Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #944 Fireside Rant: WTF Is Going On? The Caligulization of America and the End of the American Century

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained HERE. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by early winter of 2016. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more.) (The previous flash drive was current through the end of May of 2012.)

WFMU-FM is podcasting For The Record–You can subscribe to the podcast HERE.

You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE.

This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

NB: This program contains information that was not contained in the original program.

Trump kept a copy of this by his bedside.

Trump kept a copy of this by his bedside.

Introduction: This broadcast is a (probably partly unsuccessful) summary attempt at explaining what will be the results of the ascendance of the Trumpenkampfverbande in the U.S.

It is to be hoped that this description will go further toward explaining what is going on than the original program.

In addition to the excerpts of articles presented in the program, we will summarize some of the central arguments in the broadcast, with links to other programs and lectures, where possible.

In AFA #37, we discussed the Gehlen “Org” and related elements as a Trojan Horse, using anti-communism to infiltrate the United States and, ultimately, destroy it from within. In this program we develop that analysis further, adding the role of the House of Habsburg and associates to the Trojan Horse metaphor.

When the U.S. frustrated the de-Nazification of Germany, opted to ally with the remarkable and deadly Bormann capital network and the associated Habsburg royal family, and returned the Japanese and Italian fascists to power (with a civilian facade), this country signed its own death warrant.

America’s entry into two World Wars, after the combat had proceeded for years, decided both conflicts against Germany. The American revolution was the first successful revolt of a European colonial power against its colonial master.

Both Germany and the House of Habsburg vowed never again! Never! 

In this context, we observe that the Habsburgs (royal house of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) ruled for six hundred years. Six hundred years ago–1417–was three quarters of a century before Columbus sailed.

To the Habsburgs, America is a blip. Democracy is a blip. They see things in an entirely different way. Because the U.S. was an unassailable military power and the most powerful economy on earth, the country could only be brought down by subversion from within.

We gave the Underground Reich and the Habsburgs the keys to the kingdom, not unlike the Praetorian Guard–Germanic mercenary troops appointed to guard the Roman Emperor. Eventually they controlled the throne and preserved the Roman Empire for as long as it could make lucrative payments to the Germanic tribes who eventually defeated and sacked Rome.

The thrust of the broadcast is that the ascension of Trump–an American Caligula–is indeed the end of what Henry Luce called “The American Century.”

The author of our first article is a former editor for Time magazine and a former State Department officer, so his literal take on Luce’s pronouncement is not surprising.

What Stengel is talking about is the end of “Brand America,” to coin a phrase–the successful PR marketing of this country as the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, etc.

That political mythology, which compelled much of Mr. Emory’s initial involvement in this research when he began in the early ’70s, will evaporate. That dissipation, however, will be eclipsed by the devastating economic, environmental, social and political devastation that will surely follow Trump’s policies.

As Mr. Emory forecast in FTR #’s 918 and 919, among other programs in the “Trumpenkampfverbande” series, Trump’s anti-NATO rhetoric and general disparaging of the Atlanticist alliances that have held sway during the better part of “The American Century” are focused on precipitating the Underground Reich goals of: an all-EU army replacing NATO, a German-dominate Europe  assuming center stage in world affairs, and the forging of an economic alliance with Russia (following Russian concessions on Ukraine) that will give “Corporate Germany” economic domination over the Earth Island.

Our next article heralds Mr. Emory’s prognostications. We do not feel Trump is necessarily conscious of his role. In the age of mind control, what goes on between a given individual’s ears is impossible to gauge, past a point.

Among the various and sundry disastrous outcomes of Trump’s policies may well be a cyber-terrorist incident from a nation-state actor or a lone malefactor, this the result of a federal hiring freeze.

” . . . On his first official day in office after inauguration, President Donald Trump has made good on his plan to institute a federal hiring freeze—part of his effort to slash the federal workforce. Details are sparse: Trump has said there would be exceptions for the military, and a White House memo notes the freeze would be waived “when necessary to meet national or public safety responsibilities.” Some experts fear a temporary hiring freeze could exacerbate a chronic problem in the federal government: a widespread shortage of cybersecurity talent. A hiring freeze could signal to essential cybersecurity talent—especially those who might consider joining the public sector from higher-paying industry jobs—that there’s no need or desire for them in the federal government, Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, told Nextgov. . . .”

Exemplifying a disconnect that is sure to help bring our economy down, Labor Secretary Puzder lauds the value of machines over humans. While he is correct that machines do not do many things that he sees as counter-productive, he ignores the fact that machines don’t by food at Carl’s Junior or Hardees, the food chains for which he is chief executive. No machine has ever bought anything.

” . . . Fast food executive Andrew Puzder, who President-elect Donald Trump is expected to tap as labor secretary, has advocated replacing some human workers with machines as a way for businesses to reduce costs associated with rising wages and health-care expenses. While machines require regular maintenance and can sometimes malfunction, Puzder said, they are also easier to manage than humans and don’t pose the same legal risks. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” Puzder told Business Insider in March. Puzder serves as the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the corporate parent behind fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. . . .”

When automation, inflation of the price of consumer goods that are imported and have had tariffs slapped on them by “The Donald,” lack of health care forcing working people to devote increasingly scarce resources toward maintaining their and/or their families’ health, the subversion of minimum wage, overtime and unionization laws and statutes and increasing concentration of economic ownership have brought American consumers to their knees, our consumer-based economy will collapse.

Lastly, we note something that heralds poorly for the response of the American people to the chaos that is sure to envelope this country after the environmental, economic and social chaos that will inevitably result from Trump’s rollback of decades of necessary regulation, enormous budget deficits from the GOP’s tax cuts, neutralization of decades of progress on health care and rollback of the New Deal.

With Betsy De Vos appointed as Secretary of Education, the already dismal, frightening civic awareness of our public school students figures to get worse. In and of itself, that is cause for extreme pessimism.

As our society disintegrates from the interplay of various economic, political and military factors, the calls for “someone to do something” to repair our dysfunctional society are likely to increase exponentially.

“. . . . When, 2011, the World Values Survey asked US citizens in their late teens and early 20s whether democracy was a good way to run a country, about a quarter said it was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad,’ an increase of one-third since the late 1990s. Among citizens of all ages, 1 in 6 now say in would be fine for the ‘army to rule,’ up from 1 in 16 in 1995. In a different national survey, about two-thirds of Americans could not name all three branches of the federal government or which party controlled the House of Representatives. In a third study, almost half of the respondents said the government should be permitted to prohibit a peaceful march. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

  • Review of the Habsburg role in Ukraine.
  • Review of Karl von Habsburg and his UNPO.
  • Review of Karl von Habsburg’s marriage to Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza and, through that, the Bormann capital network.
  • Review of the intimate proximity of the House of Habsburg and the House of Liechtenstein.
  • Review of House of Liechtenstein cousin Martin Wachter’s stewardship of a Bank al-Taqwa subsidiary.
  • Review of the Habsburg proximity to the death of Antonin Scalia, which may have helped to solidify the GOP behind Trump.

1. The thrust of the broadcast is that the ascension of Trump–an American Caligula–is indeed the end of what Henry Luce called “The American Century.” The author is a former editor for Time magazine and a former State Department officer, so his literal take on Luce’s pronouncement is not surprising.

What Stengel is talking about is the end of “Brand America,” to coin a phrase–the successful PR marketing of this country as the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, etc.

That political mythology, which compelled much of Mr. Emory’s initial involvement in this research when he began in the early ’70s, will evaporate. That dissipation, however, will be eclipsed by the devastating economic, environmental, social and political devastation that will surely follow Trump’s policies.

“The End of the American Century” by Richard Stengel; The Atlantic; 1/26/2017.

The inaugural address of Donald Trump did not contain the word justice or cooperation or ideals or morals or truth or charity. It has only one reference to freedom. It did mention carnage and crime and tombstones and a variety of words never uttered before in a presidential inaugural. Since then, the president has doubled-down on his desire to build a wall on America’s Southern border and has said his administration will re-evaluate accepting refugees from designated Muslim countries and cut back by half the relatively small number of refugees accepted by the Obama administration. I spent seven years as editor of Time before I worked in the State Department as under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. While I was editor of Time, I never wanted to be the first of Luce’s successors to pronounce the end of the American Century. In part, this was because of a misunderstanding of the term. Most people thought it meant American power or hegemony and there was not much diminution in America’s global power. What it really means is America as a global model and guarantor of freedom and rule of law and fairness.

Trump ’s administration is the death knell of the American Century. . . .

2. As Mr. Emory forecast in FTR #’s 918 and 919, among other programs in the “Trumpenkampfverbande” series, Trump’s anti-NATO rhetoric and general disparaging of the Atlanticist alliances that have held sway during the better part of “The American Century” are focused on precipitating the Underground Reich goals of: an all-EU army replacing NATO, a German-dominate Europe  assuming center stage in world affairs, and the forging of an economic alliance with Russia (following Russian concessions on Ukraine) that will give “Corporate Germany” economic domination over the Earth Island.

This article heralds Mr. Emory’s prognostications. We do not feel Trump is necessarily conscious of his role. In the age of mind control, what goes on between a given individual’s ears is impossible to gauge, past a point.

“The Moment of the Europeans;” german-foreign-policy.com; 1/18/2017.

Germany’s top politicians are calling on the EU to close ranks behind Europe’s “central power,” Germany, following President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent declarations in an interview. Trump suggested the possibility of “deals” with Russia, predicted the further disintegration of the EU and pointed to Germany’s dominant role within the EU. A new Russian-American world order is looming, according to Elmar Brok (CDU), Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is therefore imperative that the EU “close ranks.” Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed a similar opinion. Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, called for Russian and US disarmament and for enhancing the EU’s militarization. He recommended that “German nuclear armament” not be discussed – at least “at the moment.”

“Vehicle for Germany”

Donald Trump’s declarations in a recent interview have provoked Berlin’s call for the EU to close ranks. In his interview with the German “Bild” and the British “Times,” Trump called NATO “obsolete,” because only five member countries are investing the generally agreed two percent of their respective GDPs in their armed forces. He also suggested the possibility of “some good deals” with Russia, hailed the Brexit and predicted that other members would leave the EU. He also pointed to Berlin’s dominant role in the EU – a fact that is no longer denied in Europe’s foreign policy establishment. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1]) “You look at the European Union, and it is Germany; basically, a vehicle for Germany,” Trump was quoted.[2]

Close Ranks on Military Policy

The prospect that Washington under Trump could reach agreements with Moscow on international policy issues without the EU – which, for years, has been crippled with crisis and actually is facing disintegration – has provoked indignant reactions from German foreign policy makers and appeals to close ranks. “If we fail now to close ranks in the field of security and foreign policy, we will be faced with a new world order under Russia’s President Putin and the new US President Trump,” Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs contended on Monday.[3] Already at the beginning of the year, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference had called for the EU to “speak more in unison in the future” and certainly not in the “cacophony of 27 or 28 European heads of states and governments.”[4] Germany’s Foreign Minister – who will soon become Germany’s President – Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared, following a meeting with his EU counterparts last Monday that it has “perhaps become again clearer to one or the other, just how important it is that Europe stands together and assumes common positions.”[5] Brok packaged his plea for a pan-EU closing of ranks into an appeal: “This is now the moment of the Europeans.”[6]

Disarm the Rivals

In Berlin, the contention is making the rounds that an eventual rapprochement between Washington and Moscow could be politically advantageous – not least of all to put the power struggle over Ukraine on ice. This would permit a roll back of sanctions on Russia and create new room for German companies to make lucrative business deals with the East – without relinquishing one’s own positions.[7] Thus, Ischinger alleges to have heard “courageous voices” in Kiev, who are prepared to forego membership in NATO. “A new US President Trump could talk to President Poroshenko in Kiev and Putin in Moscow and offer Ukraine security guarantees in exchange for renunciation of NATO membership,” explained the prominent diplomat.[8] It is also important that US-Russian negotiations reach an agreement on a new round in arms control. Disarmament must be sought. “More trust must be established again between the militaries, between NATO and Russia.” “I would make a plea for a round-the-clock jointly run crisis control center on neutral territory.” Ischinger did not mention whether he would consider Germany a suitable site.

Never Again “No War!”

While calling for US and Russian disarmament, Ischinger speaks out also for the further militarization of German and EU policy. “Putin” – meaning the conflicts concerning Ukraine and Syria – has clearly “demonstrated, how absolutely wrong it is to contend that there can be no military solutions,” he explained. Because the EU did not openly intervene militarily, “we, Europeans, … have once again been banned to the sidelines – a spectator position – which is not the appropriate role for the EU, the world’s largest trading and economic power, with a population of 500 million.”[9] He “would like to see” that “no responsible German politician” will repeat the sentence, “there can be no military solutions.” In fact, the EU is preparing – under German pressure – a considerable expansion of its foreign policy and military activities. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) Even in transatlantic relations, there is “no guarantee of cooperation for eternity with us Europeans,” declared Chancellor Merkel, last week.[11] That is why “Europe” must considerably expand it radius of political and military action.

The Question of the Bomb

Wolfgang Ischinger has begun to take the question of “German nuclear armament” into consideration. Currently, it is better to avoid a debate on the EU’s “own nuclear arsenal,” the German diplomat declared. The nuclear power Great Britain is leaving the EU, while the nuclear power France is not “willing and capable” of “Europeanizing its nuclear potential.” However, “at the moment,” it would be “a political mistake to debate an alternative of arming Germany with nuclear weapons,” also “because we would provide an argument to critics in Moscow and in Europe that the central power Germany not only seeks to dominate Europe with financial policy, but also – in violation of all treaties – joint control over nuclear weapons.”[12] Ischinger did not elaborate on what conditions could invalidate his argument of temporal limitation (“at the moment”), nor did he express conclusive arguments against Germany’s acquiring nuclear weapons.

[1] See Leading from the Center.
[2] Trump: “Merkel-Asylpolitik ein schlimmer Fehler”. www.krone.at 16.01.2017.
[3] “Wir müssen auf das Schlimmste gefasst sein”. www.welt.de 17.01.2017.
[4] “Maximale Unberechenbarkeit”. www.swr.de 03.01.2016.
[5] Außenminister Steinmeier nach dem EU-Außenrat. Pressemitteilung des Auswärtigen Amts. Berlin, 16.01.2017.
[6] “Wir müssen auf das Schlimmste gefasst sein”. www.welt.de 17.01.2017.
[7] See Ostgeschäfte and Reversal of Business Trend with Russia.
[8], [9] Daniel-Dylan Böhmer, Thorsten Jungholt: “Frau Merkel muss sich warm anziehen”. www.welt.de 13.01.2017.
[10] See The European War Union, Strategische Autonomie and Shock as Opportunity.
[11] Merkel: Keine “Ewigkeitsgarantie” für Unterstützung Europas durch die USA. www.welt.de 12.01.2017.
[12] Daniel-Dylan Böhmer, Thorsten Jungholt: “Frau Merkel muss sich warm anziehen”. www.welt.de 13.01.2017.

3. Among the various and sundry disastrous outcomes of Trump’s policies may well be a cyber-terrorist incident from a nation-state actor or a lone malefactor, this the result of a federal hiring freeze.

“What Does Trump’s Hiring Freeze Mean for Federal Cyber Shortage?” by Mohana Ravindranath; Nextgov; 1/24/2017.

On his first official day in office after inauguration, President Donald Trump has made good on his plan to institute a federal hiring freeze—part of his effort to slash the federal workforce. 

Details are sparse: Trump has said there would be exceptions for the military, and a White House memo notes the freeze would be waived “when necessary to meet national or public safety responsibilities.”

Some experts fear a temporary hiring freeze could exacerbate a chronic problem in the federal government: a widespread shortage of cybersecurity talent.

A hiring freeze could signal to essential cybersecurity talent—especially those who might consider joining the public sector from higher-paying industry jobs—that there’s no need or desire for them in the federal government, Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, told Nextgov. . . .

5. Exemplifying a disconnect that is sure to help bring our economy down, Labor Secretary Puzder lauds the value of machines over humans. While he is correct that machines do not do many things that he sees as counter-productive, he ignores the fact that machines don’t by food at Carl’s Junior or Hardees, the food chains for which he is chief executive. No machine has ever bought anything.

When automation, inflation of the price of consumer goods that are imported and have had tariffs slapped on them by “The Donald,” lack of health care forcing working people to devote increasingly scarce resources toward maintaining their and/or their families’ health, the subversion of minimum wage, overtime and unionization laws and statutes and increasing concentration of economic ownership have brought American consumers to their knees, our consumer-based economy will collapse.

“Donald Trump’s Pick for Labor Secretary Has Said Machines Are Cheaper, Easier to Manage than Humans” by Steven Overly; The Washington Post ; 12/8/2016.

Fast food executive Andrew Puzder, who President-elect Donald Trump is expected to tap as labor secretary, has advocated replacing some human workers with machines as a way for businesses to reduce costs associated with rising wages and health-care expenses.

While machines require regular maintenance and can sometimes malfunction, Puzder said, they are also easier to manage than humans and don’t pose the same legal risks. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” Puzder told Business Insider in March.

Puzder serves as the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the corporate parent behind fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. . . .

6. With Betsy De Vos appointed as Secretary of Education, the already dismal, frightening civic awareness of our public school students figures to get worse. In and of itself, that is cause for extreme pessimism.

As our society disintegrates from the interplay of various economic, political and military factors, the calls for “someone to do something” to repair our dysfunctional society are likely to increase exponentially.

“Bully Pulpit” by Kristina Rizca; Mother Jones; January/February 2017.

. . . . When, 2011, the World Values Survey asked US citizens in their late teens and early 20s whether democracy was a good way to run a country, about a quarter said it was “bad” or “very bad,” an increase of one-third since the late 1990s. Among citizens of all ages, 1 in 6 now say in would be fine for the “army to rule,” up from 1 in 16 in 1995. In a different national survey, about two-thirds of Americans could not name all three branches of the federal government or which party controlled the House of Representatives. In a third study, almost half of the respondents said the government should be permitted to prohibit a peaceful march. . . .

Discussion

17 comments for “FTR #944 Fireside Rant: WTF Is Going On? The Caligulization of America and the End of the American Century”

  1. Here’s a reminder of how the Trump administration’s embrace of politics of xenophobia and open loathing of ‘foreigners’ isn’t just an attack on the US’s international reputation and “soft power” ability to influence the world. As the psychological effects of Trump’s “Muslim ban”, and broader ‘foreigners get out, we hate you!’ agenda takes hold and reduces the pool of international students interested in studying the US, all of that foreign money for US universities is going to fall too. And it’s money that’s effectively subsidizing US students since the foreign students tend to pay in full:

    Business Insider

    International students are now ‘subsidizing’ public American universities to the tune of $9 billion a year

    Tanza Loudenback
    Sep. 16, 2016, 12:02 PM

    Nearly 1 million international students study at colleges and universities across the United States, up 40% from a decade ago.

    These students are heading stateside to gain access to the best higher education in the worldand they’re paying top dollar for it.

    In fact, recent data from SelfScore, a company providing financial services to international students, reveals that foreign students pay up to three times more than in-state students at public universities, “effectively subsidizing tuition costs for domestic students and functioning as a bailout for universities.”

    International students are crucial to the US economy in two primary ways: They’re financing a chunk of education costs for public universities and their domestic students, and they’re fueling the US tech industry.

    The data suggests the relationship between US public colleges and foreign students grows increasingly interdependent.

    In 2015, the country’s public universities gleaned more than $9 billion in tuition and fees from foreign students, according to SelfScore’s analysis. That’s about 28% of annual tuition revenue coming from foreign students, who make up an average of just 12% of the student population. Private institutions are no exception to enrolling high numbers of international students, but data is more difficult to come by, and their tuition costs will vary less student-to-student.

    At Arizona State University, the public university with the largest number of international students (10,678 students, or about 14% of the total student population), in-state undergraduates pay $10,370, non-Arizona resident undergraduates pay $26,470, and international undergraduates pay $28,270 in base tuition and fees for the 2016-17 academic year.

    On top of paying significantly higher tuition costs, international students are largely paying out of pocket for their education at public colleges. According to SelfScore, American banks don’t recognize foreign students’ credit histories often until after they’ve graduated and entered the US labor market, disabling them from securing financial aid or student loans.

    About 72% of funding for international college students comes from personal and family funds, as well as home country government or university assistance, according to the US Commerce and Education departments.

    As of 2015, China, India, and South Korea sent the highest numbers of students to US colleges. And they’re not only helping out colleges and domestic students. In the 2014-15 academic year, international student enrollment supported about 373,300 total US jobs and contributed more than $30 billion to the US economy.

    Foreign students are also fueling Silicon Valley

    Of the 974,926 foreign undergraduate and graduate students studying in the US, about half are currently studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics, thus “creating a solid pipeline of talent for jobs in the US technology sector,” writes Kalpesh Kapadiam, cofounder and CEO of SelfScore, in an article for Tech Crunch.

    “In fact, recent data from SelfScore, a company providing financial services to international students, reveals that foreign students pay up to three times more than in-state students at public universities, “effectively subsidizing tuition costs for domestic students and functioning as a bailout for universities.””

    Yeah, somehow it doesn’t seem like an open White Nationalist administration is going to help with the recruitment of foreign students. Especially after a “Muslim ban” of seven countries that’s only likely to grow. And keep in mind that you almost couldn’t ask for a more effective means of projecting US “soft power” than to have a bunch of students come to the US and generally have a great experience and then tell their friends back home about it. And if they’re coming for a xenophobic society themselves, having a great experience in an environment that promotes and respects diversity is basically PR gold.

    But it looks like the US doesn’t want that PR gold anymore. Or the effective subsidy for American student. Hopefully Trump and the GOP Congress are at least planning on increasing funds to subsidize American students. LOL!

    All that said, there is one area of study where we could see a surge of international foreign student interest: Bible study:

    NBC News

    Jerry Falwell Jr. Asked to Lead Trump Higher Education Task Force

    by Alex Johnson

    Jan 31 2017, 9:43 pm ET

    Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., one of the nation’s most prominent evangelical Christian leaders, has been asked to head a White House task force on reforming the U.S. higher education system, the Virginia college told NBC News on Tuesday night.

    Len Stevens, the university’s chief spokesman, told NBC News that Falwell would bring a focus on “overregulation and micromanagement of higher education” to the task force.

    Falwell wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday evening. In the past, he has argued that the federal government imposes too many regulations governing accreditation and financing of U.S. colleges and universities.

    Falwell is a lawyer and the son of the private evangelical college’s founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, co-founder of the Moral Majority and an architect of the conservative Christian political movement that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980.

    He has said he was offered the position of education secretary in the Trump administration late last year but declined because he wanted to stay close to his family in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the university is based. He enthusiastically endorsed Trump’s eventual nominee, Betsy DeVos.

    Falwell was one of the first major evangelical leaders to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, along with James Dobson, founder of Family Talk Radio and the advocacy group Focus on the Family; Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative Family Research Council; and Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and former executive director of evangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition.

    Exit polling on Election Day indicated that about 80 percent of white evangelical voters supported Trump, consistent with white evangelical support for Republican candidates for more than 30 years. (Black evangelical voters, who historically are strongly Democratic, are generally considered a separate political demographic in many polls.)

    He has said he was offered the position of education secretary in the Trump administration late last year but declined because he wanted to stay close to his family in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the university is based. He enthusiastically endorsed Trump’s eventual nominee, Betsy DeVos.”

    Yep, Jerry Falwell Jr. was Trump’s first pick to education secretary. At least if he’s telling the truth, but considering who Trump picked instead, Betsy DeVoss, it’s not like it’s unimaginable to Falwell was the first pick. So that almost happened. And now, instead, Falwell is apparently going to heading up some sort of higher education task force. So if you’re a student interested in studying religion the Bible, things are presumably going to be looking up for religious schools. Especially really crappy religious schools that can’t current get any sort of accreditation:


    Falwell wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday evening. In the past, he has argued that the federal government imposes too many regulations governing accreditation and financing of U.S. colleges and universities.

    But don’t assume Falwell will just be out to help placers like his own Liberty University. He’s got a much bigger group of colleges he’s going to be championing: for-profit schools with high rates of student defaults and useless diplomas:

    The New York Times

    With Falwell as Education Adviser, His Own College Could Benefit

    Kevin Carey
    FEB. 1, 2017

    On Tuesday, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, would lead a Trump administration task force charged with deregulating American higher education.

    In describing his goals, Mr. Falwell focused on rolling back a series of initiatives that the Obama administration viewed as preventing abuses by predatory for-profit colleges. “The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” Mr. Falwell told a Chronicle reporter.

    One nonprofit university that could benefit from this kind of regulatory retrenchment is Liberty University itself.

    In describing his goals, Mr. Falwell alluded to two Obama initiatives: tightened standards for accrediting organizations that grant colleges access to federal financial aid, and new regulations that govern how students who have been cheated by fraudulent colleges can have their student loans forgiven.

    The Obama accreditation standards were used last summer to shut down the accrediting organization that oversaw the corporate chains ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, both of which collapsed in bankruptcy after multiple allegations of wrongdoing. The same organization oversaw numerous other for-profit schools with a history of high student loan default rates and deceit.

    The Department of Education then created new regulations to aid students who had been left holding large loan balances and worthless diplomas. In addition to granting those students debt relief, the department created new college performance standards, devised to prevent future fraud from occurring.

    Some fraudulent colleges made enormous sums of money by enrolling tens of thousands of students online — an approach that can provide many benefits when done well, but also creates potential for abuse.

    It makes sense that President Trump would turn to Mr. Falwell for advice in this area. Liberty University provided a prominent platform for Mr. Trump to reach evangelical Christians early in the Republican primary campaign. (It’s where he gave the “Two Corinthians” speech.)

    And Liberty, at first glance, isn’t in the same category as for-profit colleges. It enrolls about 14,000 students, most of whom are evangelical Christians, at its residential campus in Lynchburg, Va. But it also enrolls an additional 65,000 students online. Most colleges now have a mix of residential and online students, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online students as residential students.

    Because internet courses are inexpensive to deliver at scale, the online division is a huge revenue driver for Liberty, which brought in $591 million in tuition in 2013, against $470 million in expenses. Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns an enormous for-profit college.

    The giant for-profit University of Phoenix enrolls more online students (over 100,000) than any other college. And the second-largest online enrollment? Liberty. Financially, the main difference between Liberty and the University of Phoenix is that Liberty doesn’t pay taxes. Liberty’s marketing and recruitment are driven by an 800-person telemarketing call center located in a former Sears department store near the main campus.

    Most of the tuition for Liberty’s online students comes from financial aid provided by the federal Department of Education, the same body that Mr. Falwell says is engaged in “overreaching regulation.”

    In 2015, Liberty received $347 million from federal undergraduate grant and loan programs. Few other private nonprofit colleges receive anything like that sum. To put the amount in perspective, the highly regarded University of Virginia, a nearby state university, received $37 million from the same sources that year. Arizona State, the nation’s largest public university, received $169 million. Liberty’s considerable financial success — it has built a $1 billion cash reserve, and Mr. Falwell is paid more than $900,000 a year — was underwritten largely by the federal taxpayer.

    Unfortunately, many Liberty students are struggling to pay back their federal loans. Around 9 percent default within three years of graduating, ruining their credit ratings and creating financial burdens that are nearly impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. Among all private nonprofit four-year colleges, the average default rate is 6.5 percent.

    Most Liberty students avoid default, but many are making no progress in reducing their loan balances. Only 38 percent of Liberty borrowers manage to pay down as little as one dollar on their student loan principal within three years of leaving school. This is probably because many struggle to land well-paying jobs. Forty-one percent of former Liberty students earn less than $25,000 per year — the typical salary for people with only a high school diploma at age 25 — six years after entering college.

    The Obama administration’s borrower protections require for-profit colleges with loan repayment rates below 50 percent to prominently note this fact, like lung cancer warnings on the side of a cigarette package, in promotional materials. The label must read, verbatim, “U.S. Department of Education Warning: A majority of recent student loan borrowers at this school are not paying down their loans.”

    Because it is technically a nonprofit (albeit a very profitable one), Liberty is exempt from these rules. But the fact remains that Mr. Falwell seems bent on repealing regulations that, in the standards they set for minimally acceptable results, paint his own university in a bad light. And because it is exempt from for-profit regulations, Liberty is ultimately accountable only to state regulators and the college’s accrediting organization.

    In describing his goals, Mr. Falwell focused on rolling back a series of initiatives that the Obama administration viewed as preventing abuses by predatory for-profit colleges. “The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” Mr. Falwell told a Chronicle reporter.

    More freedom for for-profit schools to fleece students! Yay. This should do wonders for US higher education.

    But note that Falwell’s plan does sort of create a path for US universities to maintain high levels of foreign student enrollment despite Trump’s growing ‘foreigners out!’ agenda: By championing for-profit online universities, all those students who are either banned from entering the US or simply don’t want to go to a country that officially hates them can instead enroll online. For a degree that wouldn’t have been accredited before but will be soon. For profit. And perhaps a bit of usury. Soon to be legal usury:


    In describing his goals, Mr. Falwell alluded to two Obama initiatives: tightened standards for accrediting organizations that grant colleges access to federal financial aid, and new regulations that govern how students who have been cheated by fraudulent colleges can have their student loans forgiven.

    The Department of Education then created new regulations to aid students who had been left holding large loan balances and worthless diplomas. In addition to granting those students debt relief, the department created new college performance standards, devised to prevent future fraud from occurring.

    Some fraudulent colleges made enormous sums of money by enrolling tens of thousands of students online — an approach that can provide many benefits when done well, but also creates potential for abuse.

    And Liberty, at first glance, isn’t in the same category as for-profit colleges. It enrolls about 14,000 students, most of whom are evangelical Christians, at its residential campus in Lynchburg, Va. But it also enrolls an additional 65,000 students online. Most colleges now have a mix of residential and online students, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online students as residential students.

    Because internet courses are inexpensive to deliver at scale, the online division is a huge revenue driver for Liberty, which brought in $591 million in tuition in 2013, against $470 million in expenses. Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns an enormous for-profit college.

    The giant for-profit University of Phoenix enrolls more online students (over 100,000) than any other college. And the second-largest online enrollment? Liberty. Financially, the main difference between Liberty and the University of Phoenix is that Liberty doesn’t pay taxes. Liberty’s marketing and recruitment are driven by an 800-person telemarketing call center located in a former Sears department store near the main campus.

    So there we go: while Trump’s Muslim ban might be the start of a new period of an officially sanctioned ‘we hate your foreigners, go away!’ US government attitude seemingly designed to send foreign students elsewhere, at least some of those students will still be able to study in the US. At a predatory for-profit online university that issues previously worthless diplomas.

    #MAGA

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2017, 4:08 pm
  2. Not that we needed another reminder that the Team Trump is also Team Neo-Nazi, but Team Neo-Nazi decided to give us another reminder anyway, so here it is:

    Reuters

    Exclusive: Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam – sources

    By Julia Edwards Ainsley, Dustin Volz and Kristina Cooke | WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO
    Wed Feb 1, 2017 | 8:10pm EST

    The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

    The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

    Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries.

    The CVE program aims to deter groups or potential lone attackers through community partnerships and educational programs or counter-messaging campaigns in cooperation with companies such as Google (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O).

    Some proponents of the program fear that rebranding it could make it more difficult for the government to work with Muslims already hesitant to trust the new administration, particularly after Trump issued an executive order last Friday temporarily blocking travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

    Still, the CVE program, which focuses on U.S. residents and is separate from a military effort to fight extremism online, has been criticized even by some supporters as ineffective.

    A source who has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the program said Trump transition team members first met with a CVE task force in December and floated the idea of changing the name and focus.

    In a meeting last Thursday attended by senior staff for DHS Secretary John Kelly, government employees were asked to defend why they chose certain community organizations as recipients of CVE program grants, said the source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

    Although CVE funding has been appropriated by Congress and the grant recipients were notified in the final days of the Obama administration, the money still may not go out the door, the source said, adding that Kelly is reviewing the matter.

    The department declined comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

    PROGRAM CRITICIZED

    Some Republicans in Congress have long assailed the program as politically correct and ineffective, asserting that singling out and using the term “radical Islam” as the trigger for many violent attacks would help focus deterrence efforts.

    Others counter that branding the problem as “radical Islam” would only serve to alienate more than three million Americans who practice Islam peacefully.

    Many community groups, meanwhile, had already been cautious about the program, partly over concerns that it could double as a surveillance tool for law enforcement.

    Hoda Hawa, director of policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said she was told last week by people within DHS that there was a push to refocus the CVE effort from tackling all violent ideology to only Islamist extremism.

    “That is concerning for us because they are targeting a faith group and casting it under a net of suspicion,” she said.

    Another source familiar with the matter was told last week by a DHS official that a name change would take place. Three other sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such plans had been discussed but were unable to attest whether they had been finalized.

    The Obama administration sought to foster relationships with community groups to engage them in the counterterrorism effort. In 2016, Congress appropriated $10 million in grants for CVE efforts and DHS awarded the first round of grants on Jan. 13, a week before Trump was inaugurated.

    Among those approved were local governments, city police departments, universities and non-profit organizations. In addition to organizations dedicated to combating Islamic State’s recruitment in the United States, grants also went to Life After Hate, which rehabilitates former neo-Nazis and other domestic extremists.

    Just in the past two years, authorities blamed radical and violent ideologies as the motives for a white supremacist’s shooting rampage inside a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina and Islamist militants for shootings and bombings in California, Florida and New York.

    “The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

    And in other news, a far-right Trump fan shot up a mosque in Quebec, killing 6 and wounding 8 others. But that, of course, was in Canada. It could never happen in America. Again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 1, 2017, 7:04 pm
  3. News today is Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch’s founding of the Fascism Forever Club while enrolled at his private Georgetown prep school.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4182852/Trump-s-SCOTUS-pick-founded-club-called-Fascism-Forever.html

    Just warms the heart, doesn’t it?

    Posted by Sampson | February 2, 2017, 7:26 am
  4. With Donald Trump once again attempting to undercut the authority of a federal judge who ruled against – the first time being Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel ruling against Trump in his Trump University fraud case and now Trump railing” against the federal “so-called judge who temporarily blocked his 7-country travel ban – along with his firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates for her refusal to implement that travel van, it’s worth keeping in mind that the current fight over the constitutionality of Trump’s travel ban executive order is going to be dwarfed by the future fights tucked away his immigration-related executive orders. Like the order that could see 8 million undocumented immigrants deported for everything from letting their kids eat a free school lunch, to using medical services for the poor, or basically any reason an immigration agent comes up with. Possibly involving immediate deportation without a hearing:

    The Los Angeles Times

    8 million people could be deported under Trump’s immigration order

    By Brian Bennet
    February 4, 2017, 12:00 PM

    When President Trump ordered a vast overhaul of immigration law enforcement during his first week in office, he stripped away most restrictions on who should be deported, opening the door for roundups and detentions on a scale not seen in nearly a decade.

    Up to 8 million people in the country illegally could be considered priorities for deportation, according to calculations by the Los Angeles Times. They were based on interviews with experts who studied the order and two internal documents that signal immigration officials are taking an expansive view of Trump’s directive.

    Far from targeting only “bad hombres,” as Trump has said repeatedly, his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be booked into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches.

    The deportation targets are a much larger group than those swept up in the travel bans that sowed chaos at airports and seized public attention over the past week. Fewer than 1 million people came to the U.S. over the past decade from the seven countries from which most visitors are temporarily blocked.

    Deportations of this scale, which has not been publicly totaled before, could have widely felt consequences: Families would be separated. Businesses catering to immigrant customers may be shuttered. Crops could be left to rot, unpicked, as agricultural and other industries that rely on immigrant workforces face labor shortages. U.S. relations could be strained with countries that stand to receive an influx of deported people, particularly in Latin America. Even the Social Security system, which many immigrants working illegally pay into under fake identification numbers, would take a hit.

    The new instructions represent a wide expansion of President Obama’s focus on deporting only recent arrivals, repeat immigration violators and people with multiple criminal violations. Under the Obama administration, only about 1.4 million people were considered priorities for removal.

    “We are going back to enforcement chaos — they are going to give lip service to going after criminals, but they really are going to round up everybody they can get their hands on,” said David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. and an immigration lawyer for more than two decades.

    Trump’s orders instruct officers to deport not only those convicted of crimes, but also those who aren’t charged but are believed to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

    That category applies to the 6 million people believed to have entered the U.S. without passing through an official border crossing. The rest of the 11.1 million people in the country illegally, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, are believed to have entered on a valid visa and stayed past its expiration date.

    Also among those 11.1 million are about 8 million jobholders, Pew found. The vast majority have worked in violation of the law by stating on federal employment forms that they were legally allowed to work. Trump’s order calls for targeting anyone who lied on the forms.

    Trump’s deportation priorities also include smaller groups whose totals remain elusive: people in the country illegally who are charged with crimes that have not yet been adjudicated and those who receive an improper welfare benefit, used a fake identity card, were found driving without a license or received federal food assistance.

    An additional executive order under consideration would block entry to anyone the U.S. believes may use benefit programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according two Trump administration officials who have seen the draft order.

    The changes reflect an effort to deter illegal migration by increasing the threat of deportation and cutting off access to social services and work opportunities, an approach that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called “self-deportation.”

    The White House insisted that it is intent on rooting out those who endanger Americans. Trump aides pointed to 124 people who were released from immigration custody from 2010 to 2015 who went on to be charged with murder, according to immigration data provided to Congress by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    “It’s not that 6 million people are priorities for removal, it is the dangerous criminals hiding among those millions who are no longer able to hide,” said a White House official who would not be named describing internal policy debates.

    “We’ve gone from a situation where ICE officers have no discretion to enhance public safety and their hands are totally tied, to allowing ICE officers to engage in preventative policing and to go after known public safety threats and stop terrible crimes from happening.”

    The changes, some of which have already begun with more expected in the coming months, set the stage for sweeping deportations last seen in the final years of the George W. Bush administration. Factories and meatpacking plants were raided after talks with Congress over comprehensive immigration reform broke down in 2007.

    After Obama took office, his administration stopped those worksite raids and restricted deportation priorities. Expulsions of people settled and working in the U.S. fell more than 70% from 2009 to 2016.

    That era has come to an end.

    Although immigration agents will want to go after criminals and people who pose national security risks, Trump’s order gives them leeway and marks a return to “traditional enforcement,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates for restrictions on immigration.

    “Almost everyone who is here illegally could potentially be considered a priority,” Vaughan said.

    Just how many people are swept up will depend on new instructions being drafted for immigration agents that will be rolled out over the next several months. But already, signs point to immigration officials embracing Trump’s order.

    In late January, Trump’s immigration policy experts gave a 20-page document to top Homeland Security officials that lays out how to ramp up immigration enforcement, according to two people familiar with the memo. A list of steps included nearly doubling the number of people held in immigration detention to 80,000 per day, as well as clamping down on programs that allow people to leave immigration custody and check in with federal agents or wear an ankle monitor while their cases play out in immigration court.

    The instructions also propose allowing Border Patrol agents to provide translation assistance to local law enforcement, a practice that was stopped in 2012 over concerns that it was contributing to racial profiling.

    In addition, Homeland Security officials have circulated an 11-page memo on how to enact Trump’s order. Among other steps, that document suggests expanding the use of a deportation process that bypasses immigration courts and allows officers to expel foreigners immediately upon capture. The process, called expedited removal, now applies only to immigrants who are arrested within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of illegally crossing over and who don’t express a credible fear of persecution back home. The program could be expanded farther from the border and target those who have lived in the U.S. illegally for up to two years.

    ““We are going back to enforcement chaos — they are going to give lip service to going after criminals, but they really are going to round up everybody they can get their hands on,” said David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. and an immigration lawyer for more than two decades.”

    Well, it looks like exploitation of the undocumented immigrant community – one of the most vulnerable members of American society (yes, the undocumented immigrants are actually a member of the society they’re living in by virtue of living in it whether you like it or not) – is about to explode since no one is going to want any contact with law enforcement. But they won’t just go without reporting crimes. They’ll also go with basic medical services and meals for their kids:


    Far from targeting only “bad hombres,” as Trump has said repeatedly, his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be booked into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches.

    An additional executive order under consideration would block entry to anyone the U.S. believes may use benefit programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according two Trump administration officials who have seen the draft order.

    So get ready for a much sicker undocumented immigrant community too. Along with the predictable ‘immigrants bring disease’ far-right memes. Along those lines, whenever you read any quotes from the Center for Immigration Studies (like this one):

    Although immigration agents will want to go after criminals and people who pose national security risks, Trump’s order gives them leeway and marks a return to “traditional enforcement,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates for restrictions on immigration.

    “Almost everyone who is here illegally could potentially be considered a priority,” Vaughan said.

    keep in mind that the Center for Immigration Studies is a far-right group with ties to the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund, FAIR, and what would today be labeled the “Alt-Right”.

    Also note how rapidly the number of people either expelled or held in detention could expand given the broadness of the executive order. And that could include vastly expanding the number of people who could be immediately expelled (or held) without processing through immigration courts:

    In addition, Homeland Security officials have circulated an 11-page memo on how to enact Trump’s order. Among other steps, that document suggests expanding the use of a deportation process that bypasses immigration courts and allows officers to expel foreigners immediately upon capture. The process, called expedited removal, now applies only to immigrants who are arrested within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of illegally crossing over and who don’t express a credible fear of persecution back home. The program could be expanded farther from the border and target those who have lived in the U.S. illegally for up to two years.

    So one of the big questions going forward is just how is this surge in the number of people going to logistically happen. Well, as the article below notes, Steve Bannon has a plan for that:

    Newsweek

    Steve Bannon’s Fever Dream of an American Gulag

    By Jeff Stein On 2/2/17 at 9:56 AM

    UPDATED | Imagine: Miles upon miles of new concrete jails stretching across the scrub-brush horizons of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, with millions of people incarcerated in orange jumpsuits and awaiting deportation.

    Such is the fevered vision of a little-noticed segment of President Donald Trump’s sulfurous executive order on border security and immigration enforcement security. Section 5 of the January 25 order calls for the “immediate” construction of detention facilities and allocation of personnel and legal resources “to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico” and process them for deportation. But another, much overlooked, order signed the same day spells out, in ominous terms, who will go.

    Trump promised a week after the November elections that he would expel or imprison some 2 million or 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions—a number that exists mainly in his imagination. (Only about 820,000 undocumented immigrants currently have a criminal record, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Many of those have traffic infractions and other misdemeanors.)

    “Some 6 million to 8 million people in the country illegally could be considered priorities for deportation,” according to calculations by the Los Angeles Times.

    The spectre of new, pop-up jails housing hundreds of thousands of people is as powerful a fright-dream for liberals as it is a triumph for the president’s “America first” svengali, Steve Bannon. But, like the fuzzy Trump order dropping the gate on travelers from seven Muslim-majority states, the deportation measure presents so many fiscal and legal restraints that is also looks suspiciously like just another act of ideological showboating from the rumpled White House strategy chief.

    “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly promised to the writer Ronald Radosh at a party at his Capitol Hill townhouse last summer. “Lenin,” he said of the Russian revolutionary, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

    The executive orders were “not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House,” Department of Homeland Security officials conceded in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to a statement from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. They were all Bannon-style revolutionary theater.

    Mainstream Republicans, watch out: If you oppose the deportation orders, you may end up like Eric Cantor, the not-conservative-enough House majority leader from Virginia brought down with Bannon’s help by a virtually unknown, far-right college economics professor, Dave Brat, in the 2014 election. Two years later, Cantor still could not fathom the success of Bannon’s politics of resentment and hate. “Negativity, attack and anger will not be a sustainable campaign narrative in the general election,” he predicted in a June 2016 interview with The Washington Post. “It will not.”

    Yes, it will, to borrow a line from Barack Obama. And they’ve only just begun.

    “Even as confusion, internal dissent and widespread condemnation greeted President Trump’s travel ban and crackdown on refugees this weekend, senior White House aides say they are are only getting started,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.”

    How broadly radical their vision is can be seen in “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” the companion order to the travel ban, which lists aliens for “prioritize[d] removal.” It includes those who “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” and also aliens who have “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.”

    In other words, some targets can be deported because a DHS agent believes the person has broken a law of any kind, “regardless of whether that person has been charged with a crime,” as one analyst put it. And what does “abusing” a welfare-oriented program mean? Judges and lawyers could be fouled up with that matter alone for years.

    Other candidates for the Trump roundup include aliens who have made “a willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a government agency.”

    What is “any official matter”?

    “If these items were not broad enough,” noted Walter Pincus, the venerated former Washington Post national security reporter, “the final category for being detained for deportation is ‘in the judgment of an immigration officer, [the aliens] otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.’”

    “If ever a category encouraged racial profiling, that is it,” Pincus wrote for the Cypher Brief, a new publication by intelligence professionals covering national security issues.

    But it’s not just racial profiling. The new militancy unleashed by Trump’s campaign and election seems to be empowering the administration’s most fired up supporters, and at least some authorities to take out their rage on white protesters as well. Last week, a 22-year-veteran New York cop posted a video of a protester in Washington being struck in the face, twice, by an anonymous passerby. “The officer shared the video on his Facebook wall with the text, ‘Grow up bitches and get a job,’” according to a report by ProPublica. “Two retired Port Authority police officers joined in, saying, ‘This needs to happen more often!’ and ‘Thats [sic] what the [sic] all need, a little ass kicking.’”

    Bannon, the former executive editor of far-right Breitbart News, presumably would approve. “If there’s an explosion or a fire somewhere,” Matthew Boyle, Breitbart’s Washington political editor, said in 2015, “Steve’s probably nearby with some matches.”

    The former Goldman Sachs investment banker has amassed immense sway in the White House, not just over Trump, but over the machinery of foreign and domestic policy, including the deportations plan. The president gave him a seat on the elite “principals committee” of the White House National Security Council, effectively bestowing him parity with cabinet chiefs, including the secretary of homeland security. Democrats are complaining that the appointment should require Senate confirmation.

    Trump will ignore them. The personalities of the grandiose president and the self-described Leninist perfectly mesh, especially on matters involving immigrants and the Department of Homeland Security, where they are replacing Obama holdovers with officials who have with impressive track records for rounding up and deporting aliens.

    One of them is Thomas Homan, who Trump just elevated to run ICE, the homeland security department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau. “The White House cited his success expanding arrests and detention beds for the recent surge in children and families fleeing violence in Central America,” The Washington Post reported. ”While the number of deportations of illegal immigrants with criminal records has declined in recent years, last year this group made up almost 60 percent of the total number expelled from the country, the largest percentage in recent memory, ICE officials said.” The White House also removed Mark A. Morgan, the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, who had clashed with the powerful Border Patrol union, which endorsed Trump for president.

    What will bog down the administration’s promise to round up and deport millions of immigrants is Congress—not so much its Republican majority’s distaste for the program, but paying for it. Trump has authorized the hiring of 10,000 additional immigration officers, as well as 5,000 additional Border Patrol officers. “Between the two, he has called for the hiring of more government employees than his highly publicized saving of manufacturing jobs at Carrier and Ford,” Pincus noted. The White House order also directs DHS to make money available to “immediately assign asylum officers to immigration detention facilities for the purpose of accepting asylum referrals.” The Justice Department has been told to get with the program, as White House spokesman Sean Spicer advised unhappy foreign service officers—and fast. The executive order directs it to “immediately assign immigration judges to immigration detention facilities.”

    All this thrashing about resembles nothing so much as the botched rollout of the administration’s travel entry ban—with an important difference. All it took to implement the airport chaos was an order and a few hundred confused, overwhelmed Transportation Security Administration agents and officials. In sharp contrast, the detention and deportment orders mostly require tons more bricks-and-mortar construction and an immense influx of new federal agents — all subjected to “extreme vetting,” one presumes, considering the recent spike in corruption in the border patrol service.

    Pincus noted that Mark Sandy, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, rushed out a statement saying the White House “anticipated…increased costs,” not only in the current budget but in those beyond, for “steps related to immigration enforcement” as well as for “a wall along the southern border.” All that will require vast amounts of money from the only governmental body that has it: Congress.

    “To fully implement [the detention] part of the executive order would require Congress to appropriate funds to the specific project,” says Kate Brannen, deputy managing editor of Just Security, which covers the intersection of law, national security and human rights.

    “Until then, [DHS] Secretary [John] Kelly will be limited in how much money he can move around in his budget for it, which is why it says ‘legally available resources.’”

    Expect DHS to start advertising for bids from private prison operators, a much-maligned industry that was collapsing in the latter years of the Obama administration. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., are already seeing windfalls from their second chance at life: Their stock prices have nearly doubled since the election.

    “Expect DHS to start advertising for bids from private prison operators, a much-maligned industry that was collapsing in the latter years of the Obama administration. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., are already seeing windfalls from their second chance at life: Their stock prices have nearly doubled since the election.”

    A massive network of new private prisons to hold the millions of people Trump and Bannon are planning on rounding up and expelling. That’s the plan.

    Also keep in mind that, while there’s almost no way the GOP isn’t going to end up exploding the deficit to pay for all the tax cuts for the rich, the GOP is still almost certainly going to be using “revenue neutrality” as a rallying cry for justifying widespread cuts to federal programs. Specifically, whenever there’s a new spending program, the GOP is going to say “we need to make this new spending program revenue-neutral, which means we’re going to have to make cuts elsewhere to pay for it (and ignore our budget-busting tax cuts)”. And the only way to keep this construction blitz cost-neutral is to cut federal discretionary programs…especially federal welfare programs. So in order to stop undocumented immigrants from using US welfare programs, Trump and the GOP will build a new gulag that will almost certainly be paid for by cutting US welfare programs.

    At least now we know what Trump’s real infrastructure program is going to look like.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 4, 2017, 3:45 pm
  5. And now word from your Dear Leader: Any negative polls about Dear Leader’s popularity or the popularity of his executive orders in the opening weeks of his never-ending rule are fake news. It’s all fake. Everyone loves Dear Leader and his policies. So it has been decreed. On Twitter:

    The Washington Post

    President Trump’s simplistic, illogical worldview, in one tweet

    By Aaron Blake
    February 6, 2017 at 10:19 AM

    President Trump has finally admitted to his overarching theory about which polls are right and which ones are wrong. And it’s very simple:

    Polls that are bad for Trump = wrong

    This isn’t much of a surprise; Trump has been bashing any poll that is bad for him and praising any poll that is good for him — no matter how dubious the quality — for as long as he’s been a politician. But few politicians would cop to this approach so directly. And yet, here’s Trump’s Monday morning tweet:

    Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017

    “Any negative polls are fake news.” This is Trump signaling to his supporters that they are to dismiss any bad news about him. Never mind the methodology of a given poll or how Trump is actually doing as president; if something is negative, it has to be wrong.

    This is at once a completely Trump worldview and also one that would get any student taking Statistics 101 a failing grade. Trump insists in his next tweet that he relies on the “accumulation of data” to make his decisions, but in this tweet, he is expressing contempt for any data that don’t fit his preconceived notions or desires.

    Poll-doubterism is an increasingly popular practice in this country, given how wrong some polls were in the 2016 election. The media largely overshot those polls’ predictive qualities when it said (and we’re over-generalizing “the media” here, yes) that Trump wouldn’t win. And so Trump is tilling fertile soil here.

    But his approach just has no basis in logic. It’s almost alogical, rather than illogical. It’s also allowing for Trump to do basically anything and claim a vast conspiracy against him by pollsters when they show people don’t like it. Unemployment could skyrocket and Trump could start World War III by accident, and the polls showing him unpopular would just be “fake news.” There is no limit to the power Trump is attempting to assert when it comes to leading his base.

    It’s worth noting here that these same national polls that he’s bashing were only about 1 point off in 2016 — on average — and even if they’re 5 or 15 points off today, he was still the most unpopular president-elect in modern history. It’s just not close.

    Those very real statistics aside, Trump is throwing this blanket policy over all polling for a clear reason: Because basically every poll shows him and his policies treading water.

    * His average approval rating is lower than his disapproval rating, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
    * A new CNN poll showed 53 percent disapproved of his travel ban executive order, vs. 47 percent who approved. A CBS News poll showed Americans disapprove of it 51-45. And Gallup showed 55-42 against.
    * The Gallup poll showed Americans opposed his border wall, 60-38.
    * Gallup also showed they oppose halting the Syrian refugee program, 58-36.
    * The CBS poll showed people believed banning refugees went against the founding principles of the United States, 57-35.
    * A Quinnipiac poll last week showed people thought Trump would be a worse president than Barack Obama, 50-37.
    * Polls have shown 7 in 10 would like more information on Trump’s finances and his tax returns.

    The total picture is of a president who simply isn’t doing all that well in the eyes of the American people — to varying degrees. On this point, the polls are almost completely united.

    And that’s completely realistic, given Trump is doing very divisive and controversial things. It’s no surprise that the American people would be split on his ideas given the tenor of his policies and the tone he takes with his political opponents. If Trump were trying hard to make everyone love him, it would be one thing. He’s not.

    “But his approach just has no basis in logic. It’s almost alogical, rather than illogical. It’s also allowing for Trump to do basically anything and claim a vast conspiracy against him by pollsters when they show people don’t like it. Unemployment could skyrocket and Trump could start World War III by accident, and the polls showing him unpopular would just be “fake news.” There is no limit to the power Trump is attempting to assert when it comes to leading his base.

    Everybody got that? All news is good news if its Trump news. If you hear bad Trump news, it’s fake news. Fake news probably designed to distract people from all the terrorist attacks the media refuses to cover:

    The Washington Post

    President Trump is now speculating that the media is covering up terrorist attacks

    By Philip Bump
    February 6, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, President Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks.

    “You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,” he said to the assembled military leaders. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

    The comment immediately harked back to comments from senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC last week.

    “I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” she said. “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

    It was brand-new information to people because there was no “Bowling Green massacre.” Conway had referred to the supposed terrorist attack previously, including in response to a question posed by TMZ. But the two Iraqis arrested in Bowling Green, Ky., in 2011 never committed an attack in the United States. She later admitted that she’d misspoken.

    Trump’s comment goes far further than Conway’s, though. Her statement that “it didn’t get covered” probably referred to the alleged “six-month ban” from the Obama administration. (That this, too, didn’t happen has been somewhat swept under the rug.) Trump is positing that the media actively suppresses news of terrorist attacks to fulfill a political agenda.

    It’s certainly true that not every terrorist attack receives broad coverage in the national media. FiveThirtyEight looked at the likelihood that a terrorist attack in a foreign country would be covered by the New York Times, looking at coverage of 40,129 attacks from 1968 to 2009. Not every attack received coverage over that period. Last spring, the Los Angeles Times set out to log every single terrorist attack in the month of April, counting 180 attacks that killed 858 people. Not every one of those attacks made your local nightly newscast.

    But filtering what to cover is very different than suppressing information. On any given day, local newspapers and news broadcasts decide what to spend resources on. If your home is burglarized, it may not make the cut. This probably isn’t because the Channel 5 news director has a vendetta against you; it’s that there are limited resources.

    Trump’s comment is very much in line with comments he made last June about President Barack Obama.

    “Look guys, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has something else in mind,” Trump said about Obama’s response to the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando. “And the something else in mind — people can’t believe it. People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There’s something going on.”

    The clear implication: Obama is on the side of the terrorists. Trump didn’t quite say that the media was siding with the terrorists, just that the media would happily ignore terrorism if it made Trump look bad.

    Interestingly, Trump himself ignored the mass shooting that occurred at a mosque in Quebec last week, killing six people. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told the media that the president and the Canadian prime minister had spoken, but Trump himself declined to weigh in. (Spicer cited the attack mostly as somehow validating Trump’s immigration policies.)

    Trump did tweet about another attack.

    A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2017

    In that one, no one was killed.

    Trump has consistently seen attacks like that in Quebec — committed by a young man who espoused anti-Muslim politics and defended Trump online — as isolated incidents from mentally disturbed individuals, while attacks by Muslims are part of a broader pattern spurred by radical Islamism. He sees an institution behind attacks by Muslims that he doesn’t see behind attacks like that in Quebec or in Charleston in 2015. That helps explain why he is willing to focus the country’s anti-terrorism efforts solely on terrorism committed in the name of Islam: He doesn’t see how other threats are systemic.

    With his comments on Monday, Trump implied that the media is complicit in making terrorists successful. It’s part of a recent pattern of suggesting that others are standing in the way of his terrorism-fighting efforts, which includes disparaging a federal judge who halted his immigration executive order.

    Conway’s comments about Bowling Green earned her an enormous amount of public mockery — an undue amount, given the likelihood that her comments were a mistake rather than an intentional lie. Trump’s comments are of an entirely different order and magnitude.

    Trump’s relationship with the media has never been strong during his time in politics. But he’s never before tried to push the media into the “against us” circle alongside those who commit acts of terrorism — at least, not so explicitly.

    “With his comments on Monday, Trump implied that the media is complicit in making terrorists successful. It’s part of a recent pattern of suggesting that others are standing in the way of his terrorism-fighting efforts, which includes disparaging a federal judge who halted his immigration executive order.

    Remember, if you’re in the media, you’re either cover a terrorist attack or you are a terrorist. Or at least a terrorist sympathizer. Like Barack Obama. So says Dear Leader:

    Trump’s comment is very much in line with comments he made last June about President Barack Obama.

    “Look guys, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or has something else in mind,” Trump said about Obama’s response to the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando. “And the something else in mind — people can’t believe it. People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There’s something going on.”

    The clear implication: Obama is on the side of the terrorists. Trump didn’t quite say that the media was siding with the terrorists, just that the media would happily ignore terrorism if it made Trump look bad.

    Interestingly, Trump himself ignored the mass shooting that occurred at a mosque in Quebec last week, killing six people. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told the media that the president and the Canadian prime minister had spoken, but Trump himself declined to weigh in. (Spicer cited the attack mostly as somehow validating Trump’s immigration policies.)

    Remember. The most important thing a journalist can do is give as much media attention to every terrorist attack as possible. And be sure to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism” over and over. It’s what the terrorists fear most. Unless it’s non-Islamic terrorism in which case your time is probably better spent covering one of the many acts of Islamic terrorism the press will no doubt be ignoring.

    Also, any reports about Dear Leader employing fake news is just fake news. And if you read any reports describing anything other than joyful discipline in the spirit of public service on the part of the White House team, that’s all fake news too. Especially any reports that Dear Leader might have his own Dear Leader:

    Politico

    Trump leans on ‘fake news’ line to combat reports of West Wing dysfunction

    The president appears especially irked by the growing narrative of Bannon as the real power in the White House.

    By Eli Stokols and Nolan D. McCaskill

    02/06/17 01:09 PM EST
    Updated 02/06/17 02:15 PM EST

    President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out via Twitter at a series of news reports revealing the turmoil inside the White House, leaning on his crutch of “fake news” as he struggles to control a hardening narrative about a dysfunctional West Wing.

    One of his missives came from Air Force One en route to Tampa, Florida, as Trump panned a New York Times report that detailed the friction inside his administration and its early stumbles.

    “The failing @nytimes writes total fiction concerning me. They have gotten it wrong for two years, and now are making up stories & sources!” Trump tweeted at 11:32 a.m., ignoring the fact that many of his top advisers were quoted by name in the story.

    Trump seemed particularly incensed by reports and parodies about chief strategist Steve Bannon being the actual decision-maker in the White House.

    “I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!” Trump tweeted.

    The message came at 7:01 a.m., 52 minutes after Joe Scarborough, whose MSNBC morning show the president is known to watch religiously, suggested that “maybe Bannon’s calling all the shots.”

    Scarborough’s comments — and Trump’s frustrations — are the outgrowth of a media narrative that has mushroomed over the past several days, initially with Bannon’s face gracing last week’s Time magazine cover, which declared him “The Great Manipulator,” and then in stinging satire, on “Saturday Night Live,” that presented Bannon as the real owner of the Resolute Desk.

    The sketch comedy franchise opened with Alec Baldwin portraying the president in the Oval Office, where he was joined by Bannon, dressed as the grim reaper while indulging Trump’s worst impulses by encouraging his bellicosity during calls to foreign leaders.

    The skit parodied reports of Trump’s poor statesmanship during the calls and brought to life The New York Times’ editorial board’s opinion last week — headlined “President Bannon?” — suggesting that the former Breitbart executive “is positioning himself … as the de facto president.”

    In the story that drew Trump’s ire Monday, the Times also reported that Bannon is “the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council.”

    Two weeks after an adviser memorably characterized falsehoods coming from the White House as “alternative facts,” Trump is increasingly turning to his “fake news” line to try to puncture swelling storylines that are unflattering to his nascent presidency and counter the unfounded claims from the White House. That’s despite the fact that not too long ago, Trump’s critics were the ones pushing the “fake news” term to describe false reports that proliferated on the internet during the presidential campaign to boost Trump’s candidacy.

    Even right-leaning Fox News is questioning some of the baseless claims coming from Trump and his team. In an interview that aired as part of Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show, Bill O’Reilly twice pressed Trump to back up his unfounded assertion about millions of illegal votes during last year’s election.

    “You say things you can’t back up factually, and as the president, if you say, for example, that there are 3 million illegal aliens who voted and then you don’t have the data to back it up, some people are gonna say that it’s irresponsible for a president to say that,” O’Reilly said to Trump. “Is there any validity to that?”

    “Many people have come out and said I’m right. You know that,” the president responded.

    “I know, but you’ve gotta have data to back that up,” O’Reilly shot back.

    Moments later, as the president repeated his unfounded claim, O’Reilly pressed again for more corroboration.

    “A lot of people have come out and said that I am correct,” Trump said.

    “But the data has to show that 3 million illegals voted,” O’Reilly countered.

    “Forget that,” Trump said. “Forget all of that.”

    “Trump seemed particularly incensed by reports and parodies about chief strategist Steve Bannon being the actual decision-maker in the White House.”

    Is Steve Bannon the real power behind the throne? If so, no one told Trump about it, apparently. And he’s clearly not going to take it well when he finds out so it’s best that no one mentions it:

    “I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!” Trump tweeted.

    The message came at 7:01 a.m., 52 minutes after Joe Scarborough, whose MSNBC morning show the president is known to watch religiously, suggested that “maybe Bannon’s calling all the shots.”

    Scarborough’s comments — and Trump’s frustrations — are the outgrowth of a media narrative that has mushroomed over the past several days, initially with Bannon’s face gracing last week’s Time magazine cover, which declared him “The Great Manipulator,” and then in stinging satire, on “Saturday Night Live,” that presented Bannon as the real owner of the Resolute Desk.

    The sketch comedy franchise opened with Alec Baldwin portraying the president in the Oval Office, where he was joined by Bannon, dressed as the grim reaper while indulging Trump’s worst impulses by encouraging his bellicosity during calls to foreign leaders.

    The skit parodied reports of Trump’s poor statesmanship during the calls and brought to life The New York Times’ editorial board’s opinion last week — headlined “President Bannon?” — suggesting that the former Breitbart executive “is positioning himself … as the de facto president.”

    In the story that drew Trump’s ire Monday, the Times also reported that Bannon is “the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council.”

    Two weeks after an adviser memorably characterized falsehoods coming from the White House as “alternative facts,” Trump is increasingly turning to his “fake news” line to try to puncture swelling storylines that are unflattering to his nascent presidency and counter the unfounded claims from the White House. That’s despite the fact that not too long ago, Trump’s critics were the ones pushing the “fake news” term to describe false reports that proliferated on the internet during the presidential campaign to boost Trump’s candidacy.

    Who’s the shot-caller? Dear Leader is the shot-caller. That’s who. And anything that says otherwise is totally fake news from a terrorist-sympathizing fake news media. Remember all of that. And forget anything that contradicts it or anything else in conflict with Dear Leader’s vision of what is, was, and always will be:


    Even right-leaning Fox News is questioning some of the baseless claims coming from Trump and his team. In an interview that aired as part of Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show, Bill O’Reilly twice pressed Trump to back up his unfounded assertion about millions of illegal votes during last year’s election.

    “You say things you can’t back up factually, and as the president, if you say, for example, that there are 3 million illegal aliens who voted and then you don’t have the data to back it up, some people are gonna say that it’s irresponsible for a president to say that,” O’Reilly said to Trump. “Is there any validity to that?”

    “Many people have come out and said I’m right. You know that,” the president responded.

    “I know, but you’ve gotta have data to back that up,” O’Reilly shot back.

    Moments later, as the president repeated his unfounded claim, O’Reilly pressed again for more corroboration.

    “A lot of people have come out and said that I am correct,” Trump said.

    “But the data has to show that 3 million illegals voted,” O’Reilly countered.

    “Forget that,” Trump said. “Forget all of that.”

    “”Forget that,” Trump said. “Forget all of that.””

    Remember. If something sullies the memory of Dear Leader, forget it. All of it. Especially anything about Dear Leader’s brain not being the best brain ever and maybe perhaps experiences some brain problems. Be sure to forget that stuff. And then return to the pleasant, acceptable memories. If you don’t you’re a terrorist sympathizer. It has been decreed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2017, 3:53 pm
  6. Paul Krugman has some good news/bad news for Donald Trump’s ego (and mostly good news for the health of the US stock markets): based on Krugman’s analysis, we don’t have to worry about a ‘Trump bubble’ in US stocks despite all of Donald Trump’s claims about how much optimism he’s created because stocks haven’t actually shot up all that much since Trump won.

    But that doesn’t mean there haven’t be major winners. Goldman Sachs, for starters. But check out which sector of the stock market has been experiencing a surge since Trump won reelection due largely to Trump-related optimism: Uranium mining stocks:

    CNN Money

    Uranium stocks are booming, thanks to Trump

    Uranium stocks are, uhhh, going nuclear lately thanks to hopes that Donald Trump and his administration will be more willing to invest in nuclear power.

    by Paul R. La Monica
    January 20, 2017: 11:09 AM ET

    The Global X Uranium ETF (URA), a basket of several big uranium mining stocks, is up nearly 40% since Election Day.

    The fund has soared more than 25% this year alone — despite the fact that its largest holding, Canadian uranium miner Cameco (CCJ), plunged nearly 20% on Wednesday after warning of a loss due to lower production at a mine in Kazakhstan.

    Cameco also announced that it will be cutting more than 100 jobs at mines in Saskatchewan.

    But Cameco’s stock, even with the drubbing it took earlier this week, is still up more than 15% this year. It rebounded sharply on Thursday and Friday.

    The optimism seems almost entirely due to Trump.

    In an interview with Canada’s BNN network this week, Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel said that “we’ve heard some encouraging words from the Trump team on nuclear power. We’re optimistic that will help our nuclear industry.”

    So far, Trump hasn’t said much about investing in nuclear power since the election. His most notable comment about nuclear energy was actually a tweet about nuclear weapons a few days before Christmas.

    Trump wrote that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

    Trump’s energy secretary nominee Rick Perry, the former governor of oil-rich Texas, hasn’t talked much about nuclear power either.

    But investors are clinging to the hope that Trump is pro-nuclear power, partly because of comments he made nearly six years ago after the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011 after an earthquake hit the area.

    “I’m in favor of nuclear energy, very strongly in favor of nuclear energy,” Trump said in an appearance on Fox News. “If a plane goes down people keep flying. If you get into an auto crash people keep driving.”

    Bloomberg also reported last month that members of Trump’s transition team have reached out to the Energy Department about finding ways to help keep more nuclear power plants running.

    Several large plants have already closed. And Entergy (ETR) recently reached an agreement with New York state to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City by 2021.

    So the fact that Trump appears to be committed to keeping the industry alive is being viewed as a significant win by investors.

    “So the fact that Trump appears to be committed to keeping the industry alive is being viewed as a significant win by investors.”

    Could investor optimism that Trump will save the nuclear power industry would create a surge in market expectations that could lead to a 40 percent rise in uranium mining stocks? It seems plausible. But let’s not forget this part:

    So far, Trump hasn’t said much about investing in nuclear power since the election. His most notable comment about nuclear energy was actually a tweet about nuclear weapons a few days before Christmas.

    Trump wrote that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

    Yep, Trump wants more nukes. Not more nuclear plants. More nuclear weapons. Or at least upgraded nuclear weapons. But since this is Trump we’re talking about it’s safe to assume he’d like more actual nukes too. And that’s probably going to require a lot more uranium mining.

    So given how sensitive the uranium mining industry is Trump’s nuclear whims, you have to wonder where those stocks are heading after this report:

    Reuters

    Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty – sources

    By Jonathan Landay and David Rohde | WASHINGTON
    Thu Feb 9, 2017 | 3:34pm EST

    In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

    When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

    Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.

    “The president’s conversation with President Putin is a private call between the two of them, and I’m going to leave it at that,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said when asked about the accounts of the call.

    It has not been previously reported that Trump had conveyed his doubt about New START to Putin in the hour-long call.

    New START gives both countries until February 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, the lowest level in decades. It also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.

    During a debate in the 2016 presidential election, Trump said Russia had “outsmarted” the United States with the treaty, which he called “START-Up.” He asserted incorrectly then that it had allowed Russia to continue to produce nuclear warheads while the United States could not.

    Two Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senators Jeanne Shaheen and Edward J. Markey, criticized Trump for deriding what they called a key nuclear arms control accord.

    “It’s impossible to overstate the negligence of the president of the United States not knowing basic facts about nuclear policy and arms control,” Shaheen said in a statement. “New START has unquestionably made our country safer, an opinion widely shared by national security experts on both sides of the aisle.”

    Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based advocacy group, said: “Unfortunately, Mr. Trump appears to be clueless about the value of this key nuclear risk reduction treaty and the unique dangers of nuclear weapons.”

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he supported the treaty during his Senate confirmation hearings.

    During the hearings Tillerson said it was important for the United States to “stay engaged with Russia, hold them accountable to commitments made under the New START and also ensure our accountability as well.”

    Two of the people who described the conversation were briefed by current administration officials who read detailed notes taken during the call. One of the two was shown portions of the notes. A third source was also briefed on the call.

    Reuters has not reviewed the notes taken of the call, which are classified.

    The Kremlin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    CONCERNS OVER PHONE CALLS

    The phone call with Putin has added to concerns that Trump is not adequately prepared for discussions with foreign leaders.

    Typically, before a telephone call with a foreign leader, a president receives a written in-depth briefing paper drafted by National Security Council staff after consultations with the relevant agencies, including the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies, two former senior officials said.

    Just before the call, the president also usually receives an oral “pre-briefing” from his national security adviser and top subject-matter aide, they said.

    Trump did not receive a briefing from Russia experts with the NSC and intelligence agencies before the Putin call, two of the sources said. Reuters was unable to determine if Trump received a briefing from his national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    In the phone call, the Russian leader raised the possibility of reviving talks on a range of disputes and suggested extending New START, the sources said.

    New START can be extended for another five years, beyond 2021, by mutual agreement. Unless they agree to do that or negotiate new cuts, the world’s two biggest nuclear powers would be freed from the treaty’s limits, potentially setting the stage for a new arms race.

    New START was ratified by the U.S. Senate in December 2010 by a vote of 71 to 26. Thirteen Republican senators joined all of the Senate’s Democrats in voting for the treaty, although Republican opponents derided it as naive.

    “The phone call with Putin has added to concerns that Trump is not adequately prepared for discussions with foreign leaders.”

    Uh, yeah, that sounds like a rather concerning phone call:


    When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

    Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.

    But it clearly wouldn’t be very concerning for the uranium mining industry! So now that this report of the Trump-Putin phone call of Doom came out it’ll be interesting to see where those stocks go. along with the stocks for the rest of the nuclear weapons industry.

    So is a nuclear weapons industry stock bubble just around the corner? Well, yes, along with an ‘everything else’ bubble assuming current Trumpian trends continue.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 9, 2017, 3:51 pm
  7. As Mr. Emory stated/predicted, Germany is moving toward global hegemon as they now introduce the “logic” as to whey they should accumulate their own nuclear arsenal:

    http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/59005

    Behold the fruit of Ostpolitik.

    Posted by Sampson | February 10, 2017, 8:16 am
  8. Is Donald Trump a compulsive liar? Like the type of person who just can’t help stop themselves from lying even when it’s obvious that the lie will be exposed? Or is there a method to his madness? It’s a question increasingly worth asking given the obvious signs of madness:

    CNN

    Trump falsely accuses senator of misrepresenting Gorsuch criticism

    By Jeremy Diamond
    Updated 3:22 PM ET, Thu February 9, 2017

    Washington (CNN) Updated at 3:20 p.m.: White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday Trump “absolutely” stands by his selection of Gorsuch.

    President Donald Trump falsely accused a Democratic senator Thursday of misrepresenting his Supreme Court his Supreme Court nominee’s words, according to several familiar with the incident.

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee, told him he found Trump’s attack on a federal judge on Twitter “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”

    Within a half-hour, Gorsuch spokesman Ron Bonjean, who was tapped by the White House to head communications for Gorsuch, confirmed that the nominee, Gorsuch, used those words in his meeting with Blumenthal. Several other senators, including Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, later relayed similar accounts of Gorsuch forcefully criticizing Trump’s public attacks on the judiciary branch.

    And on Thursday, Blumenthal said on MSNBC Gorsuch specifically told him he “should feel free to mention what I said about these attacks being disheartening and demoralizing.”

    But none of that stopped Trump from firing off a shot against Blumenthal — and at the same time raising questions about the coherence of the White House’s messaging.

    “Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

    Sen.Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie),now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017

    Gorsuch’s criticism came in response to Trump’s recent criticism of federal judges who have ruled against his immigration ban or appear poised to do so, in particular in reference to one of the President’s tweets slamming one of those judges as a “so-called judge.”

    “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted last Saturday.

    Bonjean had confirmed Gorsuch called Trump’s tweet about the “so-called judge” “disheartening” and “demoralizing” in his conversation with Blumenthal.

    Blumenthal, meanwhile, stood by his accounting of Gorsuch’s comments, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” Thursday morning he “absolutely and accurately” stated what Gorsuch told him.

    “I think that the President needs to hear from Judge Gorsuch about exactly what he is saying to myself and Senate colleagues,” Blumenthal said. “Maybe he simply hasn’t been informed and that’s the reason for his tweet.”

    Former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is helping shepherd Gorsuch’s nomination on the Hill said in a statement Thursday Gorsuch has told senators “he finds any criticism of a judge’s integrity and independence disheartening and demoralizing.”

    Ayotte added the judge has made clear he “could not comment on any specific cases and that judicial ethics prevent him from commenting on political matters.”

    Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska also confirmed Thursday that Gorsuch criticized Trump’s attacks on the federal judge in a meeting with him as well.

    Sasse said Gorsuch “got pretty passionate” about the topic, particularly when he asked Gorsuch about Trump’s “so-called judge” tweet.

    “This is a guy who welled up with some energy. He said any attack on any brothers or sisters of the robe is an attack on all judges. He believes in an an independent judiciary,” Sasse said Thursday morning on MSNBC.

    “Within a half-hour, Gorsuch spokesman Ron Bonjean, who was tapped by the White House to head communications for Gorsuch, confirmed that the nominee, Gorsuch, used those words in his meeting with Blumenthal. Several other senators, including Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, later relayed similar accounts of Gorsuch forcefully criticizing Trump’s public attacks on the judiciary branch.”

    So within a half-hour of the reports that Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee told Senators that he felt Trump’s attacks on the judiciary were “disheartening” and “demoralizing”, multiple people, including GOP Senator Ben Sasse, confirm the comments. And former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte backed it up. And yet Trump feels compelled to tweet out about how it was a misrepresentation.

    Again, is there a method to the madness or is this just madness? Well, if there’s a method to the madness, it’s a method that apparently involves telling obvious and unconvincing lies that make the audience uncomfortable:

    Politico

    Trump brings up vote fraud again, this time in meeting with senators

    ‘An uncomfortable silence’ momentarily overtook the room, said one participant.

    By Eli Stokols

    02/10/17 02:35 PM EST
    Updated 02/10/17 05:30 PM EST

    President Donald Trump can’t stop—won’t stop—talking about the election.

    On Thursday, during a meeting with 10 senators that was billed as a listening session about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the president went off on a familiar tangent, suggesting again that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that he won the presidential election.

    As soon as the door closed and the reporters allowed to observe for a few minutes had been ushered out, Trump began to talk about the election, participants said, triggered by the presence of former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her reelection bid in November and is now working for Trump as a Capitol Hill liaison, or “Sherpa,” on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

    The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” of people who were “brought in on buses” from neighboring Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire.

    According to one participant who described the meeting, “an uncomfortable silence” momentarily overtook the room.

    Hillary Clinton narrowly won New Hampshire’s four electoral votes over Trump by nearly 3,000 votes. Ayotte’s margin of defeat was even slimmer: 743 votes.

    The former senator could not be reached for comment Friday, but a GOP source familiar with the meeting noted that Trump also thanked Ayotte twice during the meeting for agreeing to serve as a congressional emissary for Gorsuch.

    Trump also teased Ayotte, who distanced herself from him last summer after he attacked the parents of a Muslim Gold Star soldier for criticizing him during the Democratic Convention, saying that he wished she’d worked to help his campaign the way she was working to help Gorsuch. “He told her, ‘You’d have won if you’d been on my train,’” one participant recalled.

    During the meeting, Trump also reacted to Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren being silenced on the Senate floor while trying to read a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King and in objection to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions before he was confirmed as attorney general. According to participants in Thursday’s meeting, Trump referred to Warren several times as “Pocahontas,” the moniker he gave her during his campaign, and told the Democrats he was glad Warren is becoming the face of “your party.”

    His persistent and unfounded fraud claim is a sign that Trump, who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, continues to see himself as a victim of widespread voter fraud.

    Just days after taking office last month, Trump tweeted a claim that as many as 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the November election, enough to account for his popular vote deficit. He has not followed through on his vow to oversee a federal voter-fraud investigation.

    Republicans and Democrats who oversee elections at the state level have repeatedly said there is little evidence of fraud and no need for such an investigation.

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Pressed about Trump’s unfounded claims during a White House briefing after Trump’s inauguration, press secretary Sean Spicer defended the president’s right to make such claims without explaining why he does so.

    “The president does believe that,” Spicer told reporters. “It’s a belief that he’s maintained for a while, a concern that he has about voter fraud. And that’s based on information that’s provided.”

    Thursday’s meeting was an attempt to foster bipartisan support for Gorsuch, whose confirmation requires 60 votes in the Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats. Attending were: Sens. Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Lamar Alexander, Chris Coons, Shelley Moore Capito, John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, Joe Donnelly and Michael Bennet.

    “According to one participant who described the meeting, “an uncomfortable silence” momentarily overtook the room.”

    So on the same day Trump blatantly lies to the world about the veracity of Neil Gorsuch “disheartening” and “demoralizing” comments, which were confirmed by former Senator Kelly Ayotte, Trump holds a closed door meeting to discuss that nomination with a group of Senators, and also Kelly Ayotte, where he makes up another blatant lie. This time about the election that Kelly Ayotte herself just narrowly lost:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-apocalypse_us_5898f02ee4b040613138a951

    The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” of people who were “brought in on buses” from neighboring Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire.

    Republicans and Democrats who oversee elections at the state level have repeatedly said there is little evidence of fraud and no need for such an investigation.

    And, of course, uncomfortable silence followed. Because that’s what happens when people realize they’re standing next to a crazy person. They go silent and try to keep their distance.

    So if there’s a method, it appears to be a method intended to convince people he’s mad. And if that seems like an crazy strategy, keep in mind that it might make sense to seem mad if you’re consciously planning on doing something totally insane and totally horrible. At least you’ll sort of have an excuse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 10, 2017, 5:00 pm
  9. A federal appeals court voted unanimously to reject Donald Trump’s seven-country travel ban. So, of course, Trump tweeted about it:

    SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017

    Wow, all-caps. He seems rather miffed about it. But we shouldn’t necessarily assume that losing this court case disrupts the Trump/Bannon agenda. Especially if, as the article below that includes interviews with a number of former George W. Bush administration national security lawyers and counter-terrorism officials ominously reminds us, that agenda involves the undercutting of the co-equality of the US branches of government.

    Yes, George W. Bush administration officials – like John Yoo – are pretty confident another terrorist attack is coming (not an outlandish prediction) and also appear to be concerned that the Trump is about to use terror to grab and abuse executive powers and possibly suspend Posse Comitatus and habeas corpus. Folks like John Yoo are publicly warning us about this. *gulp*:

    The New Yorker

    How President Trump Could Seize More Power After a Terrorist Attack

    By Ryan Lizza
    February 7, 2017

    Since September 11, 2001, ninety-four people have been killed in the United States in ten attacks carried out by a total of twelve radical Islamist terrorists. Each of the attackers was either an American citizen or a legal resident. More than half of the ninety-four murders occurred last year, when Omar Mateen, who was born on Long Island, killed forty-nine people at a night club in Orlando.

    According to the comprehensive terrorism database maintained by the New America Foundation, since 9/11 there have been three hundred and ninety-six people involved in American terrorism cases, which New America defines as “individuals who are charged with or died engaging in jihadist terrorism or related activities inside the United States, and Americans accused of such activity abroad.” Eighty-three per cent of these individuals were American citizens or permanent residents. (Seventeen per cent were non-residents or had an unknown status.)

    And yet, for more than two weeks, President Donald Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist: jihadist refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

    It’s true that both worldwide terrorist attacks and terrorism-related cases against plotters in the United States have spiked since 2013, an increase largely attributed to the fallout from the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State. I talked to several counterterrorism experts this week, and they all believe that there will be another attack.

    “I do believe the world faces a serious and growing terrorist threat,” Evan McMullin, the former C.I.A. officer and Republican who ran for President as an independent candidate against Trump, said. “But Trump, either by ignorance or malice, is distorting the nature of that threat by targeting very well-vetted immigrants, including legal permanent residents and refugees. He simply does not have a strong national-security case to make against these people, which is why it is reasonable to wonder if he has some ulterior motive for taking such extreme steps against them.”

    Yesterday, Trump’s campaign to highlight this threat took a bizarre turn when he accused the media of burying coverage of terror attacks. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” he said in remarks to troops at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa. “In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons.” The White House later released a list of attacks since 2014 that it insisted had not received enough attention.

    This is the second time in a week that Trump has accused others of not understanding the threat posed by terrorism. Over the weekend, he used Twitter to attack the federal judge who put a halt to Trump’s immigration ban. He called James L. Robart, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, a “so-called judge,” and later added, “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

    One of the questions raised by Trump’s claims that the media and the courts have endangered the country is what he would do in the event of a terrorist attack.

    Jack Goldsmith, a former senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush Administration, who helped design the post-9/11 anti-terror legal architecture, recently suggested that Trump might actually want his travel ban to be overturned. That way, in the wake of an attack, he can use the judiciary as a bogeyman and justify any new efforts to push through more extreme measures.

    I asked Goldsmith and others what the menu of options might be for a President Trump empowered by the justifiable fears Americans would have in the aftermath of a serious attack. “If it is a large and grim attack, he might ask for more surveillance powers inside the U.S. (including fewer restrictions on data mingling and storage and queries), more immigration control power at the border, an exception to Posse Comitatus (which prohibits the military from law enforcement in the homeland), and perhaps more immigration-related detention powers,” Goldsmith wrote in an e-mail. “In the extreme scenario Trump could ask Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which would cut off the kind of access to courts you are seeing right now for everyone (or for every class of persons for which the writ is suspended).”

    He pointed out that President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and ignored courts that insisted he didn’t have such power. “The point of the example is that the only question is not what powers Trump might ‘ask for,’ ” Goldsmith said, “but also what powers he might assert or assume or grab, and what he can get away with.”

    John Yoo, who as a lawyer for the George W. Bush Administration was the fiercest defender of its most extreme post-9/11 policies, including the use of torture, recently wrote an Op-Ed in which he said he was alarmed by Trump’s attempt to expand the powers of the executive branch. (This was as if Trump had written an essay arguing that he was concerned about developers adding their names to buildings in lettering that was too large.) Yoo told me, “If there is another terrorist attack, I could see Trump seeking all of the powers that the President can exercise during wartime. The domestic powers would have to be approved by Congress, such as limitations on habeas, domestic warrantless surveillance, and an internal security act. We really haven’t had a system like that since the Second World War or the Communist cases of the nineteen-fifties.”

    Matt Olsen, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, told me that he didn’t agree with Goldsmith’s suggestion that Trump actually wants the executive order overturned, but he said that he thought Trump was laying the groundwork for arguments he might make after an attack. “This is a win-win for Trump,” Olsen said. “We can assume there will be another terrorist attack in the U.S. If the executive order is in place, he will point to the attack as support for the executive order and the need to expand it to other countries with bad dudes (Muslims). If the executive order has been struck down, Trump will blame judges and Democrats for the attack.”

    Olsen was also concerned that Trump might undo many of the changes that Barack Obama put in place to rein in the excesses of the Bush era. “As for other options in a post-attack scenario, just look back to 9/11,” he said. “C.I.A. black sites, enhanced interrogations, Gitmo, and warrantless surveillance will all be on the table. In addition, regardless of nationality, there will be changes to immigration and refugee policies.” He added that he could also imagine an effort to loosen restrictions on surveillance inside the United States.

    Todd Breasseale, the former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, was also alarmed. “I had a very similar discussion with a former senior intel official on this very issue, before Jack’s column,” he told me. “We both wholly believe that Trump needs a bogeyman. But, more importantly, he needs distraction and a blame source. In terrorists, he has his bogeyman. In his control of the prevailing press narrative via tweet, he has distraction. And, in the judiciary, he has a source of blame for why his way was right from the beginning.” Breasseale added, “I am fully confident that an attack is exactly what he wants and needs.”

    Trump’s efforts to hype the threat from terrorism during a period of domestic calm should be regarded with extreme skepticism. As McMullin noted, “Trump’s strange focus on the terrorist threat” was “out of step with reality at the moment” and was “a telltale sign of a leader contemplating policies that would otherwise be unacceptable.”

    “Trump’s efforts to hype the threat from terrorism during a period of domestic calm should be regarded with extreme skepticism. As McMullin noted, “Trump’s strange focus on the terrorist threat” was “out of step with reality at the moment” and was “a telltale sign of a leader contemplating policies that would otherwise be unacceptable.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty terrifying. As the article puts it, when you have figures like John Yoo warning against the use of terror threats as an excuse for executive overreach, it’s “as if Trump had written an essay arguing that he was concerned about developers adding their names to buildings in lettering that was too large”. That just happened, but not for developers adding their names to buildings in overly large lettering. It happened for terror-hysterics-catalyzed executive overreach. *double gulp*

    And on top of reports in Politico that Trump has has “privately expressed disbelief over the ability of judges, bureaucrats or lawmakers to delay — or even stop — him from filling positions and implementing policies”, a recent PPP poll suggests a majority of Trump voters share that sense of disbelief. *triple gulp*

    Rare.US

    Half of Trump voters think the president should just be able to ignore the judicial branch when it disagrees with him

    February 10, 2017 11:23 am

    President Trump’s administration has so far functioned as something of an unintentional national civics class, and though there are fair criticisms to be leveled about why these lessons weren’t learned during the past two administrations, I’m happy to see it happening now.

    This week, the topic of study is the role of the judicial branch, thanks to the ongoing court battle over Trump’s executive order temporarily prohibiting U.S. entrance from seven majority-Muslim countries plus all refugee admission.

    When an appeals court upheld a lower court’s suspension of the order, Trump reacted with Twitter rage, a relatively unsurprising development after he responded to the first ruling by questioning the legitimacy of the “so-called judge” involved.

    SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017

    According to Politico, Trump has “privately expressed disbelief over the ability of judges, bureaucrats or lawmakers to delay — or even stop — him from filling positions and implementing policies.”

    Many Americans share that same disbelief, a new survey by Public Policy Polling finds, with fully one in four saying Trump should simply be able to disregard court decisions he doesn’t like.

    Among Trump voters specifically, one in two hold that view.

    That is deeply unsettling.

    It is bad enough that our president clearly intends to push the overgrown authority of the executive branch far beyond its constitutional limits, using and expanding every power grab precedent set by his predecessors from both parties.

    But it is arguably even worse for the future of our political system that half of the voters who elected Trump are willing to completely toss out our Constitution’s checks and balances. Seriously, can you imagine the uproar among these very same people if President Obama had openly announced he would simply ignore the judiciary? If he claimed it’s cool for him to just override judges when he disagrees with them?

    To be clear, Trump has not made that claim, though it certainly seems like he wants to. It should not be difficult for us to understand how disastrous that would be for the rule of law in this country if Trump, Obama, or literally any president — no matter how good or bad we think their policies are — did what 51 percent of Trump voters want their guy to do.

    Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, made headlines this week when he labeled Trump’s “so-called judge” comments a “demoralizing” and “disheartening” reflection of this administration’s views on the independence and legitimacy of the judicial branch.

    That may have been a poor strategic move by a man whose nomination seems to be one of Trump’s best moves so far — I wouldn’t put it past this president to un-nominate him — but he was quite right. These poll results are demoralizing and disheartening, too.

    “Many Americans share that same disbelief, a new survey by Public Policy Polling finds, with fully one in four saying Trump should simply be able to disregard court decisions he doesn’t like.”

    So a quarter of Americans appear to be supportive of a president just overruling the courts. Maybe not all presidents. That’s not clear. But for Trump that seem to be ok with it. And, of course, this includes half of Trump’s voters:


    Among Trump voters specifically, one in two hold that view.

    That is deeply unsettling.

    It is bad enough that our president clearly intends to push the overgrown authority of the executive branch far beyond its constitutional limits, using and expanding every power grab precedent set by his predecessors from both parties.

    But it is arguably even worse for the future of our political system that half of the voters who elected Trump are willing to completely toss out our Constitution’s checks and balances. Seriously, can you imagine the uproar among these very same people if President Obama had openly announced he would simply ignore the judiciary? If he claimed it’s cool for him to just override judges when he disagrees with them?

    “Seriously, can you imagine the uproar among these very same people if President Obama had openly announced he would simply ignore the judiciary? If he claimed it’s cool for him to just override judges when he disagrees with them?”

    Yes, it’s unfortunately not hard to imagine what the response would be if President Obama was expressing skepticism that he had to abide by the courts. They’d probably be calling for impeachment at a minimum. And if the Democrats had complete control of both houses of Congress like the Republicans have today and were acting as if these musings about hypothetical power grabs was totally fine and normal, these same voters would probably be calling for a coup. Which is sort of what they’re calling for today, except with the president being the one to execute it.

    So, just to summarize, George W. Bush officials like John Yoo are now openly concerned about terror being used for extreme executive overreach and a majority of Trump voters appear to be for it. This is where we are. It’s not quite Bizarro world, but it’s close.

    You have to wonder if John Yoo is going to get waterboarded someday for these public warnings. Either way…*quadruple gulp*

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 11, 2017, 3:07 pm
  10. One of these days we’re going to have a 24-hour news cycle that doesn’t involve a story associating someone on the Trump team also being involved with something of a fascistic/neo-Nazi-ish nature. One of these days. But not today:

    Talking Points Memo
    DC

    Did Gorka Really Wear A Medal Linked To Nazi Ally To Trump Inaugural Ball?

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published February 13, 2017, 4:29 PM EDT

    During an interview with Fox News broadcast from one of President Trump’s inaugural balls, soon-to-be White House aide Sebastian Gorka wore a medal that some Hungarian news outlets and scholars identified with Miklós Horthy, the anti-Semitic World War II-era leader whose regime witnessed the murder of some 600,000 Hungarian Jews.

    Still days away from officially joining the Trump administration, Gorka, a former Breitbart News editor and self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert known for his hardline views on Islam, effused to Sean Hannity about the the death of “political correctness” in the Trump era. As the interview unfolded, Fox played clips of the President and First Lady dancing at the ball earlier in the evening.

    Gorka’s choice of dress, a black braided jacket known as a “bocskai” adorned with two medals, wouldn’t necessarily catch the eye of an American viewer. But some Hungarians who came across the interview interpreted the getup as a nod to the knightly order of merit Horthy founded in 1920, the Order of Vitéz. Right-wing Hungarian media in particular fixated on what it saw as Gorka’s callback to a resurgent native icon of the far-right.

    Hungarian scholars who spoke to TPM did not unanimously agree that the medal he wore on inauguration night could definitively be identified with Horthy’s Order of Vitéz. But they concurred that Gorka’s regalia is popular today among Hungary’s nationalist conservatives.

    András Biro-Nagy, a professor at Budapest’s Corvinus University, where Gorka did his Ph.D. studies, said that the “bocskai” he wore was popular during Horthy’s rule and today is often worn by members of the “right-wing” on special occasions. But he noted the medal has a distinct connotation.

    “The medal is a clear sign that he sympathizes with the Horthy era—this medal was awarded as a state honor only between 1920 and 1944,” Biro-Nagy told TPM.

    A few far-right Hungarian publications wrote up approving stories about Gorka’s attire shortly after inauguration.

    “We should focus on his outfit,” a blogger for Valasz, a conservative weekly news magazine, wrote in a Hungarian-language post that included a zoomed-in still photo of Gorka, according to an English-language translation of the post independently commissioned by TPM.

    “This is new proof that our little revolution has won! Sebastian Gorka, future advisor to Donald Trump, appeared on Fox News wearing none other than a bocskai!”

    The post also mentioned that “the medal with the crown and coat of arms (on the left) recalls the order of knights founded by Miklos Horthy.”

    Gorka’s late father, Paul, fled Hungary for the United Kingdom during a failed 1956 revolt against the Soviet-imposed government. The flyleaf of Paul Gorka’s book “Budapest Rising” identifies him as a recipient of the Order of Vitéz “for his bravery during the Resistance,” presumably a nod to his anti-communist efforts during the Soviet era. While the medal was awarded as a state honor only until 1944, the Order of Vitéz was reconstituted as a chivalric order in the late 20th century and still appears to award a medal similar to the one worn by Gorka.

    Other U.S. publications in recent days have suggested that Gorka chose to identify himself with a Nazi collaborator by wearing the Order of Vitéz medal on inauguration night. The legacy of Horthy himself remains disputed within Hungary, with the far right adopting him as a nationalist symbol since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

    Horthy was a Hungarian admiral and statesman who controlled the country from 1920 through 1944, and entered into an alliance with the Nazis early in World War II, according to the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum. Horthy’s paramilitary units killed hundreds of Jews, and 437,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz under his watch during the summer of 1944 alone, per the museum.

    Despite that brutal legacy, in the last few years Horthy has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among Hungary’s ultranationalist far-right, particularly in the Jobbik party, whose leaders have been accused of stoking anti-Semitism. Statues of Horthy have been erected in towns across Hungary, and conservatives have taken to wearing bocskai jackets to formal events.

    The contemporary right-wing sees Horthy as a patriotic strongman who helped rebuild Hungary after the devastation of World War I, while the left views him as a shameful symbol of the country’s collaboration with the Nazis, as Reuters has detailed. Horthy’s Order of Vitéz has a similarly complex legacy, as the U.S. State Department considered it an organization under Nazi control during World War II.

    George Deák, an independent historian and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, described the Order of Vitéz as a “tainted” but ambiguous symbol and cautioned to TPM that he could not say definitively that Gorka was wearing the order’s medal in the photos from the Liberty Ball, one of several inaugural balls.

    Deák noted that the chief architects of the 1944 mass deportation of Hungarian Jews, Secretary of State László Endre and Lt. Colonel László Ferenczy, were “proud members of the order.” He pointed out a small number of wealthy Jews allied themselves with the order as well.

    “Anti-Semitism was probably something shared among most of the members of that group, but it wasn’t explicitly anti-Semitic,” he said.

    Adrienn Mizsei, a Hungarian language professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told TPM that the medal of the Order of Vitéz became something of a hot commodity after the fall of socialism in Hungary. Despite Horthy’s WWII-era legacy, she said wearing the medal was not necessarily seen as an endorsement of that leader’s anti-Semitic views.

    “You can twist it in any way you want,” Mizsei told TPM, saying it could be interpreted as Gorka “honoring his dad’s heritage.”

    Nevertheless, it remains an undeniably loaded symbol.

    Asked if she would ever wear such a medal in public, Mizsei said, “Oh my God, no!”

    “Despite that brutal legacy, in the last few years Horthy has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among Hungary’s ultranationalist far-right, particularly in the Jobbik party, whose leaders have been accused of stoking anti-Semitism. Statues of Horthy have been erected in towns across Hungary, and conservatives have taken to wearing bocskai jackets to formal events.”

    So was this a Nazi shout-out or just a far-right Nazi-collaborator shout-out? Both?

    These are the fun kinds of questions we get to ask about the Trump administration. Pretty much every day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 13, 2017, 4:39 pm
  11. @Pterrafractyl–

    Far less subject to revisionist interpretation is Stephen Bannon’s affinity for fascist philosopher Julius Evola.

    An influence on Mussolini, Evola eventually abandoned them for the Nazi SS, with whom he was extensively networked.

    Here’s the “Times” story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/world/europe/bannon-vatican-julius-evola-fascism.html?_r=0

    For The Record has highlighted Evola for years.

    An overview of this guy, beloved by Stephen Bannon, is here:

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-233-kevin-coogans-conceptualization-of-the-order/

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 13, 2017, 9:38 pm
  12. Well, with the resignation of Michael Flynn as Trump’s National Security Advisor over the phone calls he was making to Russia’s Ambassador contradicting US policy on the same day then-President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for alleged pro-Trump meddling in the 2016 elections (and then later denying such discussions of hte sanctions took place), it looks like the Trump administration is getting an early start on what will no doubt be an long list of offenses. Potentially prosecutable offenses:

    Talking Points Memo
    Editor’s Blog

    Big Trouble

    By Josh Marshall
    Published February 14, 2017, 3:46 PM EDT

    Another shoe seems to have dropped. The New York Times just reported that in the short window of time between President Trump’s inauguration on January 20th and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warning to the White House on January 26th, the FBI interviewed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29th, 2016.

    What the Times story does not say is what Flynn said. But the logic of the report certainly leaves the impression that Flynn was less than truthful. If that’s the case, the Flynn’s dismissal just went from being a political scandal to major legal jeopardy. You can’t lie to the FBI and people are routinely (often too routinely) prosecuted for doing so.

    In the Times words …

    F.B.I. agents interviewed Michael T. Flynn when he was national security adviser in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, current and former officials said on Tuesday.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, this interview must have been in the context of the much discussed but still little understood counter-intelligence probe scrutinizing Flynn’s communications with Russian government officials.

    “What the Times story does not say is what Flynn said. But the logic of the report certainly leaves the impression that Flynn was less than truthful. If that’s the case, the Flynn’s dismissal just went from being a political scandal to major legal jeopardy. You can’t lie to the FBI and people are routinely (often too routinely) prosecuted for doing so.

    Lying to the FBI. Uh oh. At least ‘uh oh’ if that’s what Flynn did. And he’s actually investigated and charges are actually brought. If all that happens then, yeah, uh oh for Flynn. And quite possibly ‘uh oh’ for the Trump administration in general. Including Trump. But, of course, whether or not any of these ‘uh oh’s turn into full blown ‘oh no!’s for the Trump team is going to depend quite a bit on whether or not there are any serious investigations. Or any investigations at all. Because if not, all those ‘uh oh’s turn into ‘phew!’s.

    And so far, it’s looking like there’s going to be a lot of ‘phew!’s for the Trump team:

    Talking Points Memo
    Livewire

    GOP Oversight Chair Says His Committee Won’t Investigate Flynn

    By Esme Cribb
    Published February 14, 2017, 11:19 AM EDT

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said on Tuesday that his panel will not investigate the circumstances that led to former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation.

    “I think that situation has taken care of itself,” Chaffetz told reporters, as quoted by The Hill. “I think he did the right thing stepping down.”

    Chaffetz’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment by TPM.

    Chaffetz said that the House Intelligence Committee is investigating Russian hacks related to the 2016 election and that the circumstances of Flynn’s resignation do not fall under the “purview” of his committee.

    “It’s not something the Oversight Committee can actually look at because sources and methods are the exclusive purview of the Intel Committee,” he said.

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said earlier Tuesday that he does not plan to investigate Flynn’s conversations with Trump about his calls with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

    “”I think that situation has taken care of itself,” Chaffetz told reporters, as quoted by The Hill. “I think he did the right thing stepping down.””

    Aha! The situation has already “taken care of itself.” So says the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Plus, according to Chaffetz, no investigation is needed because the House Intelligence Committee is already investigating the alleged Russian hacks. And the chairman of the House Intelligene Committee has already said that it’s not going to be investigating Flynn. Phew!

    Now, this doesn’t mean there won’t be any congressional investigations at all. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation is “highly likely.” How thorough those investigations are remains to be seen, but they’ll presumably happen in some form or another.

    So there might be some investigations of some sort, just not in the House. And that means it’s probably a good time remind ourselves of the “years” of investigations Jason Chaffetz was promising just a few months ago if Hillary Clinton won the presidency:

    The Washington Post

    House Republicans are already preparing for ‘years’ of investigations of Clinton

    By David Weigel October 26, 2016

    SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, unendorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed him up to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.

    “It’s a target-rich environment,” the Republican said in an interview in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

    In a tweet Wednesday night, Chaffetz reaffirmed his distaste for Clinton and his refusal to endorse Trump — but reversed his plans not to vote for the Republican nominee.

    If Republicans retain control of the House, something that GOP-friendly maps make possible even in the event of a Trump loss, Clinton will become the first president since George H.W. Bush to immediately face a House Oversight Committee controlled by the opposition party. (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama lost Congress later in their presidencies.)

    And other Republican leaders say they support Chaffetz’s efforts — raising the specter of more partisan acrimony between them and the White House for the next four years.

    “The rigorous oversight conducted by House Republicans has already brought to light troubling developments in the [Hillary] Clinton email scandal,” the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The speaker supports [Oversight’s] investigative efforts following where the evidence leads, especially where it shows the need for changes in the law.”

    And the Oversight Committee may not be the only House panel ready for partisan battle. While the Select Committee on Benghazi appears to have finished its work, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a committee member who says Clinton might have perjured herself on questions about her email, said recently that he wants the committee to continue.

    On the campaign trail, Republicans running for every office confidently talk about Clinton facing criminal charges one day.

    “Lady Justice doesn’t see black or white,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said Wednesday at a rally in Loveland. “She doesn’t see male or female. She does’t see rich or poor. But soon, lady Justice will see Hillary Clinton.”

    The negative feelings toward Clinton — the certainty, in conservative media, that she is “crooked” — could put pressure on Republicans from the first moments of Clinton’s presidency. Asked whether investigations could lead to extended political crises, with echoes of Watergate, Chaffetz said it would depend on Clinton and her team.

    “It depends on how cooperative they are, how seriously they take it,” Chaffetz said. “If they continue to erect walls and shore up the turrets, then, yeah, it’s going to be a battle. But if they act like they’re supposed to, if they comply with subpoenas and actually respond to requests from Congress, well, our republic requires that.”

    The one thing Chaffetz will not consider is an election that goes badly against the GOP. He sees the Oversight Committee as “the tip of the spear,” with a valuable role to play in challenging the executive. If Republicans lose the majority, Chaffetz has no Plan B.

    “Heaven help us!” said Chaffetz, laughing. “Please, no! I’m not even going to think about that one. I can’t even utter the sentence out loud.”

    ““It’s a target-rich environment,” the Republican said in an interview in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.””

    Well look at that: had Hillary won, Jason Chaffetz already had two years of investigations ready to go from ‘Day One’. And yet here we are with less than a month into the Trump administration and a scandal possibly involving lying to the FBI – and maybe a violation of the Logan Act that bars private citizens from interfering with US diplomatic relations – and yet Jason Chaffetz suddenly has no appetite to investigate. Or at least no appetite to investigate the Trump administration. As Chaffetz made clear on inauguration day he’s still pretty interested in investigating Hillary:

    Business Insider

    House Oversight chairman promises to keep investigating Hillary Clinton while posting inaugural picture with her

    Maxwell Tani

    Jan. 20, 2017, 5:09 PM

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz promised that just because he shook Hillary Clinton’s hand at President Donald Trump’s inauguration doesn’t mean he’ll abandon his investigation of her.

    In an Instagram post on Friday, the House Oversight Committee chairman said he was “pleased” Clinton wasn’t elected and vowed to pursue his investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

    “So pleased she is not president. I thanked her for her service and wished her luck. The investigation continues,” he wrote.

    Though the FBI recommended not prosecuting Clinton over her use of a private email server, Chaffetz promised after the election to continue his independent House probe.

    “Just because there was a political election doesn’t mean it goes away,” Chaffetz said earlier this month.

    “In an Instagram post on Friday, the House Oversight Committee chairman said he was “pleased” Clinton wasn’t elected and vowed to pursue his investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.”

    So as calls for investigations in House Oversight Committee inevitably grow as the Trump team’s various scandals continue to trickle in over the years, don’t forget, there are investigations taking place in that committee. Investigations of Hillary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 14, 2017, 4:42 pm
  13. Of all the questions raised by the resignation of Michael Flynn as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, perhaps that most immediate question for the Trump team is “who’s next?” And despite early indications that deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland might be the next Trump Team member out the door, it sounds like she’s staying. At least for now. So…who’s next?

    Well, if the Breitbart/Roger Stone/Alex Jones faction of the Trump base of supporters have their way, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is next to go. Along with what they describe as the 50 anti-Trump “sleeper cells” scattered throughout the government they say Priebus is protecting:

    The Atlantic

    The Nationalist Right Is Coming for Reince Priebus

    Furious over the ouster of Mike Flynn, Trump loyalists in the right-wing media are blaming the former RNC chair for the administration’s setbacks.

    Rosie Gray
    2/14/2017 5:24 PM ET

    Breitbart News has a target in its crosshairs following the departure of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn from the White House in a cascade of scandal over his contacts with the Russian government: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

    Targeting Priebus, who leads the faction of Trump aides that is composed of experienced establishment political hands, is really just a stand-in for a larger conflict about the future of Trumpism in the White House. Breitbart News is treating Flynn’s ouster as the first salvo in a war against those in the administration they deem insufficiently loyal to Trump. Backing up Breitbart are legions of other Trump loyalists in the right-wing media sphere. And their angry reaction to Flynn’s exit signals the unpopularity of the move with a vocal segment of Trump’s base.

    Trump loyalists — meaning the true believers who supported Trump from the start, not Republican politicos who became attached later on — have been privately musing about getting rid of Priebus. Now, that musing is going public. “I think this is Pearl Harbor for the true Trump supporters, the Trump loyalists,” said Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser and longtime Republican operative who still has a relationship with Trump. “I believe Reince Priebus moved on General Flynn and I think he intends to move on Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller next. He is not serving the president well. The people he hired are loyal to the Republican National Committee, not the President of the United States.”

    At Breitbart, the right-wing outlet that until recently was run by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and has served as a loyal defender of Trumpism, the narrative was set early with a piece by editor-at-large Joel Pollak questioning the role of U.S. intelligence agencies in the leaks that brought down Flynn. Pollak and other Trump defenders are arguing that the real story is the fact of the leaks themselves, and not what was leaked.

    “The fourth and most worrying explanation is that the government was not merely monitoring the communications of Russian diplomats, but of the Trump transition team itself,” Pollak wrote. “The fact that the contents of Flynn’s phone conversation—highly sensitive intelligence—were leaked to the media suggests that someone with access to that information also has a political axe to grind.”

    (Pollak’s argument mirror’s Trump’s own message, delivered in a tweet on Tuesday morning: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?”)

    Tuesday morning, Breitbart’s Washington Political Editor Matt Boyle—an ardent Trump supporter and known ally of Bannon—came out with a splashy scoop: “As Flynn Resigns, Priebus Future In Doubt As Trump Allies Circulate List of Alternate Chief of Staff Candidates. “

    Boyle’s story cites “sources close to the president” and “multiple sources close to President Trump with internal knowledge of White House operations” blaming Priebus for not moving cabinet confirmations along quickly enough and for the “botched rollout” of Trump’s controversial executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The order and subsequent fallout threw into stark relief the contrast between the Bannon-esque and more traditional wings of the White House; the staffer who bore most of the blame publicly was Stephen Miller, the White House senior policy adviser who played a key role in the travel ban and who has close relationships with Breitbart reporters dating back to the effort to scuttle the Senate Gang of 8 immigration reform bill in 2013.

    The story accuses Priebus of knowing about anti-Trump “sleeper cells” hidden throughout the government.

    White House and other government sources say there are as many as 50 of them throughout government, and Priebus has full knowledge of their whereabouts, who they are, and what potential for damage they may cause,” Boyle reported. “He is not doing anything about it, these sources add.”

    Purging “sleeper cells” of non-political government employees would be illegal, according to Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, and former Obama White House ethics czar Norm Eisen.

    It’s “not legal to fire them if they have civil service jobs,” Painter said in an email. “Plenty of Bush people got those jobs in the Obama administration and they were very helpful. This ‘sleeper cell’ rhetoric is highly offensive in treating people of the other political party like terrorists.”

    “You are not permitted to fire government employees willy nilly just because Breitbart accuses them of being sleeper cell members,” Eisen said in an email. “If some are civil servants, they are entitled to the full protection of civil service law.”

    The story raised immediate speculation that either Bannon or Miller had planted it.

    “Can you imagine Boyle running this against Bannon’s wishes? No chance,” said one prominent Washington Republican with knowledge of the White House, who spoke on condition of anonymity for professional reasons. “He was the editor of Breitbart about fifteen minutes ago. This is just so brazen. How’s he going to sit through meetings from Reince?”

    Boyle did not respond to a request for comment.

    But whether Bannon was actually involved is unclear. A source close to Bannon who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly pushed back on this idea, arguing that there is no reason to believe Bannon wants Priebus pushed out right now; Priebus’s knowledge of Washington and of Capitol Hill remains useful to enacting Bannon’s agenda. And The New York Times reported that it was actually Bannon who asked Flynn to resign over the weekend.

    A senior White House official called the Breitbart story “false in every single possible respect” and dismissed the idea that Miller or Bannon had been behind it.

    Another White House official speaking on condition of anonymity also said the Breitbart story was “completely false” and that “whoever placed it has no knowledge of the inner workings of the administration.”

    “I can also tell you that Bannon and Miller are very unhappy with the story and consider it an attack on a close friend,” the official said.

    Bannon and Priebus have made a show of closeness recently, even giving a joint interview to New York magazine last week in which they professed to fall asleep on the phone with each other and joked about giving each other back rubs.

    But the effort hasn’t tamped down anti-Priebus ardor in what BuzzFeed News’s Charlie Warzel has dubbed the “New Media Upside Down”: the constellation of pro-Trump fringe (or not so fringe) right-wing media personalities and organizations that have grown increasingly powerful. Flynn’s affinity for Russia and trafficking in conspiracy theories have endeared him to many in this group.

    Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., reactivated his Twitter account the morning after Flynn’s firing. He had deleted it after calling the travel ban a “Muslim ban” last month. Flynn Jr., who was ejected from the transition team for his role in spreading misinformation like the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, has spent the day amplifying alt-right and alt-right-adjacent Twitter accounts, including Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson, who wrote that “The resignation of General Flynn is part of an ongoing effort by the military-industrial complex to sabotage President Trump and re-assert control over foreign policy.”

    Wikileaks has also weighed in, the sometime pro-leak organization tweeting “Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns after destabilization campaign by US spies, Democrats, press.”

    “The base was not happy when [Priebus] was appointed chief of staff,” said Mike Cernovich, a “new right” blogger and Twitter personality.“We knew he’d work hard to sabotage Trump’s agenda.”

    “Targeting Priebus, who leads the faction of Trump aides that is composed of experienced establishment political hands, is really just a stand-in for a larger conflict about the future of Trumpism in the White House. Breitbart News is treating Flynn’s ouster as the first salvo in a war against those in the administration they deem insufficiently loyal to Trump. Backing up Breitbart are legions of other Trump loyalists in the right-wing media sphere. And their angry reaction to Flynn’s exit signals the unpopularity of the move with a vocal segment of Trump’s base.”

    Yep, the Breitbarters want a purge, and the resignation of Flynn, along with the government leaks that precipitated that resignation, just might give them the excuse to do it. At least if this Breitbart story is accurate.

    And is the story accurate? Well, despite the denials for the administration, it is rather hard to ignore the fact that Breitbart isn’t just some random far-right rag;


    The story raised immediate speculation that either Bannon or Miller had planted it.

    “Can you imagine Boyle running this against Bannon’s wishes? No chance,” said one prominent Washington Republican with knowledge of the White House, who spoke on condition of anonymity for professional reasons. “He was the editor of Breitbart about fifteen minutes ago. This is just so brazen. How’s he going to sit through meetings from Reince?”

    Boyle did not respond to a request for comment.

    But whether Bannon was actually involved is unclear. A source close to Bannon who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly pushed back on this idea, arguing that there is no reason to believe Bannon wants Priebus pushed out right now; Priebus’s knowledge of Washington and of Capitol Hill remains useful to enacting Bannon’s agenda. And The New York Times reported that it was actually Bannon who asked Flynn to resign over the weekend.

    So, on the one hand, it’s hard to imagine Breitbart not getting Bannon’s approval for such an incendiary story before publishing it. On the other hand, according to a source close to Bannon, there’s no reason to believe Bannon wants Priebug pushed out right now, because Priebus is useful in pushing through Bannon’s agenda.

    Of course, if Bannon really did believe that Priebus was protecting an anti-Trump faction within the government it’s not hard to see how the calculus behind Priebus’s perceived utility to Bannon would get rapidly reassessed, which is why it’s not very hard to believe that that Breitbart article really was an opening salvo in an intra-White House war on those deemed not loyal enough. And if that’s the case, it doesn’t sound like the purging is going to be limited to the White House:

    The story accuses Priebus of knowing about anti-Trump “sleeper cells” hidden throughout the government.

    “White House and other government sources say there are as many as 50 of them throughout government, and Priebus has full knowledge of their whereabouts, who they are, and what potential for damage they may cause,” Boyle reported. “He is not doing anything about it, these sources add.”

    A Breitbart-led witch-hunt of non-loyal government employees. That sure appears to be what the Breitbart crew has in mind. And the way Breitbart puts it, Reince Priebus is the key to discovering these “sleeper cells” and firing them. Possibly illegally firing them:


    Purging “sleeper cells” of non-political government employees would be illegal, according to Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, and former Obama White House ethics czar Norm Eisen.

    It’s “not legal to fire them if they have civil service jobs,” Painter said in an email. “Plenty of Bush people got those jobs in the Obama administration and they were very helpful. This ‘sleeper cell’ rhetoric is highly offensive in treating people of the other political party like terrorists.”

    “You are not permitted to fire government employees willy nilly just because Breitbart accuses them of being sleeper cell members,” Eisen said in an email. “If some are civil servants, they are entitled to the full protection of civil service law.”

    “You are not permitted to fire government employees willy nilly just because Breitbart accuses them of being sleeper cell members”

    No Breibart-led civil service witch-hunts allowed. Those are the rules. Rules that a significant faction of Trump’s power base would like him to break, including probably Bannon and Miller.

    Of course, if this “sleeper cell” story is true, that means this big Breitbartian loyalty purge is highly dependent on one guy: Reince Priebus. After all, he’s the guy that apparently knows where the “sleeper cells” are!

    It raises the question, if Priebus is really some sort of anti-Trump infiltrator, how is team Breitbart going to persuade him to give up the identities of all the disloyal government employees when they’ve already declared him an enemy of the Trump regime?

    And perhaps that’s one of the main goals of the Breitbart story: by declaring the existence of disloyal “sleeper cells” that only a disloyal Priebus can identify, the Breitbart crew is developing a narrative that could be used to purge any executive branch employee who isn’t a Breitbart nut-job. You can’t have a widespread witch-hunt if you already know who the witches are.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 14, 2017, 8:45 pm
  14. Robert Parry’s essay “Trump Caves On Flynn’s Resignation” suggests the Deep State has won a round over the Trump administration.
    However the Underground Reich (through lieutenants like Bannon, Miller, Sessions) knows how to play a long game.
    Dave you’ve noted the power struggle going on within the Trump administration between the UR and the Deep State.
    Do you see Bannon et al setting up Trump for removal with an eye toward Pence as the president-in-waiting?

    Posted by Dennis | February 15, 2017, 1:38 pm
  15. Remember all those reports about all the fun “facts” that kids in Louisiana were learning in schools after then-Governor Bobby Jindal decided to experiment with a public vouchers for private schools, including religious schools? Well, it sounds like kids across the US will have the privilege of learning things like the Loch Ness Monster is a dinosaur that proves evolution isn’t real. At least that’s what will happen if the far-right Council for National Policy’s (CNP) recommendations for the new Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, are actually implemented. And while it might seem absurd to imagine that even a GOP administration would back such a move at a national level, it might seem less absurd when you factor in that the CNP is basically pushing the same agenda that DeVos herself has long championed. And DeVos donates to the group. And her parents were both leaders of the group. And Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway served on its executive committee:

    The Washington Post

    Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms

    By Emma Brown
    February 15, 2017 at 4:10 PM

    A policy manifesto from an influential conservative group with ties to the Trump administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urges the dismantling of the Education Department and bringing God into American classrooms.

    The five-page document produced by the Council for National Policy calls for a “restoration of education in America” that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and home schooling and enshrine “historic Judeo-Christian principles” as a basis for instruction.

    Names of the council’s members are closely held. But the Southern Poverty Law Center published a 2014 membership directory showing that Stephen K. Bannon — now chief White House strategist for President Trump — was a member and that Kellyanne Conway — now counselor to the president — served on the council’s executive committee.

    DeVos was not listed as a member, but her mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, was namedon the council’s board of governors. Her father-in-law, Amway founder Richard DeVos Sr., twice served as president, most recently from 1990 to 1993. And she and her husband have given money to the council as recently as 2007 through their family foundation, according to federal tax records..

    The council’s “Education Reform Report” says it is intended to help DeVos and Trump map a path toward change. The proposal to abolish the department dovetails with the longheld views of many Republicans, and President Trump suggested during the 2016 campaign that the agency could be “largely eliminated.” But Trump has given no sign since taking office that he aims to act on that idea, and DeVos embraced the mission of the department when she took office last week.

    Still, the council’s views carry weight in the conservative movement. Its hundreds of members are a who’s who of prominent figures on the Christian right, including former lawmakers and leaders in social activism, business and think tanks. Their thrice-yearly meetings are held in undisclosed locations, and every four years GOP presidential candidates show up to address the crowd and seek their favor.

    A version of the council’s report, created by an 11-member education committee, was posted on the council’s website. Three committee members confirmed its authenticity.

    The document proposes demoting the department to a presidential “Advisory Council on Public Education Reform,” a sub-Cabinet-level agency that would serve as a consultant to states. New employees should subscribe to the educational worldview of the Trump administration, it says, “from assistant secretaries to the mailroom.”

    It also says states should encourage K-12 public schools to post the Ten Commandments, teach Bible classes and recognize holidays such as Easter and Christmas; promote instruction “from a Judeo-Christian perspective”; and remove “secular-based sex education materials from school facilities.”

    It calls for the termination of the Common Core academic standards and an end to the government collection of student data, which has generated concerns among activists on the right and the left.

    The goal, it says, is a “gradual, voluntary return at all levels to free-market private schools, church schools and home schools as the normative American practice.”

    Think tanks routinely seek to influence new administrations. But the council’s vision would be a dramatic departure for education in America. Nearly 9 in 10 students attend public schools, and the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the First Amendment prohibits public schools from establishing or promoting any particular religion.

    The department administers and manages student loans for tens of millions of borrowers, gives K-12 schools billions of dollars a year to bolster education for children who are poor or have disabilities and enforces civil rights laws in schools and colleges nationwide.

    A department spokesman said Wednesday that DeVos had not received the document and therefore had no reaction. DeVos “fully supports the mission of the department and applauds the decision by the president of the United States to continue to keep the Department of Education at Cabinet level,” the spokesman said.

    Trump, as a candidate, endorsed eliminating the Common Core. But as president he cannot do that on his own because standards are decided by states.

    Trump has said nothing since taking office about dismantling or downsizing the department. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) this month introduced a one-sentence bill to eliminate the agency by the end of 2018.

    DeVos has long advocated for taxpayer-supported vouchers to help parents pay tuition for private and religious schools. Before her confirmation and since taking office Feb.7 as secretary she has sought to allay concerns about how she would lead the department, though she has also made clear that she is looking for ways to shrink it.

    “I can’t tell you today what’s being done that’s unnecessary, but I can guarantee that there are things that the department has been doing that are probably not necessary or important for a federal agency to do,” she told Michael Patrick Shiels, a Michigan radio host, this week. “Really, when it comes down to it, education and the provision of education is really a state and local responsibility to a large extent.”

    In Washington, she told career employees last week that they are “professionals” to whom she will listen, and she said she thought that despite disagreements, “we can — and must — come together, find common ground and put the needs of our students first.”

    DeVos grew up in the Christian Reformed Church and graduated from Calvin College, which is affiliated with that church. Her support for vouchers appears to be motivated by faith: She once said she believed her education-reform efforts could “advance God’s Kingdom” and lead to “greater Kingdom gain in the long run.”

    In light of those comments, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked DeVos before her confirmation to clarify her beliefs about the role of religion in public education.

    “My faith is very important to me and informs my work. In education, it teaches me that every child is special and deserves the best we can offer them,” she wrote in response to Franken’s question. “That said, I do not believe in imposing my faith on others and, if confirmed, I will implement the laws as intended by Congress. That includes the provisions about the prohibition against religious instruction in schools.”

    E. Ray Moore Jr., a member of the council’s education committee, said he believes Trump’s election shifted the education debate toward the right, away from a focus on how to fix public schools and toward how to create alternatives. And that’s what is needed, Moore said, to strengthen education.

    “The system can’t be fixed,” Moore said. “You don’t hear Republicans and free-market people talking about fixing Obamacare. They talk about repeal and replace. We think the same argument should apply to education.”

    Moore is the founder of the Exodus Mandate Project, which encourages Christian families to pull their children out of public schools. He said that he was speaking for himself, not the committee, and that he does not know whether DeVos will adopt any of the committee’s ideas.

    “My guess is that she’s not going to want to do a lot of it. It may be a bridge too far for her,” Moore said. “But this is what a lot of conservatives would like to see happen.”

    “The goal, it says, is a “gradual, voluntary return at all levels to free-market private schools, church schools and home schools as the normative American practice.””

    And how does the CNP propose the US enact a “gradual, voluntary return at all levels to free-market private schools, church schools and home schools as the normative American practice”?


    The document proposes demoting the department to a presidential “Advisory Council on Public Education Reform,” a sub-Cabinet-level agency that would serve as a consultant to states. New employees should subscribe to the educational worldview of the Trump administration, it says, “from assistant secretaries to the mailroom.”

    It also says states should encourage K-12 public schools to post the Ten Commandments, teach Bible classes and recognize holidays such as Easter and Christmas; promote instruction “from a Judeo-Christian perspective”; and remove “secular-based sex education materials from school facilities.”

    It calls for the termination of the Common Core academic standards and an end to the government collection of student data, which has generated concerns among activists on the right and the left.

    So that’s at least part of the plan. Along with DeVos’s long-held goal of public vouchers for charter and religious schools.

    So aside from the CNP’s ties to DeVos, Bannon and Conway, how much influence should we expect it to have a Trump administration? Quite a bit, if you consider that the CNP is like the mothership for US far-right figures, with hundreds of influential far-right personalities on its membership rolls:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center

    The Council for National Policy: Behind the Curtain

    Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok
    May 17, 2016

    The Council for National Policy, a highly secretive group, is a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix.

    For 35 years, a shadowy and intensely secretive group has operated behind the scenes, providing a venue three times a year for powerful American politicians and others on the right to meet privately to build the conservative movement.

    The Council for National Policy (CNP) is, in the words of The New York Times, “a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country,” an organization so tight-lipped that it tells its people not to admit membership or even name the group. It is important enough that last fall, according to an account in The National Review, Donald Trump and five other Republican presidential candidates each took 30 minutes to address the group; the conservative journal reported that Trump was by far the favorite candidate.

    The names of many members and officers of the group have leaked over the years, and some of its officers are reported on the organization’s tax forms. But the last time long lists of its members was made public was in 1998. For the most part since then, members of the CNP — which can be joined only by invitation, at a cost of thousands of dollars — have managed to keep their identities secret.

    That is about to end. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently obtained a copy of theCNP’s 2014 Membership Directory, a 191-page compendium that lists 413 members, 118 members who have died, and 14 past presidents. The list is surprising, not so much for the conservatives who dominate it — activists of the religious right and the so-called “culture wars,” along with a smattering of wealthy financiers, Congressional operatives, right-wing consultants and Tea Party enthusiasts — but for the many real extremists who are included.

    Paul S. Teller, the hardline chief of staff to Ted Cruz who was once described by The Hill as Cruz’s “agitator in chief,” is a member, or at least he was in 2014. Tony Perkins, the head of the LGBT-bashing Family Research Council, was its vice president that year, one of three executive officers. And Frank Gaffney, whose group provided Trump with bogus statistics about American Muslims’ support for violent jihad and who was a senior adviser to Cruz until May, was a member, too.

    The CNP’s 2014 vision statement, reproduced at the front of the directory, succinctly lays out its goal: “A united conservative movement to assure, by 2020, policy leadership and governance that restores religious and economic freedom, a strong national defense, and Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.”

    But it has long been known that the group included some key individuals whose goals are less benevolent. One of its five founders, Tim LaHaye, is the co-author of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic Christian novels and a man who has described gay people as “vile,” said the Illuminati are conspiring to establish a “new world order,” attacked Catholicism, and once worked for the wildly conspiracist John Birch Society. An important member whose name was revealed early on was John Rousas Rushdoony, who is listed in the 2014 directory’s “In Memoriam” section and advocated for a society ruled by Old Testament law requiring, among other things, the stoning of adulteresses, idolaters and “incorrigible” children.

    The 2014 CNP members are paragons of the conservative establishment. There are business titans, Christian college presidents, owners and editors of right-wing media outlets, GOP mega-donors, government staffers and leading members of conservative think tanks. There are officials of organizations like the National Rifle Association and the Federalist Society. There are politicians and political appointees, anti-abortion activists and also some who are less known publicly as conservatives, like Linda L. Bean, who owns L.L. Bean Inc., an outdoorsy clothing company.

    But what is most remarkable about the directory is that it reveals how the CNP has become a key meeting place where ostensibly mainstream conservatives interact with individuals who are, by any reasonable definition, genuinely extremist.

    Caustic Combinations

    Tony Perkins is a good example. He has falsely claimed that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem,” said that gay people “recruit” children, secretly purchased a mailing list for a candidate he was managing from former Klan leader David Duke, and addressed, in 2001, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (the same group that inspired Dylann Roof’s murder of nine churchgoers last year).

    He is hardly alone.

    On the CNP’s board of governors, for instance, is Michael Peroutka. Peroutka was for many years on the board of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group that advocates for a newly seceded South ruled by white people. He was also the 2004 presidential candidate for the Constitution Party, a far-right group opposed to abortion in all cases. He has appeared on a white nationalist radio show.

    There are several other well-known extremists on the same board of governors. Jerome Corsi is the propagandist hit man responsible for the “Swift boating” of John Kerry, has written an error-filled book alleging that President Obama was not born in the United States, once described Martin Luther King Jr. as a “shakedown artist,” and is a subscriber to numerous baseless conspiracy theories. In his latest, 2014 book, he claims that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun fled to Argentina after the end of World War II and lived there happily until their deaths.

    Another on that board is Joseph Farah, who runs the conspiracist online “news” outlet, “WorldNetDaily” and employs Corsi. When Farah’s site isn’t busy bashing anything vaguely liberal or suggesting that Obama is helping the United Nations create a one-world government, it spends its time doing such vital work as running a six-part series alleging that eating soybeans causes homosexuality.

    Also on the board is Mat Staver, leader of the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel, who has worked for the re-criminalization of gay sex, described the Boy Scouts as a “playground for pedophiles,” and likened LGBT activists to terrorists. And then there’s Alan Sears, founder of the Alliance Defending Freedom and the co-author of The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, which falsely links pedophilia to homosexuality.

    These members are listed on the CNP’s board of governors right alongside people who are not particularly known for their political extremism, although they are certainly highly conservative. A leading example is Chad Connelly, the two-term head of the South Carolina Republican Party who left that post in 2013 and is now the Republican National Committee’s national director of faith engagement.

    Leaders and Money

    The CNP founders, including then-Moral Majority leader Tim LaHaye, were a colorful cast of characters: oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, a one-time member of the John Birch Society’s ruling council and a billionaire before he went bankrupt as a result of his effort to corner the silver market; T. Cullen Davis, a multimillionaire from Texas who was tried and acquitted in two separate murder cases; William Cies, a wealthy John Bircher and major CNP funder; and Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

    The CNP’s latest available tax forms show that the group has a budget of between $1.5 million and $2 million. Eleven years after it was founded in 1981 as a tax-exempt organization, the IRS yanked that status on the grounds that CNP was not run for the benefit of the public. A long legal battle ensued, with the CNP regaining its tax-exempt status after promising to produce a quarterly journal meant to educate the public, although it did not do so until years later. It also launched a website that distributes two publications, Policy Counsel and Heard Around the Hill.

    Secrecy was paramount from the first. “Members are told not to discuss the group, reveal the topics discussed in the closed-door meetings, or even say whether or not they are members of the organization,” The Salt Lake City Tribune reported. The membership list is “strictly confidential” and guests may attend “only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee,” according to The New York Times, which also reported that one of its rules was, “The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting.”

    In the 2014 directory, two other executive officers are listed in addition to Perkins, the CNP’s vice president. They are President Stuart W. Epperson, co-founder of the sprawling conservative radio and online Salem Media Group, whose on-air personality Hugh Hewitt co-moderated some recent GOP presidential debates, and Treasurer John H. Scribante, the CEO of Orion Energy Systems Inc.

    Those are not the only wealthy people associated with CNP. Its past presidents, in particular, include many extremely well off businessmen. Among them are Nelson Bunker Hunt; Richard DeVos, the co-founder of Amway whose net worth was estimated at $5 billion in 2012; and Foster Friess, a stock picker who was recognized in 2011 for contributions exceeding $1 million to the right-wing funding apparatus started by brothers Charles and David Koch. Friess is notorious for throwing himself an almost $8 million birthday party and saying on TV that women used to avoid pregnancy by putting a Bayer aspirin “between their knees.”

    Other past presidents include Tim LaHaye, one of CNP’s original founders; Edwin Meese, a right-wing California lawyer who rose to become the nation’s attorney general under President Ronald Reagan; and Pat Robertson, the far-right Christian activist who started the Christian Coalition and similar groups and who pushed theories of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy in one of his books.

    A Who’s Who of the Right

    The CNP directory is a remarkable roster of significant figures on the political and religious right. In addition to listing their names and affiliations with various institutions, it also notes the issues that interest each of them. Although those issues vary, the favorites given include “Homosexual Issues” and “Radical Islam.”

    The directory includes officials from 14 different conservative media outlets, including the opinion editor for The Washington Times; the publisher of the Daily Caller website; the editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com; and Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher of American Thinker, which published a fawning profile of Jared Taylor, a leading white nationalist intellectual. It also includes major donors to conservative causes, among them Michael Grebe, CEO of the far-right Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and Hugh Maclellan, president of the Maclellan Foundation.

    Intellectuals on the list include Edwin J. Feulner of the Heritage Foundation and upper-level officials from 16 mostly conservative universities and colleges. And the large number of business leaders include Nashville’s Lea Beaman, the owner of several car dealerships, James R. Leininger, founder of Kinetic Concepts Inc.; Gary Loveless of Square Mile Energy, and many others from the private sector.

    The directory also contains a list of young conservative leaders who comprise the CNP’s William F. Buckley Jr. Council. Among them are Daniel Suhr, chief of staff to Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch; Nicolas L. Wenker, a law clerk for the Senate Judiciary Committee; Garrett Gibson, a Texas Supreme Court clerk; and William J. Rivers, a press assistant to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Another one is Josh Duggar, the infamous member of the Duggar family that was the focus of TLC’s reality show, “19 Kids and Counting.” In 2015, Duggar was enmeshed in an enormous scandal when his youthful molesting of five girls, four of them his sisters, and his later membership in the Ashley Madison hookup site became public.

    And then there is Michael Centanni, a CNP member and the COO of a direct mail company that raised money for conservative candidates. Centanni pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography — more than 3,000 images and 267 videos — in October 2014. He was sentenced last year to 46 months in federal prison.

    But, again, the directory is most noteworthy for its hardliners.

    One of them is Austin Ruse, head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and a man who has lobbied against reproductive rights, abortion and LGBT people at the UN and abroad for years. He once reportedly said that a Catholic priest “offered me guaranteed absolution if I just took [Hillary Clinton] out — and not on a date.” Ruse was fired from the far-right American Family Association’s radio operation for saying liberal professors should be “taken out and shot.”

    Another is Tim Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association, which is also an intensely anti-LGBT group. One of the organization’s officials has notoriously complained that welfare rewards black people who “rut like rabbits” and asserted falsely that “homosexuality gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” (The group repudiated those comments last year in letters to the SPLC, which at the time was publicly criticizing the group for its role in paying for several dozen members of the Republican National Committee to visit Israel.) Wildmon himself has denounced homosexuality and described Islam as a “religion of war, violence, intolerance and physical persecution.”

    Philip Zodhiates is another CNP member. In 2014, Zodhiates was accused in New York of helping a woman named Lisa Miller, a self-described former lesbian who fled the country with her daughter during a custody dispute with her former partner. Charged with conspiracy and international kidnapping, Zodhiates is set to go to trial in September 2016 and could face up to five years in prison. For years, Zodhiates’ direct mail company, Response Unlimited, sold lists of subscribers to America’s leading anti-Semitic tabloid, The Spotlight, and its successor publication, American Free Press, although neither is now listed at the Response website.

    The radicalism of many members of the CNP is nothing new. That becomes obvious from a perusal of the 2014 directory’s “In Memoriam” section.

    One of the people listed there is Madeleine Cosman, a longtime immigrant-basher who told a 2005 nativist conference that “most” Latino immigrant men “molest girls under 12, although some specialize in boys, and some in nuns.” Cosman, a medieval cookbook author with no expertise in medicine or immigration, also was the source of the storied, and entirely false, claim by then-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs that immigrants had brought a wave of leprosy to the United States.

    Another is Howard Phillips, founder in 1992 of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, whose goal was to implement biblical law. Phillips was known for his opposition to the Voting Rights Act, homosexuality, pornography, immigrants and abortion.

    W. Cleon Skousen, who is also on that list, was a longtime speaker for the John Birch Society and defender of the Mormon Church’s then-policy of excluding black people from its priesthood. Skousen was obsessed with alleged communist subversion and wrote a book, The Naked Capitalist, that remains a major source of conspiracy theories for people including television personality Glenn Beck.

    Others on the list include Larry McDonald, a congressman and the second president of the John Birch Society; J. Evetts Haley, who wanted to use the Texas Rangers to enforce school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed it; and Clarence Arch Decker, a one-time Colorado state senator whose Summit Ministries once published a book suggesting that gay people might have to be interned.

    The Danger of the CNP

    The CNP has every legal right to hold its meetings in private and to try to keep its membership secret. And it does publish many of the speeches its members hear, including most of the talks given by the GOP presidential candidates last fall (the exception was Trump’s talk). The speeches tend to center on expected topics for such conservatives, from opposition to same-sex marriage to cutting taxes.

    But it also provides an important venue in which relatively mainstream conservatives meet and very possibly are influenced by real extremists, people who regularly defame LGBT people with utter falsehoods, describe Latino immigrants as a dangerous group of rapists and disease-carriers, engage in the kind of wild-eyed conspiracy theorizing for which the John Birch Society is famous, and even suggest that certain people should be stoned to death in line with Old Testament law.

    And the people mixing with or giving speeches to these extremists are key leaders in American society. Those speaking in recent years to the CNP have included President George W. Bush; Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney; and Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court. The speakers at CNP’s candidate forum last October included Trump, Ben Carson, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

    At a time of extreme political polarization in our society, in the middle of an ugly presidential contest which has featured an almost unsurpassed record of ethnic, racial and sexual insults and lies, Americans deserve to know who their ostensible leaders are mixing with as we collectively decide our country’s future.

    “But what is most remarkable about the directory is that it reveals how the CNP has become a key meeting place where ostensibly mainstream conservatives interact with individuals who are, by any reasonable definition, genuinely extremist.”

    An organization where mainstream-ish ‘culture-warriors’ can secretly network with hardcore far-right extremist and their wealthy benefactors. Wow, sounds like the Trump administration. Except for the secret part.

    So how much of the CNP’s agenda will the White House attempt to actually implement. Only the Trump Team knows for sure, and it’s a secret. Sort of.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 15, 2017, 4:26 pm
  16. One of the questions raise by Donald Trump’s victory solidifying the American far-right’s complete control of US government at the federal level is what’s are all the far-right anti-government movements going to do for the next 4-8 years. Well, the League of the South certainly has plans the Trump era: form Trump’s Brownshirts a vigilante ‘Southern Defense Force’ intended to combat ‘the leftist menace’. But it’s not exclusively intended to be vigilante in nature. If state and local authorities ever feel the need to deputize private citizens, this new ‘Southern Defense Force’ is planning on filling that role too:

    Southern Poverty Law Center

    League of the South Announces Formation of ‘Southern Defense Force’

    February 06, 2017
    Hatewatch Staff

    Edging closer to militancy, the neo-Confederate League of the South says it’s forming a force to combat the ‘leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization.’

    In a military-styled order titled “Directive 02022017,” Michael Hill, president of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS), announced Friday the formation of a new vigilante “defense force.”

    [T]he League of the South is calling for all able-bodied, traditionalist Southern men to join our organization’s Southern Defense Force for the purpose of helping our State and local magistrates across Dixie combat this growing leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization. As private citizens in a private organization, we will stand ready to protect our own families and friends, our property, and our liberty from leftist chaos. Moreover, we will be ready to assist our local and State authorities in keeping the peace should they find it necessary to “deputize” private citizens for that purpose.

    It remains to be seen what actions the new “Southern Defense Force” [SDF] will take to “plan for contingencies – natural or man-made –– that might affect the Southern people.” But announcements of plans to militarize the League are not new.

    In 2014, the group began developing and training a paramilitary unit called the “Indomitables” to advance a second secession, though such efforts fizzled quickly.

    Promising increased LOS militancy has cost the group and led to faltering membership. Since Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine congregants at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015, Hatewatch has documented a string of high-profile departures.

    Hill’s announcement closes by directing recruits to contact the League using a web form reserved for normal members. “Are you ready to be a man among men?” Hill asks. “Join the League and its Southern Defense Force today!”

    The phrase “man among men” is a reference to propaganda posters for the Rhodesian Army during the Rhodesian Bush War, a civil war from 1964-79 in the unrecognized country of Rhodesia that remains a popular reference for white nationalists. The conflict inspired Dylann Roof, who named his blog “The Last Rhodesian” and posed for pictures on social media with the Confederate Battle Flag while wearing a jacket patched with a Rhodesian flag.

    It seems to have inspired Hill, too. He has echoed the Rhodesian mythos in a series of social media posts and on the LOS website, typifying the loss of political hegemony by whites in that war as tantamount to racial genocide.

    While Hill is just one voice in a growing chorus contributing to an escalation of violent rhetoric across the South and the United States, the formation of the SDF represents something else, too –– a desperate promise of armed resistance from an aging radical on the fringe of a movement he once dominated.

    “[T]he League of the South is calling for all able-bodied, traditionalist Southern men to join our organization’s Southern Defense Force for the purpose of helping our State and local magistrates across Dixie combat this growing leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization. As private citizens in a private organization, we will stand ready to protect our own families and friends, our property, and our liberty from leftist chaos. Moreover, we will be ready to assist our local and State authorities in keeping the peace should they find it necessary to “deputize” private citizens for that purpose

    And if you’re wondering if Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, really is making an overtly white-nationalist dog-whistle when he asks “Are you ready to be a man among men?”, here’s his declaration immediately following election day about how no mercy should be shown towards “Jews, minorities, and anti-white whites”:

    Right Wing Watch

    League Of The South Hails Trump, Wants ‘No Mercy’ Towards ‘Jews, Minorities And Anti-White Whites’

    By Brian Tashman | November 10, 2016 2:23 pm

    As white supremacists and neo-Nazis celebrate the results of the presidential election, Michael Hill, president of the neo-Confederate League of the South, reacted to Donald Trump’s victory yesterday by vowing to show “no mercy” to “the enemies of our God, our Folk and our civilization” and to finally “drive a stake” through the heart of “the globalist-progressive coalition of Jews, minorities, and anti-white whites.”

    Once the globalist-progressive coalition of Jews, minorities, and anti-white whites stops reeling in confusion from the results of yesterday’s election, we can expect them to start striking back with trickery and violence. Thus, we as Southern nationalists face both danger and opportunity.

    Now, more than ever, we need tight organization and numbers to help drive a stake through Dracula’s heart and keep him from rising once again to menace our people and civilization. No mercy should be shown to the enemies of our God, our Folk, and our civilization. None would be afforded us.

    Today, Hill warned neo-Confederate activists that if “you don’t finish the job by routing your enemies and driving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been given a reprieve by God (probably undeservedly so); do not give your enemies and His a reprieve.”

    He said that a Trump presidency may represent a God-given “short reprieve” from the “demise of old white America,” telling members that they must use this opportunity to fight for and build “White Man’s Land.”

    So here is my warning to the victors: do not go back to sleep and think all is well. If you don’t finish the job by routing your enemies and driving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been given a reprieve by God (probably undeservedly so); do not give your enemies and His a reprieve.

    Their goal is to dispossess you of everything. If you have not heard that over the past year, then you have not been listening. Just what the hell do you think multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance are all about? Your enemies care nothing about those things. They are merely used as weapons against you for your dispossession and ultimate destruction. The sum of their effect is White Guilt.

    These media elites (and others of their elite ilk) look forward to the demise of old white America and the rise of a new paradigm in which they will hold sway. You will be dispossessed, sequestered in the equivalent of ghettos, and will be a despised and hated minority in the country your ancestors built.

    You, by God’s grace, may have been given a short reprieve from this scenario. Redeem the time! As for me, I recommend that we get busy with Southern independence. We need our own country, and it must be run by us for our own interests. It must once again be White Man’s Land.

    “Today, Hill warned neo-Confederate activists that if “you don’t finish the job by routing your enemies and driving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been given a reprieve by God (probably undeservedly so); do not give your enemies and His a reprieve.””

    So it sounds like the ‘Southern Defense Force’ is going focused on driving Jews, minorities, and non-white-supremacist whites ‘into the sea’, mercilessly, while it works on building a new whites-only independent South. Or maybe they’ll get deputized so they can help ‘keep the peace’. Both scenarios are part of the plan. Whichever comes first.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 20, 2017, 4:18 pm
  17. @ Dennis–

    The Underground Reich controls the Deep State as well, through corporations, CIA, related elements like the OUN/B milieu exemplified by Alexandra Chalupa and Dimitry Alperovitch (of Crowdstrike).

    Trump will, I believe, ultimately be removed. Pence is the guy the GOP and UR really want–all of the evil without Trump’s weirdness and foibles.

    Remember, the Trump statements on NATO, Russia, Ukraine et al were aimed, in my opinion, at starting a bidding war between the U.S./West and Russia, for the benefit of Germany.

    U.S. will be the Bad Cop, Germany the Good Cop, although also “Bad Cop” for a while.

    Do follow German Foreign Policy. Things are developing as I said.

    The U.S. is incapable of anything but warlike stances, I’m afraid.

    Long term, expect U.S. to fade from the picture–as its economy collapses, its environment becomes polluted beyond redemption, its foods and pharmaceuticals become dangerous to consume, along with its manufactured goods, its military becomes hopelessly entangled in endless wars far from home (helping to bankrupt the economy), Wall Street crashes again, its educational system retreats to the mid-nineteenth century, its health care collapses, epidemics become the norm, and, who knows, a cyber-terrorist incident or two and/or a nuclear power plant melt-down or two.

    Long term, Germany and Russia will find some sort of accommodation, a German-led all EU military replaces NATO (which will fade from the picture with the decline and fall of the U.S.), and a German-dominated trade union stretching all across the Earth Island, from Lisbon to Vladivostok becomes the preeminent commercial entity on earth.

    Do pay attention to the upcoming FTR #947 for some insights on a possible fascist Russia following removal of Putin, if U.S. is able to pull it off.

    I know this is complicated, but Americans are focused on “one side or the other.”

    This is different-a dynamic.

    Again, think “bidding war” to the benefit of Germany.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 21, 2017, 9:40 pm

Post a comment