint: Think of the current House Majority Whip and just start free-associating. It’s a big hint.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 25, 2016, 2:32 pm
  16. With Super Tuesday looming in the US 2016 presidential primaries, with around a third of the total delegates up for grabs, the media is aflutter with a question that really captures the spirit of the contemporary political moment: Why exactly did Donald Trump refuse to disavow the support of David Duke and the KKK when asked directly three times in a row on Sunday? Was it because he wasn’t familiar with who David Duke is and what he stands for, as Trump was claiming during the interview? Could it have been due to a faulty earpiece, as Trump later asserted? Or was it that Donald Trump didn’t want to seem like he was bigoted against people who like David Duke:

    Slate

    Donald Trump Can’t Disavow the KKK Because It Might Demoralize His Base

    By Michelle Goldberg

    Let us dispel with the notion that Donald Trump doesn’t know who David Duke and the KKK are. In 2000, Trump briefly flirted with running for president on the Reform Party ticket, but concluded that the party was too full of extremists. Among them were David Duke, the Louisiana politician and former Grand Wizard of the KKK, right-wing populist Pat Buchannan, and all-purpose fringe figure Lenora Fulani.

    “The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” the New York Times quoted Trump saying in a statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.”

    How things have changed! On Sunday morning, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump to disavow Duke’s support for his current presidential bid. “I know nothing about David Duke,” Trump replied. “I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”

    Tapper kept pressing him, but Trump refused to say a negative word about either Duke or the KKK. “I don’t know what group you are talking about, you wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about; I’d have to look,” Trump said. “If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong, but …”

    Tapper interjected, “The Ku Klux Klan?”

    Trump continued, “You may have groups in there that are totally fine and it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups, and I’ll let you know.”

    “OK, I mean I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but,” said Tapper.

    “I don’t know any—honestly I don’t know David Duke,” replied Trump. “I don’t believe I’ve ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him, and I just don’t know anything about him.”

    What’s interesting here is not that Trump is lying, but why he is lying. For most politicians, rejecting the KKK is not a hard call. Trump, however, seems to suspect that doing so will demoralize his base. Given how much white nationalist support he has, he might be right.

    Indeed, Trump’s complete mendacity coexists with a twisted sort of honesty about his own motives. He doesn’t pretend to be anything but a bigot and a bully. Sunday, a few hours before refusing to condemn white supremacists, he retweeted @ilduce2016, a Twitter bot created by Gawker’s Ashley Feinberg that posts Mussolini quotes, ascribing them to Trump. (Its avatar is a photo of the Italian fascist sporting Trump’s poufy orange comb-over.) The quote Trump retweeted was, “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep,” followed by the hashtag #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. When Chuck Todd asked Trump about it on Meet The Press, Trump responded, “Mussolini was Mussolini. It’s a very good quote, it’s a very interesting quote. I know who said it, but what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else?”

    “You want to be associated with a fascist?” Todd asked. “No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes,” Trump replied. His associations are certainly interesting. And to paraphrase Marco Rubio, it seems like he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    You read that correctly: just hours before Donald Trump repeatedly refused to disavow David Duke’s endorsement, Trump was found retweeting quotes from a Twitter account named “@ilduce2016” that was specifically set up by Gawker to post Tweets of Benito Mussolini and attribute them to Trump. And Trump reweets them and defends it! So that was the Trumpian context before the whole David Duke non-disavowal took place.

    So here we are. Two days before Super Tuesday, the leading GOP candidate who just hit 49 percent in a national GOP primary poll refused to disavow David Duke’s endorsement by playing dumbamnesic:

    BuzzFeed
    Trump Disavows Former KKK Leader David Duke’s Support

    “I disavow, OK?”
    posted on Feb. 26, 2016, at 3:03 p.m.

    Andrew Kaczynski
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    At a news conference in Texas on Friday, Donald Trump said he disavows the support of white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

    “I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? I disavow, OK,” Trump said.

    Duke, who has expressed his support of Trump’s message on immigration throughout the election, urged his radio listeners on Wednesday to volunteer and vote for Trump.

    “Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage,” Duke said, referring to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. “I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”

    “I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? I disavow, OK”
    That was Donald Trump’s response to a question about David Duke’s endorsement two days before he refused to disavow Duke on CNN. It’s the kind of flip-flop that really does raise the question: did the Trump campaign determine that Friday’s Duke-disavowal was a mistake that needed to be fixed? It seems possible, which means the results of tomorrow’s Super Tuesday GOP primaries might even more disturbing than normal.

    Keep in mind that this all could be worse, or at least more disturbing: Trump could have retweeted the “Blood alone moves the wheels of history” @IlDuce2016 tweet instead. That would have been more disturbing given our Trumpian political context.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 29, 2016, 6:51 pm
  17. David Duke has a message to the Trump campaign following Trump’s “disavowal” of Duke’s support: “Look, Donald Trump, do whatever you need to do to get elected to this country because we need a change.”

    Well, it looks like the Trump campaign will need to ‘do whatever needs to do’ again. It turns out the Trump campaign issued press credentials to James Edwards of the white nationalist The Political Cesspool radio show. It was a totally innocent mistake. Really!

    Not only that, but the show is going to air a previously-taped 20 minute interview with Donald Trump Jr. this Saturday. The Trump campaign is, of course, denying that it knew anything about the nature of Edwards and his show and Donald Trump Jr. swears that “wouldn’t have consented to an interview with a pro-slavery radio host had he known the host held those views.” Also a totally innocent mistake! *wink*:

    Media Matters

    Trump Campaign Runs For Cover Following Revelation They Credentialed White Nationalist Radio Show

    MATT GERTZ
    3/2/2016

    Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is running for cover following the revelation that a white nationalist radio show received press credentials for a Trump rally and will feature an interview with Donald Trump, Jr.

    On March 1, Media Matters and Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson reported that James Edwards, host of the white nationalist radio program The Political Cesspool, had written in a blog post that he “attended a Donald Trump rally in Memphis on Saturday night as a fully credentialed member of the media” and that his upcoming show “will feature a previously taped 20-minute interview with Donald Trump, Jr.” Edwards repeatedly praised Trump in his blog post, calling him “the first Republican nominee that I have ever voted for” and declaring him “the only candidate who gives us a chance at having a fighter who will put America first.”

    As Media Matters has documented, national civil rights groups have criticized the program for supporting anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists like David Duke. The show openly states on its website that it’s a “pro-White” program that wishes “to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility.” Edwards has also claimed that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “dream is our nightmare,” “interracial sex is white genocide,” and “slavery is the greatest thing that ever happened to” African-Americans.

    After coming under heavy criticism, the Trump campaign has responded by furiously backpedaling, seeking to avoid the taint of their toxic white nationalist supporters as Trump tries to solidify his hold on the Republican nomination.

    Trump’s campaign claimed in a March 2 statement that media credentials were provided “to everyone that requested access to the event on Saturday in Memphis,” adding: “There were close to 200 reporters in attendance and we do not personally vet each individual. The campaign had no knowledge of his personal views and strongly condemns them.”

    But Trump’s campaign has frequently denied access to specific reporters and publications who have displeased them. In fact, according to The Wrap, the African-American publication The New Tri-State Defender was denied credentials for the Memphis event Edwards attended.

    Trump’s son has also claimed that he “wouldn’t have consented to an interview with a pro-slavery radio host had he known the host held those views,” according to BloombergPolitics. He asserted that the interview “was not vetted” and was the result of him calling “35 different stations to tout his father’s GOP presidential campaign, and one host asked him to speak with another host, who ended up being Edwards.”

    Trump’s campaign has repeatedly been the subject of heavy criticism and struggled to provide explanations for the support and praise they have received from white nationalist groups and figures. White nationalists have praised Trump for spurring “unprecedented interest in” their ideology and putting their ideas “firmly in the mainstream.” Trump was recently excoriated after he repeatedly refused to denounce former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke’s support during a February 28 CNN interview.

    “As Media Matters has documented, national civil rights groups have criticized the program for supporting anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists like David Duke. The show openly states on its website that it’s a “pro-White” program that wishes “to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility.” Edwards has also claimed that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “dream is our nightmare,” “interracial sex is white genocide,” and “slavery is the greatest thing that ever happened to” African-Americans.”
    And now we can add Donald Trump Jr. to the long list of “pro-White” guests on the show. Except, of course, it was a totally innocent mistake! It just happens to have been an innocent mistake that doesn’t appear to apply to black journalists. How odd:


    Trump’s campaign claimed in a March 2 statement that media credentials were provided “to everyone that requested access to the event on Saturday in Memphis,” adding: “There were close to 200 reporters in attendance and we do not personally vet each individual. The campaign had no knowledge of his personal views and strongly condemns them.”

    But Trump’s campaign has frequently denied access to specific reporters and publications who have displeased them. In fact, according to The Wrap, the African-American publication The New Tri-State Defender was denied credentials for the Memphis event Edwards attended.

    All innocent mistakes!

    It’s also no doubt an innocent mistake that the airing of this interview is going to be on the same day as the Louisiana primary. Yes, David Duke’s home state is Louisiana and his strain of politics is particularly effective there, but it’s all totally coincidental and innocent! Really!

    In other news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 2, 2016, 6:53 pm
  18. Following the GOP’s failure to prevent Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, one of the more darkly amusing aspects of the predictable GOP soul searching were the conclusions of the Republican National Committees party “autopsy”: the GOP is too souless. That’s not how they put it, but that was the basic gist of the “autopsy” report. The party was seen as mean, xenophobic, and hostile to those that weren’t straight fundamentalist Christian white voters. In other words, the GOP was getting a little to overtly white nationalist-ish for non-white voters to feel comfortable joining. And if you’re an oligarch that relies on the GOP to secure pro-oligarchy policies, the traditional GOP ‘grand-bargain’, where the demands of traditional white social conservatives are wedding to the needs of the Big Business oligarchy, can become very bad for business if demographic changes make a white nationalist-Big Business party politically untenable.

    So what was the solution to bring the party back to electoral life? Become a more “inclusive” and compassionate party, especially on policies towards undocumented immigrants, so the party doesn’t end up finding itself in a demographic tomb. That was basically it. Make a few concessions on handful of issues near and dear to Latino voters. That’s the path to a viable future for the GOP.

    Of course, that was also 2013. And as we now know, the GOP did indeed give itself makeover for the 2016 election. A makeover that, according to some, gives the party a path to the future. A makeover that looks like Donald Trump in clown makeup, which has understandably prompted a number of observers to conclude that Donald Trump has killed the GOP’s ‘autopsy’. Or, rather, he smothered the post-autopsy kinder, gentler GOP while it was still in the crib.

    Well, as the article below points out, it’s not so much that Trump killed the kinder, gentler GOP of the future, so much as he got in front of the rest of the GOP which was trying to do the same thing:

    Politico

    Trump kills GOP autopsy

    Republican elders drew up a blueprint for a kinder, more inclusive Republican party. Trump is tearing it apart.

    By Kyle Cheney

    03/04/16 05:15 AM EST

    Reeling from a second straight loss to Barack Obama, a flailing Republican Party in 2013 found its culprit: Mitt Romney’s callous tone toward minorities. Instead of being doomed to irrelevance in a changing America, the party would rebrand as a kinder, more inclusive GOP. They called their findings an “autopsy,” and party leaders from Paul Ryan to Newt Gingrich welcomed it with fanfare.

    But even then, Donald Trump was lurking.

    “New @RNC report calls for embracing ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’” he wrote in a little-noticed tweet, nestled alongside digs at Mark Cuban and Anthony Weiner on the day of the report’s release. “Does the @RNC have a death wish?”

    Pundits laughed it off as the buffoonish ramble of a fringe New York billionaire on that March 2013 day, but what Trump didn’t say — and what the party establishment couldn’t have imagined — is that, three years later, he would be the one on the verge of making that death wish come true. The billionaire has not only ignored the report’s conclusions, he has run a campaign that moved the party in the exact opposite direction.

    Now, with Trump’s GOP takeover fully underway, interviews with four co-authors of the 2012 autopsy and 10 other Republican leaders reveal a party establishment terrified that Trump is not only repeating the party’s failures — he’s destroying the party in the process. And while the leaders continue to insist that their report laid out the Republican Party’s best chance of victory, they fear Trump’s dominance will tear the party apart before they ever get a chance to put it in play.

    “Swing voters would flock away from him in droves,” said Henry Barbour, one of the autopsy’s authors. And as for Trump’s claim that his working-class appealing will bring back Reagan Democrats, the veteran Mississippi Republican operative is unmoved: “He’s chasing some ghost that I don’t think exists anymore.”

    After mounting for months, tension exploded Thursday with the return of Romney himself, who ripped Trump as a “fraud” and declared him anathema to what the Republican Party aspired to be. It’s part of a last-ditch effort by Romney, 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain and other party leaders to snatch the primary back from Trump before he rolls through to the general election.

    But members of the GOP establishment concede that they have little influence over Trump, and have thus far been unable to exert much leverage in their party’s primary: “The party itself is less consequential than ever before, and since our shellacking in 2012, the tribal differences are increasingly irreconcilable,” said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. “If Trump prevails, he will have single-handedly upended the old Republican order and built a new movement in its place. The question then will be, is it sustainable?”

    For GOP leaders, what’s so vexing about Trump’s campaign is that it’s a photo-negative of everything the autopsy said was needed to win a general election.

    The report — the product of 2,600 interviews with voters, experts, party officials and business leaders, as well as a poll of Hispanic Republicans and an online survey of 36,000 stakeholders — was remarkable for its blunt criticism of Republican politics. The party, the report’s five authors argued, had become the realm of “stuffy old men” and spent too much time “talking to itself” rather than engaging new voters. Backing immigration reform, the authors concluded, would be necessary to shed that image. “If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only,” the authors wrote.

    Trump trashed that advice on Day One and never looked back. His campaign opened with a speech describing undocumented Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, which Trump followed with a call for a ban Muslims entering the U.S. And just days ago, he went on national television and refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan. (He later disavowed the group and support from former KKK grand wizard David Duke, but his critics say he has still been far too close to white supremacist groups and rhetoric.)

    Trump’s campaign declined to comment on the lessons of the GOP autopsy. But the day after its release in 2013, he expanded on his critique, delivering a pointed attack that previewed a theme he’d deploy in his primary run. “.@RNC report was written by the ruling class of consultants who blew the election,” he tweeted. “Short on ideas. Just giving excuses to donors.”

    Trump insists his rise is an alternative path to growing the GOP. “Why can’t the leaders of the Republican Party see that I am bringing in new voters by the millions — we are creating a larger, stronger party!” he tweeted Wednesday.

    And indeed, in the primary, Trump has defied his caricature as solely the candidate of old, arch-conservative men — building a coalition that stretches across the party’s ideological and demographic fault lines.

    But that argument hasn’t quelled the panic among veteran Republicans, who insist that regardless of how far the strategy takes Trump, it’s ultimately a dead end for the party as a whole. Ari Fleischer, an autopsy coauthor and former press secretary to President George W. Bush, added that a Trump loss in November would be validation for the autopsy. “If Trump’s the nominee and he loses spectacularly, I think you’ll actually have a story that says we were right,” he said.

    “The fact remains, America’s demography is changing and that won’t stop … So let’s just say Donald Trump wins the election because of his unique appeal to blue-collar Democrats. The report will be valid for his successor most likely,” Fleischer continued. “Demographics is demographics, and what we said remains important.”

    Barbour was similarly skeptical about the party’s fate if it disregarded the autopsy’s advice.

    “What we advocated for is that the Republican Party be the conservative party, but that we be a welcoming party. That’s always going to be a good idea,” said Barbour. “Could we have advocated more that Republicans needed to do a better job engaging with working-class Americans? Sure, absolutely. But, look, we tried to be very candid in the report, and I think we tried to call a spade a spade.”

    It’s not just Trump. The rhetoric on immigration, even from candidates other than Trump, has jolted to the right. Ted Cruz recently pledged to root out and deport undocumented immigrants on a large scale after suggesting in January that he’d take a softer approach. And Marco Rubio, who once embraced immigration reform and embodied much of what the report recommended the GOP become, is also running on an anti-amnesty program — and pledging to rescind Obama’s executive orders on deferred deportation for certain undocumented immigrants.

    And there’s another group the report touted that has been largely rejected by the party’s voters: governors.

    The autopsy described Republican governors as models for inclusive politics, pointing to their sweeping victories in 2010. But primary voters have proven that their appetite for governors — and for striking a deal on immigration reform — is virtually nonexistent. Of the seven current and former Republican governors who ran for president this cycle, only Ohio Gov. John Kasich remains, and he’s dramatically behind in the race.

    If the autopsy proves prophetic and the party loses big in 2016, some fear the current Republican coalition won’t get another chance to act on the report’s advice.

    A Trump primary win “would precipitate the breakup of the Republican Party. I wouldn’t be a part of it and a lot of people I know wouldn’t be a part of it,” said Pete Wehner, an aide to the last three Republican presidents. “It would take decades to undo it, potentially. The Republican Party is becoming redefined by Trump, and the question is, Can we jerk it back?”

    One RNC leader even suggested the party’s destruction is already underway.

    “The 2012 autopsy is just what you called it — a case study on the dead rather than a clinical review for lessons to be learned with preventive measures outlined for healing/averting future cases of the disease which caused our demise,” said Ada Fisher, a committeewoman from North Carolina. “A rebellion is at hand. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both reflect this new direction.”

    Some in the establishment are so dismayed at what Trump means that they’re openly musing that a Trump loss in November would be potential step forward for the party, forcing Republicans to accept the conclusions of the 2012 autopsy.

    “I’m not prepared to say it would be ‘better’ for the party to lose, only that it might hasten a modernization that I think is already a couple election cycles overdue,” said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, who said he wouldn’t support Trump under any circumstances. “Sometimes, it takes multiple defeats before a majority of a party realizes it needs to adapt to changing times in order to stay relevant. Half the party seems stuck in 1980.”

    “The Republican Party has to make its own inner peace with the changing demographics in America,” added Wehner. “If it runs against Hispanics and other minorities, that ultimately can’t be sustained.”

    Where some operatives foresaw doom for the party, others described opportunity. Trump may not speak from the same playbook as Republican insiders, they argue, but he’s bringing new energy to a party desperate for it.

    “I reject that the thesis that Trump is necessarily divisive in the long term. He is divisive in the GOP primary largely because he is challenging the status quo of both the consulting and governing classes,” said Jesse Benton, a longtime aide to Ron and Rand Paul. “But as this campaign moves forward, I think it will be up to existing leaders to get over it and work together with Mr. Trump to grow what appears to be a burgeoning movement and make sure that it has a positive, not negative, tone. For example, they must stress that no one is mad at Latinos. The Trump movement must do due diligence to show that they embrace Latinos.”

    Tim Albrecht, an Iowa based Republican PR consultant and former adviser to Gov. Terry Branstad, suggested Republicans at all levels could benefit if the party can “harness the passion” of Trump voters and turn them into into straight-ticket GOP voters.

    Some operatives argued that the party itself is at fault for failing to connect with voters the way Trump has, that leaders should learn from his ability to communicate a persuasive message to grass-roots voters and speak the language of ordinary Americans.

    “We needed to find a better message,” said Barry Bennett, former campaign manager to Ben Carson who has informally offered advice to Trump. “As Republicans, we always have the inclination to fight the last cycle’s wars all over again. We need to be better at listening. Only then will we get better at talking.”

    Trump, Bennett added, is bringing new voters into the GOP fold, even if they’re not the ones the party envisioned. “He is making the tent larger, which is the goal,” he said.

    Fisher, the North Carolina committeewoman, said it’s for that reason that party leaders should embrace Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee.

    “I spend a lot of time in beauty/barbershops, on the block and where ordinary people are,” she said. “They like Trump and his in-your-face style. He is viewed as sticking it to ’em. If Trump becomes the nominee then we should accept it and help him win and become a great president. In no case should the party ever hope to lose.”

    “A Trump primary win “would precipitate the breakup of the Republican Party. I wouldn’t be a part of it and a lot of people I know wouldn’t be a part of it,” said Pete Wehner, an aide to the last three Republican presidents. “It would take decades to undo it, potentially. The Republican Party is becoming redefined by Trump, and the question is, Can we jerk it back?””
    Trump is going to send that GOP into the political desert for decades to come. That’s is the fear being expressed by a number of GOP insiders. But as we also saw, it’s a rather curious fear since Trump is hardly the only GOPer who saw the post-autopsy kinder, gentler GOP as DOA. Almost the entire party was against the plan, including the voters:


    It’s not just Trump. The rhetoric on immigration, even from candidates other than Trump, has jolted to the right. Ted Cruz recently pledged to root out and deport undocumented immigrants on a large scale after suggesting in January that he’d take a softer approach. And Marco Rubio, who once embraced immigration reform and embodied much of what the report recommended the GOP become, is also running on an anti-amnesty program — and pledging to rescind Obama’s executive orders on deferred deportation for certain undocumented immigrants.

    And there’s another group the report touted that has been largely rejected by the party’s voters: governors.

    The autopsy described Republican governors as models for inclusive politics, pointing to their sweeping victories in 2010. But primary voters have proven that their appetite for governors — and for striking a deal on immigration reform — is virtually nonexistent. Of the seven current and former Republican governors who ran for president this cycle, only Ohio Gov. John Kasich remains, and he’s dramatically behind in the race.

    As we can see, Trump isn’t killing the future of the GOP. He’s merely leading a ritual sacrifice with many participants.

    And it’s not a ritual done in despair with no hope for the future. It’s a summoning ritual and it’s intended bring forth a new GOP too. Just not the one the authors of the ‘autopsy’ report had in mind:


    Trump insists his rise is an alternative path to growing the GOP. “Why can’t the leaders of the Republican Party see that I am bringing in new voters by the millions — we are creating a larger, stronger party!” he tweeted Wednesday.

    The Donald does have a point. For instance, if you’re an overt white nationalist who prefers candidates that overtly express white nationalist sentiments and openly flirts with figures like David Duke, a Trumpian GOP really is going to be more welcoming. Sure, such voters are largely in the GOP’s pocket anyway, but not all of them and they may not be inclined for vote for mere dog whistles. Trump is collapsing and expanding and the GOP tent the GOP ‘Big Tent’ simultaneously. And if Trump can lead this reinvigorated white nationalist ‘Big Tent’ to electoral success, the long-term demographic trends that threaten the GOP may no longer be a problem. That’s of course, assuming the Trumpian white nationalist revolt somehow leads to significantly few non-white Americans:

    Media Matters

    White Nationalist Group Headed By “Peaceful Ethnic Cleansing” Leader Holding Pro-Trump Conference In D.C.

    Blog ››› March 3, 2016 2:02 PM EST ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    The National Policy Institute, a white nationalist “think tank,” is holding an event focused on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on March 5.

    In a report about the event from WUSA 9 (Washington, D.C.’s CBS affiliate), National Policy Institute president Richard Spencer said Trump is a figure “energizing” the white nationalist movement, noting, “He’s fighting for us. He’s saying we’re going to be great again. We’re going to win again. And there’s this implicit identity to this. There’s this implicit nationalism.” He added, “I think he’s evoking a lot of feelings amongst people, and I think implicit in what Donald Trump is doing is a conception of America as a European country.”

    Trump’s campaign has faced criticism for the candidate’s failure to condemn the Ku Klux Klan in an interview with CNN after former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, as well as its decision to give press credentials to a pro-Confederate white nationalist radio show. Trump’s candidacy has energized the white nationalist movement and put their ideas “firmly in the mainstream.”

    Spencer told WUSA of Trump’s handling of Duke: “He never said ‘I condemn this.’ He never said any of that. He said I disavow. And I think that’s what he should say. The fact is Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He does not need to answer for David Duke.”

    According to the National Policy Institute’s (NPI) website, the event will consist of three addresses: “Trump and ‘Generation Alt Right’,” “The Trump Phenomenon and the Implicit White Revolt,” and “Breaking Through To The Other Side.”

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies Spencer as “one of the country’s most successful young white nationalist leaders –a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis.”

    Spencer has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and described Martin Luther King Jr. as “a fraud and degenerate in his life” who “has become the symbol and cynosure of White Dispossession and the deconstruction of Occidental civilization.” He also described immigration as “a kind a proxy war — and maybe a last stand — for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile.”

    The SPLC wrote that NPI was established with the mission “to elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights.” The group has opposed affirmative action and advocated “mass deportation” as a “viable solution to America’s illegal immigration crisis.”

    Yep, Richard Spencer, a leading “Alt Right” figure and a guy who advocates the creation of a separate whites-only “ethno-state”, is so excited about the prospects of a Trump presidency that his think-tank’s conference is dedicated to Trump. And if we did have some sort of “peaceful ethnic cleansing” or a not so peaceful ethnic cleansing, boy could that do wonders for the GOP’s future! No demographic crisis there! Ok, you still might need to implement Richard Spencer’s eugenics policies, but it’s not like a white American is impossible. It merely requires killing the post-Civil Right America and summoning an earlier incarnation. So while trying to create a kinder, gentler GOP that appeals more to minorities might seem like the only possible path for the GOP going forward if the party is going to avoid some sort of demographic oblivion, there’s another path: the mass deportation of non-whites and banning of new non-white immigrants. Indefinitely. And while the Trump platform isn’t quite there yet, it’s where his supporters like Richard Spencer are and it’s the logical conclusion that to the white nationalist path Trump has put forward as a post-autopsy alternative.

    Who knows what the odds of success are if the GOP and the broader American oligarchy decide to head down that path, but considering that it’s the path the GOP is currently traveling and probably would still be traveling on even if Trump never got in the race, the GOP had better hope those odds are good. Everyone else should probably hope otherwise.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2016, 5:55 pm
  19. Josh Marshall had a recent post on the rise of the Trump phenomena with one of the more chilling observations of this political season: “a large portion of the GOP is not satisfied with what can realistically be achieved by conventional political means”:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    The Great Betrayal

    By Josh Marshall
    Published March 7, 2016, 12:40 PM EST

    There’s a point I wanted to address about the GOP primaries and the Trump phenomenon that connects up with my piece this morning (“Lust for Destruction“) and anearlier post on the GOP implosion and the concept of ‘technical debt’. I was listening to a CPAC roundtable late last week (televised, I wasn’t there) where the panelists, including The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes, discussed the basic division in the GOP today: between people who feel the party establishment has betrayed them and those who do not.

    I could dig up polls that substantiate this. But there’s abundant public opinion data confirming this division. The only surprise is how abruptly and destructively it’s played out in this primary process. But it is worth unpacking just what this means. We can do a deep interpretation that places this sense of betrayal in the declining economic prospects for many middle class Republican voters or the broader climate of ethnic and cultural transformation in the country. But at least nominally it’s not about either one of those things.

    The betrayal is that the GOP promised it would destroy Obama’s presidency (end it in 2012, defang it before and after) and turn back the various things he’s done to damage the country and ‘transform’ it. But let’s remember that Republicans played a high stakes game of brinksmanship in 2011, threatening to default on the national debt if President Obama didn’t comply with various demands, an event totally without precedent in more than two centuries of American history. There was the Cruz government shutdown in 2013 to attempt to force yet another showdown over Obamacare. There was the successful effort to kill immigration reform in 2013. There’s the current refusal to even receive the President’s nomination to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, at the beginning of the fourth year of his term – again, totally unprecedented in American history. (We had serial rejections in the mid-19th century, never a refusal even to consider a nomination.) And these are only some of the most high stakes examples.

    I’ve never been terribly impressed when people note Mitch McConnell’s early declaration that his primary goal in opposition was to ensure that President Obama was a one term president. That’s almost always an opposition leader’s goal – the difference was that he said it out loud and how far he proved willing to take it. But by almost any objective standard, congressional Republicans have taken a long list of either rare or totally unprecedented actions to fight President Obama. And they’ve accomplished a fair amount – thought largely in negative terms – by doing so. This is the context for half the part feeling “betrayed” by the party establishment that opted for a get along and go along with President Obama.

    This was also, of course, the backdrop to the last intra-GOP blow-up before the primaries really got underway: the overthrow of Speaker John Boehner. He resigned somewhat on his own terms. But it was largely a matter of choosing his moment to jump. The move to overthrow Boehner was largely driven by the belief that with Boehner out of the way, the far right faction of the party (about half the GOP) would finally get a clean shot at Obama. No more pussy-footing around, no more betrayals, no more chickening out at the last minute just when the shutdown was starting to work.

    You can say all sorts of things about these folks being crazy, or extremists or whatever else. But set aside all these evaluative or partisan interpretations and one thing is fairly clear in objective terms: a large portion of the GOP is not satisfied with what can realistically be achieved by conventional political means. One might even add here working with allies on the Supreme Court to come close to overturning Obamacare on what were extremely flimsy grounds. Yes, it’s a bummer to take over the House and latter the Senate and still have Obamacare. But as long as you have a relatively popular President with a veto pen, that’s life. You need to elect a president too.

    As I noted at the end of last month, some of this is a product of “hate debt” and “nonsense debt” – building up wildly unrealistic expectations by over-promising and trading in an increasingly apocalyptic political rhetoric. But it’s not all that. Something this powerful, as we’ve discussed, isn’t just ginned up by political leaders. It runs much deeper. But again, the overreaching point is important: The narrative of ‘betrayal’ – at this volume and intensity – only makes sense if you are dealing with a chunk of the electorate with expectations that are deeply unrealistic in the context of conventional political action.

    That is a volatile situation when you’re talking about at least a quarter of the national electorate.

    That gets you Trump. It also gets you Ted Cruz. And it may get you worse still.

    “As I noted at the end of last month, some of this is a product of “hate debt” and “nonsense debt” – building up wildly unrealistic expectations by over-promising and trading in an increasingly apocalyptic political rhetoric. But it’s not all that. Something this powerful, as we’ve discussed, isn’t just ginned up by political leaders. It runs much deeper. But again, the overreaching point is important: The narrative of ‘betrayal’ – at this volume and intensity – only makes sense if you are dealing with a chunk of the electorate with expectations that are deeply unrealistic in the context of conventional political action.
    Yep, you can’t explain the rise of Trump just in terms of the “hate debt” and “nonsense debt” that the GOP has built over the course of the Obama presidency. Because such “debt” would be worthless if you didn’t simultaneously have an electorate that simply doesn’t seem to understand how the US political system works and what can actually be accomplished when you have one party in the White House and the other party controlling congress.

    As Josh notes, when something like a quarter of the electorate simply does not have a realistic expectation of how the US political system works, that’s the kind of zeitgeist that gets you a Trump, Ted Cruz, or worse.

    So, with that in mind, it’s worth noting that Roger Stone, Trump’s long-time political adviser, was recently making some rather huge promises to the Alex Jones fans at the recent event in Austin: Once elected, Trump is blowing the doors open on all the stuff Alex Jones talks about:

    Media Matters
    Roger Stone Sells Himself As Trump’s Inside Man To Gathering Of Conspiracy Theorists

    Blog ››› March 1, 2016 11:32 AM EST ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    At a book signing in Austin, Texas, political “dirty trickster” Roger Stone sold himself to a group of conspiracy theorists as a conduit to the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    On February 27, a packed house came to see Stone talk about his official and unofficial involvement with Trump’s campaign and promote his books Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family and The Clintons’ War On Women (which is dedicated to an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier).

    The event was held at Brave New Books, a conspiracy-friendly bookstore that peddles — alongside several of Stone’s books and Flouride Filtration Systems — books with titles like 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA and Alien Agenda: Investigating The Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us. Brave New Books also hosts a weekly “Conspiracy Comedy Open Mic” and has promoted multiple 9-11 conspiracy books with in-store events.

    Also in attendance was Stone’s co-author Robert Morrow, who has published bizarre sexual writings about the Clinton family and has wished death on Secretary Clinton.<

    The night kicked off with an introduction by radio host Alex Jones, arguably the leading conspiracy theorist in America (Infowars.com, his website, called him “one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement”), who was recently praised by Trump for his “amazing” reputation. Stone, who is a frequent presence on Jones’ show, appeared late last week for an extended interview on Jones’ program.

    During his speech, Jones praised Trump for opposing the “globalist agenda” — reiterating a previous claim that Trump’s call to audit the Federal Reserve was evidence of his support of the conspiracy theory movement — and described Stone as “the true Trump insider” working to expose the “great mighty Oz.”

    In his presentation, Stone promoted an array of conspiracy theories, rehashing the unsupported claims in his books that the Clintons have covered up sexual crimes, sometimes with the aid of the Bush family. Stone also claimed that President George H.W. Bush had a role in the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981, and that Lyndon Johnson was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

    Stone also discussed the recent controversy between him and CNN. The network recently released a statement saying Stone would “no longer appear” on the network in response to a series of incendiary tweets he had sent about current and former network personalities. Stone called political commentator Ana Navarro an “entitled diva bitch” and “pompous shithead,” while also describing former CNN analyst Roland Martin as a “stupid negro” and “fat negro.” Stone has also made similar comments about other media personalities.

    In his speech, Stone was unapologetic. He claimed he had appeared on CNN only “three” times in the past 18 months, a falsehood he has repeated several times since being banned by the network. In reality, Stone appeared on the network 22 times between August of 2015 and last week, according to Nexis.

    Stone floated the theory that Republican insiders like Mitt Romney might mount an effort at the Republican Convention to deny Trump the nomination, and that he has assembled a team of political operatives in order to combat them. He then promoted the website StopTheSteal.org, which sends readers to a donation page for Stone’s pro-Trump super PAC.

    The question and answer session was largely focused on the Trump campaign, with the audience probing Stone for hints as to what Trump truly believes and what he would do on issues of importance to conspiracy theorists if elected president.

    One audience member asked Stone why Trump had not yet fully embraced the 9-11 attacks conspiracies, failing to use his prominent position in national media to raise the affiliated issues. The questioner also noted that as someone whose organization has constructed buildings, Trump “knows that [World Trade Center Building 7] was wired for demolition.” (Conspiracy theorists have for years clung to the conspiracy that World Trade 7 was felled by explosives, in light of copious evidence to the contrary.)

    The audience member added, “But at a debate he says, ‘well Jeb’s a nice guy he’s just got low energy.’ No, he’s a criminal and he needs to be prosecuted for treason, and why isn’t Donald Trump saying that now before they kill him?”

    In response, Stone declared it “an excellent question,” and said Trump “would have gone to the next level with Jeb,” but Bush left the race.

    A second questioner chimed in and gave a rambling response agreeing with the 9-11 conspiracies, lamenting that a “particular nation has a tremendous stranglehold over our system of government, our monetary system, and our media,” and raising concerns about how Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign was managed.

    Stone responded by explaining that as a political strategist, he thinks Trump raising major questions like those brought up by the audience “might make us feel good, it might ultimately get us justice, it would not help him get elected. I would rather see him raise those questions after he has the power.”

    “Stone responded by explaining that as a political strategist, he thinks Trump raising major questions like those brought up by the audience “might make us feel good, it might ultimately get us justice, it would not help him get elected. I would rather see him raise those questions after he has the power.“”
    That’s right, if Trump wins, the far-right conspiracy monger industry that’s been building up a narrative for decades could become the overt worldview of White House. At least, that’s assuming Trump lives up to the expectations Roger Stone is establishing for him to the conspiracy community.

    And sure, Trump will probably disappoint these voters by not going quite as far as they would prefer. But keep in mind that, of all the various promising Donald Trump has made to voters to completely transform the United States, the transformation of the White House into one where Alex Jone’s worldview becomes part of the official administration “brand” is probably the easiest transformation to achieve. It would just involve Trump, well, being Trump.

    Of course, if Trump wins the White House that probably means it retains control of the House and Senate too in which case all those bold GOP promises of transforming America (eliminating Obamacare, gutting the social safety-net, etc) really can sort of happen. Sure there are the obvious right-wing goodies that can be done, like gutting social programs, restricting abortions, kicking the poor and bashing gays, etc. That can all happen with a GOP sweep.

    But those are also the kind of political red meat that will appeal heavily to the GOP’s traditional base but may not have all that much resonance with the new voters Trump is bringing into the party. And the parallel promises of an economy that actually makes the lives of average GOP voters better only grows more remote the more political power the GOP obtains. Any promises of actual prosperity would be largely unachievable.

    That’s all part of why, if Donald Trump does indeed end up leading the GOP to a sweep in November and the party gets the power it needs to achieve its full destructive potential, it’s going to be very interesting to see how exactly the party decides to create actual positive benefits for the electorate that extends beyond the traditional social conservative red meat. Because, again, the party can promise death, destruction and prosperity, but it can only actually deliver on the death and destruction part unless you’re really rich. That’s just how GOP-o-nomics works. Even if President Trump rounded up and deported every last undocumented immigrant, that’s not going to do a lot of good to low-wage American workers seeing the government regulations and safety-net shredded. And the promises of prosperity are potentially a pretty important aspect of the GOP’s selling point for voters that are driven to candidates like Trump in part because they’ve found themselves falling through the growing socioeconomic cracks and see him as their last chance for decent living. At the same time, a Trump presidency the a GOP-controlled congress would be a fabulous chance for the GOP to sort of “rebrand” itself in a way that expands its appeal the potential Trumpian-voters in the future.

    So, should the GOP take total power and unleash its full destructive potential on the nation, something other than the standard right-wing political red-meat is going to have to be offered as a positive achievement if the GOP wants to keep its newly expanded Trump coalition. Something positive for both the traditional GOP base and those new voters. And that’s why you have to wonder if the Alex Jones-ification of the White House is going to be seen as a possible positive achievement for both the new Trump voters and traditional GOP base by having the president cater to every last right-wing conspiracy theory of the last few decades in the highly entertaining/zany manner that’s become Trumps brand.

    Sure, Trump might attempt to maintain a politically ‘safe’ distance from folks like Jones once he’s in office. But since this is Donald Trump and the modern GOP we’re talking about here, who knows, maybe embracing Alex Jones to simultaneously placate the new Trumpian voter while paying back all that “hate and nonsense debt” with the traditional base is part of the GOP’s near future. It makes about as much sense as anything else we’ve seen.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 9, 2016, 8:12 pm
  20. Glenn Beck issued a stark warning to his followers a few weeks ago after at: Donald Trump is grooming Brownshirts. Now, normally we can ignore Beck’s ramblings as largely divorced from reality, especially when he’s making Brownshirt comparisons. But in this case, it’s actually kind of hard to disagree with Beck. *shudder*:

    Inside Edition

    Trump Supporter Who Punched Protester: ‘Next Time, We Might Have To Kill Him’

    by Inside Edition 3:42 PM EST, March 10, 2016

    The Trump supporter who was filmed sucker punching a protester during Wednesday’s rally in North Carolina said: “Next time, we might have to kill him.”

    Multiple videos show the protester, 26-year-old Rakeem Jones, raising a middle finger to the crowd as security escorted him from the rally – before the unnamed supporter punched him to the ground.

    INSIDE EDITION tracked down the supporter, 78-year-old John McGraw, who was unrepentant.

    When asked if he liked the rally, he said: “You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out of that big mouth.”

    And when asked why he punched the protester, he said: “Number one, we don’t know if he’s ISIS. We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American, cussing me… If he wants it laid out, I laid it out.”

    He added: “Yes, he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”

    On Thursday, officials arrested and charged McGraw with assault and battery and disorderly conduct, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

    Jones told INSIDE EDITION on Thursday morning that his left eye still hurts from the punch and he remains confused about why he was being taken out by security in the first place.

    He added that he doesn’t regret going to the rally for the GOP frontrunner.

    “Donald Trump probably doesn’t care about what happened. He is already onto the next thing,” he said. “If I can go to another [Trump] rally, I would go if I can.”

    “Donald Trump probably doesn’t care about what happened. He is already onto the next thing…”
    While that’s an understandable sentiment from the guy who just got sucker punched, you can’t say Trump doesn’t care about what happened. Trump made it very clear that he cares. He cares about seeing more incidents just like it:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump On Violence Against Protestors: ‘We Need A Little Bit More’ Of That

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published March 11, 2016, 10:30 AM EST

    Republican presidential frontrunner defended his supporters’ right to “hit back” at campaign event protesters in a Friday press conference where he received Ben Carson’s endorsement.

    Trump remarks came the day after John McGraw, 78, was criminally charged for allegedly sucker-punching a black protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina Wednesday evening.

    Asked if he’s “playing a character” when he says things like “I want to punch a protester in the face,” Trump responded there have been “some violent people” protesting his rallies.

    “These are people that punch. People that are violent people,” Trump said. “The particular one where I said ‘I’d like to bang him,’ that was a very vicious – a guy who was swinging, very loud, and then started swinging at the audience.”

    He continued: “You know what? The audience swung back. And I thought it was very, very appropriate. He was swinging. He was hitting people. And the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of.”

    Trump seemed to be referencing an an incident at a rally in Las Vegas late last month, when he remarked “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya” as a protester was being removed.

    “You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the ol’ days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks,” he told the crowd.

    The Republican also called the protester “nasty as hell,” but CNN reported the man did not appear to be fighting the security officers escorting him out of the venue.

    “You know what? The audience swung back. And I thought it was very, very appropriate. He was swinging. He was hitting people. And the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of.”
    That’s right, Donald Trump isn’t just encouraging violence against protestors like he was doing before. He’s now openly endorsing violence at his rallies after the fact.

    So the question still remains: Will Trump start paying the legal fees for his rally audiences? But as the article below points out, John McGraw’s legal fees may not be the only fees Trump ends up paying since his campaign is potentially liable too:

    The Washington Post

    Trump once said he would pay legal fees for people who beat up protesters. Now that it’s happened, can he?

    By Philip Bump March 10 at 4:00 PM

    At a rally on the day of the Iowa caucuses this year, Donald Trump told the audience that he’d been warned about protesters with tomatoes in the audience.

    “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

    Later the month, as a protester was being led out of another rally, Trump lamented that he wasn’t closer. “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya,” he said.

    On Wednesday, as you’ve likely heard, someone at a Trump rally decided to act in Trump’s stead. Trump had again complained about the protesters, saying that “in the good old days this didn’t used to happen, because they used to treat them very rough,” according to the Atlantic’s David Graham. So, John McGraw, 78, slipped up a row of seats to the aisle where some protesters were being led out. Without warning, he apparently threw a punch.

    McGraw was arrested for assault and battery. Which raises two questions: First, will Trump honor his pledge to pay legal fees? And second, can he, legally?

    We sent an email to the Trump campaign to ask whether or not the campaign would pay McGraw’s fees. We have not yet received a response and, frankly, aren’t really expecting one. But it may actually not matter.

    Jim Sutton, an election law attorney in California who’s been practicing for 25 years, described the scenario as “the outer bounds of campaign law” — but not necessarily something for which there isn’t guidance.

    Sutton notes that there’s precedent for a campaign being liable for an injury suffered by a protester at a campaign event. At an inauguration event for former California governor Pete Wilson (R), a protester sued after being injured by event attendees. The cost of those injuries ended up in the lap of the campaign committee — the legal entity that holds a campaign’s money — and its insurer.

    What’s more, Sutton expects Rakeem Jones, the victim of the attack, to sue. “Look, they’re not going to just sue the person who hit them,” Sutton said. “They’re obviously going to sue the Trump campaign. If for no other reason, that’s where they assume the money is and because they’re mad at the candidate and might want to embarrass him.”

    “Because there’s potential legal liability for the campaign, then for the campaign to say, ‘I’m also going to pay the legal fees for this individual’ — I would say that probably does pass legal muster,” Sutton said, “because it’s part-and-parcel of the committee’s liability.” The campaign would pay if it were an employee that were sued, for example. Or, for that matter, an independent contractor. Or, for that matter a volunteer.

    “This is the next step out,” Sutton said, “an attendee. That is pushing the boundaries … but I think it’s possible that it passes legal muster to the extent that the committee also faces legal liability for the actions of that rally supporter.”

    Interestingly, if Trump himself wanted to pay the legal fees, he’d likely have to report that as a contribution to his campaign since those fees are “an expense for the purposes of promoting the campaign,” in Sutton’s estimation. He analogized to the money given to John Edwards during the 2008 election cycle to pay off Edwards’s mistress. Edwards was indicted for violating campaign finance law for not reporting the money as a contribution. This is a very different side of that very weird coin.

    But all of this is simply Sutton’s best guess. “This is into the arcane corridors of campaign laws and how terms are defined,” Sutton said. The law “certainly didn’t envision this type of thing.”

    “Because there’s potential legal liability for the campaign, then for the campaign to say, ‘I’m also going to pay the legal fees for this individual’ — I would say that probably does pass legal muster…because it’s part-and-parcel of the committee’s liability.”
    Well, so it’s looks like Trump might be liable, but we don’t really know because the egging on violent mob dynamics by candidates isn’t something the law has really had to address before:


    But all of this is simply Sutton’s best guess. “This is into the arcane corridors of campaign laws and how terms are defined,” Sutton said. The law “certainly didn’t envision this type of thing.”

    Yes, the Trump phenomena is now breaking the political and legal mold. This time violently.

    Sadly, we can’t say this was unexpected. But what should be highly unexpected is the appropriate use of a Nazi analogy by Glenn Beck. That just doesn’t happen. And yet, this is where we are.

    No one ever said the breakdown of civility wouldn’t get weird. Violent, yes, but not Glenn-Beck-was-right weird.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 11, 2016, 4:06 pm
  21. It was always clear that a Trump presidency was going to be somewhat unorthodox, at least in style. But if the following article is accurate, Trump’s plans are even more unorthodox than almost anyone could have imagined: When Trump’s campaign was trying to recruit Ohio Governor John Kasich for the VP slot, he reportedly offered to make Kasich the most powerful VP in history by putting Kasich in charge of foreign and domestic policy:

    The New York Times Magazine

    How Donald Trump Picked His Running Mate

    By ROBERT DRAPER
    JULY 20, 2016

    One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

    When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

    Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

    “Making America great again” was the casual reply.

    Ultimately, Trump chose Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, not Kasich, to be his running mate. (Neither Donald Jr. nor other representatives of the Trump campaign replied to multiple requests for comment for this article on Tuesday.) About this, both much and little can be made. On one hand, voters do not seem to care all that much about who the No. 2 is when they go to the polls. On the other, how a presidential candidate goes about picking that person offers an early look at the nominee’s executive style. In Trump’s case — based on the recollection of over half a dozen operatives and elected officials working with both the Trump campaign and potential running mates Trump considered — the winnowing of his initial wish list reveals a distinct blend of practicality, impetuousness and disengagement.

    “When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.”

    That’s, uh, a pretty big job for the vice president: foreign and domestic policy. And what will Donald do as president? “Make America Great Again”, presumably in ways that don’t involve shaping foreign or domestic policy. You almost have to wonder if this leak is intended to add to the Rorschach nature of Trump’s candidacy by suggesting to voters wary of Trump’s bombastic demeanor that he wouldn’t actually be allowed to break things. Either way, it will be interesting to see if some version of this offer was made to Mike Pence because, based on a comparison of congressional voting records, Mike Pence is the most conservative vice presidential nominee in modern history. that’s the kind of vice president that could break a lot of things when he’s put in charge of foreign and domestic policy.

    You also have to wonder if Trump’s alleged offer to Kasich suggested that Trump himself is planning on spending the presidency basically doing reality TV shows or some other sort of self-promotional puffery as part of a “Make America Great Again” executive branch initiative and truly leaving almost all the details to someone else. The ol’ Trump-and-Dump. That does seem possible.

    But if the following interview of Chris Christie accurately reflects Trump’s plans, there is another task that could keep President Trump occupied while Vice President Pence runs the executive branch: firing government employees and recruiting businesspeople to work part-time as their replacements (while keeping their jobs in private sector). If that sounds more than a little fascistic, well, this is a Trump administration we’re talking about, after all:

    Reuters

    Exclusive: Trump could seek new law to purge government of Obama appointees

    CLEVELAND | By Emily Flitter
    Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:21am EDT

    If he wins the presidency, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would seek to purge the federal government of officials appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama and could ask Congress to pass legislation making it easier to fire public workers, Trump ally, Chris Christie, said on Tuesday.

    Christie, who is governor of New Jersey and leads Trump’s White House transition team, said the campaign was drawing up a list of federal government employees to fire if Trump defeats Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

    “As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people,” Christie told a closed-door meeting with dozens of donors at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters and two participants in the meeting.

    Christie was referring to Trump’s starring role in the long-running television show “The Apprentice,” where his catch-phrase was “You’re fired!”

    The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

    Trump’s transition advisers fear that Obama may convert these appointees to civil servants, who have more job security than officials who have been politically appointed. This would allow officials to keep their jobs in a new, possibly Republican, administration, Christie said.

    “It’s called burrowing,” Christie said. “You take them from the political appointee side into the civil service side, in order to try to set up … roadblocks for your successor, kind of like when all the Clinton people took all the Ws off the keyboard when George Bush was coming into the White House.”

    Christie was referring to pranks committed during the presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush in 2001. During that period, some White House staffers removed the W key on computer keyboards and left derogatory signs and stickers in offices, according to a report by the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

    “One of the things I have suggested to Donald is that we have to immediately ask the Republican Congress to change the civil service laws. Because if they do, it will make it a lot easier to fire those people,” Christie said.

    He said firing civil servants was “cumbersome” and “time-consuming.”

    Christie also told the gathering that changing the leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency, long a target of Republicans concerned about over regulation, would be a top priority for Trump should he win in November.

    Trump has previously vowed to eliminate the EPA and roll back some of America’s most ambitious environmental policies, actions that he says would revive the U.S. oil and coal industries and bolster national security.

    Christie added that the Trump team wants to let businesspeople serve in government part time without having to give up their jobs in the private sector. Trump frequently says he is better equipped to be president because of his business experience.

    Although Christie was repeatedly asked during the meeting, he declined to name any potential Cabinet picks. He said Trump was not ready to do that yet.

    “Christie added that the Trump team wants to let businesspeople serve in government part time without having to give up their jobs in the private sector. Trump frequently says he is better equipped to be president because of his business experience.”

    It looks like lustration isn’t just for Ukraine. So long ‘revolving door’! When businesses get to send their paid employees to staff the agencies than regulate them, there’s basically no need for a revolving door between the public and private sectors. And it’s pretty much going to have to be Trump cronies and the business filling all those federal jobs since no one is going to want to be a dedicated federal employee in general after President Trump gets done demonizing them and gutting their worker protections (and then firing half of them).

    So as we can see, Trump’s plans for delegating powers apparently isn’t limited to making the vice president the chief policy architect. Once he gets done gutting the federal employment rolls and replacing key personel with corporate shills, a whole lot of power is going to be wielded directly by the corporations employing the businesspeople chosen for their “part-time” work. A massive concentration of vice presidential power coupled with a diffuse handover of government power in general directly over to Trump’s buddies in the business sector.

    What’s Trump himself going to do after delegating away so many powers? Make America great again, sure, but how? Maybe he’ll wrestle Putin for glory. Or maybe not. He’s presumably still retaining his Commander in Chief responsibilities so he might just be planning on getting occupied with WWIII right away. Who knows. It’s all part of the “Make America Great Again” fun mystery. We don’t get to know what his vision of “greatness” entails other than building a “big beautiful wall” and generically “winning”.

    But now, thanks to these reports that his vice president is going to be Trump’s brain when it comes to policy, we have a better understanding of why Trump has been so vague about what needs to happen to “Make America Great Again”: his vision appears to center around handing the reigns of power over to the GOP (via Vice President Pence) and over to the business sector (via the new “part-time” federal employees), and allowing those twin forces of the GOP and the business elites to just impose whatever their vision of Greatness is on the nation. Because don’t forget, unlike with Hillary Clinton, if Trump wins, his party will likely have control of both houses of congress too. So if Vice President Pence and Trump’s business cronies decide to pursue an agenda that would make the George W. Bush administration blush, guess what, that will actually happen. All of it. The whole agenda.

    You have to admit it’s a pretty great vision. Assuming you’re a Trump crony.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 20, 2016, 12:15 pm
  22. The Illinois Republican delegate just removed one its delegates over her Facebook postings this week. It turns out she’s an open white supremacist. So was she removed for being an open white supremacist? Nope. She was actually profiled by the Chicago Tribune back in May about the open white supremacists joining the Illinois Trump delegation. No, she was removed for advocating violence against Black Lives Matter protestors (while also using racial slurs, of course, but it’s very unclear that part played a role in her removal):

    Chicago Tribune

    Illinois Republicans remove Trump delegate with ‘whitepride’ social media handle

    Rick Pearson
    July 21, 2016, 10:32 AM, Cleveland

    The Illinois Republican Party on Wednesday revoked the credentials of a Donald Trump delegate from Chicago who has used a social media handle of “whitepride” for “publicly made racist comments and threats of violence.”

    Lori Gayne, an elected Trump delegate from the city and west suburban 5th Congressional District, was stripped of her Republican National Convention delegate credentials, state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said.

    “The Illinois Republican Party has zero tolerance for racism of any kind and threats of violence against anyone,” Schneider said in a statement.

    “Let me be unequivocally clear, racism and threats of violence have absolutely no place in the Illinois Republican Party or in a civil and inclusive society,” he said.

    GOP officials said Gayne posted something on Facebook on the opening day of the convention that included a photo suggesting law enforcement officers were prepared to shoot African-American protesters and used a racial slur.

    In May, a Tribune profile of Trump delegates elected in the March 15 primary revealed that Gayne used the handle “whitepride” on social media.

    “With all the racism going on today, I’m very proud to be white. Just like black people are proud to be black and now, as white people, whenever we say something critical we’re punished as if we’re racists. I’m tired of it. I’m very proud,” Gayne said then in an interview.

    “I’m so angry I don’t even feel like I live in America. You can call me a racist. Black Lives Matter? Those people are out of control,” she said.

    State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, co-chair of the Illinois delegation and a major Trump supporter, said he supported free speech but said Gayne had crossed the bounds to be a representative for Illinois Republicans.

    “I don’t believe her voice is one we want in the party,” Cabello said.

    “In May, a Tribune profile of Trump delegates elected in the March 15 primary revealed that Gayne used the handle “whitepride” on social media.”

    That’s right, the Illinois GOP delegation decided to keep Lori “whitepride” Gayne even after the Chicago Tribune profile of as one of the many open white supremacists Trump delegates but decided to remove her now because she crossed the line by posting pro-violence posts on Facebook. Ok, well, at least the Illinois delegation has standards. They might be standards that embraces open white supremacists, but now we know where the line is with the Illinois GOP. At least for Trump delegates.

    Where that line is when it comes to flirtations with violence from the Trump campaign itself, however, remains an unfortunately open question:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    The Trump Campaign is Now Wink-Winking Calls to Murder Clinton

    By Josh Marshall

    Published July 20, 2016, 5:48 PM EDT

    As our reporters on the ground in Cleveland are telling us, the “lock her up” theme of the Cleveland convention is pervasive. Signs, T-shirts, memorabilia – it’s pervasive. It’s not just a chant on the convention floor. The campaign isn’t just comfortable with it. They’re actively pushing it. We noted earlier that a New Hampshire Trump delegate, who’s also a Trump advisor on veterans issue has just said Clinton should be "shot for treason." He’s now being investigated by the Secret Service for threatening the former First Lady and Secretary of State’s life.

    But there’s a part of this story that’s been overshadowed by the shocking nature of what Al Baldasaro said. That’s the response from the Trump campaign. In response to Baldasaro’s attack, Trump Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.”

    I’m not sure why no one has referenced this. But this is the kind of statement one usually hears about a policy disagreement rather than a demand to murder the opposing party’s nominee.

    Calls for violence or the killing of a political opponent usually spurs the other candidate to totally disavow the person in question. Frankly, it’s a pretty new thing for a prominent supporter of a prominent politician to call for killing opposing candidates at all. But the Trump campaign is still “incredibly grateful his support” even though “we don’t agree” that Clinton should be shot.

    This too is not normal.

    Maybe you didn’t notice her statement until now. I assure you Trump’s more rabid supporters have – or at least noticed the conspicuous lack of any clear denunciation.

    Do I think people on the Trump campaign really want to see Clinton injured or killed? No, I do not. But I do think they believe that exciting a climate of agitated grievance, militant anger and aggression helps them galvanize, gain and intensify support. On one and three they’re likely right. Just as importantly, they clearly believe that any clear denunciation of the growing chorus of angry and occasionally violent threats would demoralize and dishearten a key part of their base. Trump’s brand is dominance and submission. Provocation is his calling card. Calling a pause on their more febrile supporters would simply be off brand and would be hard to clearly differentiate in kind from the campaign-endorsed demand for her incarceration.

    I’m not sure I’ve seen a better example of the wink-wink attitude of the Trump campaign – here not just Trump’s impulsive retorts but the campaign apparatus itself – to things that used to get people totally written out of the world of legitimate political discourse. I’m working on a piece about how the biggest legacy of the Trump campaign – assuming he isn’t elected president – is the re-normalization of racism and anti-semitism in American political life. This is another part of the same story. We’ve already discussed the numerous ways Trump has embraced the stylings, policies and speech of a would-be autocrat. He’s now moving on to the kinds of banana republic politicking where the cost of political defeat is imprisonment or death or even a legitimate form of ‘activism’ in advance of the ballot.

    “I’m not sure I’ve seen a better example of the wink-wink attitude of the Trump campaign – here not just Trump’s impulsive retorts but the campaign apparatus itself – to things that used to get people totally written out of the world of legitimate political discourse. I’m working on a piece about how the biggest legacy of the Trump campaign – assuming he isn’t elected president – is the re-normalization of racism and anti-semitism in American political life. This is another part of the same story. We’ve already discussed the numerous ways Trump has embraced the stylings, policies and speech of a would-be autocrat. He’s now moving on to the kinds of banana republic politicking where the cost of political defeat is imprisonment or death or even a legitimate form of ‘activism’ in advance of the ballot.

    Well that’s pretty shocking. Oh wait, never mind, it used to be shocking but is now what we should expect. That’s unfortunate. And shocking.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 21, 2016, 2:26 pm
  23. Louisiana’s congressional races are now open for registration and the candidates are flooding in. Especially for Louisiana’s Senate seat being vacated by Senator David Vitter this year, with over 21 candidates so far. So with that in mind, check out who just threw his hood into the ring:

    The Washington Post

    Former KKK leader David Duke, citing Trump, announces Senate bid

    By Elise Viebeck
    July 22 at 2:35 PM

    Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on Friday announced he will run for U.S. Senate, linking his decision to Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.

    Duke, a strong supporter of Trump, said he was “overjoyed” to see the businessman’s campaign “embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” including the nationalist and protectionist notion of “America First.”

    The former KKK grand master made the announcement one day after Trump officially claimed the Republican White House nomination.

    “We must stop the massive immigration and ethnic cleansing of people whose forefathers created America,” Duke said in a video posted to his website.

    Duke formerly represented suburban New Orleans in the statehouse between 1989 and 1993 and previously ran unsuccessfully for Congress and the Louisiana governorship. In December 2002 he pleaded guilty to felony fraud and tax evasion charges and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison in April 2003. He was released after a year.

    If elected, Duke would replace Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who is not seeking re-election after losing his bid for the governorship last year. Duke is one of nine Republicans running for the seat in a field of 23 candidates that includes Reps. Charles W. Boustany Jr. (R-La.) and John Fleming (R-La.).

    “There are a lot of strong conservative candidates in the race, but he remains a visible person with name recognition around the country,” Louisiana State University political communication professor Martin Johnson said in an interview. “In that sense, maybe he peaks his head above the pack.”

    At the same time, Louisiana voters might hesitate, given Duke’s racial views, “even if there are elements of his message that resonate with them.”

    “Goodness gracious, the guy is a Holocaust denier,” Johnson said. “He is hard to support and he should be.”

    Duke said his goal is to represent what he described as white interests.

    “Thousands of special interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, etc. etc. The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate — one man in the Congress — who will defend their rights and heritage,” Duke said.

    The announcement makes Duke a high-profile character in the unfolding drama of an election season defined by racial animosity. Trump, who has repeatedly painted undocumented immigrants as a threat to America’s safety and has strongly defended law enforcement, is running amid continuing episodes of lethal violence by police against African Americans.

    One recent episode took place in Baton Rouge, which left 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man, dead after an encounter with police officers. Days later, three police officers were shot and killed in what investigators describe as an ambush by a black man who targeted them. Two of the officers killed were white; one was black.

    Duke did not specifically address the events in his home state on Friday, though they have been frequent topics for him on Twitter, where he has roughly 12,500 followers.

    “I believe it’s time we start talking about the reality of terrorism linked to Black radicals,” Duke tweeted July 17 after news broke about the police shootings in Baton Rouge. “How is this any different than ISIS?”

    The campaign is likely to raise further questions for Trump, who earlier this year falsely claimed he knew nothing about Duke before later disavowing him. The equivocation drew a rebuke from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who said discussion of white supremacy should prompt “no evasion” from a Republican presidential candidate.

    “If Donald Trump is vague or mixed about Duke’s candidacy, it is possible that a lot of voters will make an association, particularly on the anti-immigrant message,” Johnson said.

    Duke’s candidacy could also reawaken past controversy for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who acknowledged in December 2014 that he spoke to a white supremacist group founded by Duke in 2002. Scalise denied being involved with the group, but was widely criticized for the speech.

    ““There are a lot of strong conservative candidates in the race, but he remains a visible person with name recognition around the country,” Louisiana State University political communication professor Martin Johnson said in an interview. “In that sense, maybe he peaks his head above the pack.””

    Wow, so the KKK guy peaks his head above the pack at this point in the race in part because of his name recognition but also because there are so many other candidates. That sounds eerily familiar.

    And now we get to find out if David Duke’s sale pitch can work in a Trumpian media environment. And that’s not guaranteed, in part because Duke is almost using a Trumpian sales pitch that he alone can stand up for the white guy, but it’s a pitch that doesn’t really make sense given the reality of Trump:


    “Thousands of special interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, etc. etc. The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate — one man in the Congress — who will defend their rights and heritage,” Duke said.

    LOL. Yes, there isn’t one person is standing up for the white guy in the US Congress (He must have checked out of national politics following his gubernatorial run).

    Although it is true that there’s a dearth of open bigots in Congress fighting for the poor white guy since the GOP is the party of plutocrats and poor conservative whites have simply been voting against their economic self-interests for decades in exchange for the promise of social conservatism. So there is a potential opening for someone like Duke similar to the one Trump exploited, which is part of why it’s going to be interesting to see how closely Duke’s economic message follows to Trump model of using immigrant-bashing as simultaneous play towards populist economics and anti-minority sentiments. Don’t forget that the one of the key lessons of the Trump phenomena is that the nativist element of GOP base doesn’t actually agree with the GOP’s long-time agenda of slashing government programs and entitlements. The nativist base merely wants that public spending slashed for non-whites. And the only way to really thread that needle is by basically creating ethnically homogeneous states which is clearly the next logical step for the Trump movement to take. Between banning Muslims and deporting undocumented Latinos the Trump agenda is clearly dog-whistling a white separatist tune. And that’s David Duke’s tune.

    So now that Trump has successfully used David Duke-like rhetoric and tactics to help lockup the GOP nomination, David Duke can now use that updated Trumpian model to promote himself too. Although if Duke does manage to ride the Trump train to even a top-tier finish in the Senate race, which would be a pretty big accomplishment, he won’t just have Donald Trump to thank. It will be more a of a team effort:

    Time

    GOP Shows White Supremacist’s Tweet During Trump’s Speech

    Sam Frizell / Cleveland

    7/22/2016 1:34 AM ET

    The Republican National Convention displayed a tweet by a white-supremacist account during Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

    The tweet, written by the account @Western_Triumph, appeared on four large screens in the Quicken Loans Arena Republican after the halfway mark during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday night. It was one of a series of tweets by Twitter users that appeared in the hall that were curated by the Republican National Convention.

    The tweet cited a line from Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination.

    "Tonight I'm with you, I will fight for you, and I will WIN for you!"-Donald J TrumpIt's time to start WINNING again!#TrumpIsWithYou— Western Triumph (@Western_Triumph) July 22, 2016

    @Western_Triumph’s Twitter bio includes a series of white supremacist slogans as hashtags, including “#AltRight,” “#ProWhite,” and “#RaceRealist.” In other tweets, the account’s author advocates for apartheid and race segregation among other racist messages.

    DetroitBirminghamBaltimoreetcProof is clear: Whites build things, and blacks destroy them.Hence…..Africa. https://t.co/7y0CqIrkbo— Western Triumph (@Western_Triumph) July 10, 2016

    The Republican National Convention did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Trump has been accused for tacitly encouraging racism on the Internet and among his followers. He declined several times last year to disavow the endorsement of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Last year, Trump retweeted incorrect statistics that suggested blacks were responsible for 81% of white homicide victims. In June, the Republican nominee retweeted an image that had first appeared on a white supremacist website and included a Jewish star, along with Hillary Clinton’s face and the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” superimposed on a pile of money.

    The tweet by @Western_Triumph was one of a series of tweets the RNC showed during Trump’s remarks in which he accepted the Republican nomination.

    This is running on the tweet screen loop here at #RNCinCLE check out the account. pic.twitter.com/9kgpzBLrlK— Andy Aplikowski (@AAARF) July 22, 2016

    It’s not the first snafu the Republican National Convention has made with its Twitter screen. The party also displayed during the convention proceedings on Monday a tweet by the white-supremacist group VDARE.

    That's right–that's VDARE on the tweet-ticker inside the GOP convention hall in Cleveland. Up next: Ricky Vaughn. pic.twitter.com/VJ4os8r3DF— Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) July 20, 2016

    “The tweet, written by the account @Western_Triumph, appeared on four large screens in the Quicken Loans Arena Republican after the halfway mark during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday night. It was one of a series of tweets by Twitter users that appeared in the hall that were curated by the Republican National Convention.

    That was the RNC’s curated tweet displayed across the arena after the halfway mark of Trump’s acceptance speech. At least Trump himself wasn’t responsible for the white supremacist retweet. This time.

    All in all, it’s obviously a pretty good year for another David Duke run. The zeitgeist is certainly in his favor. But there is one big obstacle facing his electoral ambitions: when it comes to branding himself as the “I’m for white guys!”-candidate, he’s going to have a lot of competition. This isn’t the same GOP it was when David Duke was nominated as the party’s gubernatorial candidate back in 1991. This is Trump’s GOP, which means David Duke is much less of a novelty than he used to be. Thanks, in part, to David Duke. So it’s going to be a lot harder to run and win as David Duke in a packed race that undoubtedly includes a number of candidates that follow the “David Duke without the baggage” model that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has been using to win office since the mid-90’s. Or, at least, it’s going to be harder in theory. But in a year when politicians declare “political correctness” a national security threat, is David Duke’s “baggage” still “baggage”? That’s very unclear.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 22, 2016, 1:39 pm
  24. With all of the head-scratching over the possible Kremlin backing and/or influences on Donald Trump and his inner-circle and the potentially serious implications of that, here’s a fun look at what might be another example a pro-Trump foreign backing. In this case foreign corporate backing and this isn’t just some random corporation. It’s Axel Springer:

    First, let’s ask a question that Pando’s Paul Carr asked back in November: Why does Henry Blodget, founder and chief editor of Business Insider, love Donald Trump so much?:

    Pando

    Why does Henry Blodget love Donald Trump?

    By Paul Bradley Carr
    , written on
    November 30, 2015

    Business Insider’s Henry Blodget has made a fortune from knowing how to troll for pageviews.

    There is, however, a line where trolling crosses over into promoting hate speech, a line Blodget previously skirted with headlines like “Why do people hate Jews?

    With the Jews headline, Blodget eventually pulled back from the brink, re-titling his post “What are some of the sources of anti-semitism?” and apologizing for being “cavalier” with “one of the most serious topics in human history.”

    Quite so. Lesson learned.

    So what, then, are we to make of Blodget’s gushing coverage of Donald Trump’s racist, abusive and outright fascist presidential campaign?

    You don’t need me to remind you of Trump’s recent crimes against human decency: His racist remarks against Mexicans and other immigrants, his grotesque public attacks on disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, his sexist comments about women, his continuing lies about 9/11 “celebrations” in New Jersey, his proposal to monitor mosques and to require Muslim Americans to carry special registration documents.

    And yet as Trump’s rhetoric has become more vile, Blodget and Business Insider have firmly positioned themselves as the candidate’s media mouthpiece.

    Here are the most recent stories on Blodget’s own article page on Business Insider. This isn’t edited — it’s a list of every story Blodget has filed to Business Insider over the past two weeks…
    [see pic of five very pro-Trump Business Insider headlines from Nov 10-27]

    And Blodget’s employees have clearly taken the hint. A search for “Donald Trump” on BI reveals the following articles and decks. (These are all from the first page of results.)

    This is the one thing that sets Donald Trump apart from other negotiators

    Here’s how Donald Trump made his billions

    Real-estate mogul Donald Trump on Tuesday released yet another wily Instagram video ad.

    Donald Trump went on an epic tirade against Ben Carson at a campaign event in Iowa.

    The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s attacks are ‘exhilarating’

    15 celebrities who love and endorse Donald Trump

    …and then, just in case you didn’t get the message…

    19 celebrities who love and endorse Donald Trump

    And if all that still weren’t enough, here’s Business Insider’s puff piece about Trump’s new book.

    "Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again," released Tuesday, chronicled all of Trump’s campaign-trail grievances while attacking the media, touting the Trump brand, presenting his ideological views, and defending his record from critics.

    And it was relentlessly on message: Trump is a winner, and America would win big if he became president.

    But just because there’s a ton of coverage favourable to Trump on Business Insider doesn’t mean Blodget is a Trump fan, or that he’s using Business Insider to endorse Trump as a candidate. He might just be a tremendously shitty journalist, willing to give a platform for just about anyone who might bring in a few thousand more pageviews.

    Given how disgusting Trump’s rhetoric has become, and given how dangerous his policies would be if they ever became law, you have to be very sure of your facts before accusing someone of actively supporting him.

    So let’s keep going.

    By this point you’d have to work pretty hard to convince yourself that Blodget’s interest in Trump is purely professional as opposed to hero worship. A real test, I guess, would be whether Blodget is just as enthusiastic about Trump away from the pages of Business Insider, when there are no pageviews at stake.

    Guess what!

    During a campaign stop in Springfield, a reporter for the “Illinois Channel” spoke to Blodget about his interest in Trump. Here’s what Blodget told him…

    “I’ve followed his career… I read his books when I was younger… He’s very impressive… His book [Crippled America] is actually smarter than a lot of people say it is… the fact that he galvanized so many people is incredible to watch. I read [the Art of the Deal] when I was figuring out what I was going to do with my life.”

    “It’s surprising… we’re getting more details on what he says he’s going to do. I think one of the things that appeals to people about him is that he’s going against the plank on several key issues. It seems like he is thinking for himself, which everybody seems to like. I think people like that… we’ve had this gridlock in the united states for so long… and he’s a can-do guy, they like that. His tax plan sounds like the usual republican plan… so we’ll need more details there. But overall there are a lot of interesting ideas.”

    Yeah. Not only does Blodget promote “impressive,” “interesting” Donald Trump today — and not only is he willing to amplify Trump and his ideas to Business Insider’s tens of millions of readers — but Blodget even credits Trump’s business wisdom for helping kickstart his career. (A career that, lest we forget, almost ended when Blodget was charged with civil securities fraud and forced to pay a $2m fine.)

    Perhaps Business Insider’s new German owners could take Blodget aside and point out a few of the risks inherent in endorsing policies and speech like Trump’s. In the meantime, here’s an extract from Blodget’s Pando Monthly interview in which he explains why his post about “why people hate the Jews” was “a colossal mistake… one of the biggest I have made as a writer.”

    Top two, certainly.

    “Perhaps Business Insider’s new German owners could take Blodget aside and point out a few of the risks inherent in endorsing policies and speech like Trump’s.”

    Yes, perhaps Business Insider’s new owners, German publishing giant Axel Springer, should have a chat with Blodget about the potential consequences of aggressively backing a politician like Trump.

    You also have to wonder what Blodget himself is thinking since given his personal history and the fact that Business Insider was sort of the path to redemption for a man who was permanently banned from the US securities industry. It’s especially interesting given how Blodget pined for a fiscal conservative he could vote for in 2012, whereas Donald Trump’s proposed tax slashing plan could spike the deficit by over $12 trillion by some estimates. Why would a fiscal conservative out to rebuild his reputation aggressively back Trump?

    But even more interesting is why a German media empire would buy a US publication that was aggressively backing Trump? Well, one possibility that Axel Springer wanted Business Insider to back Trump. And it’s a possibility we can’t rule out because as the article below point out, all that aggressive Trump backing by Blodget and Business Insider took place shortly after Axel Springer bought Business Insider (for a very premium price) with the condition that Blodget stay at the company for a long time:

    Business Insider

    The inside story of Business Insider’s $442 million sale to Axel Springer

    Alyson Shontell

    Nov. 10, 2015, 2:47 PM

    In 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis, Business Insider was running low on cash.

    Over the prior year, the stock market had tanked as the economy plunged into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Business Insider, a newly formed website that had grown out of a two-year-old tech publication called Silicon Alley Insider, only had six months of cash in the bank. And investors weren’t banging the doors down.

    “I didn’t feel as close to death then as we were in hindsight,” Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget says now. “I don’t remember being terrified, but it’s a miracle we made it through that.”

    In those days, even apart from the financial crisis, the common wisdom was that digital media was a lousy investment. Blodget frequently joked that the quickest way to clear a room full of venture capitalists was to tell them you ran a media startup.

    “Investors would say, ‘The two of you have no media background,'” Business Insider’s former chairman and cofounder Kevin Ryan recalls. “Secondly, they’d say, ‘There has been no online media company started in 15 years — no example where anyone has built up even a remotely successful company worth even $100 million. You are great people doing a terrible business that can’t be done.'”

    In the end, after many meetings and some begging, Blodget and Ryan cobbled together a $1 million financing from a hodge-podge of investors including Allen & Co. The round valued Business Insider at a measly $7 million, nearly flat from the $6 million valuation Business Insider received from venture capitalists one year prior.

    Blodget has since described the $1 million as a “bailout” disguised as an “investment.”

    Six years later, that investment paid out nicely for all involved.

    In late September of 2015, global media conglomerate Axel Springer shelled out $343 million to acquire most of Business Insider, valuing the company at $442 million.

    The valuation raised eyebrows. It was more than AOL paid to buy The Huffington Post in 2011, and more than Jeff Bezos paid to buy The Washington Post in 2013 (the Amazon founder is also a Business Insider investor). At $442 million, Axel Springer valued Business Insider at 6X its forward revenue projection, which is roughly in line with how AOL valued The Huffington Post. Like Huffington Post in 2011, Business Insider has no profits as it invests for growth.

    While we rarely write about ourselves, we decided to report the story of our sale to Axel Springer because readers usually enjoy these stories. We spoke to half a dozen people involved in the transaction to get the inside scoop. It should go without saying, but disclosure: The author and editor of this piece work at Business Insider, and work closely with many of the people in this story, so we are conflicted out the wazoo.

    Here’s a look at how Business Insider was built, and sold.

    Finding Henry
    In April 2007, Kevin Ryan met a lot of business journalists with the aim of starting a digital tech publication, but he left each meeting frustrated. None of them felt like the right person to start his next venture with.

    Ryan is a serial entrepreneur who served as the CEO of DoubleClick — an advertising platform that went public in the 1990s and then eventually got gobbled up by Google. He has gone on to found a half dozen startups with DoubleClick’s cofounder, Dwight Merriman, including flash sale fashion site Gilt Groupe and enterprise software startup MongoDB.

    In 2007, Ryan and Merriman had an idea for a new company. It would be a digital publication dedicated to covering New York City’s rapidly-growing tech scene. Increasingly, people were reading news online instead of in newspapers. Ryan craved a high-velocity blog that would be easy to skim and understand.

    He called an old acquaintance from his DoubleClick days, former Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget. Blodget had written a book and launched a blog, Internet Outsider, while writing occasional articles for Slate. He wasn’t a traditional journalist, but maybe that was what Ryan’s site needed.

    Within the first three minutes of their meeting, Ryan knew he’d found his co-founder and CEO.

    “He was like, ‘I get it, this is a good idea, yes, we should do this,’ which was encouraging,” Ryan says.

    Blodget says it only took him ten seconds to get on board.

    “I had always wanted to start something,” Blodget says. “I saw so many cool companies when I was an analyst and I thought I would learn a ton.”

    The only thing left to weigh was Blodget’s controversial past.

    Axel Springer

    Business Insider’s president and chief operating officer, Julie Hansen, joined the company in 2008, as employee number five. A former Conde Nast, CBS, and Time, Inc., executive, Hansen led Business Insider’s sales and technology teams, overseeing the development of a proprietary publishing system and growing revenue from a trickle to tens of millions of dollars.

    Hansen and Rich Kennedy, Business Insider’s head of business development, built the company’s international partnerships. Germany was a priority, and in 2014, Hansen reached out to Axel Springer and other German media companies to discuss a licensing partnership.

    Founded in 1946, Axel Springer had grown to become one of the largest publishing houses in Europe. Its brands include national daily paper BILD, DIE WELT and finance portal Finanzen.net. In 2014, the company began making a series of investments in U.S. digital media properties, including OZY and Mic.

    Hansen flew to Berlin to meet Axel Springer’s executive vice president Christoph Keese in the summer of 2014 and came back energized. The company’s headquarters, next to where the Berlin Wall once stood, was breathtaking. An always-on doorless elevator shot employees up to any of the 19 floors in Axel Springer’s sleek headquarters. An exclusive journalists-only club made of wood from an old castle was perched on the top level. Hansen raved to Blodget about the Axel Springer team, and how Business Insider might fit into their future plans.

    Axel Springer wasn’t only interested in a licensing deal, Hansen reported. It might also want to explore an acquisition. Blodget met with some members of Axel Springer’s team in London that fall, while visiting Business Insider’s new London office. They vaguely discussed Axel Springer’s acquisition strategy, but ultimately both parties decided a strategic investment in Business Insider would be best.

    In January 2015, Axel Springer led a $25 million round in Business Insider at a $225 million post-money valuation. Axel Springer put in $20 million for 9% of Business Insider and a seat on the board.

    In June, Blodget first met Axel Springer’s CEO Mathias Döpfner. He had been invited to speak at the NOAH Internet Conference in Berlin. Döpfner met Blodget in the bar of the Crowne Plaza next door.

    The conversation they had left a lasting impression on both CEOs.

    They discussed business strategies, career missteps, and the futures of their companies. Blodget described his long-term vision for Business Insider, which included heavy investment in video and the launching of properties beyond business. If the company were ever to sell, he explained, he wanted a partner that had a similarly long-term view and cared deeply about journalism, not just short-term profit maximization.

    “There’s no way he could have known it, but that was exactly what I was hoping to hear from him,” Döpfner now says of that afternoon.

    “It happens so rarely that you meet somebody who thinks like you. I think that emotional factor tied us together. It plays a role [in an acquisition]. I mean, people think business is all about rational criteria, numbers and quantitative things. In the end, empathy, intuition, — you like somebody, you don’t like somebody — it all plays a role.”

    Döpfner’s team watched Business Insider closely over the next few months as Blodget’s team spun out two new websites, Tech Insider and Insider, and the company’s overall traffic reached nearly 90 million monthly unique visitors.

    Meanwhile, digital media competitors like Vox, Buzzfeed, and Vice raised massive amounts of capital at multi-billion-dollar valuations. Business Insider began to receive inbound interest from venture capitalists for large amounts of financing, and — despite the company still having $30 million in the bank — the board kicked around the idea of raising another large round in the fall.

    Axel Springer wanted to attack a larger market than just Europe. It spent years dedicating itself to digital journalism by selling off print publications and investing in media startups. It also tried to buy some global media brands, but those bids fell through. It made a bid to buy the Financial Times in July and lost the deal at the last second to a $1.3 billion bid from Nikkei. Axel Springer also reportedly had a term sheet to acquire The Huffington Post for over $1 billion, but Verizon/AOL opted to keep it.

    On August 5, two weeks after the Financial Times deal fell apart, Blodget had breakfast with Springer’s Christoph Keese in New York in a quaint Gramercy restaurant, Maialino. Keese expressed Axel Springer’s interest in acquiring Business Insider. Blodget said he’d be happy to talk, and relayed the conversation to his board.

    The company wasn’t looking to sell, and some board members felt there would be money left on the table if Business Insider sold now. Some felt the offer needed to be at least $500 million. Others felt a lower price would be acceptable because Blodget felt great about Axel Springer’s strategy and team and viewed Springer as a great home for the company.

    Would Blodget stay?

    Ryan was vacationing in Europe when he learned of Axel Springer’s interest. He cleared his schedule and flew to Berlin in July to meet with Axel Springer’s CEO. After the visit, Döpfner invited Blodget to Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin, to discuss a potential deal over a breakfast of cheese, grapes, bresaola, and lattes in his family’s home.

    Blodget and Döpfner’s discussions boiled down to one question: Would Blodget and Hansen stay if Axel Springer bought the company?

    Many entrepreneurs enjoy building small startups, not running big companies. Sometimes, they’re contractually obligated to remain at acquiring companies for a year or two, then they leave to start something else.

    For Axel Springer, a year or two wasn’t enough. The company wanted Blodget and Hansen to commit to a much longer timeframe. Springer also wanted Blodget and Hansen and the Business Insider team to remain motivated to make the company a big success.

    Blodget gave it a lot of thought and ultimately decided to make a major long-term commitment. But he told Döpfner he didn’t want to be contractually obligated to stay. He’d be sticking around because he wanted to keep developing Business Insider and seeing it grow, not because he had to.

    Blodget ended up exchanging a significant portion of his equity ownership in Business Insider — cash he might otherwise have taken out in a sale — for a future equity incentive that would vest over ten years. Blodget reportedly owned 10 to 15 percent of Business Insider at the time of the acquisition. When asked about his ownership percentage, Blodget declined to comment.

    With Blodget and Hansen’s continued employment assured, Business Insider’s board sent Ryan to work out the financial details of the sale with Döpfner.

    Since Blodget would be staying at the company, the board felt he had a conflict of interest.

    When a startup gets acquired, there are three parties to consider: the sellers, the buyer, and the employees. Blodget’s ongoing leadership role and equity ownership made his interests different than those of the other investors. So Ryan took over the price talks.

    The whole process took about 45 days, and the bulk of the deal was hammered out in just three weeks. Business Insider then signed a 30-day exclusivity agreement so no other bidder could come in while Axel Springer performed due diligence. Axel Springer wasn’t eager to see another deal slip away.

    In the end, Axel Springer agreed to buy 88% of Business Insider for $343 million in cash, bringing its total stake up to 97%. Jeff Bezos’ investment firm would keep the remaining 3%. The deal valued the company at $443 million.

    After a long meeting in Business Insider’s board room on Monday, September 28, the deal was finalized. Sixteen Business Insider and Axel Springer executives went to dinner at Barn Joo, a nearby Korean restaurant, to celebrate.

    The next morning, Blodget rode the subway to work, mentally preparing to tell his staff the good news.

    When he emerged from underground, an email from a Business Insider editor Sam Ro was waiting in his inbox. Ro had seen the acquisition on Twitter, and wanted to write the news.

    Blodget quickly found a park bench, pulled out a wireless modem and his laptop, and sent an email to Business Insider’s 35o employees at 7:14 AM titled, “Big News!”

    “Blodget and Döpfner’s discussions boiled down to one question: Would Blodget and Hansen stay if Axel Springer bought the company?”

    Ok, so it would appear that retaining Henry Blodget for an extended period of time was a sticking point for the buyout negotiations. And sure enough Blodget agreed to stay and the buyout was finalized at the end of September. Then, a couple of months later, we have Paul Carr at Pando writing about how Henry Blodget and Business Insider have suddenly because super pro-Trump. Wow. What a coincidence. A coincidence that fits Axel Springer’s long-standing right-wing editorial tilt:

    AlterNet

    Could the Possible Sale of Huffington Post to Right-Wing Company Affect Its Editorial Line?
    Pro-war German media conglomerate Axel Springer is notorious for inciting violence and hatred against leftists and Muslims.

    By Max Blumenthal / AlterNet
    June 3, 2015

    This month, Newsweek quietly reported that a German media conglomerate called Axel Springer was the “most serious” contender to buy the Huffington Post in the proposed sale of the magazine’s corporate parent, AOL, to Verizon. While Newsweek detailed Springer’s sizable media holdings in Germany and beyond, from the tabloid Bild to the newspaper Die Welt, it failed to note the stringently enforced right-wing editorial line that makes Springer the German equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

    Among the five preambles of Springer’s corporate principles is the requirement that employees “support the vital rights of the State of Israel.” Journalists are also expected to “uphold the principles of a free social market economy” and “support the Transatlantic Alliance and maintain solidarity with the United States of America in the common values of free nations.” The webpage outlining Springer’s preambles mysteriously disappeared from the web months before the company entered the bidding for the Huffington Post. (An archived version of the page can be viewed here.)

    Springer’s editorial line offers a stark contrast to the progressive tone of the Huffington Post. Founded in 1946 by the journalist Axel Springer, the company now holds about $3 billion in assets and oversees a collection of low-brow publications mostly associated with what liberal-minded Germans derisively refer to as “the boulevard press.” It was during the late 1960’s when Springer took a turn to the populist right, with Axel Springer siccing his most popular tabloid, Bild, against the radical left-wing student movement in West Germany. The paper homed in on Rudi Dutschke, one of the movement’s most visible leaders, accusing him of conspiring to bring down West Germany through violent revolution while calling on patriotic Germans to “eliminate the trouble makers.”

    On April 11, 1968, a lonely neo-Nazi mechanic and avid Bild reader named Josef Bachmann riddled Dutschke with bullets as he bicycled through Berlin. Bachmann later testified in court that he had developed his view of Dutschke exclusively through articles appearing in the Springer press and assorted jingoistic rags. As protests exploded across West Germany, with students chanting, “Springer pulled the trigger!” Axel Springer directed his editors to call for harsh police crackdowns on the demonstrators while whitewashing Bachmann as a lone madman as deranged as his victim, the “red maniac” Dutschke. (Dutschke died of injury-related complications in 1979; Springer’s deeply anguished son committed suicide months later.)

    With the onset of the so-called war on terror, Springer has shifted its sights from the radical left to the Muslim menace. A Bild article warning last August of an epidemic of Ebola imported by black migrants from Africa was typical of Springer’s coverage. A month earlier, the paper ran a screed by Nicholaus Fest arguing that with their “far disproportionate criminality of young people with a Muslim background” and supposed tendency toward “anti-Semitic pogroms,” Muslims had no place in Europe. Fest’s tirade earned censure from the German Press Council, which ruled that its bigoted content “was incompatible with the reputation of the press.”

    In keeping with its stated commitment to “uphold the principles of a free social market economy,” Springer publications have aggressively campaigned for economic austerity throughout the Eurozone. In February, Springer’s Bild launched the “We say NO!” campaign against new loans to Greece with a giant front-page headline reading, “NEIN!” The tabloid then published selfies of honest-looking, hard-working Bild readers holding the paper in defiance, granting the campaign to hollow out the Greek public sector with a populist veener. Bild was widely panned for the stunt, including by the German Journalists Association, which accused the paper of “crossing the border into political campaigning.”

    Though the Huffington Post would not offer a comment on its possible sale to Springer, several editors I spoke to were previously unaware of the German media congolmerate’s hard-right editorial line. The question now is whether they will publicly oppose a deal that threatens to reverse the progressive direction of one of America’s most popular online news outlets.

    “This month, Newsweek quietly reported that a German media conglomerate called Axel Springer was the “most serious” contender to buy the Huffington Post in the proposed sale of the magazine’s corporate parent, AOL, to Verizon. While Newsweek detailed Springer’s sizable media holdings in Germany and beyond, from the tabloid Bild to the newspaper Die Welt, it failed to note the stringently enforced right-wing editorial line that makes Springer the German equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

    Note that the sale of the Huffington Post to Axel Springer never happened. And maybe breath a sigh of relief.

    So Germany’s equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. fully acquires Business Insider and the publication proceeds to fall in love with Donald Trump. And Axel Springer isn’t done with its US media spending spree.

    So as alarming as it would be if it turned out Trump is getting covert assistance from the Kremlin and WikiLeaks, it’s worth keeping in mind that covert assistance from a German media giant on a US spending spree is arguably going to be more damaging because it’s the kind of damage that’s completely legal and largely the same kind of damage Fox News does to society every single day. A new News Corp.-like entity entering the US media space is a pretty big deal. An pretty big horrible deal.

    In other news…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 26, 2016, 6:45 pm
  25. This July 28, 2016 Daily Mail Article (UK) shows that the Munich gunman was a Nazi who believe he was an Aryan.
    Headline: Teen gunman who murdered nine in Munich worshipped Hitler and saw it as ‘an honor’ that they shared the same birthday

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3712190/Teen-gunman-murdered-nine-Munich-worshipped-Hitler-saw-honour-shared-birthday.html

    Some of the key statements in the article are:

    “Munich gunman Ali David Sonly worshipped Adolf Hitler and saw it as an ‘honour’ that he shared the same birthday as the Nazi leader, it has been revealed.”

    “Sonly, 18, shot nine people dead at a shopping centre in the southern German city on Friday before turning his handgun on himself.”

    “The German-Iranian considered himself ‘Aryan’ and had built up resentment against Arabs and Turks, who, it is claimed, bullied him at school.”

    “The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper said he was a racist who held extreme right wing views about foreigners and minorities.”

    “Sonly had Iranian parents and held an Iranian as well as German passport.”

    Posted by James T | July 28, 2016, 5:58 pm
  26. With Donald Trump’s surrogates like Roger Stone now pushing the meme that Khizr Khan is a Muslim Brotherhood agent and his son was secretly on an “Islamist mission” inside the US military when he died in combat, it’s worth noting that the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, a site that is about as vigilante about the real threats associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and promoting of Islamist theocracy as you’ll find anywhere, finds the charges against the Khan family to be flimsy at at best:

    Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch

    Website Smears Father Of Slain US Army Officer With Accusations of Muslim Brotherhood Ties- Can Things Get Any Lower?

    By gmbwatch on August 1, 2016

    Two years ago, the GMBDW complained about the misuse of GMBDW research. As we wrote at that time:

    The GMBDW has been publishing for over seven years. Prior to this, following 9/11, the GMBDW editor was already gathering information on the networks, leadership, ideology, funding, and other salient facts about the global network later named the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB). From the outset, our greatest challenge has been gaining acceptance for the notion that there even is such a phenomena as a Global Muslim Brotherhood as we have defined it. Some 3700 posts later, that challenge still exists due to a regrettable combination of ideology, political correctness, and willful blindness to the factual evidence presented on these pages. On any reasonable view, these facts speak for themselves.

    More recently, an additional challenge has emerged, namely the use of GMBDW research to spin unsubstantiated and fanciful stories about the same networks we have so carefully tried to document. The most egregious example is the claim, since gone viral, that the Muslim Brotherhood has “infiltrated” the Obama administration. Stories based on this alleged infiltration typically feature rogues galleries of “Muslim Brotherhood operatives” said to be whispering in the ear of the Obama administration and aimed at causing the downfall of the United States. In most cases, the stories include high-profile individuals first identified by the GMBDW as tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood using criteria we have long since publicly explained.

    It has now come to our attention that one of the worse offenders in this regard has sunk to even new lows. As one media report explains, a long time friend and confidant to Donald Trump has called Khizr Khan, the father of slain US Army Captain Humayun Khan, a “Muslim Brotherhood agent.”:

    Roger Stone, a longtime friend and confidant to Donald Trump, jumped into the fray over Khizr Khan’s scathing criticism of the Republican presidential nominee on Sunday, calling Khan a “Muslim Brotherhood agent.” Khan, the father of slain American war hero Humayun Khan, slammed Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and “schoolyard bullying” in a DNC speech last week. His comments prompted a great deal of praise, but they also triggered a spat between Trump and the Khan family, with Trump questioning why Khan’s wife did not speak during the DNC speech. While Trump’s VP on Sunday apparently engaged in damage control by saying Trump “adores” the Khan family, Stone took to Twitter to write: “Mr. Khan more than an aggrieved father of a Muslim son—he’s Muslim Brotherhood agent helping Hillary.” Stone then linked to a conspiracy theory website claiming Khan’s son was killed not as a hero in Iraq, but as a Muslim on an “Islamist mission” killed before he could complete it. Trump has not yet commented on Stone’s remarks.

    The website referred to in the above report has frequently used GMBDW research to spin conspiracies about the Brotherhood so convoluted that neither the GMBDW editor, with over 25 years of investigative experience, nor any other trained analyst can even follow the chain of “logic” in the reports. Arabic translators also tell us that the Arabic media sources used by the site, often dubious in the first place, often do not remotely say what the reports assert they do. In the case of Khizr Khan, we forced ourselves to once again to delve into the tortured analysis and found that the site claims Mr. Khan is a “Muslim Brotherhood agent” because:

    * He wrote a paper on Islamic law that acknowledges the writings of a “S. Ramadan”, presumably but not confirmed to be the now deceased Said Ramadan, the he son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna.

    * He was once in Saudi Arabia “the motherland of Wahhabism”, although the amount of time he spent there is not identified nor any activities on the part of Mr. Khan that anything to do with “Wahhabism.”

    * His law firm provides immigration services for Muslims.

    He is said to have authored a paper called “In Defense of OPEC although the link to the paper provided does not link to such a paper nor could such a paper be found.

    * He once worked for a law firm that does work for the Saudi Embassy and that donated $50,000 to the Hillary Clinton Campaign.

    From these slender reeds, the site concludes that Mr. Khan:

    * Is a promoter of Islamic Sharia Law.

    * Is a Muslim Brotherhood agent, working to bring Muslims into the United States.

    * Is a Muslim plant working with the Hillary Clinton campaign, probably for the interest of Muslim oil companies as well as Muslim immigration into the U.S.

    * Is upset, that a Trump victory will eliminate and destroy decades of hard work to bring in Islamic immigration into the United States

    The GMBDW has reviewed Mr. Khan’s article on Islamic Law and finds nothing within that could remotely be construed as “promotion” of Islamic Sharia Law. In addition, we note that S. Ramadan, whoever he may be, is not cited as a source within the text so it is likely that Mr. Khan wanted to credit his contribution to his thinking on the subject. Even if S. Ramadan is, in fact, the individual in question we fail to see how crediting him in an article could conceivably be used as evidence for being an “agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.” As for the rest of the so-called “evidence” we will leave to our readers to decide if the conclusions drawn have any connection to reality.

    The site compounds the distasteful and blatant smear attempt on Khizr Khan with the vile suggestion that his son was somehow on “an Islamist mission” during his Army service in Iraq:

    In regards to his son, many were the ‘Muslim martyrs’ who joined the US military. ……Is it likely that Khan’s son was killed before his Islamist mission was accomplished? Only another type of investigation will determine that. Do they ever mention how many soldiers have died because of Muslim traitors? Do they ever bring up how many Christians in the US military were killed?

    In fact, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan who in 2005 was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq after attempting to stop his vehicle and after warning fellow soldiers of the attack. The site’s suggestion, offered without even the usual nonsensical “evidence”, represents a new low in territory already littered by those with seemingly no scruples and who have taken to calling “Muslim Brotherhood” anybody whom they would like to target and for any reason. The author of the site in question has himself claimed to be a former terrorist who saw the light of reason although his claims have been debunked by multiple media outlets. The GMBDW wishes to dissociate itself from and we condemn without reservation the vile tactics of this website in attempting to smear Khizr Khan and his late son who bravely gave his life in service of his country. …

    “The GMBDW has reviewed Mr. Khan’s article on Islamic Law and finds nothing within that could remotely be construed as “promotion” of Islamic Sharia Law.”

    That’s a pretty strong endorsement for the Khan family.

    So we’ll see if the Trump campaign turns this “the Khans are promoting Shariah” meme into a permanent line of attack for the rest of the campaign. Since the back and forth between Trump and the Khans doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon it’s entirely possible we’ll see the Khan family, and their secret Shariah plot, become a much bigger part of the 2016 campaign. If that happens, it’s also worth noting that one of the best ways to promote Islamist theocratic ambitions is to smear every Muslim as a secret Islamist out to destroy democracy. Just ask ISIS since that’s their strategy too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 1, 2016, 6:46 pm
  27. This isn’t going to go well: It sounds like GOP leaders, including enthusiastic Trump backers like Newt Gingrich, are starting to hatch a plan to get Donald Trump to stop causing a new controversy almost every day. They’re hoping to enlist the help of Trump’s kids for some sort of intervention designed to convince Trump to “reset” his campaign (LOL). Beyond that, there’s reportedly even talk about the mechanics of replacing Trump if he leaves the race (let’s hope the GOP doesn’t drag Rafael Cruz out of his alleged retirement). So there appears to be an effort to gobble together an “intervention” team capable of sitting Trump down and convincing him that he absolutely must break his addiction to behaving like himself, along with a recognition that if things don’t go the way Trump wants them to go there’s nothing stopping him from leaving the race.

    All in all, it’s the kind of situation that couldn’t happen to a nicer party. Literally. Because a nicer party would have never nominated Trump in the first place. Oh well. Here we are:

    NBC News

    Trump Allies Plot Candidate Intervention After Disastrous 48 Hours

    by Chuck Todd and Hallie Jackson

    Aug 3 2016, 12:47 pm ET

    Key Republicans close to Donald Trump’s orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large.

    Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News.

    The group of GOP heavyweights hopes to enlist the help of Trump’s children — who comprise much of his innermost circle of influential advisers — to aid in the attempt to rescue his candidacy. Trump’s family is considered to have by far the most influence over the candidate’s thinking at what could be a make-or-break moment for his campaign.

    Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Wednesday he had heard nothing of such a meeting and disputed that it would be necessary, saying on FOX News that “the only need we have for an intervention is with some media types who keep saying things that aren’t true.”

    “The candidate’s in control of his own campaign,” he said.

    GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence also told FOX News he has “never heard anything about a meeting of that kind,” dismissing the idea as “inside baseball discussions.”

    But a source familiar with the discussions around a planned meeting tells NBC News “the intervention is real, and overdue.”

    The idea of an intervention is in its early stages, and there’s no guarantee that Trump’s team would entertain a conversation requiring such comprehensive changes for a candidate who has resisted calls to moderate his tone or reel in his most outlandish political positions.

    Stunned Republicans began seriously considering the idea of an exit ramp after an extraordinary few days during which Trump continually lashed out against a Gold Star family critical of his position on Muslim immigration, declared that he’d “always wanted” a Purple Heart but that it’s “easier” to receive one as a gift, and declined to endorse top Republican candidates including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

    Sources in the candidate’s orbit tell NBC News Trump is aware of the dissatisfaction within the party. But while some labeled the state of affairs "Crazytown" and “worse than ever,” they also described a sense of powerlessness, bemoaning the fact there’s “nothing that we can do, that anybody can do right now.”

    There’s absolutely no indication Trump is considering leaving the race, a move that would seem wildly out of character for a candidate who has prided himself on “winning” and grasped at any poll that shows him dominating an opponent. Still, some Republicans are quietly considering the arcane mechanics of what would happen to the party’s ticket if Trump was to leave the presidential race.

    Adviser Kellyanne Conway disputed the notion that Trump would bolt the ticket, saying “I would push back on any formal report that the candidate is going to leave the race.”

    “There’s absolutely no indication Trump is considering leaving the race, a move that would seem wildly out of character for a candidate who has prided himself on “winning” and grasped at any poll that shows him dominating an opponent. Still, some Republicans are quietly considering the arcane mechanics of what would happen to the party’s ticket if Trump was to leave the presidential race.

    Keep in mind that while there is no indication Trump is consideration leaving the race, there are strong indications that Trump is laying the groundwork to claim that the race is rigged against him since that’s what he keeps saying. So if if polls end up showing Hillary Clinton with a widening lead as the election approaches it’s not inconceivable that Trump will used the “rigged election” charge as an excuse to walk away. So while the GOP appears to be experiencing some existential angst over the damage the Trump campaign might do to the party, Trump himself has got to be feeling some intense existential angst over the prospect of losing to Hillary Clinton since “winning” and a celebration of Trump winning is sort of the basis of both his authoritarian appeal and personal ego.

    With those existential angst-inducing situations in mind, check out the latest update on Donald Trump’s views on the use of nuclear weapons:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Joe Scarborough Claims Trump Asked Advisor Why US Can’t Use Nukes (VIDEO)

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published August 3, 2016, 8:58 AM EDT

    MSNBC host Joe Scarborough reported on the air Wednesday morning that when Donald Trump met for a briefing with an unnamed foreign policy expert, the GOP nominee allegedly asked, “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” several times.

    Scarborough made the claim during an interview with retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who expressed concern about how Trump would be an “erratic” and “inconsistent” commander-in-chief.

    When Hayden curtly said he’s not aware a single one of his colleagues advising Trump on foreign policy, Scarborough spoke up.

    “I have to follow up with that, but I’ll be very careful here. Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump, and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked, at one point, ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Scarborough said.

    “Trump asked three times?” commentator Mike Barnicle asked.

    “Three times in an hour briefing, ‘Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?’” Scarborough said again.

    Several beats of stunned silence went by before co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “Be careful, America and be careful, Republican leaders. Your party is blowing up.”

    Scarborough turned the conversation back to Hayden, asking the retired general about the timeline and steps if a President chooses to use nuclear weapons. Hayden responded the system in place is “designed for speed and decisiveness. It’s not designed to debate the decision.”

    The “Morning Joe” host, a former GOP congressman, did not name the “foreign policy expert” he said met with Trump. Scarborough also did not say how he knew about the briefing or Trump’s remarks.

    In an interview with Fox News later on Wednesday, Manafort said it was “absolutely not true” that security briefing meetings have been held.

    “The idea that he’s looking at trying to understand where to use nuclear weapons, it just didn’t happen,” he said. “I was in the meeting. It didn’t happen.”

    Trump has said he would “never, ever” rule out using nuclear weapons to fight the Islamic State as President. In a March interview, after MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said nobody wants to hear a candidate for President talking about the use of nuclear weapons, Trump fired back: “Then why are we making them?”

    “I have to follow up with that, but I’ll be very careful here. Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump, and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked, at one point, ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

    If we have them, why can’t we use them? Good question. Or rather, terrifying question. But it was apparently a question on the mind of the man the GOP is trying to arrange an “intervention” for in order to ensure he does what they consider necessary to win the election and obtain the nuclear launch codes. It’s one more reason why the GOP’s Trumpian existential crisis is everyone’s existential crisis. Thanks GOP.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 3, 2016, 12:45 pm
  28. Oh look, Donald Trump just hinted at political violence if he doesn’t win again:

    CNN

    Trump: ‘Second Amendment people’ could deal with Clinton

    By Jeremy Diamond and Stephen Collinson, CNN

    Updated 5:36 PM ET, Tue August 9, 2016

    Wilmington, North Carolina (CNN)Donald Trump set off a fierce new controversy Tuesday with remarks about the right to bear arms that were interpreted by many as a threat of violence against Hillary Clinton.

    .“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump said.

    He added: “But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if Hillary gets to put her judges in, right now we’re tied.”

    Trump’s ambiguous comments alarmed some political observers as to whether he was threatening her life or calling for increased political activity.

    Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, issued a two-sentence statement in response to Trump.

    “This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to the be president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” he said.

    But Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, said Trump was merely talking about Second Amendment supporters large influence as a group.

    “It’s called the power of unification — 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump,” he said.

    The former head of the CIA, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “If someone else had said that said outside the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.”

    US Secret Service communications director Cathy Milhoan told CNN the agency “is aware of Mr. Trump’s comments.”
    Hayden added: “You’re not just responsible for what you say. You are responsible for what people hear.”

    “That was more than a speed bump. That is actually a very arresting comment. It suggests either a very bad taste with reference to political assassination and an attempt at humor or an incredible insensitivity — it maybe the latter — an incredible insensitivity to the prevalence of political assassination inside of American history,” he said. “That is a topic that we don’t ever come close to, even when we think we are trying to be lighthearted.”

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, who supports increased gun control measures, tweeted: “Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”

    “Hillary wants to abolish — essentially the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

    It’s worth noting that, while this vague threat was obviously directed at Hillary Clinton, it was also less obviously directed at the Supreme Court and presumably any other branches of the government that would be involved in preventing “the Second Amendment people” from basically just taking over in a violent coup. Because it’s not like Trump becomes President and the “the Second Amendment people” just get to take control if something happens to Hillary (maybe someone needs to clarify this with him). There’s going to be a lot more involved than that if “the Second Amendment people” decide to take things into their own hands. You basically need some sort of Serpent’s Walk scenario for Trump’s vague threat to even make any sense.

    So, yes, Trump did threaten Hillary Clinton. But basically everyone else too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2016, 2:58 pm
  29. One of the interesting questions raised by Julian Assange’s new role as Donald Trump’s dirty tricks hacker/propagandist is what on earth the left-wing government of Ecuador thinks of all given Assange’s resident status in their London embassy and Trump’s started off his presidential campaign portraying Latino immigrants as rapists. Well, back in March Ecuaador’s president Rafael Correa shared his views on the prospect of a Trump presidency which were surprisingly positive. Why so positive? Because Correa sees a Trump presidency as likely to spark a left-wing populist backlash across Central and South America and create a divide between global powers:

    Latin Post

    Ecuador President Rafael Correa on Donald Trump: ‘Latin America Will Have an Increase in Progressive Trend if He Wins’

    By Paolo David
    First Posted: Mar 02, 2016 05:59 AM EST

    Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told the Ecuadorian Broadcasting Association that Donald Trump winning the presidency is good for Latin America. However, Correa pointed out that it will be bad for the United States if Trump becomes president, as reported by teleSURtv.

    “Since Latin America is quite independent from the U.S., I think we may even see an increase in the progressive trend here. That would be a major positive of a Trump victory,” Correa said.

    He added that a Trump regime will be just like George W. Bush’s government that will lead to a great divide between powerful nations. During the Bush era, many progressive thinkers and groups emerged in Latin American countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

    Democratic President is Good for the US

    Although it is noted in the teleSURtv report that Correa said Trump will be good for progressives in Latin America, he mentioned that a Democratic U.S. president is good for overall “world security.” He praised both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton while calling Trump “clumsy.”

    The Ecuadorian president said that despite Sanders’ age of 74, the presidential candidate is supported by young people because of his anti-establishment politics. “He is iconoclastic. He is against Wall Street, against the big transnationals. He is saying what people want to hear,” Correa said.

    Correa also said that he has a high regard for Clinton but sees her as part of the establishment.

    “Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told the Ecuadorian Broadcasting Association that Donald Trump winning the presidency is good for Latin America. However, Correa pointed out that it will be bad for the United States if Trump becomes president, as reported by teleSURtv.”

    Note the Correa has stated that he hopes Hillary Clinton wins for the sake of the US and the World. Still, it’s kind of fascinating that a candidate who’s personal business involves building large structures is garnering so much of his support, from both real supporters and ironic supporters like Correa, over everyone’s faith that he’ll just burn the place down and they will somehow benefit from this. Disturbing, but also fascinating.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2016, 2:40 pm
  30. Here’s the latest indication that Trump campaign’s plan for winning the the White House at this point mostly revolves around planning on first losing and then declaring the vote invalid. Roger Stone has already made it clear that the Trump campaign will be claiming there was electronic voting machine fraud, but as the article below points out, that doesn’t mean the Trump campaign isn’t also planning on declaring widespread in-person voter fraud. It’s going to be full spectrum voter fraud! Or rather, a full spectrum fraudulent campaign to declare full-spectrum voter fraud. When Trump does voter fraud fraud, you know it’s going to be YUUUUGE.

    So that’s something we should expect based on Trump’s recent proclamations. Interestingly, the particular plan the Trump campaign is currently developing for winning through losing – calling for his supporters to be “Trump Election Observer” on election day to try to spot signs of voter fraud – might actually violate a consent decree imposed on the GOP back in 1981 when it attempted to use similar voter intimidation tactics. As the article also points out, it’s a consent decree that the GOP has violated numerous times since making the decree anyway, but that doesn’t stop them from trying again. So Trump’s new plans for expanding his voter fraud fraud is an old GOP trick. Imagine that:

    The Nation

    Donald Trump Is Encouraging Intimidation and Racial Profiling at the Polls
    Courts blocked the GOP from intimidating minority voters. Now Trump is trying again.

    By Ari Berman

    8/15/2016 10:46 am

    In 1981, during a New Jersey gubernatorial election, the Republican National Committee launched a “Ballot Security Task Force” that sent sample ballots to voters in predominantly African-American and Hispanic precincts. When 45,000 letters were returned as undeliverable, the RNC tried to remove the voters from the rolls and hired off-duty cops to patrol polling sites in black and Hispanic neighborhoods of Newark and Trenton. Police carried firearms at polling places and wore armbands reading “National Ballot Security Task Force,” while the RNC posted large signs saying, this area is being patrolled by the national ballot security task force. it is a crime to falsify a ballot or to violate election laws.

    After the election, the Democratic National Committee won a court settlement ordering the RNC to “refrain from undertaking any ballot security activities.” Now Donald Trump may be violating the consent decree against the GOP by asking his supporters to become a “Trump Election Observer” to “Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election.”

    Trump unveiled the page on his website the same day he campaigned in Pennsylvania, where he claimed, “The only way we can lose, in my opinion—and I really mean this, Pennsylvania—is if cheating goes on…. And we have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching…. The only way they can beat it in my opinion—and I mean this 100 percent—if in certain sections of the state they cheat, OK? So I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine, because without voter identification—which is shocking, shocking that you don’t have it.”

    Let’s leave aside the fact there’s no widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania or elsewhere and that Trump is losing Pennsylvania by nine points in the Real Clear Politics average. His election observer program mirrors the type of voter intimidation the courts have blocked the RNC from doing. And his call for law-enforcement officers to monitor the polls expressly violates Pennsylvania law. “No police officer in commission, whether in uniform or in citizen’s clothes, shall be within one hundred feet of a polling place during the conduct of any primary or election, unless in the exercise of his privilege of voting, or for the purpose of serving warrants, or unless called upon to preserve the peace,” according to Pennsylvania Title 25, Section 3047. “In no event may any police officer unlawfully use or practice any intimidation, threats, force or violence nor, in any manner, unduly influence or overawe any elector or prevent him from voting or restrain his freedom of choice.”

    Trump’s support in the primary directly correlated with racial resentment toward African Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims, which is why it’s not a stretch to imagine Trump’s election observers’ racially profiling and intimidating minority voters at the polls. His widely debunked claim that “people may vote 10 times” is his campaign’s latest racist dog whistle, on par with calling Mexicans “rapists,” proposing banning Muslim immigration to the United States, or vowing to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

    Poll challenges have their roots in Jim Crow–era voter suppression, writes Nicolas Riley of the Brennan Center for Justice:

    Challenger laws were historically enacted and used to suppress newly enfranchised groups, like African Americans and women. Many states originally enacted challenger laws to block minority voters’ access to the polls. Virginia, for instance, passed its first challenger law in the immediate wake of Reconstruction alongside a host of other suppressive measures, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, aimed at recently freed former slaves. Other states—like Florida, Ohio, and Minnesota—similarly passed challenger legislation during the nineteenth century to suppress turnout in black communities. Even in states where challenger laws were not enacted with an obvious discriminatory purpose, political operatives still often used challenges to discriminate against newly enfranchised groups of voters. For example, during a special election in Lisle, NY, in 1918—the first election after women won the right to vote in the state—every woman who attempted to cast a ballot was challenged at the polls.

    Trump is taking a well-worn page from his party’s playbook. The RNC has repeatedly tried to disenfranchise minority voters through such tactics even after the consent decree was issued in the 1980s. From a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:

    In Louisiana during the 1986 Congressional elections, the RNC allegedly created a voter challenge list by mailing letters to African-American voters and, then, including individuals whose letters were returned as undeliverable on a list of voters to challenge. A number of voters on the challenge list brought a suit against the RNC in Louisiana state court. In response to a discovery request made in that suit, the RNC produced a memorandum in which its Midwest Political Director stated to its Southern Political Director that “this program will eliminate at least 60,000–80,000 folks from the rolls…. If it’s a close race…which I’m assuming it is, this could keep the black vote down considerably.”

    In 1990, the DNC brought a lawsuit alleging that the RNC violated the Consent Decree by participating in a North Carolina Republican Party (“NCRP”) program. The DNC alleged that the RNC had violated the Decree in North Carolina by engaging in a program of the North Carolina Republican Party (“NCRP”) in which 150,000 postcards were sent to residents of predominantly African-American precincts. This program allegedly attempted to intimidate voters by warning that it is a “federal crime…to knowingly give false information about your name, residence or period of residence to an election official.” The postcards falsely stated that there was a 30-day minimum residency requirement prior to the election during which voters must have lived in the precinct in which they cast their ballot.

    In 2004, the week before the general election for president, Ebony Malone, an African-American resident of Ohio, brought an enforcement action against the RNC, alleging that the RNC had violated the consent decree by participating in the compilation of a predominantly minority voter challenge list of 35,000 individuals from Ohio. Malone’s name was on the list. To compile the list, the RNC had sent a letter to registered voters in high minority concentration areas of Cleveland and the Ohio Republican Party sent a second mailing approximately a month later. Registered voters whose letters were returned as undeliverable were added to the challenge list.

    Following an evidentiary hearing, the District Court issued an Order barring the RNC from using the list to challenge voters and directing the RNC to instruct its agents in Ohio not to use the list for ballot security efforts.

    In Ohio 2004, “14 percent of new voters in majority-white voting precincts would face challengers while 97 percent of new voters in majority-black locations would face challengers,” wrote the Brennan Center. RNC staffers referred to the voter challenge list as a “goldmine” and also had plans to challenge Democratic-leaning voters in New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania if John Kerry had won.

    More recently, the Tea Party group True the Vote tried to recruit one million poll watchers in 2012, to make voting “like driving and seeing the police following you.”

    Forty-six states allow private citizens to challenge the eligibility of prospective voters, either on or before Election Day, and 24 allow private citizens to challenge a voter at the polls without offering any documentation to show that the voter is actually ineligible, according to the Brennan Center.

    The problem of voter intimidation is particularly worrisome in 2016 because after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice “severely curtailed” the number of federal election observers who monitor voting discrimination at the polls.

    The only election rigging occurring in 2016 is the GOP’s attempt to suppress the vote. It likely won’t succeed, especially with recent court victories, but that doesn’t mean Trump and company won’t try.

    “The problem of voter intimidation is particularly worrisome in 2016 because after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice “severely curtailed” the number of federal election observers who monitor voting discrimination at the polls.”

    Yep, while Trump’s apparent voter intimidation plan may sound eerily like the GOP’s many past attempts at voter intimidation, but now with one key difference: it’s being attempted in the post-Voting Rights Act-era where the federal government if forced to pretend the GOP isn’t a party dedicated to (and increasingly reliant on) using voter intimidation tactics to win elections.

    So will Trump manage to intimidate his way into higher office this time around? We’ll see. But as the article below notes, it’s not entirely clear that winning the White House is Trump’s top priority. Sure, becoming President is likely a high a Trumpian priority, but perhaps not the top Trumpian priority:

    Blue Nation Review

    Trump Is Seeking a White Nationalist Awakening NOT the White House

    Ignore just about every bit of analysis you’re hearing in the national media about Trump’s campaign — it’s based on a false assumption. Examining his words and actions through the prism of a traditional presidential campaign is a futile exercise. Trump isn’t campaigning for the White House, but for a white nationalist “awakening.” Under that rubric, everything he’s doing makes sense.

    By Peter Daou
    August 14, 2016

    The New York Times paints Donald Trump as a lost and confused puppy:

    Advisers who once hoped a Pygmalion-like transformation would refashion a crudely effective political showman into a plausible American president now increasingly concede that Mr. Trump may be beyond coaching. … In private, Mr. Trump’s mood is often sullen and erratic, his associates say. He veers from barking at members of his staff to grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change. He broods about his souring relationship with the news media, calling Mr. Manafort several times a day to talk about specific stories. Occasionally, Mr. Trump blows off steam in bursts of boyish exuberance: At the end of a fund-raiser on Long Island last week, he playfully buzzed the crowd twice with his helicopter.

    I don’t buy it.

    Trump knows exactly what he’s doing — it’s just not what the media and pundits think it is:

    I love watching these poor, pathetic people (pundits) on television working so hard and so seriously to try and figure me out. They can't!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2016

    I don’t know if Trump got to this point by design or accident, whether he always planned to seize a moment in history or whether he realized he couldn’t defeat Hillary so he simply aimed higher than the presidency.

    Like so many other political professionals, pundits, writers and reporters, I’ve grappled mightily with the cognitive dissonance of Trump’s candidacy.

    And then it hit me: Trump’s strategy makes perfect sense. Not for a presidential candidate, but for someone seeking to lead an uprising — and perhaps a violent one.

    It’s a classic example of Occam’s razor: the simplest explanation, the one with the fewest assumptions, is the correct one.

    Ditch all the contortions of campaign logic, the psychobabble about “narcissism,” the myriad excuses about reality TV, entertainment, etc., and listen to Trump’s words. They speak painfully and dangerously clearly. And they are being met with precisely the desired effect:

    The leader of Italy’s far-right Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, hailed US presidential hopeful Donald Trump as ‘heroic.’

    KKK leader Thomas Robb:

    “At least he’s saying things that many, many people in this country are identifying with and are saying, “Yeah, that needs to be done.” So it isn’t Donald Trump that you guys are concerned with. You’re not afraid of Donald Trump. You’re afraid of the masses of people, the millions of people supporting Donald Trump becoming awakened to what they feel to be a country that’s being taken away from them.”

    Don Black, former Klan leader who runs the white supremacist website Stormfront.org:

    “There’s an insurgency among our people that has been seething for decades that have felt intimidated and demoralized. The Trump candidacy has changed all that. Whatever he says, even if he gets the facts wrong, it still resonates with people.”

    And there’s more:

    Richard Spencer, a leading white nationalist who coined the term “alt-right” … came to national attention last year when he pronounced Donald Trump as the candidate for white Americans in an interview with The Washington Post’s David Weigel. Almost exactly a year later, he’s even happier with the presumptive GOP nominee. “I think with Trump, you shouldn’t look at his policies. His policies aren’t important. What’s most important about Trump is the emotion. He’s awakened a sense of ‘Us’ a sense of nationalism among white people. He’s done more to awaken that nationalism than anyone in my lifetime. I love the man.

    Trump’s unwillingness to carry out the basic requirements of a presidential campaign, his refusal to build a national infrastructure, his willful ignorance of issues, his inexplicable campaign schedule — these betray not stupidity, but intentionality. He doesn’t care. And he doesn’t care because he’s not after the presidency. It’s possible he never was.

    He’s after something bigger, something to match his grand ambitions:

    His plan is working, not to win the White House, but to change America — and the world — by triggering a white nationalist uprising and becoming a “heroic” figurehead in what his followers see as a defining war against inexorable demographic shifts.

    Virtually all the punditry about Trump’s campaign assumes he is running to win the presidency. Seen through that lens, little he’s doing makes sense. And so we get Rube Goldberg excuses and explanations, none of which really add up to a coherent view of the 2016 race. When you’re operating under a false assumption, the result of your analysis will necessarily be wrong.

    But there’s a simpler, scarier, more logical rationale for Trump’s behavior: That he’s a shrewd, politically talented and ambitious man who seeks to lead a historic uprising, a white nationalist “awakening” that will transform America and the world.

    Otherwise how do you explain this:

    His Alex Jones-style conspiracy-mongering; his meticulously crafted words of incitement and exhortations to violence; his attacks on a federal judge; his description of President Obama as a terrorist (the “founder of ISIS”); his birtherism; his eliminationist language toward Hillary Clinton; his fierce misogyny and indifference to sexual harassment; his feud with the Khan family; his Muslim ban; his use of anti-Semitic symbols; his embrace of torture; his capriciousness about the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons; his praise for dictators; his flirtations with Putin and Russian hackers; his undiluted xenophobia; his racist dog whistles (“look at my African-American”); his infamous border wall and relentless anti-Mexican bigotry; his claims of a “rigged” election; his unconcealed calls for voter intimidation; his refusal to disavow ties to white supremacists.

    We can’t attribute all that to happenstance, accident, entertainment, foolishness, ignorance or inexperience. If we do, we will end up regretting it.

    Trump has a purpose — it’s just not the one the “experts” think it is. And it could prove to be much more dangerous. Which means we have to work even harder to defeat and delegitimize him in November.

    “Trump has a purpose — it’s just not the one the “experts” think it is. And it could prove to be much more dangerous. Which means we have to work even harder to defeat and delegitimize him in November.”

    Yes, if Trump winning scares you, just imagine how much scarier it would be if he’s not even trying to win but instead trying to become a white nationalist political martyr. A martyr who would have won if it wasn’t for all that vote rigging.

    So, all in all, it appears that we might have a situation where Trump’s plan to win is to lose and claim a victory that was thwarted by election fraud in order to create a giant crisis. But that strategy for victory might actually be part of a larger strategy of, win or lose, creating a white nationalist “awakening” intended to give white America a big push towards neo-Nazi thinking. While it might seem like the one silver lining of this scenario is that Trump might not actually be trying to win the election and become president but instead merely wants to create a big electoral crisis, keep in mind that if you’re trying to turn your losing presidential campaign into a national platform for white nationalist memes you’re stilling probably planning on becoming president someday. Just not necessarily the elected president.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 15, 2016, 2:28 pm
  31. Did you hear? Donald Trump expressed regret for all the offensive things he’s said over the last year. Is a general election “pivot” actually materializing?

    Well, here’s a sign. It’s not a great sign: The Trump campaign just released its first TV ad of the general election and according to the NPR article below it’s part of the campaigns recent shift in strategy to create a kinder, gentler, more “theme” based Trump campaign. So what’s the theme in this new ad? Why, it’s that illegal immigrants and Syrian refugees are flooding into the country, collecting Social Security, and generally trashing the place. What a big shift in strategy:

    National Public Radio

    WATCH: Donald Trump Releases First Campaign Ad, To Air in 4 States

    Domenico Montanaro
    August 19, 20169:06 AM ET

    Long doubting the efficacy of television ads, Donald Trump is finally ceding to this one measure of political gravity, airing his first ad of the general election.

    The ad, titled “Two Americas: Immigration,” will air in four battleground states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. The Trump campaign is putting $4.8 million behind it for now, and it will run over the next 10 days.

    The ad focuses on security, specifically immigration. It tries to contrast an America with Hillary Clinton in charge with that of Donald Trump. An announcer says, over faded images, that in Clinton’s America, “The system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay. Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse.”

    The imagery shows immigrants (presumably) with blurred-out faces being handcuffed or simply walking around. That’s all replaced by bright color images in Donald Trump’s America, with shots of the border being tightly patrolled by helicopter.

    Trump’s America is simple: “secure. Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe. Change that makes America safe again.”

    The ad comes a day after Trump expressed “regret” for sometimes choosing the wrong words and causing “pain.” He is heading to Louisiana on Friday, where floods have ravaged the state.

    The state’s Democratic governor said he welcomed Trump to the state, but not for a “photo op.” He wants him to volunteer or make a “sizable donation.”

    It all appears to be part of the much-promised shift now that Trump has yet another new team of leaders in his campaign The “regret” remarks and different tone from Trump certainly have the hallmarks of Republican pollster KellyAnne Conway, installed as his campaign manager earlier this week.

    Trump’s campaign has promised to focus on more “themes.” It appears evident that the Trump campaign is going with a “Two Americas” theme for their ads, the first being on immigration. (Two Americas is the theme used by 2008 Democratic candidate John Edwards, not to contrast his worldview with another candidate’s but to highlight the gap between those doing well and those struggling to get ahead.)

    That’s something he has landed in controversy for during this campaign right from the start. In his speech announcing his run last year, he said that immigrants coming to the U.S. illegally from Mexico were bringing drugs and were rapists, and some, he assumed, “were good people.”

    “That’s something he has landed in controversy for during this campaign right from the start. In his speech announcing his run last year, he said that immigrants coming to the U.S. illegally from Mexico were bringing drugs and were rapists, and some, he assumed, “were good people.”

    Yep, the first ad of the general election is basically a slightly warmed over version of the opening speech Trump made when he announced his campaign when he called Mexican immigrants largely rapists and criminals. And this is part of the campaign’s new shakeup. Shocker.

    And here’s another shocker: That statement in the new ad about undocumented immigrants collecting Social Security benefits included a citation in the ad. A citation for the Center for Immigration Studies, a far right organization with strong ties to a variety of white nationalist organizations. In the first Trump ad of general election. How totally shocking and what a big shift:

    Right Wing Watch

    Trump’s Dystopian TV Ad Cites Anti-Immigrant Group’s Attack On DACA/DAPA

    Submitted by Miranda Blue on Friday, 8/19/2016 12:43 pm

    Donald Trump is out with his first TV ad of the general election, and it’s predictably despicable: an image of “Hillary Clinton’s America” being flooded with refugees and “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes” while “the system stays rigged against Americans.” The ad has drawn comparisons to the infamous anti-immigrant ad that California Gov. Pete Wilson ran in 1994 as he was trying to push through a ballot measure imposing draconian penalties on undocumented immigrants.

    The ad, also unsurprisingly, cites the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the group whose reports provide a constant stream of ammunition to anti-immigrant politicians despite its troubling roots in white nationalism and history of skewing the facts.

    The CIS citation comes about 10 seconds into the ad, when the narrator warns that in Clinton’s America, “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line.”

    The ad’s citation appears to be referring to an April 14 CIS article on the implications of U.S. v. Texas, the Supreme Court case on President Obama’s DAPA and expanded DACA executive actions, which extended temporary deportation relief to some people brought to the country as children and some of their parents. This appears to be where the Trump campaign got the “collecting Social Security benefits” line, which it dishonestly links to its smear of “illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes” (the DAPA and DACA programs bar people convicted of most crimes from eligibility). Those who receive eligibility to work under the programs do become eligible for Social Security, which they pay into like nearly every other American worker, under rules that existed long before President Obama took office.

    It’s telling that the Trump campaign is getting its arguments about immigration policy from CIS. The group is one of a large network of anti-immigrant organizations started by John Tanton, an activist with white nationalist leanings and a troublingly extreme “population control” agenda including such things as supporting China’s brutal one-child policy.

    CIS itself is more conservative in its rhetoric than its founder—allowing it to gain a foothold among members of Congress and others eager for research supporting an anti-immigrant agenda—but the agenda it promotes is one that demonizes immigrants.

    “The ad, also unsurprisingly, cites the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the group whose reports provide a constant stream of ammunition to anti-immigrant politicians despite its troubling roots in white nationalism and history of skewing the facts.”

    Yes, the big shift in the Trump campaign appears to be that now it cites white nationalist groups explicitly in its advertising. That should totally improve his popularity with the minority groups. Especially the more they about groups like CIS and its white nationalist, pro-eugenicist John Tanton, who has the stated goal of a keeping the US overwhelmingly demographically white forever over fears that society will otherwise be destroyed:

    Right Wing Watch

    The Anti-Immigrant Lobby: The White Nationalist Roots of the Organizations Fighting Immigration

    History
    The Policymakers: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
    The Think Tank: Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)
    The Political Power: NumbersUSA
    Sidebar: Where the Money Comes From
    Sidebar: Hate Media
    Sidebar: Recruiting Environmentalists
    Sidebar: English Only
    Sidebar: Deflecting Charges of Racism

    The issue of immigration is front and center in the 2016 presidential election. Republican Donald Trump launched his campaign by bashing Mexican immigrants, calling them “rapists,” “killers” and drug dealers, and he later argued that the U.S. should not only reject all refugees from the conflict in Syria but temporarily bar all of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims from entering the U.S. at all. Other candidates have scrambled to keep up with his extremism.

    Americans as a whole have favorable views on immigration: A June 2015 Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Americans supported keeping immigration at its current level or allowing an increase, and a 2015 Pew survey found that 72 percent of Americans support finding a way for undocumented immigrants to legally stay in the country. In 2014, Pew found that only 17 percent of Americans supported a government effort to round up and deport all of the undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., the plan backed by Trump. Pew found that 57 percent opposed repealing the Constitution’s protection of birthright citizenship, a favorite target of the anti-immigration movement and many Republican politicians.

    Despite these widespread positive views on immigration and immigrants, anti-immigrant sentiment has become so pervasive in the Republican Party that bipartisan immigration reform has been stalled for years, and even former supporters like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida have backed down under political pressure.

    This disconnect is in large part thanks to the lobbying, messaging and grassroots activism efforts of a small group of interconnected organizations all stemming from one activist, John Tanton, the architect of the anti-immigration movement as we know it today. Although Tanton, a retired ophthalmologist, has retreated from much of his activism, the network that he founded continues to exert outsized pressure on politicians and policymakers.

    Although these Tanton-connected groups say they reject anti-immigrant rhetoric, they all have ties to the dark underbelly of the anti-immigrant movement, which smears immigrants using racial terms, plays to fears of demographic change, and caters to those who want the U.S. to be and remain a nation run by and for a white majority. Tanton has explicitly described his work using these racial terms, while some of his followers have used subtler dog-whistles to get the point across. One of these groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of its history of smearing immigrants and its ties to explicitly white nationalist activists and groups.

    Tanton and leaders of his affiliated groups have sometimes also taken disturbing positions on “population control,” including supporting China’s one-child policy, which resulted in decades of forced abortions and sterilizations in that country.

    The three major anti-immigration groups, all of which stem from Tanton, are FAIR, which the Center for New Community describes as the “rhetorical compass” of the movement; NumbersUSA, the movement’s grassroots activism wing, which says it has “more than three million participants in all 435 congressional districts”; and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the movement’s research arm, whose claims are frequently echoed on talk radio, on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill.

    The organizations saturate media coverage of immigration issues, both fueling negative conservative media coverage and providing spokespeople to offer more toned-down quotes to the mainstream media. Looking back at the defeat of President George W. Bush’s 2007 effort at immigration reform, Bush’s commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez said the effort’s main adversaries were “on the one hand talk radio, on the other it was these groups: FAIR and NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies.” When the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” forged a bipartisan immigration reform bill six years later, the same groups waged a campaign to stop it.

    The groups maintain close ties to anti-immigration politicians, including members of the congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, which supports more restrictive immigration policies.

    CIS officials have been called to testify before congressional committees at least 26 times since Republicans gained control of the House in 2011, weighing in on issues including the DREAM Act, Syrian refugees and unaccompanied minors from Central America, according to a review of committee records. FAIR has claimed that it “has been called to testify on immigration bills before Congress more than any organization in America.”

    In 2007, after a bipartisan immigration reform plan fell apart, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a leading anti-immigration voice in the Senate, who is now the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on immigration, spoke to a meeting of FAIR’s board of advisors and thanked them for helping to stir up opposition to the bill. In 2013, as Congress was considering another bipartisan immigration compromise, Sessions and three Republican House members joined a CIS teleconference to argue against it. Sessions, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the most outspoken anti-immigration member of the House, spoke at a rally organized by a front group of FAIR, and King joined NumbersUSA President Roy Beck on the road.

    King and Sessions have played a critical role in funneling the ideology of the Tanton groups to activists, policymakers and candidates. King, now a prominent endorser of Cruz’s presidential campaign, is infamous for having asserted that young undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for the DREAM Act have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” He led House efforts to roll back President Obama’s attempt to protect some DREAMers from deportation. Sessions helped Trump craft his immigration plan, which would, among other things, attempt to drive away undocumented immigrants through policies targeting their children. In January 2016, a top aide to Sessions left to join Trump’s campaign.

    The role that these groups play in connecting activists, politicians and talk radio personalities in order to create an echo chamber may be best illustrated by FAIR’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event, which brings conservative talk radio hosts from around the country to a “radio row,” where they interview anti-immigration activists and Republican politicians.

    HISTORY

    John Tanton, who was described by the American Prospect as the “architect” of the network at the center of today’s anti-immigration movement, has helped create a host of interconnected organizations, the most influential of which have been FAIR, NumbersUSA and CIS.

    Tanton, now retired and living in Michigan, came to the anti-immigration cause through the “population control” movement that was, in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the strands of activism behind environmentalism and efforts to expand birth control and abortion rights, but has since been largely rejected by both movements. In the late 1960s, Tanton was briefly the president of his local chapter of Planned Parenthood, but quit, according to the Prospect, “when a woman’s right to control her own body — rather than population control — became the dominant talking point about abortion.” (Even at the time, many feminists objected to “population control” arguments in favor of reproductive rights.) Tanton was also influenced by a “population control” vision of environmentalism: He served for a time as the head of Zero Population Growth, and has over the years tried unsuccessfully to win environmentalist groups over to his harsh view on immigration.

    Tanton’s commitment to “population control” extends to supporting China’s brutal one-child policy. Tanton himself told an interviewer in 2006 that through the policy China had “brought the population under control,” adding that “unfortunately for us, India has not gone through the same demographic transition.”

    Tanton eventually found his calling in the effort to restrict immigration. Between 1979 and 1999, Tanton founded, provided funding for, or was otherwise involved in the creation or growth of 13 anti-immigration groups, according to a list created by the SPLC. The first of these was FAIR, which he founded in 1979. In 1985, he founded the CIS, followed by NumbersUSA in 1996. These groups, in turn, have spawned other organizations, and Tanton has been involved in the creation of still others.

    Tanton has made it clear that one of the major factors driving his anti-immigration activism is his interest in the United States remaining a majority-white nation. He wrote in a 1993 letter: “I have come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist, it requires an European-American majority and a clear one at that. I doubt very much that our traditions will be carried on by other peoples.” He warned in 1997 that America could be overrun by immigrants “defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.” In 1993, he wrote a memo outlining an idea he had come up with along with three well-known white nationalists to start a group called “League for European American Defense, Education, and Research” — a group dedicated to preventing the end of a white majority in America.

    In leaked memos from a 1986 strategy session, Tanton fretted specifically about Latino immigration — or what he called a “Latin onslaught” — seeing it as a threat to America’s white majority. He wrote that white Americans would have to “compete” with Latino immigrants and choose between having children and letting “someone else with greater reproductive powers occupy the space.”

    “As whites see their power and control over their lives declining,” he asked, “will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

    In a 1996 letter, Tanton fretted about “less intelligent” people having children: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?” At one point, Tanton founded his own pro-eugenics organization, the Society for Genetic Education. He also authored a paper titled “The Case for Passive Eugenics.”

    When the SPLC read through Tanton’s papers in 2008, the group found “a lengthy record of friendly correspondence with Holocaust deniers, a former Klan lawyer and leading white nationalist thinkers.”

    One of these correspondents was Harry Weyher, a fellow eugenics proponent who for decades led a “race betterment” group, the Pioneer Fund, which became a financier of FAIR.

    The Policymakers: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

    FAIR, which Tanton founded in 1979, and whose advisory board he remains a member of, in many ways shapes the anti-immigration movement’s policy priorities. The group is currently calling for a moratorium on all immigration,, except in narrow instances, with the ultimate goal of setting legal immigration at “the lowest feasible levels,” which it places at less than one-third of the current immigration level. Along with wanting to drastically limit legal immigration, FAIR takes a hard-line position against undocumented immigrants, promoting the “self-deportation” policies — that is, making life so difficult for undocumented immigrants that they are forced to flee — that were championed by Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential run. FAIR opposes any plan to give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship or legal status.

    FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), has helped craft anti-immigrant legislation around the country, including Arizona’s infamous “self-deportation” measure SB 1070 and efforts to end the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship. In 2010, Think Progress wrote that “IRLI has been behind most, if not every, local legislative immigration crackdown over the past few years.” Much of this work was driven by IRLI lawyer Kris Kobach, who joined the group in 2003. Kobach is now secretary of state of Kansas, but remains “of counsel” to IRLI. He served as an advisor to Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential campaign, when Romney espoused the doctrine of “self-deportation.”

    FAIR’s current president is Dan Stein, who has worked for the organization since 1982. Stein has framed the immigration debate in racial terms, calling the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which eliminated a quota system that favored Northern Europeans and shut out Asians and Africans, an attempt to “retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance“ in the country. He has warned that President Obama’s immigration policies will cause the U.S. to “fall apart” like Iraq and once speculated that the U.S. has seen so few terrorist attacks under President Obama because terrorists see him as an “ally” and “don’t want to embarrass” him.

    While Stein has hinted at immigration restriction as a tool of white nationalism, FAIR has openly associated with people who explicitly advocate for the U.S. to remain a white-dominated nation.

    A short-lived television program produced by FAIR in 1996 featured interviews with well-known white nationalists Sam Francis, Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow, and a common area of discussion was that the immigrant “invasion” would destroy America. Stein, interviewing one guest, wondered, “How can we preserve America if it becomes 50 percent Latin American?” In a 1991 interview for an article on the higher birth rates among Asian and Latino immigrants than among native-born Americans, Stein said, “It’s almost like they’re getting into competitive breeding. You have to take into account the various fertility rates in designing limits on immigration.” Six years later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “Certainly we would encourage people in other countries to have small families. Otherwise they’ll all be coming here, because there’s no room at the Vatican.”

    Over a period of 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, FAIR took in more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, which SPLC describes as “a eugenicist organization that was started in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who wanted to pursue ‘race betterment’ by promoting the genetic lines of American whites,” and for several years afterward continued to receive support from individual leaders of the fund.

    Kobach, the lawyer with FAIR’s legal arm who is now secretary of state of Kansas, has made his own nods to the fear of a diminishing white majority in the U.S., warning that Democrats are “replacing American voters with newly legalized aliens” and telling a caller to his radio program who worried that a Hispanic majority would conduct “ethnic cleansing” of whites that while such an event was unlikely, under President Obama, “I wonder what could happen.”

    FAIR has also tried out purely political arguments to get Republicans on its side on immigration with the goal, as Tanton put it in 2001, “to change Republicans’ perception of immigration so that when they encounter the word ‘immigrant,’ their reaction is ‘Democrat.’”

    To achieve this aim, FAIR has sometimes painted immigrants as not just inherently liberal but inherently un-American. As Stein said in the 1997 Wall Street Journal interview, “Immigrants don’t come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing. … Many of them hate America; hate everything that the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans.”

    The Think Tank: Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)

    In 1985, a few years after he launched FAIR, Tanton created the Center for Immigration Studies as a think tank to “wage a war of ideas” to further spread his view of immigration. Today, CIS spokespeople are frequently quoted in the media, and its studies supply the anti-immigrant movement and its allied politicians with a stream of talking points and figures to back up its positions.

    One recent CIS “fact” that quickly became a matter of orthodoxy in the anti-immigrant movement was its insistence in 2014 that “all employment growth since 2000 went to immigrants.” This assertion was repeated over and over again in the right-wing media, including on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. Sen. Jeff Sessions, a leading anti-immigration voice in Congress, cited this “fact” in an “immigration handbook” for incoming Republican members of Congress. Former Sen. Rick Santorum incorporated it into his talking points for his 2016 presidential campaign.

    But CIS’ study was highly flawed, as many outside observers explained. Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian Cato Institute meticulously recreated the center’s data and discovered that the only reasonable conclusion he could come to “is that immigrants hold about a percentage of jobs in the economy that is roughly equal to their percent of the population.”

    Another CIS “fact” that quickly became part of the right-wing bloodstream was that in 2013, the Obama administration “freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens … who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings.” CIS neglected to mention that many of these releases were required by law and that many of those released were people who had committed less serious crimes. But without context, the number served to feed a favorite narrative within the anti-immigrant movement — the narrative of immigrants as violent criminals. Despite the CIS report’s flaws, it was quickly picked up by anti-immigration members of Congress and by leading GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who cited it as evidence that the Obama administration was supposedly failing to enforce immigration laws.

    A number of other CIS studies purporting to support the group’s policy goals have been exposed as flawed or have been debunked. One flawed study tried unconvincingly to prove that the U.S. is at risk of having parents come to the U.S. to have children with the specific intent of raising them (in foreign countries) to become Islamic extremists who would then return to the U.S. as citizens to commit terrorist attacks, also known as Rep. Louie Gohmert’s “terror baby” theory.

    In her vitriolic anti-immigrant book “Adios, America,” published in 2015, pundit Ann Coulter cited CIS and its staffers at least 18 times.

    CIS has also backed FAIR’s “self-deportation” idea, which CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian very straightforwardly explained is an attempt to “make it as difficult as possible for illegal aliens to live a normal life here,” forcing them to flee the country.

    One of CIS’ most powerful messages, however, has been a political one aimed at Republicans considering embracing immigration reform. After Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 election, thanks in part to eroding support among Latino voters, an “autopsy report” commissioned by the Republican National Committee urged the party to “embrace and champion immigration reform” in order to win back Latino voters. In 2013, a bipartisan group of senators won the Senate passage of an immigration reform package that included a path to citizenship for some of the country’s undocumented immigrants. Quickly, it became clear that the Republican majority in the House would not even take up a vote on the bill. Within months, Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who drafted the bill, had backed away from it.

    The bill was defeated thanks to a campaign by some of the most strident anti-immigration members of Congress, with the support of anti-immigrant groups.

    Along with policy arguments against immigration reform, anti-immigrant groups had a political argument: that instead of embracing a moderate position on immigration in order to win back Latinos who favored George W. Bush, the GOP should put its energy and resources into expanding its popularity and increasing turnout among white voters, in part by scapegoating people of color. For anti-immigrant groups, this strategy had the added bonus of turning Republicans away from attempts at meaningful reform.

    The first person to clearly lay out the case that the GOP should stop trying to win over people of color and focus solely on white voters was the extremist writer Steve Sailer, writing for the white nationalist website VDARE in 2000. What became known as the “Sailer Strategy” had a resurgence in popularity as the anti-immigrant movement tried to sink the “Gang of Eight” bill — even if its proponents didn’t cite Sailer by name. Pat Buchanan, who has touted Sailer’s work, bluntly called for a new “Southern Strategy” to stir up white voters’ fears of Latinos, while Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly declared that “the people the Republicans should reach out to are the … white voters” because there was “no evidence at all that these Hispanics coming in from Mexico will vote Republican.” As the Senate debated the “Gang of Eight” proposal, CIS echoed these sentiments in a press release, saying that by supporting the bill, Republicans would “alienate” the “less-educated whites” who they should really be turning out to win elections.

    CIS spokespeople regularly make this argument, along with another one that has long been popular among white nationalists: that Latino immigrants will never vote Republican because they are inherently liberal. During the debate over the “Gang of Eight” bill, CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian argued that the GOP shouldn’t bother trying to increase its share of the Latino vote because “generally speaking, Hispanic voters are Democrats, and so the idea of importing more of them as a solution to the Republican Party’s problems is kind of silly.” In another interview, Krikorian argued that immigration reform would “destroy the Republican Party” and ultimately “the republic.” The next year, he charged that Democrats were using immigration as “a way of importing voters” and to “create the conditions, such as increased poverty, increased lack of health insurance, that lead even non-immigrant voters to be more receptive to big government solutions.” At one point, Krikorian told Republicans that they should oppose immigration reform simply to deny President Obama a political victory.

    CIS maintains close ties to FAIR. When he launched CIS, which was at its start a project of FAIR, Tanton put his friend and FAIR board member Otis Graham in charge. In 1995, CIS’ current director, former FAIR employee Mark Krikorian, took over, while Graham continued to sit on its board of directors. Today, three of the 10 members of CIS’s board of directors also sit on FAIR’s board of directors or board of advisors.

    The Political Power: NumbersUSA

    The first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign cycle smashed TV ratings records, thanks in large part to the front-and-center placement of Donald Trump, who had achieved unexpected popularity in a campaign based on racist broadsides against immigrants.

    But during a commercial break, many viewers were treated to a seemingly different view of the immigration debate: an ad featuring a diverse group of Americans saying that current levels of legal immigration are too high, not because of racial or ethnic concerns, but because of “the numbers.”

    The ad directed viewers to the website of the group NumbersUSA, which states prominently that it says “‘no’ to immigrant bashing” and that “neither race nor ethnicity should be factors in setting or debating immigration policies.”

    What won’t be found on NumbersUSA’s website is any reference to its white nationalist ties or its origins as part of John Tanton’s anti-immigration network.

    Roy Beck, the executive director of NumbersUSA, founded the grassroots activism group in 1996 under the umbrella of Tanton’s foundation, U.S. Inc. At the foundation, he also served as an editor of Tanton’s “The Social Contract” magazine, which later became infamous for publishing the work of white nationalist writers, and helped edit a book by Tanton and Wayne Lutton, a white supremacist who would later become the editor of “The Social Contract.” In 1996, spoke to a meeting of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, although he later claimed to be ignorant of the group’s views. Tanton eventually named Beck the “heir apparent” of his foundation. In 2002, Beck split his group from Tanton’s and began the process of attempting to separate himself from his former employer’s controversial views.

    Although Beck has attempted to distance himself from some of these more unsavory associations, NumbersUSA’s restrictionist goals remain in line with the goals promoted by Tanton. NumbersUSA wants to eliminate birthright citizenship and drastically reduce legal immigration by seeking “elimination of most or all” permanent immigration categories except immediate family members, a limited number of refugees and those with “truly extraordinary skills in the national interest.”

    Although NumbersUSA takes a softer tone than many in the anti-immigrant movement, that belies its hard-line policy stances. In the summer of 2015, as Trump rose in the polls on a wave of anti-immigrant hate, Beck lowered Trump’s grade on his group’s scorecard because the candidate had “seemed to be defensive and trying to prove that he isn’t hostile to immigrants by also indicating he would like to see legal immigration increased.” The group’s activism and carefully placed attacks on members of Congress helped to sink President George W. Bush’s attempt at immigration reform and the 2013 “Gang of Eight” plan.

    Beck couches these hard-line policies in careful language. NumbersUSA’s website cites its major concerns as the environment and unemployment, both of which it says are negatively impacted by the current levels of legal and illegal immigration. It links immigration to “traffic gridlock” and claims that immigrants and “American-born refugees” fleeing immigrant-packed cities are eroding the “way of life” in small towns. The group warns, with little explanation, that population growth through immigration will also erode “individual liberties.” It also makes a specific appeal to African Americans, part of the anti-immigrant movement’s long-term attempt to drive a wedge between African Americans and Latinos.

    It’s no coincidence that Ann Coulter cited NumbersUSA in one of the most racist passages of her 2015 book “Adios, America,” writing, “Sending their poorest, most backward people to the United States is obviously a big help to Mexico, but it’s pretty rough on America’s landscape. The sheer numbers of immigrants tromping into the United States can’t help but to harm our wilderness areas. That’s why the largest anti-immigration group is called ‘NumbersUSA,’ not ‘Hispanics Litter and Scorch the Earth.’ But it is also a fact that the vast majority of Teddy Kennedy immigrants [admitted after the removal of racist quotas in 1965] come from peasant cultures that have no concept of ‘litter.’”

    Beck clearly realizes that while his messaging steers clear of racism, his group’s base is largely in Trump’s camp. In 2014, when a coalition of fringe anti-immigrant hate groups organized rallies to stir up resentment against the large number of unaccompanied children from Central America fleeing to the southern border of the U.S., NumbersUSA quietly promoted the protests to its email list. In 2013, as the Senate was preparing to vote on an immigration reform package, NumbersUSA spokeswoman Rosemary Jenks joined a conference call organized by Eagle Forum — a group that frequently presents immigration as an issue of racial demographics — where she warned, “If this amnesty passes, that’s it for America.”

    As immigrants’ rights advocate Frank Sharry put it to the New York Times in 2007: “Roy Beck takes people who are upset about illegal immigration for different reasons, including hostility to Latino immigrants, and disciplines them so their message is based on policy rather than race-based arguments or xenophobia.”

    Sidebar: Where the Money Comes From

    FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA are heavily funded by foundations connected to a single wealthy conservative family, the Scaifes. Tanton was a friend of the late Cordelia Scaife May, whose Colcom Foundation — which says it wants to roll back America’s “ever-increasing population” — continues to fund much of the Tanton network. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) wrote in 2013, “Like Tanton, May was an environmentalist committed to population control — and believed limiting immigration was the best way to do it — and founded the Colcom Foundation to advance this goal, providing tens of millions to anti-immigrant groups as well as funding legitimate environmental organizations.”

    In the 2013 tax year, the most recent for which tax records are available, Colcom provided FAIR with a little over $4 million of the $6.3 million grants and contributions it received that year; about $1.9 million of the $2.4 million that CIS took in; and nearly $4 million of the $6.3 million received by NumbersUSA’s educational arm.

    Foundations run by Scaife May’s brother, the conservative mega-donor Richard Mellon Scaife, have also kicked in millions of dollars to Tanton network organizations.

    FAIR attracted controversy when it was reported that between 1985 and 1994, Tanton had sought and received $1.2 million for the group from the Pioneer Fund, a eugenicist group with the goal of “race betterment.”

    Tanton has made it clear that one of the major factors driving his anti-immigration activism is his interest in the United States remaining a majority-white nation. He wrote in a 1993 letter: “I have come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist, it requires an European-American majority and a clear one at that. I doubt very much that our traditions will be carried on by other peoples.” He warned in 1997 that America could be overrun by immigrants “defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.” In 1993, he wrote a memo outlining an idea he had come up with along with three well-known white nationalists to start a group called “League for European American Defense, Education, and Research” — a group dedicated to preventing the end of a white majority in America.”

    So the very first general election ad from the Trump campaign features a citation to an anti-immigrant think-tank dedicated to maintaining a clear white majority in the US because he’s convinced that society will implode if that is no longer the case.

    In other news, the Trump campaign and RNC just met with Hispanic leaders to bolster the GOP’s Latino voter outreach efforts.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 20, 2016, 6:32 pm
  32. Politico has an article on the growing concerns over the Trump campaign’s growing plans to preemptively declare to the US electoral system and polls as all rigged and threatening to not recognize the legitimacy of the election if he loses. In particular, the article addresses concerns within the GOP over the possible consequences of this strategy. There were the obvious potential consequences like how this mine undermine the Trump voters’ faith in democracy and really erode the general social consensus that makes democracy work.

    But the article focuses the GOP-specific concerns like the possibility that Trump and the Alt-Right are going to use their rigging charges as an excuse declare a need to revenge against the system and then go off to start their own Alt-Right party that would become a direct competitor to the GOP. And that’s not an unimaginable concern, especially when you considering the grifter-nature of both Trump and the Alt-Right media mavens like Steve Bannon and the incredible money they could make in coming years tapping into Trumpian grievance politics.

    Now, granted, having a Trump third party pop up that’s a direct Alt-Right competitor to the GOP (which is basically crypto-Alt-Right anyways) could be great for splitting the right-wing vote during elections and allowing the country to move out of its current political Dark Age. But that scenario comes at the cost of having an overtly Alt-Right/borderline-neo-Nazi third party with substantial support basically permanently becoming part of the American political mainstream, which is a pretty massive price to pay to see the GOP permanently weakened (don’t we already have enough of those?).

    It’s all a reminder that the damages the Trump could pose for the GOP in the long-term are really only limited to the GOP as long as the Trumpian movement doesn’t become long-term too:

    Politico

    What if Trump won’t accept defeat?

    As their nominee unravels, Republicans worry where his scorched-earth, rigged-election rhetoric leads the GOP and the country.

    By Eli Stokols

    08/22/16 05:01 AM EDT

    Donald Trump is on track to lose in November and to refuse to accept the legitimacy of that Election Day result. That’s a problem not just for Hillary Clinton but for both political parties and the country. For everyone, really, other than Donald Trump.

    By hiring Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, a media provocateur in his own image, and accepting the resignation of the man who was supposed to professionalize him, Trump is signaling the final 78 days of his presidential campaign will be guided by a staff that indulges his deeply held conspiracy theories and validates his hermetically sealed worldview.

    That includes his insistence that the only way he loses is in a “rigged” election. According to two long-time Trump associates, the notion of a fixed election isn’t just viewed as smart politics inside Trump Tower; it’s something the GOP nominee believes.

    “If he loses, [he’ll say] ‘It’s a rigged election.’ If he wins, he’ll say it was rigged and he beat it. And that’s where this is headed no matter what the outcome is,” said one Trump ally. “If Donald Trump loses, he is going to point the finger at the media and the GOP establishment. I can’t really picture him giving a concession speech, whatever the final margin.”

    “It’s the same as how he looks at the polls,” said another close Trump confidant. “Any poll that shows him ahead he likes. Any poll that shows him behind, he thinks it’s rigged.”

    Trump began to suggest that the election would be “fixed” last month as Hillary Clinton opened a lead following July’s party conventions. “The only way we can lose, in my opinion — I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on,” Trump said at a rally in Altoona. Days earlier in Wilmington, North Carolina, he’d warned that without stronger voter identification laws people would be “voting 15 times for Hillary.” The first image of a Trump campaign ad, released on Friday, is that of a polling place as a narrator alleges “the system” is “rigged”; and his campaign has already begun recruiting volunteers to monitor polling places, specifically in urban precincts where African-American voters, very few of which support Trump, predominate.

    Trump’s words are having an effect. Just 38 percent of Trump supporters believe their votes will be counted accurately; and only 49 percent of all registered voters are “very confident” their votes will be tabulated without error, according to a Pew Research survey last week.

    The implications — short- and long-term — are serious. Interviews with more than a dozen senior GOP operatives suggest growing panic that Trump’s descent down this alt-right rabbit hole and, beyond that, his efforts to de-legitimize the very institutions that undergird American democracy — the media and the electoral process itself — threaten not just their congressional majorities or the party’s survival but, potentially, the stability of the country’s political system.

    “We’ve never had a presidential candidate who has questioned the legitimacy of an electoral outcome nationally,” said Dan Senor, who was a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. “This does take us to a whole new world if the actual presidential candidate is questioning the legitimacy of this process, and the damage to our democracy could be substantial.”

    In 2008, even as some on the far right questioned Barack Obama’s legitimacy as president based on false suggestions he was not born in America, McCain conceded quickly. Most notably, after the Supreme Court’s 2001 Bush v. Gore decision, countless Democrats complained that the result was unjust — but Al Gore and Joe Lieberman did not.

    “Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers,” said Steve Schmidt, the GOP operative who was John McCain’s campaign strategist in 2008.

    “Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen — in a media culture where people increasingly don’t buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there’s no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics.”

    Should Trump opt not to concede after a loss or deliberately roil his supporters and spark uprisings by refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election results, he would still have little recourse to alter a significant electoral victory for Clinton. Only if the election were close, hinging on one or two states where there were alleged voting irregularities, could Trump seriously contest the result in court.

    But beyond who wins the White House in November, many Republicans fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and in politics itself will have a lasting impact.

    “The damage this is going to do to various institutions is going to be long term,” said Charlie Sykes, a prominent conservative radio host in Milwaukee who has been one of the country’s most outspoken and consistent anti-Trump voices. “How do you restore civil discourse after all of this? He is a post-modern authoritarian who’s in the process of delegitimizing every institution — the media, the ballot box — that can be a check on him.”

    Sykes, who is open about his growing discomfort with the increasingly partisan media landscape and reductive, zero-sum political culture he and his more strident cohorts have helped create, views Trump’s talk of “rigged” systems and its subsequent validation and amplification by outlets like Breitbart as “dangerous.”

    “There’s a sizable portion of his fan base that will believe these things, and it’s toxic to our democracy,” he continued. “You’re basically taking ideas and voices that have been on the fringes — justifiably — and Donald Trump is bringing them squarely into the mainstream and weaponizing them. This is something we’ve not had to confront before. At one time there were responsible voices that would have drawn some lines that would have kept these voices from dominating our discourse; and they don’t exist now.”

    Having resisted and ultimately rejected efforts by Manafort and RNC Chairman Reince Preibus to control and temper his message, Trump is seemingly rededicating himself to the pugilistic populism, the economic nationalism and ethnic tribalism that have so endeared him to the conservative base — and so limited his appeal beyond it.

    Kellyanne Conway, the pollster whose hiring as campaign manager was announced the same day as Bannon’s, might have given Republicans exasperated by Trump’s inability to pivot a glimmer of confidence that the nominee was tackling one of his biggest problems, a 30-point deficit to Clinton with college-educated white women — if not for Bannon’s plan to “let Trump be Trump” that’s likely to undercut her efforts.

    Trump’s late efforts over the weekend to reach an African-American constituency that’s almost entirely written him off illustrate just how unlikely it may be that Trump’s own words will be consistent enough to persuade the skeptics. At a rally in Michigan, he swung from predicting he’d win 95 percent of black voters in a reelection bid (polls show he’ll be lucky to win 5 percent this year) to patronizing them into supporting him. “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs,” he said. “Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

    “If the Republican Party wants to be a governing party again, it has to think about how representative it is of the American people as a whole,” said Lanhee Chen, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and an adviser to Marco Rubio and other Republicans. “It’s tough to do that when the premise of a campaign seems to be exclusion and separation. I think it’s very hard to get to a place where you have a party that people see as representing all of the diverse interests of the country.”

    Chen and others point to one potential silver lining: that thus far in this election cycle Trumpism has only worked for Trump. Paul Nehlen, whose primary challenge of Speaker Paul Ryan was effectively engineered by Bannon and aided by Breitbart’s daily drumbeat of anti-establishment propaganda, drew a measly 15 percent of the vote on primary day. And mainstream conservative donors have successfully taken out a handful of Tea Party incumbents in other primaries, demonstrating that parroting Trump’s language may not work for candidates other than Trump.

    But these operatives understand that Trump, even if he is humiliated on Election Day, is unlikely to quietly exit the political stage — his most ardent cheerleaders, unlikely to admit their candidate never had a chance.

    “I can’t see the fever swamp, alt-reality media universe on the right learning the lessons of this,” Sykes said. “Can you see Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham saying, ‘OK, sorry, we screwed up’?”

    And many worry that the newly consummated Trump-Breitbart partnership will endure, perhaps in another form — and that both men will be eager to exact revenge.

    “What I worry about is that they’re looking past November at forming a different party — that they’ve used the GOP as a vehicle to build this following and that then they just go and build something new,” said Katie Packer, Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012 and the leader of an anti-Trump super PAC.

    “That’s damaging because some of these people who like Trump should be Republicans. My hope is that if he loses big, anyone who’s not a racist nationalist says ‘Never again’ and the racist nationalists just retreat to their basements where they belong. But my fear is that Bannon and Trump uniting could be about them looking to do something long-term that would ensure this fringe element remains.

    “And many worry that the newly consummated Trump-Breitbart partnership will endure, perhaps in another form — and that both men will be eager to exact revenge.”

    Trumpian revanchism. Or rather, preemptive fantasy revanchism. That does seem like a reasonable concern. For everyone.

    But perhaps the group that should be most concerned about revenge plots is the GOPers who will be placed in a position to either follow Trump’s lead and declare the election a rigged sham and the government illegitimate or just accepting a loss and planing for 2020. Because if Trump loses and declares “this was rigged! I don’t accept this at all!”, every single elected GOPer is going to be expect publicly choose sides on that issue and you can be sure the Trumpian hordes are going to be keeping track of who betrayed Trump.

    In other words, if Trump goes through with his “it’s all rigged” plan and loses big, his last gift to the GOP this election might be to place the rest of the GOP into a position where they are either on “Team Trump” or, in the eyes of Trump voters convinced it was all rigged, “Team Trump Traitor.” Those are basically going to be the two options for each individual GOPer. It’s also a strategy that could easily drag every last elected GOPer in the House and Senate and maybe even state officials into the scheme if Trump’s plan for not accepting defeat somehow involves having state governments refuse to accept their state’s electoral outcome.

    So is the rest of the GOP willing to go all in on Trump’s “it’s all rigged!” strategy or resist it and risk a new revenge-oriented Trumpian third party? They had better decide soon, because while this growing “it’s all rigged!” campaign strategy might seem like a Trump campaign strategy the rest of the GOP is part of that strategy too whether they like it or not. They can join “Team Trump” and fuel the fantasy revanchist revenge movement, or join “Team Trump Traitor” and fuel the fantasy revanchist revenge movement’s desire for revenge on the GOP too.

    And either choice is probably fine with Trump since he’s guaranteed to get at least some GOPers to back him all the way on any attempt to declare the government illegitimate. When someone traps you in a divide and conquer ploy, they’ probably don’t care very much which side you choose as long as there’s division. And there’s definitely going to be division.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 22, 2016, 3:02 pm

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