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

For The Record  

FTR #947 Evola on Our Minds

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Julius Evola

Julius Evola

Intro­duc­tion: The entry point to our explo­ration of Julius Evola is top Trump advis­er and first tier NSC mem­ber Steve Ban­non. Evola is a key influ­ence on Ban­non. Evola was an ear­ly occult fas­cist, with strong con­nec­tions with Mus­solin­i’s Italy. Even­tu­al­ly Evola estab­lished strong, last­ing con­nec­tions with the Nazi SS, both oper­a­tional­ly and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly.

Evola has also influ­enced Alexan­der Dug­in, a promi­nent Russ­ian ide­o­logue and politi­cian.

The broad­cast recaps FTR #233, which details Evola’s work for the SS and Kevin Coogan’s the­o­ry that Evola was involved with an SS occult net­work incor­po­rat­ing impor­tant peo­ple and insti­tu­tions in both the West and behind the so-called “Iron Cur­tain.” Lat­er in the pro­gram, we fur­ther devel­op the sto­ry of Alexan­der Dug­in, a Russ­ian “Alt-right” thinker and politi­cian promi­nent in the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. As men­tioned above, Dur­gin, like Ban­non, has been influ­enced by Evola.

We won­der if, in the per­sons of Ban­non and Dur­gin, we are see­ing “West­ern” and “East­ern” man­i­fes­ta­tions of what Kevin con­cep­tu­al­izes as “The Order.”

Draw­ing on mate­r­i­al from Kev­in’s sem­i­nal work Dream­er of the Day: Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey and The Post­war Fas­cist Inter­na­tion­al (soft cov­er, Autono­me­dia, copy­right 1999, ISBN I‑57027–039‑2), the pro­gram sets forth a hypo­thet­i­cal con­struct advanced in the book. Hypoth­e­siz­ing an inter­na­tion­al fas­cist milieu orig­i­nat­ing from (though not coter­mi­nous with) the ide­o­log­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion of the Waf­fen SS, Kevin terms this milieu “The Order.” (This enti­ty is not to be con­fused with the 1980’s Amer­i­can Nazi orga­ni­za­tion of the same name.)

Begin­ning with analy­sis of Kev­in’s dis­cus­sion of the work of fas­cist occultist Julius Evola in Vien­na dur­ing the con­clu­sion of World War II, the pro­gram doc­u­ments Evola’s oper­a­tions on behalf of the SD (the SS intel­li­gence ser­vice.)

dreamer-of-the-dayLike SS chief Himm­ler, Evola saw the SS as the suc­ces­sors to the Ksha­triya class (the Hin­du war­rior caste.) See­ing Ger­many and Europe as suc­cumb­ing to “bar­bar­ian inva­sion,” Evola saw a pagan, anti-Chris­t­ian mys­ti­cism as nec­es­sar­i­ly anti­thet­i­cal to the Judeo-Chris­t­ian cul­ture which, he felt, had led the West to decline before the “Bol­she­vik hordes” of the Sovi­et Union and the “chew­ing gum impe­ri­al­ism” of the Unit­ed States.

Kevin felt that this orga­ni­za­tion (reflect­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal stance of an ele­ment of the Waf­fen SS) would be pan-Euro­pean in scope and ori­en­ta­tion, and not nec­es­sar­i­ly entire­ly chau­vin­is­tic from a Nordic or Ger­man­ic racial and nation­al stand­point. Nour­ished by bank accounts secret­ed abroad, this hypo­thet­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion func­tions in an under­ground fash­ion. (The funds that nour­ished this insti­tu­tion would nec­es­sar­i­ly have derived from the Bor­mann Orga­ni­za­tion.) The Order appears to have estab­lished osten­si­bly friend­ly rela­tions with the West.

This orga­ni­za­tion may very well have begun work­ing with the U.S. intel­li­gence appa­rat after the war, as evi­denced by, among oth­er things, the col­lab­o­ra­tion between post-war SS ele­ments and the CIA. Coogan hypoth­e­sizes that CIA direc­tor Allen Dulles may have played a pri­ma­ry role in such an accord.

Anoth­er influ­ence on a Dulles/Order col­lab­o­ra­tive rela­tion­ship may have been psy­chol­o­gist Carl Jung, who was con­nect­ed to Dulles and to the Third Reich.

Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the Order appears to have over­lapped, and also worked with, ele­ments of the East Bloc, includ­ing for­mer Sovi­et and East Ger­man nation­al secu­ri­ty offi­cials. The orga­ni­za­tion also main­tained con­tacts with “anti-impe­ri­al­ist,” Third World lib­er­a­tion move­ments.

Steve Ban­non’s dis­cus­sion of Alexan­der Dug­in gains sig­nif­i­cance in this con­text.

The Order appears to have exploit­ed its con­tacts with­in both East and West blocs to fur­ther its own fascis­tic and elit­ist agen­da, play­ing both sides against the mid­dle dur­ing the Cold War.

The Dugin/Evola affil­i­a­tion and the Bannon/Evola affil­i­a­tion may be sig­nif­i­cant in that con­text.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: 

  • Sebas­t­ian Gorka’s man­i­fes­ta­tion of the her­aldry of the order of Vitezi Rend, close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Nazi Ger­many’s Hun­gar­i­an allies.
  • Adbusters mag­a­zine’s pub­li­ciz­ing of Alexan­der Dug­in. We review the fact that Adbusters appears to have played a key role in jump­start­ing the “Occu­py” move­ment.
Julius Evola

Julius Evola

1a. The entry point to our explo­ration of Julius Evola is top Trump advis­er and first tier NSC mem­ber Steve Ban­non. Evola is a key influ­ence on Ban­non. Evola was an ear­ly occult fas­cist, with strong con­nec­tions with Mus­solin­i’s Italy. Even­tu­al­ly Evola estab­lished strong, last­ing con­nec­tions with the Nazi SS, both oper­a­tional­ly and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly.

Evola has also influ­enced Alexan­der Dug­in, a promi­nent Russ­ian ide­o­logue and politi­cian.

“Fas­cists Too Lax For a Philoso­pher Cit­ed by Ban­non” by Jason Horowitz; The New York Times; 2/12/2017.

Those try­ing to divine the roots of Stephen K. Bannon’s dark and at times apoc­a­lyp­tic world­view have repeat­ed­ly combed over a speech that Mr. Ban­non, Pres­i­dent Trump’s ide­o­log­i­cal guru, made in 2014 to a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence, where he expound­ed on Islam, pop­ulism and cap­i­tal­ism.

But for all the exam­i­na­tion of those remarks, a pass­ing ref­er­ence by Mr. Ban­non to an eso­teric Ital­ian philoso­pher has gone lit­tle noticed, except per­haps by schol­ars and fol­low­ers of the deeply taboo, Nazi-affil­i­at­ed thinker, Julius Evola.

“The fact that Ban­non even knows Evola is sig­nif­i­cant,” said Mark Sedg­wick, a lead­ing schol­ar of Tra­di­tion­al­ists at Aarhus Uni­ver­si­ty in Den­mark.

Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on every­thing from East­ern reli­gions to the meta­physics of sex to alche­my. But he is best known as a lead­ing pro­po­nent of Tra­di­tion­al­ism, a world­view pop­u­lar in far-right and alter­na­tive reli­gious cir­cles that believes progress and equal­i­ty are poi­so­nous illu­sions.

Evola became a dar­ling of Ital­ian Fas­cists, and Italy’s post-Fas­cist ter­ror­ists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spir­i­tu­al and intel­lec­tu­al god­fa­ther.

They called them­selves Chil­dren of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bour­geoisie-smash­ing new order that he called the Solar Civ­i­liza­tion. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi par­ty Gold­en Dawn includes his works on its sug­gest­ed read­ing list, and the leader of Job­bik, the Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist par­ty, admires Evola and wrote an intro­duc­tion to his works.

More impor­tant for the cur­rent Amer­i­can admin­is­tra­tion, Evola also caught on in the Unit­ed States with lead­ers of the alt-right move­ment, which Mr. Ban­non nur­tured as the head of Bre­it­bart News and then helped har­ness for Mr. Trump.

“Julius Evola is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing men of the 20th cen­tu­ry,” said Richard Spencer, the white nation­al­ist leader who is a top fig­ure in the alt-right move­ment, which has attract­ed white suprema­cists, racists and anti-immi­grant ele­ments.

In the days after the elec­tion, Mr. Spencer led a Wash­ing­ton alt-right con­fer­ence in chants of “Hail Trump!” But he also invoked Evola’s idea of a pre­his­toric and pre-Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al­i­ty — refer­ring to the awak­en­ing of whites, whom he called the Chil­dren of the Sun.

Mr. Spencer said “it means a tremen­dous amount” that Mr. Ban­non was aware of Evola and oth­er Tra­di­tion­al­ist thinkers.

“Even if he hasn’t ful­ly imbibed them and been changed by them, he is at least open to them,” he said. “He at least rec­og­nizes that they are there. That is a stark dif­fer­ence to the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment that either was igno­rant of them or attempt­ed to sup­press them.”

Mr. Ban­non, who did not return a request for com­ment for this arti­cle, is an avid and wide-rang­ing read­er. He has spo­ken enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly about every­thing from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to “The Fourth Turn­ing” by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which sees his­to­ry in cycles of cat­a­clysmic and order-oblit­er­at­ing change. His aware­ness of and ref­er­ence to Evola in itself only reflects that read­ing. But some on the alt-right con­sid­er Mr. Ban­non a door through which Evola’s ideas of a hier­ar­chi­cal soci­ety run by a spir­i­tu­al­ly supe­ri­or caste can enter in a peri­od of cri­sis.

“Evolists view his ship as com­ing in,” said Prof. Richard Drake at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mon­tana, who wrote about Evola in his book “The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mys­tique and Ter­ror­ism in Con­tem­po­rary Italy.”

For some of them, it has been a long time com­ing.

“It’s the first time that an advis­er to the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent knows Evola, or maybe has a Tra­di­tion­al­ist for­ma­tion,” said Gian­fran­co De Tur­ris, an Evola biog­ra­ph­er and apol­o­gist based in Rome who runs the Evola Foun­da­tion out of his apart­ment.

“If Ban­non has these ideas, we have to see how he influ­ences the pol­i­tics of Trump,” he said.

A March arti­cle titled “An Estab­lish­ment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” in Bre­it­bart, the web­site then run by Mr. Ban­non, includ­ed Evola as one of the thinkers in whose writ­ings the “ori­gins of the alter­na­tive right” could be found.

The arti­cle was co-writ­ten by Milo Yiannopou­los, the right-wing provo­ca­teur who is wild­ly pop­u­lar with con­ser­v­a­tives on col­lege cam­pus­es. Mr. Trump recent­ly defend­ed Mr. Yiannopou­los as a sym­bol of free speech after demon­stra­tors vio­lent­ly protest­ed his planned speech at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley.

The arti­cle cel­e­brat­ed the youth­ful inter­net trolls who give the alt-right move­ment its ener­gy and who, moti­vat­ed by a com­mon and ques­tion­able sense of humor, use anti-Semit­ic and racial­ly charged memes “in typ­i­cal­ly juve­nile but unde­ni­ably hys­ter­i­cal fash­ion.”

“It’s hard to imag­ine them read­ing Evola,” the arti­cle con­tin­ued. “They may be inclined to sym­pa­thize to those caus­es, but main­ly because it annoys the right peo­ple.”

Evola, who has more than annoyed peo­ple for near­ly a cen­tu­ry, seems to be hav­ing a moment.

“When I start­ed work­ing on Evola, you had to plow through Ital­ian,” said Mr. Sedg­wick, who keeps track of Tra­di­tion­al­ist move­ments and thought on his blog, Tra­di­tion­al­ists. “Now he’s avail­able in Eng­lish, Ger­man, Russ­ian, Ser­bian, Greek, Hun­gar­i­an. First I saw Evola boom, and then I real­ized the num­ber of peo­ple inter­est­ed in that sort of idea was boom­ing.”

Born in 1898, Evola liked to call him­self a baron and in lat­er life sport­ed a mon­o­cle in his left eye.

A bril­liant stu­dent and tal­ent­ed artist, he came home after fight­ing in World War I and became a lead­ing expo­nent in Italy of the Dada move­ment, which, like Evola, reject­ed the church and bour­geois insti­tu­tions.

Evola’s ear­ly artis­tic endeav­ors gave way to his love of the Ger­man philoso­pher Friedrich Niet­zsche, and he devel­oped a world­view with an over­rid­ing ani­mos­i­ty toward the deca­dence of moder­ni­ty. Influ­enced by mys­ti­cal works and the occult, Evola began devel­op­ing an idea of the individual’s abil­i­ty to tran­scend his real­i­ty and “be uncon­di­tion­al­ly what­ev­er one wants.”

Under the influ­ence of René Guénon, a French meta­physi­cist and con­vert to Islam, Evola in 1934 pub­lished his most influ­en­tial work, “The Revolt Against the Mod­ern World,” which cast mate­ri­al­ism as an erod­ing influ­ence on ancient val­ues.

It viewed human­ism, the Renais­sance, the Protes­tant Ref­or­ma­tion and the French Rev­o­lu­tion all as his­tor­i­cal dis­as­ters that took man fur­ther away from a tran­scen­den­tal peren­ni­al truth.

Chang­ing the sys­tem, Evola argued, was “not a ques­tion of con­test­ing and polemi­ciz­ing, but of blow­ing every­thing up.”

Evola’s ide­al order, Pro­fes­sor Drake wrote, was based on “hier­ar­chy, caste, monar­chy, race, myth, reli­gion and rit­u­al.”

That made a fan out of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni.

The dic­ta­tor already admired Evola’s ear­ly writ­ings on race, which influ­enced the 1938 Racial Laws restrict­ing the rights of Jews in Italy.

Mus­soli­ni so liked Evola’s 1941 book, “Syn­the­sis on the Doc­trine of Race,” which advo­cat­ed a form of spir­i­tu­al, and not mere­ly bio­log­i­cal, racism, that he invit­ed Evola to meet him in Sep­tem­ber of that year.

Evola even­tu­al­ly broke with Mus­soli­ni and the Ital­ian Fas­cists because he con­sid­ered them over­ly tame and cor­rupt­ed by com­pro­mise. Instead he pre­ferred the Nazi SS offi­cers, see­ing in them some­thing clos­er to a myth­ic ide­al. They also shared his anti-Semi­tism.

Mr. Ban­non sug­gest­ed in his Vat­i­can remarks that the Fas­cist move­ment had come out of Evola’s ideas.

As Mr. Ban­non expound­ed on the intel­lec­tu­al moti­va­tions of the Russ­ian pres­i­dent, Vladimir V. Putin, he men­tioned “Julius Evola and dif­fer­ent writ­ers of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry who are real­ly the sup­port­ers of what’s called the Tra­di­tion­al­ist move­ment, which real­ly even­tu­al­ly metas­ta­sized into Ital­ian Fas­cism.”

The real­i­ty, his­to­ri­ans say, is that Evola sought to “infil­trate and influ­ence” the Fas­cists, as Mr. Sedg­wick put it, as a pow­er­ful vehi­cle to spread his ideas.

In his Vat­i­can talk, Mr. Ban­non sug­gest­ed that although Mr. Putin rep­re­sent­ed a “klep­toc­ra­cy,” the Russ­ian pres­i­dent under­stood the exis­ten­tial dan­ger posed by “a poten­tial new caliphate” and the impor­tance of using nation­al­ism to stand up for tra­di­tion­al insti­tu­tions.

“We, the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West,” Mr. Ban­non added, “real­ly have to look at what he’s talk­ing about as far as Tra­di­tion­al­ism goes — par­tic­u­lar­ly the sense of where it sup­ports the under­pin­nings of nation­al­ism.”

As Mr. Ban­non sug­gest­ed in his speech, Mr. Putin’s most influ­en­tial thinker is Alek­san­dr Dug­in, the ultra­na­tion­al­ist Russ­ian Tra­di­tion­al­ist and anti-lib­er­al writer some­times called “Putin’s Rasputin.”

An intel­lec­tu­al descen­dant of Evola, Mr. Dug­in has called for a “gen­uine, true, rad­i­cal­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ary, and con­sis­tent fas­cist fas­cism” and advo­cat­ed a geog­ra­phy-based the­o­ry of “Eurasian­ism” — which has pro­vid­ed a philo­soph­i­cal frame­work for Mr. Putin’s expan­sion­ism and med­dling in West­ern Euro­pean pol­i­tics.

Mr. Dug­in sees Euro­pean Tra­di­tion­al­ists as need­ing Rus­sia, and Mr. Putin, to defend them from the onslaught of West­ern lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty, and mate­ri­al­ism — all Evo­lian bêtes noires.

This appeal of tra­di­tion­al val­ues on pop­ulist vot­ers and against out-of-touch elites, the “Pan-Euro­pean Union” and “cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment in the Unit­ed States,” as Mr. Ban­non put it, was not lost on Mr. Trump’s ide­o­log­i­cal guru.

“A lot of peo­ple that are Tra­di­tion­al­ists,” he said in his Vat­i­can remarks, “are attract­ed to that.”

dreamer-of-the-day

1b. An arti­cle pub­lished more than a week after the New York Times sto­ry above high­light­ed Evola, stress­ing his occult, anti-Judeo Chris­t­ian ori­en­ta­tion.

“The Alt Right’s Intel­lec­tu­al Dar­ling Hat­ed Chris­tian­i­ty” by Anna Momigliano; The Atlantic; 2/21/2017.

. . . . “Fas­cist-era anti-Semit­ic ide­o­logues fall under two categories—biology-based racists and nation­al­ism-based ones—but Evola was some­thing dif­fer­ent,” explained Valenti­na Pisan­ty, a semi­ol­o­gist at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Berg­amo. “As an occultist, he was con­vinced that the world con­tained some mys­te­ri­ous truths that only the ini­ti­at­ed could see, and one of those hid­den truths was a Jew­ish con­spir­a­cy to rule the world.”

Evola believed in the pow­er of mag­ic and tried to use it to restore Roman pagan reli­gion.

Fur­ther dis­tin­guish­ing Evola from oth­er racist writ­ers was the fact that he open­ly attacked the Chris­t­ian reli­gion, which he described as a “Semit­ic super­sti­tion” and as “one of the main sources of the deca­dence of the West” in his sem­i­nal 1928 essay “Impe­ri­al­is­mo Pagano.” He opposed Chris­tian­i­ty both because it was not native to Europe (“an Asi­at­ic move­ment born to a Jew”) and because of its very mes­sage, which he deemed “incom­pat­i­ble” with fascism’s aggres­sive­ness. “Which kind of State, not to men­tion Empire, can we build based on a Gospel preach­ing obe­di­ence … the pre-emi­nence of the hum­ble, the abject, and the mis­er­able?” he asked.

Evola’s fas­ci­na­tion with eso­teri­cism wasn’t only abstract; he believed in the pow­er of mag­ic and tried to use it to restore Roman pagan reli­gion. “He joined an eso­teric group called the Ur Group and per­formed rit­u­als with the spe­cif­ic aim of draw­ing [the dic­ta­tor Ben­i­to] Mus­soli­ni away from Chris­tian­i­ty and toward pagan­ism,” said Simone Calta­bel­lota, an edi­tor and writer who researched the group’s archives for his his­tor­i­cal nov­el Amore degli Anni Ven­ti, set in Evola’s inner cir­cle. . . .

2. The broad­cast then recaps FTR #233, which details Evola’s work for the SS and Kevin Coogan’s the­o­ry that Evola was involved with an SS occult net­work incor­po­rat­ing impor­tant peo­ple and insti­tu­tions in both the West and behind the so-called “Iron Cur­tain.” Lat­er in the pro­gram, we fur­ther devel­op the sto­ry of Alexan­der Dug­in, a Russ­ian “Alt-right” thinker and politi­cian promi­nent in the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. As men­tioned above, Dur­gin, like Ban­non, has been influ­enced by Evola.

We won­der if, in the per­sons of Ban­non and Dur­gin, we are see­ing “West­ern” and “East­ern” man­i­fes­ta­tions of what Kevin con­cep­tu­al­izes as “The Order.”

Draw­ing on mate­r­i­al from Kev­in’s sem­i­nal work Dream­er of the Day: Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey and The Post­war Fas­cist Inter­na­tion­al (soft cov­er, Autono­me­dia, copy­right 1999, ISBN I‑57027–039‑2), this pro­gram sets forth a hypo­thet­i­cal con­struct advanced in the book. Hypoth­e­siz­ing an inter­na­tion­al fas­cist milieu orig­i­nat­ing from (though not coter­mi­nous with) the ide­o­log­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion of the Waf­fen SS, Kevin terms this milieu “The Order.” (This enti­ty is not to be con­fused with the 1980’s Amer­i­can Nazi orga­ni­za­tion of the same name.)

3. Begin­ning with analy­sis of Kev­in’s dis­cus­sion of the work of fas­cist occultist Julius Evola in Vien­na dur­ing the con­clu­sion of World War II, the pro­gram doc­u­ments Evola’s oper­a­tions on behalf of the SD (the SS intel­li­gence ser­vice.)

Dream­er of the Day: Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey and The Post­war Fas­cist Inter­na­tion­al by Kevin Coogan; Autono­me­dia [SC]; copy­right 1999; ISBN I‑57027–039‑2; pp. 319–320.

. . . . . Evola’s SD work at the end of the war is shroud­ed in mys­tery. His­to­ri­an Richard Drake says that while he was in Vien­na, ‘Evola per­formed vital liaisons for the SS as Nazi Ger­many sought to recruit a Euro­pean army for the defense of the Con­ti­nent against the Sovi­et Union and the Unit­ed States.’ Accord­ing to his own account, Evola spent his time liv­ing incog­ni­to while doing ‘intel­lec­tu­al’ research. But what kind of research? . . .

. . . . While Evola was in Vien­na, the SD sup­plied him with a series of arcane texts plun­dered from pri­vate libraries and rare book col­lec­tions. The SD bureau that pro­vid­ed him with these doc­u­ments was Amt VII, an obscure branch that served as an RSHA research library. With this pre­cious archive, Evola close­ly stud­ied Mason­ic rit­u­als and trans­lat­ed cer­tain ‘eso­teric texts’ for a book called His­to­rie Secrete des Soci­etes Secretes. It nev­er appeared because Evola claimed that all his doc­u­ments were lost dur­ing the Russ­ian bom­bard­ment. . . .

. . . . But why would the SD active­ly involve itself in Evola’s arcane research at a time when hun­dreds of thou­sands of Russ­ian sol­diers were sweep­ing into the Reich? And why would Evola choose to live in Vien­na under a false name and devote his time to such a strange project? Could the answer to this ques­tion be found in the cryp­tic ref­er­ence to Evola’s ‘efforts to estab­lish a secret inter­na­tion­al order’ in the 1938 SS report?

I believe that Evola’s Vien­na project was inti­mate­ly linked to the devel­op­ment of what I will call ‘the Order,’ a new kind of Knights Tem­plar designed to suc­cess­ful­ly func­tion sub-rosa. Well before the end of World War II, the intel­li­gence and finan­cial net­works of the Third Reich were hard at work prepar­ing under­ground net­works to sur­vive the com­ing Allied occu­pa­tion. Escape lines to South Amer­i­ca and the Mid­dle East were orga­nized. Bank accounts were cre­at­ed in Switzer­land and oth­er neu­tral nations to finance the under­ground with plun­der the Nazis had loot­ed from occu­pied Europe. But how was this secret empire to be man­aged, except by a vir­tu­al­ly invis­i­ble ‘gov­ern­ment in exile’?

4. Like SS chief Himm­ler, Evola saw the SS as the suc­ces­sors to the Ksha­triya class (the Hin­du war­rior caste.) See­ing Ger­many and Europe as suc­cumb­ing to “bar­bar­ian inva­sion,” Evola saw a pagan, anti-Chris­t­ian mys­ti­cism as nec­es­sar­i­ly anti­thet­i­cal to the Judeo-Chris­t­ian cul­ture which, he felt, had led the West to decline before the “Bol­she­vik hordes” of the Sovi­et Union and the “chew­ing gum impe­ri­al­ism” of the Unit­ed States.

Kevin felt that this orga­ni­za­tion (reflect­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal stance of an ele­ment of the Waf­fen SS) would be pan-Euro­pean in scope and ori­en­ta­tion, and not nec­es­sar­i­ly entire­ly chau­vin­is­tic from a Nordic or Ger­man­ic racial and nation­al stand­point. Nour­ished by bank accounts secret­ed abroad, this hypo­thet­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion func­tions in an under­ground fash­ion. (The funds that nour­ished this insti­tu­tion would nec­es­sar­i­ly have derived from the Bor­mann Orga­ni­za­tion.) The Order appears to have estab­lished osten­si­bly friend­ly rela­tions with the West.

 Ibid., pp. 320–1.

. . . . For years, Evola had been fas­ci­nat­ed by knight­ly orders as expres­sions of the Ksha­triya caste of war­rior aris­to­crats. In the for­mal struc­ture of the SS, he saw the pre­cur­sor to a new Orden­staat, a State ruled by an Order. He also under­stood the great advan­tages pro­vid­ed by medieval orders of chival­ry due to their transna­tion­al com­po­si­tion. Cru­sad­ing orders, like the Knights Tem­plar and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, were pan-Euro­pean, with sep­a­rate ‘nation­al’ sec­tions (‘langues,’ or tongues) uni­fied through a Coun­cil presided over by a Grand Mas­ter. After the col­lapse of fas­cist state pow­er, a new Order, an ‘invis­i­ble col­lege’ of sorts, was need­ed not only to manip­u­late bank accounts and trav­el sched­ules but to have pol­i­cy-mak­ing func­tions. Nor could it sim­ply be run under the aus­pices of the Vat­i­can, since Evola believed that Rome’s down­fall had been caused by the accep­tance of Chris­tian­i­ty by the dom­i­nant fac­tion of the Roman elite. The Emper­or Constantine’s offi­cial embrace of the ‘gen­tle Nazarene’ in 313 A.D. had cul­mi­nat­ed, a hun­dred years lat­er, in Alaric’s sack of Rome. With the Amer­i­can chew­ing-gum impe­ri­al­ists threat­en­ing in the West, and the new Huns sweep­ing in from the East, was the sit­u­a­tion in1945 real­ly so dif­fer­ent? The Order was a ves­sel for those ‘Her­met­ic’ ele­ments of the con­ser­v­a­tive Rev­o­lu­tion, old rul­ing class, and new Nazi elite not entire­ly behold­en to the polit­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and reli­gious ‘Guelf’ wing of the Euro­pean aris­toc­ra­cy which remained ide­o­log­i­cal­ly com­mit­ted to the con­tin­ued prop­a­ga­tion of the rul­ing Chris­t­ian mythol­o­gy.

This account of the ori­gins of the Order is obvi­ous­ly spec­u­la­tive, and I advance it as hypoth­e­sis, not fact. Yet if I am cor­rect the SD real­ly did have a need for Evola’s unique tal­ents. With his exten­sive knowl­edge of mat­ters eso­teric and occult; his fas­ci­na­tion with secret soci­eties and knight­ly Orders; his Waf­fen SS transna­tion­al­ism; his ties to some of the high­est fig­ures in fas­cism, Nazism, and move­ments like the Iron guard; and his loy­al ser­vice to the SD, Baron Evola was a per­fect can­di­date to help the­o­rize a new under­ground Order. As the SD’s equiv­a­lent of Albert Pike, the for­mer Con­fed­er­ate Army gen­er­al who designed the rit­u­als for the Scot­tish Rite Masons in the late 1800’s, Evola’s task was to help cre­ate the inner orga­ni­za­tion­al and rit­u­al struc­ture for the Grand Mas­ters of a secret Sham­bal­lah whose finan­cial nerve cen­ter was care­ful­ly hid­den away in Swiss bank accounts.

With the war rapid­ly com­ing to an end, how­ev­er, the Order lacked the time to imple­ment its plans. With sup­port from the top RSHA lead­er­ship, a decep­tion game was begun with both Allied intel­li­gence and the Catholic Church. Uti­liz­ing Wall Street and Vat­i­can fears of com­mu­nism, some of Himmler’s top cronies, like SS Gen­er­al Karl Wolff, became Dam­as­cus-road con­verts to a ‘kinder, gen­tler’ SS eager to estab­lish friend­ly rela­tions with both the Amer­i­cans and the Holy See.

5. This orga­ni­za­tion may very well have begun work­ing with the U.S. intel­li­gence appa­rat after the war, as evi­denced by, among oth­er things, the col­lab­o­ra­tion between post-war SS ele­ments and the CIA. Coogan hypoth­e­sizes that CIA direc­tor Allen Dulles may have played a pri­ma­ry role in such an accord.

Anoth­er influ­ence on a Dulles/Order col­lab­o­ra­tive rela­tion­ship may have been psy­chol­o­gist Carl Jung, who was con­nect­ed to Dulles and to the Third Reich.

Ibid., p. 334.

. . . . Behind the strat­e­gy of ten­sion there lurked what appears to have been a devil’s pact between the Order and Allen Dulles. Until Dulles was named CIA direc­tor by Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er (and his broth­er, John Fos­ter Dulles, became direc­tor by Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er (and his broth­er, John Fos­ter Dulles, became sec­re­tary of state), oper­a­tional links to the Nazi under­ground came pri­mar­i­ly from the Office of Pol­i­cy Coor­di­na­tion (OPC), head­ed by Dulles pro­tégé Frank Wis­ner, the for­mer chief of OSS oper­a­tions in Bucharest, Roma­nia. After the war, Dulles, Wis­ner, Angle­ton, and OPC’s Carmel Offie vir­tu­al­ly ran covert oper­a­tions in Italy as their own pri­vate affair. . . .

. . . . The OPC’s bud­get was $4.7 mil­lion in 1949. Three years lat­er, when Dulles was still only CIA deputy direc­tor, it had reached $82 mil­lion. OPC per­son­nel had humped from 302 to 6,954. OPC was offi­cial­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the CIA in 1952 as the Agency’s direc­torate of Plans. In1956, after Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er estab­lished the Kil­lian Com­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate the Agency, it was dis­cov­ered that more than half of the CIA’s per­son­nel and 80 per­cent of its bud­get had been devot­ed not to intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing but to psy­cho­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal war­fare pro­grams. Through­out this entire time, the Dulles net­work was inti­mate­ly involved in com­plex deals with fac­tions inside the post­war SS. . . .

 . . . Did Dulles offer to pro­tect ele­ments of the SS in return for its sup­port for CIA-backed anti-Sovi­et oper­a­tions in Europe and the Third World? Did he think that grant­i­ng the Order a cer­tain amount of auton­o­my was a small price to pay for bring­ing it into the Amer­i­can camp? Might he even have been per­son­al­ly com­pro­mised in some way, or manip­u­lat­ed by the Dulles fam­i­ly psy­chi­a­trist, Carl Jung? Men Among the Ruins, then, may have been less a con­ces­sion by Evola to Amer­i­can pow­er than a sig­nal that some sort of under­stand­ing reached by Dulles and Wolff at the end of the war was now ful­ly oper­a­tional. . . .

6. More about Jung, Dulles and Mary Ban­croft, an OSS oper­a­tive and Dulles’s mis­tress.

Ibid.; p. 340.

 . . . . Jung also treat­ed Dulles’s wife, clover, for years. One of Jung’s assis­tants, Mary Ban­croft, was an OSS oper­a­tive in Switzer­land as well as Allen Dulles’s mis­tress. Like Evola, Jung was an expert in myth, sym­bol, and psy­che with a com­plex and ambigu­ous rela­tion­ship to the Third Reich. . . .

7. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the Order appears to have over­lapped, and also worked with, ele­ments of the East Bloc, includ­ing for­mer Sovi­et and East Ger­man nation­al secu­ri­ty offi­cials. The orga­ni­za­tion also main­tained con­tacts with “anti-impe­ri­al­ist,” Third World lib­er­a­tion move­ments.

Steve Ban­non’s dis­cus­sion of Alexan­der Dug­in gains sig­nif­i­cance in this con­text.

Ibid., p. 369.

. . . . [Jan] Paulus then report­ed that the British had uncov­ered the fact that two Russ­ian gen­er­als, Bul­ganin and Kubalov, were work­ing close­ly with the Nazis; they also found that the Rus­sians had set up a coun­ter­part to Gen­er­al Matthew Ridgeway’s SHAPE, head­ed by a Gen­erl Shugaev, in East Ger­many. The British had ‘con­clu­sive evi­dence.’ That the [Wern­er] Nau­mann cir­cle main­tained close ties to Gen­er­al Vin­cenz Muller, the brains behind the East Ger­man police. Paulus thought that Churchill want­ed to use this infor­ma­tion both to warn Wash­ing­ton that Ger­many was unre­li­able and to gain lever­age over Ade­nauer, even to the point of being able to top­ple his gov­ern­ment if nec­es­sary.

He said that ‘Britain has an extreme­ly exten­sive dossier about the Nazi activ­i­ties which she will reveal lat­er in case Eisen­how­er decides to push his broad Ger­man pol­i­cy too far. For instance, the British have con­clu­sive evi­dence that the Nazi activ­i­ties have been financed by the Ruhr indus­tri­al­ists . . . Addi­tion­al evi­dence that the Ruhr indus­tri­al­ists have been col­lab­o­rat­ing very exten­sive­ly with the Nazis is the fact that when [for­mer Nazi finance min­is­ter] Dr. Schacht opened his bank in Dus­sel­dorf, the min­is­ter of inte­ri­or and the min­is­ter of eco­nom­ics were present.’ . . .

. . . The British par­tic­u­lar­ly feared the Nau­mann circle’s aston­ish­ing influ­ence in the Mid­dle East. Accord­ing to a March 1953 report by the Non-Sec­tar­i­an Anti-Nazi League (NSANL), Dr. Gus­tav Scheel, a Brud­er­schaft leader arrest­ed with Nau­mann, main­tained excel­lent ties to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions wish­ing to do busi­ness in the Mid­dle East and Africa first had to approach Nau­mann, Scheel, Sko­rzeny, and the Grand Mufti. Scheel was espe­cial­ly close to Iran’s nation­al­ist leader, Dr. Moham­mad Mossadegh, and sup­port­ed Iran­ian efforts to nation­al­ize West­ern oil com­pa­nies. . . .

8. In addi­tion, the Order appears to have exploit­ed its con­tacts with­in both East and West blocs to fur­ther its own fascis­tic and elit­ist agen­da, play­ing both sides against the mid­dle dur­ing the Cold War.

Ibid. p. 360.

 . . . . Any pure­ly sec­u­lar inter­pre­ta­tion of the divi­sions in the far right between the ‘pro-Russ­ian’ and the ‘pro-Amer­i­can’ fac­tions of the Black Inter­na­tion­al that avoids the ‘occult’ would con­clude that polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences divid­ed the two ten­den­cies. An Order, how­ev­er, is not struc­tured along con­ven­tion­al polit­i­cal lines. Such an orga­ni­za­tion can dic­tate sharp turns and rever­sals in seem­ing­ly fixed polit­i­cal log­ics because the ‘polit­i­cal,’ crude­ly under­stood, is not the moti­vat­ing force. . . .

. . . . Whether Yock­ey or any­one else tilt­ed East or West, and at what time, and to what degree, and for how long, and under what con­di­tions, was essen­tial­ly a tac­ti­cal ques­tion. The Order, like any intel­li­gence agency, was a kind of octo­pus with many ten­ta­cles, not jus a ‘left’ and ‘right’ one. While I believe that there were legit­i­mate pol­i­cy argu­ments inside the post­war under­ground, as might be expect­ed, I am not at all sure that it is mean­ing­ful to con­cep­tu­al­ize a split inside the Order along rigid ‘East’/ ‘West’ lines. An orga­ni­za­tion like the Order was nec­es­sary pre­cise­ly to pre­vent the total dom­i­na­tion of post­war Europe by either the Amer­i­cans or the Rus­sians. By play­ing off the U.S. and USSR against one anoth­er, the Order equal­ly ensured its own abil­i­ty to sur­vive and pros­per. In music, the basic theme can some­times be quite sim­ple. The real test is how well you play the com­plex vari­a­tions. . . .

9. It should also be remem­bered that Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey, Julius Evola and “the Order” con­sid­ered the Unit­ed States to be the greater threat.

Ibid.; pp. 359–60.

 . . . There was, in fact, lit­tle ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ence between Evola and Yock­ey. Like Yock­ey, Evola believed that the Amer­i­can cul­tur­al threat to Europe was far greater than any­thing the Rus­sians could come up with. . . .

10. Anoth­er Bre­it­bart alum­nus appears to man­i­fest fas­cist influ­ence and her­itage. Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka wears a medal strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the Horthy/Arrow Cross allies of Nazi Ger­many.

In a com­ment on this pro­gram, Pter­rafractyl con­tributed a com­ment that fur­ther devel­ops Gorka’s fas­cist, excuse me “alt-right” views and back­ground: http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-947-evola-on-our-minds/comment-page‑1/#comment-118077.

“Top Trump Aid Wears Medal of Hun­gar­i­an Nazi Col­lab­o­ra­tors;” Times of Israel; 2/14/2017.

A top aide to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who recent­ly defend­ed the administration’s omis­sion of Jews from a Holo­caust Remem­brance Day state­ment has on sev­er­al occa­sions worn insignia tied to Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors in Hun­gary.

Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, a for­mer edi­tor at Bre­it­bart News and now a deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent, was pho­tographed and inter­viewed at Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion wear­ing the uni­form and medal of Vitézi Rend, a Hun­gar­i­an order of mer­it close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Nazi Ger­many.

The order was found­ed in 1920 by Mik­lós Hor­thy, who served as regent of Hun­gary until 1944, and com­prised his sup­port­ers. Hor­thy was an ally of Adolf Hitler and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis through­out most of World War II. Dur­ing the war, con­fis­cat­ed Jew­ish prop­er­ty was dis­trib­uted to mem­bers of the order by the Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment.

Gor­ka, who is of Hun­gar­i­an descent, may have inher­it­ed the medal and uni­form from his grand­fa­ther, accord­ing to for­eign pol­i­cy site Lobel­og.

The US State Depart­ment lists Vitézi Rend as a Nazi-linked group, which could ren­der mem­bers inel­i­gi­ble for visas. Gor­ka became a US cit­i­zen in 2012.

Lobel­og also not­ed that Gor­ka signed his PhD dis­ser­ta­tion in 2007 as “Sebestyén L. v. Gor­ka” — “L. v.” being ini­tials rep­re­sent­ing mem­bers of Vitézi Rend.

Oth­er than at the inau­gu­ra­tion, Gor­ka has worn the medal and uni­form in the past, as seen in an undat­ed pho­to on his Face­book page. . . .

11. In a post writ­ten short­ly after the begin­ning of the “Occu­py” move­ment, we not­ed the gen­e­sis of the move­ment with Adbusters mag­a­zine. edit­ed by Kalle Lasn. Eth­nic Esto­ni­ans, Las­n’s fam­i­ly fled to Nazi Ger­many at the end of the Sec­ond World War.

Adbusters has tout­ed Islam­ic eco­nom­ics as a viable alter­na­tive for the world’s poor!

Now, Adbusters is show­cas­ing Alexan­der Dur­gin.

“Putin’s Rasputin: Moder­ni­ty Has Been a Dis­as­ter for the West­ern Mind;” Adbusters ; 2/14/2017.

Excerpt­ed from The Fourth Polit­i­cal The­o­ry by Russ­ian polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Alexan­der Dug­in.

Moder­ni­ty and its ide­o­log­i­cal basis (indi­vid­u­al­ism, lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, cap­i­tal­ism, con­sumerism, and so on) are the cause of the future cat­a­stro­phe of human­i­ty, and the glob­al dom­i­na­tion of the West­ern lifestyle is the rea­son for the final degra­da­tion of the Earth. The West is approach­ing its ter­mi­nus, and we should not let it drag the rest of us down into the abyss with it.

Tra­di­tion (reli­gion, hier­ar­chy, and fam­i­ly) and its val­ues were over­thrown at the dawn of moder­ni­ty. All three polit­i­cal the­o­ries were con­ceived as arti­fi­cial ide­o­log­i­cal con­struc­tions by peo­ple who com­pre­hend­ed, in var­i­ous ways, ‘the death of God’ (Niet­zsche), the ‘dis­en­chant­ment of the world’ (Weber), and the ‘end of the sacred.’ This was the core of the New Era of moder­ni­ty: man came to replace God, phi­los­o­phy and sci­ence replaced reli­gion, and the ratio­nal, force­ful, and tech­no­log­i­cal con­structs took the place of rev­e­la­tion.

When we use the term ‘mod­ern­iza­tion’, we mean progress, lin­ear accu­mu­la­tion, and a cer­tain con­tin­u­ous process. When we speak of ‘mod­ern­iza­tion’, we pre­sup­pose devel­op­ment, growth, and evo­lu­tion. It is the same seman­tic sys­tem. Thus, when we speak of the ‘uncon­di­tion­al­ly pos­i­tive achieve­ments of mod­ern­iza­tion: we agree with a very impor­tant basic par­a­digm – we agree with the idea that ‘human soci­ety is devel­op­ing, pro­gress­ing, evolv­ing, grow­ing, and get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter: that is to say, we share a par­tic­u­lar vision of his­tor­i­cal opti­mism.

This his­tor­i­cal opti­mism per­tains to the three clas­si­cal polit­i­cal ide­olo­gies (lib­er­al­ism, Com­mu­nism, and fas­cism). It is root­ed in the sci­en­tif­ic, soci­etal, polit­i­cal, and social world­view in the human­i­ties and nat­ur­al sci­ences of the Eigh­teenth and Nine­teenth cen­turies, when the ideas of progress, devel­op­ment, and growth were tak­en as axioms that could not be doubt­ed. In oth­er words, this entire set of axioms, as well as the whole his­to­ri­og­ra­phy and pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics of the Nine­teenth cen­tu­ry in the human­i­ties and the nat­ur­al sci­ences, were built upon the idea of progress.

 

Discussion

46 comments for “FTR #947 Evola on Our Minds”

  1. Oh what a shock­er: It turns out Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka has a long and exten­sive rela­tion­ship with the Hun­gar­i­an far-right, includ­ing found­ing a Hun­gar­i­an polit­i­cal par­ty with two promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik:

    For­ward

    Exclu­sive: Senior Trump Aide Forged Key Ties To Anti-Semit­ic Groups In Hun­gary

    Lili Bay­er
    Feb­ru­ary 24, 2017
    BUDAPEST

    When pho­tographs recent­ly emerged show­ing Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s high-pro­file deputy assis­tant, wear­ing a medal asso­ci­at­ed with the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist regime that ruled Hun­gary dur­ing World War II, the con­tro­ver­sial secu­ri­ty strate­gist was unapolo­getic.

    “I’m a proud Amer­i­can now and I wear that medal now and again,” Gor­ka told Bre­it­bart News. Gor­ka, 46, who was born in Britain to Hun­gar­i­an par­ents and is now an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, asked rhetor­i­cal­ly, “Why? To remind myself of where I came from, what my par­ents suf­fered under both the Nazis and the Com­mu­nists, and to help me in my work today.”

    But an inves­ti­ga­tion by the For­ward into Gorka’s activ­i­ties from 2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and jour­nal­ism, found that he had close ties then to Hun­gar­i­an far-right cir­cles, and has in the past cho­sen to work with open­ly racist and anti-Semit­ic groups and pub­lic fig­ures.

    Gorka’s involve­ment with the far right includes co-found­ing a polit­i­cal par­ty with for­mer promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik, a polit­i­cal par­ty with a well-known his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism; repeat­ed­ly pub­lish­ing arti­cles in a news­pa­per known for its anti-Semit­ic and racist con­tent; and attend­ing events with some of Hungary’s most noto­ri­ous extreme-right fig­ures.

    When Gor­ka was asked — in an email exchange with the For­ward — about the anti-Semit­ic records of some of the groups and indi­vid­u­als he has worked with, he instead piv­ot­ed to talk about his family’s his­to­ry.

    “My par­ents, as chil­dren, lived through the night­mare of WWII and the hor­rors of the Nyi­las pup­pet fas­cist regime,” he said, refer­ring to the Arrow Cross regime that took over Hun­gary near the very end of World War II and mur­dered thou­sands of Jews.

    In the Unit­ed States, Gor­ka, who was appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent on Jan­u­ary 20, is known as a tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor, a pro­fes­sor and an “alt-right” writer who describes him­self as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert. A close asso­ciate of Stephen Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist, Gor­ka is now part of Bannon’s key in-house White House think tank, the Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group. The new­ly formed group con­sists of fig­ures close to Trump and is seen by some as a rival to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil in for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies for the pres­i­dent.

    Gor­ka, who views Islam as a reli­gion with an inher­ent predilec­tion for mil­i­tan­cy, has strong sup­port­ers among some right-lean­ing think tanks in Wash­ing­ton. “Dr. Gor­ka is one of the most knowl­edge­able, well-read and stud­ied experts on nation­al secu­ri­ty that I’ve ever met,” Joseph Humire, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for a Secure Free Soci­ety, told the For­ward. Humire has known Gor­ka for near­ly a decade, and con­sid­ers him “top-notch.”

    Born in Lon­don to par­ents who fled Hungary’s post-World War II Com­mu­nist regime, Gor­ka has had a career that’s marked by fre­quent job changes and shift­ing nation­al alle­giances. The U.S. gov­ern­ment is the third sov­er­eign state to hire him in a nation­al secu­ri­ty role. As a young man, he was a mem­ber of the Unit­ed Kingdom’s Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Army reserves, where he served in the Intel­li­gence Corps. Then, fol­low­ing the fall of Com­mu­nism in Hun­gary, he was employed in 1992 by the country’s Min­istry of Defense. He worked there for five years, appar­ent­ly on issues relat­ed to Hungary’s acces­sion to NATO.

    Gorka’s mar­riage in 1996 to an Amer­i­can, Katharine Cor­nell, an heir to Penn­syl­va­nia-based Cor­nell Iron Works, helped him become a U.S. cit­i­zen in 2012.

    A Web of Deep Ties to Hungary’s Far Right

    It was dur­ing his time in Hun­gary that Gor­ka devel­oped ties to the country’s anti-Semit­ic and ultra­na­tion­al­ist far right.

    Dur­ing large-scale anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions in Hun­gary in 2006, Gor­ka took on an active role, becom­ing close­ly involved with a protest group called the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee (Mag­yar Nemzeti Bizottság). Gor­ka took on the roles of trans­la­tor, press coor­di­na­tor and advis­er for the group.

    Among the four Com­mit­tee mem­bers named as the group’s polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives was Lás­zló Toroczkai, then head of the 64 Coun­ties Youth Move­ment. Toroczkai found­ed that group in 2001 to advo­cate for the return of parts of mod­ern-day Ser­bia, Slo­va­kia, Roma­nia and Ukraine to form a Greater Hun­gary, restor­ing the country’s pre-World War I bor­ders.

    In 2004, two years before the Movement’s involve­ment in the 2006 protests, Hun­gar­i­an author­i­ties opened an inves­ti­ga­tion into the Movement’s news­pa­per, Mag­yar Jelen, when an arti­cle referred to Jews as “Gali­cian upstarts” and went on to argue: “We should get them out. In fact, we need to take back our coun­try from them, take back our stolen for­tunes. After all, these upstarts are suck­ing on our blood, get­ting rich off our blood.” At the time of the article’s pub­li­ca­tion, Toroczkai was both an edi­tor at the paper and the Movement’s offi­cial leader.
    Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.
    Toroczkai cur­rent­ly serves as vice pres­i­dent of Job­bik and is the may­or of a vil­lage near the bor­der Hun­gary shares with Ser­bia. Last year, he gained noto­ri­ety in the West for declar­ing a goal of ban­ning Mus­lims and gays from his town.

    In Jan­u­ary 2007, inspired by the 2006 protests and his expe­ri­ence with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Gor­ka announced plans to form a new polit­i­cal par­ty, to be known as the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion. Gor­ka had pre­vi­ous­ly served as an advis­er to Vik­tor Orbán, now Hungary’s right-wing nation­al­ist prime min­is­ter. But fol­low­ing Orbán’s failed attempts to bring down Hungary’s then-Social­ist gov­ern­ment, Gor­ka grew dis­en­chant­ed with Orbán’s Fidesz par­ty.

    In his email exchange with the For­ward for this arti­cle, Gor­ka explained: “The Coali­tion was estab­lished in direct response to the unhealthy pat­terns vis­i­ble at the time in Hun­gar­i­an con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics. It became appar­ent to me that the effect of decades of Com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ship had tak­en a deep­er toll on civ­il soci­ety than was expect­ed.”

    Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.

    Job­bik has a long his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism. In 2006, when Gorka’s polit­i­cal allies were still mem­bers of Job­bik, the party’s offi­cial online blog includ­ed arti­cles such as “The Roots of Jew­ish Ter­ror­ism” and “Where Were the Jews in 1956?”, a ref­er­ence to the country’s rev­o­lu­tion against Sovi­et rule. In one speech in 2010, Job­bik leader Gabor Vona said that “under com­mu­nism we licked Moscow’s boots, now we lick Brus­sels’ and Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s.”

    In found­ing the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion, Gor­ka and the for­mer Job­bik politi­cians aimed to rep­re­sent “con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues, decid­ed­ly stand­ing up to cor­rup­tion and bring­ing Chris­tian­i­ty into the Con­sti­tu­tion,” accord­ing to the party’s orig­i­nal pol­i­cy pro­gram. At the time, Hungary’s con­sti­tu­tion was sec­u­lar.

    The party’s founders did not see them­selves as far right or anti-Semit­ic.

    “I knew Gor­ka as a strong­ly Atlanti­cist, con­ser­v­a­tive per­son,” Mol­nár, the for­mer Job­bik vice pres­i­dent and co-founder of Gorka’s par­ty, told the For­ward in a phone con­ver­sa­tion. He added that he could not imag­ine Gor­ka hav­ing anti-Semit­ic views.

    Mol­nár first met Gor­ka at a book launch event for Gorka’s father, Pál Gor­ka, in 2002. The younger Gor­ka and Mol­nár became friends, bond­ing over their shared inter­est in the his­to­ry of Hungary’s 1956 rev­o­lu­tion and the fact that both had par­ents who were jailed under the country’s Com­mu­nist regime.

    Mol­nár became involved with Job­bik in 2003, in the far-right party’s ear­ly days, and quit in 2006. In his words, “Job­bik went in a mil­i­tant direc­tion that I did not like.”

    Gor­ka rejects the notion that he knew any of his polit­i­cal allies had con­nec­tions to the far right.

    “I only knew Mol­nár as an artist and Bégány as a for­mer con­ser­v­a­tive local politi­cian (MDF if I recall),” Gor­ka wrote in response to a ques­tion regard­ing the Job­bik affil­i­a­tions of his for­mer par­ty co-founders. “What they did after I left Hun­gary is not some­thing I fol­lowed.” (MDF is an acronym for the Hun­gar­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Forum, a now-defunct cen­ter-right par­ty.)

    In fact, both Mol­nár and Bégány were mem­bers of Job­bik before, and not after, they found­ed the new par­ty with Gor­ka. Mol­nár was Jobbik’s high-pro­file vice pres­i­dent until Sep­tem­ber 2006, before he, Gor­ka and Bégány launched the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion in ear­ly 2007.

    Gor­ka appeared at a press con­fer­ence with Mol­nár on Sep­tem­ber 21, 2006 — one day after Mol­nár resigned his posi­tion as Jobbik’s vice pres­i­dent. Gor­ka was also pho­tographed on Sep­tem­ber 23, 2006, wear­ing a badge with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Committee’s logo as he was stand­ing next to Mol­nár at a podi­um while Mol­nár briefed the press on the Committee’s activ­i­ties. At the time Gor­ka was mak­ing these pub­lic appear­ances with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Committee’s lead­er­ship, extreme-right leader Toroczkai was already a top mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee.

    Bégány, mean­while, had indeed been a mem­ber of MDF for a time, but in 2005 he joined Job­bik and served for­mal­ly as a mem­ber of Budapest’s Dis­trict 5 Coun­cil rep­re­sent­ing the far-right par­ty. Bégány’s for­mal par­ty biog­ra­phy, post­ed on the Job­bik web­site in 2006, said it is his “belief that with­out belong­ing to the Hun­gar­i­an nation or to God it is pos­si­ble to live, but not worth it.” Like Mol­nár, Bégány left Job­bik only a few months before start­ing the new par­ty with Gor­ka.

    Mol­nár, Bégány and the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee were not Gorka’s only con­nec­tion to far-right cir­cles. Between 2006 and 2007, Gor­ka wrote a series of arti­cles in Mag­yar Demokra­ta, a news­pa­per known for pub­lish­ing the writ­ings of promi­nent anti-Semit­ic and racist Hun­gar­i­an pub­lic fig­ures.

    The newspaper’s edi­tor-in-chief, András Benc­sik, is noto­ri­ous in Hun­gary for his own long-stand­ing anti-Semit­ic views. In 1995, the Hun­gar­i­an Jew­ish pub­li­ca­tion Szom­bat crit­i­cized Benc­sik for writ­ing that “the sol­id cap­i­tal, which the Jews got after Auschwitz, has run out.” That same year, Szom­bat not­ed, Benc­sik wrote in Mag­yar Demokra­ta, “In Hun­gary the chief con­flict is between nation­al and cos­mopoli­tan aspi­ra­tions.” In Hun­gar­i­an soci­ety, “cos­mopoli­tan” is gen­er­al­ly a code word for Jews.

    In Decem­ber 2004, the U.S. State Depart­ment report­ed blunt­ly to Con­gress that, “the week­ly news­pa­per Mag­yar Demokra­ta pub­lished anti-Semit­ic arti­cles and fea­tured arti­cles by authors who have denied the Holo­caust.”

    In the sum­mer of 2007, Benc­sik became one of the founders of the Hun­gar­i­an Guard, a now-banned para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion known for assault­ing and intim­i­dat­ing mem­bers of Hungary’s Roma com­mu­ni­ty. The per­pe­tra­tors in a spate of racial­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders of Roma in 2008 and 2009 were found to have con­nec­tions to the Guard.

    Gorka’s arti­cles for Mag­yar Demokra­ta focused not only on decry­ing Hungary’s then-Social­ist gov­ern­ment, but also on high­light­ing the per­ceived injus­tices of the Treaty of Ver­sailles, the post-World War I agree­ment that led to the loss of two-thirds of pre­war Hungary’s ter­ri­to­ry.

    “We fought on the wrong side of a war for which we were not respon­si­ble, and were pun­ished to an extent that was like­ly even more unjust — with the excep­tion of the dis­mem­ber­ment of the Ottoman Empire — than any oth­er pun­ish­ment in the mod­ern age,” Gor­ka wrote in a 2006 arti­cle in Mag­yar Demokra­ta.

    Asked about his choice of jour­nal­is­tic out­lets, Gor­ka wrote, “I am […] unfa­mil­iar with Benc­sik. I believe it was one of his col­leagues who asked me if I want­ed to write some OpE­ds.” Gor­ka told the For­ward that his writ­ing at the time shows “how every­thing I did was in the inter­ests of a more trans­par­ent and healthy democ­ra­cy in Hun­gary. This includ­ed a rejec­tion of all revan­chist ten­den­cies and xeno­pho­bic cliques.”

    Gorka’s claim to be unfa­mil­iar with Benc­sik must be weighed against his deep immer­sion in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and Benscik’s sta­tus as a major fig­ure in Hungary’s right-wing polit­i­cal scene. At the time, Gor­ka gave pub­lic inter­views as an “expert” on the Hun­gar­i­an Guard, which Benc­sik helped to found. In one 2007 inter­view, Gor­ka clar­i­fied his own view of the Guard, say­ing, “It’s not worth talk­ing about ban­ning” the group. Despite its extreme rhetoric against minori­ties, Gor­ka said, “The gov­ern­ment and media are inflat­ing this ques­tion.”

    An Affin­i­ty for Nation­al­ist Sym­bols

    It was in mid-Feb­ru­ary that Gorka’s affin­i­ty for Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist and far-right ideas first came to the Amer­i­can public’s atten­tion. Eli Clifton of the news web­site Lobel­og noticed from a pho­to­graph that the new deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent had appeared at an inau­gu­ra­tion ball in Jan­u­ary wear­ing a Hun­gar­i­an medal known as Vitézi Rend. The medal sig­ni­fies a knight­ly order of mer­it found­ed in 1920 by Admi­ral Mik­los Hor­thy, Hungary’s long­time anti-Semit­ic ruler and Hitler’s ally dur­ing World War II. Notwith­stand­ing this alliance, and the group’s des­ig­na­tion as Nazi-col­lab­o­ra­tors by the U.S. State Depart­ment, many with­in Hungary’s right revere Hor­thy for his staunch nation­al­ism dur­ing the over­all course of his rule from 1920 to 1944.

    Bre­it­bart, the “alt-right” pub­li­ca­tion, where Gor­ka him­self served as nation­al secu­ri­ty edi­tor pri­or to join­ing the White House staff, defend­ed his wardrobe choice, writ­ing on Feb­ru­ary 14 that, “as any of his Bre­it­bart News col­leagues could tes­ti­fy, Gor­ka is not only pro-Israel but ‘pro-Jew­ish,’ and defends both against the threat of rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism.”

    “In 1979 my father was award­ed a dec­la­ra­tion for his resis­tance to a dic­ta­tor­ship, and although he passed away 14 years ago, I wear that medal in remem­brance of what my fam­i­ly went through and what it rep­re­sents today, to me, as an Amer­i­can,” Gor­ka told Breibart on Feb­ru­ary 15, as the con­tro­ver­sy regard­ing his choice to wear a Hor­thy-era medal inten­si­fied.

    But the medal was not the first time Gor­ka expressed appre­ci­a­tion for sym­bols that many asso­ciate with Hungary’s World War II-era Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers. In 2006, Gor­ka defend­ed the use of the Arpad flag, which Hungary’s mur­der­ous Arrow Cross Par­ty used as their sym­bol. The Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross Par­ty killed thou­sands of Jews dur­ing World War II, shoot­ing many of them along­side the Danube Riv­er and throw­ing them into the water. Gor­ka told the news agency JTA at the time that “if you say eight cen­turies of his­to­ry can be erad­i­cat­ed by 18 months of fas­cist dis­tor­tion of sym­bols, you’re los­ing his­toric per­spec­tive.”

    Gorka’s Unlike­ly Trans­for­ma­tion

    After the fail­ure of his new par­ty in 2007, Gor­ka moved to the Unit­ed States and over the past 10 years has worked for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Marine Corps Uni­ver­si­ty, Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty, and Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Uni­ver­si­ty.

    For­mer col­leagues in the States ques­tioned the qual­i­ty of Gorka’s work on Islam, and said that he shied away from pub­lish­ing in peer-reviewed jour­nals, accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post.

    Retired Lt. Col. Mike Lewis told the Post that when Gor­ka was lec­tur­ing to mem­bers of the armed forces, he “made a dif­fi­cult and com­plex sit­u­a­tion sim­ple and con­firmed the offi­cers’ prej­u­dices and assump­tions.”

    But Humire, of the Cen­ter for a Secure Free Soci­ety, defend­ed Gorka’s world­view. “Since I’ve known him he has been empha­siz­ing a point that is not prop­er­ly under­stood by most con­ven­tion­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts,” said Humire, “that the mod­ern bat­tle­field is fought with words, images, and ideas, not just bombs and bul­lets. If you study asym­met­ric war, this empha­sizes the men­tal bat­tle of attri­tion and the moral bat­tle of legit­i­ma­cy over the phys­i­cal bat­tle for the ter­rain. Dr. Gor­ka under­stands this at a very high lev­el and has taught this to our war fight­ers for sev­er­al years,” said Humire.

    ...

    Gorka’s friends and close asso­ciates in the Unit­ed States do not believe that he is ide­o­log­i­cal­ly part of Hungary’s far right.

    “I am pret­ty cer­tain that SG [Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka] has some major dif­fer­ences with aspects of what you call the far-right,” Ale­jan­dro Cha­fuen, who has known Gor­ka for near­ly two decades, wrote the For­ward in an email exchange. How­ev­er, Cha­fuen, who serves as pres­i­dent of the U.S.-based Atlas Net­work, added that he does not know whether these ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences also include Gorka’s per­spec­tive on minor­i­ty issues and his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry.

    Mean­while, Gorka’s for­mer polit­i­cal part­ners in Hun­gary are pleased with his suc­cess­es in Wash­ing­ton.

    “I am hap­py, because this could be good for Hun­gar­i­an-Amer­i­can rela­tions,” said Mol­nár, the for­mer Job­bik vice pres­i­dent and co-founder of Gorka’s short-lived par­ty, in his con­ver­sa­tion with the For­ward. “But I was surprised…No Hun­gar­i­an pub­lic fig­ure has ever been so close to the White House.”

    Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.”

    And despite all that, his Gorka’s friends and asso­ciates want to assure us that he’s not ide­o­log­i­cal­ly part of Hun­gary’s far-right. Sort of:

    ...
    Gorka’s friends and close asso­ciates in the Unit­ed States do not believe that he is ide­o­log­i­cal­ly part of Hungary’s far right.

    “I am pret­ty cer­tain that SG [Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka] has some major dif­fer­ences with aspects of what you call the far-right,” Ale­jan­dro Cha­fuen, who has known Gor­ka for near­ly two decades, wrote the For­ward in an email exchange. How­ev­er, Cha­fuen, who serves as pres­i­dent of the U.S.-based Atlas Net­work, added that he does not know whether these ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences also include Gorka’s per­spec­tive on minor­i­ty issues and his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry.
    ...

    Well there we go: oth­er than per­haps shared per­spec­tives on “minor­i­ty issues and his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry”, two of the far-right’s biggest pet peeves, one of Gorka’s long-time asso­ciates is pret­ty sure Gor­ka would have major dif­fer­ences with aspects of “what you call the far-right”. That’s reas­sur­ing.

    Although it’s true that you can’t quite refer to Gor­ka as part of the Hun­gar­i­an far-right these days. He’s clear­ly part of the inter­na­tion­al far-right at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 24, 2017, 3:32 pm
  2. Isn’t that cute: Steve Ban­non unveiled what appears to be the lat­est catch phrase to describe the long-stand­ing far-right agen­da to defang gov­ern­ment, gut reg­u­la­tions, and hand even more pow­er over to the oli­garchs (under the ban­ner of ‘pop­ulism’): decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Ban­non vows a dai­ly fight for ‘decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state’

    By Philip Ruck­er and Robert Cos­ta
    Feb­ru­ary 23, 2025

    The reclu­sive mas­ter­mind behind Pres­i­dent Trump’s nation­al­ist ide­ol­o­gy and com­bat­ive tac­tics made his pub­lic debut Thurs­day, deliv­er­ing a fiery rebuke of the media and declar­ing that the new admin­is­tra­tion is in an unend­ing bat­tle for “decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state.”

    Stephen K. Ban­non, the White House chief strate­gist and intel­lec­tu­al force behind Trump’s agen­da, used his first speak­ing appear­ance since Trump took office to vow that the pres­i­dent would hon­or all of the hard-line pledges of his cam­paign.

    Appear­ing at a gath­er­ing of con­ser­v­a­tive activists along­side Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Ban­non dis­missed the idea that Trump might mod­er­ate his posi­tions or seek con­sen­sus with polit­i­cal oppo­nents. Rather, he said, the White House is dig­ging in for a long peri­od of con­flict to trans­form Wash­ing­ton and upend the world order.

    “If you think they’re going to give you your coun­try back with­out a fight, you are sad­ly mis­tak­en,” Ban­non said in ref­er­ence to the media and oppo­si­tion forces. “Every day, it is going to be a fight.”

    He con­tin­ued, “And that is what I’m proud­est about Don­ald Trump. All the oppor­tu­ni­ties he had to waver off this, all the peo­ple who have come to him and said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to mod­er­ate’ — every day in the Oval Office, he tells Reince and I, ‘I com­mit­ted this to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, I promised this when I ran, and I’m going to deliv­er on this.’?”

    Ban­non and Priebus shared the stage at the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence for 25 min­utes in a bud­dy rou­tine that inspired flash­backs to Oscar and Felix in “The Odd Cou­ple.” They strove to prove that they are not rivals in Trump’s com­pet­ing pow­er cir­cles, as has been report­ed, but rather part­ners work­ing from 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. each day, often in the same office suite, to mus­cle through Trump’s desired changes.

    Ban­non framed much of Trump’s agen­da with the phrase, “decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state,” mean­ing the sys­tem of tax­es, reg­u­la­tions and trade pacts that the pres­i­dent says have stymied eco­nom­ic growth and infringed upon U.S. sov­er­eign­ty. Ban­non says that the post-World War II polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic con­sen­sus is fail­ing and should be replaced with a sys­tem that empow­ers ordi­nary peo­ple over coastal elites and inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions.

    At the core, Ban­non said in his remarks, is a belief that “we’re a nation with an econ­o­my — not an econ­o­my just in some glob­al mar­ket­place with open bor­ders, but we are a nation with a cul­ture and a rea­son for being.”

    Ban­non repeat­ed­ly used the phrase “eco­nom­ic nation­al­ism” and posit­ed that Trump’s with­draw­al from the Trans-Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship trade agree­ment was “one of the most piv­otal moments in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­to­ry.”

    Nigel Farage, the British politi­cian who led the suc­cess­ful Brex­it move­ment in the Unit­ed King­dom to with­draw from the Euro­pean Union, said in an inter­view at the con­fer­ence that Ban­non has the right vision to reorder world pow­ers.

    “I’ve nev­er met any­one in my life who has such focus and is so clear in the direc­tion that he intends to go in,” Farage said. “Steve is the per­son with an inter­na­tion­al per­spec­tive on all of this. He’s got a good feel for the direc­tion that he wants to see across the West.”

    Bannon’s lan­guage goes beyond Rea­gan-era Repub­li­can talk­ing points about cut­ting reg­u­la­tions and low­er­ing tax­es. It also side­steps key ele­ments of the state that Trump has pledged to main­tain or expand, such as the Defense Depart­ment, Medicare and Social Secu­ri­ty, two huge fed­er­al enti­tle­ment pro­grams.

    Ban­non used some terms that are more often heard on the polit­i­cal left as neg­a­tive labels, such as “glob­al­ist” and “cor­po­ratist.” Such words are rarely heard in a tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can plat­form and under­score how Trump’s pop­ulism and sus­pi­cion of the world econ­o­my are in some respects sim­i­lar to that of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I‑Vt.), a self-described demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist.

    “They’re cor­po­ratist, glob­al­ist media that are adamant­ly opposed — adamant­ly opposed to an eco­nom­ic nation­al­ist agen­da like Don­ald Trump has,” Ban­non said.

    Yet some of the most pow­er­ful offi­cials craft­ing Trump’s eco­nom­ic poli­cies have deep roots in the glob­al, cor­po­rate realm. Com­merce Sec­re­tary nom­i­nee Wilbur Ross was a bil­lion­aire investor; Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin was a hedge fund man­ag­er; and Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil Direc­tor Gary Cohn was pres­i­dent of Gold­man Sachs, to cite three. And all are being tasked with car­ry­ing out an agen­da that includes stan­dard GOP fare, from cut­ting tax­es for the wealthy to rolling back bank­ing reg­u­la­tions.

    Nonethe­less, Bannon’s appear­ance at CPAC sig­naled a pro­found shift in the con­ser­v­a­tive movement’s cen­ter of grav­i­ty toward Trump­ism. Kellyanne Con­way, coun­selor to the pres­i­dent, sug­gest­ed dur­ing her appear­ance that by the time Trump address­es the group on Fri­day morn­ing, the con­fer­ence would be known as “TPAC.”

    Ban­non and Priebus were inter­viewed joint­ly on stage by Matt Schlapp, chair­man of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive Union, which hosts CPAC. Priebus cel­e­brat­ed Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion as “the best Cab­i­net in the his­to­ry of Cab­i­nets,” and Ban­non said that many nom­i­nees “were select­ed for a rea­son, and that is decon­struc­tion.”

    Ban­non has emerged in the minds of many Trump oppo­nents as a mys­te­ri­ous and men­ac­ing pup­peteer, por­trayed as a har­row­ing Grim Reaper on NBC’s “Sat­ur­day Night Live.” He is best known for being the for­mer exec­u­tive chair­man of Bre­it­bart News, a con­ser­v­a­tive news site. Ban­non once called Bre­it­bart a “plat­form” for the alt-right, a small move­ment whose adher­ents are known for espous­ing racist, anti-Semit­ic and sex­ist points of view.

    For­mer Ohio gov­er­nor Ted Strick­land (D) said Ban­non is a “dan­ger­ous per­son dri­ven by an author­i­tar­i­an ide­ol­o­gy who, I fear, has more influ­ence than any­one in the admin­is­tra­tion.”

    “This is a mean, vicious, intol­er­ant group,” Strick­land con­tin­ued. “I’ve nev­er seen any­thing like this in my polit­i­cal life.”

    ...

    The scene at CPAC reflect­ed Bannon’s sud­den star sta­tus on the right. At the Gay­lord Nation­al Resort and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter at Nation­al Har­bor, col­lege Repub­li­cans spoke of him as an icon who embod­ied their own anger against polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness on their uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus­es.

    Writ­ers for Bre­it­bart, a main spon­sor of CPAC, were treat­ed as if they were ESPN anchors at a major sports event. Wash­ing­ton edi­tor Matthew Boyle, who has scored sev­er­al Trump inter­views and counts Ban­non as a men­tor, was trailed by a pho­tog­ra­ph­er from a mag­a­zine that is pro­fil­ing him.

    Bannon’s trust­ed inner cir­cle, includ­ing his pub­lic rela­tions advis­er, Alexan­dra Preate, and GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mer­cer, were fol­lowed by an entourage of aides and friends. They field­ed ques­tions about “Steve” — and not just from reporters.

    But the air of secre­cy remained.

    “I don’t com­ment on the record,” Mer­cer said flat­ly.

    “Ban­non framed much of Trump’s agen­da with the phrase, “decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state,” mean­ing the sys­tem of tax­es, reg­u­la­tions and trade pacts that the pres­i­dent says have stymied eco­nom­ic growth and infringed upon U.S. sov­er­eign­ty. Ban­non says that the post-World War II polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic con­sen­sus is fail­ing and should be replaced with a sys­tem that empow­ers ordi­nary peo­ple over coastal elites and inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions.”

    As we can see, with the excep­tion of the turn against trade pacts, the Trump/Bannon agen­da is basi­cal­ly the ol’ Koch Classic/Grover Norquist agen­da: slash­ing tax­es on rich, reg­u­la­tions, and get­ting rid of almost every gov­ern­ment pro­gram that helps the non-wealthy. All under the ban­ner of pop­ulism.

    And as a recent report about Steve Ban­non’s mes­sage to EU reminds us, the “decon­struc­tion” agen­da isn’t lim­it­ed to the “admin­is­tra­tive state” gov­ern­ing the US. Accord­ing to Ban­non, decon­struc­tion of the EU is on the agen­da too:

    Reuters

    Exclu­sive: White House deliv­ered EU-skep­tic mes­sage before Pence vis­it — sources

    By Noah Barkin | BERLIN
    Tue Feb 21, 2017 | 1:10pm EST

    In the week before U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence vis­it­ed Brus­sels and pledged Amer­i­ca’s “stead­fast and endur­ing” com­mit­ment to the Euro­pean Union, White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non met with a Ger­man diplo­mat and deliv­ered a dif­fer­ent mes­sage, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the talks.

    Ban­non, these peo­ple said, sig­nalled to Ger­many’s ambas­sador to Wash­ing­ton that he viewed the EU as a flawed con­struct and favoured con­duct­ing rela­tions with Europe on a bilat­er­al basis.

    Three peo­ple who were briefed on the meet­ing spoke to Reuters on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty due to the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the mat­ter. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment and the ambas­sador, Peter Wit­tig, declined to com­ment, cit­ing the con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of the talks.

    A White House offi­cial who checked with Ban­non in response to a Reuters query con­firmed the meet­ing had tak­en place but said the account pro­vid­ed to Reuters was inac­cu­rate. “They only spoke for about three min­utes and it was just a quick hel­lo,” the offi­cial said.

    The sources described a longer meet­ing in which Ban­non took the time to spell out his world view. They said his mes­sage was sim­i­lar to the one he deliv­ered to a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence back in 2014 when he was run­ning the right-wing web­site Bre­it­bart News.

    In those remarks, deliv­ered via Skype, Ban­non spoke favourably about Euro­pean pop­ulist move­ments and described a yearn­ing for nation­al­ism by peo­ple who “don’t believe in this kind of pan-Euro­pean Union.”

    West­ern Europe, he said at the time, was built on a foun­da­tion of “strong nation­al­ist move­ments”, adding: “I think it’s what can see us for­ward”.

    The encounter unset­tled peo­ple in the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, in part because some offi­cials had been hold­ing out hope that Ban­non might tem­per his views once in gov­ern­ment and offer a more nuanced mes­sage on Europe in pri­vate.

    One source briefed on the meet­ing said it had con­firmed the view that Ger­many and its Euro­pean part­ners must pre­pare for a pol­i­cy of “hos­til­i­ty towards the EU”.

    A sec­ond source expressed con­cern, based on his con­tacts with the admin­is­tra­tion, that there was no appre­ci­a­tion for the EU’s role in ensur­ing peace and pros­per­i­ty in post-war Europe.

    “There appears to be no under­stand­ing in the White House that an unrav­el­ling of the EU would have grave con­se­quences,” the source said.

    ...

    “We are wor­ried and we should be wor­ried,” Thomas Matussek, senior advis­er at Flint Glob­al and a for­mer Ger­man ambas­sador to the Britain and the Unit­ed Nations, told Reuters.

    “No one knows any­thing at the moment about what sort of deci­sions will be com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton. But it is clear that the man on top and the peo­ple clos­est to him feel that it’s the nation state that cre­ates iden­ti­ty and not what they see as an amor­phous group of coun­tries like the EU.”

    ...

    The worst-case sce­nario from Europe’s point of view was described by Ischinger in an arti­cle pub­lished last week, enti­tled “How Europe should deal with Trump”.

    He said that if the U.S. admin­is­tra­tion active­ly sup­port­ed right-wing pop­ulists in the loom­ing elec­tion cam­paigns it would trig­ger a “major transat­lantic cri­sis”.

    “The sources described a longer meet­ing in which Ban­non took the time to spell out his world view. They said his mes­sage was sim­i­lar to the one he deliv­ered to a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence back in 2014 when he was run­ning the right-wing web­site Bre­it­bart News.

    Yes, Steve Ban­non appar­ent­ly gave a rehashed ver­sion of his now-noto­ri­ous 2014 Vat­i­can speech EU offi­cials. That, of course, is the speech where he talked about his admi­ra­tion for fas­cist the­o­reti­cian Julius Evola’s views on “tra­di­tion­al­ism”. And how a Judeo-Chris­t­ian West is an an exis­ten­tial war against both Islam and sec­u­lar­ism. And how “enlight­ened-cap­i­tal­ism” and a con­fed­er­a­tion of tra­di­tion­al­ist (Evola-style) nation­al­ist move­ments is the only hope for the future.

    And what was that “enlight­ened-cap­i­tal­ism”, accord­ing to Ban­non’s 2014 Vat­i­can speech? Well, accord­ing to Ban­non it’s cap­i­tal­ism that rejects both “crony-cap­i­tal­ism” and Ayn Rand Objec­tivism lib­er­tar­i­an cap­i­tal­ism that views every­one as com­modi­ties. If if a rejec­tion of Objec­tivism and lib­er­tar­i­an­ism sounds like a rejec­tion of the Koch broth­ers’ agen­da, keep in mind that rail­ing against “crony cap­i­tal­ism” is exact­ly the same lan­guage the Koch broth­ers have been using in their attempts to rebrand their own agen­da and world view.

    So instead of Koch-style lib­er­tar­i­an­ism, what Ban­non wants to see is pre­sum­ably cap­i­tal­ism that emerges from the Koch-style “decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state” of low-tax­es, no reg­u­la­tion, and no safe­ty-net run by cap­i­tal­ists who fan­cy them­selves to be real­ly big Chris­tians. And the way Ban­non sees this com­ing about is through a glob­al col­lec­tion of local ‘tea par­ty’ move­ments that all simul­ta­ne­ous­ly “decon­struct the admin­is­tra­tive state” and cre­ate a unit­ed capitalist/traditionalist front that goes to war per­pet­u­al war with the Mus­lim world and sec­u­lar­ism (Evola-style):

    Buz­zFeed

    This Is How Steve Ban­non Sees The Entire World

    The soon-to-be White House chief strate­gist laid out a glob­al vision in a rare 2014 talk where he said racism in the far right gets “washed out” and called Vladimir Putin a klep­to­crat. Buz­zFeed News pub­lish­es the com­plete tran­script for the first time.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Nov. 15, 2016, at 3:40 p.m. Updat­ed on Nov. 16, 2016, at 1:49 p.m.
    J. Lester Fed­er
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Don­ald Trump’s new­ly named chief strate­gist and senior coun­selor Steve Ban­non laid out his glob­al nation­al­ist vision in unusu­al­ly in-depth remarks deliv­ered by Skype to a con­fer­ence held inside the Vat­i­can in the sum­mer of 2014.

    Well before vic­to­ries for Brex­it and Trump seemed pos­si­ble, Ban­non declared there was a “glob­al tea par­ty move­ment” and praised Euro­pean far-right par­ties like Great Britain’s UKIP and France’s Nation­al Front. Ban­non also sug­gest­ed that a racist ele­ment in far-right par­ties “all gets kind of washed out,” and that the West was fac­ing a “cri­sis of cap­i­tal­ism” after los­ing its “Judeo-Chris­t­ian foun­da­tion,” and he blast­ed “crony cap­i­tal­ists” in Wash­ing­ton for fail­ing to pros­e­cute bank exec­u­tives over the finan­cial cri­sis.

    The remarks — beamed into a small con­fer­ence room in a 15th-cen­tu­ry mar­ble palace in a seclud­ed cor­ner of the Vat­i­can — were part of a 50-minute Q&A dur­ing a con­fer­ence focused on pover­ty host­ed by the Human Dig­ni­ty Insti­tute that Buz­zFeed News attend­ed as part of its cov­er­age of the rise of Europe’s reli­gious right. The group was found­ed by Ben­jamin Harn­well, a long­time aide to Con­ser­v­a­tive mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Nirj Deva, to pro­mote a “Chris­t­ian voice” in Euro­pean pol­i­tics. The group has ties to some of the most con­ser­v­a­tive fac­tions inside the Catholic Church; Car­di­nal Ray­mond Burke, one of the most vocal crit­ics of Pope Fran­cis, who was oust­ed from a senior Vat­i­can posi­tion in 2014, is chair of the group’s advi­so­ry board.

    Buz­zFeed News orig­i­nal­ly post­ed a tran­script begin­ning 90 sec­onds into the then–Breitbart News chairman’s remarks because micro­phone place­ment made the open­ing most­ly unin­tel­li­gi­ble, but we have com­plet­ed the tran­script from a video of the talk on YouTube. You can hear the whole record­ing at the bot­tom of the post.

    Here is what he said, unedit­ed:

    Steve Ban­non: Thank you very much Ben­jamin, and I appre­ci­ate you guys includ­ing us in this. We’re speak­ing from Los Ange­les today, right across the street from our head­quar­ters in Los Ange­les. Um. I want to talk about wealth cre­ation and what wealth cre­ation real­ly can achieve and maybe take it in a slight­ly dif­fer­ent direc­tion, because I believe the world, and par­tic­u­lar­ly the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West, is in a cri­sis. And it’s real­ly the orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple of how we built Bre­it­bart News to real­ly be a plat­form to bring news and infor­ma­tion to peo­ple through­out the world. Prin­ci­pal­ly in the West, but we’re expand­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly to let peo­ple under­stand the depths of this cri­sis, and it is a cri­sis both of cap­i­tal­ism but real­ly of the under­pin­nings of the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West in our beliefs.

    It’s iron­ic, I think, that we’re talk­ing today at exact­ly, tomor­row, 100 years ago, at the exact moment we’re talk­ing, the assas­si­na­tion took place in Sara­je­vo of Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand that led to the end of the Vic­to­ri­an era and the begin­ning of the blood­i­est cen­tu­ry in mankind’s his­to­ry. Just to put it in per­spec­tive, with the assas­si­na­tion that took place 100 years ago tomor­row in Sara­je­vo, the world was at total peace. There was trade, there was glob­al­iza­tion, there was tech­no­log­i­cal trans­fer, the High Church of Eng­land and the Catholic Church and the Chris­t­ian faith was pre­dom­i­nant through­out Europe of prac­tic­ing Chris­tians. Sev­en weeks lat­er, I think there were 5 mil­lion men in uni­form and with­in 30 days there were over a mil­lion casu­al­ties.

    That war trig­gered a cen­tu­ry of bar­bar­ic — unpar­al­leled in mankind’s his­to­ry — vir­tu­al­ly 180 to 200 mil­lion peo­ple were killed in the 20th cen­tu­ry, and I believe that, you know, hun­dreds of years from now when they look back, we’re chil­dren of that: We’re chil­dren of that bar­bar­i­ty. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

    But the thing that got us out of it, the orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple that met this, was not just the hero­ism of our peo­ple — whether it was French resis­tance fight­ers, whether it was the Pol­ish resis­tance fight­ers, or it’s the young men from Kansas City or the Mid­west who stormed the beach­es of Nor­mandy, com­man­dos in Eng­land that fought with the Roy­al Air Force, that fought this great war, real­ly the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West ver­sus athe­ists, right? The under­ly­ing prin­ci­ple is an enlight­ened form of cap­i­tal­ism, that cap­i­tal­ism real­ly gave us the where­with­al. It kind of orga­nized and built the mate­ri­als need­ed to sup­port, whether it’s the Sovi­et Union, Eng­land, the Unit­ed States, and even­tu­al­ly to take back con­ti­nen­tal Europe and to beat back a bar­bar­ic empire in the Far East.

    That cap­i­tal­ism real­ly gen­er­at­ed tremen­dous wealth. And that wealth was real­ly dis­trib­uted among a mid­dle class, a ris­ing mid­dle class, peo­ple who come from real­ly work­ing-class envi­ron­ments and cre­at­ed what we real­ly call a Pax Amer­i­cana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come part­ly off­track in the years since the fall of the Sovi­et Union and we’re start­ing now in the 21st cen­tu­ry, which I believe, strong­ly, is a cri­sis both of our church, a cri­sis of our faith, a cri­sis of the West, a cri­sis of cap­i­tal­ism.

    And we’re at the very begin­ning stages of a very bru­tal and bloody con­flict, of which if the peo­ple in this room, the peo­ple in the church, do not bind togeth­er and real­ly form what I feel is an aspect of the church mil­i­tant, to real­ly be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new bar­bar­i­ty that’s start­ing, that will com­plete­ly erad­i­cate every­thing that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

    Now, what I mean by that specif­i­cal­ly: I think that you’re see­ing three kinds of con­verg­ing ten­den­cies: One is a form of cap­i­tal­ism that is tak­en away from the under­ly­ing spir­i­tu­al and moral foun­da­tions of Chris­tian­i­ty and, real­ly, Judeo-Chris­t­ian belief.

    I see that every day. I’m a very prac­ti­cal, prag­mat­ic cap­i­tal­ist. I was trained at Gold­man Sachs, I went to Har­vard Busi­ness School, I was as hard-nosed a cap­i­tal­ist as you get. I spe­cial­ized in media, in invest­ing in media com­pa­nies, and it’s a very, very tough envi­ron­ment. And you’ve had a fair­ly good track record. So I don’t want this to kin­da sound nam­by-pam­by, “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kum­baya’ around cap­i­tal­ism.”

    But there’s a strand of cap­i­tal­ism today — two strands of it, that are very dis­turb­ing.

    One is state-spon­sored cap­i­tal­ism. And that’s the cap­i­tal­ism you see in Chi­na and Rus­sia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Fran­cis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argenti­na, where you have this kind of crony cap­i­tal­ism of peo­ple that are involved with these mil­i­tary pow­ers-that-be in the gov­ern­ment, and it forms a bru­tal form of cap­i­tal­ism that is real­ly about cre­at­ing wealth and cre­at­ing val­ue for a very small sub­set of peo­ple. And it doesn’t spread the tremen­dous val­ue cre­ation through­out broad­er dis­tri­b­u­tion pat­terns that were seen real­ly in the 20th cen­tu­ry.

    The sec­ond form of cap­i­tal­ism that I feel is almost as dis­turb­ing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objec­tivist School of lib­er­tar­i­an cap­i­tal­ism. And, look, I’m a big believ­er in a lot of lib­er­tar­i­an­ism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment — whether it’s the UKIP move­ment in Eng­land, it’s many of the under­pin­nings of the pop­ulist move­ment in Europe, and par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Unit­ed States.

    How­ev­er, that form of cap­i­tal­ism is quite dif­fer­ent when you real­ly look at it to what I call the “enlight­ened cap­i­tal­ism” of the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West. It is a cap­i­tal­ism that real­ly looks to make peo­ple com­modi­ties, and to objec­ti­fy peo­ple, and to use them almost — as many of the pre­cepts of Marx — and that is a form of cap­i­tal­ism, par­tic­u­lar­ly to a younger gen­er­a­tion [that] they’re real­ly find­ing quite attrac­tive. And if they don’t see anoth­er alter­na­tive, it’s going to be an alter­na­tive that they grav­i­tate to under this kind of rubric of “per­son­al free­dom.”

    The oth­er ten­den­cy is an immense sec­u­lar­iza­tion of the West. And I know we’ve talked about sec­u­lar­iza­tion for a long time, but if you look at younger peo­ple, espe­cial­ly mil­len­ni­als under 30, the over­whelm­ing dri­ve of pop­u­lar cul­ture is to absolute­ly sec­u­lar­ize this ris­ing iter­a­tion.

    Now that call con­verges with some­thing we have to face, and it’s a very unpleas­ant top­ic, but we are in an out­right war against jihadist Islam­ic fas­cism. And this war is, I think, metas­ta­siz­ing far quick­er than gov­ern­ments can han­dle it.

    ...

    Ben­jamin Harn­well, Human Dig­ni­ty Insti­tute: Thank you, Steve. That was a fas­ci­nat­ing, fas­ci­nat­ing overview. I am par­tic­u­lar­ly struck by your argu­ment, then, that in fact, cap­i­tal­ism would spread around the world based on the Judeo-Chris­t­ian foun­da­tion is, in fact, some­thing that can cre­ate peace through peo­ples rather than antag­o­nism, which is often a point not suf­fi­cient­ly appre­ci­at­ed. Before I turn behind me to take a ques­tion —

    Ban­non: One thing I want to make sure of, if you look at the lead­ers of cap­i­tal­ism at that time, when cap­i­tal­ism was I believe at its high­est flower and spread­ing its ben­e­fits to most of mankind, almost all of those cap­i­tal­ists were strong believ­ers in the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West. They were either active par­tic­i­pants in the Jew­ish faith, they were active par­tic­i­pants in the Chris­tians’ faith, and they took their beliefs, and the under­pin­nings of their beliefs was man­i­fest­ed in the work they did. And I think that’s incred­i­bly impor­tant and some­thing that would real­ly become unmoored. I can see this on Wall Street today — I can see this with the secu­ri­ti­za­tion of every­thing is that, every­thing is looked at as a secu­ri­ti­za­tion oppor­tu­ni­ty. Peo­ple are looked at as com­modi­ties. I don’t believe that our fore­fa­thers had that same belief.

    Harn­well: Over the course of this con­fer­ence we’ve heard from var­i­ous points of view regard­ing alle­vi­a­tion of pover­ty. We’ve heard from the cen­ter-left per­spec­tive, we’ve heard from the social­ist per­spec­tive, we’ve heard from the Chris­t­ian demo­c­rat, if you will, per­spec­tive. What par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­ests me about your point of view Steve, to talk specif­i­cal­ly about your work, Bre­it­bart is very close to the tea par­ty move­ment. So I’m just won­der­ing whether you could tell me about if in the cur­rent flow of con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics — first tell us a lit­tle bit about Bre­it­bart, what the mis­sion is, and then tell me about the reach that you have and then could you say a lit­tle bit about the cur­rent dynam­ic of what’s going on at the moment in the States.

    Ban­non: Out­side of Fox News and the Drudge Report, we’re the third-largest con­ser­v­a­tive news site and, quite frankly, we have a big­ger glob­al reach than even Fox. And that’s why we’re expand­ing so much inter­na­tion­al­ly.

    Look, we believe — strong­ly — that there is a glob­al tea par­ty move­ment. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start report­ing on things like UKIP and Front Nation­al and oth­er cen­ter right. With all the bag­gage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of bag­gage, both eth­ni­cal­ly and racial­ly — but we think that will all be worked through with time.

    The cen­tral thing that binds that all togeth­er is a cen­ter-right pop­ulist move­ment of real­ly the mid­dle class, the work­ing men and women in the world who are just tired of being dic­tat­ed to by what we call the par­ty of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not con­spir­a­cy-the­o­ry guys, but there’s cer­tain­ly — and I could see this when I worked at Gold­man Sachs — there are peo­ple in New York that feel clos­er to peo­ple in Lon­don and in Berlin than they do to peo­ple in Kansas and in Col­orado, and they have more of this elite men­tal­i­ty that they’re going to dic­tate to every­body how the world’s going to be run.

    I will tell you that the work­ing men and women of Europe and Asia and the Unit­ed States and Latin Amer­i­ca don’t believe that. They believe they know what’s best for how they will com­port their lives. They think they know best about how to raise their fam­i­lies and how to edu­cate their fam­i­lies. So I think you’re see­ing a glob­al reac­tion to cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment, whether that gov­ern­ment is in Bei­jing or that gov­ern­ment is in Wash­ing­ton, DC, or that gov­ern­ment is in Brus­sels. So we are the plat­form for the voice of that.

    Now, with that, we are strong cap­i­tal­ists. And we believe in the ben­e­fits of cap­i­tal­ism. And, par­tic­u­lar­ly, the hard­er-nosed the cap­i­tal­ism, the bet­ter. How­ev­er, like I said, there’s two strands of cap­i­tal­ism that we’re quite con­cerned about.

    One is crony cap­i­tal­ism, or what we call state-con­trolled cap­i­tal­ism, and that’s the big thing the tea par­ty is fight­ing in the Unit­ed States, and real­ly the tea party’s biggest fight is not with the left, because we’re not there yet. The biggest fight the tea par­ty has today is just like UKIP. UKIP’s biggest fight is with the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty.

    The tea par­ty in the Unit­ed States’ biggest fight is with the the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment, which is real­ly a col­lec­tion of crony cap­i­tal­ists that feel that they have a dif­fer­ent set of rules of how they’re going to com­port them­selves and how they’re going to run things. And, quite frankly, it’s the rea­son that the Unit­ed States’ finan­cial sit­u­a­tion is so dire, par­tic­u­lar­ly our bal­ance sheet. We have vir­tu­al­ly a hun­dred tril­lion dol­lars of unfund­ed lia­bil­i­ties. That is all because you’ve had this kind of crony cap­i­tal­ism in Wash­ing­ton, DC. The rise of Bre­it­bart is direct­ly tied to being the voice of that cen­ter-right oppo­si­tion. And, quite frankly, we’re win­ning many, many vic­to­ries.

    On the social con­ser­v­a­tive side, we’re the voice of the anti-abor­tion move­ment, the voice of the tra­di­tion­al mar­riage move­ment, and I can tell you we’re win­ning vic­to­ry after vic­to­ry after vic­to­ry. Things are turn­ing around as peo­ple have a voice and have a plat­form of which they can use.

    Harn­well: The third-largest con­ser­v­a­tive news web­site is some­thing to be extreme­ly impressed by. Can you tell for the peo­ple here who aren’t with­in the Anglos­phere and they might not fol­low Amer­i­can domes­tic pol­i­tics at the moment — there seems to be a sub­stan­tial sea change going on at the moment in Mid­dle Amer­i­ca. And the leader of the major­i­ty par­ty, Eric Can­tor, was des­e­lect­ed a cou­ple of weeks ago by a tea par­ty can­di­date. What does that mean for the state of domes­tic pol­i­tics in Amer­i­ca at the moment?

    Ban­non: For every­body in your audi­ence, this is one of the most mon­u­men­tal — first off, it’s the biggest elec­tion upset in the his­to­ry of the Amer­i­can repub­lic. Eric Can­tor was the House major­i­ty leader and raised $10 mil­lion. He spent, between him­self and out­side groups, $8 mil­lion to hold a con­gres­sion­al dis­trict. He ran against a pro­fes­sor who was an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian and a lib­er­tar­i­an econ­o­mist. He ran against a pro­fes­sor who raised in total $175,000. In fact, the bills from Eric Cantor’s cam­paign at a elite steak house in Wash­ing­ton, DC, was over $200,000. So they spent more than $200,000 over the course of the cam­paign win­ing and din­ing fat cats at a steak house in Wash­ing­ton than the entire oppo­si­tion had to run.

    Now, Eric Can­tor, it was a land­slide. He lost 57–43, and not one — out­side of Bre­it­bart, we cov­ered this for six months, day in and day out — not one news site — not Fox News, not Politi­co, no sites picked this up. And the rea­son that this guy won is quite sim­ple: Mid­dle-class peo­ple and work­ing-class peo­ple are tired of peo­ple like Eric Can­tor who say they’re con­ser­v­a­tive sell­ing out their inter­ests every day to crony cap­i­tal­ists.

    And you’re see­ing that whether that was UKIP and Nigel Farage in the Unit­ed King­dom, whether it’s these groups in the Low Coun­tries in Europe, whether it’s in France, there’s a new tea par­ty in Ger­many. The theme is all the same. And the theme is mid­dle-class and work­ing-class peo­ple — they’re say­ing, “Hey, I’m work­ing hard­er than I’ve ever worked. I’m get­ting less ben­e­fits than I’m ever get­ting through this, I’m incur­ring less wealth myself, and I’m see­ing a sys­tem of fat cats who say they’re con­ser­v­a­tive and say they back cap­i­tal­ist prin­ci­ples, but all they’re doing is bind­ing with cor­po­ratists.” Right? Cor­po­ratists, to gar­ner all the ben­e­fits for them­selves.

    And that cen­ter-right revolt is real­ly a glob­al revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin Amer­i­ca, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi’s great vic­to­ry was very much based on these Rea­ganesque prin­ci­ples, so I think this is a glob­al revolt, and we are very for­tu­nate and proud to be the news site that is report­ing that through­out the world.

    Harn­well: I think it’s impor­tant to under­stand the dis­tinc­tion that you’re draw­ing here between what can be under­stood as authen­tic, free-mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism as a means of pro­mot­ing wealth that [unin­tel­li­gi­ble] involves every­body with a form of crony cap­i­tal­ism which sim­ply ben­e­fits a cer­tain class. And we’ve watched over the course of our con­fer­ence, we’ve watched two video seg­ments pro­duced by the Acton Insti­tute about how devel­op­ment aid is spent inter­na­tion­al­ly and how that can be dri­ven away from — it dam­ages peo­ple on the ground but it also per­pet­u­ates a gov­ern­ing class. And the point that you’re men­tion­ing here, that I think that you’re say­ing has dri­ven almost a rev­o­lu­tion move­ment in Amer­i­ca, is the same phe­nom­e­non of what’s going on in the devel­op­ing world, which is a con­cept of gov­ern­ment which is no longer doing what it is moral­ly bound to do but has become cor­rupt and self-serv­ing. So it’s effec­tive­ly the sa—

    Ban­non: It’s exact­ly the same. Cur­rent­ly, if you read The Econ­o­mist, you read the Finan­cial Times this week, you’ll see there’s a rel­a­tive­ly obscure agency in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment that is engaged in a huge fight that may lead to a gov­ern­ment shut­down. It’s called the Export-Import Bank. And for years, it was a bank that helped finance things that oth­er banks wouldn’t do. And what’s hap­pen­ing over time is that it’s metas­ta­sized to be a cheap form of financ­ing to Gen­er­al Elec­tric and to Boe­ing and to oth­er large cor­po­ra­tions. You get this financ­ing from oth­er places if they want­ed to, but they’re putting this onto the mid­dle-class tax­pay­ers to sup­port this.

    And the tea par­ty is using this as an exam­ple of the crony­ism. Gen­er­al Elec­tric and these major cor­po­ra­tions that are in bed with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment are not what we’d con­sid­er free-enter­prise cap­i­tal­ists. We’re back­ers of entre­pre­neur­ial cap­i­tal­ists. They’re not. They’re what we call cor­po­ratist. They want to have more and more monop­o­lis­tic pow­er and they’re doing that kind of con­ver­gence with big gov­ern­ment. And so the fight here — and that’s why the media’s been very late to this par­ty — but the fight you’re see­ing is between entre­pre­neur cap­i­tal­ism, and the Acton Insti­tute is a tremen­dous sup­port­er of, and the peo­ple like the cor­po­ratists that are clos­er to the peo­ple like we think in Bei­jing and Moscow than they are to the entre­pre­neur­ial cap­i­tal­ist spir­it of the Unit­ed States.

    Harn­well: Thanks, Steve. I’m going to turn around now, as I’m sure we have some great ques­tions from the floor. Who has the first ques­tion then?

    Ban­non: First of all, Ben­jamin, I can tell you I could hard­ly rec­og­nize you, you’re so cleaned up you are for the con­fer­ence.

    [Laugh­ter]

    ...

    Ques­tion­er: Hel­lo, Mr. Ban­non. I’m Mario Fan­ti­ni, a Ver­mon­ter liv­ing in Vien­na, Aus­tria. You began describ­ing some of the trends you’re see­ing world­wide, very dan­ger­ous trends, wor­ry trends. Anoth­er move­ment that I’ve been see­ing grow and spread in Europe, unfor­tu­nate­ly, is what can only be described as trib­al­ist or neo-nativist move­ment — they call them­selves Iden­ti­tar­i­ans. These are most­ly young, work­ing-class, pop­ulist groups, and they’re teach­ing self-defense class­es, but also they are argu­ing against — and quite effec­tive­ly, I might add — against cap­i­tal­ism and glob­al finan­cial insti­tu­tions, etc. How do we coun­ter­act this stuff? Because they’re appeal­ing to a lot of young peo­ple at a very vis­cer­al lev­el, espe­cial­ly with the eth­nic and racial stuff.

    Ban­non: I didn’t hear the whole ques­tion, about the trib­al­ist?

    Ques­tion­er: Very sim­ply put, there’s a grow­ing move­ment among young peo­ple here in Europe, in France and in Aus­tria and else­where, and they’re argu­ing very effec­tive­ly against Wall Street insti­tu­tions and they’re also appeal­ing to peo­ple on an eth­nic and racial lev­el. And I was just won­der­ing what you would rec­om­mend to coun­ter­act these move­ments, which are grow­ing.

    Ban­non: One of the rea­sons that you can under­stand how they’re being fueled is that they’re not see­ing the ben­e­fits of cap­i­tal­ism. I mean par­tic­u­lar­ly — and I think it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly more advanced in Europe than it is in the Unit­ed States, but in the Unit­ed States it’s get­ting pret­ty advanced — is that when you have this kind of crony cap­i­tal­ism, you have a dif­fer­ent set of rules for the peo­ple that make the rules. It’s this part­ner­ship of big gov­ern­ment and cor­po­ratists. I think it starts to fuel, par­tic­u­lar­ly as you start to see neg­a­tive job cre­ation. If you go back, in fact, and look at the Unit­ed States’ GDP, you look at a bunch of Europe. If you take out gov­ern­ment spend­ing, you know, we’ve had neg­a­tive growth on a real basis for over a decade.

    And that all trick­les down to the man in the street. If you look at people’s lives, and par­tic­u­lar­ly mil­len­ni­als, look at peo­ple under 30 — peo­ple under 30, there’s 50% real­ly under­em­ploy­ment of peo­ple in the Unit­ed States, which is prob­a­bly the most advanced econ­o­my in the West, and it gets worse in Europe.

    I think in Spain it’s some­thing like 50 or 60% of the youth under 30 are under­em­ployed. And that means the decade of their twen­ties, which is where you have to learn a skill, where you have to learn a craft, where you real­ly start to get com­fort­able in your pro­fes­sion, you’re tak­ing that away from the entire gen­er­a­tion. That’s only going to fuel trib­al­ism, that’s only going to fuel [unin­tel­li­gi­ble]… That’s why to me, it’s incum­bent upon free­dom-lov­ing peo­ple to make sure that we sort out these gov­ern­ments and make sure that we sort out par­tic­u­lar­ly this crony cap­i­tal­ism so that the ben­e­fits become more of this entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it and that can flow back to work­ing-class and mid­dle-class peo­ple. Because if not, we’re going to pay a huge price for this. You can already start to see it.

    ...

    Harn­well: Okay, I think we’ve got time for just one or two more ques­tions for Stephen K. Ban­non, chair­man of Bre­it­bart Media, third-largest news orga­ni­za­tion in the States. I know you’re a very, very busy man, so we’re very grate­ful for the time that you’ve agreed to put aside for this, to close this con­fer­ence.

    Ban­non: I’m nev­er too busy to share with a group that can do as much good as you guys can.

    Ques­tion­er: What do you think is the major threat today, to the Judeo-Chris­t­ian Civ­i­liza­tion? Sec­u­lar­ism, or the Mus­lim world? In my hum­ble opin­ion, they’re just try­ing to defend them­selves from our cul­tur­al inva­sion. Thank you.

    [Ques­tion restat­ed by Harn­well]

    Ban­non: It’s a great ques­tion. I cer­tain­ly think sec­u­lar­ism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West to defend its ideals, right?

    If you go back to your home coun­tries and your pro­po­nent of the defense of the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West and its tenets, often­times, par­tic­u­lar­ly when you deal with the elites, you’re looked at as some­one who is quite odd. So it has kind of sapped the strength.

    But I strong­ly believe that what­ev­er the caus­es of the cur­rent dri­ve to the caliphate was — and we can debate them, and peo­ple can try to decon­struct them — we have to face a very unpleas­ant fact. And that unpleas­ant fact is that there is a major war brew­ing, a war that’s already glob­al. It’s going glob­al in scale, and today’s tech­nol­o­gy, today’s media, today’s access to weapons of mass destruc­tion, it’s going to lead to a glob­al con­flict that I believe has to be con­front­ed today. Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and real­ly the vicious­ness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act [unin­tel­li­gi­ble].

    ...

    Ques­tion: Obvi­ous­ly, before the Euro­pean elec­tions the two par­ties had a clear link to Putin. If one of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the dan­gers of cap­i­tal­ism is the state involve­ment in cap­i­tal­ism, so, I see there, also Marine Le Pen cam­paign­ing in Moscow with Putin, and also UKIP strong­ly defend­ing Russ­ian posi­tions in geopo­lit­i­cal terms.

    [Harn­well restates, but unin­tel­li­gi­ble]

    Harn­well: These two par­ties have both been cul­ti­vat­ing Pres­i­dent Putin [unin­tel­li­gi­ble].

    Ban­non: I think it’s a lit­tle bit more com­pli­cat­ed. When Vladimir Putin, when you real­ly look at some of the under­pin­nings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasian­ism; he’s got an advis­er who harkens back to Julius Evola and dif­fer­ent writ­ers of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry who are real­ly the sup­port­ers of what’s called the tra­di­tion­al­ist move­ment, which real­ly even­tu­al­ly metas­ta­sized into Ital­ian fas­cism. A lot of peo­ple that are tra­di­tion­al­ists are attract­ed to that.

    One of the rea­sons is that they believe that at least Putin is stand­ing up for tra­di­tion­al insti­tu­tions, and he’s try­ing to do it in a form of nation­al­ism — and I think that peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly in cer­tain coun­tries, want to see the sov­er­eign­ty for their coun­try, they want to see nation­al­ism for their coun­try. They don’t believe in this kind of pan-Euro­pean Union or they don’t believe in the cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment in the Unit­ed States. They’d rather see more of a states-based enti­ty that the founders orig­i­nal­ly set up where free­doms were con­trolled at the local lev­el.

    I’m not jus­ti­fy­ing Vladimir Putin and the klep­toc­ra­cy that he rep­re­sents, because he even­tu­al­ly is the state cap­i­tal­ist of klep­toc­ra­cy. How­ev­er, we the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West real­ly have to look at what he’s talk­ing about as far as tra­di­tion­al­ism goes — par­tic­u­lar­ly the sense of where it sup­ports the under­pin­nings of nation­al­ism — and I hap­pen to think that the indi­vid­ual sov­er­eign­ty of a coun­try is a good thing and a strong thing. I think strong coun­tries and strong nation­al­ist move­ments in coun­tries make strong neigh­bors, and that is real­ly the build­ing blocks that built West­ern Europe and the Unit­ed States, and I think it’s what can see us for­ward.

    You know, Putin’s been quite an inter­est­ing char­ac­ter. He’s also very, very, very intel­li­gent. I can see this in the Unit­ed States where he’s play­ing very strong­ly to social con­ser­v­a­tives about his mes­sage about more tra­di­tion­al val­ues, so I think it’s some­thing that we have to be very much on guard of. Because at the end of the day, I think that Putin and his cronies are real­ly a klep­toc­ra­cy, that are real­ly an impe­ri­al­ist pow­er that want to expand. How­ev­er, I real­ly believe that in this cur­rent envi­ron­ment, where you’re fac­ing a poten­tial new caliphate that is very aggres­sive that is real­ly a sit­u­a­tion — I’m not say­ing we can put it on a back burn­er — but I think we have to deal with first things first.

    ...

    Look, we believe — strong­ly — that there is a glob­al tea par­ty move­ment. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start report­ing on things like UKIP and Front Nation­al and oth­er cen­ter right. With all the bag­gage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of bag­gage, both eth­ni­cal­ly and racial­ly — but we think that will all be worked through with time.”

    That’s right: in Steve Ban­non’s lan­guage, groups like the Tea Par­ty, UKIP and Front Nation­al in France are cen­ter-right (LOL!) and all part of a glob­al tea par­ty move­ment. But aside from describ­ing them as cen­ter-right move­ments it’s hard to argue with the obser­va­tion that there real­ly is a glob­al move­ment of local far-right ‘pop­ulist’ tea par­ty-like move­ments. All unit­ed by “tra­di­tion­al­ist” agen­da of social con­ser­vatism cou­pled with a desire to “decon­struct the admin­is­tra­tive state”. A desire that, aside from drop­ping trade agree­ments, is in lock step with the right-wing glob­al oli­garchy’s long-stand­ing agen­da of get­ting gov­ern­ment out of the role pro­tect­ing aver­age peo­ple from the pre­da­tions of cut-throat cap­i­tal­ism.

    And giv­en the con­cerns expressed by EU gov­ern­ment offi­cials over the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a “trans-Atlantic cri­sis” if the Trump admin­is­tra­tion starts try­ing to help the var­i­ous far-right anti-EU move­ments, (like the AfD in Ger­many), note how Ban­non refers to “a new tea par­ty in Ger­many (which is almost cer­tain­ly a ref­er­ence to the AfD):

    ...
    And you’re see­ing that whether that was UKIP and Nigel Farage in the Unit­ed King­dom, whether it’s these groups in the Low Coun­tries in Europe, whether it’s in France, there’s a new tea par­ty in Ger­many. The theme is all the same. And the theme is mid­dle-class and work­ing-class peo­ple — they’re say­ing, “Hey, I’m work­ing hard­er than I’ve ever worked. I’m get­ting less ben­e­fits than I’m ever get­ting through this, I’m incur­ring less wealth myself, and I’m see­ing a sys­tem of fat cats who say they’re con­ser­v­a­tive and say they back cap­i­tal­ist prin­ci­ples, but all they’re doing is bind­ing with cor­po­ratists.” Right? Cor­po­ratists, to gar­ner all the ben­e­fits for them­selves.
    ...

    And that all sug­gests that “decon­struct­ing the admin­stra­tive state” is going to prob­a­bly mean the US gov­ern­ment is going to start help­ing the Front Nation­al and AfD and sim­i­lar far-right EU par­ties. With Julius Evola’s con­cepts “tra­di­tion­al­ism” act­ing as the uni­fy­ing theme that brings unites a col­lec­tion of new­ly divid­ed soci­eties under a pan-tra­di­tion­al­ist Judeo-Chris­t­ian new West­ern order:

    ...
    Ban­non: I think it’s a lit­tle bit more com­pli­cat­ed. When Vladimir Putin, when you real­ly look at some of the under­pin­nings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasian­ism; he’s got an advis­er who harkens back to Julius Evola and dif­fer­ent writ­ers of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry who are real­ly the sup­port­ers of what’s called the tra­di­tion­al­ist move­ment, which real­ly even­tu­al­ly metas­ta­sized into Ital­ian fas­cism. A lot of peo­ple that are tra­di­tion­al­ists are attract­ed to that.

    One of the rea­sons is that they believe that at least Putin is stand­ing up for tra­di­tion­al insti­tu­tions, and he’s try­ing to do it in a form of nation­al­ism — and I think that peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly in cer­tain coun­tries, want to see the sov­er­eign­ty for their coun­try, they want to see nation­al­ism for their coun­try. They don’t believe in this kind of pan-Euro­pean Union or they don’t believe in the cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment in the Unit­ed States. They’d rather see more of a states-based enti­ty that the founders orig­i­nal­ly set up where free­doms were con­trolled at the local lev­el.

    I’m not jus­ti­fy­ing Vladimir Putin and the klep­toc­ra­cy that he rep­re­sents, because he even­tu­al­ly is the state cap­i­tal­ist of klep­toc­ra­cy. How­ev­er, we the Judeo-Chris­t­ian West real­ly have to look at what he’s talk­ing about as far as tra­di­tion­al­ism goes — par­tic­u­lar­ly the sense of where it sup­ports the under­pin­nings of nation­al­ism — and I hap­pen to think that the indi­vid­ual sov­er­eign­ty of a coun­try is a good thing and a strong thing. I think strong coun­tries and strong nation­al­ist move­ments in coun­tries make strong neigh­bors, and that is real­ly the build­ing blocks that built West­ern Europe and the Unit­ed States, and I think it’s what can see us for­ward.
    ...

    Let’s also keep in mind that while the Euro­pean far-right and Team Trump clam­ors about want­i­ng to break up the EU, that same glob­al con­fed­er­a­tion of far-right move­ments would prob­a­bly pre­fer it if the oppor­tu­ni­ty came around where the EU remained intact but basi­cal­ly becomes overt­ly far-right. If the whole EU (or a dom­i­nant rul­ing fac­tion of coun­tries) all elect­ed far-right ‘pop­ulist’ gov­ern­ments there’s noth­ing stop­ping them from mak­ing the com­mon EU rules “loose” enough pla­cate demands for nation­al sov­er­eign­ty like let­ting nations reim­pose intra-EU bor­der and immi­gra­tion con­trols and a roll-back a human rights stan­dards. If almost every EU gov­ern­ment veers far-right we just might the real­iza­tion of the EU Clause­witz­ian super-state. Isn’t that the far-right dream?

    Just because Ban­non and Trump want to see a Europe where any sort of shared pan-Euro­pean iden­ti­ty is replaced by a patch­work of mutu­al­ly hos­tile nation­al­ism does­n’t mean you can’t have a pan-Euro­pean iden­ti­ty of a net­work of far-right nation­al­ist soci­eties all bound by a com­mon “tra­di­tion­al­ist Chris­tian­i­ty vs every­one else” iden­ti­ty. Instead of a “one Europe” iden­ti­ty, you’ll go back to a con­fed­er­a­tion of nations where each nation is dom­i­nat­ed by its par­tic­u­lar far-right “tra­di­tion­al­ist” strain of con­ser­vatism but unit­ed by a loathing of every­one that isn’t in that tra­di­tion­al­ist Chris­t­ian umbrel­la. That a con­fed­er­a­tion that can still oper­ate under a mod­i­fied EU struc­ture. A bas­ket of deplorable gov­ern­ments unit­ed in a shared goal of fight­ing a war of civ­i­liza­tions between tra­di­tion­al­ist far-right Chris­tians and tra­di­tion­al­ist far-right Mus­lims, while tra­di­tion­al­ist Chris­tians and tra­di­tion­al­ist Mus­lims unite in crush­ing sec­u­lar soci­ety every­where. That’s a path for­ward that still fits Ban­non’s rhetoric.

    So get ready for a grim­ly fas­ci­nat­ing trans-Atlantic cri­sis (that’s real­ly a glob­al cri­sis) as the “decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state” accel­er­ates. We just might see the EU dis­solve under a wave of fas­cism that reunites as a con­fed­er­a­tion of fas­cism. Or maybe the EU just gets reborn as the Clause­witz­ian dream. Either way, Julius Evola is going to be spin­ning in his grave. With glee. ISIS should also be pret­ty hap­py.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 25, 2017, 4:00 pm
  3. Here’s anoth­er exam­ple of the glob­al nature of the “Alt-Right’s” attempts to rebrand far-right ide­olo­gies. Check out the image on the main ban­ner used in a Lithuan­ian far-right march cel­e­brat­ing the WWII pro-Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist Kazys Skir­pa: Pepe the frog. Or, more pre­cise­ly, Kazy Skir­pa as Pepe the frog:

    Jew­ish Tele­graph Agency

    Lithuan­ian nation­al­ists cel­e­brate Holo­caust-era quis­ling, Pepe the Frog near exe­cu­tion site

    Feb­ru­ary 17, 2017 7:29am

    (JTA) — Lithuan­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ists marched near exe­cu­tion sites of Jews with ban­ners cel­e­brat­ing a pro-Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist who called for eth­nic cleans­ing and a sym­bol pop­u­lar with mem­bers of the U.S. “alt-right” move­ment.

    Approx­i­mate­ly 170 peo­ple attend­ed Thursday’s annu­al march in Kau­nas, Lithuania’s sec­ond city that is also known as Kovno, the web­site Defend­ing His­to­ry report­ed.

    The main ban­ner fea­tured a pic­ture of the col­lab­o­ra­tionist Kazys Skir­pa mod­i­fied to resem­ble Pepe the Frog, a car­toon fig­ure that was used by hate groups in the Unit­ed States dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, accord­ing to the Anti-Defama­tion League.

    The ban­ner also includ­ed a quote attrib­uted to the Pepe-like por­trait of Skir­pa, an envoy of the pro-Nazi move­ment in Lithua­nia to Berlin, that read “Lithua­nia will con­tribute to new and bet­ter Euro­pean order.”

    Skir­pa, who has a street named for him in Kau­nas, “ele­vat­ed anti-Semi­tism to a polit­i­cal lev­el” that “could have encour­aged a por­tion of Lithuania’s res­i­dents to get involved in the Holo­caust,” the Geno­cide and Resis­tance Research Cen­ter of Lithua­nia assert­ed in 2015. But Skir­pa “pro­posed to solve ‘the Jew­ish prob­lem’ not by geno­cide but by the method of expul­sion from Lithua­nia,” the cen­ter said.

    The pro­ces­sion passed near the Lietovus Garage, where in 1941 locals butchered dozens of Jews. Thou­sands more were killed in an around Kau­nas by local col­lab­o­ra­tors of the Nazis and by Ger­man sol­diers in the fol­low­ing months.

    “Kau­nas is ground zero of the Lithuan­ian Holo­caust,” Dovid Katz, a U.S.-born schol­ar and the founder of Defend­ing His­to­ry, told JTA on Fri­day. He con­demned local author­i­ties for allow­ing the march by “folks who glo­ri­fy the very Holo­caust-col­lab­o­ra­tors, the­o­reti­cians and per­pe­tra­tors who unleashed the geno­cide local­ly.” Katz was one of five peo­ple who attend­ed the march to protest and doc­u­ment it.

    Lithua­nia is the only coun­try that offi­cial­ly defines its dom­i­na­tion by the for­mer Sovi­et Union as a form of geno­cide. The name of the state-fund­ed enti­ty that wrote about Skir­pa in 2005 refers both to the Holo­caust and the so-called Sovi­et occu­pa­tion.

    The Muse­um of Geno­cide Vic­tims in Vil­nius, which until 2011 did not men­tion the more than 200,000 Lithuan­ian Jews who died in the Nazi Holo­caust, was estab­lished in 1992 to memo­ri­al­ize Lithua­ni­ans killed by the Nazi, but most­ly Sovi­et, states.

    ...

    “The ban­ner also includ­ed a quote attrib­uted to the Pepe-like por­trait of Skir­pa, an envoy of the pro-Nazi move­ment in Lithua­nia to Berlin, that read “Lithua­nia will con­tribute to new and bet­ter Euro­pean order.””

    As we can see, the “Alt-Right” Pepe-fica­tion of Europe is well under­way, and it’s going to include Europe’s many WWII his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism move­ments: all of those Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors were actu­al­ly mis­un­der­stood free­dom fight­ers. And here’s a fun “Alt-Right” meme about them. But don’t call them Nazis.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 27, 2017, 3:11 pm
  4. Remem­ber how Don­ald Trump assert­ed that his “oppo­nents” were behind the wave of anti-Semit­ic acts as part of false-flag plot to fuel out­rage against him? Well, it sounds like he did it again. This time dur­ing a pri­vate meet­ing with state attor­neys gen­er­al:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump ques­tioned who is real­ly behind anti-Semit­ic threats and van­dal­ism, offi­cial says

    By Mark Berman
    Feb­ru­ary 28, 2017 at 8:11 PM

    Pres­i­dent Trump ques­tioned who was behind a recent spate of anti-Semit­ic threats and inci­dents dur­ing a meet­ing with state attor­neys gen­er­al on Tues­day, one of the peo­ple present said after the gath­er­ing.

    When Penn­syl­va­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Josh Shapiro (D) asked him about the recent threats against Jew­ish facil­i­ties, the pres­i­dent respond­ed by con­demn­ing the state­ments but then “sug­gest­ed the ‘reverse’ may be true,” Shapiro said.

    “I don’t know what the pres­i­dent meant by that state­ment,” Shapiro said in a state­ment.

    Trump “made this ref­er­ence that some­times it’s the reverse” and then “used that word ‘reverse’ sev­er­al times,” Joe Grace, a spokesman for Shapiro, said in a tele­phone inter­view Tues­day after­noon. Grace was relay­ing what Shapiro had said pub­licly dur­ing a phone call with reporters ear­li­er Tues­day.

    Shapiro’s account of the meet­ing with Trump was first report­ed by Bil­ly Penn. Accord­ing to the Bil­ly Penn report, a reporter asked if Shapiro inter­pret­ed Trump’s state­ments to mean that the pres­i­dent thinks his sup­port­ers are being framed, but Shapiro respond­ed by say­ing he is unsure what Trump was imply­ing.

    “The attor­ney gen­er­al hon­est­ly does not know what the pres­i­dent meant by that,” Grace said, adding that Shapiro “hoped that there would be clar­i­ty on those remarks” when Trump deliv­ers a speech before Con­gress on Tues­day evening. Shapiro said Trump told him he would address the anti-Semit­ic inci­dents dur­ing his speech.

    Flori­da Attor­ney Gen­er­al Pam Bon­di ®, a Trump sup­port­er dur­ing the cam­paign, also attend­ed the meet­ing but declined to com­ment about what was said.

    “I know first-hand Pres­i­dent Trump cares deeply about our Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty and is extreme­ly upset by these attacks,” Bon­di said in a state­ment. “His daugh­ter, son-in-law and three of his grand­chil­dren are Jew­ish. We pray these attacks, as well as any poten­tial copy­cat attacks, cease.”

    Trump’s com­ments on the issue came after a wave of bomb threats at Jew­ish cen­ters and schools on Mon­day and the top­pling of more than 100 head­stones at a Jew­ish ceme­tery in Philadel­phia over the week­end. The bomb threats were the lat­est in a spate of such inci­dents nation­wide so far this year, while the head­stone episode occurred a week after sim­i­lar van­dal­ism at a ceme­tery near St. Louis.

    There have been a total of 100 bomb threats called in to Jew­ish schools and Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ters since the begin­ning of Jan­u­ary, accord­ing to the Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter Asso­ci­a­tion of North Amer­i­ca.

    Last week, Trump offered his first pub­lic con­dem­na­tion of the anti-Semit­ic inci­dents, relent­ing in the face of exten­sive crit­i­cism about his refusal to com­ment pub­licly. Trump was asked about the sub­ject dur­ing two news con­fer­ences ear­li­er this month, but he declined to con­demn the anti-Semit­ic episodes, instead respond­ing to one ques­tion by dis­cussing his elec­toral vic­to­ry and reply­ing in the oth­er brief­ing by crit­i­ciz­ing the reporter who asked the ques­tion.

    ...

    The reports promised swift and sharp con­dem­na­tions from groups that have already expressed unhap­pi­ness with Trump’s behav­ior on the issue. The Anti-Defama­tion League pil­lo­ried the com­ments on the ori­gins of the threats, call­ing on Trump’s White House to offer fur­ther expla­na­tion.

    “We are aston­ished by what the Pres­i­dent report­ed­ly said,” Jonathan Green­blatt, chief exec­u­tive of the ADL, said in a state­ment. “It is incum­bent upon the White House to imme­di­ate­ly clar­i­fy these remarks. In light of the ongo­ing attacks on the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, it is also incum­bent upon the Pres­i­dent to lay out in his speech tonight his plans for what the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will do to address this rash of anti-Semit­ic inci­dents.”

    The Anne Frank Cen­ter for Mutu­al Respect, a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion tar­get­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and a group that has crit­i­cized Trump, released an even more crit­i­cal state­ment.

    “Mr. Pres­i­dent, have you no decen­cy?” Steven Gold­stein, the nonprofit’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, said in a state­ment. “To cast doubt on the authen­tic­i­ty of Anti-Semit­ic hate crimes in Amer­i­ca con­sti­tutes Anti-Semi­tism in itself, and that’s some­thing none of us ever dreamed would dis­grace our nation from the White House. If the reports are true, you owe the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty an apol­o­gy.”

    Trump’s report­ed com­ments would not be the first time he has sug­gest­ed that racist, anti-Semit­ic or oth­er “hor­ri­ble” sen­ti­ment has been expressed by his polit­i­cal oppo­nents seek­ing to make him or his sup­port­ers look bad, as Aaron Blake doc­u­ments at The Fix.

    “But you have some of those signs and some of that anger is caused by the oth­er side,” Trump said to a reporter dur­ing a news con­fer­ence ear­li­er this month. “They’ll do signs, and they’ll do draw­ings that are inap­pro­pri­ate. It won’t be my peo­ple. It will be the peo­ple on the oth­er side to anger peo­ple like you.”

    Trump has often sought to blame issues on his polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion. Dur­ing the cam­paign, he accused Democ­rats of being behind vio­lence at his ral­lies, stat­ing that Hillary Clinton’s cam­paign and for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma were behind such issues. (The facts don’t bear that out.) This week, Trump accused Oba­ma of help­ing orga­nize the swaths of protests that have hap­pened dur­ing the first weeks of his pres­i­den­cy.

    Ear­li­er on Tues­day, Antho­ny Scara­muc­ci, a New York financier with ties to Trump who has accept­ed a White House posi­tion, post­ed on Twit­ter not­ing that it was not clear who was behind the Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter threats. In his tweet, he includ­ed a link to a sto­ry alleg­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty attempts to incite vio­lence at Trump ral­lies.

    It’s not yet clear who the #JCC offend­ers are. Don’t for­get @TheDemocrats effort to incite vio­lence at Trump ral­lies https://t.co/uTBFGhI0Kh— Antho­ny Scara­muc­ci (@Scaramucci) Feb­ru­ary 28, 2017

    When it was point­ed out that he appeared to be sug­gest­ing Democ­rats were behind the threat­en­ing calls, Scara­muc­ci argued oth­er­wise:

    No, I’m say­ing until we know for sure it’s high­ly irre­spon­si­ble to jump to con­clu­sions https://t.co/wynFuUCKyT— Antho­ny Scara­muc­ci (@Scaramucci) Feb­ru­ary 28, 2017

    I have stood with and will stand for the Jew­ish Peo­ple for my entire life. Those that know me know.— Antho­ny Scara­muc­ci (@Scaramucci) Feb­ru­ary 28, 2017

    I did not. Let’s not start with the Fake News now. I said no one knows yet who did it. https://t.co/wynFuUl9aj— Antho­ny Scara­muc­ci (@Scaramucci) Feb­ru­ary 28, 2017

    Trump “made this ref­er­ence that some­times it’s the reverse” and then “used that word ‘reverse’ sev­er­al times,” Joe Grace, a spokesman for Shapiro, said in a tele­phone inter­view Tues­day after­noon. Grace was relay­ing what Shapiro had said pub­licly dur­ing a phone call with reporters ear­li­er Tues­day.”

    It sure sounds like Trump real­ly want­ed to get across the mes­sage the attor­neys gen­er­al that these bomb threats were part of some sort of left-wing plot against him.

    And keep in mind that the tech­nol­o­gy the per­pe­tra­tors of these bomb threats are using appears to have giv­en them the abil­i­ty to act with impuni­ty. At least so far. So it’s not impos­si­ble that a non-anti-Semi­te is behind this mul­ti-month long wave of bomb threats that’s ter­ror­iz­ing the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. Just as it’s not impos­si­ble that any unsolved crime has some sort of ‘reverse’ ulte­ri­or motive. But if this real­ly is all part of some sort of ‘reverse’ plot of non-anti-Semi­tes ter­ror­iz­ing the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in order to make Trump look bad, it’s appar­ent­ly being done by non-anti-Semi­tes who don’t mind the fact that they’re ter­ror­iz­ing the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. Or maybe Trump was sug­gest­ing it was Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty itself car­ry­ing out ‘reverse’ attacks? Who knows at this point. All we know for sure is that Trump real­ly, real­ly, real­ly does­n’t like to seri­ous­ly enter­tain the idea that legion of white suprema­cists enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly back­ing his cam­paign might be behind.

    Also keep in mind that if this was all a plot to make Trump look bad, it’s a dia­bol­i­cal­ly sneaky plot that must be car­ried out by indi­vid­u­als with keen insights into Trump’s psy­che and the abil­i­ty to pre­dict how he’s going to respond. Why? Because the only thing mak­ing Trump look bad dur­ing this whole ter­ror cam­paign was his response. First he did­n’t respond at all, and then he gave a total­ly bizarre press con­fer­ence where he claimed to be the least anti-Semit­ic per­son you’ve ever seen and sug­gest­ed that it was his oppo­nents behind it. And now he appar­ent­ly told a group of attor­neys gen­er­al that they should real­ly look into it being a ‘reverse’ plot. Did the ‘reverse’ bomb threat plot­ters know Trump was going to behave like that? Because their devi­ous scheme was­n’t going to work unless Trump behaved that way. After all, it’s not like Trump could­n’t have force­ful­ly con­demned these threats right away and called for an aggres­sive inves­ti­ga­tion, in which case the bomb threats would­n’t have actu­al­ly been an attack on Trump at all but poten­tial­ly a polit­i­cal boon. And Trump cer­tain­ly was­n’t forced to de-list white suprema­cist groups from the counter-extrem­ism fed­er­al task force, send­ing these groups over the edge with joy. He did­n’t have to do stuff like that which total­ly plays into the ‘Trump pals around with white suprema­cists’ meme that the alleged ‘reverse’ bomb threat plot­ters appar­ent­ly want­ed to prop­a­gate. That was all Team Trump. Did the ‘reverse’ plot­ters know he was going to do that?

    In oth­er words, if there real­ly is a ‘reverse’ bomb threat plot by Trump’s polit­i­cal oppo­nents designed to make it look like Trump unleashed a wave of unchecked white suprema­cy, the key indi­vid­ual car­ry­ing out this plot appear to be Don­ald Trump. It must be a very com­pli­cat­ed plot.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 28, 2017, 7:51 pm
  5. Awe­some. I’ve been won­der­ing when you’d tack­le Dug­in. As for Bannon–horrifying that All that strange third way fas­cism stuff I learned about from you last year is now con­trol­ling the White House.
    That’s why you fig­ured promi­nent­ly in this inter­view on I did on Iran/Contra WACL and my favorite researchers on Deep Pol­i­tics which include Dave Emory, Peter Dale Scott, Doug Valen­tine, J. Patrice McSh­er­ry, and Sibel Edmonds. I should have men­tioned Hos­pick­er. I bought Coogan’s book along with the Beast ReAwak­ens by Mar­tin A. Lee although I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.
    http://anti-imperialist‑u.blogspot.com/2017/02/hugo-turner-on-deep-politics-of.html

    Posted by Hugo Turner | March 1, 2017, 12:42 pm
  6. Don­ald Trump gave his first speech to Con­gress, a speech that was large­ly and bizarrely hailed by the press and polls as ‘opti­mistic’ despite being large­ly a pack of lies that was only slight­ly less dark and inflam­ma­to­ry than his ‘Amer­i­can car­nage’ inau­gu­ra­tion speech. But if you’re a fan of a creep­ing Hit­ler­ian agen­da, it was def­i­nite­ly an opti­mistic speech:

    The Atlantic

    Trump Scape­goats Unau­tho­rized Immi­grants for Crime

    The president’s focus on crimes com­mit­ted by mem­bers of one par­tic­u­lar group sin­gles them out for blame.

    Peter Beinart
    March 1, 2017 8:02 AM ET

    This sto­ry was updat­ed on Wednes­day, March 1 at 10:06 a.m.

    Don­ald Trump is wor­ried about vio­lence by unau­tho­rized immi­grants. When he spoke before a joint ses­sion of Con­gress on Tues­day night, he invit­ed three rel­a­tives of peo­ple that unau­tho­rized immi­grants had killed to attend as his guests.

    In that speech, he called for the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty to cre­ate an office focused on the vic­tims of immi­grant crime. And in a Jan­u­ary 25 exec­u­tive order, he instruct­ed the Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary to “make pub­lic a com­pre­hen­sive list of crim­i­nal actions com­mit­ted by aliens.”

    On its face, this is odd. As far as researchers can tell, unau­tho­rized immi­grants com­mit crimes at a low­er rate than the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion at large. A 2007 Nation­al Bureau of Eco­nom­ic Research Paper by Welles­ley Col­lege econ­o­mist Kristin F. Butch­er and Rut­gers econ­o­mist Anne Mor­ri­son Piehl found that “immi­grants have much low­er insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion (incar­cer­a­tion) rates than the native born.” (The dis­crep­an­cy, they not­ed, could not be explained by the fact that the gov­ern­ment deports some immi­grant crim­i­nals, thus spar­ing them incar­cer­a­tion in the U.S.). A review of cen­sus data between 1980 and 2010 revealed that while non-cit­i­zens com­prised 7 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, they com­prised only 5 per­cent of those in America’s pris­ons.

    Trump’s allies may believe that sneak­ing into the Unit­ed States, or using a fake social secu­ri­ty num­ber to get a job, pre­dis­pos­es peo­ple to rob, rape, or kill. But the evi­dence does not bear this out. So if Trump’s goal is increas­ing pub­lic safe­ty, pub­lish­ing a list of crimes com­mit­ted by unau­tho­rized immi­grants is irra­tional. It’s like pub­lish­ing a list of crimes com­mit­ted by peo­ple with red-hair.

    If, how­ev­er, Trump’s goal is stig­ma­tiz­ing a vul­ner­a­ble class of peo­ple, then pub­li­ciz­ing their crimes—and their crimes alone—makes sense. It’s been a tac­tic big­ots have used more than a cen­tu­ry.

    Using crime to incite hatred has a long his­to­ry in the Unit­ed States. Khalil Gibran Muham­mad, a pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry, race, and pub­lic pol­i­cy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, notes that for at least a cen­tu­ry after the end of slav­ery, north­ern news­pa­pers gen­er­al­ly iden­ti­fied African Amer­i­cans accused of com­mit­ting crimes as “negro” or “col­ored.” South­ern news­pa­pers gen­er­al­ly referred to the offend­er as a “negro crim­i­nal” in bold—using the individual’s name and “the negro” inter­change­ably in the sto­ry. White crim­i­nals, by con­trast, were not iden­ti­fied by race. (This tra­di­tion con­tin­ues at Bre­it­bart, which has a spe­cial cat­e­go­ry for “black crime.”)

    Gov­ern­ment crime sta­tis­tics reflect­ed eth­nic and racial fears too. In the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies, notes Muham­mad, when native-born Amer­i­cans were grow­ing alarmed by mass immi­gra­tion from South­ern and East­ern Europe, big city police forces broke down crime sta­tis­tics by Euro­pean nation­al­i­ty: Russ­ian, Ger­man, Ital­ian, etc. As nativist fears reced­ed fol­low­ing the shut­down of such immi­gra­tion, the FBI began lump­ing all Euro­pean nation­al­i­ties into the cat­e­go­ry “for­eign born” begin­ning in 1930. By 1940, the Euro­pean for­eign born were sub­sumed into “white.”

    In The Nazi Con­science, Duke his­to­ri­an Clau­dia Koonz notes that the Nazi news­pa­per Der Sturmer ran a fea­ture called “Let­ter Box,” which pub­lished read­ers’ accounts of Jew­ish crimes. When the Nazis took pow­er, the Ger­man state began doing some­thing sim­i­lar. Frus­trat­ed by the fail­ure of most Ger­mans to par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott of Jew­ish busi­ness­es in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s gov­ern­ment began pub­li­ciz­ing Jew­ish crime sta­tis­tics as a way of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. In Nazi Ger­many and the Jews: The Years of Per­se­cu­tion, the his­to­ri­an Saul Fried­lan­der notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Min­istry of Jus­tice ordered pros­e­cu­tors to for­ward every crim­i­nal indict­ment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could pub­li­cize it.

    Trump’s defend­ers might claim that what he’s doing dif­fers from these pri­or exam­ples. He’s pub­li­ciz­ing the crimes of a legal group—illegal immigrants—not a reli­gious, eth­nic, or racial one. But in the Unit­ed States in 2017, talk­ing about “ille­gal immi­grants” is like talk­ing about “wel­fare moth­ers” or “crack deal­ers” in 1987. The racial impli­ca­tion is clear. Trump made it so him­self in his announce­ment speech when he said that, “When Mex­i­co sends its people…They’re bring­ing drugs. They’re bring­ing crime. They’re rapists.”

    ...

    Trump is scape­goat­ing in the clas­sic sense. He’s tak­ing the sin of crime and asso­ci­at­ing it with one, already stig­ma­tized, group, thus allow­ing native-born Amer­i­cans to con­sid­er them­selves pure. In Leviti­cus, the high priest takes a goat, “confess[es] over it all the iniq­ui­ties and trans­gres­sions of the Israelites” and then sends it into the wilder­ness so it won’t con­t­a­m­i­nate them. When it comes to unau­tho­rized immi­grants, Trump is reen­act­ing that rit­u­al. Amer­i­cans will soon learn just how harsh his legal and moral wilder­ness is.

    “In The Nazi Con­science, Duke his­to­ri­an Clau­dia Koonz notes that the Nazi news­pa­per Der Sturmer ran a fea­ture called “Let­ter Box,” which pub­lished read­ers’ accounts of Jew­ish crimes. When the Nazis took pow­er, the Ger­man state began doing some­thing sim­i­lar. Frus­trat­ed by the fail­ure of most Ger­mans to par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott of Jew­ish busi­ness­es in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s gov­ern­ment began pub­li­ciz­ing Jew­ish crime sta­tis­tics as a way of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. In Nazi Ger­many and the Jews: The Years of Per­se­cu­tion, the his­to­ri­an Saul Fried­lan­der notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Min­istry of Jus­tice ordered pros­e­cu­tors to for­ward every crim­i­nal indict­ment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could pub­li­cize it.

    A new DHS depart­ment that will be focused on immi­grant crimes and “pro­vid­ing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by spe­cial inter­ests” (yes, he man­aged to sug­gest that there’s a con­spir­a­cy to no report crimes by immi­grants). And keep in mind that as chill­ing as the idea is of Trump using his new DHS pro­gram to demo­nize non-whites and immi­grants and even­tu­al­ly blan­ket the air­waves with sto­ries about immi­grant crimes in his 2020 reelec­tion bid, that office is going to be used by GOP­ers all over the coun­try. Espe­cial­ly in TV ads rem­i­nis­cent of the infa­mous ‘Willie Hor­ton’ ad George H. W. Bush used to demo­nize African Amer­i­cans as crim­i­nals in his 1988 race. And US elec­tions have a lot more mon­ey spent on TV ads today than they did back in 1988.

    So get ready for ‘dan­ger­ous vio­lent (non-white) immi­grants are com­ing for you and your fam­i­ly’ to be the GOP’s theme for the fore­see­able future. And get ready for the bil­lions of dol­lars in polit­i­cal adver­tis­ing to make sure that Amer­i­cans receive that mes­sage over and over. Feel­ing opti­mistic?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 1, 2017, 4:55 pm
  7. Here’s a reminder that Steve Ban­non’s vision of an inter­na­tion­al net­work of Bre­it­bart branch­es push­ing a far-right, pro-cor­po­ratist eth­no-nation­al­ist agen­da — in oth­er words, cor­po­ratist glob­al­ism with an eth­no-nation­al­ist pati­na — isn’t lim­it­ed to Bre­it­bart’s expan­sion into Europe. Bre­it­bart India is on the agen­da too and has been for a while:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Inside Steve Bannon’s Failed Bre­it­bart India Scheme
    Before he was the president’s right-hand man, Steve Ban­non was bent on world dom­i­na­tion of a dif­fer­ent kind.

    Asaw­in Sueb­saeng
    03.02.17 12:00 AM ET

    If Stephen K. Ban­non had had his way, there would already be a Bre­it­bart India.

    Well before he entered the Trump White House with an eye toward influ­enc­ing and affect­ing for­eign pol­i­cy, Ban­non was already try­ing to wield his Bre­it­bart media empire to influ­ence the pol­i­tics of for­eign democ­ra­cies, in favor of right-wing nation­al­ist upheavals.

    Until he became Pres­i­dent Trump’s chief strate­gist, Ban­non was on a mis­sion to open new Bre­it­bart oper­a­tions in sev­er­al Euro­pean coun­tries. Accord­ing to mul­ti­ple reports, he want­ed these for­eign offices opened for the pur­pose of back­ing nation­al­ist, anti-immi­grant polit­i­cal par­ties such as the Nation­al Front in France.

    Anoth­er coun­try Ban­non had eyed for set­ting up shop was India, so his right-wing news and pro­pa­gan­da net­work could lend its sup­port to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, anoth­er nation­al­ist, huge­ly con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure whom Ban­non has come to admire great­ly.

    “On Novem­ber 17 2015, I sat oppo­site Steve Ban­non in [a New York City] office as he asked me if I’d be inter­est­ed in start­ing Bre­it­bart India,” Mum­bai-based writer Amit Var­ma wrote in a lit­tle-noticed blog post late last year.

    “A lady who was one of the fun­ders of [Bre­it­bart], and of cer­tain lead­ers in the Repub­li­can Par­ty, got in touch with [oth­ers] to ask if she could meet me. (It’s not fair of me to name her because she’s not real­ly a pub­lic fig­ure.),” Var­ma con­tin­ued. “She’d been impressed by my speech, and thus this meet­ing [with her and Ban­non].”

    Though Var­ma declined to name the “lady,” two sources, who request­ed anonymi­ty, with knowl­edge of the meet­ing con­firmed to The Dai­ly Beast that the woman present in the room with Ban­non was in fact Rebekah Mer­cer, the Repub­li­can megadonor with deep ties to Trump and Ban­non. Last week, Bre­it­bart con­firmed that the Mer­cer fam­i­ly does in fact co-own Bre­it­bart.

    Mer­cer did not respond to requests for com­ment on this sto­ry. Nei­ther did Ban­non.

    Var­ma blogged that he “didn’t know much about Bre­it­bart” or the Amer­i­can alt-right, though he knew right off the bat that launch­ing Bre­it­bart India wasn’t the gig for him. Bre­it­bart was a con­ser­v­a­tive vehi­cle, both in the Unit­ed States and at its off­shoots abroad. Var­ma iden­ti­fies as a pro-immi­gra­tion, pro-gay-rights lib­er­tar­i­an. More­over, he says that he advised them that there wasn’t even a point to hav­ing a web­site like Bre­it­bart col­o­nize India.

    “It’s incon­gru­ent,” he recalled telling Ban­non and Mer­cer. “There is no ana­log of Amer­i­can con­ser­vatism in India. The Indi­an right is dri­ven by big­otry and nativism, with no deep­er guid­ing phi­los­o­phy behind it. [Con­sid­er the irony of these words.] You will not find any Burkean con­ser­v­a­tives here. Don’t come.”

    “Well, we think that Modi is India’s Rea­gan,” Ban­non replied, accord­ing to Var­ma.

    Var­ma writes that he “laughed” in Bannon’s face when he said that, and had to tell them that “Modi was no Rea­gan.”

    Sub­se­quent­ly, “the lady” present attempt­ed to con­vince Var­ma that she was “actu­al­ly” a lib­er­tar­i­an, as well, before launch­ing into “dia­tribes” against same-sex mar­riage and “immi­grants in Amer­i­ca, and how the cul­tur­al fab­ric of Europe was being torn apart by their immi­grants.”

    Fol­low­ing Trump’s elec­tion-night upset, Var­ma wrote that he is “still glad that I didn’t explore their offer fur­ther. I could have been some­what rich­er, maybe even influ­en­tial, if I’d tak­en it up—but I sleep well at night now, and that’s what mat­ters.”

    In a brief phone con­ver­sa­tion, Var­ma told The Dai­ly Beast that he did not wish to com­ment fur­ther than what he wrote in his orig­i­nal post, but added that he found Ban­non to be warm and “very nice to me.”

    Modi is a con­tro­ver­sial nation­al­ist, right-wing leader. The U.S., along with Eng­land and oth­er West­ern coun­tries, had imposed a visa ban on him after human-rights orga­ni­za­tions impli­cat­ed Modi in a 2002 slaugh­ter of Mus­lims in his state. The Indi­an Supreme Court even­tu­al­ly exon­er­at­ed Modi years lat­er, but by then many wit­ness­es had been tam­pered with, had died, or had been killed.

    Dur­ing a con­fer­ence held inside the Vat­i­can in 2014, Ban­non praised Modi, a Hin­du nation­al­ist, for being at the cen­ter of a transna­tion­al “revolt.”

    “That cen­ter-right revolt is real­ly a glob­al revolt,” Ban­non said, accord­ing to Buz­zFeed. “I think you’re going to see it in Latin Amer­i­ca, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi’s great vic­to­ry was very much based on these Rea­ganesque prin­ci­ples, so I think this is a glob­al revolt, and we are very for­tu­nate and proud to be the news site that is report­ing that through­out the world.”

    The inter­sec­tion of pro-Modi and pro-Trump sen­ti­ments with­in Trump’s inner polit­i­cal cir­cle didn’t stop there. The Repub­li­can Hin­du Coali­tion (RHC), which was very sup­port­ive of Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and was favor­ably cov­ered on Bre­it­bart mul­ti­ple times, has been in close con­tact with Ban­non, via its leader and GOP donor Sha­l­abh “Shal­li” Kumar.

    In mid-Octo­ber of last year short­ly before the elec­tion, Kumar orga­nized an RHC event in New Jer­sey fea­tur­ing and cel­e­brat­ing Don­ald J. Trump. The event also includ­ed Kumar, as well as “Bol­ly­wood Stars, and major Hin­du spir­i­tu­al lead­ers,” accord­ing to the invi­ta­tion.

    Kumar, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Hin­du Coali­tion, told The Dai­ly Beast this week, that Ban­non worked with him to get the event planned around the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nominee’s busy sched­ule.

    “I have had sev­er­al inter­faces with [Steve Ban­non] in per­son, as well as over the phone and over email,” Kumar said.

    Kumar said that he first met Ban­non in late August 2016, and that he was a “very, very nice guy”—not the the “rude, angry-type per­son” he had seen por­trayed in the news. Dur­ing his August vis­it to Trump Tow­er to plan the Bol­ly­wood-tinged, pro-Trump event, Kumar met with Kellyanne Con­way and Ban­non.

    “Gen­er­al­ly, we were talk­ing about the reach­ing-out to Hin­du Amer­i­cans, and [Ban­non] was all for it—I do remem­ber him being inter­est­ed in talk­ing to the pow­ers at be from India,” Kumar recalled. “At the end of the meet­ing, Kellyanne had to dis­ap­pear for a moment into a dif­fer­ent room, and I had for­got­ten to ask her some ques­tions… So Steve went with me from room, to room, to room [in Trump Tow­er] to find her to get my ques­tions answered.”

    Kumar said he chat­ted with Ban­non mul­ti­ple times regard­ing the impor­tance of a “nation­al­ist econ­o­my,” Indi­an pol­i­tics, and tak­ing “tough stands against rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism.”

    “[Steve] had a clear phi­los­o­phy that you could still be in nation­al­ism, and still be a glob­al pow­er,” he con­tin­ued.

    ...

    Kumar says he is still in touch with Ban­non, and com­mu­ni­cat­ed as recent­ly as last month. When asked about the for­mer Bre­it­bart chief’s plans to try to mount a Bre­it­bart India, Kumar said he had not heard about them, but that it “would be great” if Bre­it­bart did do that.

    “Steve Ban­non is the guy who straight­ened out the Trump cam­paign in August,” the Indi­an-Amer­i­can busi­ness­man said. “He almost seemed like a mil­i­tary com­man­der… One of my favorite guys in his­to­ry is Gen. Pat­ton, and—you know—he could be like Gen. Pat­ton.”

    “Anoth­er coun­try Ban­non had eyed for set­ting up shop was India, so his right-wing news and pro­pa­gan­da net­work could lend its sup­port to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, anoth­er nation­al­ist, huge­ly con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure whom Ban­non has come to admire great­ly.

    Keep in mind that Naren­dra Modi is going to be fac­ing reelec­tion in 2019, so while Bre­it­bart may not have set up its Indi­an branch yet we prob­a­bly should­n’t be sur­prised if one pops up over the next cou­ple of years. Although prob­a­bly not in the near future. It’s not the best time at the moment for a Trump-asso­ci­at­ed media ven­ture in India.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 2, 2017, 4:23 pm
  8. Well look at that: So not long after Don­ald Trump claims that his “oppo­nents” were actu­al­ly behind the wave of bomb threats of Jew­ish cen­ters, Juan Thomp­son — the dis­graced ex-reporter for the Inter­cept who was dis­missed after he was dis­cov­ered to be a ser­i­al fab­ri­ca­tor — makes at least 8 bomb threats. Using his own name along with the name of an ex-girl­friend he was cyber-stalk­ing while claim­ing that she was actu­al­ly mak­ing the threats in order to frame him, which prob­a­bly has a lot to do with inves­ti­ga­tors describ­ing Thomp­son’s arrest as unre­lat­ed to much larg­er wave of over 100 “robo-call” bomb threats:

    CNN

    Fired reporter accused of threat­en­ing some Jew­ish cen­ters, cyber-stalk­ing

    By Eric Lev­en­son and AnneClaire Sta­ple­ton,
    Updat­ed 4:29 PM ET, Fri March 3, 2017

    New York (CNN)A for­mer reporter who was fired for fab­ri­cat­ing sources was arrest­ed Fri­day and accused of mak­ing some of the bomb threats against Jew­ish insti­tu­tions that have so rat­tled Jews recent­ly.

    Juan Thomp­son, 31, was charged with one count of cyber-stalk­ing for mak­ing at least eight threats as part of an attempt to intim­i­date a par­tic­u­lar per­son after their roman­tic rela­tion­ship end­ed, accord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed in the South­ern Dis­trict of New York.

    The accu­sa­tion against Thomp­son accounts for just a small minor­i­ty of the 101 total bomb threats that have been received by Jew­ish insti­tu­tions since 2017 began, accord­ing to data from the JCC Asso­ci­a­tion of North Amer­i­ca.

    “No one has been arrest­ed for mak­ing the nation­wide robo­call JCC threats,” New York State Police’s Beau Duffy said. “That’s still an active FBI inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    The com­plaint alleges Thomp­son had emailed and phoned in threats to the Anti-Defama­tion League and oth­er Jew­ish insti­tu­tions. Some of those threats men­tioned a “Jew­ish New­town,” accord­ing to the com­plaint, an appar­ent ref­er­ence to the infa­mous 2012 school shoot­ing in New­town, Con­necti­cut.

    Thomp­son made some of the threats in the vic­tim’s name, while oth­ers were made in his own name, accord­ing to the com­plaint. Thomp­son then claimed that those threats had actu­al­ly been made by the vic­tim in an attempt to frame him, the com­plaint alleges.

    It could not be imme­di­ate­ly deter­mined if Thomp­son has an attor­ney.

    Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty cen­ters and schools have been the tar­gets of a series of bomb threats made via tele­phone since 2017 began, spark­ing fears of ris­ing anti-Semi­tism around the coun­try.

    Thomp­son’s arrest, in St. Louis, was the result of the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into those bomb threats, offi­cials said.

    “Thomp­son’s alleged pat­tern of harass­ment not only involved the defama­tion of his female vic­tim, but his threats intim­i­dat­ed an entire com­mu­ni­ty,” FBI Assis­tant Direc­tor-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a state­ment.

    For­mer reporter

    Thomp­son pre­vi­ous­ly worked as a reporter for The Inter­cept, the online news pub­li­ca­tion, accord­ing to pre­vi­ous CNN report­ing and a review of Thomp­son’s Twit­ter account.

    Sev­er­al tweets from his Twit­ter account, @JuanMThompson, are ref­er­enced in the crim­i­nal com­plaint. That Twit­ter account is linked to arti­cles bear­ing his byline at The Inter­cept.

    Thomp­son was fired from the web­site in 2016 for fab­ri­cat­ing quotes, The Inter­cep­t’s edi­tor-in-chief wrote at the time in a spe­cial note to read­ers. He had worked there from Novem­ber 2014 until Jan­u­ary 2016.

    In one sto­ry, Thomp­son quot­ed a man he iden­ti­fied as the cousin of Dylann Roof, the man con­vict­ed of killing nine peo­ple at a his­tor­i­cal­ly black church in Charleston, South Car­oli­na. Inter­cept edi­tors retract­ed that sto­ry after mem­bers of Roof’s fam­i­ly said they did not know of that cousin.

    Jew­ish groups react

    Evan Bern­stein, the New York region­al direc­tor of the Anti-Defama­tion League, praised the arrest of Thomp­son but not­ed that the threats remained an issue.

    “The dili­gence of law enforce­ment at such a crit­i­cal time for the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty is very reas­sur­ing,” said Bern­stein. “Just because there’s been an arrest today around our bomb threat does not mean that the threats have dis­ap­peared or will stop.”

    ...

    “No one has been arrest­ed for mak­ing the nation­wide robo­call JCC threats,” New York State Police’s Beau Duffy said. “That’s still an active FBI inves­ti­ga­tion.””

    As we prob­a­bly should have expect­ed, we get copy­cat of who­ev­er is doing to the much larg­er wave bomb threats. Although it was some­what sur­pris­ing that the copy­cat appears to actu­al­ly be try­ing to draw atten­tion to him­self as part of some sort of weird cyber-stalk­ing thing.

    And the fact that it turns out to the be an for­mer Inter­cept reporter is quite a twist. Espe­cial­ly since the spe­cif­ic fab­ri­ca­tion that led to Thomp­son’s down­fall was a fake quote attrib­uted to Dylann Roof’s cousin claim­ing Roof’s racial ani­mos­i­ty may have start­ed after Roof’s love-inter­est left him for a black man, some­thing with bizarre par­al­lels to not only Thomp­son’s own rela­tion­ship with his cyber-stalk­ing vic­tim but also the strange fab­ri­cat­ed sto­ry he recent­ly cre­at­ed in just the last week:

    Riv­er Front Times

    Before Bomb Threats, Juan Thomp­son Unrav­eled — and Ter­ror­ized an RFT Reporter

    Post­ed By Doyle Mur­phy on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 2:31 PM

    In the days before Juan Thomp­son’s arrest this morn­ing for his part in a string of bomb threats to Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ters across the U.S., the St. Louis native seemed a lit­tle extra crazy, which is say­ing some­thing.

    This is a guy who took imag­i­nary trips to Cuba and Sene­gal. He dubi­ous­ly claimed he was with the Stand­ing Rock pro­test­ers in North Dako­ta and that he’d bought a house in Detroit. He lied about the weird­est things.

    “My home­made kom­bucha and home­made kim­chi both fin­ished today,” Thomp­son tweet­ed in Decem­ber with a pic­ture of his hand­i­work. “I sound like a snob. But kim­chi is sooooooo good. So fu cking good.”

    It took a 20-sec­ond Google search to fig­ure out that Thomp­son had stolen the pic­ture from a blog­ger.

    [see image]

    Track­ing Thomp­son’s fire­hose spray of social media posts in recent months was always an exer­cise in “what the fu ck?” But today’s news that the FBI believes he was behind a string of bomb threats to JCCs and the Anti-Defama­tion League was still unset­tling.

    The threats were a con­vo­lut­ed revenge scheme, meant to frame an ex-girl­friend in New York City, accord­ing to the fed­er­al com­plaint. The FBI says Thomp­son, 31, called in at least eight bogus threats. Some­times, he warned law enforce­ment that the ex-girl­friend was mak­ing the calls, author­i­ties say. Oth­er times, he called them in under his own name, and then lat­er claimed she had been try­ing to frame him, the com­plaint alleges.

    The events laid out in the com­plaint by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors sound­ed weird and crazy — and uncom­fort­ably famil­iar.

    At the River­front Times, we pub­lished a cov­er sto­ry about Thomp­son last Feb­ru­ary. He was a north St. Louis native who was once a reporter with a job at The Inter­cept in New York City, a news site best-known for its cache of doc­u­ments from nation­al secu­ri­ty leak­er Edward Snow­den. But Thomp­son had been fired after the site caught him mak­ing up details and send­ing bogus emails, includ­ing some mas­querad­ing as the site’s edi­tor.

    Thomp­son blamed racism and also claimed to have can­cer. But we uncov­ered addi­tion­al prob­lems with his work, going all the way back to his col­lege days with the stu­dent news­pa­per at Vas­sar Col­lege, a pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ty in Pough­keep­sie, New York. Thomp­son had over­come an impov­er­ished back­ground to attend col­lege there, but failed to grad­u­ate. He still land­ed a few good media jobs — only to crash and burn when his sourc­ing did­n’t check out.

    After our cov­er sto­ry, we fol­lowed up lat­er with a short account of his brief tenure for an online news site. I wrote the sto­ries. Thomp­son was pissed. He emailed my boss and tried to get me fired. When that did­n’t work, he emailed me.

    “You are a white piece of sh it who lies and dis­torts to fit a nar­ra­tive,” he wrote me in Octo­ber. “Thank­ful­ly no one reads you or the rft and you will spend the rest of your career aggre­gat­ing sto­ries about shoot­ings.”

    Things were qui­et for a while after that, but then came the fake Twit­ter accounts. My wife and I were sit­ting on our couch one night when she tapped me on the elbow and showed me her phone. Some­one had cre­at­ed a brand-new Twit­ter pro­file claim­ing I was a rapist. The per­son tweet­ed at her, my boss and oth­er jour­nal­ists around St. Louis. It was an insane — and, though it’s hard to believe I even have to say it — com­plete­ly untrue accu­sa­tion.

    For the next sev­er­al days, we scram­bled to get peo­ple at Twit­ter to pull down the account. They final­ly did. Then anoth­er popped up. We got it pulled down. Anoth­er popped up. This went on for weeks, account after account, day after day, and extend­ed to Face­book. Some­one cre­at­ed fake Face­book accounts and pages and reg­u­lar­ly popped up on RFT sto­ries, accus­ing me of rape. This per­son also made ref­er­ence to my moth­er, using her first name, and pub­lished a social media pro­file pic­ture of my wife that had been scraped from the inter­net.

    We final­ly con­tact­ed the St. Louis police depart­men­t’s cyber crimes unit. I still remem­ber the detec­tive stop­ping me before I could get the full expla­na­tion out.

    “Does this have any­thing to do with Juan Thomp­son?” he asked.

    I had not even said Thomp­son’s name yet. I did­n’t want to accuse him pre­ma­ture­ly, although the fake accounts and the pen­chant for revenge had me ful­ly con­vinced it was him.

    It turns out police were already inves­ti­gat­ing com­plaints Thomp­son had been harass­ing his ex-girl­friend in New York. They could­n’t tell me much about her case, but the pat­tern of weird cyber­at­tacks was the same. I called one of Thomp­son’s old room­mates, whom I had quot­ed in an ear­li­er sto­ry. He too was under attack. Some­one was send­ing anony­mous mes­sages to his employ­er and and grad­u­ate school, claim­ing he was a racist.

    All of it was garbage, but here’s an ugly secret about this kind of thing: There isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do. Police told me I had, at best, a pret­ty weak harass­ment case. And I think they were right. He had not threat­ened to phys­i­cal­ly harm me. It was also hard to prove it was even him.

    To their cred­it, St. Louis Police sent requests to Twit­ter and Face­book for IP address­es linked to the accounts, but the com­pa­nies would­n’t coop­er­ate. A phone num­ber used to text me harass­ing mes­sages was rout­ed through a Cana­di­an com­pa­ny, and they weren’t giv­ing up the account infor­ma­tion.

    All we could do was watch what Thomp­son was doing online, try to link it to the attacks on me and my fam­i­ly and brace our­selves for the next hit.

    Watch­ing Thomp­son’s Twit­ter account on a reg­u­lar basis makes for a strange pas­time. After the kim­chi inci­dent, I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed any time he post­ed a pic­ture. His sup­posed trip to Cuba was a good one. He post­ed a pic­ture of his new Mal­colm X tat­too. I searched “Mal­com X tat­too” in Google images, scrolled down and found the image. He had sim­ply reversed it. Same with scenes from his bal­cony of the Havana sky­line at night.

    [see image]

    If you believed his posts, he was jet-set­ting across the world. He was also rail­ing against cap­i­tal­ism, white women, police, lib­er­als, Trump and so many oth­ers. Lots of the posts were just weird — until it was pulled down this morn­ing, you could see the 10-point plan on a “Thomp­son for May­or” GoFundMe page — but it often turned nasty.

    In the past week, a Twit­ter account that seemed to be cre­at­ed sole­ly to retweet Thomp­son’s main account start­ed tweet­ing a link to what was basi­cal­ly a fan fic­tion sto­ry — about Thomp­son. The writer claimed to have had a crush on Thomp­son since high school, but was angry when he chose a white woman over her.

    “I was a pop­u­lar girl and could’ve had any boy in school I want­ed, but I want­ed him,” the sup­pos­ed­ly jilt­ed writer said. “He was dark, in skin and spir­it, and smarter than any­body I knew. He was a nerd but knowl­edge­able and dri­ven and world­ly from all the old movies he watched.”

    Our pro­tag­o­nist in the sto­ry then names a woman she says is Juan’s ex-girl­friend and smears her as a racist “fetishist” who was spread­ing her­pes across the land.

    The writer claims she was tak­ing revenge on Thomp­son and had worked with a new lover, who hap­pened to be a white guy with IT skills, to hack Thomp­son’s account and ter­ror­ize him and the girl­friend:

    “Me and the white boy fu cked with all of them for a while: sent mes­sages, putting their names on racists 8ch and doxxxing them, call­ing and report­ing jobs, mes­sag­ing friends and fam­i­ly, tip­ping sto­ries.”

    The sto­ry seemed to have mul­ti­ple goals: to stroke Thomp­son’s ego, to cov­er any cyber mis­deeds with a bizarre account of hack­ing, and to slime the ex-girl­friend.

    It was strange, over the top and kind of fun­ny in a gal­lows-humor sort of way, but it also made me real­ize that what­ev­er Thomp­son seemed to be doing to me, it was prob­a­bly way worse for his ex.

    It also seemed to rep­re­sent a turn for the worse. Thomp­son was post­ing attacks against the woman on his own Twit­ter page, claim­ing she was send­ing bomb threats in his name and try­ing to get him “raped in jail.” He even tweet­ed accu­sa­tions to the Secret Ser­vice Twit­ter account.

    The speed and vit­ri­ol seemed to be increas­ing, and I won­dered what was going to hap­pen. But I was still learn­ing things that were just plain strange.

    On Feb­ru­ary 23, he emailed St. Louis bar­be­cue favorite Salt + Smoke and claimed to be a free­lancer com­ing to St. Louis to write a food piece for the New York Times.

    “I’ve been told your place has the best bbq in the city,” he wrote from a gmail account he’d used before. “I want­ed to ask if I could come in on Mon­day, around 7, for din­ner? If the food is good, you get a great write up in the Times!”

    When the restau­ran­t’s own­er told him to feel free to drop by, he fol­lowed up with anoth­er email, claim­ing he’d some­how lost his wal­let “along the way to JFK air­port and STL.”

    “Could Salt and Smoke comp me tmrw, if I don’t find it, and I’ll reim­burse?” he asked. Out of due dili­gence, Salt + Smoke con­firmed with the Times that Thomp­son was not in fact on assign­ment for them. Once again, Juan Thomp­son was sim­ply mak­ing stuff up.

    ...

    I dropped by his mom’s house in north city on my way to the office. Nobody there real­ly want­ed to talk to me, but Thomp­son’s step­dad chat­ted for a few min­utes on the front porch. The FBI had stormed the place about 7 a.m., he said. They pushed open the door, con­fis­cat­ed var­i­ous fam­i­ly mem­bers’ cell phones and searched the house.

    The step­dad told me that Thomp­son was­n’t stay­ing there; agents had picked him up at his grand­moth­er’s house. The oth­ers only saw him about once a month. The step­dad said he tried to stay out of Thomp­son’s busi­ness when he did see him.

    I told him about the charges and the fake restau­rant reviews. He chuck­led and shook his head when I men­tioned a recent post about a loft apart­ment Thomp­son claimed he was rent­ing down­town.

    “When he came back from New York, he was­n’t right,” the step­dad said. “He was­n’t that way when he left.”

    In the past week, a Twit­ter account that seemed to be cre­at­ed sole­ly to retweet Thomp­son’s main account start­ed tweet­ing a link to what was basi­cal­ly a fan fic­tion sto­ry — about Thomp­son. The writer claimed to have had a crush on Thomp­son since high school, but was angry when he chose a white woman over her.”

    So at the same time Thomp­son is engaged in this bizarre self-incrim­i­nat­ing bomb threat plot that’s appar­ent­ly designed to incrim­i­nate his white ex-girl­friend cyber-stalk­ing vic­tim he’s also cre­at­ing a fake fan fic­tion site alleged­ly writ­ten by a woman with a crush on him who was angry when Thomp­son chose a white woman over her. And this was appar­ent­ly all part of the larg­er plot to incrim­i­nate his ex-girl­friend:

    ...
    In the past week, a Twit­ter account that seemed to be cre­at­ed sole­ly to retweet Thomp­son’s main account start­ed tweet­ing a link to what was basi­cal­ly a fan fic­tion sto­ry — about Thomp­son. The writer claimed to have had a crush on Thomp­son since high school, but was angry when he chose a white woman over her.

    “I was a pop­u­lar girl and could’ve had any boy in school I want­ed, but I want­ed him,” the sup­pos­ed­ly jilt­ed writer said. “He was dark, in skin and spir­it, and smarter than any­body I knew. He was a nerd but knowl­edge­able and dri­ven and world­ly from all the old movies he watched.”

    Our pro­tag­o­nist in the sto­ry then names a woman she says is Juan’s ex-girl­friend and smears her as a racist “fetishist” who was spread­ing her­pes across the land.

    The writer claims she was tak­ing revenge on Thomp­son and had worked with a new lover, who hap­pened to be a white guy with IT skills, to hack Thomp­son’s account and ter­ror­ize him and the girl­friend:

    “Me and the white boy fu cked with all of them for a while: sent mes­sages, putting their names on racists 8ch and doxxxing them, call­ing and report­ing jobs, mes­sag­ing friends and fam­i­ly, tip­ping sto­ries.”

    The sto­ry seemed to have mul­ti­ple goals: to stroke Thomp­son’s ego, to cov­er any cyber mis­deeds with a bizarre account of hack­ing, and to slime the ex-girl­friend.

    It was strange, over the top and kind of fun­ny in a gal­lows-humor sort of way, but it also made me real­ize that what­ev­er Thomp­son seemed to be doing to me, it was prob­a­bly way worse for his ex.

    It also seemed to rep­re­sent a turn for the worse. Thomp­son was post­ing attacks against the woman on his own Twit­ter page, claim­ing she was send­ing bomb threats in his name and try­ing to get him “raped in jail.” He even tweet­ed accu­sa­tions to the Secret Ser­vice Twit­ter account.

    ...

    As we can see, there’s no short­age of twists in the increas­ing­ly strange tale of Juan Thomp­son. The kind of twists that must be fill­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and the per­pe­tra­tors of the rest of the bomb threats with joy. Now the right-wing media can run around claim­ing that all those bomb threats were actu­al­ly false flag hoax­es by Trump’s “oppo­nents” despite the fact that author­i­ties have made it clear that the this was a copy­cat actor who was not behind the vast major­i­ty of the threats.

    So get ready for a wave of sto­ries try­ing to sug­gest that the anti-Semit­ic bomb threats were all part of some sort of ‘reverse’ plot, as Trump recent­ly put it. And while this case only explains a small frac­tion of the bomb threats, it does indeed appear to be a ‘reverse’ plot. Except it’s actu­al­ly a rever­sal of the ‘reverse’ plot Trump was float­ing: it was a plot designed to back up Trump’s ‘reverse plot’ asser­tions. Whether or not that was actu­al­ly part of Thomp­son’s moti­va­tion and one of his goals, val­i­dat­ing Trump’s ‘reverse’ claims was unam­bigu­ous­ly part of his plot. It’s quite a twist­ed twist.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 3, 2017, 3:51 pm
  9. Here’s the lat­est in the GOP’s attempts to frame Barack Oba­ma as a super-vil­lain and the source of all the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s many cur­rent and future fail­ures: GOP Con­gress­man Mike Kel­ly told an audi­ence recent­ly that the rea­son the Oba­ma fam­i­ly is still liv­ing in Wash­ing­ton DC is not because they are wait­ing for the their youngest daugh­ter to com­plete high school. No, the the rea­son he remains in Wash­ing­ton is for “one pur­pose only ... to run the shad­ow gov­ern­ment that is going to total­ly upset the new agen­da”:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Rep. Mike Kel­ly: Oba­ma Stayed In Wash­ing­ton D.C. To Run A ‘Shad­ow Gov­ern­ment’ (VIDEO)

    Pub­lished March 10, 2017, 2:10 PM EDT

    A Penn­syl­va­nia con­gress­man has accused for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma of stay­ing in Wash­ing­ton sole­ly to run a “shad­ow gov­ern­ment” to under­mine the GOP agen­da.

    ...

    A video clip post­ed to YouTube shows Kel­ly say­ing that Oba­ma remained in Wash­ing­ton for “one pur­pose only ... to run the shad­ow gov­ern­ment that is going to total­ly upset the new agen­da.”

    The Oba­mas have said they would remain in the nation’s cap­i­tal until their youngest daugh­ter, Sasha, com­pletes high school.

    Kel­ly’s spokesman said Fri­day the con­gress­man was just “shar­ing the frus­tra­tion of every­one in the room over how they believe cer­tain Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion holdovers” are try­ing to upset Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s agen­da.

    “A video clip post­ed to YouTube shows Kel­ly say­ing that Oba­ma remained in Wash­ing­ton for “one pur­pose only ... to run the shad­ow gov­ern­ment that is going to total­ly upset the new agen­da.””

    Beware the Oba­ma shad­ow gov­ern­ment. Appar­ent­ly. And don’t for­get that Trump him­self has already claimed that all those anti-Trump pro­tes­tors were Oba­ma’s hand­i­work too. The shad­ow gov­ern­ment is vast.

    So that looks like one of the go-to memes the right-wing is going to be push­ing for the fore­see­able future. Any gov­ern­ment employ­ee that isn’t a far-right nut job is going to be labeled part of Oba­ma’s shad­ow gov­ern­ment and a sub­ver­sive who must be fired. And with that in mind it’s also worth not­ing that there is actu­al­ly a real shad­ow gov­ern­ment of sorts already in place. Trump’s “beach­head” shad­ow gov­ern­ment of tem­po­rary unnamed offi­cials who will like­ly need per­ma­nent posi­tions even­tu­al­ly:

    ProP­ub­li­ca

    Meet the Hun­dreds of Offi­cials Trump Has Qui­et­ly Installed Across the Gov­ern­ment

    We have obtained a list of more than 400 Trump admin­is­tra­tion hires, includ­ing dozens of lob­by­ists and some from far-right media.

    by Justin Elliott, Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw
    ProP­ub­li­ca, March 8, 2017, 2:44 p.m.

    A Trump cam­paign aide who argues that Democ­rats com­mit­ted “eth­nic cleans­ing” in a plot to “liq­ui­date” the white work­ing class. A for­mer real­i­ty show con­tes­tant whose study of soci­etal col­lapse inspired him to invent a bow-and-arrow-cum-sur­vival­ist mul­ti-tool. A pair of health­care indus­try lob­by­ists. A lob­by­ist for defense con­trac­tors. An “evan­ge­list” and lob­by­ist for Palan­tir, the Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny with close ties to intel­li­gence agen­cies. And a New Hamp­shire Trump sup­port­er who has only recent­ly grad­u­at­ed from high school.

    These are some of the peo­ple the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has hired for posi­tions across the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, accord­ing to doc­u­ments received by ProP­ub­li­ca through pub­lic-records requests.

    While Pres­i­dent Trump has not moved to fill many jobs that require Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion, he has qui­et­ly installed hun­dreds of offi­cials to serve as his eyes and ears at every major fed­er­al agency, from the Pen­ta­gon to the Depart­ment of Inte­ri­or.

    Unlike appointees exposed to the scruti­ny of the Sen­ate, mem­bers of these so-called “beach­head teams” have oper­at­ed large­ly in the shad­ows, with the White House declin­ing to pub­licly reveal their iden­ti­ties.

    While some names have pre­vi­ous­ly drib­bled out in the press, we are pub­lish­ing a list of more than 400 hires, pro­vid­ing the most com­plete account­ing so far of who Trump has brought into the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

    The White House said in Jan­u­ary that around 520 staffers were being hired for the beach­head teams.

    The list we obtained includes obscure cam­paign staffers, con­trib­u­tors to Bre­it­bart and oth­ers who have embraced con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, as well as dozens of Wash­ing­ton insid­ers who could be rea­son­ably char­ac­ter­ized as part of the “swamp” Trump pledged to drain.

    The list is strik­ing for how many for­mer lob­by­ists it con­tains: We found at least 36, span­ning indus­tries from health insur­ance and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to con­struc­tion, ener­gy and finance. Many of them lob­bied in the same areas that are reg­u­lat­ed by the agen­cies they have now joined.

    That fig­ure is almost cer­tain­ly an under­count since we only includ­ed those who for­mal­ly reg­is­tered as lob­by­ists, a process increas­ing­ly avoid­ed by many in Wash­ing­ton.

    Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump said he would have “no prob­lem” ban­ning lob­by­ists from his admin­is­tra­tion. But they have nonethe­less end­ed up in senior roles, aid­ed by Trump’s weak­en­ing of Oba­ma-era ethics rules that mod­est­ly lim­it­ed lob­by­ists’ role in gov­ern­ment.

    The White House didn’t respond to requests for com­ment.

    There are many for­mer con­gres­sion­al staffers, sev­er­al top offi­cials from the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion, and even a hand­ful of holdovers from the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. The list also includes at least eight staffers drawn from the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank that forged close ties to the new admin­is­tra­tion dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

    Much about the role of the beach­head teams at var­i­ous fed­er­al agen­cies is unclear. But close observers of the ear­ly weeks of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion believe they have tak­en on con­sid­er­able influ­ence in the absence of high-lev­el polit­i­cal appointees.

    “If the pub­lic and Sen­ate is in the dark about a team cre­at­ed with­out a Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion process, no one will be per­mit­ted to shed light on who is hope­less­ly con­flict­ed or who is obvi­ous­ly unqual­i­fied — and who is both,” said Jeff Hauser, direc­tor of the Revolv­ing Door Project at the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic and Pol­i­cy Research.

    The beach­head team mem­bers are tem­po­rary employ­ees serv­ing for stints of four to eight months, but many are expect­ed to move into per­ma­nent jobs. The Trump administration’s mod­el is based on plans devel­oped but nev­er used by the unsuc­cess­ful pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Mitt Rom­ney.

    “The beach­head teams involve peo­ple with con­sid­er­able author­i­ty over the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment,” said Max Sti­er, the CEO of the Part­ner­ship for Pub­lic Ser­vice, a non­par­ti­san group that advis­es pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates on smooth tran­si­tions. “We need clar­i­ty about what they’re doing and what their role is going to be.”

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion also hired tem­po­rary staffers after the inau­gu­ra­tion. But Trump has brought in many more, Sti­er said.

    The new list of names was pro­vid­ed to us by the Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment, the government’s human resources agency. We received addi­tion­al names from oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies in response to Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act requests. At least a few peo­ple on the list have changed agen­cies or left the admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing, for exam­ple, the young Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment staffer who was fired after his anti-Trump writ­ings dur­ing the cam­paign came to light.

    Here is a run-down of some of the Trump hires.

    The Bre­it­bart wing

    Cur­tis Ellis was a colum­nist for World­Net­Dai­ly, a web­site best known for its enthu­si­as­tic embrace of the false notion that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma was born out­side the Unit­ed States. A col­umn head­lined the “The Rad­i­cal Left’s Eth­nic Cleans­ing of Amer­i­ca” won Ellis an admir­ing inter­view with Steve Ban­non, now Trump’s top aide. He is a long­time crit­ic of trade deals such as the Trans-Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship.

    Ellis was hired Jan. 20 as a spe­cial assis­tant to the sec­re­tary at the Labor Depart­ment. Asked about his role in a brief phone inter­view Tues­day, he said: “Noth­ing I can tell you.”

    Jon Per­due, a self-described guer­ril­la war­fare expert and fel­low at a lit­tle-known secu­ri­ty think tank, wrote a book called “The War of All the Peo­ple: The Nexus of Latin Amer­i­can Rad­i­cal­ism and Mid­dle East­ern Ter­ror­ism.” He is also a one­time con­trib­u­tor to Bre­it­bart.

    Per­due was fea­tured on CNBC’s real­i­ty series “Make Me a Mil­lion­aire Inven­tor” for his inven­tion, the Pack­bow, which Per­due came up with while study­ing “col­lapsed soci­eties, and what peo­ple who lived in those soci­eties came up with to either defend them­selves or to sur­vive.” It’s a bow and arrow that dou­bles as a com­pass, tent pole, walk­ing stick, spearfish­ing rig, and water purifi­ca­tion tablet recep­ta­cle.

    Per­due was hired as a spe­cial assis­tant at the Trea­sury Depart­ment. The agency didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

    John Jag­gers ran the Trump cam­paign in Mary­land and Vir­ginia, where he made head­lines for endors­ing the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that Hillary Clin­ton was “very, very sick and they’re cov­er­ing it up” As he put it last August: “The woman who seeks to be the first female pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States wears a wool coat at every sin­gle thing. Have you ever stopped to won­der why? It’s a big deal, folks.”

    Jag­gers was hired Jan. 20 as senior advis­er at the Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion, which over­sees tens of bil­lions of dol­lars of gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment every year. But records show he left the job on March 3. He declined to com­ment.

    Swamp denizens, includ­ing health care lob­by­ists hired by HHS Sec­re­tary Tom Price

    Alexan­dra Cam­pau, hired at the depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, was for­mer­ly a lob­by­ist in Wash­ing­ton for the law firm Coz­en O’Connor. Accord­ing to dis­clo­sure records, her firm’s clients includ­ed a licensee of insur­ance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Fre­se­nius Med­ical Care, a Ger­man com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in med­ical sup­plies for renal dial­y­sis.

    Tim­o­thy Clark, a senior advis­er to HHS Sec­re­tary Tom Price, ran his own polit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm in Cal­i­for­nia. His past clients includ­ed PhRMA, the pow­er­ful trade group that rep­re­sents the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try.

    Kea­gan Leni­han, also a senior advis­er to Price, was a direc­tor of gov­ern­ment rela­tions at McKesson Spe­cial­ty Health, a firm that sup­ports inde­pen­dent health providers. Dis­clo­sure records show Leni­han direct­ly lob­bied HHS. For Leni­han, the new post rep­re­sents a return trip through the revolv­ing door between gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor, and a reunion with an old boss. Before reg­is­ter­ing as a lob­by­ist, she was a senior leg­isla­tive assis­tant for Price, when the now-HHS sec­re­tary was in Con­gress.

    Asked about the three HHS staffers, an agency spokes­woman said: “We are not con­firm­ing or com­ment­ing on per­son­nel at this time.”

    Justin Miko­lay, hired at the Depart­ment of Defense, was pre­vi­ous­ly a reg­is­tered lob­by­ist for Palan­tir. His title at the tech firm was “evan­ge­list.” Miko­lay lob­bied for the “procurement/deployment of the Palan­tir Gov­ern­ment soft­ware plat­form” through­out intel­li­gence and defense agen­cies, accord­ing to dis­clo­sure records.

    Miko­lay was a speech­writer to Sec­re­tary of Defense Leon Panet­ta between 2011 and 2013, accord­ing to his LinkedIn pro­file. Miko­lay also pre­vi­ous­ly served as a speech­writer for cur­rent Sec­re­tary of Defense James Mat­tis. He declined to com­ment.

    ...

    As we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, lob­by­ists for the con­struc­tion indus­try trade asso­ci­a­tion and finan­cial ser­vices firm TransAmer­i­ca are on the team at the Depart­ment of Labor.

    Trump cam­paign vets — includ­ing very young ones

    The list also includes what appear to be dozens of for­mer Trump cam­paign staffers, includ­ing sev­er­al who grad­u­at­ed from col­lege last year. One, Dan­ny Tiso at the Depart­ment of Labor, grad­u­at­ed from high school in 2015, accord­ing to his LinkedIn pro­file. He worked for the Trump cam­paign in New Hamp­shire.

    Seth Har­ris, who was on the first Oba­ma-Biden tran­si­tion team and lat­er became a top Labor Depart­ment offi­cial, said it’s not uncom­mon to bring in cam­paign staff to agen­cies — “as long as there are senior polit­i­cal peo­ple to direct the junior peo­ple.”

    “This is how you incor­po­rate the peo­ple who are your strongest sup­port­ers into the gov­ern­ment,” he said. “There are plen­ty of junior jobs in the gov­ern­ment that these peo­ple can do — pub­lic-affairs jobs, spe­cial assis­tant jobs.”

    “Unlike appointees exposed to the scruti­ny of the Sen­ate, mem­bers of these so-called “beach­head teamshave oper­at­ed large­ly in the shad­ows, with the White House declin­ing to pub­licly reveal their iden­ti­ties.”

    Non-pub­licly iden­ti­fied tem­po­rary gov­ern­ment offi­cials oper­at­ing in the shad­ows with sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence:

    ...
    The beach­head team mem­bers are tem­po­rary employ­ees serv­ing for stints of four to eight months, but many are expect­ed to move into per­ma­nent jobs. The Trump administration’s mod­el is based on plans devel­oped but nev­er used by the unsuc­cess­ful pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Mitt Rom­ney.

    “The beach­head teams involve peo­ple with con­sid­er­able author­i­ty over the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment,” said Max Sti­er, the CEO of the Part­ner­ship for Pub­lic Ser­vice, a non­par­ti­san group that advis­es pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates on smooth tran­si­tions. “We need clar­i­ty about what they’re doing and what their role is going to be.”

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion also hired tem­po­rary staffers after the inau­gu­ra­tion. But Trump has brought in many more, Sti­er said.
    ...

    The beach­head team mem­bers are tem­po­rary employ­ees serv­ing for stints of four to eight months, but many are expect­ed to move into per­ma­nent jobs.”

    So as we can see, while the White House does­n’t want to name its shad­ow “beach­head” gov­ern­ment teams, they’ll have to do so even­tu­al­ly if these peo­ple are going to get per­ma­nent posi­tions. And that’s part of what makes turn­ing Oba­ma into a shad­ow gov­ern­ment boogey­man so use­ful for this agen­da: cre­at­ing hys­te­ria about Oba­ma’s shad­ow gov­ern­ment is prob­a­bly going to make it a lot eas­i­er to cre­ate the hys­te­ria need­ed to over­turn fed­er­al employ­ment pro­tec­tion laws so they can purge the gov­ern­ment of all the non-Trump cronies and make way for the Trump shad­ow gov­ern­ment:

    Reuters

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

    By Emi­ly Flit­ter | CLEVELAND
    Wed Jul 20, 2016 | 6:55pm EDT

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

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

    ...

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

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

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

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

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

    WHITE HOUSE ATTACKS CHRISTIE

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

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

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

    ...

    The Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Gov­ern­ment Employ­ees, the largest fed­er­al employ­ee union in the Unit­ed States, said while it was con­cerned about the prac­tice of “bur­row­ing,” cur­rent law pro­tect­ed most fed­er­al employ­ees from at will fir­ing.

    “The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is a seri­ous under­tak­ing. It’s not a real­i­ty TV show, with ‘You’re fired!’ ” said Jacque­line Simon, pol­i­cy direc­tor at AFGE.

    “Just as we don’t want to hire any­body for polit­i­cal rea­sons, we don’t want any­body to be fired for polit­i­cal rea­sons,” she said.

    As of March 2016, there were a total of 3,164 polit­i­cal appointees, 852 of whom were pres­i­den­tial appointees.

    In its most recent report on the top­ic, the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office said in 2010 that 143 for­mer polit­i­cal appointees and con­gres­sion­al employ­ees con­vert­ed to career posi­tions between May 1, 2005, and May 30, 2009.

    The Repub­li­can-con­trolled House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Reform Com­mit­tee is inves­ti­gat­ing the prac­tice of bur­row­ing.

    It sent let­ters dat­ed Wednes­day to 23 fed­er­al depart­ments and agen­cies, ask­ing them to doc­u­ment all cas­es of bur­row­ing that have occurred since Sept. 1, 2015.

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

    We need to make it real­ly easy to fire fed­er­al employ­ees to stop Oba­ma’s devi­ous shad­ow gov­ern­ment plot. That’s clear­ly going to be a meme. And look who they just might replace all these fired employ­ees with:

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

    That was the Trump team’s plan back in July: Let’s have CEOs serve in gov­ern­ment positions...while still being CEOs. Have those plans changed? There’s cer­tain­ly no indi­ca­tion of that.

    So get ready for a steady uptick in the “Oba­ma’s shad­ow gov­ern­ment” meme and an even­tu­al over­haul of civ­il ser­vice jobs so the White House can clear every­one out of gov­ern­ment that isn’t a far-right Trump crony and “part time” CEOs can for­mal­ly become the actu­al “shad­ow gov­ern­ment”. More so.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2017, 5:00 pm
  10. Inside out

    It’s inter­est­ing how Trump — and oth­er fas­cists — uses rhetor­i­cal dis­trac­tion to keep the heat off him­self, but also — I think — tips his hand and gives us a pre­mo­ni­tion of his future plans.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/deep-state-trump.html?_r=1
    “WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Trump’s alle­ga­tions that for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma tapped his phone and his asser­tions that the bureau­cra­cy is leak­ing secrets to dis­cred­it him are the lat­est signs of a White House pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with a “deep state” work­ing to thwart the Trump pres­i­den­cy.”
    Now, we know that the term “Deep State” has been bruit­ed about by Trump’s han­dler, Ban­non. I think the idea is to bring it up first, to claim it, and when it lat­er emerges even­tu­al­ly, Trump/Banoon can imply that the term was stolen from them.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/03/04/trump-accuses-obama-of-nixonwatergate-plot-to-wire-tap-trump-tower/?utm_term=.4529fbc1f117
    “Pres­i­dent Trump on Sat­ur­day angri­ly accused for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma of orches­trat­ing a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tow­er head­quar­ters last fall in the run-up to the elec­tion.”

    “While cit­ing no evi­dence to sup­port his explo­sive alle­ga­tion, Trump said in a series of four tweets sent Sat­ur­day morn­ing that Oba­ma was “wire tap­ping” his New York offices before the elec­tion in a move he com­pared to McCarthy­ism. ‘Bad (or sick) guy!’ he said of his pre­de­ces­sor, adding that the sur­veil­lance result­ed in ‘noth­ing found.’ ”
    Trump, on one hand, is again accus­ing his oppo­si­tion of this pre-emp­tive­ly, and reveal­ing his admi­ra­tion and respect for these pow­er-grabs.

    “The Eng­lish fol­low the prin­ci­ple that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it.”
    ‑Goebbels
    The Eng­lish. Goebbels first accused the Eng­lish of using the Big Lie, like fight­ing fire with fire.

    Posted by Uncle Grody | March 13, 2017, 1:46 pm
  11. Iowa’s far-right Con­gress­man Steve King, who recen­ty rec­om­mend­ed to Don­ald Trump that he ‘purge’ the admin­is­tra­tion of ‘left­ists’ before they ‘sink us’, added some addi­tion forms of purg­ing he’d like to see for the US in tweet over the week­end:

    NLTimes.nj

    Amer­i­can politi­cian under fire over Wilders tweet

    By Janene Pieters on March 13, 2017 — 08:11

    Amer­i­can Repub­li­can Steve King, con­gress­man for the state of Iowa, is fac­ing social media out­rage fol­low­ing a tweet in sup­port of anti-Islam PVV leader Geert Wilders.

    “Wilders under­stands that cul­ture and demo­graph­ics are our des­tiny”, King wrote on Twit­ter. “We can’t restore our civ­i­liza­tion with some­body else’s babies.” Accord­ing to the BBC, King is a strong advo­cate of end­ing birthright cit­i­zen­ship, which gives all babies born in the Unit­ed States cit­i­zen­ship to the coun­try, even if their par­ents live there ille­gal­ly.

    Wilders under­stands that cul­ture and demo­graph­ics are our des­tiny. We can’t restore our civ­i­liza­tion with some­body else’s babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017

    The tweet led to out­raged reac­tions. Chelsea Clin­ton, daugh­ter of for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Cli­in­ton, called King’s state­ment “painful”. “Clear­ly the Con­gress­man does not view all our chil­dren as, well, all our chil­dren. Par­tic­u­lar­ly iron­ic and painful”, she said on Twit­ter.

    CIA oper­a­tive Evan McMullin won­dered whether the Repub­li­cans will con­demn King’s state­ment. “Con­gress­man Steve King pro­motes the un-Amer­i­can ideas of white nation­al­ism. Will any Repub­li­can con­gress­men con­demn this big­otry?”

    ...

    Not all reac­tions to King’s tweet were neg­a­tive. For­mer Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke praised King’s tweet with the words San­i­ty reigns supreme”. He lat­er also tweet­ed “God bless Steve King.”

    GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!! #TruthRIS­ING https://t.co/oDFel8JDrP— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) March 12, 2017

    Wilders under­stands that cul­ture and demo­graph­ics are our des­tiny”, King wrote on Twit­ter. “We can’t restore our civ­i­liza­tion with some­body else’s babies.” Accord­ing to the BBC, King is a strong advo­cate of end­ing birthright cit­i­zen­ship, which gives all babies born in the Unit­ed States cit­i­zen­ship to the coun­try, even if their par­ents live there ille­gal­ly.

    It’s not quite ’14 words’ in that tweet, but it’s close! Real­ly, real­ly close.

    So is Steve King sug­gest­ing that non-white babies are threat to West­ern civ­i­liza­tion? Well, clear­ly yes, but if you ask him he’ll add a lit­tle clar­i­fi­ca­tion: it’s not that he’s opposed to these non-white babies com­ing to Amer­i­ca because they’re non-white. No, accord­ing to King, he’s opposed these babies because of the cul­tures they come from and a sense that there’s no hope of these babies even­tu­al­ly cul­tur­al­ly assim­i­lat­ing, which is sim­i­lar to the com­ments he’s made in the past about there is no record of non-white groups mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to “civ­i­liza­tion” (he said this just last year). And then King added that part of his con­cern is that there’s an attempt to sup­plant Amer­i­can cul­ture by pro­mot­ing abor­tion in Amer­i­ca and allow­ing non-white to ille­gal immi­grants to “fill the void”. No hint of racist moti­va­tions there!

    Slate

    So Is Rep. Steve King a White Nation­al­ist or What?

    By Osi­ta Nwane­vu
    March 13 2017 12:24 PM

    On Mon­day morn­ing Rep. Steve King was invit­ed onto CNN to explain a Sun­day tweet that seemed to evince sup­port for white nation­al­ism. “[Dutch Islam­o­phobe and nation­al­ist Geert] Wilders under­stands that cul­ture and demo­graph­ics are our des­tiny,” he wrote. “We can’t restore our civ­i­liza­tion with some­body else’s babies.” Sure­ly, CNN’s Chris Cuo­mo asked, he couldn’t have meant what he said?

    Well, of course I meant exact­ly what I said as is always the case. And to expand on that a lit­tle fur­ther, I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spo­ken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as ten years ago to the Ger­man peo­ple and any pop­u­la­tion of peo­ple that is a declin­ing pop­u­la­tion that isn’t will­ing to have enough babies to repro­duce them­selves. And I’ve said to them, “You can’t rebuild your civ­i­liza­tion with some­body else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your chil­dren your val­ues. And in doing so, then you can grow your pop­u­la­tion and you can strength­en your cul­ture, and strength­en your way of life. That’s not hap­pen­ing in any of the west­ern Euro­pean coun­tries.

    This is, straight­for­ward­ly, an argu­ment that non­white immi­gra­tion and pro­cre­ation is a wor­ri­some threat to both Europe’s exist­ing eth­no­cul­tur­al com­po­si­tion and Euro­pean civ­i­liza­tion. “We need to get our birth rates up,” King said, “or Europe will be entire­ly trans­formed with­in a half cen­tu­ry or more.” When pressed by Cuo­mo to address whether this com­ment squared with America’s con­cep­tion of itself as a melt­ing pot, King tried to clar­i­fy:

    Chris, we’re a coun­try here that if you take a pic­ture of what Amer­i­ca looks like, you can do it in a foot­ball sta­di­um or a bas­ket­ball court and you see all kinds of dif­fer­ent Amer­i­cans there. We’re pret­ty proud of that, the dif­fer­ent look­ing Amer­i­cans that are still Amer­i­cans. There’s an Amer­i­can cul­ture, Amer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion. It’s raised with­in these chil­dren in these Amer­i­can homes. That’s one of the rea­sons why we require that the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States be raised with an Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence. But we’ve also abort­ed near­ly 60 mil­lion babies in this coun­try since 1973. And there’s been this effort to say we’re going to have to replace that void with some­body else’s babies. That’s the push to bring in much ille­gal immi­gra­tion into Amer­i­ca, liv­ing in enclaves, refus­ing to assim­i­late into the Amer­i­can cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion.

    “[I]f you go down the road a few gen­er­a­tions or maybe cen­turies with the inter­mar­riage,” King went on to say lat­er, “I’d like to see an Amer­i­ca that’s just so homoge­nous that we all look a lot the same from that per­spec­tive. I think there’s far too much focus on race, espe­cial­ly in the last eight years.”

    What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, King is mak­ing a case for at least a kind of cul­tur­al nation­al­ism premised on the notion that non­white immi­grants from out­side the West are cul­tur­al­ly defi­cient by the West’s stan­dards. He nev­er says non­white over the course of the inter­view, but white emi­grés raised out­side the West have nev­er been what Wilders and King by exten­sion are talk­ing about. He can pre­tend this is not about race by claim­ing to be pro-miscengenation—and in fact, lat­er in the inter­view he says “it’s the cul­ture” that he’s talk­ing about, “not the blood”—but King leaves the door open for explic­it racism at the end of the inter­view. “Indi­vid­u­als will con­tribute dif­fer­ent­ly, not equal­ly to this civ­i­liza­tion and soci­ety,” he told Cuo­mo. “Cer­tain groups of peo­ple will do more from a pro­duc­tive side than oth­er groups of peo­ple will. That’s just a sta­tis­ti­cal fact.”

    If you can go any­where in the world and adopt these lit­tle babies and put them in house­holds already assim­i­lat­ed in Amer­i­ca, those babies will grow up as Amer­i­can as any oth­er baby with as much patri­o­tism and love of coun­try as any oth­er baby. It’s not about race. It’s nev­er been about race. And, in fact, the strug­gles across this plan­et, we describe them as race, they’re not race. They’re cul­ture-based. It’s a clash of cul­tures, not the race. And some­times that race is used as an iden­ti­fi­er.

    In oth­er words, “it’s not about race,” but race is often used as proxy for the judge­ment and exclu­sion of cer­tain cul­tures. If Steve King were ever placed in a posi­tion to do any­thing about these sup­posed prob­lems, it is safe to assume that he, too, would use race as a proxy, absent oth­er ways of deeply assess­ing the inter­nal­ly held cul­tur­al val­ues of dif­fer­ent peo­ples.

    ...

    “Chris, we’re a coun­try here that if you take a pic­ture of what Amer­i­ca looks like, you can do it in a foot­ball sta­di­um or a bas­ket­ball court and you see all kinds of dif­fer­ent Amer­i­cans there. We’re pret­ty proud of that, the dif­fer­ent look­ing Amer­i­cans that are still Amer­i­cans. There’s an Amer­i­can cul­ture, Amer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion. It’s raised with­in these chil­dren in these Amer­i­can homes. That’s one of the rea­sons why we require that the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States be raised with an Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence. But we’ve also abort­ed near­ly 60 mil­lion babies in this coun­try since 1973. And there’s been this effort to say we’re going to have to replace that void with some­body else’s babies. That’s the push to bring in much ille­gal immi­gra­tion into Amer­i­ca, liv­ing in enclaves, refus­ing to assim­i­late into the Amer­i­can cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion.

    Undoc­u­ment­ed immi­gra­tion is part of a push to replace all the abort­ed Amer­i­can fetus­es with the chil­dren of ille­gal immi­grants. That’s how Iowa’s Steve King see it! Now you know why white nation­al­ists love him so much. And loved him long before his lat­est tweet:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Don’t Pre­tend We Did­n’t Know About Steve King

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished March 13, 2017, 1:10 PM

    Today peo­ple are appar­ent­ly find­ing out and being ter­ri­bly sur­prised that Rep. Steve King (R‑IA) is a white nation­al­ist and racist and has been that more or less open­ly for years. Before yes­ter­day’s paean to “cul­ture and demo­graph­ics”, Steve King was say­ing that for every Dream­er who’s a vale­dic­to­ri­an there are a hun­dred run­ning drugs. The list of sim­i­lar state­ments is all but end­less.

    We’ve been on the King beat for years. You can go through our archives and find dozens of offen­sive, stu­pid and fre­quent­ly out­right racist com­ments from King. But there’s some­thing more spe­cif­ic about King. King fre­quent­ly speaks in the lan­guage of white nation­al­ists and neo-Nazis who speak of ‘white geno­cide’ and Amer­i­ca being over­run by non-whites.

    Con­sid­er this tweet from just last Sep­tem­ber.

    @FraukePetry Wish­ing you suc­cess­ful vote. Cul­tur­al sui­cide by demo­graph­ic trans­for­ma­tion must end. @geertwilderspvv pic.twitter.com/Kp6uieaMDG— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) Sep­tem­ber 18, 2016

    “Cul­tur­al sui­cide by demo­graph­ic trans­for­ma­tion” — This is lit­er­al­ly the kind of talk you can read from Richard Spencer and Stormfront.org any day of the week. Note also that King is there with Wilders, the right­ist, racist Dutch mem­ber of par­lia­ment and Frauke Petry, the right­ist nation­al­ist leader of Ger­many’s Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty. These are the par­ties Trump’s top advi­sor Steve Ban­non wants to help loft to pow­er and ally with in a right­ist north Atlantic polit­i­cal move­ment.

    This isn’t just one ‘con­tro­ver­sial’ mem­ber of Con­gress. King is part of Amer­i­can white nation­al­ist, far-right polit­i­cal move­ment. That’s not a soft­er way to say ‘racist’. He’s also a racist. But there are plen­ty of racists who have more con­ven­tion­al pol­i­tics. He’s part of a move­ment. So is Ban­non. So is Trump.

    “This isn’t just one ‘con­tro­ver­sial’ mem­ber of Con­gress. King is part of Amer­i­can white nation­al­ist, far-right polit­i­cal move­ment. That’s not a soft­er way to say ‘racist’. He’s also a racist. But there are plen­ty of racists who have more con­ven­tion­al pol­i­tics. He’s part of a move­ment. So is Ban­non. So is Trump.

    Yep, what Steve King tweet­ed might be con­tro­ver­sial, but it’s also pret­ty typ­i­cal. Typ­i­cal for a far-right white nation­al­ist like Steve King. Or Steve Ban­non. Or, of course, the white nation­al­ist in chief Don­ald Trump.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 13, 2017, 2:33 pm
  12. House Speak­er Paul Ryan respond­ed to the uproar over the com­ments by fel­low House GOP­er Steve King about civ­i­liza­tion was going to be destroyed by non-white babies: Ryan was hope­ful King mere­ly mis­spoke. That was it. And this state­ment from Ryan came of course after King already told reporters that morn­ing, “I meant exact­ly what I said”.

    So with that in mind, you have to won­der what Ryan’s excuse is going to be for Steve King’s pre­dic­tion of a black vs His­pan­ic race war in the next cou­ple of decades:

    Policy.Mic

    Steve King, who can’t stop say­ing racist things, just pre­dict­ed a race war

    By Emi­ly C. Singer
    March 14, 2017

    Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Repub­li­can who made white suprema­cist remarks about “some­body else’s babies” over the week­end, was back at it again Mon­day, proph­esy­ing about a com­ing race war between “His­pan­ics and the blacks.”

    His com­ments came dur­ing an inter­view with an Iowa radio host on 1040 WHO, who asked King what he thought about Uni­vi­sion anchor Jorge Ramos’ com­ments that white Amer­i­cans would be a minor­i­ty demo­graph­ic in the Unit­ed States by 2044.

    King said it was more like­ly that “His­pan­ics and the blacks will be fight­ing each oth­er” before white peo­ple become a minor­i­ty in Amer­i­ca.

    “Jorge Ramos’ stock in trade is iden­ti­fy­ing and try­ing to dri­ve wedges between race. Race and eth­nic­i­ty, I should say to be more cor­rect. When you start accen­tu­at­ing the dif­fer­ences, then you start end­ing up with peo­ple that are at each oth­er’s throats. And he’s adding up His­pan­ics and blacks into what he pre­dicts will be in greater num­ber than whites in Amer­i­ca. I will pre­dict that His­pan­ics and the blacks will be fight­ing each oth­er before that hap­pens.

    ...

    “King said it was more like­ly that “His­pan­ics and the blacks will be fight­ing each oth­er” before white peo­ple become a minor­i­ty in Amer­i­ca.”

    As we can see, the idea of peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races liv­ing togeth­er in har­mo­ny is a rather for­eign con­cept to Steve King. Or rather, anoth­er reminder of what we already knew about Steve King.

    But there’s anoth­er aspect of this King-con­tro­ver­sy that’s a reminder of some­thing else that we should prob­a­bly keep in mind that King/Trump/Bannon Amer­i­can branch of the glob­al white nation­al­ist move­ment pro­ceeds towards enact­ing its vision of the future: when Steve King keeps talk­ing like a white suprema­cist and fram­ing the world in terms of race and trib­al con­flict, but then implau­si­bly attempts to defend him­self by say­ing things like “I’m just talk­ing about cul­ture, not race!” it’s a reminder of two crit­i­cal points about the larg­er Trump/Bannon white nation­al­ist move­ment con­trol­ling the GOP and US gov­ern­ment at this point:
    1. When Steve Ban­non warns/dreams about a loom­ing WWIII/clash of civ­i­liza­tions sce­nario, he talks about it in terms of reli­gious and cul­tur­al con­flicts (pri­mar­i­ly between Chris­tians and Mus­lims). And it’s pos­si­ble that some peo­ple expecting/pining for a giant clash of reli­gions real­ly do pri­mar­i­ly view it in those terms. But for folks like Ban­non and King, who have exten­sive his­to­ries indulging in out­right racism, we real­ly should rec­og­nize their cheer­lead­ing for a giant clash of cul­tures as cheer­lead­ing for race war.

    2. And if they do try to start this kind of WWIII sce­nario they’re not going to try to spark a ‘white suprema­cists vs every­one else’ kind of race war. They’re going to try to start an ‘every race vs every oth­er race’ kind of con­flict. That’s prob­a­bly the plan and Steve King just remind­ed us of it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 14, 2017, 7:32 pm
  13. Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka is out there deny­ing a new report by For­ward that appears to demon­strate that Gor­ka was indeed a full fledged mem­ber the order of Vitezi Rend. And while we should expect these kinds of denials for a vari­ety of rea­sons, the report by For­ward lists a pret­ty big rea­son why Gor­ka would want noth­ing to do with these reports com­ing out: is could inval­i­date his immi­gra­tion sta­tus:

    For­ward

    EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka As Sworn Mem­ber

    Lili Bay­er and Lar­ry Cohler-Ess­es
    March 16, 2017|Budapest

    Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, Pres­i­dent Trump’s top counter-ter­ror­ism advis­er, is a for­mal mem­ber of a Hun­gar­i­an far-right group that is list­ed by the U.S. State Depart­ment as hav­ing been “under the direc­tion of the Nazi Gov­ern­ment of Ger­many” dur­ing World War II, lead­ers of the orga­ni­za­tion have told the For­ward.

    The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was estab­lished as a loy­al­ist group by Admi­ral Mik­los Hor­thy, who ruled Hun­gary as a staunch nation­al­ist from 1920 to Octo­ber 1944. A self-con­fessed anti-Semi­te, Hor­thy imposed restric­tive Jew­ish laws pri­or to World War II and col­lab­o­rat­ed with Hitler dur­ing the con­flict. His coop­er­a­tion with the Nazi regime includ­ed the depor­ta­tion of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jews into Nazi hands.

    Gorka’s mem­ber­ship in the orga­ni­za­tion — if these Vitézi Rend lead­ers are cor­rect, and if Gor­ka did not dis­close this when he entered the Unit­ed States as an immi­grant — could have impli­ca­tions for his immi­gra­tion sta­tus. The State Department’s For­eign Affairs Man­u­al spec­i­fies that mem­bers of the Vitézi Rend “are pre­sumed to be inad­mis­si­ble” to the coun­try under the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act.

    Gor­ka — who Vitézi Rend lead­ers say took a life­long oath of loy­al­ty to their group — did not respond to mul­ti­ple emails sent to his work and per­son­al accounts, ask­ing whether he is a mem­ber of the Vitézi Rend and, if so, whether he dis­closed this on his immi­gra­tion appli­ca­tion and on his appli­ca­tion to be nat­u­ral­ized as a U.S. cit­i­zen in 2012. The White House also did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    But Bruce Ein­horn, a retired immi­gra­tion judge who now teach­es nation­al­i­ty law at Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­si­ty, said of this, “His silence speaks vol­umes.”

    The group to which Gor­ka report­ed­ly belongs is a recon­sti­tu­tion of the orig­i­nal group on the State Depart­ment list, which was banned in Hun­gary until the fall of Com­mu­nism in 1989. There are now two orga­ni­za­tions in Hun­gary that claim to be the heirs of the orig­i­nal Vitézi Rend, with Gor­ka, accord­ing to fel­low mem­bers, belong­ing to the so-called “His­tor­i­cal Vitézi Rend.” Though it is not known to engage in vio­lence, the His­tor­i­cal Vitézi Rend upholds all the nation­al­ist and often­times racial prin­ci­ples of the orig­i­nal group as estab­lished by Hor­thy.

    Ein­horn said these nuances did not relieve Gor­ka of the oblig­a­tion, if he’s a mem­ber, to dis­close his affil­i­a­tion when apply­ing for his visa or his cit­i­zen­ship.

    “This is a group that advo­cates racial­ist nativism,” said Ein­horn. If Gor­ka did not dis­close his affil­i­a­tion with it, he said, this would con­sti­tute “fail­ure to dis­close a mate­r­i­al fact,” which could under­mine the valid­i­ty of both his immi­gra­tion sta­tus and claim to cit­i­zen­ship.

    “It’s a mate­r­i­al fact that, if dis­closed, would have pro­voked a sig­nif­i­cant inquiry into the spe­cif­ic post-war role of this orga­ni­za­tion and Gorka’s activ­i­ties in it,” he said.

    Before serv­ing 17 years as an immi­gra­tion judge, Ein­horn was deputy chief at the Jus­tice Department’s Office of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions. The unit, which has since been dis­band­ed, was charged with find­ing and deport­ing Nazis and mem­bers of oth­er extrem­ist groups who entered Amer­i­ca ille­gal­ly by lying about or hid­ing their back­ground. He not­ed that indi­vid­u­als who apply for both visas and cit­i­zen­ship are specif­i­cal­ly asked to name all orga­ni­za­tions they belong to due to the government’s inter­est in scru­ti­niz­ing those affil­i­at­ed with extrem­ist groups, and in par­tic­u­lar those on the State Department’s list.

    If Gor­ka did not dis­close his Vitézi Rend affil­i­a­tion, said Ein­horn, he there­by “fore­closed the oppor­tu­ni­ty for U.S. offi­cials to pur­sue that inquiry with him.” No statute of lim­i­ta­tions exists for such vio­la­tions, he not­ed.

    Ein­horn stressed that Gor­ka would have defens­es in such a case; he might argue the chances were small that immi­gra­tion and nat­u­ral­iza­tion offi­cials — who are not extrem­ism experts or his­to­ri­ans — would have rec­og­nized the nature of the group and ques­tioned him even if he dis­closed his affil­i­a­tion. “There would have to be clear and con­vinc­ing evi­dence that had he told the truth… it would have led to a mean­ing­ful inquiry that could have kept him out of the coun­try.”

    But Ein­horn stressed: “My view is that it would be a legit­i­mate case — dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing, but I believe winnable.”

    Gor­ka, who is a deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent, first pro­voked ques­tions about his rela­tion­ship to the Vitézi Rend after he pub­licly bran­dished its medal on his lapel at a pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­ra­tion ball Jan­u­ary 20. When ques­tions were raised about this in Feb­ru­ary on the news web­site Lobel­og and else­where, he explained it as a ges­ture of hon­or to his late father.

    “In 1979 my father was award­ed a dec­la­ra­tion for his resis­tance to a dic­ta­tor­ship,” he told Bre­it­bart News then. “Although he passed away 14 years ago, I wear that medal in remem­brance of what my fam­i­ly went through and what it rep­re­sents today, to me, as an Amer­i­can.”

    But the Forward’s inquiry into Gorka’s rela­tion­ship with the Vitézi Rend sug­gests that Gorka’s expla­na­tion is, at best, incom­plete:

    Gor­ka, who pledged his loy­al­ty to the Unit­ed States when he took Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship in 2012, is him­self a sworn mem­ber of the Vitézi Rend, accord­ing to both Gyu­la Soltész — a high-rank­ing mem­ber of the Vitézi Rend’s cen­tral appa­ra­tus — and Kornél Pin­tér — a leader of the Vitézi Rend in West­ern Hun­gary who befriend­ed Gorka’s father through their activ­i­ties in the Vitézi Rend.

    Soltész, who holds a nation­al-lev­el lead­er­ship posi­tion at the Vitézi Rend, con­firmed to the For­ward in a phone con­ver­sa­tion that Gor­ka is a full mem­ber of the orga­ni­za­tion.

    “Of course he was sworn in,” Pin­tér said, in a phone inter­view. “I met with him in Sopron [a city near Hungary’s bor­der with Aus­tria]. His father intro­duced him.”

    “In today’s world it is rare to meet any­one as well-bred as Sebas­t­ian or his father, Pali,” he added.

    If cor­rect, Gorka’s mem­ber­ship in the order is notable because, as Pin­tér and oth­er mem­bers explained, affil­i­a­tion is pos­si­ble only via a solemn ini­ti­a­tion rite in which new mem­bers take an oath swear­ing undy­ing alle­giance to the Hun­gar­i­an nation and the Vitézi Rend’s goals:

    “I, Vitez [name], swear on the Holy Crown that I know the Order’s goals and code, and based on the orders of the Cap­tain and Order Supe­ri­ors will fol­low them for the rest of my life. I nev­er betrayed my Hun­gar­i­an­ness, and was nev­er and am not cur­rent­ly a mem­ber of an anti-nation­al or secret orga­ni­za­tion. So help me God.”

    Sev­er­al com­men­ta­tors also not­ed that in his 2008 doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion at Hungary’s Corv­i­nus Uni­ver­si­ty, Gor­ka pre­sent­ed his name as Sebas­t­ian L. v. Gor­ka. The “v.” is an ini­tial used by mem­bers of the Vitézi Rend.

    But Gor­ka did not use the ini­tial only in aca­d­e­m­ic papers.

    In June 2011, Gor­ka tes­ti­fied in front of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. His offi­cial tes­ti­mo­ny did not list his name as Sebas­t­ian L. Gor­ka, but rather as Dr. Sebas­t­ian L. v. Gor­ka.

    “Of course, only after the oath,” Györ­gy Kerekes, a cur­rent mem­ber of the Vitézi Rend, told the For­ward when asked if any­one may use the ini­tial “v.” with­out going through the Vitézi Rend’s appli­ca­tion process and an elab­o­rate swear­ing-in cer­e­mo­ny.

    As the son of a mem­ber of the Vitézi Rend, Gor­ka is eli­gi­ble to apply for mem­ber­ship. But mem­ber­ship is not bestowed auto­mat­i­cal­ly, and he can­not use the ini­tial in his name with­out active­ly apply­ing for mem­ber­ship and tak­ing the for­mal oath to the orga­ni­za­tion.

    Gorka’s self-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to a con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee as Dr. Sebas­t­ian L. v. Gor­ka thus indi­cates that Gor­ka either mis­rep­re­sent­ed his iden­ti­ty to Con­gress in 2011 or is cur­rent­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ing his affil­i­a­tion with the Vitézi Rend, poten­tial­ly hav­ing tak­en an oath to Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist and racist prin­ci­ples.

    The Vitézi Rend, which was estab­lished in 1920 for Horthy’s loy­al fol­low­ers, is list­ed by the State Depart­ment as one of many groups in Ger­many and the coun­tries it occu­pied as col­lab­o­ra­tionist “crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions” with the Nazis as deter­mined by the post-war Inter­na­tion­al Mil­i­tary Tri­bunal at Nurem­berg. The group was among those Hor­thy reward­ed with real estate tak­en from hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jews his gov­ern­ment deport­ed to Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps.

    Dis­solved in Hun­gary after World War II under the terms of the Allies’ armistice with Hun­gary, it was recon­sti­tut­ed by vet­er­ans’ groups in exile, includ­ing pre­war mem­bers of the group appoint­ed by Hor­thy. It was re-estab­lished inside Hun­gary after communism’s col­lapse in 1989. Accord­ing to State Depart­ment guide­lines, while Vitézi Rend mem­ber­ship “does not auto­mat­i­cal­ly ren­der the alien inel­i­gi­ble for a visa, the appli­cant has the bur­den of estab­lish­ing that, despite being a mem­ber of a des­ig­nat­ed crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, he or she did not par­tic­i­pate in activ­i­ties that would fall with­in the purview of the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act. The guide­lines cite a pro­vi­sion of the act bar­ring entry to the Unit­ed States to “par­tic­i­pants in Nazi per­se­cu­tion, geno­cide, or the com­mis­sion of any act of tor­ture or extra­ju­di­cial killing.”

    Gor­ka, who is 46, could not have been part of any World War II killings. But the pro­vi­sions reflect the State Department’s under­stand­ing of the Vitézi Rend’s his­tor­i­cal nature.

    The group’s mis­sion empha­sized not only loy­al­ty to Hun­gary and nation­al­ist ideas, but also an ide­ol­o­gy of racial supe­ri­or­i­ty. One of the orig­i­nal aims of the Vitézi Rend was to “ensure such might to the Hun­gar­i­an race, which with tremen­dous pow­er strikes every sub­ver­sive state and anti-nation­al move­ment,” Hor­thy said in a speech to new mem­bers in 1921.

    The Hun­gar­i­an dic­ta­tor, whom Vitézi Rend mem­bers still lion­ize on their web­sites as the order’s found­ing leader and ide­o­log­i­cal guide, added, “Let the Vitézi Rend be the pride of the Turan race and our home­land, but if nec­es­sary, its sharp cut­ting sword.” “The Turan race” refers to Turanism, a the­o­ry pop­u­lar among the country’s far-right and fas­cist groups where­by Hun­gar­i­ans are thought to be a race descend­ed from tribes that migrat­ed from Asia.

    Mem­bers of the Vitézi Rend should prac­tice “love of their race,” Hor­thy said in 1926, in a speech dur­ing a swear­ing-in cer­e­mo­ny for new mem­bers.

    “Who­ev­er lets anoth­er take his place is com­mit­ting a crime against his race,” Hor­thy empha­sized eight years lat­er, in a June 1934 speech to mem­bers of the Vitézi Rend.

    Near­ly a cen­tu­ry lat­er, the Vitézi Rend has not left its lega­cy of racism behind. Hor­thy is revered among the organization’s mem­bers. His speech­es are quot­ed on Vitézi Rend web­sites, and his orig­i­nal goals for the orga­ni­za­tion are high­light­ed.

    As his­to­ri­an Eva S. Balogh notes, the organization’s for­mal slo­gan — “I believe in one God, I believe in one coun­try, I believe in the divine ever­last­ing truth, I believe in the res­ur­rec­tion of Hun­gary” — advo­cates a return to Hungary’s pre-World War I bor­ders; a ter­ri­to­ry that includes parts of mod­ern-day Roma­nia, Ukraine, Slo­va­kia and Ser­bia.

    Today, the orga­ni­za­tion presents itself as a “con­ser­v­a­tive, right-wing” group inde­pen­dent of par­ty pol­i­tics. But some of the organization’s new­er mem­bers also open­ly embrace racist and anti-Semit­ic views. Footage on YouTube of a 2012 swear­ing-in cer­e­mo­ny of new mem­bers reveals Zsolt Bay­er, a pub­li­cist and writer known as one of Hungary’s most out­spo­ken anti-Semi­tes, being ini­ti­at­ed as a mem­ber.

    In 2013, Hungary’s high­est court for­mal­ly ruled that one of Bayer’s arti­cles was anti-Semit­ic. In a 2016 arti­cle that earned the protest of Israel’s ambas­sador to Hun­gary, the Vitézi Rend mem­ber asked, “Why are we sur­prised that the sim­ple peas­ant” didn’t inter­fere with the depor­ta­tion of Hun­gar­i­an Jews to Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps “when the ‘Jews’ broke into his vil­lage and beat the priests to death or hung them from lamp posts, the judge and every­one they didn’t like…?”

    Though Gor­ka did not respond to inquiries about his rela­tion­ship to the Vitézi Rend, when the For­ward revealed in Feb­ru­ary that he had co-found­ed a polit­i­cal par­ty togeth­er with for­mer mem­bers of the Hun­gar­i­an far-right Job­bik par­ty and wrote arti­cles for a Hun­gar­i­an paper known for its anti-Semi­tism, the White House aide respond­ed on Twit­ter by quot­ing a friend: “Shar­ing a room w Helen Keller does not make 1 blind; shar­ing a sub­way car w Albert Ein­stein does not make 1 a genius.”

    But Ein­horn, the immi­gra­tion expert, stressed a larg­er moral prin­ci­ple was at stake.

    “Gor­ka is part of an admin­is­tra­tion issu­ing trav­el bans against coun­tries and peo­ple as a whole,” he said. “For some­one who is part of this effort to not answer your ques­tion [about his mem­ber­ship] and yet sup­port what’s gong on in the West Wing where he works is the height of hypocrisy. The admin­is­tra­tion that makes so much of pro­tect­ing us from extrem­ists while loop­ing the guilty in with the inno­cent should at least require its offi­cials tell the truth.”

    ...

    Gorka’s mem­ber­ship in the orga­ni­za­tion — if these Vitézi Rend lead­ers are cor­rect, and if Gor­ka did not dis­close this when he entered the Unit­ed States as an immi­grant — could have impli­ca­tions for his immi­gra­tion sta­tus. The State Department’s For­eign Affairs Man­u­al spec­i­fies that mem­bers of the Vitézi Rend “are pre­sumed to be inad­mis­si­ble” to the coun­try under the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act.”

    That’s quite an ‘uh oh’ for Gor­ka. And don’t for­get, the only rea­son all this came to light is because Gor­ka just had to wear the Vitézi Rend medal on his lapel dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial inau­gur­al ball:

    ...
    Gor­ka, who is a deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent, first pro­voked ques­tions about his rela­tion­ship to the Vitézi Rend after he pub­licly bran­dished its medal on his lapel at a pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­ra­tion ball Jan­u­ary 20. When ques­tions were raised about this in Feb­ru­ary on the news web­site Lobel­og and else­where, he explained it as a ges­ture of hon­or to his late father.
    ...

    It’s all a reminder that while the Trump admin­is­tra­tion might be part of one giant ‘drop­ping the mask’ move­ment of cryp­ton­azis and fel­low trav­el­ers it’s a slow motion process. Don­ning your cryp­ton­azi-col­lab­o­ra­tor out­fit (which includ­ed the ‘boc­skai’ jack­et too) dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial inau­gur­al ball was, you know, maybe a lit­tle soon. Although that prob­a­bly depends on the ball.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2017, 2:56 pm
  14. It’s that time again. Time for anoth­er look into Steve Ban­non’s psy­che. It’s that deeply dis­turb­ing time again *shud­der*:

    Moth­er Jones

    Stephen Ban­non Is a Fan of a French Philosopher...Who Was an Anti-Semi­te and a Nazi Sup­port­er
    Charles Mau­r­ras was sen­tenced to life in prison for com­plic­i­ty with the Nazis.

    Pema Levy
    Mar. 16, 2017 1:22 PM

    Stephen Ban­non, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s chief strate­gist, recent­ly spoke approv­ing­ly of the ideas of an anti-Semit­ic French intel­lec­tu­al who was sen­tenced to life in prison for coop­er­at­ing with the Nazis dur­ing World War II.

    In an arti­cle on Ban­non’s inter­ac­tions with Euro­pean right-wing nation­al­ists who want to break apart the Euro­pean Union, Politi­co report­ed last week that Ban­non has “expressed admi­ra­tion for the reac­tionary French philoso­pher Charles Mau­r­ras, accord­ing to French media reports con­firmed by Politi­co.” Recent arti­cles in French media claim Ban­non favor­ably cit­ed Mau­r­ras to a French diplo­mat. Politi­co describes Mau­r­ras as a Catholic nationalist—like Bannon—and notes that Ban­non has par­rot­ed sev­er­al of Mau­r­ras’ ideas. A hero to mem­bers of Europe’s far right, Mau­r­ras is a nat­ur­al fit for Ban­non, who has expressed sup­port for Brex­it and France’s Nation­al Front move­ment and is known to hate the Euro­pean Union.

    But Mau­r­ras was more than a nation­al­ist. He was an infa­mous anti-Semi­te, whose anti-Jew­ish views were cen­tral to his out­look. From 1908 to 1944, Mau­r­ras edit­ed the anti-Semit­ic paper L’Ac­tion Fran­caise, the organ of an epony­mous move­ment that was anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic and pro-monar­chy. The move­ment was born out of the Drey­fus Affair, an inter­na­tion­al con­tro­ver­sy in which an inno­cent Jew­ish sol­dier was con­vict­ed in 1894 of pass­ing secrets to the Ger­mans, a crime for which he was lat­er exon­er­at­ed. The move­men­t’s “found­ing prej­u­dice” was that Drey­fus was in fact guilty and that those who sup­port­ed him were under­min­ing France, accord­ing to Fred­er­ick Brown’s The The Embrace of Unrea­son: France, 1914–1940. Mau­r­ras spent years writ­ing anti-Semit­ic arti­cles. He referred to the French gov­ern­ment, known as the Third Repub­lic, as “the Jew State, the Mason­ic State, the immi­grant State.”

    In 1936, Mau­r­ras served eight months in prison for incit­ing the attempt­ed assas­si­na­tion of Jew­ish politi­cian Léon Blum and oth­er French offi­cials. Accord­ing to Car­men Callil’s Bad Faith: A For­got­ten His­to­ry of Fam­i­ly, Father­land and Vichy France, Mau­r­ras penned numer­ous arti­cles call­ing for Blum to be lynched and shot in the back and have his throat slit.

    Mau­r­ras blamed World War II on the Jews, fault­ing them for the Ger­man occu­pa­tion of France. “The bar­barous occu­pa­tion of 1940 would not have tak­en place with­out the Jews of 1939, with­out their filthy war, the war they under­took and they declared: our occu­piers were intro­duced by them, it was the Jews who launched us into cat­a­stro­phe,” he wrote, accord­ing to 2001 arti­cle by Callil in the New States­man. Callil also not­ed that Mau­r­ras’ news­pa­per sup­port­ed the Nazis and “named names, hunt­ed down ene­mies, and called for hostages, resis­tants, Jews and Gaullists to be shot.” In his polit­i­cal col­umn dur­ing the war, Mau­r­ras wrote that “if the death penal­ty is not suf­fi­cient to put a stop to the Gaullists, mem­bers of their fam­i­lies should be seized as hostages and exe­cut­ed.”

    At the end of the war, Mau­r­ras was sen­tenced to life in prison for com­plic­i­ty with the Nazis. He report­ed­ly called his con­vic­tion “Drey­fus’ revenge.” Due to his fail­ing health, he was released from prison short­ly before his death in 1952.

    Accord­ing to Politi­co, Ban­non approv­ing­ly cit­ed Mau­r­ras’ dis­tinc­tion between what the French philoso­pher called the “real coun­try” of the peo­ple and the “legal coun­try” led by gov­ern­ment offi­cials. Mau­r­ras put Jews in the lat­ter cat­e­go­ry, accord­ing to Brown, and referred to all Jews as for­eign­ers.

    Mau­r­ras is not the only racist or anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic intel­lec­tu­al Ban­non has grav­i­tat­ed toward. Accord­ing to Politi­co, he has been in con­tact with Cur­tis Yarvin, a blog­ger who believes democ­ra­cy is a failed form of gov­ern­ment and whose ideas are influ­en­tial to the white nation­al­ist “alt-right” move­ment. The Huff­in­g­ton Post recent­ly report­ed that Ban­non is a big fan of a racist French nov­el, The Camp of the Saints, about immi­grants invad­ing Europe. The White House did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    ...

    “Accord­ing to Politi­co, Ban­non approv­ing­ly cit­ed Mau­r­ras’ dis­tinc­tion between what the French philoso­pher called the “real coun­try” of the peo­ple and the “legal coun­try” led by gov­ern­ment offi­cials. Mau­r­ras put Jews in the lat­ter cat­e­go­ry, accord­ing to Brown, and referred to all Jews as for­eign­ers.”

    Yes, Ban­non approv­ing­ly cit­ed a French Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor’s “Us vs them” Nazi fram­ing designed to “oth­er” large swatch­es of soci­ety. To a French diplo­mat:

    ...
    In an arti­cle on Ban­non’s inter­ac­tions with Euro­pean right-wing nation­al­ists who want to break apart the Euro­pean Union, Politi­co report­ed last week that Ban­non has “expressed admi­ra­tion for the reac­tionary French philoso­pher Charles Mau­r­ras, accord­ing to French media reports con­firmed by Politi­co.” Recent arti­cles in French media claim Ban­non favor­ably cit­ed Mau­r­ras to a French diplo­mat. Politi­co describes Mau­r­ras as a Catholic nationalis:if expand(“%”) == “”|browse con­firm w|else|confirm w|endif
    t—like Bannon—and notes that Ban­non has par­rot­ed sev­er­al of Mau­r­ras’ ideas. A hero to mem­bers of Europe’s far right, Mau­r­ras is a nat­ur­al fit for Ban­non, who has expressed sup­port for Brex­it and France’s Nation­al Front move­ment and is known to hate the Euro­pean Union.
    ...

    Trumpian diplo­ma­cy in action! That must have gone over well.

    And don’t for­get that all signs indi­cate Ban­non basi­cal­ly wants to start WWIII so he can cre­ate a new glob­al far-right order, so at least we have a bet­ter idea now of how he’s plan­ning on explain­ing the night­mare he’s try­ing to unleash: it was the Jews!

    ...
    Mau­r­ras blamed World War II on the Jews, fault­ing them for the Ger­man occu­pa­tion of France. “The bar­barous occu­pa­tion of 1940 would not have tak­en place with­out the Jews of 1939, with­out their filthy war, the war they under­took and they declared: our occu­piers were intro­duced by them, it was the Jews who launched us into cat­a­stro­phe,” he wrote, accord­ing to 2001 arti­cle by Callil in the New States­man. Callil also not­ed that Mau­r­ras’ news­pa­per sup­port­ed the Nazis and “named names, hunt­ed down ene­mies, and called for hostages, resis­tants, Jews and Gaullists to be shot.” In his polit­i­cal col­umn dur­ing the war, Mau­r­ras wrote that “if the death penal­ty is not suf­fi­cient to put a stop to the Gaullists, mem­bers of their fam­i­lies should be seized as hostages and exe­cut­ed.”
    ...

    Although keep in mind that the way Ban­non’s style of imple­ment his far-right agen­da means that Ban­non him­self prob­a­bly won’t blame the Jews for the hell he’s try­ing to unleash. That will be left for his Nazi fel­low trav­el­ers to do.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 23, 2017, 8:31 pm
  15. Remem­ber the Trump team’s talk of bring­ing in CEOs to work part-time run­ning the gov­ern­ment? Well, it looks like that plan is sort of com­ing to fruition. In the form of a new gov­ern­ment agency, the White House Office of Amer­i­can Inno­va­tion, to be run by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kush­n­er. The office will be staffed by for­mer CEOs who will meet­ing with cur­rent CEOs to brain­storm about ways to get more gov­ern­ment ser­vices out of few­er dol­lars spent. And will have sweep­ing pow­ers to put those ideas into place. Or rec­om­mend pri­va­tiz­ing a gov­ern­ment ser­vice entire­ly.

    So basi­cal­ly the CEOs are going to be giv­en the job of find­ing things to pri­va­tize so those ser­vices can be run for-prof­it. That should save lots of mon­ey, LOL!

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump taps Kush­n­er to lead a SWAT team to fix gov­ern­ment with busi­ness ideas

    By Ash­ley Park­er and Philip Ruck­er
    March 26, 2017 at 10:00 PM

    Pres­i­dent Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Mon­day with sweep­ing author­i­ty to over­haul the fed­er­al bureau­cra­cy and ful­fill key cam­paign promis­es — such as reform­ing care for vet­er­ans and fight­ing opi­oid addic­tion — by har­vest­ing ideas from the busi­ness world and, poten­tial­ly, pri­va­tiz­ing some gov­ern­ment func­tions.

    The White House Office of Amer­i­can Inno­va­tion, to be led by Jared Kush­n­er, the president’s son-in-law and senior advis­er, will oper­ate as its own nim­ble pow­er cen­ter with­in the West Wing and will report direct­ly to Trump. Viewed inter­nal­ly as a SWAT team of strate­gic con­sul­tants, the office will be staffed by for­mer busi­ness exec­u­tives and is designed to infuse fresh think­ing into Wash­ing­ton, float above the dai­ly polit­i­cal grind and cre­ate a last­ing lega­cy for a pres­i­dent still search­ing for sig­na­ture achieve­ments.

    “All Amer­i­cans, regard­less of their polit­i­cal views, can rec­og­nize that gov­ern­ment stag­na­tion has hin­dered our abil­i­ty to prop­er­ly func­tion, often cre­at­ing wide­spread con­ges­tion and lead­ing to cost over­runs and delays,” Trump said in a state­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Post. “I promised the Amer­i­can peo­ple I would pro­duce results, and apply my ‘ahead of sched­ule, under bud­get’ men­tal­i­ty to the gov­ern­ment.”

    In a White House riv­en at times by dis­or­der and com­pet­ing fac­tions, the inno­va­tion office rep­re­sents an expan­sion of Kushner’s already far-reach­ing influ­ence. The 36-year-old for­mer real estate and media exec­u­tive will con­tin­ue to wear many hats, dri­ving for­eign and domes­tic pol­i­cy as well as deci­sions on pres­i­den­tial per­son­nel. He also is a shad­ow diplo­mat, serv­ing as Trump’s lead advis­er on rela­tions with Chi­na, Mex­i­co, Cana­da and the Mid­dle East.

    The work of White House chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non has drawn con­sid­er­able atten­tion, espe­cial­ly after his call for the “decon­struc­tion of the admin­is­tra­tive state.” But Ban­non will have no for­mal role in the inno­va­tion office, which Trump advis­ers described as an incu­ba­tor of sleek trans­for­ma­tion as opposed to decon­struc­tion.

    The announce­ment of the new office comes at a hum­bling moment for the pres­i­dent, fol­low­ing Friday’s col­lapse of his first major leg­isla­tive push — an over­haul of the health-care sys­tem, which Trump had cham­pi­oned as a can­di­date.

    Kush­n­er is posi­tion­ing the new office as “an offen­sive team” — an aggres­sive, non­ide­o­log­i­cal ideas fac­to­ry capa­ble of attract­ing top tal­ent from both inside and out­side of gov­ern­ment, and serv­ing as a con­duit with the busi­ness, phil­an­thropic and aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ties.

    “We should have excel­lence in gov­ern­ment,” Kush­n­er said Sun­day in an inter­view in his West Wing office. “The gov­ern­ment should be run like a great Amer­i­can com­pa­ny. Our hope is that we can achieve suc­cess­es and effi­cien­cies for our cus­tomers, who are the cit­i­zens.”

    The inno­va­tion office has a par­tic­u­lar focus on tech­nol­o­gy and data, and it is work­ing with such titans as Apple chief exec­u­tive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Sales­force chief exec­u­tive Marc Benioff and Tes­la founder and chief exec­u­tive Elon Musk. The group has already host­ed ses­sions with more than 100 such lead­ers and gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

    “There is a need to fig­ure out what poli­cies are adding fric­tion to the sys­tem with­out accom­pa­ny­ing it with sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits,” said Stephen A. Schwarz­man, chief exec­u­tive of the invest­ment firm Black­stone Group. “It’s easy for the pri­vate sec­tor to at least see where the fric­tion is, and to do that very quick­ly and suc­cinct­ly.”

    Some of the exec­u­tives involved have crit­i­cized some of Trump’s poli­cies, such as his trav­el ban, but said they are eager to help the admin­is­tra­tion address chron­ic prob­lems.

    “Obvi­ous­ly it has to be done with cor­re­spond­ing val­ues and prin­ci­ples. We don’t agree on every­thing,” said Benioff, a Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aire who raised mon­ey for Demo­c­rat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 cam­paign.

    But, Benioff added, “I’m hope­ful that Jared will be col­lab­o­ra­tive with our indus­try in mov­ing this for­ward. When I talk to him, he does remind me of a lot of the young, scrap­py entre­pre­neurs that I invest in in their 30s.”

    Kushner’s ambi­tions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its atten­tion on reimag­in­ing Vet­er­ans Affairs; mod­ern­iz­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and data infra­struc­ture of every fed­er­al depart­ment and agency; remod­el­ing work­force-train­ing pro­grams; and devel­op­ing “trans­for­ma­tive projects” under the ban­ner of Trump’s $1 tril­lion infra­struc­ture plan, such as pro­vid­ing broad­band Inter­net ser­vice to every Amer­i­can.

    In some cas­es, the office could direct that gov­ern­ment func­tions be pri­va­tized, or that exist­ing con­tracts be award­ed to new bid­ders.

    The office will also focus on com­bat­ing opi­oid abuse, a reg­u­lar empha­sis for Trump on the cam­paign trail. The pres­i­dent lat­er this week plans to announce an offi­cial drug com­mis­sion devot­ed to the prob­lem that will be chaired by New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie ®. He has been work­ing infor­mal­ly on the issue for sev­er­al weeks with Kush­n­er, despite report­ed ten­sion between the two.

    Under Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Trump advis­ers said scorn­ful­ly, some busi­ness lead­ers pri­vate­ly dis­missed their White House inter­ac­tions as “NATO” meet­ings — “No action, talk only” — in which they were “lec­tured,” with­out much fol­low-up.

    Andrew Liv­eris, chair­man and chief exec­u­tive of Dow Chem­i­cal, who has had meet­ings with the two pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tions, said the envi­ron­ment under Trump is marked­ly dif­fer­ent.

    After he left a recent meet­ing of man­u­fac­tur­ing chief exec­u­tives with Trump, Liv­eris said, “Rather than enter­ing a vac­u­um, I’m get­ting emails from the president’s team, if not every day, then every oth­er day — ‘Here’s what we’re work­ing on.’ ‘We need anoth­er meet­ing.’ ‘Can you get us more input on this?’?”

    Kush­n­er proud­ly notes that most of the mem­bers of his team have lit­tle-to-no polit­i­cal expe­ri­ence, hail­ing instead from the world of busi­ness. They include Gary Cohn, direc­tor of the Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil; Chris Lid­dell, assis­tant to the pres­i­dent for strate­gic ini­tia­tives; Reed Cordish, assis­tant to the pres­i­dent for inter­gov­ern­men­tal and tech­nol­o­gy ini­tia­tives; Dina Pow­ell, senior coun­selor to the pres­i­dent for eco­nom­ic ini­tia­tives and deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er; and Andrew Brem­berg, direc­tor of the Domes­tic Pol­i­cy Coun­cil.

    Ivan­ka Trump, the president’s elder daugh­ter and Kushner’s wife, who now does her advo­ca­cy work from a West Wing office, will col­lab­o­rate with the inno­va­tion office on issues such as work­force devel­op­ment but will not have an offi­cial role, aides said.

    Pow­ell, a for­mer Gold­man Sachs exec­u­tive who spent a decade at the firm man­ag­ing pub­lic-pri­vate job cre­ation pro­grams, also boasts a gov­ern­ment pedi­gree as a vet­er­an of George W. Bush’s White House and State Depart­ment. Brem­berg also worked in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. But oth­ers are polit­i­cal neo­phytes.

    Lid­dell, who speaks with an accent from his native New Zealand, served as chief finan­cial offi­cer for Gen­er­al Motors, Microsoft and Inter­na­tion­al Paper, as well as in Hol­ly­wood for William Mor­ris Endeav­or.

    “We are part of the White House team, con­nect­ed with every­one here, but we are not sub­ject to the day-to-day issues, so we can take a more strate­gic approach to projects,” Lid­dell said.

    Like Kush­n­er, Cordish is the scion of a real estate fam­i­ly — a Bal­ti­more-based con­glom­er­ate known for devel­op­ing casi­nos and shop­ping malls. And Cohn, a Demo­c­rat who has recent­ly amassed sig­nif­i­cant clout in the White House, is the hard-charg­ing for­mer pres­i­dent of Gold­man Sachs.

    Trump’s White House is close­ly scru­ti­nized for its always-evolv­ing pow­er matrix, and the inno­va­tion office rep­re­sents a vic­to­ry for Wall Street fig­ures such as Cohn who have sought to mod­er­ate Trump’s agen­da and project a friend­ly front to busi­ness­es, some­times in con­flict with the more hard-line con­ser­vatism cham­pi­oned by Ban­non and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

    The inno­va­tion group has been meet­ing twice a week in Kushner’s office, just a few feet from the Oval Office, large­ly bar­ren but for a black-and-white pho­to of his pater­nal grand­par­ents — both Holo­caust sur­vivors — and a marked-up white­board more typ­i­cal of tech start-ups. Kush­n­er takes projects and deci­sions direct­ly to the pres­i­dent for sign-off, though Trump also direct­ly sug­gests areas of per­son­al inter­est.

    There could be fric­tion as the group inter­acts with myr­i­ad fed­er­al agen­cies, though the advis­ers said they did not see them­selves as an impe­ri­ous force dic­tat­ing changes but rather as a “ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion” offer­ing solu­tions.

    Kushner’s team is being for­mal­ized just as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is propos­ing sweep­ing bud­get cuts across many depart­ments, and mem­bers said they would help find effi­cien­cies.

    “The president’s doing what is nec­es­sary to have a pru­dent bud­get, and that makes an office like this even more vital as we need to get more out of less dol­lars by doing things smarter, doing things bet­ter, and by lean­ing on the pri­vate sec­tor,” Cordish said.

    ...

    “The White House Office of Amer­i­can Inno­va­tion, to be led by Jared Kush­n­er, the president’s son-in-law and senior advis­er, will oper­ate as its own nim­ble pow­er cen­ter with­in the West Wing and will report direct­ly to Trump. Viewed inter­nal­ly as a SWAT team of strate­gic con­sul­tants, the office will be staffed by for­mer busi­ness exec­u­tives and is designed to infuse fresh think­ing into Wash­ing­ton, float above the dai­ly polit­i­cal grind and cre­ate a last­ing lega­cy for a pres­i­dent still search­ing for sig­na­ture achieve­ments.”

    A new gov­ern­ment agency run by Jared Kush­n­er staffed by for­mer CEOs to work with cur­rent CEOs to do fig­ure out how to make gov­ern­ment run more prof­itably effi­cient­ly *wink*. Just imag­ine all the prof­its effi­cien­cies they’ll come up:

    ...
    The inno­va­tion office has a par­tic­u­lar focus on tech­nol­o­gy and data, and it is work­ing with such titans as Apple chief exec­u­tive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Sales­force chief exec­u­tive Marc Benioff and Tes­la founder and chief exec­u­tive Elon Musk. The group has already host­ed ses­sions with more than 100 such lead­ers and gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

    “There is a need to fig­ure out what poli­cies are adding fric­tion to the sys­tem with­out accom­pa­ny­ing it with sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits,” said Stephen A. Schwarz­man, chief exec­u­tive of the invest­ment firm Black­stone Group. “It’s easy for the pri­vate sec­tor to at least see where the fric­tion is, and to do that very quick­ly and suc­cinct­ly.”
    ...
    Kushner’s ambi­tions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its atten­tion on reimag­in­ing Vet­er­ans Affairs; mod­ern­iz­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and data infra­struc­ture of every fed­er­al depart­ment and agency; remod­el­ing work­force-train­ing pro­grams; and devel­op­ing “trans­for­ma­tive projects” under the ban­ner of Trump’s $1 tril­lion infra­struc­ture plan, such as pro­vid­ing broad­band Inter­net ser­vice to every Amer­i­can.

    In some cas­es, the office could direct that gov­ern­ment func­tions be pri­va­tized, or that exist­ing con­tracts be award­ed to new bid­ders.
    ...

    “In some cas­es, the office could direct that gov­ern­ment func­tions be pri­va­tized, or that exist­ing con­tracts be award­ed to new bid­ders.”

    And in case you feel like your mem­o­ry is faulty because you have all these mem­o­ries about Jared Kush­n­er already get­ting assigned one Her­culean respon­si­bil­i­ty after anoth­er, those weren’t false mem­o­ries and if any­one’s mem­o­ry should be checked at this point it’s Don­ald Trump’s. Just a dou­ble-check to make sure he’s aware that he’s made Jared Kush­n­er respon­si­ble for just about every­thing at this point:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    White House Announces Jared Kush­n­er Is Now Respon­si­ble For Every­thing
    Don­ald Trump real­ly needs to meet some new peo­ple.
    By Jason Link­ins

    03/27/2017 03:40 pm ET | Updat­ed 5 min­utes ago

    The pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States has a very dif­fi­cult job, and in recent weeks we’ve all been giv­en to won­der whether Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump real­ly wants to do it. Last week, Trump’s first big leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tive — the Amer­i­can Health Care Act — foundered, par­tial­ly due to the fact that the pres­i­dent abrupt­ly stopped try­ing to facil­i­tate nego­ti­a­tions with mem­bers of Con­gress. Over the lat­ter half of Thurs­day, we went from House Free­dom Cau­cus Chair Mark Mead­ows (R‑N.C.) extolling Trump’s efforts, to Trump sud­den­ly bail­ing on the effort and demand­ing a Fri­day res­o­lu­tion to the mat­ter — which all but guar­an­teed it wouldn’t be resolved to anyone’s sat­is­fac­tion.

    But over the week­end, the president’s phi­los­o­phy on run­ning the coun­try sud­den­ly became more clear. Trump wants to get a lot of work done, he just wants his son-in-law, Jared Kush­n­er, to do it.

    As the Wash­ing­ton Post’s Ash­ley Park­er and Philip Ruck­er report­ed on Sun­day, Kush­n­er has been tapped to run an entire­ly new office with the “sweep­ing author­i­ty to over­haul the fed­er­al bureau­cra­cy and ful­fill key cam­paign promis­es — such as reform­ing care for vet­er­ans and fight­ing opi­oid addic­tion.”

    Okay, but let’s cast our minds back to Jan. 9, when the same news­pa­per report­ed this:

    Jared Kush­n­er, the son-in-law of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and one of his clos­est con­fi­dants, will join the White House as a senior advis­er to the pres­i­dent, Trump announced Mon­day, while a lawyer assist­ing the fam­i­ly said that Kushner’s wife, Ivan­ka Trump, will not imme­di­ate­ly take on a for­mal role.

    Kush­n­er, who will not take a salary, is expect­ed to have a broad port­fo­lio that includes gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions, trade deals and Mid­dle East pol­i­cy, accord­ing to a mem­ber of Trump’s tran­si­tion team. In a state­ment, the tran­si­tion office said Kush­n­er would work close­ly with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non to exe­cute Trump’s agen­da.

    And on Feb. 10, The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed:

    Trump said he want­ed to explore the pos­si­bil­i­ties for mak­ing what he has called “the ulti­mate deal,” a peace pact between Israel and the Pales­tini­ans. He is deploy­ing his son-in-law — and now senior advis­er on the Mid­dle East — Jared Kush­n­er to the task.

    So, if you’re keep­ing track, Jared Kush­n­er, who comes to Wash­ing­ton with no gov­ern­ment expe­ri­ence, no pol­i­cy expe­ri­ence, no diplo­mat­ic expe­ri­ence, and busi­ness expe­ri­ence lim­it­ed to his family’s real estate devel­op­ment firm, a brief stint as a news­pa­per pub­lish­er, and briefly bid­ding to acquire the Los Ange­les Dodgers, will be work­ing on trade, Mid­dle East pol­i­cy in gen­er­al, an Israel-Pales­tine peace deal more specif­i­cal­ly, reform­ing the Vet­er­ans Admin­is­tra­tion, and solv­ing the opi­oid cri­sis.

    Oh wait, that’s not all! Appar­ent­ly, this new office will also be respon­si­ble for “mod­ern­iz­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and data infra­struc­ture of every fed­er­al depart­ment and agency; remod­el­ing work­force-train­ing pro­grams; and devel­op­ing “trans­for­ma­tive projects” under the ban­ner of Trump’s $1 tril­lion infra­struc­ture plan, such as pro­vid­ing broad­band inter­net ser­vice to every Amer­i­can.”

    We have cer­tain­ly come a long way from “I alone can fix it.”

    How is Jared Kush­n­er going to do all of these things? Sim­ply “mod­ern­iz­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and data infra­struc­ture of every fed­er­al depart­ment and agency” is an enor­mous under­tak­ing. In the Unit­ed King­dom, they had to cre­ate a whole new cab­i­net agency just to sur­mount that chal­lenge. It would be great if Kush­n­er would sim­ply work on that one thing, or any one of these things. Instead, Kush­n­er has now basi­cal­ly been sad­dled with sev­er­al full-time jobs, in which he is respon­si­ble for ful­fill­ing many, if not all, of his father-in-law’s cam­paign promis­es.

    Just imag­ine what Kushner’s dai­ly sched­ule is going to be like:

    9:00–9:30: “Fox and Friends” debrief.

    9:30–10:00: Pro­vide broad­band inter­net ser­vice to entire nation.

    10:00–11:00: Stop work­ing on pro­vid­ing broad­band inter­net ser­vice to entire nation to focus on just pro­vid­ing it to entire gov­ern­ment first.

    11:00–11:30: Eleven­sies.

    11:30–1:00: Work­ing lunch to solve the intractable Israel-Pales­tine peace process that adults in gov­ern­ment have been work­ing on to no avail for decades.

    1:00–1:30: What do you mean there are oth­er places in the Mid­dle East that need tend­ing to? FFS, peo­ple, I can’t pos­si­bly do every­thing!

    1:30–2:00: Dai­ly “I can’t pos­si­bly do every­thing” meet­ing with POTUS. POTUS reminds Kush­n­er that the AHCA went down because he was off in Aspen, ski­ing.

    2:00–2:15: Can­cel all ski­ing vaca­tions for the fore­see­able future.

    2:15–2:30: Search for anoth­er samovar of cof­fee to push through the rest of the after­noon.

    2:30–3:30: Devel­op one “trans­for­ma­tive project for Amer­i­ca under the ban­ner of Trump’s $1 bil­lion infra­struc­ture pro­gram.”

    3:30–3:45: Meet­ing with POTUS to dis­cuss “trans­for­ma­tive project.” POTUS says there is still some­thing miss­ing.

    3:45–4:15: WHAT IS IT MISSING? COME ON KUSHNER, THINK! YOU CAN DO THIS.

    4:15–4:30: Trump’s name added to trans­for­ma­tive project. POTUS signs off.

    4:30–4:45: A brief wan­der through the White House. How did it come to this? Didn’t life used to be so much sim­pler? I could have done any­thing. I real­ly would have liked to own the Dodgers. Oh, man, the crack of bat, fists pound­ing on leather, the scents of an after­noon ball­game? Heav­en is a patch of well-man­i­cured grass, the cheers of the crowd, fathers in the upper decks teach­ing their freck­le-faced kids how to score the game, and noth­ing but the expanse of a hazy South­ern Cal­i­for­nia after­noon ahead of you. That should have been me. That’s what I was meant to do. How did I end up here? I only vague­ly remem­ber: My name, shout­ed in a cer­tain dawn … a mes­sage … a sum­mons … There must have been a moment, at the begin­ning, where I could have said – no. But some­how, I missed it.

    4:45–6:00: Fix the VA sys­tem, the opi­oid cri­sis, stream­line gov­ern­ment, and maybe do some trade stuff?

    6:00: Fif­teen hours of weep­ing.

    Oh, hey, I near­ly for­got: For the time being, Kush­n­er is going to be wrapped up in the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Committee’s inves­ti­ga­tion into “ties between Trump asso­ciates and Russ­ian offi­cials or oth­ers linked to the Krem­lin,” so that’s going to cut into a lot of these activ­i­ties.

    Now, the good news, if you’re Kush­n­er, is that this lat­est thing he’ll be tapped to run may as well be called “the Office of Farm­ing Out All This Work To Oth­er Peo­ple.” The Wash­ing­ton Post describes this agency as one that will “har­vest ideas from the busi­ness world and, poten­tial­ly, [pri­va­tize] some gov­ern­ment func­tions.” (If you hate the VA hos­pi­tal sys­tem now, just wait until it has a fidu­cia­ry respon­si­bil­i­ty to turn a prof­it for share­hold­ers!)

    ...

    But who knows if Kush­n­er is going to be able to suc­cess­ful­ly take on this immense pile of work all by him­self. Even if all he’ll be doing is shut­tling the half-baked ideas of Sil­i­con Val­ley CEOs up and down the admin­is­tra­tive lad­der, at some point, peo­ple are going to remem­ber all the things for which Trump made his son-in-law respon­si­ble and won­der if this arrange­ment real­ly makes sense. And the longer that actu­al solu­tions to these prob­lems elude the Trump White House, the worse it will be for Kush­n­er.

    In the end, Don­ald Trump may have to do the one thing he’s long been loath to do: give his daugh­ter Tiffany a job. (Also, he might have to take some per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty for some­thing.)

    “So, if you’re keep­ing track, Jared Kush­n­er, who comes to Wash­ing­ton with no gov­ern­ment expe­ri­ence, no pol­i­cy expe­ri­ence, no diplo­mat­ic expe­ri­ence, and busi­ness expe­ri­ence lim­it­ed to his family’s real estate devel­op­ment firm, a brief stint as a news­pa­per pub­lish­er, and briefly bid­ding to acquire the Los Ange­les Dodgers, will be work­ing on trade, Mid­dle East pol­i­cy in gen­er­al, an Israel-Pales­tine peace deal more specif­i­cal­ly, reform­ing the Vet­er­ans Admin­is­tra­tion, and solv­ing the opi­oid cri­sis.”

    That’s going to be quite a polit­i­cal resume for Kushner...assuming he actu­al­ly accom­plish­es some­thing. Although even if Kush­n­er does­n’t accom­plish any of his grow­ing lists of respon­si­bil­i­ties at this point it’s not like he can’t fail up. It’s a Trump-fam­i­ly spe­cial­ty. The bigly-er the bet­ter. Look out world.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2017, 3:22 pm
  16. Giv­en Don­ald Trump’s grow­ing para­noia about leaks ema­nat­ing from the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, one of the inter­est­ing ques­tions regard­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s pri­va­ti­za­tion plans is what on earth he’s going to do with the already exten­sive­ly-pri­va­tized intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. It’s an espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing ques­tion now that Jared Kush­n­er has been grant­ed his new role as the gov­ern­ment pri­va­tiz­er-in-chief. So is the fur­ther pri­va­ti­za­tion of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty a giv­en at this point? That seems very pos­si­ble since it’s hard to see the Trump team not pri­va­tiz­ing every­thing it can get its hands on. But as the arti­cle below by Tim Shorrock reminds us, if Trump real­ly does want to see few­er intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty leaks pri­va­tiz­ing what’s left of the non-pri­va­tized intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty prob­a­bly isn’t a very viable leak-min­i­miz­ing strat­e­gy:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Why does Wik­iLeaks keep pub­lish­ing U.S. state secrets? Pri­vate con­trac­tors.
    By out­sourc­ing key intel­li­gence work, the gov­ern­ment has made clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al more vul­ner­a­ble.

    By Tim Shorrock
    March 16, 2017
    Tim Shorrock is the author of “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intel­li­gence Out­sourc­ing.”

    When Wik­iLeaks released more than 8,000 files about the CIA’s glob­al hack­ing pro­grams this month, it dropped a tan­ta­liz­ing clue: The leak came from pri­vate con­trac­tors. Fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors quick­ly con­firmed this, call­ing con­trac­tors the like­li­est sources. As a result of the breach, Wik­iLeaks edi­tor Julian Assange said, the CIA had “lost con­trol of its entire cyber­weapons arse­nal.”

    Intel­li­gence insid­ers were dis­mayed. Agen­cies “take a chance with con­trac­tors” because “they may not have the same loy­al­ty” as offi­cers employed by the gov­ern­ment, for­mer CIA direc­tor Leon Panet­ta lament­ed to NBC.

    But this is a lia­bil­i­ty built into our sys­tem that intel­li­gence offi­cials have long known about and done noth­ing to cor­rect. As I first report­ed in 2007, some 70 cents of every intel­li­gence dol­lar is allo­cat­ed to the pri­vate sec­tor. And the relent­less pace of merg­ers and acqui­si­tions in the spies-for-hire busi­ness has left five cor­po­ra­tions in con­trol of about 80 per­cent of the 45,000 con­trac­tors employed in U.S. intel­li­gence. The threat from unre­li­able employ­ees in this multi­bil­lion-dol­lar indus­try is only get­ting worse.

    * * * * * * *

    The five mar­ket lead­ers are Booz Allen Hamil­ton, CSRA, SAIC, CACI Inter­na­tion­al and Lei­dos. All of them are based in Vir­ginia and are deeply involved in devel­op­ing cyber and hack­ing tools. Oth­er play­ers in the cyber realm include Accen­ture, Raytheon and Northrop Grum­man. The CIA, which has his­tor­i­cal­ly hired retired agents for its clan­des­tine con­trac­tor force, has increas­ing­ly turned to cor­po­ra­tions for its hack­ing teams.

    Despite the trust placed in them by the gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic, pri­vate con­trac­tors — includ­ing the big ones — con­tin­ue to make cat­a­stroph­ic mis­takes in over­see­ing their employ­ees. The most high-pro­file con­trac­tor leak was from Edward Snow­den, who worked for Booz Allen at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency. But the prob­lems have per­sist­ed well after he abscond­ed in 2013 with tens of thou­sands of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments about the NSA’s glob­al sur­veil­lance pro­grams and the Pentagon’s top-secret oper­a­tions.

    Last month, a fed­er­al grand jury indict­ed Harold T. Mar­tin III, a Mary­land con­trac­tor with Booz Allen, in the theft of a mas­sive cache of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al from the NSA and oth­er spy agen­cies over 18 years. Pros­e­cu­tors called the theft “breath­tak­ing in its longevi­ty and scale.” Mar­tin plead­ed not guilty.

    Also last month, William Evan­i­na, the nation’s top coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence offi­cer, dis­closed that U.S. offi­cials had recent­ly dis­cov­ered two more pri­vate-sec­tor breach­es. In one inci­dent, a con­trac­tor stole more than 200 giga­bytes of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion from an unspec­i­fied agency and sold it to a for­eign coun­try, Evan­i­na said in a pub­lic talk at the Nation­al Press Club. And in Decem­ber, he added, gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tors learned that a con­trac­tor work­ing for a com­pa­ny mak­ing engines for stealth fight­er planes had stolen unclas­si­fied data that could allow “adver­saries” of the Unit­ed States to “reverse-engi­neer” the engines to under­stand U.S. capa­bil­i­ties.

    So con­trac­tors have been respon­si­ble for at least five major secu­ri­ty laps­es in four years. Even if some of these leaks revealed gov­ern­ment wrong­do­ing (as some of the Snow­den and Wik­iLeaks doc­u­ments clear­ly did), shouldn’t the com­pa­nies be held respon­si­ble when secrets are dis­closed?

    I put the ques­tion to Evan­i­na, the direc­tor of the Nation­al Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and Secu­ri­ty Cen­ter in the Office of the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence (ODNI). “We’re all account­able,” he respond­ed. Nei­ther the Mar­tin nor the Snow­den case, he said, should make Booz Allen or any oth­er con­trac­tor sub­ject to spe­cial over­sight. “This could hap­pen to any­one,” he said. Instead of focus­ing on con­trac­tors, Evan­i­na said, “we need to find com­mon solu­tions” to fer­ret­ing out “inside threats” that are applic­a­ble to all play­ers in U.S. intel­li­gence.

    And it’s true that leaks come from inside as well: Chelsea Man­ning was a U.S. Army sol­dier when she pro­vid­ed Wik­iLeaks with near­ly 1 mil­lion mil­i­tary doc­u­ments in 2010. And just this month, a gov­ern­ment imagery sci­en­tist was sen­tenced to fed­er­al prison for exfil­trat­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to his home in Mary­land.

    Evan­i­na was once the CIA’s top coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence offi­cer. He described the recent leaks as an inevitable result of a spy cul­ture in which, he point­ed out, con­trac­tors employ 800,000 of the 4 mil­lion U.S. cit­i­zens hold­ing secu­ri­ty clear­ances. “When we’re in the shop, we’re all agnos­tic,” he said. “We look at con­trac­tors as co-work­ers, not green-bad­gers.” He was refer­ring to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards that dis­tin­guish con­trac­tors from gov­ern­ment employ­ees.

    That rosy view of U.S. intel­li­gence as one big, hap­py fam­i­ly is part of the prob­lem. In 2015, a year before Mar­tin was arrest­ed, Evan­i­na shared a podi­um at a high-lev­el intel­li­gence con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton with Art Davis, Booz Allen’s direc­tor of cor­po­rate secu­ri­ty. In his pre­sen­ta­tion, which I observed as a reporter, Davis boast­ed that his com­pa­ny had under­gone a “meta­mor­pho­sis of secu­ri­ty” as a result of the Snow­den leaks in 2013.

    Booz, he said, had dou­bled its spend­ing on secu­ri­ty and adopt­ed a “full-scale coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence pro­gram” focused on 2,500 employ­ees with “access to the king­dom” — a ref­er­ence to the high­ly clas­si­fied doc­u­ments that Snow­den and Mar­tin rou­tine­ly han­dled. Such employ­ees are sub­ject to “con­tin­u­ous eval­u­a­tion,” he said. “If they don’t pass, they leave their jobs.” Evan­i­na then took the micro­phone. He praised Booz’s secu­ri­ty plan and not­ed that he had met with Davis “a lot” about these issues.

    Clear­ly, that joint plan failed. Yet after Martin’s arrest, Evan­i­na explained that the gov­ern­ment had done all it could to pre­vent leaks. “I don’t believe there’s any­thing new that we have to incor­po­rate” in gov­ern­ment over­sight, he told The Wash­ing­ton Post. With the lat­est leak at the CIA, that sounds hol­low, if not down­right risky.

    The crux of the prob­lem may be pri­va­tized intel­li­gence itself. That’s the view of vet­er­an intel­li­gence reporter Edward Epstein in his con­tentious but infor­ma­tive new book, “How Amer­i­ca Lost Its Secrets.” Snow­den chose Booz Allen specif­i­cal­ly for its vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, Epstein said at a recent talk. “He switched jobs to get access to the list of com­put­ers NSA had pen­e­trat­ed” and even took a pay cut to do so. Booz over­looked the fact that Snow­den lied about edu­ca­tion cours­es he was sup­pos­ed­ly tak­ing when he applied for his posi­tion at the NSA’s Nation­al Threat Oper­a­tions Cen­ter, Epstein said.

    But Booz Allen didn’t try to ver­i­fy Snowden’s claim and didn’t change its mind on Snowden’s job “even after it found out about the sub­terfuge,” Epstein said. As the hold­er of an NSA con­tract, he argued, the com­pa­ny had a finan­cial incen­tive to “hire peo­ple as cheap­ly as pos­si­ble,” so its per­son­nel and clear­ance sys­tem broke down. For exam­ple, Snow­den fraud­u­lent­ly obtained pass­words from fel­low Booz employ­ees to gain access to 24 sep­a­rate, high­ly clas­si­fied NSA com­part­ments. (Snow­den has not denied these spe­cif­ic charges, but on his Twit­ter feed, he has hot­ly dis­put­ed oth­er mate­r­i­al from Epstein’s book. Booz has said lit­tle more than an asser­tion that “Snow­den did not share our val­ues.” Late­ly it has been silent as it awaits the results of an exter­nal review of its secu­ri­ty prac­tices by for­mer FBI direc­tor Robert Mueller, whom it hired for the probe.)

    The case of Mar­tin, a hoard­er who alleged­ly snatched more than 75 per­cent of the NSA’s soft­ware tools to hack for­eign com­put­ers, may be even worse. Accord­ing to his 20-count indict­ment, eight of his thefts took place while he was employed by Booz Allen from 2009 to 2016. Before that, he worked for Tenac­i­ty Solu­tions, a Vir­ginia com­pa­ny found­ed by for­mer CIA offi­cers that spe­cial­izes — iron­i­cal­ly — in train­ing intel­li­gence agen­cies and con­trac­tors in oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty. While work­ing for Tenac­i­ty in the ODNI, which over­sees the entire intel­li­gence bureau­cra­cy, he com­mit­ted sev­en major thefts, the indict­ment says, includ­ing a doc­u­ment from the secre­tive Nation­al Recon­nais­sance Office that includ­ed details of “an unac­knowl­edged ground sta­tion” for intel­li­gence col­lec­tion. He worked for sev­en com­pa­nies dur­ing the alleged 18-year crime spree, includ­ing CSC, an impor­tant NSA con­trac­tor that is now part of CSRA.

    ...

    * * * * * * *

    Any­body with a secu­ri­ty clear­ance, includ­ing gov­ern­ment employ­ees, is a poten­tial risk. But gov­ern­ment super­vi­sors’ first loy­al­ty is to the gov­ern­ment they serve, not the com­pa­nies that employ them — and, there­fore, they are ulti­mate­ly respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing secu­ri­ty risks.

    Sure­ly the time has come to make pri­vate con­trac­tors direct­ly account­able for leaks of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al by can­cel­ing con­tracts or charg­ing exec­u­tives with neg­li­gence when leaks hap­pen. Until the gov­ern­ment and its intel­li­gence lead­ers are will­ing to use their over­sight pow­ers to patch secu­ri­ty holes in this man­ner and enforce greater sep­a­ra­tion between spy agen­cies and their con­trac­tors, pri­va­tized work­ers will nev­er be a reli­able way to accom­plish the country’s intel­li­gence goals. With­out legal and finan­cial account­abil­i­ty, the only way to strength­en secu­ri­ty is to restrict high-lev­el nation­al secu­ri­ty work to civ­il ser­vants sworn to pro­tect the Con­sti­tu­tion.

    That may be dis­rup­tive to intel­li­gence-ser­vices com­pa­nies such as Booz Allen and would undoubt­ed­ly require a huge infu­sion of gov­ern­ment work­ers. But it may be the safest option if the CIA wants to keep its secrets. Sim­ply put, the out­sourc­ing of U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tions has gone far enough.

    “But this is a lia­bil­i­ty built into our sys­tem that intel­li­gence offi­cials have long known about and done noth­ing to cor­rect. As I first report­ed in 2007, some 70 cents of every intel­li­gence dol­lar is allo­cat­ed to the pri­vate sec­tor. And the relent­less pace of merg­ers and acqui­si­tions in the spies-for-hire busi­ness has left five cor­po­ra­tions in con­trol of about 80 per­cent of the 45,000 con­trac­tors employed in U.S. intel­li­gence. The threat from unre­li­able employ­ees in this multi­bil­lion-dol­lar indus­try is only get­ting worse.”

    Yep, the prof­it motive dou­bles as a leak motive. Or rather, a don’t-spend-too-much-avoid­ing-leaks-because-that-reduces-prof­its motive:

    ...
    The crux of the prob­lem may be pri­va­tized intel­li­gence itself. That’s the view of vet­er­an intel­li­gence reporter Edward Epstein in his con­tentious but infor­ma­tive new book, “How Amer­i­ca Lost Its Secrets.” Snow­den chose Booz Allen specif­i­cal­ly for its vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, Epstein said at a recent talk. “He switched jobs to get access to the list of com­put­ers NSA had pen­e­trat­ed” and even took a pay cut to do so. Booz over­looked the fact that Snow­den lied about edu­ca­tion cours­es he was sup­pos­ed­ly tak­ing when he applied for his posi­tion at the NSA’s Nation­al Threat Oper­a­tions Cen­ter, Epstein said.

    But Booz Allen didn’t try to ver­i­fy Snowden’s claim and didn’t change its mind on Snowden’s job “even after it found out about the sub­terfuge,” Epstein said. As the hold­er of an NSA con­tract, he argued, the com­pa­ny had a finan­cial incen­tive to “hire peo­ple as cheap­ly as pos­si­ble,” so its per­son­nel and clear­ance sys­tem broke down. For exam­ple, Snow­den fraud­u­lent­ly obtained pass­words from fel­low Booz employ­ees to gain access to 24 sep­a­rate, high­ly clas­si­fied NSA com­part­ments. (Snow­den has not denied these spe­cif­ic charges, but on his Twit­ter feed, he has hot­ly dis­put­ed oth­er mate­r­i­al from Epstein’s book. Booz has said lit­tle more than an asser­tion that “Snow­den did not share our val­ues.” Late­ly it has been silent as it awaits the results of an exter­nal review of its secu­ri­ty prac­tices by for­mer FBI direc­tor Robert Mueller, whom it hired for the probe.)
    ...

    Just imag­ine how many future intel­li­gence leaks are going to be enabled by the fur­ther pri­va­ti­za­tion of the already prof­it-max­i­miz­ing pri­va­tized intel­li­gence com­plex. Now imag­ine Don­ald Trump’s para­noid mind imag­in­ing all those future intel­li­gence leaks that are going to be enabled by the prof­it-max­i­miz­ing pri­va­tized intel­li­gence com­plex. That’s all part of what makes the loom­ing hyper-pri­va­ti­za­tion of intel­li­gence under Trump so fas­ci­nat­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 28, 2017, 3:42 pm
  17. Well, we’re final­ly here. We made it! Yay. So where’s here? Here is the ‘100 days into the Trump pres­i­den­cy’, that some­what arbi­trary point a new Amer­i­can pres­i­den­cy when the pun­di­toc­ra­cy stops to assess what the new pres­i­dent has accom­plished dur­ing their ini­tial ‘hon­ey­moon’ peri­od. But as Josh Mar­shall notes below, 100 days is not an entire­ly arbi­trary guide­post to con­duct this assess. Why? Because the first 100 days of a new pres­i­den­cy isn’t just a ‘hon­ey­moon’ peri­od in the sense that a new­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent is gen­er­al­ly going to have the most polit­i­cal momen­tum to push their agen­da through Con­gress. There’s also a series of arcane sched­ules and con­gres­sion­al pro­ce­dures that sud­den­ly kick in after around 100 days that make push­ing through big leg­is­la­tion A LOT hard­er after that 100 days. So, as Mar­shall also points out below, not only is Trump’s 100 day review going to inevitably cen­ter on his dis­tinct lack of leg­isla­tive accom­plish­ments, it should also include a recog­ni­tion of just how lit­tle momen­tum Trump has built up to actu­al­ly accom­plish in the future all the things he tried and failed to accom­plish up until now. In oth­er words, the 100 day review is also a fore­cast of how much of their over­all agen­da they’ll be able to make real­i­ty over the next four years:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Trump Declares His First 100 Days ‘Just About The Most Suc­cess­ful’ In His­to­ry

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished April 29, 2017 11:32 am

    So here we are at 100 Days, an arbi­trary but nev­er­the­less sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in a pres­i­den­cy. I want­ed to step back and size up its mean­ing, both to give our­selves some per­spec­tive but also for those from oth­er coun­tries who are less famil­iar with the US fed­er­al sys­tem.

    From a dis­tance, it looks like the US fed­er­al sys­tem can up and pass laws pret­ty much when­ev­er. In prac­tice, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to laws tied to spend­ing and tax­a­tion, there is an over­lap­ping series of frame­works, sched­uled vaca­tions and leg­isla­tive cal­en­dars, fixed elec­tion dates and more that con­strain action to a great degree. The sched­ule of actions tied to writ­ing fed­er­al bud­gets is a big one – though the dead­lines have been missed with greater and greater fre­quen­cy in recent years. Then there’s the mat­ter of fixed elec­tion dates. In the US we tend to take this for grant­ed. But it’s not the norm in major con­sti­tu­tion­al democ­ra­cies. The fixed sched­ule mat­ters a lot.

    Mix in the Amer­i­can system’s sep­a­ra­tion of exec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive pow­ers and it’s fair­ly com­pli­cat­ed and time-con­sum­ing to get things done. So while the 100 Day met­ric is arbi­trary (a con­cept that dates back to FDR), the first months of a pres­i­den­cy pro­vide a win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty in which a Pres­i­dent has a rel­a­tive free hand. The bud­get sched­ule is rel­a­tive­ly far off in the dis­tance. Elec­tions are as far away as they can be in the US sys­tem. Sched­uled vaca­tions are in the dis­tance.

    Per­haps most impor­tant­ly the Pres­i­dent has an amor­phous but real legit­i­ma­cy to act. He was elect­ed. He should get to put his pro­gram in effect. This is obvi­ous­ly a very fuzzy notion. Noth­ing man­dates that it be the case. But in his­tor­i­cal terms it demon­stra­bly is the case.

    ...

    You can dig into the for­mal and infor­mal rules of Amer­i­can gov­er­nance. But the upshot is that in the first months of a pres­i­den­cy the stars are aligned to get things done. A com­plex and per­haps scle­rot­ic mix of gov­ern­men­tal gears and pul­leys are in a brief phase of align­ment. If you look his­tor­i­cal­ly at the last forty years, the first months in office (whether or not pre­cise­ly in the first 100 days) are when pres­i­dents got their big leg­is­la­tion passed.

    An inter­est­ing exam­ple and counter-exam­ple is the pas­sage of the Afford­able Care Act in March 2010, a bit over a year into Pres­i­dent Obama’s pres­i­den­cy. This was, as we can see, going on a year and a hun­dred days and it is cer­tain­ly Obama’s most impor­tant and (seem­ing­ly) endur­ing leg­isla­tive accom­plish­ment. One might argue that the flur­ry of leg­is­la­tion and activ­i­ty tied to the eco­nom­ic cri­sis was more impor­tant. But they were main­ly one-time cri­sis mea­sures rather than per­ma­nent reforms. In any case, the key to remem­ber with Oba­macare is that while it wasn’t final­ly passed until the Spring of 2010 the leg­isla­tive process was well under­way by the late Spring of 2009 and bills were com­ing out of com­mit­tees in the House by the Sum­mer.

    Despite the right-wing mythol­o­gy that has grown up since, claim­ing that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma pushed leg­is­la­tion through on par­ty line votes and didn’t reach out to Repub­li­cans to craft bipar­ti­san leg­is­la­tion, real­ly quite the oppo­site was the case. Indeed, one of the best cri­tiques of the ACA leg­isla­tive process is that Oba­ma and the Democ­rats spent much of 2009 wait­ing on work­ing groups (“gangs”) of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats try­ing to find some point of bipar­ti­san com­pro­mise. The final bill was watered down sig­nif­i­cant­ly in that process. None of the Repub­li­cans vot­ed for the bill any­way.

    There’s an inter­est­ing debate to be had over whether the Repub­li­cans were oper­at­ing in bad faith all along or whether right-wing oppo­si­tion sim­ply hard­ened over the course of the dis­cus­sions. The real point is that big leg­is­la­tion is hard in the Amer­i­can sys­tem. The health care leg­isla­tive process was slight­ly delayed by emer­gency eco­nom­ic cri­sis leg­is­la­tion in ear­ly 2009. But it got start­ed ear­ly, took a long time and – this is the crit­i­cal part – only bare­ly end­ed up get­ting passed.

    That last part is key. The law only bare­ly got passed because the Pres­i­dent and the Democ­rats were run­ning up against all the con­straints that make it impor­tant to get laws passed ear­ly. Par­ti­san oppo­si­tion was hard­en­ing. The President’s ear­ly-term pop­u­lar­i­ty was slack­en­ing. Elec­tions were on the hori­zon.

    A cen­tral chal­lenge for Pres­i­dent Trump was always that he start­ed his pres­i­den­cy dis­tinct­ly unpop­u­lar. He was a plu­ral­i­ty rather than a major­i­ty Pres­i­dent. And he began his pres­i­den­cy with deep and entrenched oppo­si­tion. On the oth­er hand, he had con­gres­sion­al majori­ties which should have giv­en him or at least his par­ty a rel­a­tive­ly free hand. That didn’t hap­pen. A big prob­lem was that Trump didn’t have any leg­is­la­tion or even a plan of gov­er­nance ready. He bare­ly even had a gov­ern­ment at all in the sense that most key jobs were left (and remain) unfilled. He pro­ceed­ed to frit­ter away his first months in office with a mix of scan­dal, dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion and leg­isla­tive inep­ti­tude.

    When we con­sid­er the 100 day mark­er, it is not so much that Trump has accom­plished vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing of sub­stance. It is that noth­ing of sub­stance is real­ly under­way either. That’s the key thing.

    On Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Trump’s 102 day in office, he will begin from more or less a cold start, as though the first three months hadn’t hap­pened. The dif­fer­ence is that he’ll face a cal­en­dar that is far less friend­ly to leg­is­la­tion and he’ll have squan­dered what­ev­er degree of good will, momen­tum or con­fi­dence he had from con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans in his abil­i­ty to be an effec­tive Pres­i­dent.

    “You can dig into the for­mal and infor­mal rules of Amer­i­can gov­er­nance. But the upshot is that in the first months of a pres­i­den­cy the stars are aligned to get things done. A com­plex and per­haps scle­rot­ic mix of gov­ern­men­tal gears and pul­leys are in a brief phase of align­ment. If you look his­tor­i­cal­ly at the last forty years, the first months in office (whether or not pre­cise­ly in the first 100 days) are when pres­i­dents got their big leg­is­la­tion passed.”

    Yep, the ‘first 100 days’ isn’t just a ridicu­lous stan­dard, as Trump recent­ly put it. It’s a unique win­dow to get the big leg­is­la­tion passed in a sys­tem that makes pass­ing big leg­is­la­tion dif­fi­cult:

    ...
    From a dis­tance, it looks like the US fed­er­al sys­tem can up and pass laws pret­ty much when­ev­er. In prac­tice, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to laws tied to spend­ing and tax­a­tion, there is an over­lap­ping series of frame­works, sched­uled vaca­tions and leg­isla­tive cal­en­dars, fixed elec­tion dates and more that con­strain action to a great degree. The sched­ule of actions tied to writ­ing fed­er­al bud­gets is a big one – though the dead­lines have been missed with greater and greater fre­quen­cy in recent years. Then there’s the mat­ter of fixed elec­tion dates. In the US we tend to take this for grant­ed. But it’s not the norm in major con­sti­tu­tion­al democ­ra­cies. The fixed sched­ule mat­ters a lot.

    Mix in the Amer­i­can system’s sep­a­ra­tion of exec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive pow­ers and it’s fair­ly com­pli­cat­ed and time-con­sum­ing to get things done. So while the 100 Day met­ric is arbi­trary (a con­cept that dates back to FDR), the first months of a pres­i­den­cy pro­vide a win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty in which a Pres­i­dent has a rel­a­tive free hand. The bud­get sched­ule is rel­a­tive­ly far off in the dis­tance. Elec­tions are as far away as they can be in the US sys­tem. Sched­uled vaca­tions are in the dis­tance.
    ...

    And, thus far, not only has Trump pushed no sig­nif­i­cant leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress, he does­n’t even have any momen­tum to do so now that things become a lot hard­er:

    ...
    When we con­sid­er the 100 day mark­er, it is not so much that Trump has accom­plished vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing of sub­stance. It is that noth­ing of sub­stance is real­ly under­way either. That’s the key thing.

    On Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Trump’s 102 day in office, he will begin from more or less a cold start, as though the first three months hadn’t hap­pened. The dif­fer­ence is that he’ll face a cal­en­dar that is far less friend­ly to leg­is­la­tion and he’ll have squan­dered what­ev­er degree of good will, momen­tum or con­fi­dence he had from con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans in his abil­i­ty to be an effec­tive Pres­i­dent.

    As we can see, if you’re expect­ing the next 100 days to be sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent from the last 100 days, don’t. Sure, it’s pos­si­ble he’ll have a slew of leg­isla­tive vic­to­ries. Maybe Oba­macare will be repealed and his big tax cut pack­age will become real­i­ty along with the big infra­struc­ture bill, but it’s only going to be a hard­er to do all, or any, of that ambi­tious agen­da. In part because that ambi­tious agen­da turned out to be wild­ly unpop­u­lar, as we saw with the pub­lic’s wide­spread rejec­tion of Trump­care.

    So it’s not going to be all ponies and ros­es for Trump’s pres­i­den­cy. Who knew. But while it might seem like Trump is poised to pre­side over a spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure of a pres­i­den­cy, let’s keep a cou­ple things in mind about the Trump phe­nom­e­na: 1. His enthu­si­as­tic sup­port among white nation­al­ist who would love to see a vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion and race wars break out in Amer­i­ca so they can drag the US back to the 18th Cen­tu­ry. And 2. When Trump’s cam­paign was at its low­est moments, hint­ing at rev­o­lu­tion and civ­il war was part of the Trump cam­paign’s play­book and it was­n’t entire­ly clear that he was going to be will­ing to accept elec­toral defeat if that hap­pened. In oth­er words, while Trump cam­paigned as the guy that could trans­form the coun­try with ease once elect­ed, he also cam­paigned as the guy who was going to burn the coun­try down. Per­haps in a vio­lent insur­rec­tion of sorts. So there’s a major com­po­nent of the Trump cam­paign theme that had noth­ing to do with leg­is­la­tion and every­thing to do with indulging in white nation­al­ist insur­rec­tion fan­tasies and hint­ing that he would make them a real­i­ty:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Racism and talk of reli­gious war: Trump staff’s online posts

    By JEFF HORWITZ
    Aug. 22, 2016

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Don­ald Trump’s paid cam­paign staffers have declared on their per­son­al social media accounts that Mus­lims are unfit to be U.S. cit­i­zens, ridiculed Mex­i­can accents, called for Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry to be hanged and stat­ed their readi­ness for a pos­si­ble civ­il war, accord­ing to a review by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press of their post­ings.

    The AP exam­ined the social media feeds of more than 50 cur­rent and for­mer cam­paign employ­ees who helped pro­pel Trump through the pri­ma­ry elec­tions. The cam­paign has employed a mix of vet­er­an polit­i­cal oper­a­tives and out­siders. Most come across as ded­i­cat­ed, enthu­si­as­tic par­ti­sans, but at least sev­en expressed views that were overt­ly racial­ly charged, sup­port­ive of vio­lent actions or broad­ly hos­tile to Mus­lims.

    A graph­ic design­er for Trump’s advance team approv­ing­ly post­ed video of a black man eat­ing fried chick­en and crit­i­ciz­ing fel­low blacks for igno­rance, irre­spon­si­bil­i­ty and hav­ing too many chil­dren. A Trump field orga­niz­er in Vir­ginia declared that Mus­lims were seek­ing to impose Sharia law in Amer­i­ca and that “those who under­stand Islam for what it is are gear­ing up for the fight.”

    The AP’s find­ings come at a time when Trump is show­ing new inter­est in appeal­ing to minor­i­ty vot­ers, insist­ing he will be fair in deal­ing with the 11 mil­lion peo­ple in the U.S. ille­gal­ly and explic­it­ly pitch­ing him­self to African-Amer­i­cans, say­ing “what do you have to lose?”

    Since Trump declared his can­di­da­cy last sum­mer, he has paid about 120 peo­ple on his cam­paign, accord­ing to Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion fil­ings. Over the week­end, the cam­paign report­ed about 70 peo­ple draw­ing salaries, a num­ber that did not include a few dozen more work­ing as con­sul­tants. A slew of hires in ear­ly August were not yet reflect­ed in Trump’s fil­ings.

    The AP was able to review the accounts of only a minor­i­ty of Trump staffers: Oth­ers set their accounts to pri­vate, some could not be found or iden­ti­fied with con­fi­dence as Trump cam­paign employ­ees.

    The AP also reviewed the pub­lic social media accounts of more than three dozen employ­ees of Hillary Clin­ton’s far larg­er cam­paign staff and found noth­ing as inflam­ma­to­ry. One staffer said Trump’s style of speak­ing remind­ed him of a room­mate who had tak­en too many hal­lu­cino­genic mush­rooms. AP also reviewed images attached to more than 19,000 stolen inter­nal emails from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee for racial­ly or reli­gious­ly inflam­ma­to­ry memes, find­ing noth­ing of note.

    ...

    The AP found lit­tle ques­tion­able con­tent in the ranks of Trump’s top offi­cials. The cam­paign’s social media direc­tor, Dan Scav­i­no, tweets pro­lif­i­cal­ly but avoids dis­cussing race and reli­gion. Field orga­niz­ers rep­re­sent­ing Trump’s cam­paign around the coun­try, how­ev­er, have had no such reser­va­tions, either before or dur­ing their employ­ment with the cam­paign. Their judg­ment mat­ters beyond the cam­paign because the paid staff of win­ning pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates often receives jobs in the next admin­is­tra­tion.

    Before being tapped as statewide direc­tor of coali­tions, Craig Bach­ler of Braden­ton, Flori­da, post­ed jokes in 2015 about Mex­i­can accents super­im­posed over pic­tures of an over­weight man wear­ing a som­brero. Bach­ler was named by the cam­paign as offi­cial staff in Novem­ber, though there is no record he has been paid for his work. Bach­ler did not respond to a request for com­ment via Face­book or a mes­sage left at his office voice­mail. After AP’s inquiries, Bach­ler blocked access to an AP reporter, and his Face­book account — which includ­ed a pho­to of Bach­ler with Trump — was scrubbed to remove the offen­sive post.

    Tere­sa Unrue, a field orga­niz­er and graph­ic design­er in Myr­tle Beach, South Car­oli­na, for Trump’s advance team, shared a video on her Face­book account July 11 — the week before the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion — of a black man eat­ing fried chick­en while sham­ing fel­low black peo­ple.

    “Why are you mad about slav­ery?” the man asks. “Y’all weren’t no damn slaves.”

    “Had me crack­’n up!! Thank you!” Unrue wrote of the video. “Please share this with peo­ple.”

    In a short phone con­ver­sa­tion, Unrue said she tried to keep her per­son­al social media com­ments pos­i­tive and referred ques­tions to the cam­paign.

    Some posts fix­at­ed on sto­ries of black-on-white vio­lence with claims that news about such crimes was being sup­pressed.

    “How about this lit­tle white boy being mur­dered by a black man,” grass­roots orga­niz­er Annie Marie Del­ga­do of Palm Beach Gar­dens, Flori­da, wrote in Decem­ber 2014 post, one of a num­ber high­light­ing crimes against white peo­ple before Trump declared his can­di­da­cy. Del­ga­do also shared a dis­cred­it­ed, hoax pho­to of the State Depart­men­t’s Ker­ry with Jane Fon­da, and com­ment­ed: “I say hang them!” She was paid $11,146 through April, accord­ing to cam­paign records.

    Fear or dis­like of Mus­lims was a recur­ring theme. Though Trump at one point pro­posed tem­porar­i­ly bar­ring for­eign Mus­lims from enter­ing the coun­try and scru­ti­niz­ing the activ­i­ties of mosques, he has some­times dis­tin­guished Islam­ic extrem­ists who pose a risk and those who don’t. “I love the Mus­lims,” Trump said in Sep­tem­ber, express­ing will­ing­ness to appoint one to his Cab­i­net.

    On Face­book, Mark Kevin Lloyd of Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia, who has been paid $36,000 as Trump’s field direc­tor in the state, shared a post June 30 call­ing Islam “a bar­bar­ic cult.” He shared a meme June 16, four days after the Orlan­do night­club shoot­ing by a heav­i­ly armed Mus­lim who pro­fessed alle­giance to the Islam­ic State group. The meme said peo­ple should be forced to eat bacon before they can pur­chase firearms.

    Lloyd declined to talk to the AP with­out the Trump cam­paign’s per­mis­sion, cit­ing his nondis­clo­sure agree­ment with the cam­paign.

    Oth­er cam­paign staffers also sin­gled out Mus­lims for spe­cial scruti­ny.

    Unrue shared the state­ment, “We need Islam con­trol, not gun con­trol.”

    Dur­ing her time with the cam­paign, Del­ga­do deplored the appoint­ment of a Mus­lim-Amer­i­can judge in New York.

    “Step by step... this is how Amer­i­can cul­ture will end,” she wrote Feb. 27, say­ing it was only rea­son­able to believe that the judge would imple­ment Sharia law.

    Del­ga­do said in a tele­phone inter­view she stopped work­ing for the cam­paign in April. She said she did not recall mak­ing some of the posts the AP asked her about and does not stand by oth­ers.

    “If I read the whole thing, I prob­a­bly would­n’t have post­ed it,” she said of one post she shared, a short essay declar­ing that Mus­lims are inher­ent­ly inca­pable of being good Amer­i­cans.

    ...

    Many accounts AP reviewed embraced con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Lloyd, the Vir­ginia field direc­tor, said Oba­ma is aid­ing the Iran­ian nuclear pro­gram as part of the pres­i­den­t’s “ ‘final solu­tion’ to the Israel prob­lem,” a phrase evok­ing the Holo­caust.

    Del­ga­do, the Flori­da orga­niz­er, cir­cu­lat­ed a the­o­ry that the com­pa­ny Edi­ble Arrange­ments LLC is fun­nel­ing mon­ey to Hamas, a claim that the Anti-Defama­tion League, a U.S. Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tion, has repeat­ed­ly dis­missed as false.

    Unrue post­ed a link to a web­site that alleged that the U.S. gov­ern­ment assas­si­nat­ed Supreme Court Jus­tice Antonin Scalia, who died ear­li­er this year after a his­to­ry of heart trou­ble.

    Racial­ly charged social media posts from Trump cam­paign employ­ees and asso­ciates have already been a repeat­ed source of embar­rass­ment. Trump fired one advis­er who had used a racial slur to describe Oba­ma’s chil­dren, and the cam­paign denounced Trump’s long­time Mar-a-Lago but­ler for say­ing he would sup­port drag­ging Oba­ma from the White House and hang­ing him.

    Katie Pack­er, a 2012 Rom­ney deputy cam­paign man­ag­er who oppos­es Trump, said the social media posts AP reviewed would have all been imme­di­ate dis­qual­i­fiers for any­one who had applied for a cam­paign job — even if the post­ings weren’t vis­i­ble to the pub­lic.

    “A com­fort lev­el with peo­ple who think this is OK is indica­tive of what you think is OK,” Pack­er said. “Maybe the cam­paign just does­n’t know about this, but that’s mal­prac­tice.”

    “The AP exam­ined the social media feeds of more than 50 cur­rent and for­mer cam­paign employ­ees who helped pro­pel Trump through the pri­ma­ry elec­tions. The cam­paign has employed a mix of vet­er­an polit­i­cal oper­a­tives and out­siders. Most come across as ded­i­cat­ed, enthu­si­as­tic par­ti­sans, but at least sev­en expressed views that were overt­ly racial­ly charged, sup­port­ive of vio­lent actions or broad­ly hos­tile to Mus­lims.”

    It’s easy to for­get, now that Trump is pres­i­dent, that one of the big wor­ries if he lost was whether or not his sup­port­ers were going to flip out and get vio­lent. But win­ning pow­er through the demo­c­ra­t­ic process does­n’t change the fact that this was a cam­paign that pushed the ille­git­i­ma­cy of the demo­c­ra­t­ic process as one of its major themes. And that did­n’t sud­den­ly go away. So when we’re think­ing about what trump’s going to do over the 100, or 1000 days, it’s going to be impor­tant to keep in mind that he had a solu­tion for not get­ting what he want­ed via demo­c­ra­t­ic means. And that solu­tion was the same kind of solu­tion we’ve been hear­ing from the vio­lent fringes of the far-right for years: vio­lence, race war, and seces­sion. And the worse things were going for Trump, espe­cial­ly when it looked like he might lose (like right after the “Hol­ly­wood Access” video, the more he was will­ing to indulge in those kinds of vio­lent fan­tasies:

    The Boston Globe

    Warn­ings of con­spir­a­cy stoke anger among Trump faith­ful

    By Matt Vis­er and Tra­cy Jan Globe Staff
    Octo­ber 15, 2016

    CINCINNATI — In an are­na nor­mal­ly reserved for ice hock­ey, the Don­ald Trump crowd was on edge.

    Some wore shirts with slo­gans like “[Exple­tive] Your Feel­ings” or, in ref­er­ence to the female Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, “Trump that Bitch.” Oth­ers had buck­ets of pop­corn, ready for the show. When the media entourage entered, thou­sands erupt­ed in boos.

    Anger and hos­til­i­ty were the most over­whelm­ing sen­ti­ments at a Trump ral­ly in Cincin­nati last week, a deep sense of frus­tra­tion, an us-ver­sus-them men­tal­i­ty, and a belief that they are part of an unstop­pable and under­es­ti­mat­ed move­ment. Unlike many in the coun­try, how­ev­er, these hard-core Trump fol­low­ers do not believe the real estate mogul’s mis­for­tunes are of his own mak­ing.

    They believe what Trump has told them over and over, that this elec­tion is rigged, and if he los­es, it will be because of a mas­sive con­spir­a­cy to take him down.

    At a time when trust in gov­ern­ment is at a low point, Trump is active­ly stok­ing fears that a core tenet of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy is also in per­il: that you can trust what hap­pens at the bal­lot box.

    His sup­port­ers here said they plan to go to their local precincts to look for ille­gal immi­grants who may attempt to vote. They are wor­ried that Democ­rats will load up bus­es of minori­ties and take them to vote sev­er­al times in dif­fer­ent areas of the city. They’ve heard rumors that box­es of Clin­ton votes are already wait­ing some­where.

    And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even open­ly talk­ing about vio­lent rebel­lion and assas­si­na­tion, as fan­tas­ti­cal and unhinged as that may seem.

    “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bow­man, a 50-year-old con­trac­tor, said of Hillary Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee. “We’re going to have a rev­o­lu­tion and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of blood­shed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do what­ev­er I can for my coun­try.”

    He then placed a Trump mask on his face and posed for pic­tures.

    Trump’s cam­paign has tak­en a sharp turn toward such dark warn­ings in recent days. He says he is a vic­tim of con­spir­a­cies, por­trays him­self as a mar­tyr to the cause of the right wing, and is stok­ing anger in advance of what may be a defeat on Nov. 8.

    Trump has sug­gest­ed that the Secret Ser­vice pro­tect­ing Clin­ton should be dis­armed and “see what hap­pens to her,” and that “Sec­ond Amend­ment peo­ple” could take mat­ters into their own hands if she wins and appoints judges who sup­port gun con­trol. But his cam­paign dis­avowed some of the remarks of his sup­port­ers on Sat­ur­day after this arti­cle was post­ed online.

    ...

    Trump’s cam­paign has been stamped with improb­a­bil­i­ty ever since he announced his can­di­da­cy in June 2015. He cap­tured the nom­i­na­tion with rhetoric appeal­ing to the angri­est vot­ers in the con­ser­v­a­tive base.

    But then came the unrav­el­ing — begin­ning soon after his July nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion, when he lam­bast­ed the Mus­lim par­ents of a slain war hero. His poll num­bers recov­ered some in late sum­mer, but then the bot­tom seemed to drop out in the last week with the explo­sive video in which he brags about using his celebri­ty pow­er to sex­u­al­ly assault women by forcibly kiss­ing them and grop­ing them.

    The emer­gence of that video seems to have sent Trump into a regres­sion, with speech­es that — instead of expand­ing his appeal — more direct­ly tar­get the angry base that formed the strongest core of his sup­port from the begin­ning.

    Above all, Trump is now using the prospect of his loss to under­mine faith in demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions.

    “It’s one big fix,’’ Trump said Fri­day after­noon in Greens­boro, N.C. “This whole elec­tion is being rigged.’’

    He saved some of his harsh­est crit­i­cism for the media, which he said is in league with Clin­ton to steal the elec­tion.

    “The media is indeed sick, and it’s mak­ing our coun­try sick, and we’re going to stop it,” he said.

    ““If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bow­man, a 50-year-old con­trac­tor, said of Hillary Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee. “We’re going to have a rev­o­lu­tion and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of blood­shed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do what­ev­er I can for my coun­try.””

    That was the zeit­geist of much of the Amer­i­can far-right not too many months ago: If Hillary Clin­ton wins, it’s time for blood­shed so ‘real Amer­i­cans’ can take their coun­try back from the cabal of elites, as described by far-right white nation­al­ist and neo-Nazis for years. With Trump doing the lead stok­ing:

    ...
    Trump’s cam­paign has tak­en a sharp turn toward such dark warn­ings in recent days. He says he is a vic­tim of con­spir­a­cies, por­trays him­self as a mar­tyr to the cause of the right wing, and is stok­ing anger in advance of what may be a defeat on Nov. 8.

    Trump has sug­gest­ed that the Secret Ser­vice pro­tect­ing Clin­ton should be dis­armed and “see what hap­pens to her,” and that “Sec­ond Amend­ment peo­ple” could take mat­ters into their own hands if she wins and appoints judges who sup­port gun con­trol. But his cam­paign dis­avowed some of the remarks of his sup­port­ers on Sat­ur­day after this arti­cle was post­ed online.
    ...

    Again, the above arti­cle was from Octo­ber. That’s not too long ago. Did win­ning sud­den­ly exer­cise the neo-Nazi demons from the Trump move­ment? If not, they’re still there. And that’s going to be crit­i­cal to keep in mind as Trump’s pres­i­den­cy moves for­ward: if he fails as pass­ing his spec­tac­u­lar­ly dan­ger­ous agen­da leg­isla­tive­ly, that does­n’t mean the Trump team does­n’t have dif­fer­ence kind of spec­tu­lar­ly dan­ger­ous agen­da they could accomplish...because the kind of vio­lent agen­da that Trump was stok­ing dur­ing the cam­paign did­n’t require the Trump cam­paign to actu­al­ly do any­thing. It would have been accom­plished by ran­dom far-right nut-jobs and their var­i­ous lead­ers scat­tered across the media, pol­i­tics, and the inter­net. And, sure, with Trump being pres­i­dent and the GOP in con­trol of Con­gress that com­pli­cates the nar­ra­tive of any sort of wave far-right vio­lence that could be unleashed, but it’s not like far-right gov­ern­ments haven’t unleashed far-right vio­lence against their own pop­u­lace. Plus, it’s not like we aren’t see­ing a steady cry from the usu­al sus­pects on the Right about “the vio­lent Left”, and how “some­thing” needs to be done about it:

    Salon

    Embat­tled by real­i­ty, Don­ald Trump will feel the love at the NRA con­ven­tion: Noth­ing good can come of this
    Trump has no more loy­al fol­low­ers than the rabid pro-gun group that has veered into alt-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry

    Heather Dig­by Par­ton
    Fri­day, Apr 28, 2017 11:02 AM CST

    Don­ald Trump had many ardent admir­ers dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, but one group that jumped on the Trump band­wag­on ear­ly and enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly was the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion. Its pas­sion­ate endorse­ment of him may be one of the most unex­am­ined rea­sons for his suc­cess. Back in Decem­ber I wrote a piece about the savvy move of the NRA pres­i­dent, Wayne LaPierre, to turn gun rights into a “pop­ulist” agen­da for the orga­ni­za­tion. LaPierre was sell­ing Trump­ism before Trump even came on the scene.

    For at least the past decade, LaPierre’s pitch has been that the NRA stands for more than just gun rights. Rather it stands for a way of life that “elites” are try­ing to destroy by sup­press­ing free speech, reli­gious lib­er­ty and people’s free­dom to run their own busi­ness or choose their own health care. LaPierre declared that “drug-deal­ing ille­gal immi­grants” were pour­ing over the bor­der and lenient lib­er­al judges were let­ting crim­i­nals prey on inno­cent peo­ple destroy­ing our cities. Trump’s “Amer­i­can car­nage” inau­gur­al address no doubt res­onat­ed strong­ly with many NRA true believ­ers.

    ...

    As we all know, Don­ald Trump nar­row­ly won the Elec­toral Col­lege tal­ly in three of those cru­cial Rust Belt states in 2016, putting him in the White House. This time the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom has been that it was because of his eco­nom­ic pop­ulist mes­sage rather than gun rights. But as I argued in my ear­li­er arti­cle, Trump’s whole­heart­ed embrace of the NRA may very well have been a big­ger con­tribut­ing fac­tor. Cer­tain­ly LaPierre believes it was. His vic­to­ry speech after the elec­tion was noth­ing short of tri­umphant.

    LaPierre released a video­tape to his mem­bers, titled “Our Time Is Now,” echo­ing the name of a famous 1981 speech by Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan. He took cred­it for send­ing Hillary Clin­ton “on per­ma­nent polit­i­cal vaca­tion” by mak­ing “her hatred for the Sec­ond Amend­ment a cen­tral issue of this cam­paign.” He issued a call for vig­i­lance because Amer­i­cans “face a grow­ing group of anti-Sec­ond Amend­ment elit­ist bil­lion­aires, led by George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, and they will con­tin­ue to enjoy the sup­port of an open­ly dis­hon­est media that tru­ly hates your right to speak, your right to wor­ship and your right to vote.”

    A cou­ple of months lat­er LaPierre spoke to the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence con­ven­tion and in a long, pas­sion­ate stem-winder he explained to the excit­ed crowd that the cen­tral threat fac­ing Amer­i­ca today is “the vio­lent left.” He put par­tic­i­pants in the anti-Trump protest move­ment on notice that they had bet­ter watch them­selves or some God-fear­ing real Amer­i­cans might take mat­ters into their own hands:

    The left’s mes­sage is absolute­ly clear. They want revenge. You have to be pun­ished. They say you are what is wrong with Amer­i­ca. And now, you have to be purged. . . . Make no mis­take: If the vio­lent left brings their ter­ror to our com­mu­ni­ties, our neigh­bor­hoods or into our home they will be met with the resolve and the strength and the full force of Amer­i­can free­dom in the hands of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and we will win because we are the major­i­ty in this coun­try. . . . We are still here and we’ve got Pres­i­dent Trump’s back — for the next eight years.

    That would sound like typ­i­cal right-wing hyper­bole if it weren’t com­ing from the man whose fol­low­ers are all armed to the teeth. Iron­i­cal­ly, times are tough for the gun indus­try when a Repub­li­can holds the the White House; gun sales typ­i­cal­ly fall and the growth curve of NRA mem­ber­ship is like­ly to flat­ten out. So the like­ly strat­e­gy is to gin up fear among the faith­ful so that peo­ple will buy more guns and renew their mem­ber­ships.

    To that end, it appears the NRA has gone full “alt-right.” Media Mat­ters issued a report on Bill Whit­tle, a new com­men­ta­tor for the NRA’s news out­let NRATV, who “has pro­mot­ed the racist notion that black peo­ple are inher­ent­ly intel­lec­tu­al­ly infe­ri­or to peo­ple of oth­er races and sug­gest­ed that races could be divid­ed along the lines of ‘civ­i­lized man’ and ‘bar­bar­ian.’” The orga­ni­za­tion is con­sol­i­dat­ing the entire Trump world­view under the NRA impri­matur.

    On Fri­day Don­ald Trump will become the first pres­i­dent since Ronald Rea­gan to speak at the Nation­al Rifle Association’s annu­al con­ven­tion.

    We can expect him to receive a rap­tur­ous wel­come. These gun-pro­lif­er­a­tion zealots are the core of his base and may be the real rea­son he won the elec­tion, and they know it.

    The pres­i­dent, who has just dis­cov­ered, much to his sur­prise, that his new job is hard­er than being a real­i­ty-TV star and heir to a real estate for­tune, will no doubt feel relieved to be back in the bosom of his most ardent admir­ers. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he is also high­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to sug­ges­tion, so let’s hope LaPierre cools it with the dec­la­ra­tions of war on the “vio­lent left.” Trump’s so des­per­ate for action at this point that he might get car­ried away and take him seri­ous­ly.

    “The pres­i­dent, who has just dis­cov­ered, much to his sur­prise, that his new job is hard­er than being a real­i­ty-TV star and heir to a real estate for­tune, will no doubt feel relieved to be back in the bosom of his most ardent admir­ers. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he is also high­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to sug­ges­tion, so let’s hope LaPierre cools it with the dec­la­ra­tions of war on the “vio­lent left.” Trump’s so des­per­ate for action at this point that he might get car­ried away and take him seri­ous­ly.

    The “vio­lent left” is com­ing to get you. That’s the mes­sage from Wayne LaPierre, the head of one of the pow­er­ful lob­bies in Amer­i­ca a man who’s been ped­dling far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries for years. And if it seems like just coin­ci­dence that he’s push­ing the same far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about left-wing elites plot­ting to destroy Amer­i­ca that you hear from your stan­dard neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­da out­fit, not the over ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazi who just become one of the NRA’s pub­lic faces:

    ...
    LaPierre released a video­tape to his mem­bers, titled “Our Time Is Now,” echo­ing the name of a famous 1981 speech by Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan. He took cred­it for send­ing Hillary Clin­ton “on per­ma­nent polit­i­cal vaca­tion” by mak­ing “her hatred for the Sec­ond Amend­ment a cen­tral issue of this cam­paign.” He issued a call for vig­i­lance because Amer­i­cans “face a grow­ing group of anti-Sec­ond Amend­ment elit­ist bil­lion­aires, led by George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, and they will con­tin­ue to enjoy the sup­port of an open­ly dis­hon­est media that tru­ly hates your right to speak, your right to wor­ship and your right to vote.”

    A cou­ple of months lat­er LaPierre spoke to the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence con­ven­tion and in a long, pas­sion­ate stem-winder he explained to the excit­ed crowd that the cen­tral threat fac­ing Amer­i­ca today is “the vio­lent left.” He put par­tic­i­pants in the anti-Trump protest move­ment on notice that they had bet­ter watch them­selves or some God-fear­ing real Amer­i­cans might take mat­ters into their own hands:

    The left’s mes­sage is absolute­ly clear. They want revenge. You have to be pun­ished. They say you are what is wrong with Amer­i­ca. And now, you have to be purged. . . . Make no mis­take: If the vio­lent left brings their ter­ror to our com­mu­ni­ties, our neigh­bor­hoods or into our home they will be met with the resolve and the strength and the full force of Amer­i­can free­dom in the hands of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and we will win because we are the major­i­ty in this coun­try. . . . We are still here and we’ve got Pres­i­dent Trump’s back — for the next eight years.

    That would sound like typ­i­cal right-wing hyper­bole if it weren’t com­ing from the man whose fol­low­ers are all armed to the teeth. Iron­i­cal­ly, times are tough for the gun indus­try when a Repub­li­can holds the the White House; gun sales typ­i­cal­ly fall and the growth curve of NRA mem­ber­ship is like­ly to flat­ten out. So the like­ly strat­e­gy is to gin up fear among the faith­ful so that peo­ple will buy more guns and renew their mem­ber­ships.

    To that end, it appears the NRA has gone full “alt-right.” Media Mat­ters issued a report on Bill Whit­tle, a new com­men­ta­tor for the NRA’s news out­let NRATV, who “has pro­mot­ed the racist notion that black peo­ple are inher­ent­ly intel­lec­tu­al­ly infe­ri­or to peo­ple of oth­er races and sug­gest­ed that races could be divid­ed along the lines of ‘civ­i­lized man’ and ‘bar­bar­ian.’” The orga­ni­za­tion is con­sol­i­dat­ing the entire Trump world­view under the NRA impri­matur.
    ...

    To that end, it appears the NRA has gone full “alt-right.” Media Mat­ters issued a report on Bill Whit­tle, a new com­men­ta­tor for the NRA’s news out­let NRATV, who “has pro­mot­ed the racist notion that black peo­ple are inher­ent­ly intel­lec­tu­al­ly infe­ri­or to peo­ple of oth­er races and sug­gest­ed that races could be divid­ed along the lines of ‘civ­i­lized man’ and ‘bar­bar­ian.’” The orga­ni­za­tion is con­sol­i­dat­ing the entire Trump world­view under the NRA impri­matur.”

    Yes, this Jan­u­ary, with the GOP set to con­trol of the White House, Con­gress, and the Supreme Court, the NRA hires an Alt-Right media prova­ca­ture to be part of his pub­lic face. A prova­ca­ture who likes to pro­mote ideas like blacks are too genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or for civ­i­liza­tion and Mus­lims are a dif­fer­ent species and that we can’t sep­a­rate race from pol­i­cy because race deter­mines char­ac­ter. In oth­er words, a pro­mot­er of neo-Nazi race war ideas was hired by the NRA this Jan­u­ary to be its pub­lic voice:

    Media­Mat­ters

    Meet The NRA’s Res­i­dent Aca­d­e­m­ic Racist

    NRATV’s Bill Whit­tle Has Pro­mot­ed “Sci­en­tif­ic” Racism On Intel­li­gence And Crime

    TIMOTHY JOHNSON & CYDNEY HARGI
    April 27, 2017 9:47 AM EDT

    Bill Whit­tle, a new­ly hired com­men­ta­tor for the Nation­al Rifle Association’s news out­let NRATV, has pro­mot­ed the racist notion that black peo­ple are inher­ent­ly intel­lec­tu­al­ly infe­ri­or to peo­ple of oth­er races and sug­gest­ed that races could be divid­ed along the lines of “civ­i­lized man” and “bar­bar­ian.”

    Whit­tle is a com­men­ta­tor for the NRA who appears on a dai­ly basis dur­ing the NRA’s live updates, which are broad­cast at the top of the hour between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. East­ern Stan­dard Time. He typ­i­cal­ly appears dur­ing the 1 p.m. hour, where he dis­cuss­es issues of the day with host Grant Stinch­field.

    Accord­ing to his web­site, Whit­tle began his gig with the NRA on Jan­u­ary 3. “Since then, he has guest-host­ed for Grant and [NRATV host] Col­lion (sic) Noir” and co-anchored the NRA’s after­noon cov­er­age of the 2017 Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence, the site notes. The NRATV web­site lists more than 80 appear­ances by Whit­tle on NRA pro­gram­ming this year. In addi­tion to his employ­ment with the NRA, Whit­tle is a long­time con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor who is best known for his work with con­ser­v­a­tive out­let PJ Media.

    Whit­tle will be part of NRATV’s broad­cast crew dur­ing the out­let’s live cov­er­age of the NRA’s annu­al meet­ings, which will be held this year in Atlanta, GA, from April 27 through 30.

    Dur­ing a 2016 appear­ance on libertarian-turned-“alt-right”-com­men­ta­tor Ste­fan Molyneux’s web­show, Whit­tle revealed his accep­tance of the­o­ries com­mon­ly called “aca­d­e­m­ic” or “sci­en­tif­ic” racism that tie togeth­er IQ scores, race, and crime. He also pos­i­tive­ly cit­ed a white nation­al­ist to claim peo­ple in inner cities “don’t have access to cog­ni­tion.”

    In the Feb­ru­ary 12 broad­cast, which was released with the title “Why Lib­er­als Are Wrong About Inequal­i­ty,” Molyneux premised his dis­cus­sion with Whit­tle with claims that in terms of aver­age IQ scores, Ashke­nazi Jews “clock in at about 115” and “after the Jews come the East Asians, right, the Kore­ans, the Chi­nese, the Japan­ese, and so on. They clock in at 105, 106, but very good on visu­al-spa­cial skills and very, very fast reac­tion times, which is anoth­er way that they mea­sure intel­li­gence. Cau­casians come in at about 100 and then below that are His­pan­ics, clock­ing in at around 90, and then Amer­i­can blacks, clock­ing in at around 85 — part­ly because they have 20 per­cent Euro­pean mix­ture in their gene pool — and then sub-Saha­ran Africans, clock­ing in at around 70, which is obvi­ous­ly very trag­ic, but this is the real­i­ty of what’s hap­pened. And slight­ly below that are the abo­rig­i­nals in Aus­tralia, clock­ing in around 67 or what­ev­er.”

    The attempt to clas­si­fy cer­tain races as genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or on the basis of IQ scores is a clas­sic exam­ple of aca­d­e­m­ic racism pro­mot­ed by white nation­al­ists like Richard Lynn, and it has served as the premise for wide­ly denounced “research” by writ­ers like Charles Mur­ray in The Bell Curve and Jason Rich­wine in his infa­mous pro­pos­al on Lati­no immi­gra­tion.

    This type of sort­ing of the races by sup­posed genet­ic dif­fer­ences relat­ing to intel­li­gence has been wide­ly dis­cred­it­ed by sci­en­tists and anthro­pol­o­gists, even as white nation­al­ists have increas­ing­ly attempt­ed to revive the the­o­ries to push a racist agen­da.

    Dur­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with Molyneux, how­ev­er, Whit­tle accept­ed and pro­mot­ed ideas based on these dis­cred­it­ed the­o­ries.

    INDEX:

    Whit­tle Cit­ed A White Nation­al­ist To Pro­mote “Sci­en­tif­ic” Racism

    Neo-Nazi Web­site Fet­ed Whit­tle’s Appear­ance

    Sci­en­tists And Anthro­pol­o­gists Have Reject­ed Whit­tle’s Claims

    Whit­tle Has A His­to­ry Of Racism

    What Is NRATV?

    ...

    What Is NRATV?

    Whittle’s out­let, NRATV, was launched in Octo­ber 2016 as a rebrand­ing of the NRA’s long-run­ning news out­let NRA News with the aim of offer­ing more live pro­gram­ming cre­at­ed by the gun group and its adver­tis­ing firm Ack­er­man McQueen.

    While NRA News flag­ship pro­gram Cam & Com­pa­ny, which con­tin­ues to air on NRATV, serves as a font of mis­in­for­ma­tion about the debate over guns in the Unit­ed States, new NRATV pro­gram­ming, such as the live updates on which Whit­tle appears, are bet­ter char­ac­ter­ized as pro-Trump pro­pa­gan­da with a heavy dose of xeno­pho­bic com­men­tary, par­tic­u­lar­ly on the top­ic of Islam.

    NRATV is stri­dent in its defense of Trump, and the over­all NRA orga­ni­za­tion has said that it will serve as “Don­ald Trump’s strongest, most unflinch­ing ally.” For exam­ple, short­ly after launch­ing NRATV, host Grant Stinch­field attacked the media for cov­er­ing numer­ous reports of sex­u­al assault against Trump, say­ing out­lets should instead cov­er instances where guns were used in self-defense.

    While the NRA has long claimed that the media are part of a con­spir­a­cy against every­day Amer­i­cans, the group’s attacks against the press in defense of Trump have entered new ter­ri­to­ry in recent months, with the gun out­let label­ing both dis­sent against Trump and pro­tect­ed-speech report­ing about Trump and his admin­is­tra­tion as oppo­si­tion­al to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and Amer­i­can val­ues.

    “Dur­ing a 2016 appear­ance on libertarian-turned-“alt-right”-com­men­ta­tor Ste­fan Molyneux’s web­show, Whit­tle revealed his accep­tance of the­o­ries com­mon­ly called “aca­d­e­m­ic” or “sci­en­tif­ic” racism that tie togeth­er IQ scores, race, and crime. He also pos­i­tive­ly cit­ed a white nation­al­ist to claim peo­ple in inner cities “don’t have access to cog­ni­tion.””

    It looks like the NRA has replaced its “Oba­ma is com­ing to take your guns!” slo­gan with “Minori­ties are com­ing! Get your guns!” And this is one of the most influ­en­tial right-wing lob­by­ing groups in Amer­i­ca whose rhetoric in dur­ing the cam­paign last year was basi­cal­ly the same as Trump’s rhetoric (along with the rest of the GOP field, for the most part). So if you’re assum­ing, “oh, there’s no longer a threat of a far-right vio­lent coup like there was last year because the far-right has all the pow­er now,” the NRA would beg to dif­fer.

    And that’s all some­thing to keep in mind as we reflect on Trump’s first 100 days: yes, he accom­plished next to noth­ing in the tra­di­tion­al sense of “accom­plish­ment.” But in terms of main­tain­ing that far-right frus­tra­tion that ‘democ­ra­cy does­n’t work’ and ‘the sys­tem is rigged’, Trump’s first 100 days have been a wild suc­cess. Sure, the frus­tra­tions much of Trump’s base must be feel­ing from his fail­ures to imple­ment almost all of his major promis­es is undoubt­ed­ly direct­ed par­tial­ly towards the GOP in gen­er­al at this point since they con­trol almost every­thing. But it’s hard to see why that would tamp down that itch to just take up arms and enact some sort of neo-Nazi white nation­al­ist insur­rec­tion that was bub­bling just under the sur­face less than a year ago.

    This is all a reminder that while it might seem like ‘neo-Nazi War­lord Trump’ is no longer a threat now that he’s Pres­i­dent Trump, the more he fails as Pres­i­dent, the more tempt­ed he’s going to be to revert to neo-Nazi War­lord mode. Espe­cial­ly with groups like the NRA dou­bling down on the neo-Nazi coup crazi­ness. And espe­cial­ly now that Trump is call­ing for changes to Con­gress to give him more pow­ers to push through his agen­da:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump is now talk­ing about con­sol­i­dat­ing his pow­er

    By Aaron Blake
    April 29, 2017 at 9:30 AM

    Pres­i­dent Trump has sug­gest­ed that the judi­cia­ry does­n’t have the author­i­ty to ques­tion him. He was a very ear­ly pro­po­nent of nuk­ing the fil­i­buster for Supreme Court Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such. And he recent­ly raised eye­brows by con­grat­u­lat­ing Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan on the expan­sion of his pres­i­den­tial pow­ers — echo­ing his pre­vi­ous admi­ra­tion for strong­man lead­ers.

    Now Trump is talk­ing about con­sol­i­dat­ing his own pow­er.

    In an inter­view with Fox News that aired Fri­day night, Trump dis­missed the “archa­ic” rules of the House and Sen­ate — using that word four times — and sug­gest­ed they need­ed to be stream­lined for the good of the coun­try.

    A sam­pling:

    “We don’t have a lot of closers in pol­i­tics, and I under­stand why: It’s a very rough sys­tem. It’s an archa­ic sys­tem.”
    “You look at the rules of the Sen­ate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Sen­ate and some of the things you have to go through — it’s real­ly a bad thing for the coun­try, in my opin­ion. They’re archa­ic rules. And maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be dif­fer­ent.”
    “You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad deci­sions. I mean, you’re real­ly forced into doing things that you would nor­mal­ly not do except for these archa­ic rules.”

    And then Trump came out and just said it: He does­n’t like the fil­i­buster.

    “I think, you know, the fil­i­buster con­cept is not a good con­cept to start off with,” he said.

    So there you go. Trump is frus­trat­ed with the pace of leg­is­la­tion after 100 days, and his answer is that he wants to change the rules.

    Whether this is just him blow­ing off steam or sig­nal­ing what lies ahead, it’s sig­nif­i­cant. Because it sug­gests a pres­i­dent, yet again, who does­n’t agree with his own pow­ers being lim­it­ed or even ques­tioned. Remem­ber when senior pol­i­cy advis­er Stephen Miller declared “the pow­ers of the pres­i­dent to pro­tect our coun­try are very sub­stan­tial and will not be ques­tioned?” This is more of that kind of atti­tude.

    He wants more pow­er — and he wants it quick­ly. It’s not dif­fi­cult to con­nect this to his past admi­ra­tion for author­i­tar­i­an lead­ers, and these com­ments are like­ly to give Democ­rats (and even some in the GOP estab­lish­ment) plen­ty of heart­burn. This is a demon­strat­ed pat­tern for him, for all the rea­sons list­ed at the top of this post.

    We’re a far cry from the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who decried Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s exec­u­tive orders, sug­gest­ing they were an indi­ca­tion of a weak leader who could­n’t bend Con­gress to his will. Trump is now admit­ting that he can’t bend Con­gress to his will, but he blames the sys­tem rather than him­self. Who knew gov­ern­ing was so tough, right?

    And it’s dif­fi­cult to over­state how sig­nif­i­cant it would be if he actu­al­ly went after the fil­i­buster. The 60-vote thresh­old for pass­ing leg­is­la­tion in the Sen­ate — which still exists for every­thing except pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions — is the last ves­tige of Demo­c­ra­t­ic pow­er in Wash­ing­ton and real­ly the only thing stand­ing in the way of the major­i­ty par­ty doing what­ev­er it wants. Get­ting rid of it com­plete­ly would change the face of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics for good and clear a major hur­dle for Trump in pass­ing his agen­da.

    ...

    Whether he tar­gets the fil­i­buster specif­i­cal­ly or not, his atti­tude toward his own pow­er is clear: The more, the bet­ter. He’s already got­ten a taste for rolling back the fil­i­buster, and after just 100 days of frus­tra­tion, he already wants more.

    “Whether this is just him blow­ing off steam or sig­nal­ing what lies ahead, it’s sig­nif­i­cant. Because it sug­gests a pres­i­dent, yet again, who does­n’t agree with his own pow­ers being lim­it­ed or even ques­tioned. Remem­ber when senior pol­i­cy advis­er Stephen Miller declared “the pow­ers of the pres­i­dent to pro­tect our coun­try are very sub­stan­tial and will not be ques­tioned?” This is more of that kind of atti­tude.”

    Pres­i­dent Erdo­gan Trump is frus­trat­ed that he can’t get what he wants. So now he wants more pow­er to get what he wants. Sur­prise. And what hap­pens when he does­n’t get it? We’ll find out.

    Over­all, while it’s pret­ty clear that Trump has­n’t has a suc­cess­ful “first 100 days” by tra­di­tion­al stan­dards, in terms of main­tain­ing the momen­tum towards that ter­ri­fy­ing goal that he appeared to be work­ing towards on the cam­paign trail — burn­ing down democ­ra­cy in a white nation­al­ist insur­rec­tion dri­ven by far-right dis­in­for­ma­tion and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that sug­gest the sys­tem today just can’t work because of a sub­ver­sion by minori­ties and ‘lib­er­al elites’ — it’s hard to say his first 100 days has­n’t been quite a suc­cess.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 29, 2017, 4:23 pm
  18. It looks like the Free­dom of the Press part of the 1st amend­ment of the US con­sti­tu­tion might be get­ting an amend­ment. It’ll now be the “Free­dom of the press to praise, and only praise, Trump” amend­ment to the amend­ment. Once the White House fig­ures out how to imple­ment it. And yes, they real­ly are look­ing into exact­ly that amend­ment. Which is won­der­ful news. Won­der­ful news from the great­est pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion ever. An admin­is­tra­tion run by a man who is total­ly not a wannabe dic­ta­tor but actu­al­ly a won­der­ful per­son. A won­der­ful per­son who is not remote­ly a Nazi at all:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Priebus: Trump Con­sid­er­ing Amend­ing or Abol­ish­ing 1st Amend­ment

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished April 30, 2017 3:41 pm

    A num­ber of press reports have picked up this exchange this morn­ing between ABC’s Jonathan Karl and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. But peo­ple have missed the real sig­nif­i­cance. Priebus doesn’t dis­cuss chang­ing ‘press laws’ or ‘libel laws’. He specif­i­cal­ly says that the White House has con­sid­ered and con­tin­ues to con­sid­er amend­ing or even abol­ish­ing the 1st Amend­ment because of crit­i­cal press cov­er­age of Pres­i­dent Trump.

    Sound hyper­bol­ic? Look at the actu­al exchange (empha­sis added) …

    KARL: I want to ask you about two things the Pres­i­dent has said on relat­ed issues. First of all, there was what he said about open­ing up the libel laws. Tweet­ing “the fail­ing New York Times has dis­graced the media world. Got­ten me wrong for two sol­id years. Change the libel laws?”

    PRIEBUS: I think it’s some­thing that we’ve looked at. How that gets exe­cut­ed or whether that goes any­where is a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. But when you have arti­cles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sit­ting here on 24/7 cable com­pa­nies writ­ing sto­ries about con­stant con­tacts with Rus­sia and all these oth­er mat­ters—

    KARL: So you think the Pres­i­dent should be able to sue the New York Times for sto­ries he doesn’t like?

    PRIEBUS: Here’s what I think. I think that news­pa­pers and news agen­cies need to be more respon­si­ble with how they report the news. I am so tired.

    KARL: I don’t think any­body would dis­agree with that. It’s about whether or not the Pres­i­dent should have a right to sue them.

    PRIEBUS: And I already answered the ques­tion. I said this is some­thing that is being looked at. But it’s some­thing that as far as how it gets exe­cut­ed, where we go with it, that’s anoth­er issue.

    Karl says, accu­rate­ly, that that kind of clam­p­down on 1st Amend­ment rights would require amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. Is that what Priebus means, Karl asks? Yes, it is, says Priebus.

    Now one might respond to this say­ing, ‘Okay, tech­ni­cal­ly that’s what he said. But he prob­a­bly doesn’t actu­al­ly mean it.’

    To which I think the answer is, sure maybe he doesn’t mean it but why would any­one assume that? He said it and repeat­ed it. The changes Pres­i­dent Trump wants are blocked by decades of decades of jurispru­dence which is lit­tle con­test­ed, unlike oth­er hot but­ton points of con­sti­tu­tion­al law. If you want what Trump wants, you have to amend the con­sti­tu­tion – and not the con­sti­tu­tion in gen­er­al but the 1st Amend­ment specif­i­cal­ly. Amend­ing the 1st Amend­ment to allow the head of state to sue peo­ple who say things he doesn’t like amounts to abol­ish­ing it.

    None of these are ten­u­ous con­nec­tions. Each link in the chain of rea­son­ing fol­lows log­i­cal­ly from the oth­er.

    This, need­less to say, should set off everyone’s alarm bells. If this isn’t real­ly what Priebus meant, he should be giv­en the chance to cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly dis­avow it. The plain mean­ing of the words, on the record, is that abridg­ing or abol­ish­ing the 1st Amend­ment is some­thing the Trump White House is cur­rent­ly con­sid­er­ing.

    ...

    “PRIEBUS: And I already answered the ques­tion. I said this is some­thing that is being looked at. But it’s some­thing that as far as how it gets exe­cut­ed, where we go with it, that’s anoth­er issue.”

    Best. Not-A-Wannabe-Dic­ta­tor. Ever. Thick­est. Skin. Ever. Too. Real­ly, the worst thing one can say about Pres­i­dent Trump is he over­whelms us with the myr­i­ad of pos­i­tive things to say about him. Most. Pos­i­tive. Options. Ever.

    Ok, if there’s one minor neg­a­tive thing you can say about the guy is that he’s kind of flighty, and just sort of jumps around from one spark­ly polit­i­cal object to the next, so it’s some­times hard to know how seri­ous he is about what he says. But in this case we can’t even lev­el that minor degree of neg­a­tive crit­i­cism, because Sean Spicer just dou­bled down on the notion that they’re seri­ous­ly look­ing at gut­ting the first amend­ment:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Livewire

    White House Dou­bles Down: Tar­get­ing Press With Libel Laws ‘Being Looked Into’

    By Matt Shuham
    Pub­lished May 1, 2017 3:05 pm

    The White House main­tained on Mon­day that it is look­ing into ways to cre­ate libel laws in order to sue pub­li­ca­tions that print unflat­ter­ing or untrue cov­er­age of the Pres­i­dent.

    ...

    White House spokesper­son Sean Spicer dou­bled down on Mon­day.

    “Is that a project that is cur­rent­ly being worked on by the counsel’s office?” the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush asked, refer­ring to Priebus’ state­ments. “Can you tell me the sta­tus of that? Who is pur­su­ing that?”

    “I think the chief of staff made it very clear that it’s some­thing that is being looked into, sub­stan­tive­ly and then both logis­ti­cal­ly, how it would hap­pen” Spicer said. “But that’s noth­ing new. It’s some­thing the Pres­i­dent talked about on the cam­paign trail.”

    “Is the coun­sel actu­al­ly—” Thrush attempt­ed.

    “I will not go into it,” Spicer said.

    Indeed, the Pres­i­dent often said dur­ing the Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and since, that he wished to change libel laws so that he would be able to sue for “pur­pose­ful­ly neg­a­tive, and hor­ri­ble and false arti­cles” and “hit pieces.”

    The Supreme Court has ruled that libel dam­ages can be award­ed to pub­lic offi­cials only as a result of “actu­al mal­ice.” Unin­ten­tion­al fac­tu­al inac­cu­ra­cies are pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment, as is speech crit­i­cal of of the Pres­i­dent.

    ““I think the chief of staff made it very clear that it’s some­thing that is being looked into, sub­stan­tive­ly and then both logis­ti­cal­ly, how it would hap­pen” Spicer said. “But that’s noth­ing new. It’s some­thing the Pres­i­dent talked about on the cam­paign trail.””

    Yep, they’re seri­ous­ly look­ing into this. This very pos­i­tive and very pres­i­den­tial idea that only some­one who is very con­fi­dent in their lead­er­ship skills and non-crim­i­nal nature would con­sid­er. Some­one who is def­i­nite­ly not a Nazi in the process of drop­ping the mask. Some­one like Mein Fuhrer Pres­i­dent Trump.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 1, 2017, 3:30 pm
  19. Death and tax­es. They’re inevitable, as the say­ing goes. And accord­ing to Yale his­to­ri­an Tim­o­thy Sny­der — author of the very top­i­cal On Tyran­ny: Twen­ty Lessons from the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry that’s come to become the ‘resis­tance man­i­festo’ in the Trump era — we can add a new inevitabil­i­ty to that short list of the inevitable: the inevitabil­i­ty that Trump will try to stage a coup and over­throw democ­ra­cy:

    Salon

    His­to­ri­an Tim­o­thy Sny­der: “It’s pret­ty much inevitable” that Trump will try to stage a coup and over­throw democ­ra­cy
    Yale his­to­ri­an and author of the new book “On Tyran­ny” says we may have one year left to save Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy VIDEO

    Chauncey DeVe­ga
    Mon­day, May 1, 2017 11:00 AM CST

    Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy is in cri­sis. The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump feels like a state of emer­gency made nor­mal.

    Trump has threat­ened vio­lence against his polit­i­cal ene­mies. He has made clear he does not believe in the norms and tra­di­tions of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy — unless they serve his inter­ests. Trump and his advis­ers con­sid­er a free press to be ene­mies of his regime. Trump repeat­ed­ly lies and has a pro­found­ly estranged rela­tion­ship with empir­i­cal real­i­ty. He uses obvi­ous and naked racism, nativism and big­otry to mobi­lize his vot­ers and to dis­par­age entire groups of peo­ple such as Lati­nos and Mus­lims.

    Trump is threat­en­ing to elim­i­nate an inde­pen­dent judi­cia­ry and wants to pun­ish judges who dare to stand against his ille­gal and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al man­dates. In what appears to be a vio­la­tion of the emol­u­ments clause of the Con­sti­tu­tion, Trump is using the office of the pres­i­den­cy to enrich him­self, his fam­i­ly and his inner cir­cle by ped­dling influ­ence and access to cor­po­ra­tions, for­eign coun­tries and wealthy indi­vid­u­als. Trump and his rep­re­sen­ta­tives also believe that he is above the law and can­not be pros­e­cut­ed for any crimes while in office.

    What can the Amer­i­can peo­ple do to resist Don­ald Trump? What lessons can his­to­ry teach about the rise of author­i­tar­i­an­ism and fas­cism and how democ­ra­cies col­lapse? Are there ways that indi­vid­u­als can fight back on a dai­ly basis and in their own per­son­al lives against the polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al forces that gave rise to Trump’s move­ment? How long does Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy have before the poi­son that Don­ald Trump and the Repub­li­can Par­ty inject­ed into the country’s body politic becomes lethal?

    In an effort to answer these ques­tions, I recent­ly spoke with Tim­o­thy Sny­der, a pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at Yale Uni­ver­si­ty. He is the award-win­ning author of numer­ous books includ­ing the recent “Black Earth:: The Holo­caust as His­to­ry and Warn­ing” and “Blood­lands: Europe Between Hitler and Stal­in.” Snyder’s new book, “On Tyran­ny: Twen­ty Lessons from the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry,” explores how the Amer­i­can peo­ple can fight back against Don­ald Trump’s incip­i­ent author­i­tar­i­an regime.

    ...

    The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump is a cri­sis for Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. How did this hap­pen?

    We asked for it by say­ing that his­to­ry was over in 1989 [with the end of the Cold War]. By say­ing that noth­ing bad could [ever] hap­pen again, we were basi­cal­ly invit­ing some­thing bad to hap­pen.

    Our sto­ry about how noth­ing could [ever] go wrong was a sto­ry about how human nature is the free mar­ket and the free mar­ket brings democ­ra­cy, so every­thing is hunky-dory — and of course every part of that sto­ry is non­sense. The Greeks under­stood that democ­ra­cy is like­ly to pro­duce oli­garchy because if you don’t have some mech­a­nism to get inequal­i­ty under con­trol then peo­ple with the most mon­ey will like­ly take full con­trol.

    With Trump, one sees the new vari­ant of this where a can­di­date can run by say­ing, “Look, we all know — wink, wink, nudge, nudge — that this isn’t real­ly a democ­ra­cy any­more.” He doesn’t use the words but basi­cal­ly says, “We all know this is real­ly an oli­garchy, so let me be your oli­garch.” Although it’s non­sense and of course he’s a con man and will betray every­one, it makes sense only in this cli­mate of inequal­i­ty.

    In my writ­ing and inter­views, I have con­sis­tent­ly referred to Don­ald Trump as a fas­cist. I have received a great deal of resis­tance to that claim. Do you think this descrip­tion is cor­rect? If not, then what lan­guage should we use to describe Don­ald Trump?

    One of the prob­lems with Amer­i­can dis­course is that we just assume every­body is a friend­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic par­lia­men­tar­i­an plu­ral­ist until proven oth­er­wise. And then even when it’s proven oth­er­wise we don’t have any vocab­u­lary for it. He’s a “dic­ta­tor.” He’s an “author­i­tar­i­an.” He’s “Hitler.” We just toss these words around.

    The push­back that you are talk­ing about is 95 per­cent bad. Amer­i­cans do not want to think that there is an alter­na­tive to what we have. There­fore, as soon as you say “fas­cism” or what­ev­er it might be, then the Amer­i­can response is to say “no” because we lack the cat­e­gories that allow us to think out­side of the box that we are no longer in.

    Is this a func­tion of Amer­i­can excep­tion­al­ism?

    Yes, it is. We made a move towards intel­lec­tu­al iso­la­tion­ism in a world where no kind of iso­la­tion­ism is pos­si­ble. The fact that democ­ra­cies usu­al­ly fail is a rule which can’t apply to us. If you exam­ine Amer­i­can soci­ety, there are high points and low points. But there is cer­tain­ly noth­ing which puts us in a dif­fer­ent cat­e­go­ry than oth­er peo­ple who have failed, whether it’s his­tor­i­cal­ly or whether it’s now.

    I don’t want to dodge your ques­tion about whether Trump is a fas­cist or not. As I see it, there are cer­tain­ly ele­ments of his approach which are fascis­tic. The straight-on con­fronta­tion with the truth is at the cen­ter of the fas­cist world­view. The attempt to undo the Enlight­en­ment as a way to undo insti­tu­tions, that is fas­cism.

    Whether he real­izes it or not is a dif­fer­ent ques­tion, but that’s what fas­cists did. They said, “Don’t wor­ry about the facts; don’t wor­ry about log­ic. Think instead in terms of mys­ti­cal uni­ties and direct con­nec­tions between the mys­ti­cal leader and the peo­ple.” That’s fas­cism. Whether we see it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we for­get, that is fas­cism.

    Anoth­er thing that’s clear­ly fas­cist about Trump were the ral­lies. The way that he used the lan­guage, the blunt rep­e­ti­tions, the nam­ing of the ene­mies, the phys­i­cal removal of oppo­nents from ral­lies, that was real­ly, with­out exag­ger­a­tion, just like the 1920s and the 1930s.

    And Mr. [Steve] Bannon’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the 1930s and his kind of wish­ful recla­ma­tion of Ital­ian and oth­er fas­cists speaks for itself.

    How did the news media and oth­ers get this so wrong? Why did they under­es­ti­mate the threat posed by Don­ald Trump and his move­ment?

    What we end­ed up with, from Bill Clin­ton onward, is a sta­tus quo par­ty and an “undo the sys­tem” par­ty, where the Democ­rats became the sta­tus quo par­ty and the Repub­li­cans became the “undo the sys­tem” par­ty. In that con­stel­la­tion it’s very hard to think of change because one par­ty is in favor of things being the way they are, just slight­ly bet­ter, and the oth­er par­ty has this big idea of undo­ing every­thing, although it’s unclear what that real­ly means in prac­tice. So no one is actu­al­ly artic­u­lat­ing how you address the prob­lems of the day, the great­est of which would be inequal­i­ty. When nei­ther par­ty is cre­ative, then it’s hard for schol­ars to get their ideas into mean­ing­ful cir­cu­la­tion.

    Why is Trump not being held account­able for all of his fail­ures, scan­dals and incom­pe­tence?

    Mr. Trump is pri­mar­i­ly a tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ty. As such, he is judged by that stan­dard. This means that a scan­dal does not call forth a response; it calls forth the desire for a big­ger scan­dal. It just whets the appetite for a big­ger scan­dal because a tele­vi­sion ser­i­al has to work on that log­ic. It’s almost as though he has to pro­duce these out­ra­geous things because what else would he be doing?

    I think anoth­er part of it has to do with atten­tion span. It’s not so much a lack of out­rage; peo­ple are in fact out­raged. But in order for a scan­dal to have polit­i­cal log­ic, the out­rage has to be fol­lowed by the research. It has to be fol­lowed by the inves­ti­ga­tion. It has to be fol­lowed by an offi­cial find­ing.

    In your book you dis­cuss the idea that Don­ald Trump will have his own ver­sion of Hitler’s Reich­stag fire to expand his pow­er and take full con­trol of the gov­ern­ment by declar­ing a state of emer­gency. How do you think that would play out?

    Let me make just two points. The first is that I think it’s pret­ty much inevitable that they will try. The rea­son I think that is that the con­ven­tion­al ways of being pop­u­lar are not work­ing out for them. The con­ven­tion­al way to be pop­u­lar or to be legit­i­mate in this coun­try is to have some poli­cies, to grow your pop­u­lar­i­ty rat­ings and to win some elec­tions. I don’t think 2018 is look­ing very good for the Repub­li­cans along those con­ven­tion­al lines — not just because the pres­i­dent is his­tor­i­cal­ly unpop­u­lar. It’s also because nei­ther the White House nor Con­gress have any poli­cies which the major­i­ty of the pub­lic like.

    This means they could be seduced by the notion of get­ting into a new rhythm of pol­i­tics, one that does not depend upon pop­u­lar poli­cies and elec­toral cycles.

    Whether it works or not depends upon whether when some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pens to this coun­try, we are aware that the main sig­nif­i­cance of it is whether or not we are going to be more or less free cit­i­zens in the future.

    My gut feel­ing is that Trump and his admin­is­tra­tion will try and that it won’t work. Not so much because we are so great but because we have a lit­tle bit of time to pre­pare. I also think that there are enough peo­ple and enough agen­cies of the gov­ern­ment who have also thought about this and would not nec­es­sar­i­ly go along.

    What can cit­i­zens do? What would your call to action be?

    The whole point of my new book, “On Tyran­ny: Twen­ty Lessons from the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry,” is that we have a cen­tu­ry of wis­dom and very smart peo­ple who con­front­ed sit­u­a­tions like our own — but usu­al­ly more demand­ing — and that wis­dom can be con­densed.

    What my book does is it goes across the arc of regime change, from the begin­ning to the end, and it pro­vides things rang­ing from sim­pler to hard­er that peo­ple can lit­er­al­ly do every day.

    The thing that mat­ters the most is to real­ize that in moments like this your actions real­ly do mat­ter. It is iron­ic but in an author­i­tar­i­an regime-change sit­u­a­tion, the indi­vid­ual mat­ters more than [in] a democ­ra­cy. In an author­i­tar­i­an regime change, at the begin­ning the indi­vid­ual has a spe­cial kind of pow­er because the author­i­tar­i­an regime depends on a cer­tain kind of con­sent. Which means that if you are con­scious of the moment that you are in, you can find the ways not to express your con­sent and you can also find the lit­tle ways to be a bar­ri­er. If enough peo­ple do that, it real­ly can make a dif­fer­ence — but again only at the begin­ning.

    What are some of the more dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing things that peo­ple can do?

    The last les­son in “On Tyran­ny” is to be as coura­geous as you can. Do you actu­al­ly care enough about free­dom that you would take risks? Do indi­vid­u­als actu­al­ly care about free­dom? Think that through. I think if enough of us take the lit­tle risks at the begin­ning, which aren’t real­ly that sig­nif­i­cant, this will pre­vent us from hav­ing to take big­ger risks down the line.

    We are still at a stage where protest is not ille­gal. We’re still at a stage where protest is not lethal. Those are the two big thresh­olds. We are still on the good side of both of those thresh­olds and so now is the time you want to pack in as much as you can because you could actu­al­ly divert things. Once you get into a world where protest is ille­gal, then the things that I rec­om­mend like cor­po­re­al pol­i­tics, get­ting out on the streets — they have to hap­pen but they are much riski­er. It’s a much dif­fer­ent kind of deci­sion.

    How much time does Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy have left before this poi­son becomes lethal and there is no path of return?

    You have to accept there is a time frame. Nobody can be sure how long this par­tic­u­lar regime change with Trump will take, but there is a clock, and the clock real­ly is tick­ing. It’s three years on the out­side, but in more like­li­hood some­thing like a year. In Jan­u­ary 2018 we will prob­a­bly have a pret­ty good idea which way this thing is going. It’s going to depend more on us than on them in the mean­time. Once you get past a cer­tain thresh­old, it starts to depend more on them than on us, and then things are much, much worse. It makes me sad to think how Amer­i­cans would behave at that point.

    Then Trump and his forces have the momen­tum because again we the Amer­i­can peo­ple are up against the clock.

    I hate to sound like a self-help per­son but I’m going to. Every day you don’t do some­thing, it makes it less like­ly that you will ever do some­thing. So you’ve got to get start­ed right away. “On Tyran­ny” is a sug­ges­tion of things that every­one can do. There are plen­ty of oth­er great ideas from peo­ple com­ing from oth­er tra­di­tions, but the basic thing is you have to change your pro­to­col of dai­ly behav­ior now.

    Don’t obey in advance because you have to start by ori­ent­ing your­self against the gen­er­al drift of things. If you can man­age that, then the oth­er lessons — such as sup­port­ing exist­ing polit­i­cal and social insti­tu­tions, sup­port­ing the truth and so on — those things will then come rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly if you can fol­low the first one, which is to get out of the drift, to rec­og­nize that this is the moment where you have to not behave as you did in Octo­ber 2016. You have to set your own habits now.

    “Let me make just two points. The first is that I think it’s pret­ty much inevitable that they will try. The rea­son I think that is that the con­ven­tion­al ways of being pop­u­lar are not work­ing out for them. The con­ven­tion­al way to be pop­u­lar or to be legit­i­mate in this coun­try is to have some poli­cies, to grow your pop­u­lar­i­ty rat­ings and to win some elec­tions. I don’t think 2018 is look­ing very good for the Repub­li­cans along those con­ven­tion­al lines — not just because the pres­i­dent is his­tor­i­cal­ly unpop­u­lar. It’s also because nei­ther the White House nor Con­gress have any poli­cies which the major­i­ty of the pub­lic like.”

    The way Sny­der sees it, the pri­ma­ry dri­ving force that prompts the Trump crew and GOP to attempt a coup could be unpop­u­lar­i­ty. Unpop­u­lar­i­ty with Trump but also unpop­u­lar­i­ty with the whole Trump/GOP agen­da. Uh oh. Although all the oth­er signs of fas­cism are a pret­ty big hints of what’s com­ing too:

    ...
    I don’t want to dodge your ques­tion about whether Trump is a fas­cist or not. As I see it, there are cer­tain­ly ele­ments of his approach which are fascis­tic. The straight-on con­fronta­tion with the truth is at the cen­ter of the fas­cist world­view. The attempt to undo the Enlight­en­ment as a way to undo insti­tu­tions, that is fas­cism.

    Whether he real­izes it or not is a dif­fer­ent ques­tion, but that’s what fas­cists did. They said, “Don’t wor­ry about the facts; don’t wor­ry about log­ic. Think instead in terms of mys­ti­cal uni­ties and direct con­nec­tions between the mys­ti­cal leader and the peo­ple.” That’s fas­cism. Whether we see it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we for­get, that is fas­cism.

    Anoth­er thing that’s clear­ly fas­cist about Trump were the ral­lies. The way that he used the lan­guage, the blunt rep­e­ti­tions, the nam­ing of the ene­mies, the phys­i­cal removal of oppo­nents from ral­lies, that was real­ly, with­out exag­ger­a­tion, just like the 1920s and the 1930s.

    And Mr. [Steve] Bannon’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the 1930s and his kind of wish­ful recla­ma­tion of Ital­ian and oth­er fas­cists speaks for itself.
    ...

    “And Mr. [Steve] Bannon’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the 1930s and his kind of wish­ful recla­ma­tion of Ital­ian and oth­er fas­cists speaks for itself.”

    Yes, Steve Ban­non’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with Ital­ian and oth­er fas­cists does indeed speak for itself. Or rather, shouts for itself, “let’s have a coup!”

    So unless Trump and his agen­da sud­den­ly becomes pop­u­lar, we should expect a coup attempt to be one of the stops on the way to the bot­tom of the polls. Of course, if he does sud­den­ly become pop­u­lar we’re going to get all the fas­cist poli­cies any­way, just maybe with­out a for­mal coup. And who knows, pop­u­lar Trump might be even more like­ly to try a coup. Maybe his his­tor­i­cal­ly low lev­els of sup­port are the only thing sav­ing us at this point. That’s the kind of sit­u­a­tion we’ve cre­at­ed for our­selves in the US: prob­a­bly damned if you do sup­port Trump and prob­a­bly damned if you don’t.

    Death, tax­es, and a Trump coup attempt. Life’s three inevitabil­i­ties. Although if Trump does man­age to get his unpop­u­lar tax reform pack­age passed which elim­i­nat­ed the Alter­na­tive Min­i­mum Tax we can prob­a­bly remove “tax­es” from the list of inevitabil­i­ties. But only for Trump and oth­er real­ly, real­ly rich peo­ple.

    So death, tax­es, and a Trump coup are inevitable for the mass­es, but it’s just death and a hope­ful coup attempt for ultra-wealthy. Even life’s inevitabil­i­ties are unequal now. It’s one of the perks that comes with elect­ing a bla­tant fas­cist.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2017, 8:03 pm
  20. Ok, so assum­ing Don­ald Trump isn’t exe­cut­ing some sort of mas­sive pre­med­i­tat­ed trap where he drops all sorts of clues point­ing towards Russ­ian col­lu­sion inten­tion­al­ly because he’s con­fi­dent it won’t pan out, is he instead tak­ing a dive and try­ing to get removed from office? To make way for Pres­i­dent Pence or some­thing? It’s a ques­tion worth con­sid­er­ing now that he’s pub­licly admit­ting what amounts to obstruc­tion of jus­tice:

    CNN

    Trump threat­ens Comey in Twit­ter out­burst

    By Eugene Scott, CNN

    Updat­ed 3:33 PM ET, Fri May 12, 2017

    (CNN)President Don­ald Trump issued a thin­ly veiled threat Fri­day to fired FBI Direc­tor James Comey, appar­ent­ly sug­gest­ing there are pos­si­bly record­ed con­ver­sa­tions between the two men that could be leaked to counter the for­mer FBI direc­tor if nec­es­sary.

    “James Comey bet­ter hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our con­ver­sa­tions before he starts leak­ing to the press,” Trump tweet­ed.

    ...

    James Comey bet­ter hope that there are no “tapes” of our con­ver­sa­tions before he starts leak­ing to the press!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017

    White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said at an after­noon brief­ing that Trump’s warn­ing was “not a threat,” adding, “The Pres­i­dent has noth­ing fur­ther to say on that.”

    ...

    Asked whether Trump was record­ing con­ver­sa­tions in the White House, Spicer repeat­ed his state­ment that Trump had noth­ing fur­ther to add.

    Comey is “not wor­ried about any tapes” of con­ver­sa­tions between him and Trump, a source famil­iar with the mat­ter told CNN on Fri­day, adding that “if there is a tape, there’s noth­ing he is wor­ried about” that could be on it.

    Demo­c­ra­t­ic Reps. Eli­jah Cum­mings and John Cony­ers, the respec­tive rank­ing mem­bers of the House over­sight and judi­cia­ry com­mit­tees, request­ed from White House coun­sel Don­ald McGahn copies of all record­ings between Trump and Comey.

    “It is a crime to intim­i­date or threat­en any poten­tial wit­ness with the intent to influ­ence, delay, or pre­vent their offi­cial tes­ti­mo­ny,” the two wrote in a let­ter. “The Pres­i­den­t’s actions this morn­ing — as well as his admis­sion yes­ter­day on nation­al tele­vi­sion that he fired Direc­tor Comey because he was inves­ti­gat­ing Trump cam­paign offi­cials and their con­nec­tions to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment — raise the specter of pos­si­ble intim­i­da­tion and obstruc­tion of jus­tice. The Pres­i­den­t’s actions also risk under­min­ing the ongo­ing crim­i­nal and counter-intel­li­gence inves­ti­ga­tions and the inde­pen­dence of fed­er­al law enforce­ment agen­cies.”

    Clap­per: There could be evi­dence

    Soon after tweet­ing the threat to Comey, Trump invoked for­mer Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence James Clap­per, who tes­ti­fied before the Sen­ate ear­li­er this week that he was not aware of any evi­dence demon­strat­ing col­lu­sion between Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia.

    “When James Clap­per him­self, and vir­tu­al­ly every­one else with knowl­edge of the witch hunt, says there is no col­lu­sion, when does it end?” Trump tweet­ed.

    When James Clap­per him­self, and vir­tu­al­ly every­one else with knowl­edge of the witch hunt, says there is no col­lu­sion, when does it end?— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017

    Clap­per, how­ev­er, qual­i­fied his tes­ti­mo­ny by say­ing he had been unaware of an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter until Comey announced it to the pub­lic at a House hear­ing in March. It’s also unclear how much Clap­per would know about devel­op­ments in the inves­ti­ga­tion after he left office ear­li­er this year.

    And speak­ing on MSNBC ear­ly Fri­day after­noon, Clap­per would only say that the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty lacked enough evi­dence to issue an assess­ment that rep­re­sent­ed a con­sen­sus of all the US intel­li­gence agen­cies.

    “That’s not to say there was­n’t evi­dence, but not that met that thresh­old,” Clap­per said.

    “And you’re not attempt­ing to clear or con­vict any­one of col­lu­sion, it is just out of your scope?” MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked.

    “That’s cor­rect,” Clap­per replied.

    He added: “It would be in every­one’s best inter­est to get to the bot­tom of this. And for the coun­try. Oth­er­wise, this is going to con­tin­ue to linger as a dark cloud, in my opin­ion, over this admin­is­tra­tion.”

    It’s not unheard of for pres­i­dents to record con­ver­sa­tions, using dif­fer­ent sys­tems to do so, with and with­out par­tic­i­pants’ knowl­edge. Six pres­i­dents secret­ly record­ed meet­ings and tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions between 1940 and 1973, accord­ing to his­to­ri­an and CNN con­trib­u­tor Julian Zeliz­er.

    John Dean, a for­mer White House coun­sel under Nixon who served four months in prison for his role in the Water­gate scan­dal, said it would be Trump, not Comey, with the most to lose were record­ings of the two men to sur­face.

    “Obvi­ous­ly, Pres­i­dent Trump is con­fused. He is the one who must hope there are no tapes. Hon­est peo­ple don’t have prob­lems being taped,” Dean tweet­ed.

    Trump’s rea­son­ing behind fir­ing Comey

    The ini­tial, offi­cial White House ver­sion of how Comey came to be fired was that deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein, fresh on the job, wrote a memo express­ing con­cern about the way Comey had han­dled the Hillary Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But mount­ing evi­dence sug­gests Comey was actu­al­ly fired because of the Rus­sia probe.

    Sources have told CNN that Trump’s deci­sion to ax Comey was made after he grew increas­ing­ly frus­trat­ed with him fol­low­ing a con­gres­sion­al hear­ing last week in which he said he was “mild­ly nau­seous” over the idea that he helped sway the 2016 elec­tion. A source close to Comey told CNN’s Jake Tap­per Wednes­day there are two spe­cif­ic rea­sons why Trump fired the FBI direc­tor:

    1. Comey nev­er pro­vid­ed the Pres­i­dent with any assur­ance of per­son­al loy­al­ty.

    2. The FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble Trump team col­lu­sion with Rus­sia in the 2016 elec­tion was accel­er­at­ing.

    Trump’s sur­ro­gates, includ­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, have strug­gled to keep up with the shift­ing nar­ra­tive on how and why the deci­sion was made, and Trump tweet­ed Fri­day it was “not pos­si­ble” for his team to recount details and talk­ing points with “per­fect accu­ra­cy.”

    On Thurs­day, Trump, dis­cussing the fir­ing of Comey, told NBC News that he was frus­trat­ed by the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion and believed it was moti­vat­ed by Democ­rats’ fury at los­ing the elec­tion.

    Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt: “And in fact when I decid­ed to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Rus­sia thing with Trump and Rus­sia is a made-up sto­ry, it’s an excuse by the Democ­rats for hav­ing lost an elec­tion that they should have won.’ ”

    Comey has not yet respond­ed to the Sen­ate intel­li­gence com­mit­tee’s invi­ta­tion to tes­ti­fy in closed ses­sion next week, Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can spokesper­sons for the com­mit­tee told CNN Fri­day.

    Trump threat­ens press

    Comey was not Trump’s only tar­get of an appar­ent threat Fri­day — he also sug­gest­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of end­ing White House press brief­in­gs.

    “As a very active Pres­i­dent with lots of things hap­pen­ing, it is not pos­si­ble for my sur­ro­gates to stand at podi­um with per­fect accu­ra­cy!” Trump tweet­ed. “Maybe the best thing to do would be to can­cel all future “press brief­in­gs” and hand out writ­ten respons­es for the sake of accu­ra­cy???”

    Deputy White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee Sanders faced back­lash from the press Thurs­day dur­ing her brief­ing after her com­ments on the Comey time­line con­flict­ed with Trump’s remarks to NBC.

    “Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt: “And in fact when I decid­ed to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Rus­sia thing with Trump and Rus­sia is a made-up sto­ry, it’s an excuse by the Democ­rats for hav­ing lost an elec­tion that they should have won.’ ””

    Ok, let’s see. So in the last 24 hours Trump...
    1. Admit­ted that his fir­ing of Comey amounts of obstruc­tion of jus­tice on TV regard­ing the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion by say­ing, “And in fact when I decid­ed to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Rus­sia thing with Trump and Rus­sia is a made-up sto­ry, it’s an excuse by the Democ­rats for hav­ing lost an elec­tion that they should have won.’ ”.

    2. Tweet­ed a threat to James Comey about “bet­ter hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our con­ver­sa­tions before he starts leak­ing to the press”. That’s not exact­ly legal.

    3. Threat­ened to end press con­fer­ences.

    Any­thing else? Oh yeah...

    4. By tweet­ing that threat, Trump strong­ly sug­gest­ed that there is indeed tapes of their con­ver­sa­tions (and who knows how many oth­er con­ver­sa­tions).

    5. By total­ly con­tra­dict­ing the ini­tial­ly sto­ry of his jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for fir­ing Comey, Trump strong­ly but­tressed the grow­ing sus­pi­cions that he’s a patho­log­i­cal liar who can’t be trust­ed.

    Yep, now we’re in open obstruc­tion of jus­tice ter­ri­to­ry. Obstruc­tion of jus­tice by a patho­log­i­cal liar. Uh oh. And that means that even if the Trump team was set­ting of the Russ­ian ties as some sort of pre-planned ‘gotcha’ trap to dis­tract from all the rest of his scan­dals he’s still open­ly com­mit­ting poten­tial crimes that are crimes regard­less of whether or not he was set­ting a trap. So, again, is he try­ing to get impeached at this point?

    And that’s all the stuff that Trump did to him­self in the last day. It does­n’t even include all the oth­er incrim­i­nat­ing reports. Like how Trump report­ed­ly asked James Comey for a loy­al­ty pledge

    ABC News

    Trump asked ex-FBI Direc­tor James Comey for loy­al­ty at a recent din­ner, sources say

    By Pierre Thomas
    Jack Date
    GENEVA SANDS

    May 12, 2017, 2:51 PM ET

    Pres­i­dent Trump asked for­mer FBI Direc­tor James Comey more than once about whether he could be loy­al over the course of a din­ner meet­ing, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the meet­ing.

    Comey, who was fired from his high-rank­ing posi­tion Tues­day evening, only promised that he could be hon­est, the sources told ABC News.

    The now-for­mer direc­tor’s dra­mat­ic fir­ing ear­li­er this week has led to days of con­tro­ver­sy and crit­i­cism about the future of the bureau and the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between the White House and Rus­sia dur­ing the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    The New York Times first report­ed on the din­ner, say­ing that sev­en days after Trump was sworn in as pres­i­dent Jan. 20, Comey was sum­moned to the “White House for a one-on-one din­ner with the new com­man­der in chief.”

    In his let­ter announc­ing Comey’s ter­mi­na­tion, Trump wrote that that he “great­ly appre­ci­at­ed” Comey’s inform­ing him on “three sep­a­rate occa­sions, that I am not under inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    White House Deputy Press Sec­re­tary Sarah Sanders reit­er­at­ed Thurs­day the pres­i­den­t’s claim in his let­ter to Comey, despite denials from asso­ciates of the for­mer FBI direc­tor, that he was reas­sured by Comey that he was not under inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “I have heard that direct­ly from him that infor­ma­tion was relayed direct­ly to him from direc­tor Comey,” Sanders said dur­ing the press brief­ing, not­ing that she got her infor­ma­tion direct­ly from the pres­i­dent.

    ...

    “Pres­i­dent Trump asked for­mer FBI Direc­tor James Comey more than once about whether he could be loy­al over the course of a din­ner meet­ing, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the meet­ing.”

    Loy­al­ty oaths for the FBI direc­tor. Because that [Like a fas­cist dic­ta­tor] how Trump rolls! And who knows how many oth­er peo­ple got asked to take one of these oaths.

    That’s the sit­u­a­tion. We have Trump seem­ing­ly open­ly invit­ing a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis that’s tar­get­ed at the rule of law itself. Does Trump have the pow­er to shut down DOJ inves­ti­ga­tions he does­n’t like? He sure thinks so. And does so. It’s a cri­sis. A cri­sis that he appears to be open­ly fuel­ing each day.

    So is he tak­ing a ‘dive’ to make way for Pres­i­dent Mike Pence? Is that what we’re see­ing here? Well, if so, he’s going to have to get much, much more open­ly dic­ta­to­r­i­al. Because it does­n’t look like GOP vot­ers care about any of this very much:

    Vox

    Repub­li­can vot­ers don’t seem to care about Comey’s fir­ing

    Updat­ed by Tara Gol­shan
    May 12, 2017, 1:40pm EDT

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s deci­sion to fire FBI Direc­tor James Comey has been dis­cussed in the press as the mod­ern-day Water­gate scan­dal, height­en­ing pres­sure for an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s alleged ties with the Trump cam­paign.

    The first polls to ask about Comey’s dis­missal shows pub­lic opin­ion isn’t great for Trump. But if there’s good news for him, it’s that the fir­ing is — at least so far — falling along par­ty lines. Recent polls from Huff­in­g­ton Post, Politi­co, and NBC all reached the same con­clu­sion: that Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans are divid­ed on the Comey dis­missal on par­ty lines, with inde­pen­dents lin­ing up slight­ly more with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic point of view.

    Ini­tial news for Trump looked bad: NBC’s polling found the major­i­ty — 54 per­cent — of Amer­i­cans found Trump’s move to be inap­pro­pri­ate. But look­ing deep­er into those num­bers unearths more par­ti­san reac­tions. That same poll found that a strong major­i­ty was among Demo­c­ra­t­ic or Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing vot­ers; 79 per­cent of Repub­li­cans thought it was fine. In con­trast, 84 per­cent of Democ­rats found the deci­sion to be “inap­pro­pri­ate.” The poll found 61 per­cent of inde­pen­dent vot­ers found the fir­ing to be inap­pro­pri­ate as well.

    Politico’s polling found Amer­i­can vot­ers over­all were even more divid­ed. Thir­ty-five per­cent said Trump was right to remove Comey, and almost the same share of vot­ers said Trump should have kept Comey (33 per­cent) as were unde­cid­ed or didn’t know (32 per­cent).

    The rea­sons for Trump’s fir­ing has also become a par­ti­san issue. The offi­cial line from the White House is that Comey was fired because of his han­dling of the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion — a plu­ral­i­ty of NBC’s polled Repub­li­cans (43 per­cent) say is the cause. But just a quar­ter of the total sur­veyed think this is the rea­son, with 46 per­cent say­ing Comey was fired because of the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. A large major­i­ty of Democ­rats agree with this nar­ra­tive, with 67 per­cent say­ing this is why Comey was fired.

    These results fur­ther enforce just how polar­ized the nation has become, even with an extreme­ly unortho­dox pres­i­den­cy and admin­is­tra­tion that is cur­rent­ly under inves­ti­ga­tion for pos­si­ble ties with for­eign actors, has repeat­ed­ly chal­lenged ethics rules, and mis­led the pub­lic.

    Repub­li­cans are brush­ing this off

    News of Comey’s fir­ing cer­tain­ly cre­at­ed some divi­sions among Repub­li­can politi­cians, who have expressed con­cern with Trump’s deci­sion to fire a man cur­rent­ly inves­ti­gat­ing the admin­is­tra­tion. But over­whelm­ing­ly, the GOP’s lead­er­ship and rank­ing Repub­li­cans have stayed in line with the admin­is­tra­tion.

    Repub­li­can lead­er­ship has toed the White House’s line on Comey’s dis­missal.

    Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell said he sees no need for a new inves­ti­ga­tion, and that a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor would only slow down the progress already being made by Con­gress and the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. House Speak­er Paul Ryan said the same.

    Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, the Repub­li­can chair of the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee that is cur­rent­ly con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s influ­ence on the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, went so far to advise those who are com­par­ing Trump’s abrupt fir­ing of James Comey from the FBI and Water­gate, to “suck it up and move on.”

    Repub­li­can vot­ers appear to be over­whelm­ing­ly fol­low­ing suit on this spe­cif­ic instance.

    ...

    “Ini­tial news for Trump looked bad: NBC’s polling found the major­i­ty — 54 per­cent — of Amer­i­cans found Trump’s move to be inap­pro­pri­ate. But look­ing deep­er into those num­bers unearths more par­ti­san reac­tions. That same poll found that a strong major­i­ty was among Demo­c­ra­t­ic or Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing vot­ers; 79 per­cent of Repub­li­cans thought it was fine. In con­trast, 84 per­cent of Democ­rats found the deci­sion to be “inap­pro­pri­ate.” The poll found 61 per­cent of inde­pen­dent vot­ers found the fir­ing to be inap­pro­pri­ate as well.”

    Both GOP lead­ers and vot­ers appear to be total­ly cool with all this. And as long as that’s the case it’s hard to see what Trump is going to stop behav­ing in this open­ly crim­i­nal man­ner. So if he’s tak­ing a dive he’s appar­ent­ly going to have to go much, much low­er. Which rais­es a incred­i­bly dark pos­si­bil­i­ty: If Trump is tak­ing a dive, is that dive going to take the form of try­ing to stoke a civ­il con­flict? A con­flict that’s basi­cal­ly a fight over Trump? Actions speak loud­er than words, but if you lis­ten to the words Trump has been using late­ly it hints towards to very dark actions:

    Truth Out

    Trump’s Remark on Andrew Jack­son Was a Dog Whis­tle for White Nation­al­ists
    Alexan­der Reid Ross
    Wednes­day, May 10, 2017 By

    Trump’s recent wist­ful remark that if Andrew Jack­son had “been a lit­tle bit lat­er, you would­n’t have had the Civ­il War” offered yet fur­ther proof of how strong­ly con­tem­po­rary white nation­al­ist nar­ra­tives con­tin­ue to shape the pres­i­den­t’s views of the world.

    A favorite of white nation­al­ist web forums like Storm­front and 4chan’s /pol/, Andrew Jack­son is described in these fora as a thrilling mil­i­tary vic­tor of the white race. Jack­son set up a lega­cy for the expan­sion of the US and the slave-own­ing South. He stopped nul­li­fi­ca­tion by threat­en­ing to hang any­one in South Car­oli­na who orga­nized in sup­port of it, and he left a pre­car­i­ous econ­o­my that bot­tomed out two months after his suc­ces­sor, Mar­tin Van Buren, took office. When Van Buren reject­ed Tex­as­’s admis­sion to the Union to avoid upset­ting the bal­ance between slave states and non-slave states, Jack­son with­drew his sup­port for Van Buren in favor of James Polk, a slave-hold­ing pres­i­dent whose sup­port for the annex­a­tion of Texas strength­ened the hand of slave­hold­ing states in the South. The con­tin­ued expan­sion of the slave-hold­ing ter­ri­to­ries in sub­se­quent pres­i­den­cies would set the stage for the Civ­il War.

    One white nation­al­ist 4chan con­trib­u­tor glow­ing­ly describes Polk as “one of Andrew Jack­son’s clos­est sup­port­ers” who “cucked Hen­ry Clay out of the Pres­i­den­cy.”

    Mean­while, the Trump-sup­port­ing anti-immi­grant web­site VDARE inducts its $20 per month donors into the Andrew Jack­son Donor Cir­cle, and the “alt-right” pod­cast, “The Right Stuff,” which sup­port­ed Trump’s can­di­da­cy, insist­ed last year that replac­ing Jack­son’s face on the twen­ty-dol­lar bill with that of Har­ri­et Tub­man “is the replace­ment of White Amer­i­ca with the mul­tira­cial Amer­i­ca that has been forced upon us.”

    In accor­dance with this broad­er white nation­al­ist rev­er­ence for Jack­son, Trump has always sought to present him­self as a kind of vision­ary Jack­son­ian. He even made a show of vis­it­ing Jack­son’s grave and hang­ing a por­trait of “Old Hick­o­ry” (one of Jack­son’s nick­names) in the White House.

    Many of Trump’s actions as pres­i­dent also betray a res­o­nance with the actions of Jack­son. Jack­son was infa­mous for his back­hand­ed words regard­ing the Supreme Court’s deci­sion to defend the Chero­kee’s right of place: Say­ing “let them enforce it,” Jack­son used the pow­ers of the exec­u­tive to con­tra­vene the checks and bal­ances of the con­sti­tu­tion­al sys­tem and dis­place the Chero­kee, Choctaw, Chick­a­saw, Musco­gee and Semi­nole. The ensu­ing “Trail of Tears” that dec­i­mat­ed the pop­u­la­tion of the Chero­kee by upward of a third came to mark the pol­i­cy of “Indi­an Removal” and Jack­son’s pres­i­den­cy. Trump has echoed this sort of uni­lat­er­al provo­ca­tion in his own immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy pro­pos­als and more recent­ly in his May 2 tweet stat­ing “our coun­try needs a good ‘shut­down’ in Sep­tem­ber to fix mess!”

    A Sec­ond Civ­il War?

    The fact that Trump’s com­ments about Andrew Jack­son stop­ping the Civ­il War came at a time when his sup­port­ers start­ed declar­ing a “sec­ond Civ­il War” amid vio­lent con­fronta­tions with antifas­cist pro­tes­tors is cru­cial. Few things evoke more sen­ti­ment for the neo-Con­fed­er­ates, pan-seces­sion­ists and eth­no-sep­a­ratists of the far right than the notion of a “sec­ond Civ­il War.”

    The noto­ri­ous fas­cist William Pierce was the first to open­ly call for a “sec­ond Civ­il War” with the aim of re-estab­lish­ing a “white nation.” This aspi­ra­tion is embraced by much of the “alt-right” and is appar­ent in tweets such as these:

    Or a sec­ond Civ­il War. That’s what Dr. Pierce rec­om­mend­ed, any­way. https://t.co/Tv5CIZQFJJ— Shadi­lay­For­ev­er ???? (@ShadilayForever) April 25, 2017

    White #Nation­al­ists,Your vig­i­lance will be sought to quash and expunge the Com­mu­nist #antiFa in the forth­com­ing U.S. Sec­ond Civ­il War…#WN https://t.co/1zGoSwks7z— Neti­zen Nick­ster (@NetizenNickster) April 27, 2017

    Mem­bers of the “alt-right” fre­quent­ly pro­mote the notion of a sec­ond Civ­il War. Many, for exam­ple, tweet­ed out an arti­cle by con­ser­v­a­tive colum­nist Den­nis Prager that was repost­ed on the web­site of Amer­i­can Renais­sance, a white nation­al­ist group. The arti­cle envi­sions a civ­il war between the left and the rest of the US over free­dom of speech.

    Trump sup­port­ers have been quick to fol­low the lead of the “alt-right,” sug­gest­ing that the sec­ond Civ­il War is already here:

    The Sec­ond Civ­il War has begun. They could­n’t take away our guns , so they are attempt­ing to take away our voic­es. Stand up, not shut up!— R. Wolfe (@WhoWolfe) April 28, 2017

    The sec­ond civ­il war might be brief. pic.twitter.com/2yEZdWd0I1— Edu­cat­ing Lib­er­als (@Education4Libs) May 1, 2017

    ...

    Jack­son’s Fas­cist Lega­cy

    Fas­cists in the US have long iden­ti­fied Jack­son’s lega­cy with their iden­ti­ty as a defeat­ed and sub­ju­gat­ed group. Jack­son serves as the dri­ving fig­ure of US his­to­ry for fas­cists like post-war US orga­niz­er Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey, who iden­ti­fies Jack­son with the begin­ning of “the great epoch of the his­to­ry of prac­tice of gov­ern­ment in Amer­i­ca,” and claims that his “Spir­it still lives.” Right-wing pro­pa­gan­dist and proud Yock­ey­ist Willis Car­to described Andrew Jack­son as embody­ing pop­ulism and “Amer­i­ca First” pol­i­tics through his views on race and cap­i­tal.

    The bat­tle over the lega­cy of the Civ­il War and Andrew Jack­son is cur­rent­ly tak­ing place in New Orleans, where fas­cist Trump sup­port­er and for­mer found­ing leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke has tak­en it upon him­self to defend his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments to the lega­cy of the Con­fed­er­a­cy — includ­ing a stat­ue of Andrew Jack­son. Duke’s suc­cess­ful manip­u­la­tion of pop­ulist pol­i­tics, which earned him a seat in the Louisiana House, has been likened to Trump’s own appeals to the white work­ing class.

    Today Jack­son rep­re­sents the ful­fill­ment of many of the most vio­lent fan­tasies under­pin­ning US inde­pen­dence — par­tic­u­lar­ly the white nation­al­ist fan­ta­sy of remov­ing all peo­ple of col­or from North Amer­i­ca (a mis­sion Jack­son hoped to accom­plish by serv­ing as an offi­cer in the Amer­i­can Col­o­niza­tion Soci­ety). For this rea­son, as well as on account of Jack­son’s uni­lat­er­al approach to sov­er­eign­ty, white nation­al­ist Trump boost­er Jared Tay­lor has described Trump as a “kin­dred spir­it” of Jack­son’s.

    This com­par­i­son of Trump to Jack­son has always been bizarre and some­what forced. While Jack­son meld­ed the brash pose of the mil­i­tarist with the South­ern charms of a back­woods coun­try boy, Trump slouch­es into his role as com­man­der in chief with­out spend­ing a day in mil­i­tary ser­vice. Yet some­how, Trump has cred­i­bly appro­pri­at­ed the iden­ti­ty of Jack­son — the grand patri­arch of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty who earned his rep­u­ta­tion as the “Napoleon of the woods” by defeat­ing British forces dur­ing the Bat­tle of New Orleans.

    Com­par­isons to Napoleon

    Jack­son nev­er met Napoleon Bona­parte, but he ide­al­ized him, and the two shared much in com­mon: They gained the sup­port of the con­ser­v­a­tive coun­try­side and the petite-bour­geois through mil­i­tant nation­al­ism. The Jack­son­ian lega­cy is one of a jin­go­ism sim­i­lar to that of the Bona­partists who sup­port­ed the Con­fed­er­a­cy in the Civ­il War, and its xeno­pho­bic man­i­fes­ta­tions gained par­al­lels with Bona­partists who sup­port­ed the rad­i­cal-right pop­ulism of the 19th cen­tu­ry French politi­cian Georges Boulanger. Jack­son’s pop­ulist dis­dain for the Nation­al Bank was also reflect­ed in the Bona­partist anti-Semi­tism of the fin-de-siè­cle.

    It is no sur­prise, then, that Trump has drawn com­par­isons to Bona­parte from out­lets like Newsweek, Huff­in­g­ton Post, The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Times of India. Short­ly before the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer called Trump “the Napoleon of the cur­rent year.” Spencer, who cel­e­brat­ed Trump’s elec­tion with the cry, “Hail Vic­to­ry,” under­stands the cae­sarist aspi­ra­tions of sov­er­eign­ty writ­ten into the fas­cist mythos that has come alive dur­ing the so-called “pop­ulist wave.”

    Fas­cism main­tains a close rela­tion­ship to Bona­partist his­to­ry and ide­ol­o­gy. Ger­man Com­mu­nist Par­ty dis­si­dent August Thal­heimer iden­ti­fied fas­cism as a kind of Bona­partism that unit­ed shop­keep­ers and the rul­ing class in an anti-pro­le­tar­i­an alliance. Trot­sky con­tributed short­ly there­after to this ideation of fas­cism as a right-wing pop­ulist force that made over­tures to the work­ing poor and mid­dle class­es in order to com­bat the rise of the autonomous self-orga­ni­za­tion of the pro­le­tari­at. French Resis­tance fig­ure Ray­mond Aron fol­lowed up, iden­ti­fy­ing Bona­partism as “the antic­i­pa­tion and the French ver­sion of fas­cism.”

    What binds Cae­sar, Napoleon and Jack­son runs deep­er than a tac­it class alliance and some­thing so sim­ple as Napoleon’s evo­ca­tion of Cae­sar and Jack­son’s sup­port for Napoleon — or mod­ern com­men­ta­tors like Spencer and Kingston com­par­ing Trump to Bona­parte or Jack­son to Cae­sar. It strikes to the core of sov­er­eign­ty and how it is used. A true sov­er­eign requires not just an “oth­er” that can con­sti­tute the polit­i­cal “out­side,” but the poten­tial brought about through a sus­pen­sion of the polit­i­cal order itself.

    The sov­er­eign­ty desired by the far right would use the specter of the “out­sider” as lever­age to super­sede checks and bal­ances on exec­u­tive author­i­ty and per­pet­u­ate its pow­er through aggres­sive manip­u­la­tions of nation­al­ist sen­ti­ment in the inter­ests of “rebirth” and “reju­ve­na­tion.” In Italy and in Ger­many, those on the left who fought the rise of fas­cism became the first vic­tims of its total­i­tar­i­an impulse toward unbri­dled vio­lence. As Trump’s most avid far-right sup­port­ers move toward cre­at­ing a vio­lent, autonomous base of pow­er amid what they iden­ti­fy as a “Civ­il War,” his quest for unchecked sov­er­eign­ty fur­thers their unre­strained efforts to liq­ui­date the left in the name of anti-antifas­cism.

    While Trump’s ego­ma­nia may pre­clude the for­mu­la­tion of a set ide­o­log­i­cal sys­tem com­posed of loy­al­ties and polit­i­cal posi­tions, Trump­is­m’s invo­ca­tion of Jack­son and Bona­parte evi­dences Trump’s tac­it prox­im­i­ty to fas­cist nar­ra­tives both in the US and abroad. At the same time, the pres­i­den­t’s own quaint regard for a slav­ery-sup­port­ing per­pe­tra­tor of geno­cide who set the stage for the Civ­il War reveals how deeply white nation­al­ism is engrained with­in the social and his­tor­i­cal fab­ric of the US — and how vio­lent­ly it is defend­ed.

    “The fact that Trump’s com­ments about Andrew Jack­son stop­ping the Civ­il War came at a time when his sup­port­ers start­ed declar­ing a “sec­ond Civ­il War” amid vio­lent con­fronta­tions with antifas­cist pro­tes­tors is cru­cial. Few things evoke more sen­ti­ment for the neo-Con­fed­er­ates, pan-seces­sion­ists and eth­no-sep­a­ratists of the far right than the notion of a “sec­ond Civ­il War.””

    Yes, not only is Trump appar­ent­ly declar­ing war the rule of law (at least laws applied to the pres­i­dent) but this is all hap­pen­ing as Trump invokes Andrew Jack­son, prob­a­bly the most favorite pres­i­dent of the far-right, as his tem­plate. A fas­cist tem­plate:

    ...
    What binds Cae­sar, Napoleon and Jack­son runs deep­er than a tac­it class alliance and some­thing so sim­ple as Napoleon’s evo­ca­tion of Cae­sar and Jack­son’s sup­port for Napoleon — or mod­ern com­men­ta­tors like Spencer and Kingston com­par­ing Trump to Bona­parte or Jack­son to Cae­sar. It strikes to the core of sov­er­eign­ty and how it is used. A true sov­er­eign requires not just an “oth­er” that can con­sti­tute the polit­i­cal “out­side,” but the poten­tial brought about through a sus­pen­sion of the polit­i­cal order itself.

    The sov­er­eign­ty desired by the far right would use the specter of the “out­sider” as lever­age to super­sede checks and bal­ances on exec­u­tive author­i­ty and per­pet­u­ate its pow­er through aggres­sive manip­u­la­tions of nation­al­ist sen­ti­ment in the inter­ests of “rebirth” and “reju­ve­na­tion.” In Italy and in Ger­many, those on the left who fought the rise of fas­cism became the first vic­tims of its total­i­tar­i­an impulse toward unbri­dled vio­lence. As Trump’s most avid far-right sup­port­ers move toward cre­at­ing a vio­lent, autonomous base of pow­er amid what they iden­ti­fy as a “Civ­il War,” his quest for unchecked sov­er­eign­ty fur­thers their unre­strained efforts to liq­ui­date the left in the name of anti-antifas­cism.
    ...

    So while Trump’s behav­ior forces us to ask whether or not he’s actu­al­ly try­ing to ‘make way for Pence’ or some­thing like that, we’re also forced to ask a much more dire ques­tion: Is Trump try­ing to pick a fight? A real­ly, real­ly, real­ly big fight? It’s a ques­tion we unfor­tu­nate­ly have to ask. This is where we are. In a place where the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the pres­i­dent does­n’t have incred­i­bly sin­is­ter Machi­avel­lian motives but is sim­ply an out of con­trol mad man who can’t con­trol his actions is the best case sce­nario.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 12, 2017, 3:06 pm
  21. The Asso­ci­at­ed Press has a rather fas­ci­nat­ing new piece about what’s going on in the Trump White House as the grow­ing cri­sis trig­gered by the fir­ing of FBI direc­tor James Comey con­tin­ues to play out. Part of what makes the arti­cle so fas­ci­nat­ing is that it’s based on the anony­mous inter­views of a dozen White House staffers and oth­ers close to Trump who depict an increas­ing­ly iso­lat­ed Don­ald Trump who is rely­ing on just a hand­ful of long-time advi­sors and fam­i­ly mem­bers to make his deci­sions due to a grow­ing dis­trust of the rest of his staff. And that dis­trust is grow­ing in large part because of all the White House leaks. So it’s a leak-based arti­cle about Trump’s leak-induced iso­la­tion which will no doubt make Trump even more para­noid and trig­ger the kind of behav­ior that will pro­duce even more arti­cle about Trump’s para­noia. Until he just goes berserk or some­thing. We’ll see.

    And as we’re going to see, when you com­pare the mes­sag­ing com­ing from these anony­mous White House staffers and oth­ers close to Trump, it’s not like they aren’t cir­cling the wag­ons around the Trump White House. It’s just that they’re cir­cling those wag­ons appar­ent­ly around Mike Pence, Reince Priebus, and Steve Ban­non. At least that’s one way to inter­pret the fact that this arti­cle from all these anony­mous White House insid­ers does­n’t men­tion Pence’s role at all in the deci­sion to fire James Comey, says Trump views Priebus and Ban­non with sus­pi­cion, and claims that just found out about it one tele­vi­sion (which makes you won­der about the iden­ti­ties of these anony­mous White House insid­ers):

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Iso­lat­ed In White House, Trump Seethes Over Leaks In Wake Of Comey Fir­ing

    By JULIE PACE, and Jonathan Lemire
    Pub­lished May 13, 2017 9:21 am

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After four months in office, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has become dis­trust­ful of some of his White House staff, heav­i­ly reliant on a hand­ful of fam­i­ly mem­bers and long­time aides, and furi­ous that the White House’s attempts to quell the firestorm over the FBI and con­gres­sion­al Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tions only seem to add more fuel.

    Trump’s frus­tra­tions came to a head this week with the fir­ing of FBI Direc­tor James Comey, who was over­see­ing the probe into his campaign’s pos­si­ble ties to Russia’s elec­tion med­dling. Fear­ful that his own team would leak the deci­sion, Trump kept key staff in the dark as he pon­dered the dra­mat­ic move.

    Chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non learned on tele­vi­sion. The com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff charged with explain­ing the deci­sion to the Amer­i­can peo­ple had an hour’s notice.

    When the White House’s defense of the move failed to meet his ever-chang­ing expec­ta­tions, Trump tried to take over him­self. But he wound up cre­at­ing new headaches for the White House, includ­ing with an appar­ent threat to Comey.

    “James Comey bet­ter hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our con­ver­sa­tions before he starts leak­ing to the press!” Trump wrote on Twit­ter Fri­day morn­ing.

    For a White House accus­tomed to bouts of chaos, Trump’s han­dling of Comey’s fir­ing could have seri­ous and long-last­ing impli­ca­tions. Already Trump’s deci­sion appears to have embold­ened the Sen­ate intel­li­gence com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing into Russia’s elec­tion inter­fer­ence and the president’s asso­ciates, with law­mak­ers announc­ing a sub­poe­na for for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn. Comey’s allies also quick­ly made clear they would defend him against attacks from Trump, includ­ing dis­put­ing the president’s asser­tion that Comey told Trump he was not per­son­al­ly under inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Sev­er­al peo­ple close to the pres­i­dent say his reliance on a small cadre of advis­ers as he mulled fir­ing Comey reflects his broad­er dis­trust of many of his own staffers. He leans heav­i­ly on daugh­ter Ivan­ka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kush­er, as well as Hope Hicks, his trust­ed cam­paign spokes­woman and Kei­th Schiller, his long­time body­guard. Schiller was among those Trump con­sult­ed about Comey and was tapped by the pres­i­dent to deliv­er a let­ter inform­ing the direc­tor of his fir­ing.

    Trump con­fi­dants say Ban­non has been mar­gin­al­ized on major deci­sions, includ­ing Comey’s fir­ing, after clash­ing with Kush­n­er. And while Trump praised chief of staff Reince Priebus after the House passed a health care bill last week, asso­ciates say the pres­i­dent has con­tin­ued to raise occa­sion­al ques­tions about Priebus’ lead­er­ship in the West Wing.

    Trump spent most of the week out of sight, a marked change from a typ­i­cal­ly jam-packed sched­ule that often includes mul­ti­ple on-cam­era events per day. Even when aides moved ahead on an exec­u­tive order cre­at­ing a vot­er fraud com­mis­sion — a pres­i­den­tial pet project that some advis­ers thought they had suc­cess­ful­ly shelved — Trump signed the direc­tive in pri­vate.

    More than a lack of momen­tum on major pol­i­cy goals, Trump is said to be seething over the flood of leaks pour­ing out of the White House and into news reports. He’s viewed even senior advis­ers sus­pi­cious­ly, includ­ing Ban­non and Priebus, when sto­ries about inter­nal White House dra­ma land in the press.

    A dozen White House offi­cials and oth­ers close to Trump detailed the president’s deci­sion-mak­ing and his mood on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty in order to dis­cuss pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions and delib­er­a­tions.

    After Trump decid­ed to fire Comey, he was told by aides that Democ­rats would like­ly react pos­i­tive­ly to the news giv­en the role many believe Comey played in Hillary Clinton’s defeat last year. When the oppo­site occurred, Trump grew incensed — both at Democ­rats and his own com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff for not quick­ly lin­ing up more Repub­li­cans to defend him on tele­vi­sion.

    Much of Trump’s ire has been focused on the com­mu­ni­ca­tions team, all of whom were caught off guard by Comey’s ouster. He increas­ing­ly sees him­self as the White House’s only effec­tive spokesper­son, accord­ing to mul­ti­ple peo­ple who have spo­ken with him. By week’s end, he was mus­ing about cut­ting back on the White House’s tele­vised press brief­in­gs.

    Two White House offi­cials said some of Trump’s frus­tra­tion cen­ters on what he views as unfair cov­er­age of his deci­sions and over­ly harsh crit­i­cism of press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer, as well as deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah Sanders, who led much of the response to Comey’s fir­ing. Aides said Trump does not believe his team gave con­tra­dic­to­ry sto­ries about his deci­sion to fire Comey, despite the fact that the White House’s expla­na­tion changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly over a 48-hour peri­od.

    The White House ini­tial­ly said Trump was com­pelled to fire Comey by a crit­i­cal memo from the deputy attor­ney gen­er­al on the director’s han­dling of last year’s inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s email. Aides lat­er said the pres­i­dent had been con­sid­er­ing fir­ing Comey for months, and Trump said he would have made the deci­sion regard­less of the Jus­tice Depart­ment rec­om­men­da­tion.

    ...

    Trump is mulling expand­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions team and has eyed hir­ing pro­duc­ers from Fox News, accord­ing to one White House offi­cial.

    White House offi­cials had hoped last week’s House vote would give the pres­i­dent a much-need­ed burst of momen­tum and infuse new ener­gy into efforts to ful­ly over­haul the “Oba­macare” health law and pass a mas­sive tax reform pack­age. Aides were also eager for Trump’s first for­eign trip, a high-stakes blitz through the Mid­dle East and Europe.

    But the blow­back from Comey’s fir­ing left the White House reel­ing once again. Trump’s vis­i­ble anger and errat­ic tweets prompt­ed a reporter to ask Spicer on Fri­day if the pres­i­dent was “out of con­trol.”

    “That’s, frankly, offen­sive,” Spicer said.

    More than a lack of momen­tum on major pol­i­cy goals, Trump is said to be seething over the flood of leaks pour­ing out of the White House and into news reports. He’s viewed even senior advis­ers sus­pi­cious­ly, includ­ing Ban­non and Priebus, when sto­ries about inter­nal White House dra­ma land in the press.”

    All these leaks are just enrag­ing Trump and send­ing him into some sort of White House coc­coon where even Steve Ban­non and Reince Priebus are viewed with sus­pi­cion. As we learn from the arti­cle based on a dozen Trump insid­ers:

    ...
    A dozen White House offi­cials and oth­ers close to Trump detailed the president’s deci­sion-mak­ing and his mood on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty in order to dis­cuss pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions and delib­er­a­tions.
    ...

    And so what details are these insid­ers pro­vid­ing? Details like how Trump was so fear­ful that his deci­sion would leak that he kept key staff in the dark. Appar­ent­ly includ­ing Steve Ban­non, who just learned about it on TV:

    ...
    Trump’s frus­tra­tions came to a head this week with the fir­ing of FBI Direc­tor James Comey, who was over­see­ing the probe into his campaign’s pos­si­ble ties to Russia’s elec­tion med­dling. Fear­ful that his own team would leak the deci­sion, Trump kept key staff in the dark as he pon­dered the dra­mat­ic move.

    Chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non learned on tele­vi­sion. The com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff charged with explain­ing the deci­sion to the Amer­i­can peo­ple had an hour’s notice.
    ...

    Yep, appar­ent­ly Ban­non has been so mar­gin­al­ized in major deci­sions after his fight with Jared he learned about the fir­ing of Comey the same way Comey did: on TV. At least that’s the line com­ing from this broad swathe of a dozen Trump insid­ers who anony­mous­ly com­ment­ed for this arti­cle.

    And what of Mike Pence? No men­tion. The impli­ca­tion being that Pence had no idea what was hap­pen­ing and that he was being com­plete­ly hon­est when he force­ful­ly argued that, yes, the rea­son for Comey’s fir­ing was due to the unfair treat­ment Hillary Clin­ton got dur­ing her email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tions. But as we’re already learn­ing from oth­er reports, that’s a pret­ty false impli­ca­tion since Pence was report­ed­ly part of the inner cir­cle who made the deci­sion to fire Comey:

    Salon

    Mike Pence is neck-deep in Don­ald Trump’s James Comey mess
    The veep may look like a tan­gen­tial fig­ure in the admin­is­tra­tion, but he’s in the mid­dle of this deep­en­ing cri­sis VIDEO

    Heather Dig­by Par­ton
    Fri­day, May 12, 2017 11:00 AM CST

    This has been a week that makes Democ­rats feel as if the world might right itself once again. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s abrupt fir­ing of FBI direc­tor James Comey — sup­pos­ed­ly because of his unfair treat­ment of Hillary Clin­ton in the pri­vate email serv­er case — was so laugh­ably ludi­crous on its face that the imme­di­ate reac­tion was that the Repub­li­can line of defense would final­ly break down and he would final­ly be sub­ject to seri­ous bipar­ti­san con­dem­na­tion.

    Whether that will actu­al­ly come to pass remains to be seen. There have been some cracks in the GOP wall but it’s too soon to know how far that will take them. The good news is that Democ­rats are unan­i­mous in their out­rage, even includ­ing such nor­mal­ly mild man­nered types such as Vir­ginia Sen. Mark Warn­er, who was fero­cious in his crit­i­cism. That is an impor­tant ele­ment of any con­gres­sion­al action and it’s nev­er some­thing you can count on with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.

    Press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer told the media on Tues­day night that the fir­ing orig­i­nat­ed entire­ly in the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and when a reporter asked if that meant Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein he said, “it was all him.” The next day the deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee Sanders appeared on MSNBC’s Morn­ing Joe and backed up that claim:

    It’s real sim­ple. The deputy attor­ney gen­er­al . . . made a very strong rec­om­men­da­tion. The pres­i­dent fol­lowed it, and he made a quick and deci­sive action to fire James Comey.

    Appar­ent­ly, some­time between that inter­view and the dai­ly brief­ing, Rosen­stein com­plained to the White House about being the scape­goat when he hadn’t actu­al­ly rec­om­mend­ed Comey’s fir­ing. Sanders scram­bled for an expla­na­tion, say­ing that, actu­al­ly, Trump had been think­ing about dis­miss­ing Comey for some time but his thoughts had been val­i­dat­ed by Rosenstein’s opin­ion. Nobody much bought it but she man­aged to get through two days of brief­in­gs insist­ing that she was mak­ing sense.

    But the man who real­ly made the case to the press that the pres­i­dent was sim­ply fol­low­ing the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice was Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who couldn’t have been more emphat­ic when he went up to Capi­tol Hill on Wednes­day morn­ing::

    As has been stat­ed repeat­ed­ly and the Pres­i­dent has been told, he’s not under inves­ti­ga­tion. There is no evi­dence of col­lu­sion between our cam­paign and any Russ­ian offi­cials …

    Let me be very clear that the President’s deci­sion to accept the rec­om­men­da­tion of the deputy attor­ney gen­er­al and the attor­ney gen­er­al to remove Direc­tor Comey as the head of the FBI was based sole­ly and exclu­sive­ly on his com­mit­ment to the best inter­ests of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and to ensur­ing that the FBI has the trust and con­fi­dence of the peo­ple this nation.

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Pence, the president’s inter­view with NBC’s Lester Holt on Thurs­day evening pret­ty much end­ed all spec­u­la­tion about why Comey was fired when Trump incrim­i­nat­ed him­self:

    In fact, when I decid­ed to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Rus­sia thing with Trump and Rus­sia is a made-up sto­ry.

    Trump’s stream-of-con­scious­ness dis­sem­bling gave him away.

    At this writ­ing there is no word from Pence about his com­ments on Wednes­day morn­ing. He’ll like­ly dance around the truth and the media will let him off the hook as usu­al. But they shouldn’t. Pence has been in the mid­dle of all this Rus­sia busi­ness at least since the tran­si­tion, which he head­ed.

    And he was in the mid­dle of Comey’s fir­ing as well. Accord­ing to the New York Times, Pence was among the small group of staff mem­bers with whom Trump had mulled the deci­sion after he became angry over Comey’s tes­ti­mo­ny before the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee last week. So Pence knew very well that Trump had decid­ed to fire Comey for his own rea­sons when he went before the cam­eras and said that the pres­i­dent had mere­ly “accept­ed the rec­om­men­da­tion” of the Deputy Attor­ney gen­er­al.

    For rea­sons that have more to do with style than sub­stance, Pence is often giv­en the ben­e­fit of the doubt in these sit­u­a­tions, as if he’s the pat­sy and has no idea his boss is a noto­ri­ous liar. His fur­rowed brow and trea­cly Mid­west­ern sanc­ti­mo­ny seems to cov­er for the fact that he’s extreme­ly close to Trump and is usu­al­ly in the room when these lies are hatched.

    Going back to the cam­paign, recall that Pence lied dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the debate with Demo­c­ra­t­ic vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. Tim Kaine of Vir­ginia, even claim­ing that he had nev­er con­trast­ed Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin favor­ably with Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, despite video­tape of him say­ing it. More impor­tant, Pence ran the tran­si­tion after Trump fired Gov. Chris Christie. And it was dur­ing that peri­od that Gen­er­al Michael Fly­nn was mak­ing his inap­pro­pri­ate phone calls to the Russ­ian ambas­sador, writ­ing op-eds on behalf of the for­eign gov­ern­ment that was pay­ing him when he wasn’t dodg­ing com­plaints about his son’s white suprema­cist activ­i­ties.

    Mike Pence was the man in charge when all that was going on and despite his Sgt. Schultz rou­tine it turned out he had been thor­ough­ly aware at the time about Flynn’s ques­tion­able activ­i­ties, such as his work for the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment. He appar­ent­ly didn’t think it was some­thing worth wor­ry­ing about.

    It has nev­er been ful­ly explained why Trump failed to men­tion to Pence that he was going on TV and mis­lead­ing the pub­lic about Flynn’s con­tacts with the Russ­ian ambas­sador after Act­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sal­ly Yates sound­ed the alarm. Sup­pos­ed­ly Pence only found out by read­ing it in the paper — which makes you won­der why he wasn’t as angry at the boss as he was at Fly­nn.

    The fact is that the vice pres­i­dent is not a vic­tim in all this. He’s a loy­al mem­ber of the Trump team involved in all the top deci­sions, and it’s impor­tant that peo­ple remem­ber that. If Trump were to vacate the job for one rea­son or anoth­er (there are so many pos­si­bil­i­ties) Pence would inher­it the pres­i­den­cy. One hopes that nobody will mis­take him for an inno­cent in all this and give him a man­date to gov­ern. He’s with Trump every step of the way.

    And he was in the mid­dle of Comey’s fir­ing as well. Accord­ing to the New York Times, Pence was among the small group of staff mem­bers with whom Trump had mulled the deci­sion after he became angry over Comey’s tes­ti­mo­ny before the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee last week. So Pence knew very well that Trump had decid­ed to fire Comey for his own rea­sons when he went before the cam­eras and said that the pres­i­dent had mere­ly “accept­ed the rec­om­men­da­tion” of the Deputy Attor­ney gen­er­al.”

    Yep, accord­ing to reports from sev­er­al days ago, Mike Pence was part of that inner deci­sion-mak­ing cir­cle that Trump relied on when dis­cussing what to do about Comey. And you know what else was in that report: That Steve Ban­non was also sit­ting in on those meet­ings. Sure, accord­ing to reports, he thought the fir­ing of Comey was bad tim­ing and poor form (because he’s appar­ent­ly not as tone deaf as the rest of Trump’s inner-cir­cle), but Steve was indeed report­ed­ly there and part of the discussions...along with Reince Priebus who appar­ent­ly backed Comey’s fir­ing:

    The New York Times

    ‘Enough Was Enough’: How Fes­ter­ing Anger at Comey End­ed in His Fir­ing

    By MAGGIE HABERMAN, GLENN THRUSH, MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and PETER BAKER
    May 10, 2017

    WASHINGTON — By the end, nei­ther of them thought much of the oth­er.

    After Pres­i­dent Trump accused his pre­de­ces­sor in March of wire­tap­ping him, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. direc­tor, was flab­ber­gast­ed. The pres­i­dent, Mr. Comey told asso­ciates, was “out­side the realm of nor­mal,” even “crazy.”

    ...

    Mr. Comey’s fate was sealed by his lat­est tes­ti­mo­ny about the bureau’s inves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 elec­tion and the Clin­ton email inquiry. Mr. Trump burned as he watched, con­vinced that Mr. Comey was grand­stand­ing. He was par­tic­u­lar­ly irked when Mr. Comey said he was “mild­ly nau­seous” to think that his han­dling of the email case had influ­enced the elec­tion, which Mr. Trump took to demean his own role in his­to­ry.

    At that point, Mr. Trump began talk­ing about fir­ing him. He and his aides thought they had an open­ing because Mr. Comey gave an incor­rect account of how Huma Abe­din, a top advis­er to Mrs. Clin­ton, trans­ferred emails to her husband’s lap­top, an account the F.B.I. lat­er cor­rect­ed.

    At first, Mr. Trump, who is fond of vet­ting his deci­sions with a wide cir­cle of staff mem­bers, advis­ers and friends, kept his think­ing to a small cir­cle, vent­ing his anger to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence; the White House coun­sel, Don­ald F. McGahn II; and his son-in-law, Jared Kush­n­er, who all told him they gen­er­al­ly backed dis­miss­ing Mr. Comey.

    Anoth­er ear­ly sound­ing board was Kei­th Schiller, Mr. Trump’s long­time direc­tor of secu­ri­ty and now a mem­ber of the White House staff, who would lat­er be tasked with deliv­er­ing the mani­la enve­lope con­tain­ing Mr. Comey’s let­ter of dis­missal to F.B.I. head­quar­ters, an indi­ca­tion of just how per­son­al the mat­ter was to the pres­i­dent.

    The chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non, who has been sharply crit­i­cal of the F.B.I., ques­tioned whether the time was right to dis­miss Mr. Comey, argu­ing that doing it lat­er would lessen the back­lash, and urged him to delay, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with his think­ing. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, at one point mulled sim­i­lar con­cerns, but was sup­port­ive of the move to the pres­i­dent.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment began work­ing on Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions instruct­ed his deputies to come up with rea­sons to fire Mr. Comey, accord­ing to a senior Amer­i­can offi­cial. On Mon­day, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Ses­sions and Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod J. Rosen­stein. White House offi­cials insist­ed Mr. Ses­sions and Mr. Rosen­stein were the ones who raised con­cerns about Mr. Comey with the pres­i­dent and that he told them to put their rec­om­men­da­tions in writ­ing.

    At the same time, he sig­naled his think­ing on Twit­ter, essen­tial­ly call­ing for the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Russ­ian med­dling to be halt­ed. “The Rus­sia-Trump col­lu­sion sto­ry is a total hoax, when will this tax­pay­er fund­ed cha­rade end?” he wrote on Mon­day after­noon.

    Ear­ly Tues­day, he made his final deci­sion, keep­ing many aides in the dark until news of the fir­ing leaked out late in the after­noon. About an hour before the news broke, an admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial joked that the rel­a­tive­ly news-free events of Mon­day and Tues­day rep­re­sent­ed the start of a much-need­ed week­long respite from the staff’s non­stop work over the past few months.

    ...

    “The chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non, who has been sharply crit­i­cal of the F.B.I., ques­tioned whether the time was right to dis­miss Mr. Comey, argu­ing that doing it lat­er would lessen the back­lash, and urged him to delay, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with his think­ing. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, at one point mulled sim­i­lar con­cerns, but was sup­port­ive of the move to the pres­i­dent.

    That sure sounds like Ban­non and Priebus were very much part of those dis­cus­sions. And yet we had a dozen White House insid­er give a big detailed inter­nal anony­mous expose depict­ing Ban­non and Priebus as two senior staffers on the outs with Trump and Ban­non learned about the whole thing on TV. And no men­tion of Mike Pence. It sure looks like the White House staff is cir­cle the wag­on...to pro­tect them­selves from Trump’s taint.

    Will it work? That prob­a­bly depends on how well the ‘Trump and in tiny inner-cir­cle was behind all this alone’ sto­ry holds up. And it had bet­ter hold up if Mike Pence is going to remain a viable replace­ment for Trump if this whole thing ends up with him leav­ing office giv­en how force­ful­ly Pence was argu­ing that the orig­i­nal excuse for Comey’s fir­ing — Hillary’s email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion and not concerns/hysterics(/theatrics?) over the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tions — was real. And whether or not that sto­ry holds up is going to depend on a lot on whether or not it becomes wide­ly noticed that Mike Pence was report­ed­ly sup­port­ive of the move to have deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein write up that doc­u­ment detail­ing Comey’s wrongs against Hillary as a cov­er sto­ry for their real rea­son for fir­ing Comey:

    The New York Times

    ‘Look­ing Like a Liar or a Fool’: What It Means to Work for Trump

    By GLENN THRUSH and MAGGIE HABERMAN
    MAY 12, 2017

    WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Trump has nev­er shown any reluc­tance to sac­ri­fice a sur­ro­gate to serve a short-term polit­i­cal need, so he appar­ent­ly did not think twice this week about expos­ing a series of staff mem­bers to ridicule as he repeat­ed­ly shift­ed his expla­na­tion for fir­ing James B. Comey, the F.B.I. direc­tor.

    Mr. Trump, obsessed with the F.B.I.’s inves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion and increas­ing­ly frus­trat­ed by the hyper-scruti­ny of the Wash­ing­ton press corps, is more in need of effec­tive spokes­men than ever, and aides say he is con­sid­er­ing a broad shake-up of his team.

    But his career-long habit of view­ing his pub­lic pro­tec­tors as some­what dis­pos­able, on vivid dis­play after Mr. Comey’s sud­den ouster, has not exact­ly been an incen­tive to step into the fir­ing line on his behalf.

    ...

    Over the past few days, Mr. Trump deployed his two top aides — his press sec­re­tary, Sean Spicer, and Sarah Huck­abee Sanders, a top deputy — to deliv­er dubi­ous or false infor­ma­tion about his deci­sion-mak­ing process.

    He asked Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod J. Rosen­stein to draft a let­ter doc­u­ment­ing Mr. Comey’s short­com­ings to leave the impres­sion that it was Mr. Rosenstein’s judg­ment and not his own that led to the dis­missal — an idea that was rein­forced by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who was part of the small group of advis­ers who planned Mr. Comey’s ouster in near secre­cy.

    On Thurs­day, Mr. Trump him­self vapor­ized every ver­sion of the Comey sto­ry his defend­ers, includ­ing Mr. Pence, had labored so earnest­ly to put for­ward. “I was going to fire Comey — my deci­sion. There is no good time to do it, by the way,” Trump told the “NBC Night­ly News” anchor Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regard­less of the rec­om­men­da­tion” made by Mr. Rosen­stein, he said.

    Few of Mr. Trump’s erup­tions have had such a destruc­tive effect on his admin­is­tra­tion or left such deep resent­ments among his scarred staff, accord­ing to Trump aides and sur­ro­gates. And the blow­back from the Comey deci­sion and the way it was han­dled have accel­er­at­ed the dis­cus­sions about pos­si­ble changes in the White House.

    ...

    “He asked Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod J. Rosen­stein to draft a let­ter doc­u­ment­ing Mr. Comey’s short­com­ings to leave the impres­sion that it was Mr. Rosenstein’s judg­ment and not his own that led to the dis­missal — an idea that was rein­forced by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who was part of the small group of advis­ers who planned Mr. Comey’s ouster in near secre­cy.

    Rosen­stein’s memo was intend­ed to “leave the impres­sion that it was Mr. Rosenstein’s judg­ment and not his own that led to the dis­missal.” And Pence sup­port­ed it. That’s what the New York Times report­ed just yes­ter­day. And yet we have that AP report with a dozen anony­mous insid­ers who describe a para­noid Trump with a tiny inner-cir­cle that mak­ing these deci­sions and no men­tion of Mike Pence at all.

    So with Trump hav­ing put his pres­i­den­cy in seri­ous dan­ger after pub­licly admit­ting what could be an obstruc­tion of jus­tice motive for fir­ing Comey, and then arguably obstruct­ing jus­tice with his threat­en­ing tweets to Comey, it’s look­ing like the White House wag­ons are circling...around Mike Pence. And maybe Ban­non and Priebus. For all the talk about Trump’s his­to­ry of treat­ing his staff as dis­pos­able peo­ple, it’s increas­ing­ly look­ing like one of the most dis­pos­able peo­ple in this whole sit­u­a­tion is Trump.

    That’s prob­a­bly not going to help with his para­noia.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 13, 2017, 3:08 pm
  22. It’s that time again. Time to ask, “Is Don­ald Trump try­ing to get him­self impeached? Or at least try­ing to gen­er­ate as much pub­lic inter­est and anx­i­ety about his alleged Russ­ian gov­ern­ment ties for some mys­te­ri­ous rea­son?” It’s not a fun ques­tion to ask, but when Don­ald Trump decides to host a meet­ing with the Russ­ian for­eign min­is­ter and ambas­sador Kislyak (who Michael Fly­nn had his now noto­ri­ous phone con­ver­sa­tion with) just one day after fir­ing the FBI direc­tor and then admit­ting on TV that he did it to thwart an inves­ti­ga­tion into those alleged Russ­ian ties it’s a ques­tion we have to ask. Espe­cial­ly after reports that high­ly sen­si­tive intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion that came from a for­eign ally was shared dur­ing that meet­ing. We just have to ask, is he try­ing to ratch­et up the anx­i­ety or is this guy just real­ly, real­ly, real­ly bad with optics? We’ll maybe even­tu­al­ly find out, but in the mean time, here’s a look a the high­ly sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion that was shared. It could­n’t have been too high­ly sen­si­tive since CNN appar­ent­ly had it too. But that’s kind of beside the point in this instance, since the big scan­dal isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the dis­clo­sure of that par­tic­u­lar set of intel­li­gence. The big scan­dal is the appar­ent anti-intel­li­gence in Trump’s head that made him think this was a good idea to share this kind of intel­li­gence dur­ing a con­tro­ver­sial meet­ing with two Russ­ian diplo­mats a day after he fired the FBI direc­tor who was lead­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump/Russia ties:

    CNN

    Inside the US effort to keep lap­top bomb intel secret

    By Evan Perez, CNN Jus­tice Cor­re­spon­dent

    Updat­ed 4:43 PM ET, Tue May 16, 2017

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)The intel­li­gence behind the US ban on lap­tops and oth­er elec­tron­ics is con­sid­ered so high­ly clas­si­fied that CNN, at the request of US gov­ern­ment offi­cials, with­held key details from a March 31 sto­ry on the trav­el restric­tions.

    Some of those details are once again at issue fol­low­ing The Wash­ing­ton Post report Mon­day night that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shared high­ly sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion with two top Russ­ian diplo­mats in a meet­ing at the White House.

    The con­cern, US offi­cials told CNN in late March, was that pub­lish­ing cer­tain infor­ma­tion, includ­ing a city where some of the intel­li­gence was col­lect­ed, could tip off adver­saries about the sources and meth­ods used to gath­er the intel­li­gence.

    Over sev­er­al days, US intel­li­gence offi­cials spent hours on con­fer­ence calls mak­ing spe­cif­ic requests to CNN to with­hold cer­tain details of the intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion.

    Those details includ­ed infor­ma­tion that Trump report­ed­ly shared in his Oval Office meet­ing with Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and Russ­ian ambas­sador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

    In a nar­row­ly word­ed denial Mon­day night, nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er H.R. McMas­ter told reporters that the Post sto­ry about the meet­ing “as report­ed” was false. Two for­mer offi­cials knowl­edge­able about the sit­u­a­tion con­firmed to CNN that the main points of the Post sto­ry are accu­rate.

    The White House has­n’t denied that the Pres­i­dent appears to have let the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment in on infor­ma­tion so high­ly sen­si­tive that the US gov­ern­ment had pre­vi­ous­ly told CNN that pub­lish­ing it would endan­ger lives and destroy intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing meth­ods used to keep an eye on ter­ror­ist groups.

    In tweet­ing about the mat­ter Tues­day morn­ing, Trump con­firmed he shared infor­ma­tion but did not say whether any of it was clas­si­fied.

    “As Pres­i­dent I want­ed to share with Rus­sia (at an open­ly sched­uled W.H. meet­ing) which I have the absolute right to do, facts per­tain­ing to ter­ror­ism and air­line flight safe­ty, Human­i­tar­i­an rea­sons, plus I want Rus­sia to great­ly step up their fight against ISIS & ter­ror­ism,” Trump tweet­ed Tues­day morn­ing.

    ...

    Shar­ing this infor­ma­tion with Rus­sia would be a major con­cern because it could help the Rus­sians fig­ure out how the US obtained the infor­ma­tion. The sen­si­tiv­i­ty is height­ened because the Rus­sians share infor­ma­tion close­ly with the Syr­i­an regime.

    CNN first report­ed that US intel­li­gence and law enforce­ment agen­cies believed that ISIS and oth­er ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions had devel­oped new ways to place explo­sives in lap­tops and oth­er elec­tron­ic devices to evade air­port secu­ri­ty screen­ing meth­ods.

    US intel­li­gence sug­gest­ed that ter­ror­ists had obtained sophis­ti­cat­ed air­port secu­ri­ty equip­ment that allowed them to test how to effec­tive­ly con­ceal explo­sives in elec­tron­ic devices, CNN report­ed at the time.

    To address the spe­cif­ic con­cerns of US intel­li­gence, the CNN report did­n’t say that advances in ISIS bomb-mak­ing exper­tise was the pri­ma­ry dri­ver behind the changes in air­line secu­ri­ty rules.

    US offi­cials told CNN that the US intel­li­gence on the lap­top bombs was shared with the so-called “Five Eyes” coun­tries, the term used for the five anglo­phone nations — the US, UK, Cana­da, Aus­tralia and New Zealand — whose intel­li­gence agen­cies coor­di­nate close­ly.

    But aspects of the intel­li­gence include infor­ma­tion from allies in the region — out­side the Five Eyes — and there’s a pro­to­col that includes seek­ing per­mis­sion before shar­ing such infor­ma­tion with Rus­sia.

    The White House, in response to reporters’ ques­tions, has only min­i­mized the nature of the infor­ma­tion, sug­gest­ing some of it could be eas­i­ly found on the Inter­net.

    “But aspects of the intel­li­gence include infor­ma­tion from allies in the region — out­side the Five Eyes — and there’s a pro­to­col that includes seek­ing per­mis­sion before shar­ing such infor­ma­tion with Rus­sia.”

    So there was a pro­to­col against such intel­li­gence shar­ing out­side the Five Eyes and also a pro­to­col against shar­ing intel­li­gence with Rus­sia with­out ask­ing first. Aha, that was at least part of the prob­lem. Does­n’t every­one know that Trump does­n’t fol­low pro­to­cols? And if we are to believe the accounts of his nation­al secu­ri­ty advi­sor H.R. McMas­ters, it’s not like Trump planned out this breach of pro­to­col. He was unaware of the source of the infor­ma­tion and made a spur-of-the-moment deci­sion to share it. And if that sounds shock­ing, it should­n’t since, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle also points out, the ally in ques­tion is Israel and the Israelis were warned by the US offi­cials back in Jan­u­ary about shar­ing intel­li­gence with Trump for this very rea­son:

    The New York Times

    Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intel­li­gence Trump Gave to Rus­sians

    By ADAM GOLDMAN, MATTHEW ROSENBERG, MATT APUZZO and ERIC SCHMITT
    MAY 16, 2017

    WASHINGTON — The clas­si­fied intel­li­gence that Pres­i­dent Trump dis­closed in a meet­ing last week with Russ­ian offi­cials at the White House was pro­vid­ed by Israel, accord­ing to a cur­rent and a for­mer Amer­i­can offi­cial famil­iar with how the Unit­ed States obtained the infor­ma­tion. The rev­e­la­tion adds a poten­tial diplo­mat­ic com­pli­ca­tion to the episode.

    Israel is one of the Unit­ed States’ most impor­tant allies and a major intel­li­gence col­lec­tor in the Mid­dle East. The rev­e­la­tion that Mr. Trump boast­ed about some of Israel’s most sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion to the Rus­sians could dam­age the rela­tion­ship between the two coun­tries. It also rais­es the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the infor­ma­tion could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Mid­dle East.

    Israeli offi­cials would not con­firm that they were the source of the infor­ma­tion that Mr. Trump shared. In a state­ment emailed to The New York Times, Ron Der­mer, the Israeli ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States, reaf­firmed that the two coun­tries would main­tain a close coun­tert­er­ror­ism rela­tion­ship.

    “Israel has full con­fi­dence in our intel­li­gence-shar­ing rela­tion­ship with the Unit­ed States and looks for­ward to deep­en­ing that rela­tion­ship in the years ahead under Pres­i­dent Trump,” Mr. Der­mer said.

    In the meet­ing with the Russ­ian ambas­sador and for­eign min­is­ter, Mr. Trump dis­closed intel­li­gence about an Islam­ic State ter­ror­ist plot. At least some of the details that the Unit­ed States has about the plot came from the Israelis, the offi­cials said.

    The offi­cials, who were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said that Israel pre­vi­ous­ly had urged the Unit­ed States to be care­ful about the han­dling of the intel­li­gence that Mr. Trump dis­cussed.

    Mr. Trump said on Tues­day on Twit­ter that he had an “absolute right” to share infor­ma­tion in the inter­est of fight­ing ter­ror­ism and called it a “very, very suc­cess­ful meet­ing” in a brief appear­ance lat­er Tues­day at the White House along­side Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan of Turkey. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMas­ter, Mr. Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, told reporters that he was not con­cerned that infor­ma­tion shar­ing among intel­li­gence part­ners would stop.

    “What the pres­i­dent dis­cussed with the for­eign min­is­ter was whol­ly appro­pri­ate to that con­ver­sa­tion and is con­sis­tent with the rou­tine shar­ing of infor­ma­tion between the pres­i­dent and any lead­ers with whom he’s engaged,” Gen­er­al McMas­ter said at a White House brief­ing, seek­ing to play down the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the infor­ma­tion Mr. Trump dis­closed.

    Gen­er­al McMas­ter added that the pres­i­dent, who he said was unaware of the source of the infor­ma­tion, made a spur-of-the-moment deci­sion to tell the Rus­sians what he knew.

    But Gen­er­al McMas­ter also appeared to acknowl­edge that Thomas P. Bossert, the assis­tant to the pres­i­dent for Home­land Secu­ri­ty and coun­tert­er­ror­ism, had called the C.I.A. and the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency after the meet­ing with the Russ­ian offi­cials. Oth­er offi­cials have said that the spy agen­cies were con­tact­ed to help con­tain the dam­age from the leak to the Rus­sians.

    Gen­er­al McMas­ter would not con­firm that Mr. Bossert made the calls but sug­gest­ed that if he did, he was act­ing “maybe from an over­abun­dance of cau­tion.”

    “I have not talked to Mr. Bossert about that, about why he reached out,” Gen­er­al McMas­ter said.

    For­mer offi­cials said it was not uncom­mon for pres­i­dents to unin­ten­tion­al­ly say too much in meet­ings and said that in admin­is­tra­tions from both par­ties, staff mem­bers typ­i­cal­ly estab­lished bright lines for their boss­es to avoid cross­ing before such meet­ings.

    Israel’s con­cerns about the Trump White House’s han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion were fore­shad­owed in the Israeli news media this year. News­pa­pers there report­ed in Jan­u­ary that Amer­i­can offi­cials warned their Israeli coun­ter­parts to be care­ful about what they told the Trump admin­is­tra­tion because it could be leaked to the Rus­sians, giv­en Mr. Trump’s open­ness toward Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin.

    “The Rus­sians have the widest intel­li­gence col­lec­tion mech­a­nism in the world out­side of our own. They can put togeth­er a good pic­ture with just a few details,” said John Sipher, a 28-year vet­er­an of the C.I.A. who served in Moscow in the 1990s and lat­er ran the C.I.A.’s Rus­sia pro­gram for three years. “They can mar­ry Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­ments with their own intel­li­gence, and intel­li­gence from their allies. They can also deploy addi­tion­al resources to find out details.”

    The episode could have far-reach­ing con­se­quences, Democ­rats warned. Any coun­try that shares intel­li­gence with Amer­i­can offi­cials “could decide it can’t trust the Unit­ed States with infor­ma­tion, or worse, that it can’t trust the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States with infor­ma­tion,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam B. Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, the top Demo­c­rat on the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

    ...

    “Israel’s con­cerns about the Trump White House’s han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion were fore­shad­owed in the Israeli news media this year. News­pa­pers there report­ed in Jan­u­ary that Amer­i­can offi­cials warned their Israeli coun­ter­parts to be care­ful about what they told the Trump admin­is­tra­tion because it could be leaked to the Rus­sians, giv­en Mr. Trump’s open­ness toward Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin.”

    Well, that’s prob­a­bly not going to help with the US’s intel­li­gence shar­ing agree­ments. And not only are the Israelis report­ed­ly pissed, but a senior intel­li­gence offi­cial from an unnamed Euro­pean ally is now indi­cat­ing to the press that their nation might stop shar­ing intel­li­gence with the US if it’s deter­mined that Trump did indeed share that intel­li­gence with the Rus­sians (which Trump already admit­ted he did).

    So Trump maybe have cre­at­ed an inter­na­tion­al cri­sis of con­fi­dence by major­ing diss­ing the Israelis in a manger that could result in intel­li­gence not being shared with the US. Once again, is he try­ing to do this? Prep­ping the US for a Ser­pent Walk attack, per­haps? Cre­at­ing favor­able con­di­tions for a mil­i­tary coup? What’s the plan here? Or is the plan to have no plan at all and let chaos do the work? Who knows, but if Trump’s plans includ­ed some­how spik­ing the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tions by beg­ging James Comey and then lat­er fir­ing him when that did­n’t work, he’s going to need new plans:

    The New York Times

    Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Fly­nn Inves­ti­ga­tion

    By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
    MAY 16, 2017

    WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Trump asked the F.B.I. direc­tor, James B. Comey, to shut down the fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Trump’s for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, Michael T. Fly­nn, in an Oval Office meet­ing in Feb­ru­ary, accord­ing to a memo Mr. Comey wrote short­ly after the meet­ing.

    “I hope you can let this go,” the pres­i­dent told Mr. Comey, accord­ing to the memo.

    The exis­tence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clear­est evi­dence that the pres­i­dent has tried to direct­ly influ­ence the Jus­tice Depart­ment and F.B.I. inves­ti­ga­tion into links between Mr. Trump’s asso­ciates and Rus­sia.

    Mr. Comey wrote the memo detail­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with the pres­i­dent imme­di­ate­ly after the meet­ing, which took place the day after Mr. Fly­nn resigned, accord­ing to two peo­ple who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey cre­at­ed doc­u­ment­ing what he per­ceived as the president’s improp­er efforts to influ­ence a con­tin­u­ing inves­ti­ga­tion. An F.B.I. agent’s con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous notes are wide­ly held up in court as cred­i­ble evi­dence of con­ver­sa­tions.

    Mr. Comey shared the exis­tence of the memo with senior F.B.I. offi­cials and close asso­ciates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclas­si­fied, but one of Mr. Comey’s asso­ciates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

    “I hope you can see your way clear to let­ting this go, to let­ting Fly­nn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, accord­ing to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

    Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Fly­nn had done noth­ing wrong, accord­ing to the memo.

    Mr. Comey did not say any­thing to Mr. Trump about cur­tail­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion, only reply­ing: “I agree he is a good guy.”

    In a state­ment, the White House denied the ver­sion of events in the memo.

    “While the pres­i­dent has repeat­ed­ly expressed his view that Gen­er­al Fly­nn is a decent man who served and pro­tect­ed our coun­try, the pres­i­dent has nev­er asked Mr. Comey or any­one else to end any inves­ti­ga­tion, includ­ing any inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing Gen­er­al Fly­nn,” the state­ment said. “The pres­i­dent has the utmost respect for our law enforce­ment agen­cies, and all inves­ti­ga­tions. This is not a truth­ful or accu­rate por­tray­al of the con­ver­sa­tion between the pres­i­dent and Mr. Comey.”

    In tes­ti­mo­ny to the Sen­ate last week, the act­ing F.B.I. direc­tor, Andrew G. McCabe, said, “There has been no effort to impede our inves­ti­ga­tion to date.”

    Mr. McCabe was refer­ring to the broad inves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between Rus­sia and the Trump cam­paign. The inves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Fly­nn is sep­a­rate.

    A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to com­ment.

    Mr. Comey cre­at­ed sim­i­lar mem­os — includ­ing some that are clas­si­fied — about every phone call and meet­ing he had with the pres­i­dent, the two peo­ple said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Jus­tice Depart­ment about the con­ver­sa­tion or his mem­os.

    Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials have pro­vid­ed mul­ti­ple, con­flict­ing accounts of the rea­son­ing behind Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. Mr. Trump said in a tele­vi­sion inter­view that one of the rea­sons was because he believed “this Rus­sia thing” was a “made-up sto­ry.”

    The Feb. 14 meet­ing took place just a day after Mr. Fly­nn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence about the nature of phone con­ver­sa­tions he had had with the Russ­ian ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States.

    Despite the con­ver­sa­tion between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the inves­ti­ga­tion of Mr. Fly­nn has pro­ceed­ed. In Vir­ginia, a fed­er­al grand jury has issued sub­poe­nas in recent weeks for records relat­ed to Mr. Fly­nn. Part of the Fly­nn inves­ti­ga­tion is cen­tered on his finan­cial ties to Rus­sia and Turkey.
    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/robert-reich-trump-wont-be-impeached-until-republicans-believe-their-jobs-are-in-danger/
    Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with oth­er senior nation­al secu­ri­ty offi­cials for a ter­ror­ism threat brief­ing. When the meet­ing end­ed, Mr. Trump told those present — includ­ing Mr. Pence and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.

    Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the dis­cus­sion by con­demn­ing leaks to the news media, say­ing that Mr. Comey should con­sid­er putting reporters in prison for pub­lish­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, accord­ing to one of Mr. Comey’s asso­ciates.

    Mr. Trump then turned the dis­cus­sion to Mr. Fly­nn.

    After writ­ing up a memo that out­lined the meet­ing, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. offi­cials. Mr. Comey and his aides per­ceived Mr. Trump’s com­ments as an effort to influ­ence the inves­ti­ga­tion, but they decid­ed that they would try to keep the con­ver­sa­tion secret — even from the F.B.I. agents work­ing on the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion — so the details of the con­ver­sa­tion would not affect the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Mr. Comey was known among his clos­est advis­ers to doc­u­ment con­ver­sa­tions that he believed would lat­er be called into ques­tion, accord­ing to two for­mer con­fi­dants, who said Mr. Comey was uncom­fort­able at times with his rela­tion­ship with Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion has been bol­stered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Con­gress about a now-famous show­down with senior White House offi­cials over the Bush administration’s war­rant­less wire­tap­ping pro­gram. The White House dis­put­ed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. direc­tor at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s sto­ry.

    The White House has repeat­ed­ly crossed lines that oth­er admin­is­tra­tions have been reluc­tant to cross when dis­cussing polit­i­cal­ly charged crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions. Mr. Trump has dis­par­aged the con­tin­u­ing F.B.I. inves­ti­ga­tion as a hoax and called for an inquiry into his polit­i­cal rivals. His rep­re­sen­ta­tives have tak­en the unusu­al step of declar­ing no need for a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to inves­ti­gate the president’s asso­ciates.

    The Oval Office meet­ing occurred a lit­tle more than two weeks after Mr. Trump sum­moned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one din­ner at the res­i­dence. At that din­ner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loy­al­ty — which Mr. Comey declined, accord­ing to one of Mr. Comey’s asso­ciates.

    ...

    The Jan. 27 din­ner came a day after White House offi­cials learned that Mr. Fly­nn had been inter­viewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russ­ian ambas­sador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Act­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sal­ly Q. Yates told the White House coun­sel about the inter­view, and said Mr. Fly­nn could be sub­ject to black­mail by the Rus­sians because they knew he had lied about the con­tent of the calls.

    “After writ­ing up a memo that out­lined the meet­ing, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. offi­cials. Mr. Comey and his aides per­ceived Mr. Trump’s com­ments as an effort to influ­ence the inves­ti­ga­tion, but they decid­ed that they would try to keep the con­ver­sa­tion secret — even from the F.B.I. agents work­ing on the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion — so the details of the con­ver­sa­tion would not affect the inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    Uh...ok, so Trump first tried to get a loy­al­ty pledge from Comey in Jan­u­ary, and then Trump has a meet­ing with Comey where he basi­cal­ly requests that they call off the inves­ti­ga­tion....a day after fir­ing Fly­nn for lying about his call to ambas­sador Kislyak. And we’re just learn­ing this now...right after learn­ing about he he may have frac­tured the US’s intel­li­gence shar­ing rela­tion­ships by shar­ing high­ly sen­si­tive intel­li­gence with ambas­sador Kislyak the day after he fires James Comey.

    Once again, is he try­ing to get impeached? Well, if so, he’s going to have to try hard­er since it’s pret­ty clear that the GOP has absolute­ly no inter­est in impeach­ing Trump as long as he goes along with their agen­da of tax cuts, dereg­u­la­tions, and gut­ting health care. Seri­ous­ly, that’s basi­cal­ly what Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell just said:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    McConnell Makes It Plain

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished May 16, 2017 9:34 am

    A few moments ago Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on cam­eras and gave a response to the Lavrov block­buster which cap­tured in two or three sen­tences the essen­tial cyn­i­cism of the cur­rent Repub­li­can posi­tion on the moral and strate­gic implo­sion of the Trump pres­i­den­cy.

    Here is the quote.

    I read the Wash­ing­ton Post sto­ry and I read Gen­er­al McMas­ters response, which tends to refute the sto­ry, rebut the sto­ry. I think we could do with a lit­tle less dra­ma from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agen­da, which is dereg­u­la­tions, tax reform, repeal­ing and replac­ing Oba­macare.

    The cyn­i­cism is almost lap­idary in its puri­ty. ‘Yeah, shar­ing that clas­si­fied intel­li­gence was pret­ty bad. But let’s focus on the big pic­ture which is tax reform.’ Or, ‘You shar­ing clas­si­fied intel­li­gence with Rus­sia is only mak­ing Oba­macare repeal that much hard­er.’

    Peo­ple have been say­ing for months that estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans had decid­ed that they’d let Trump do almost lit­er­al­ly any­thing as long as he agreed to sign a big tax cut and help repeal Oba­macare. And now McConnell, faced with the ulti­mate con­se­quence of this moral deser­tion, is hap­py to say it out loud.

    “I read the Wash­ing­ton Post sto­ry and I read Gen­er­al McMas­ters response, which tends to refute the sto­ry, rebut the sto­ry. I think we could do with a lit­tle less dra­ma from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agen­da, which is dereg­u­la­tions, tax reform, repeal­ing and replac­ing Oba­macare.”

    It’s pret­ty hard to inter­pret that state­ment as any­thing oth­er than a mes­sage to Trump, “stick with the agen­da and you’ll be fine no mat­ter what you do.” And yet, it’s as if Trump wants to be impeached. Either that or he wants to not be impeached while doing the kinds of things that would nor­mal­ly get a pres­i­dent impeached in order to estab­lish some sort of hor­ri­ble prece­dent or some­thing. Who knows. But as Josh Mar­shall puts it:

    ...
    Peo­ple have been say­ing for months that estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans had decid­ed that they’d let Trump do almost lit­er­al­ly any­thing as long as he agreed to sign a big tax cut and help repeal Oba­macare. And now McConnell, faced with the ulti­mate con­se­quence of this moral deser­tion, is hap­py to say it out loud

    Yes, the Pres­i­dent appears to be try­ing to get impeached (or either out of con­trol or active­ly tring to dam­age the US’s defens­es) but his GOP col­leagues won’t let him be impeached because he has more impor­tant work to do. Pass­ing their far-right domes­tic agen­da.

    At least that’s how things appear. Who knows what’s going on under the sur­face or between Trump’s ears. But if he isn’t try­ing to be impeached there’s prob­a­bly some­thing Trump, and the rest of the US, should keep in mind. Qhile it’s pos­si­ble that the GOP will let Trump do almost lit­er­al­ly any­thing as long as he agreed to sign a big tax cut and help repeal Oba­macare, it’s also pos­si­ble that it’s a slight­ly dif­fer­ent sce­nario: that the GOP will let Trump do almost lit­er­al­ly any­thing until he agrees to sign a big tax cut and help repeal Oba­macare. Because let’s say Trump and the GOP push through some sort of Oba­macare repeal, a giant tax cut, and all the dereg­u­la­tions they could imag­ine. Ok, well, what good is Trump to hte GOP at that point? He’s unpop­u­lar, errat­ic, and increas­ing­ly seen as a sub­ver­sive and impeach­able fig­ure. So why not impeach him at that point after all those hor­ri­bly unpop­u­lar GOP poli­cies are passed under the ‘Trump’ brand and the GOP can move on and rebrand. Because don’t for­get that the most like­ly thing to trig­ger a GOP impeach­ment of Trump is if Trump and the GOP get so unpop­u­lar that the par­ty’s pow­er is seri­ous­ly threat­ened. And what could threat­en that pop­u­lar­i­ty more than pass­ing the GOP’s hor­ri­bly unpop­u­lar agen­da?

    So hope­ful­ly some­one pass­es that along to Trump: If he does­n’t actu­al­ly want to be impeached, he bet­ter keep string­ing the GOP along for as long as pos­si­ble. Just keep mak­ing it look like he’s about to push through those giant tax cuts, but some­how botch it in the end. If last-minute acts of self-destruc­tion that derail the broad­er GOP agen­da become part of his actu­al plan, a suc­cess­ful pres­i­den­cy is almost inevitable.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 16, 2017, 3:36 pm
  23. Et tu Jared? Yep. Jared Kush­n­er is report­ed­ly on Don­ald Trump’s ‘Comey fir­ing’ sh#t list. And if the reports are right he’s on there for a good rea­son. Not only was he appar­ent­ly a promi­nent voice in push­ing for Comey’s fir­ing but, as the arti­cle below notes, it’s quite pos­si­ble that he was push­ing for the fir­ing for rather per­son­al rea­son: he may have freaked out after news reports exposed the Kush­n­er fam­i­ly busi­ness prac­tices involv­ing Jared’s sis­ter solic­it­ing invest­ments in Chi­na in exchange for an implied ease in get­ting US cit­i­zen­ship.

    If true, this sug­gests that the fir­ing of FBI may not have sim­ply been about Trump’s desire to shut down the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s alleged col­lu­sion with Rus­sia. It also could have also involved a desire to see Trump put in place an FBI direc­tor who would be will­ing to turn a blind eye to good ‘ol fash­ioned nepo­tis­tic cor­rup­tion:

    Death and Tax­es

    Trump is pissed off at his gold­en boy Jared Kush­n­er

    In News by Mag­gie Sero­ta / May 17, 2017

    In the chaos that fol­lowed the bomb­shell report that Pres­i­dent Trump specif­i­cal­ly asked James Comey to lay off the bureau’s Rus­sia probe, The New York Times report­ed the pres­i­dent had soured on his gold­en boy advis­er-in-law Jared Kush­n­er. Accord­ing to White House sources, a wild­ly pissed off Trump called Kush­n­er, along with the rest of his senior aides “incom­pe­tent.”

    On Wednes­day, CBS News report­ed that Trump turned on Kush­n­er because was a “promi­nent voice” push­ing for Comey’s dis­missal and didn’t antic­i­pate the shit storm such a shady move would cre­ate. In the Trump White House, shit rolls down­hill, so Kush­n­er report­ed­ly took his frus­tra­tion out on belea­guered press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer for fail­ing to con­tain the PR night­mare that comes part and par­cel with a sit­ting pres­i­dent active­ly obstruct­ing jus­tice.

    CNN nation­al secu­ri­ty ana­lyst Juli­et Kayyem sug­gest­ed that Kush­n­er had ulte­ri­or motives for fir­ing Comey. Kayyem said that after news broke that Kushner’s sis­ter Nicole Mey­er was using her prox­im­i­ty to the White House as a sell­ing point to Chi­nese investors in a Jer­sey City devel­op­ment project “and that the FBI probe was expand­ing to finan­cial deal­ings.”

    ...

    In any case, Steve Ban­non must be enjoy­ing his “cuck” adversary’s time in the bar­rel.

    ———-
    “Trump is Pissed Off At His Gold­en Boy Jared Kush­n­er” by Mag­gie Sero­ta; Death and Tax­es; 5/17/2017

    “CNN nation­al secu­ri­ty ana­lyst Juli­et Kayyem sug­gest­ed that Kush­n­er had ulte­ri­or motives for fir­ing Comey. Kayyem said that after news broke that Kushner’s sis­ter Nicole Mey­er was using her prox­im­i­ty to the White House as a sell­ing point to Chi­nese investors in a Jer­sey City devel­op­ment project “and that the FBI probe was expand­ing to finan­cial deal­ings.””

    Keep in mind that we have no idea if fears over an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into the Kush­n­er clan’s influ­ence ped­dling was real­ly the pri­ma­ry impe­tus for Kush­n­er back­ing Comey’s fir­ing. But it does at least kind of make sense as an addi­tion­al motive. Sure, the tim­ing and incred­i­bly bad optics of Comey’s fir­ing nev­er made sense, with or with­out the Trump/Russia inves­ti­ga­tion to wor­ry about. But giv­en the wide array of cor­rupt activ­i­ties the Trump/Kushner familes are clear­ly engaged in at this point, get­ting some­one friend­lier in the FBI makes sense as a medi­um/­long-term Trump Team pri­or­i­ty. A lot more sense than the “Comey’s abuse of Hillary’s emails” expla­na­tion Trump gave. It’s a reminder that whether or not the Trump/Russia probe was the pri­ma­ry rea­son for Comey’s fir­ing, it’s not like there aren’t plen­ty of oth­er per­ceived poten­tial threats from the FBI that the Trump Team would have real­ly want­ed to con­fi­dent­ly put a lid on by putting in place a ‘Team Trump’ FBI direc­tor.

    So if Jared is los­ing his influ­ence over Trump after all these reports about how Trump is pissed at basi­cal­ly every­one on his staff, who’s left? Well, how about the one per­son who report­ed­ly cau­tioned against Comey’s fir­ing. That’s right, Ban­non is back:

    Van­i­ty Fair

    Is Steve Ban­non Back for More?
    Will a West Wing in retreat allow some old-timers the chance to reprise their pow­er? “Peo­ple who weren’t on the cam­paign always seem to be more stressed by this,” one staffer told me.
    by

    Emi­ly Jane Fox
    May 17, 2017 1:52 pm

    In the real­i­ty show that is Don­ald Trump’s West Wing, a cru­cible with con­stant loose-lipped calum­nies and can’t-look-away block­buster rat­ings to match, the sea­son crest­ed this week to the point where the key play­er goes so far off the rails that all the sup­port­ing cast mem­bers can do is talk (and talk, and talk) about how far gone they are. And after Trump dis­missed F.B.I. direc­tor James Comey in the midst of his bureau’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the pres­i­den­t’s cam­paign, and after Tues­day’s report that Comey kept notes of a con­ver­sa­tion in which the pres­i­dent asked him to take it easy on Gen­er­al Michael Fly­nn, some char­ac­ters whose sto­ry lines appeared to be dwin­dling are now step­ping back into the spot­light.

    Hav­ing cre­at­ed a string of crises that now threat­en to upend his pres­i­den­cy, Don­ald Trump is report­ed­ly deeply frus­trat­ed with the team—Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, and even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—who’ve failed to con­tain it. It is a self-immo­lat­ing dynam­ic, and a harum-scarum rhythm that those who saw Trump through the elec­tion grew some­what accus­tomed to. But as a staffer described to me, this has been par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult for those who joined the admin­is­tra­tion post-elec­tion. “Peo­ple who weren’t on the cam­paign always seem to be more stressed by this,” this per­son told me. As such, Trump appears to be retreat­ing to those orig­i­nal cam­paign cast mem­bers who are more accus­tomed to his par­tic­u­lar brand of chaos. As the bed­lam plays on, Trump has been work­ing with Stephen Miller, his 31-year-old senior advis­er for pol­i­cy, to pre­pare speech­es for his first trip over­sees as pres­i­dent, accord­ing to one per­son famil­iar with the plan­ning.

    Stephen Ban­non, the president’s chief strate­gist, who had fall­en out of favor with­in the West Wing after butting heads with Kush­n­er, has also appeared back in the fray. One White House aide not­ed to me on Tues­day that Ban­non, whom the aide had called “irrel­e­vant” a week ear­li­er, had been in meet­ings with the pres­i­dent and senior staff over the last week. He was among those shout­ing in Spicer’s office Mon­day evening, and notably, Ban­non was report­ed to be the only one of Trump’s advis­ers who had strong­ly coun­seled against fir­ing Comey and pre­dict­ed the fall­out. On Tues­day evening, Corey Lewandows­ki, Trump’s brusk ini­tial cam­paign man­ag­er who helped trans­form him from van­i­ty can­di­date to pri­ma­ry front-run­ner before being replaced, was spot­ted going into the White House.

    The reg­u­lar upheavals in Trump world are often points at which long­time con­fi­dants or cam­paign friends tend to return to his orbit. Chris Christie, who spent much of the pri­ma­ry sea­son bash­ing Trump and lat­er got axed from his posi­tion as head of the tran­si­tion team, came back into the White House ear­li­er this year to lead an opi­oid task force. For­mer New York may­or Rudy Giu­liani has cir­cled in and out depend­ing on Trump’s favor.

    The only mem­ber of Trump’s cam­paign squad who appears to not be in the mix is Kellyanne Con­way. While Trump and near­ly every mem­ber of White House senior staff, includ­ing Miller, Ban­non, Kush­n­er, his wife, Ivan­ka, Chief of Staff Priebus, Spicer, eco­nom­ic advis­er Gary Cohn, Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er H.R. McMas­ter and his deputy, Dina Pow­ell, spokes­woman Hope Hicks, and a hand­ful of oth­er mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions team, will pile onto Air Force One for a nine-day, five-coun­try tour, Con­way plans to stay behind. His senior coun­selor, who has been large­ly absent from pub­lic view in recent months apart from an inter­view with CNN’s Ander­son Coop­er on the eve of Comey’s dis­missal, has “a full slate of meet­ings” in Wash­ing­ton, a source famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion explained, a fam­i­ly wed­ding, and end-of-year events at her children’s schools to attend. She is also clos­ing on a new home in D.C. this week.

    Of course, it was­n’t sup­posed to be this way. With­in the White House, the pre­vi­ous two weeks were planned to be qui­et, in prepa­ra­tion for the trip. Instead, they’ve been the most tur­bu­lent of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, and his staff has been left hold­ing onto the rail­ings for dear life. The Dai­ly Beast report­ed on Mon­day that senior staffers were “hid­ing in offices” to avoid the press. Those who ven­tured out were “con­fused and squab­bling,” The New York Times not­ed. Reporters over­heard senior offi­cials shout­ing so loud­ly after the Post sto­ry broke on Mon­day evening that they had to turn up the TV in Spicer’s office in order to con­ceal their own yelling from reporters gath­ered out­side (a claim the White House denied). Politi­co quot­ed a White House offi­cial say­ing “We are kind of help­less” after the news broke on Tues­day. In a fol­low-up, the Dai­ly Beast talked to a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial who said, “I feel like run­ning down the hall­way with a fire extin­guish­er,” after the lat­est devel­op­ment.

    ...

    ———-
    “Is Steve Ban­non Back for More?” by Emi­ly Jane Fox; Van­i­ty Fair; 5/17/2017

    “Stephen Ban­non, the president’s chief strate­gist, who had fall­en out of favor with­in the West Wing after butting heads with Kush­n­er, has also appeared back in the fray. One White House aide not­ed to me on Tues­day that Ban­non, whom the aide had called “irrel­e­vant” a week ear­li­er, had been in meet­ings with the pres­i­dent and senior staff over the last week. He was among those shout­ing in Spicer’s office Mon­day evening, and notably, Ban­non was report­ed to be the only one of Trump’s advis­ers who had strong­ly coun­seled against fir­ing Comey and pre­dict­ed the fall­out. On Tues­day evening, Corey Lewandows­ki, Trump’s brusk ini­tial cam­paign man­ag­er who helped trans­form him from van­i­ty can­di­date to pri­ma­ry front-run­ner before being replaced, was spot­ted going into the White House.”

    Death stalks the halls of the White House. And is in good stand­ing again. Or at least isn’t in worse stand­ing than any­one else. Oh joy.

    And it’s not just Ban­non. Stephen Miller has appar­ent­ly man­aged to stay on Trump’s good side through all this too:

    ...
    Hav­ing cre­at­ed a string of crises that now threat­en to upend his pres­i­den­cy, Don­ald Trump is report­ed­ly deeply frus­trat­ed with the team—Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, and even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—who’ve failed to con­tain it. It is a self-immo­lat­ing dynam­ic, and a harum-scarum rhythm that those who saw Trump through the elec­tion grew some­what accus­tomed to. But as a staffer described to me, this has been par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult for those who joined the admin­is­tra­tion post-elec­tion. “Peo­ple who weren’t on the cam­paign always seem to be more stressed by this,” this per­son told me. As such, Trump appears to be retreat­ing to those orig­i­nal cam­paign cast mem­bers who are more accus­tomed to his par­tic­u­lar brand of chaos. As the bed­lam plays on, Trump has been work­ing with Stephen Miller, his 31-year-old senior advis­er for pol­i­cy, to pre­pare speech­es for his first trip over­sees as pres­i­dent, accord­ing to one per­son famil­iar with the plan­ning.
    ...

    So it would appear that Trump is re-embrac­ing his White Nation­al­ist roots dur­ing this time of cri­sis. At least until they advise him to do some­thing stu­pid again. Or he does some­thing stu­pid on his own and then blames them any­way. So when should we expect the next shake­up, one that puts Jared back in good-ish stand­ing? We’ll see how long the Bannon/Miller dynam­ic duo last before anoth­er Trump rage and the staff-rota­tion process begins anew. Give it a cou­ple weeks.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 17, 2017, 3:24 pm
  24. The inves­ti­ga­tions into the Trump team’s Rus­sia ties took anoth­er dra­mat­ic twist yes­ter­day. For­mer FBI direc­tor Robert Mueller was appoint­ed the spe­cial coun­sel to lead the inves­ti­ga­tion. As for the par­tic­u­lar nature of the dra­ma and whether or not this is real­ly the hor­ri­ble news for Trump that almost every­one appears to be assum­ing it is, well, that’s an inter­est­ing ques­tion. The answer of which prob­a­bly depends on whether or not with Mueller’s his­to­ry of lead­ing high­ly sen­si­tive inves­ti­ga­tions that threat­en to take down a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and some­how end up not ‘going there’ is a hint of what’s to come. And prob­a­bly also depends a lot on just how murkey and sen­si­tive Trump’s rela­tions with peo­ple like Felix Sater — who has deep ties to the Russ­ian mafia and a his­to­ry of CIA coop­er­a­tion — are and whether or not a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of Trump would sig­nif­i­cant­ly dis­rupt any ongo­ing operations/sources.

    That said, it was a pret­ty dra­mat­ic move for the Dra­ma Queen in Chief:

    NBC News

    Trump Says He Faces ‘Witch Hunt,’ Spe­cial Coun­sel ‘Hurts the Coun­try’

    by Erik Ortiz
    May 18 2017, 5:13 pm ET

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day declared him­self the tar­get of a “witch hunt” a day after the Jus­tice Depart­ment announced the appoint­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel to inves­ti­gate alleged Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

    “With all of the ille­gal acts that took place in the Clin­ton cam­paign & Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion, there was nev­er a spe­cial coun­cel (sic) appoint­ed!” he weighed in Thurs­day morn­ing on Twit­ter, his favored form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

    “This is the sin­gle great­est witch hunt of a politi­cian in Amer­i­can his­to­ry!” he fol­lowed up.

    With all of the ille­gal acts that took place in the Clin­ton cam­paign & Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion, there was nev­er a spe­cial coun­cel appoint­ed!
    — Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017

    This is the sin­gle great­est witch hunt of a politi­cian in Amer­i­can his­to­ry!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017

    At a White House lunch with anchors on Thurs­day, Trump was asked about the appoint­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel.

    “I believe it hurts our coun­try ter­ri­bly, because it shows we’re a divid­ed, mixed-up, not-uni­fied coun­try,” the pres­i­dent said. “And we have very impor­tant things to be doing right now, whether it’s trade deals, whether it’s mil­i­tary, whether it’s stop­ping nuclear...And I think this shows a very divid­ed coun­try.

    Trump added, “It also hap­pens to be a pure excuse for the Democ­rats hav­ing lost an elec­tion that they should have eas­i­ly won because of the Elec­toral Col­lege being slant­ed so much in their way. That’s all this is. I think it shows divi­sion, and it shows that we’re not togeth­er as a coun­try. And I think it’s a very, very neg­a­tive thing. And hope­ful­ly, this can go quick­ly, because we have to show uni­ty if we’re going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world.”

    At a joint press con­fer­ence lat­er with Colom­bia Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos, Trump said he “respects” the nam­ing of a spe­cial coun­sel but added, “I hate to see any­thing that divides” the coun­try.

    The pres­i­dent again insist­ed there was “zero” col­lu­sion with the Rus­sians. “There is not col­lu­sion between, cer­tain­ly myself and my cam­paign, but I can only speak for myself,” Trump said. “Believe me, there’s no col­lu­sion.”

    Trump also direct­ly respond­ed to reports that he asked then-FBI Direc­tor James Comey to stop the inves­ti­ga­tion into for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Mike Fly­nn, say­ing “no” twice when he was asked at the press con­fer­ence if he tried to halt the probe. “Next ques­tion,” the pres­i­dent said.

    And Trump called talk of impeach­ment “ridicu­lous — every­body thinks so.”

    Some of Trump’s com­ments Thurs­day about the spe­cial coun­sel stand in con­trast to his more mea­sured response Wednes­day night from the pres­i­dent after Deputy U.S. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein appoint­ed for­mer FBI Direc­tor Bob Mueller to the inves­ti­ga­to­ry role.

    “As I have stat­ed many times, a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion will con­firm what we already know — there was no col­lu­sion between my cam­paign and any for­eign enti­ty,” Trump said in the state­ment. “I look for­ward to this mat­ter con­clud­ing quick­ly. In the mean­time, I will nev­er stop fight­ing for the peo­ple and the issues that mat­ter most to the future of our coun­try.”

    Mueller takes the reins after Comey was fired by Trump last week as he inves­ti­gat­ed poten­tial ties between Trump’s cam­paign and Russ­ian offi­cials.

    Trump lat­er revealed to NBC News that he thought of Comey as a “show­boat” and “grand­stander,” and felt his inquiry was part of a “made-up sto­ry” — con­tra­dict­ing what his top aides had told reporters ear­li­er in the week that the fir­ing had noth­ing to do with Rus­sia.

    ...

    Wash­ing­ton law­mak­ers from both par­ties have expressed con­fi­dence in Mueller, a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor at the Jus­tice Depart­ment who became FBI direc­tor just pri­or to 9/11.

    “I think he’ll be broad­ly sup­port­ed, he has impec­ca­ble cre­den­tials, a sto­ried his­to­ry,” Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz, R‑Utah, and the chair­man of the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee, said Thurs­day on TODAY. “He had 10 years lead­ing the FBI in both the Bush and the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. ... He’s in the lat­ter part of his career, he has noth­ing to prove, I think he’ll do a fab­u­lous job.”

    ———-
    “Trump Says He Faces ‘Witch Hunt,’ Spe­cial Coun­sel ‘Hurts the Coun­try’” by Erik Ortiz; NBC News; 05/18/2017

    “This is the sin­gle great­est witch hunt of a politi­cian in Amer­i­can his­to­ry!”

    That’s our Trump! The appoint­ment of Mueller is just the worst, most unfair thing to ever hap­pen to an Amer­i­can politi­cian. Did you hear that, JFK? Oh, that’s right.

    So, since Mueller’s being por­trayed as a man if impeach­able char­ac­ter whose word will be char­ac­ter­ized as the final word on this inves­ti­ga­tion, it’s prob­a­bly a good time for peo­ple to review For the Record #603 “I Told You So Part III Update on the Sub­ver­sion of Oper­a­tion Green Quest” for some rel­e­vant his­to­ry. Specif­i­cal­ly, on the first half of the show you can get a nice overview of the Mueller’s role in lead­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion of BCCI (with Rudy Guil­iani as #2) and how the inad­e­quate pur­suit of inves­ti­ga­tion like­ly pro­tect­ed not just George H. W. Bush from poten­tial­ly impeach­able offens­es but also George W. Bush. And then in the sec­ond half you get a review of the FBI’s actions regard­ing the Oper­a­tion Green Quest raids of sus­pect­ed 9/11 ter­ror financ­ing and how the indi­vid­u­als in that inves­ti­ga­tion had close ties to the GOP and Bush admin­is­tra­tion. It’s the kind of rel­e­vant his­to­ry that rais­es some grim ques­tions about what we can expect, but if his­to­ry is our guide we should prob­a­bly expect some dra­mat­ic dis­cov­er­ies involv­ing low­er-lev­el Trump team offi­cials, lots of con­grats about what a thor­ough job it was, and that’s about it. It would be nice to be pleas­ant­ly sur­prised! But, you know, his­to­ry and all that.

    So yeah, if you’re a low­er-lev­el Trump team mem­ber it’s prob­a­bly a good time to start wor­ry­ing. Espe­cial­ly if you’ve had any con­tact with Rus­sians at all ever. There’s a witch hunt com­ing. Sure, if his­to­ry is our guide it’s prob­a­bly just going to be a lit­tle witch hunt. But that does­n’t mean the hunt is going to be lit­tle. It’s going to be a big hunt for lit­tle witch­es. Or, rather, it’s going to be the sin­gle great­est lit­tle witch hunt in Amer­i­can his­to­ry!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 18, 2017, 3:48 pm
  25. It’s still that time. What time? Time to ask the ques­tion, “Is Don­ald Trump try­ing to exac­er­bate sus­pi­cions over pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment”? And since the pri­ma­ry rea­son we have to ask that ques­tion is the steady drip, drip, drip of evi­dence of Trump act­ing in a man­ner that open­ly invites sus­pi­cions of obstruc­tion of jus­tice and now more Amer­i­cans sup­port impeach­ment than oppose accord­ing to a recent poll, it’s also time to ask, “Is Don­ald Trump try­ing to pro­voke a legal show­down?”

    But since the lat­est drip of evi­dence of obstruc­tion of jus­tice involves reports, undis­put­ed by the White House, that Trump open­ly told Rus­si­a’s for­eign min­is­ter and ambas­sador dur­ing the now infa­mous May 10 meet­ing, that, yes, he did fire FBI Direc­tor James Comey because of all the pres­sure Comey was cre­at­ing for him with the inves­ti­ga­tion into Russ­ian col­lu­sion — thus cre­at­ing exact­ly the kind of “poten­tial black­mail by a for­eign pow­er [because that for­eign pow­er now has poten­tial lever­age over you for doing some­thing ille­gal]” sit­u­a­tion that the orig­i­nal col­lu­sion inves­ti­ga­tion was inves­ti­gat­ing — it’s also still time to ask, “Is Don­ald Trump try­ing to exac­er­bate this sit­u­a­tion as part of some Machi­avel­lian trap, or is he just the most incom­pe­tent crooked politi­cian in Amer­i­can his­to­ry?”

    CNN

    It’s not pos­si­ble for Don­ald Trump to have han­dled the Rus­sia ‘nut job’ meet­ing any worse

    Analy­sis by Chris Cil­liz­za, CNN Edi­tor-at-large

    Updat­ed 6:27 PM ET, Fri May 19, 2017

    (CNN)The New York Times is report­ing that in a May 10 Oval Office meet­ing with Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and Russ­ian Ambas­sador Sergey Kislyak, Pres­i­dent Trump referred to fired FBI Direc­tor James Comey as a “nut job” and told the two men that “I faced great pres­sure because of Rus­sia. That’s tak­en off.”

    Um, WHAT?

    Remem­ber that Trump, in this same May 10 meet­ing with Lavrov and Kisy­lak, report­ed­ly passed along clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to the Rus­sians that was con­sid­ered so top-secret that his admin­is­tra­tion asked news orga­ni­za­tions — includ­ing CNN — not to report it even after Trump revealed it to the Rus­sians.

    It’s hard to imag­ine how Trump, who is cur­rent­ly aboard Air Force One jet­ting his way to Sau­di Ara­bia to kick off a nine-day for­eign trip, could have han­dled this meet­ing worse.

    He was, and is, des­per­ate­ly try­ing to con­vince the Amer­i­can pub­lic that reports of his cam­paign’s ties to Rus­sia — and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of col­lu­sion between the two — are total­ly ridicu­lous, “fake news” in Trump’s par­lance. If you were try­ing to make that case, you would do, lit­er­al­ly, the oppo­site of what Trump report­ed­ly did in that May 10 meet­ing.

    (Side­bar: Remem­ber when George Con­stan­za decid­ed to do the oppo­site of every one of his nat­ur­al instincts because his life was such a wreck?)

    There is no worse way to con­vince peo­ple that all of the Rus­sia stuff is made up and a “total hoax,” in Trump’s words, than to share clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion with two top Russ­ian offi­cials and, in the same damn meet­ing, call your recent­ly-fired FBI direc­tor a “nut job” and make clear you got rid of him because of the pres­sure on you regard­ing Rus­si­a’s influ­ence in the elec­tion.

    I dare you to come up with a sce­nario in which Trump could do more in a sin­gle meet­ing to under­mine his case regard­ing the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. Short of say­ing, “Hey guys, thanks for col­lud­ing with my cam­paign to hurt Hillary and get me elect­ed,” and then releas­ing a video and a tran­script of Trump say­ing exact­ly that, it’s hard to imag­ine.

    The offi­cial White House response to the Times report is, in and of itself, stun­ning. Here’s White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer’s reac­tion to the sto­ry, as told to CNN:

    “The Pres­i­dent has always empha­sized the impor­tance of mak­ing deals with Rus­sia as it relates to Syr­ia, Ukraine, defeat­ing ISIS and oth­er key issues for the ben­e­fit and safe­ty of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Spicer said in a state­ment to CNN. “By grand­stand­ing and politi­ciz­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­si­a’s actions, James Comey cre­at­ed unnec­es­sary pres­sure on our abil­i­ty to engage and nego­ti­ate with Rus­sia. The inves­ti­ga­tion would have always con­tin­ued, and obvi­ous­ly, the ter­mi­na­tion of Comey would not have end­ed it. Once again, the real sto­ry is that our nation­al secu­ri­ty has been under­mined by the leak­ing of pri­vate and high­ly clas­si­fied con­ver­sa­tions.”

    The most impor­tant take­away from that state­ment is that the White House is not deny­ing the Times’ report­ing on the meet­ing. So, Trump did call Comey a “nut job” and did say that “great pres­sure” had been tak­en off of him in regard Rus­sia as a result of fir­ing Comey.

    What the state­ment is try­ing to do is emer­gency latch some strat­e­gy to Trump’s com­ments to Lavrov and Kislyak. See, the Pres­i­dent fired Comey because he was get­ting in the way of a major pres­i­den­tial pri­or­i­ty: Push­ing the restart but­ton on Rus­sia rela­tions! That explains every­thing!

    Of course, the White House ini­tial­ly insist­ed the rea­son Comey was fired was because of a memo from deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein out­lin­ing the issues sur­round­ing the FBI direc­tor’s con­duct in the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email serv­er.

    Days lat­er, Trump blew up that expla­na­tion when he told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had made the deci­sion to fire Comey before the Rosen­stein memo — after think­ing about Comey’s han­dling of the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But wait, there’s more! On Thur­day, in a press con­fer­ence with the Colom­bian pres­i­dent, Trump indi­cat­ed that the memo from Rosen­stein was in fact the impe­tus to fir­ing Comey. At around the same time, Rosen­stein was report­ed­ly telling sen­a­tors in a closed door brief­ing that he knew Trump was going to fire Comey before he even wrote the memo. And now, it was the Rus­sia rela­tion­ship, again, that led to Comey’s dis­missal!

    What. The. Heck.

    The sim­ple fact is that rather than stamp­ing out the source of all the smoke sur­round­ing his admin­is­tra­tion and Rus­sia, Trump blew on the embers like crazy in this May 10 meet­ing. And the expla­na­tion issued by the White House only pro­vides more oxy­gen to claims that there has to be some­thing more going on here.

    If past is pro­logue, Trump will dis­miss the sto­ry as mean­ing­less and accuse the media of being out to get him. But, if and when he says that, con­sid­er this: The Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, in a meet­ing with two top offi­cials of an adver­sar­i­al for­eign gov­ern­ment, not only told them top secret clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion but also labeled his ex-FBI direc­tor a “nut job” and insist­ed he would now be more free to act with the whole Rus­sia thing de-pres­sur­ized.

    ...

    ———-
    “It’s not pos­si­ble for Don­ald Trump to have han­dled the Rus­sia ‘nut job’ meet­ing any worse” by Chris Cil­liz­za; CNN; 05/19/2017

    “If past is pro­logue, Trump will dis­miss the sto­ry as mean­ing­less and accuse the media of being out to get him. But, if and when he says that, con­sid­er this: The Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, in a meet­ing with two top offi­cials of an adver­sar­i­al for­eign gov­ern­ment, not only told them top secret clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion but also labeled his ex-FBI direc­tor a “nut job” and insist­ed he would now be more free to act with the whole Rus­sia thing de-pres­sur­ized.”

    Sure, why not admit to what amounts to obstruc­tion of jus­tice in the Rus­sia probe to the Rus­sia ambas­sador and for­eign min­is­ter in an Oval Office meet­ing the day after you fire the FBI direc­tor who was lead­ing the Rus­sia probe? What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

    So is this the next gen­er­a­tion of applied Alt-Right trolling? Like, maybe as part of a broad­er scheme for how the fas­cist elite in the US estab­lish­ment are going to drop the mask to the pub­lic and get the Amer­i­can pub­lic accli­mat­ed to a strong­man lead­er­ship envi­ron­ment by just repeat­ed­ly open­ly defy­ing legal norms and act­ing like they did noth­ing wrong? Or it Trump real­ly that clue­less?

    These are the ques­tions we’re forced to ask. For new rea­sons on a seem­ing­ly dai­ly basis. So what’s the next rea­son going to be? Well, how about reports that the White House is look­ing into using a spe­cial ethics against new­ly hired gov­ern­ment lawyers from inves­ti­gat­ing their pri­or law firm’s clients for one year after their hir­ing and using that rule to pre­vent for­mer FBI Direc­tor Robert Mueller from being involved in any­thing involved Jared Kush­n­er and Paul Man­afort. Because appar­ent­ly that would­n’t come off as wild­ly des­per­ate and look just hor­ri­bly guilty:

    Reuters

    White House look­ing at ethics rule to weak­en spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tion: sources

    By Julia Edwards Ains­ley | WASHINGTON
    Fri May 19, 2017 | 6:01pm EDT

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion is explor­ing whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to under­mine the spe­cial coun­sel inves­ti­ga­tion into ties between Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign team and Rus­sia, two peo­ple famil­iar with White House think­ing said on Fri­day.

    Trump has said that Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein’s hir­ing of for­mer FBI Direc­tor Robert Mueller as spe­cial coun­sel to lead the inves­ti­ga­tion “hurts our coun­try ter­ri­bly.”

    With­in hours of Mueller’s appoint­ment on Wednes­day, the White House began review­ing the Code of Fed­er­al Reg­u­la­tions, which restricts new­ly hired gov­ern­ment lawyers from inves­ti­gat­ing their pri­or law firm’s clients for one year after their hir­ing, the sources said.

    An exec­u­tive order signed by Trump in Jan­u­ary extend­ed that peri­od to two years.

    Mueller’s for­mer law firm, Wilmer­Hale, rep­re­sents Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kush­n­er, who met with a Russ­ian bank exec­u­tive in Decem­ber, and the pres­i­den­t’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er Paul Man­afort, who is a sub­ject of a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Legal experts said the ethics rule can be waived by the Jus­tice Depart­ment, which appoint­ed Mueller. He did not rep­re­sent Kush­n­er or Man­afort direct­ly at his for­mer law firm.

    If the depart­ment did not grant a waiv­er, Mueller would be barred from inves­ti­gat­ing Kush­n­er or Man­afort, and this could great­ly dimin­ish the scope of the probe, experts said.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment is already review­ing Mueller’s back­ground as well as any poten­tial con­flicts of inter­est, said depart­ment spokes­woman Sarah Isgur Flo­res.

    Even if the Jus­tice Depart­ment grant­ed a waiv­er, the White House would con­sid­er using the ethics rule to cre­ate doubt about Mueller’s abil­i­ty to do his job fair­ly, the sources said. Admin­is­tra­tion legal advis­ers have been asked to deter­mine if there is a basis for this.

    Under this strat­e­gy, the sources said the admin­is­tra­tion would raise the issue in press con­fer­ences and pub­lic state­ments.

    More­over, the White House has not ruled out the pos­si­bil­i­ty of using the rule to chal­lenge Mueller’s find­ings in court, should the inves­ti­ga­tion lead to pros­e­cu­tion.

    FOCUS ON CASTING A CLOUD OVER MUELLER

    But the admin­is­tra­tion is now main­ly focused on plac­ing a cloud over his rep­u­ta­tion for inde­pen­dence, accord­ing to the sources, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

    Kath­leen Clark, a pro­fes­sor of legal ethics at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law, said the Jus­tice Depart­ment can grant a waiv­er if con­cerns about bias are min­i­mal.

    She said sub­jects of the inves­ti­ga­tion could lat­er argue that its results can­not be trust­ed, but she believes the argu­ment would not stand up in court.

    The White House did not respond to a request for com­ment on whether it is review­ing the ethics rule in order to under­mine Mueller’s cred­i­bil­i­ty.

    Mueller’s for­mer col­leagues at Wilmer­Hale, James Quar­les and Aaron Zeb­ley, are expect­ed to join his inves­ti­ga­tion, accord­ing to a spokes­woman for the law firm. Nei­ther Quar­les nor Zeb­ley rep­re­sent­ed Kush­n­er or Man­afort.

    Mueller will now lead the ongo­ing Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion probe into Trump’s asso­ciates and senior Russ­ian offi­cials.

    Unlike Ken­neth Starr, the inde­pen­dent coun­sel appoint­ed by a three-judge pan­el to inves­ti­gate Bill and Hillary Clin­ton’s real estate hold­ings in the 1990s, Mueller depends on the Jus­tice Depart­ment for fund­ing and he reports to Rosen­stein, who was appoint­ed by Trump.

    ...

    ———-
    “White House look­ing at ethics rule to weak­en spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tion: sources” by Julia Edwards Ains­ley; Reuters; 05/19/2017

    “Mueller’s for­mer law firm, Wilmer­Hale, rep­re­sents Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kush­n­er, who met with a Russ­ian bank exec­u­tive in Decem­ber, and the pres­i­den­t’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er Paul Man­afort, who is a sub­ject of a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    They’re seri­ous­ly look­ing into using this as a legal option. Not only that, but even if the Jus­tice Depart­ment does grant Mueller a waiv­er, the Trump team’s lawyers are look­ing into using the rule to cast doubt on any even­tu­al findings...because reports of how the Trump team is pre­emp­tive­ly plan­ning on dis­cred­it­ing any find­ings by using this ethics rule does­n’t look wild­ly guilty or any­thing:

    ...
    Even if the Jus­tice Depart­ment grant­ed a waiv­er, the White House would con­sid­er using the ethics rule to cre­ate doubt about Mueller’s abil­i­ty to do his job fair­ly, the sources said. Admin­is­tra­tion legal advis­ers have been asked to deter­mine if there is a basis for this.

    Under this strat­e­gy, the sources said the admin­is­tra­tion would raise the issue in press con­fer­ences and pub­lic state­ments.

    More­over, the White House has not ruled out the pos­si­bil­i­ty of using the rule to chal­lenge Mueller’s find­ings in court, should the inves­ti­ga­tion lead to pros­e­cu­tion.

    FOCUS ON CASTING A CLOUD OVER MUELLER

    But the admin­is­tra­tion is now main­ly focused on plac­ing a cloud over his rep­u­ta­tion for inde­pen­dence, accord­ing to the sources, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.
    ...

    And note that this isn’t some impul­sive act of Trump behind this incred­i­bly guilty look­ing PR stunt. It’s Trump’s legal team. WTF? Is every­one work­ing for him an Alt-Right troll who only knows how to inflame a bad sit­u­a­tion and make it worse? Is the ghost of Roy Cohn giv­ing Trump hor­ri­ble advice in order to get his wings? What’s going on here? Well, if it is the ghost of Roy Cohn slip­ping Trump hor­ri­ble advice, the ghost of Roy Cohn has a great sense of humor:

    Quartz

    Trump’s top pick for FBI direc­tor, Joe Lieber­man, works for a law firm that rep­re­sents Trump

    Writ­ten by Heather Tim­mons
    May 18, 2017

    Joe Lieber­man, a career politi­cian from Con­necti­cut and long-time Demo­c­rat, is US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top pick to lead the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion, he indi­cat­ed on Thurs­day.

    Trump told reporters dur­ing a press event in the Oval Office that he was “very close” to pick­ing a new FBI direc­tor to replace James Comey, who he abrupt­ly fired ear­li­er this month. When asked if Lieber­man was among the final­ists, he said “Yes” emphat­i­cal­ly, and anony­mous sources have told sev­er­al news out­lets Lieber­man is his top choice.

    Lieber­man spent most of his polit­i­cal career as a Demo­c­rat, but endorsed Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date John McCain in 2008. He retired from the Sen­ate in 2013 at the end of his sec­ond term.

    Trump helped Lieber­man make a polit­i­cal “come­back” of sorts in 2015, by appear­ing at a bi-par­ti­san con­ven­tion Lieber­man was run­ning in New Hamp­shire along­side Bernie Sanders and Chris Christie. Trump was “the biggest atten­tion-get­ter by far,” the Hart­ford Courant wrote about the event.

    Since Trump became pres­i­dent, Lieber­man has sup­port­ed some of his more con­tro­ver­sial moves, prais­ing his choice of for­mer Fox News com­men­ta­tor K.T. McFar­land as deputy Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor (she was oust­ed from the job by incom­ing NSA head H.R. McMas­ter), and intro­duc­ing Repub­li­can fund-rais­er Bet­sy DeVos as a “change agent” at her Sen­ate hear­ing (she was lat­er con­firmed in a his­tor­i­cal­ly close vote).

    The law firm he has worked for since 2013, Kasowitz, Ben­son, Tor­res, has rep­re­sent­ed Trump since at least Nov. of 2001, often on cas­es that had to do with his rep­u­ta­tion. The firm rep­re­sent­ed Trump in his law­suit against jour­nal­ist Tim O’Brien, for exam­ple, who claimed in his book “Trump Nation” that the real estate developer’s net worth was at most $250 mil­lion, not the bil­lions he claimed. Trump sued for $5 bil­lion, but lost.

    Lieber­man is not named as an attor­ney on any of the Trump-relat­ed cas­es that Kasowitz has tak­en on, and as senior coun­sel at the firm has most­ly seemed to serve a mar­ket­ing role, host­ing a “con­ver­sa­tion and cock­tails” evening, and speak­ing at pub­lic events.

    Whether Lieber­man is qual­i­fied to lead the 35,000 agents that the FBI employs is a mat­ter of debate. Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor Diane Fein­stein said she’d pre­fer to see some­one with a law enforce­ment back­ground in the posi­tion, and oth­ers ques­tioned his expe­ri­ence. Lieber­man served as Con­necti­cut state attor­ney gen­er­al for six years, end­ing in 1989, but oth­er­wise has held polit­i­cal office. His appoint­ment will need to be con­firmed by a major­i­ty vote in the Sen­ate.

    “Lieber­man sim­ply doesn’t have the man­age­r­i­al or inves­tiga­tive back­ground to be in the small class of peo­ple qual­i­fied to hold the posi­tion,” Ben­jamin Wittes, the co-founder of the Law­fare, wrote on Twit­ter.

    ...

    ———-
    “Trump’s top pick for FBI direc­tor, Joe Lieber­man, works for a law firm that rep­re­sents Trump” by Heather Tim­mons; Quartz; 05/17/2017

    The law firm he has worked for since 2013, Kasowitz, Ben­son, Tor­res, has rep­re­sent­ed Trump since at least Nov. of 2001, often on cas­es that had to do with his rep­u­ta­tion. The firm rep­re­sent­ed Trump in his law­suit against jour­nal­ist Tim O’Brien, for exam­ple, who claimed in his book “Trump Nation” that the real estate developer’s net worth was at most $250 mil­lion, not the bil­lions he claimed. Trump sued for $5 bil­lion, but lost.”

    Yep at the same time we’re get­ting reports that the Trump team is plan­ning on dis­cred­it Robert Mueller’s even­tu­al find­ings due to Mueller’s recent work at a law firm with Kush­n­er and Man­afort as clients, we also learn­ing the Joe Lieber­man is one of Trump’s top picks for FBI direc­tor. And Lieberman...*drum roll*...works for a law firm with Trump as a client since 2001.

    Is this an elab­o­rate Alt-Right trolling attempt as part of some sort of far-right Psy­Op on the Amer­i­can pub­lic as they drop the mask? Are they float­ing Lieber­man inten­tion­al­ly in order to goad crit­ics into point­ing out Lieber­man’s law firm ties to Trump in order to accu­mu­late rhetor­i­cal ammo for dis­cred­it­ing Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion? Is this just the most incom­pe­tent pub­lic rela­tions team in Amer­i­can polit­i­cal his­to­ry run by a mad man? Is the ghost of Roy Cohn is giv­ing Trump hor­ri­ble advice in order to get his wings?

    We’re run­ning out of oth­er options and at this point the ghost of Roy Cohn is look­ing like the most plau­si­ble expla­na­tion. Although it’s pos­si­ble the ghost of Pepe wants to set­tle a few scores.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 20, 2017, 3:49 pm
  26. This is an inter­st­ing tid­bit about the inves­ti­ga­tion into the false­hood that there is sig­nif­i­cant amount of vot­er fraud from the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter:

    https://www.splcenter.org/news/2017/05/11/kris-kobach-lawyer-far-right-extremists-unfit-serve-trumps-commission-study-voter-fraud

    KRIS KOBACH, LAWYER FOR FAR-RIGHT EXTREMISTS, UNFIT TO SERVE ON TRUMP’S COMMISSION TO STUDY VOTER FRAUD
    May 11, 2017

    Richard Cohen Pres­i­dent

    Pres­i­dent Trump’s deci­sion to appoint Kris Kobach to help lead a new com­mis­sion to study vot­er fraud shows that the com­mis­sion itself will be fraud­u­lent – as was the president’s ludi­crous claim that mil­lions of ille­gal bal­lots cost him the pop­u­lar vote in Novem­ber.

    The evi­dence is clear – and we all know – that vot­er fraud is vir­tu­al­ly non-exis­tent in our coun­try.

    The real threat to our democ­ra­cy is vot­er sup­pres­sion. Kobach is a long­time lawyer for far-right extrem­ist groups with ties to white nation­al­ists and is a leader in the move­ment to sup­press the votes of minori­ties. He is unfit to serve in this capac­i­ty, and his appoint­ment is noth­ing less than an out­rage.

    Posted by Brad Thornton | May 21, 2017, 11:31 am
  27. The may­or of Port­land, Ore­gon, is ask­ing fed­er­al offi­cials to can­cel the approval of two upcom­ing Alt-Right “Free-Speech ral­lies” in down­town Port­land fol­low­ing the stab­bing deaths of two men and the crit­i­cal injury of a third man after the three tried to inter­vene as Jere­my Joseph Chris­t­ian — a white suprema­cist who attend­ed a pre­vi­ous “Free-Speech ral­ly” — was harass­ing two Mus­lim women in Port­land last week. And while May­or Wheel­er is argu­ing that hate speech isn’t pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment, it’s not at all clear that the courts are going to be on his side. Oh well, that’s what we have courts for...to decide such things. But in the mean time, the dates for these Alt-Right ral­lies are quick­ly approach­ing, with the first one sched­uled for June 4th. So while it remains to be seen how this show­down will be resolved, the Alt-Right is wrap­ping itself with the ban­ner of free-speech and vic­tim­hood fol­low­ing the dou­ble mur­der in Port­land in the mean time:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    ‘Hate speech is not pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment,’ Port­land may­or says. He’s wrong.

    By Kris­tine Phillips
    May 30, 2017 at 2:17 PM

    As his city mourns two men who were killed after con­fronting a man scream­ing anti-Mus­lim slurs, May­or Ted Wheel­er is call­ing on fed­er­al offi­cials to block what he called “alt-right demon­stra­tions” from hap­pen­ing in down­town Port­land, Ore.

    His con­cern is that the two ral­lies, both sched­uled in June, will esca­late an already volatile sit­u­a­tion in Port­land by ped­dling “a mes­sage of hatred and of big­otry.” Although the orga­niz­ers of the ral­lies have a con­sti­tu­tion­al right to speak, “hate speech is not pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment,” Wheel­er told reporters.

    But his­to­ry and prece­dent are not on Wheel­er’s side.

    The Supreme Court has repeat­ed­ly ruled that hate speech, no mat­ter how big­ot­ed or offen­sive, is free speech.

    The high court did so in 1969, when it found that a state law ban­ning pub­lic speech that advo­cates for ille­gal activ­i­ties vio­lat­ed the con­sti­tu­tion­al rights of a Ku Klux Klan leader.

    It did so again in 1992, when the jus­tices found that a city ordi­nance pro­hibit­ing the dis­play of sym­bols that arouse anger toward some­one based on race, reli­gion and oth­er fac­tors is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

    And again in 2011, when the court ruled in favor of church mem­bers who pick­et­ed and car­ried signs with homo­pho­bic slurs at a sol­dier’s funer­al.

    Although cer­tain forms of speech are not pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment, hate speech isn’t one of them, Eugene Volokh, a law pro­fes­sor and free speech expert, wrote last month. For it to be banned, experts say, it must rise to the lev­el of threat or harass­ment.

    “Hate­ful ideas (what­ev­er exact­ly that might mean) are just as pro­tect­ed under the First Amend­ment as oth­er ideas,” Volokh said. “One is as free to con­demn, for instance, Islam — or Mus­lims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or ille­gal immi­grants, or native-born cit­i­zens — as one is to con­demn cap­i­tal­ism or social­ism or Democ­rats or Repub­li­cans.”

    The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union agrees.

    Fol­low­ing Wheel­er’s announce­ment, the non­prof­it’s Ore­gon chap­ter crit­i­cized the may­or, say­ing ban­ning a group from hold­ing a ral­ly mere­ly because of what it seeks to express steps into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry of gov­ern­ment over­reach.

    “The gov­ern­ment can­not revoke or deny a per­mit based on the view­point of the demon­stra­tors. Peri­od,” the ACLU of Ore­gon said in a Face­book post Mon­day. “It may be tempt­ing to shut down free speech we dis­agree with, but once we allow the gov­ern­ment to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gath­er with, his­to­ry shows us that the most mar­gin­al­ized will be dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly cen­sored and pun­ished for unpop­u­lar speech.”

    In a lengthy Face­book post Mon­day, Wheel­er called on fed­er­al offi­cials to revoke a per­mit autho­riz­ing a June 4 “Trump Free Speech Ral­ly” at a fed­er­al plaza in down­town Port­land. Anoth­er event by the same orga­niz­ers, “March Against Sharia,” is sched­uled for June 10 but has not received per­mits. He also asked the orga­niz­ers of the ral­lies to can­cel the events.

    “I urge them to ask their sup­port­ers to stay away from Port­land,” Wheel­er wrote. “There is nev­er a place for big­otry or hatred in our com­mu­ni­ty, and espe­cial­ly now.”

    Wheel­er’s announce­ment came three days after Tal­iesin Myrd­din Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were killed after they tried to pro­tect two young women from a man who was scream­ing anti-Mus­lim slurs at them. A third man who also inter­vened was injured.

    Jere­my Joseph Chris­t­ian, 35, whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter had described as some­one who holds racist and extrem­ist beliefs, is fac­ing aggra­vat­ed mur­der and oth­er charges in con­nec­tion to the killings. Accord­ing to the hate watch group, Chris­t­ian was seen at an ear­li­er free-speech ral­ly held by the same orga­niz­ers. A pho­to shows him giv­ing the Nazi salute.

    Joey Gib­son, lead orga­niz­er of the ral­lies, tried to dis­tance him­self from Chris­t­ian and said he preach­es lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment and free speech, not hate.

    “What I say, the things that I say, the things that I preach goes against every­thing that Jere­my Chris­t­ian would’ve said,” he said in a Face­book Live video in response to Wheel­er’s state­ment.

    Gib­son also crit­i­cized Wheel­er for try­ing to silence him and those who plan to par­tic­i­pate in the ral­lies. He said his June 4 event, which would fea­ture live music and speak­ers, is not a plat­form for racism and big­otry.

    “If they pull our per­mits, we can­not kick out the white suprema­cists. We can­not kick out the Nazis. Do you get that?” Gib­son said. “If any­one has a sign, a racist sign or any­thing, they will be gone. If any­one screams any­thing racist, they will be gone. But if they pull our per­mit, we will not have that right.”

    Wheel­er is not the first to argue that hate speech is not pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment.

    For­mer Ver­mont gov­er­nor Howard Dean did so in a tweet last month.

    Hate speech is not pro­tect­ed by the first amend­ment. https://t.co/DOct3xcLoY— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 21, 2017

    Dean, who sought the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in 2004, was respond­ing to a tweet from a for­mer New York Times reporter who ref­er­enced 15-year-old Ann Coul­ter state­ment say­ing she regrets that con­vict­ed Okla­homa City bomber Tim­o­thy McVeigh did­n’t go inside the Times build­ing.

    In an arti­cle crit­i­ciz­ing Dean’s tweet, Volokh, the free speech expert, argued that the First Amend­ment does not pro­tect legit­i­mate threats or face-to-face insults that incite a fight. But most forms of free speech don’t fall into this nar­row cat­e­go­ry.

    “Even if Coul­ter was speak­ing seri­ous­ly (which I doubt), such speech isn’t unpro­tect­ed incite­ment, because it isn’t intend­ed to pro­mote immi­nent ille­gal con­duct,” Volokh wrote.

    ...

    “Jere­my Joseph Chris­t­ian, 35, whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter had described as some­one who holds racist and extrem­ist beliefs, is fac­ing aggra­vat­ed mur­der and oth­er charges in con­nec­tion to the killings. Accord­ing to the hate watch group, Chris­t­ian was seen at an ear­li­er free-speech ral­ly held by the same orga­niz­ers. A pho­to shows him giv­ing the Nazi salute.

    The guy who stabbed those peo­ple to death dur­ing an unpro­voked racist tired against strangers was recent­ly seen giv­ing Nazi salutes at one of these “free-speech ral­lies” orga­nized by the same peo­ple as the upcom­ing June 4th ral­ly. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the may­or of Port­land isn’t too keen on hav­ing more such ral­lies, espe­cial­ly so soon after the attack. Still, there is the First Amend­ment. And as of now it appears that the June 4th ral­ly still has its fed­er­al approval.

    So the ral­ly is sched­uled to hap­pen. At least with fed­er­al, but not local, approval. And this means some sort of con­flict between the Alt-Right neo-Nazis and antifa pro­tes­tors should prob­a­bly be expect­ed. And with that in mind, James Buchal — the head of the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty GOP and top Repub­li­can in the city of Port­land — has a rec­om­men­da­tion for Repub­li­cans for how to pre­pare for such a sit­u­a­tion where scuf­fles and brawls are con­sid­ered pos­si­ble: how about the GOP arrange for mili­tia groups — specif­i­cal­ly the Oath Keep­ers and Three Per­centers — to pro­vide secu­ri­ty for the right-wing ral­lies in the future:

    The Guardian

    Port­land Repub­li­can says par­ty should use mili­tia groups after racial attack

    Coun­ty GOP chair James Buchal says secu­ri­ty forces may be appro­pri­ate as ten­sions rise after two peo­ple died in a racial attack on pub­lic trans­port

    Jason Wil­son in Port­land, Ore­gon
    Mon­day 29 May 2017 17.38 EDT

    As ten­sions con­tin­ue in Port­land fol­low­ing the racial­ly charged mur­der of two men on Fri­day, the top Repub­li­can in the city said he is con­sid­er­ing using mili­tia groups as secu­ri­ty for pub­lic events.

    Tal­iesin Myrd­din Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were stabbed to death and 21-year-old stu­dent Mic­ah David-Cole Fletch­er was injured when they came to the aid of two women being sub­ject­ed to hate speech on pub­lic trans­port. The sus­pect, Jere­my Chris­t­ian, 35, was found to hold white suprema­cist views and to have attend­ed an “alt-right” ral­ly in the city.

    On Mon­day, Don­ald Trump issued a belat­ed mes­sage of con­do­lence. Asked about the president’s tweet, Port­land may­or Ted Wheel­er told the Guardian: “Our cur­rent polit­i­cal cli­mate allows far too much room for those who spread big­otry. Vio­lent words can lead to vio­lent acts.

    “All elect­ed lead­ers in Amer­i­ca, all peo­ple of good con­science, must work delib­er­ate­ly to change our polit­i­cal dia­logue.”

    Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty GOP chair James Buchal, how­ev­er, told the Guardian that recent street protests had prompt­ed Port­land Repub­li­cans to con­sid­er alter­na­tives to “aban­don­ing the pub­lic square”.

    “I am sort of evolv­ing to the point where I think that it is appro­pri­ate for Repub­li­cans to con­tin­ue to go out there,” he said. “And if they need to have a secu­ri­ty force pro­tect­ing them, that’s an appro­pri­ate thing too.”

    Asked if this meant Repub­li­cans mak­ing their own secu­ri­ty arrange­ments rather than rely­ing on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these peo­ple aris­ing, like the Oath Keep­ers and the Three Per­centers.”

    Asked if he was con­sid­er­ing such groups as secu­ri­ty providers, Buchal said: “Yeah. We’re think­ing about that. Because there are now bel­liger­ent, unsta­ble peo­ple who are con­vinced that Repub­li­cans are like Nazis.”

    Buchal ran for Ore­gon attor­ney gen­er­al in 2012 and has stood for elec­tion to Con­gress and the state leg­is­la­ture. The Oath Keep­ers are described by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter as “one of the largest rad­i­cal antigov­ern­ment groups in the US”, recruit­ing cur­rent and for­mer mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment per­son­nel. They have recent­ly appeared at ral­lies from Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, to Boston, stand­ing with activists from the far right, activists hold­ing what were once fringe posi­tions who have recent­ly risen to nation­al promi­nence.

    The Three Per­centers are described by Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates as “a para­mil­i­tary group that pledges armed resis­tance against attempts to restrict pri­vate gun own­er­ship”. They were a high­ly vis­i­ble pres­ence in Burns, Ore­gon, before and dur­ing the occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur wildlife refuge by rightwing mili­tia ear­ly in 2016.

    Buchal told the Guardian it was impor­tant not to become involved with extrem­ists, and said that on the Three Per­centers web­site, “right there on the front page there is what looks like a sol­id com­mit­ment to this not being about race at all”.

    The main rea­son Buchal gave for his attrac­tion to the mili­tia groups was the can­cel­la­tion of the Avenue of the Ros­es Parade, an annu­al Port­land com­mu­ni­ty event sched­uled for 29 April, after organ­is­ers received an anony­mous­ly emailed threat of dis­rup­tion.

    The anony­mous mes­sage claimed “Trump sup­port­ers and 3% mili­tia” were encour­ag­ing peo­ple to “bring hate­ful rhetoric” to East Port­land. “Two hun­dred or more peo­ple”, the email said, would “rush into the mid­dle and drag and push those peo­ple out”.

    When the parade was called off, Buchal issued a state­ment in which he bemoaned a “crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy to com­mit crimes of riot” and a let­ter to May­or Wheel­er in which he lament­ed “ris­ing law­less­ness” in Port­land.

    In response to the can­cel­la­tion, a local far-right orga­niz­er, Joey Gib­son, orga­nized a “free speech ral­ly” – the event at which Chris­t­ian, the sus­pect in Friday’s dou­ble mur­der, was filmed throw­ing fas­cist salutes and yelling racial epi­thets, and where he approached antifas­cist counter-pro­test­ers armed with a base­ball bat.

    Asked about Gibson’s orga­niz­ing efforts for the far right, includ­ing a planned ral­ly this Sun­day which left­wing counter-pro­test­ers have vowed to oppose, Buchal said such actions were under­stand­able.

    “I think that for a long time there has been a clos­ing of the mind and a cen­sor­ing to a point where now peo­ple feel jus­ti­fied in using force to pre­vent the expres­sion of opin­ions with which they dis­agree,” he said. “I believe that the left – the ‘antifa’ [antifas­cist] crowd – fired the first shot in that regard.

    “There is def­i­nite­ly some­thing wrong if crim­i­nal gangs are essen­tial­ly allowed to shut down nor­mal and tra­di­tion­al activ­i­ties of Repub­li­cans. With that cli­mate aris­ing, the ques­tion becomes: what do you do? A lot of the rank and file par­ty mem­bers are old and frail peo­ple. They are intim­i­dat­ed by what’s going on.”

    Buchal appears to have made rad­i­cal state­ments in the past. Port­land reporter Corey Pein sur­faced a video of Buchal address­ing a Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­can cen­tral com­mit­tee meet­ing.

    The video depicts Buchal mak­ing a fiery pro-Trump speech. He says of the pres­i­dent: “His ene­mies are my ene­mies and his ene­mies are all our ene­mies.”

    “Our ene­mies are more dan­ger­ous than ever,” he con­tin­ues. “We are real­ly in a life and death bat­tle for the future of our soci­ety. And these glob­al­ist peo­ple are not going to give up.

    “If we don’t tell out fel­low cit­i­zens that there are these dark forces in the gov­ern­ment, like the CIA and the shad­ow gov­ern­ment, who are try­ing to take Trump down with lies, who is going to tell them?”

    Spencer Sun­shine, an asso­ciate researcher at Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates who last year co-authored a major report on the growth of the far-right Patri­ot Move­ment in Ore­gon, said: “The Oath Keep­ers have been act­ing as a de fac­to secu­ri­ty team for white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis for the last month or two.

    “The Three Per­centers have no account­abil­i­ty and are implic­it­ly a deeply racist group, and some­times have explic­it­ly racist mem­bers. They have no inter­est in screen­ing those explic­it racists out.

    “Con­sid­er­a­tion of the use of unac­count­able, pri­vate para­mil­i­tary groups by one of the main polit­i­cal par­ties is a dan­ger­ous lurch to the far right.”

    In a state­ment, Rose City Antifa, a Port­land antifas­cist group, said: “That the GOP need[s] to bring in pri­vate armed secu­ri­ty rather than rely on Port­land Police speaks vol­umes on their stance against ‘vio­lence’. These pri­vate secu­ri­ty ele­ments of the extreme right claim to be sup­port­ing ‘free speech’ when in real­i­ty their main goal is direct­ing vio­lence and hate speech towards antifas­cist pro­test­ers and activists while pro­tect­ing white suprema­cists.”

    The group point­ed to what it said was evi­dence of Ore­gon Three Per­centers attend­ing “alt-right” ral­lies.

    May­or Wheel­er said in a state­ment on Mon­day that he had denied a per­mit for the planned “free speech” ral­ly on Sun­day and a pos­si­ble fol­low-up.

    “I have con­firmed that the City of Port­land has NOT and will not issue any per­mits for the alt-right events sched­uled on 4 June or 10 June,” Wheel­er said.

    The may­or added: “The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment con­trols per­mit­ting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my under­stand­ing that they have issued a per­mit for the event on 4 June. I am call­ing on the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permit(s) they have issued for the 4 June event and to not issue a per­mit for 10 June.

    “I am appeal­ing to the orga­niz­ers of the alt-right demon­stra­tions to CANCEL the events they have sched­uled on 4 June and 10 June.”

    Gib­son told the Guardian that he would press on with the ral­ly.

    “There will be hun­dreds of peo­ple down there regard­less of what I do. I will be down there with a per­mit in a con­trolled safe envi­ron­ment,” Gib­son said.

    “With­out a per­mit it could get ugly because we have no right to kick peo­ple out.”

    Port­land police bureau spokesman, sergeant Peter Simp­son, told the Guardian that using pri­vate secu­ri­ty was ambigu­ous under state law.

    “It’s a com­plex issue. Pri­vate secu­ri­ty in Ore­gon needs to be cer­ti­fied by the state. That said, peo­ple show­ing up to assist do not. We don’t advo­cate bring­ing in out­siders to police an event.”

    He also said that police were mon­i­tor­ing the build-up to the planned ral­ly on Sun­day.

    ...

    “Asked if this meant Repub­li­cans mak­ing their own secu­ri­ty arrange­ments rather than rely­ing on city or state police, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these peo­ple aris­ing, like the Oath Keep­ers and the Three Per­centers.”

    Those were the words of Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty GOP chair James Buchal. Let’s have the Oath Keep­ers and Three Per­centers become the GOP’s pri­vate secu­ri­ty force. And this was appar­ent­ly in response to the can­ce­la­tion of the Avenue of the Ros­es Parade fol­low­ing threats from what was pre­sum­ably an antifa group, which prompt­ed the “free-speech ral­ly” where Jere­my Joseph Chris­t­ian was spot­ted throw­ing Hitler salutes:

    ...
    The main rea­son Buchal gave for his attrac­tion to the mili­tia groups was the can­cel­la­tion of the Avenue of the Ros­es Parade, an annu­al Port­land com­mu­ni­ty event sched­uled for 29 April, after organ­is­ers received an anony­mous­ly emailed threat of dis­rup­tion.

    The anony­mous mes­sage claimed “Trump sup­port­ers and 3% mili­tia” were encour­ag­ing peo­ple to “bring hate­ful rhetoric” to East Port­land. “Two hun­dred or more peo­ple”, the email said, would “rush into the mid­dle and drag and push those peo­ple out”.

    When the parade was called off, Buchal issued a state­ment in which he bemoaned a “crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy to com­mit crimes of riot” and a let­ter to May­or Wheel­er in which he lament­ed “ris­ing law­less­ness” in Port­land.

    In response to the can­cel­la­tion, a local far-right orga­niz­er, Joey Gib­son, orga­nized a “free speech ral­ly” – the event at which Chris­t­ian, the sus­pect in Friday’s dou­ble mur­der, was filmed throw­ing fas­cist salutes and yelling racial epi­thets, and where he approached antifas­cist counter-pro­test­ers armed with a base­ball bat.
    ...

    So the Alt-Right is now using the antifa groups, basi­cal­ly found in a hand­ful of cities, as an excuse to declare them­selves defense­less unless they can turn mili­tias into their pri­vate secu­ri­ty force. And note the com­ment from the Port­land police: mak­ing mili­tias the GOPs secu­ri­ty force for these kinds of events might actu­al­ly be legal:

    ...
    Port­land police bureau spokesman, sergeant Peter Simp­son, told the Guardian that using pri­vate secu­ri­ty was ambigu­ous under state law.

    “It’s a com­plex issue. Pri­vate secu­ri­ty in Ore­gon needs to be cer­ti­fied by the state. That said, peo­ple show­ing up to assist do not. We don’t advo­cate bring­ing in out­siders to police an event.”
    ...

    This could hap­pen. And it’s cur­rent­ly being pro­posed by the top GOP­er in Port­land right after a Port­land neo-Nazi mur­dered two peo­ple who con­front­ed him dur­ing his hate speech attack on two strangers.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 30, 2017, 3:14 pm
  28. Don­ald Trump pre­dictably pushed the Unit­ed States one step fur­ther down the path of pari­ah nation sta­tus today. As he does every­day. But this was a pret­ty big push: At a time when the EU and Chi­na are dou­bling down on their pledges to reduce green­house gas emis­sions, Trump declared he’s pulling the Unit­ed States out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment.

    So now that the GOP is poised to make good on its long-held goal of pre­vent­ing any­thing mean­ing­ful being done to pre­vent a grow­ing out-of-con­trol cli­mate crises that could damn future gen­er­a­tions to chron­ic resource short­ages, eco-col­lapse, and like­ly cli­mate-change-induced wars, it’s prob­a­bly a good time to revis­it the ques­tion of why? Why are the forces behind Trump and the GOP so deeply ded­i­cat­ed to birthing a future of increas­ing chaos and despair with seem­ing­ly no con­sid­er­a­tion of how dev­as­tat­ing a desta­bi­lized world will be, even for petro-oli­garchs like the Koch broth­ers?

    Is there a method to the mad­ness or is it real­ly just an incred­i­ble lev­el of short-term greed? Well, the way Jonathan Chait sees it, there is a method. But it’s pure­ly a method in applied trib­al­is­tic trolling:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Every­thing Con­ser­v­a­tives Said About the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment Is Already Wrong

    By Jonathan Chait
    June 1, 2017 9:09 am

    The Trump administration’s deci­sion to pull out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment will not end the glob­al effort to lim­it the effects of cli­mate change. In the imme­di­ate time frame — say, Trump’s first term — it will have lit­tle effect, and may even spur a back­lash as the rest of the world redou­bles its com­mit­ment to action (Chi­na and the Euro­pean Union have already tak­en steps to do so). It will, how­ev­er, slow and impair inter­na­tion­al diplo­ma­cy. The next Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment that tries to nego­ti­ate on cli­mate change will be hand­i­capped by the sus­pi­cion that it won’t abide by its com­mit­ments, under­cut­ting Amer­i­can lead­er­ship and mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to secure coop­er­a­tion from oth­er coun­tries.

    The ques­tion is, what pur­pose does this serve? What eco­nom­ic or philo­soph­i­cal pol­i­cy goal is advanced? The answer is that it sat­is­fies the same ele­men­tal par­ti­san trib­al­ism that has allowed Trump to hold togeth­er his par­ty.

    It is worth recall­ing the prin­ci­pal argu­ment that Repub­li­cans made against the Paris agree­ment from the out­set was that it would have no effect on devel­op­ing coun­tries like India and Chi­na. “And you know what pass­ing those laws would have — what impact it would have on the envi­ron­ment?” insist­ed Mar­co Rubio in 2016. “Zero, because Chi­na is still going to be pol­lut­ing and India is still going to be pol­lut­ing at his­toric lev­els … these oth­er coun­tries like India and Chi­na are more than mak­ing up in car­bon emis­sions for what­ev­er we could pos­si­bly cut.”

    Why was the right so cer­tain that India and Chi­na would con­tin­ue to ramp up their car­bon emis­sions regard­less of what they said in Paris? Because, they insist­ed, dirty ener­gy was and would remain the best path for them to raise their stan­dard of liv­ing, which was and is well below Amer­i­can lev­els. Nation­al Review edi­tor Rich Lowry, writ­ing in Decem­ber 2015, dis­missed plans to steer the devel­op­ing world onto a clean­er ener­gy path as “a naive belief in the pow­er of glob­al shame over the sheer eco­nom­ic inter­est of devel­op­ing coun­tries in get­ting rich (and lift­ing count­less mil­lions out of pover­ty) through exploit­ing cheap ener­gy — you know, the way West­ern coun­tries have done for a cou­ple of cen­turies.”

    But this analy­sis has proven incon­tro­vert­ibly false. Rather than lag­ging behind their promised tar­gets, India and Chi­na are actu­al­ly sur­pass­ing them. Accord­ing to Cli­mate Action Track­er, India, which had promised to reduce the emis­sions inten­si­ty of its econ­o­my by 33–35 per­cent by 2030, is now on track to reduce it by 42–45 per­cent by that date. Chi­na promised its total emis­sions would peak by 2030 — an ambi­tious goal for a rapid­ly indus­tri­al­iz­ing econ­o­my. It is run­ning at least a decade ahead of that goal.

    Why are these coun­tries blow­ing past their tar­gets? Because the cost of zero-emis­sions ener­gy sources is plung­ing. In India, solar ener­gy not only costs less than ener­gy from new coal plants, it costs less than ener­gy from exist­ing coal plants:
    [see pic]

    The vir­tu­ous cycle of polit­i­cal will and inno­va­tion is prov­ing more potent than expect­ed. As more gov­ern­ments bind them­selves to emis­sions reduc­tions, busi­ness cre­ates the tech­nol­o­gy to meet those goals, which brings down the cost of reduc­ing emis­sions, which in turn embold­ens gov­ern­ments to raise their ambi­tions fur­ther still. The fac­tu­al pred­i­cate upon which the Amer­i­can right based its oppo­si­tion to Paris has melt­ed away beneath its feet.

    Like­wise, the sci­en­tif­ic basis for the right’s skep­ti­cism of the the­o­ry of anthro­pogenic glob­al warm­ing has col­lapsed. Con­ser­v­a­tives used to dis­miss the sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus on heat-trap­ping gas­es on account of the fact that 1998 saw an anom­alous­ly big spike in glob­al tem­per­a­tures in the midst of an over­all warm­ing trend. For years, con­ser­v­a­tives would tri­umphant­ly point out that there had been no warm­ing since 1998, as if the data from this one year nul­li­fied decades’ worth of ris­ing tem­per­a­tures. In the mean­time, 2014, and every year since then, has since exceed­ed the 1998 record, ren­der­ing the old, mis­lead­ing talk­ing point out­right false. But no rethink­ing has fol­lowed on the right. As jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for inac­tion are fal­si­fied, new ones take their place, while the con­clu­sion remains the same.

    Lib­er­als used to accuse con­ser­v­a­tive cli­mate sci­ence skep­tics of mere­ly shilling for the fos­sil-fuel indus­try. Cer­tain­ly the own­ers of dirty ener­gy reserves have invest­ed in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics with the aim of pro­tect­ing their assets, and those invest­ments have borne some fruit. (Trump’s EPA direc­tor has in the past lit­er­al­ly out­sourced his job to oil firms.) But there is far more at work in con­ser­v­a­tive oppo­si­tion to decar­boniza­tion than the hid­den hand of oil and coal; indeed, many fos­sil-fuel com­pa­nies pre­fer the pre­dictabil­i­ty of the Paris agree­ment to pol­i­cy that jerks back and forth every time the pres­i­den­cy changes hands between the par­ties.

    The dom­i­nant spir­it of con­ser­v­a­tive thought — or, more pre­cise­ly, ver­bal ges­tures that seek to resem­ble thought — is not even skep­ti­cism but a trolling impulse. The aim is not so much to rea­son toward a pol­i­cy con­ser­v­a­tives would favor as to pierce the lib­er­al claim to the moral high ground.

    Here is one rep­re­sen­ta­tive spec­i­men. Con­ser­v­a­tive colum­nist Jamie Wein­stein, writ­ing in the Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er, argues that Democ­rats can­not actu­al­ly believe their own rhetoric about the impor­tance of cli­mate change, since their actions did not reflect its urgency when they held pow­er. “Democ­rats like to claim glob­al warm­ing is the great­est threat the world faces,” writes Wein­stein, “but when Oba­ma swept into office in 2009, with lib­er­al majori­ties in the Sen­ate and the House, this sup­pos­ed­ly exis­ten­tial threat was nowhere near the top of the Democ­rats’ agen­da.”

    Weinstein’s argu­ment suf­fers from numer­ous flaws, each of them fatal. First, as a fac­tu­al basis, lib­er­als nev­er had close to the 60 Sen­ate votes need­ed to pass a cap-and-trade bill; dur­ing the few months when they had a fil­i­buster-proof super­ma­jor­i­ty, their cau­cus con­tained numer­ous sen­a­tors from oil- and coal-pro­duc­ing states, who fer­vent­ly opposed any emis­sions lim­its. Sec­ond, Democ­rats did take sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal risk for the issue, hold­ing a House vote that forced vul­ner­a­ble Democ­rats to vote for a bill that stood no real­is­tic chance of pass­ing. They took this dan­ger­ous vote with pre­cious lit­tle chance of suc­cess pre­cise­ly because they did rec­og­nize the world-his­tor­i­cal urgency of the prob­lem.

    Third, even if Democ­rats had pro­ceed­ed cau­tious­ly, it’s com­mon for politi­cians to behave prag­mat­i­cal­ly even in the face of what they see as moral crises of the high­est order. Inter­ven­tion­ists in the 1930s who saw Hitler as a dire threat to world peace did not devote all their ener­gy to demand­ing rear­ma­ment. Peo­ple who see abor­tion as mur­der most­ly do not act as if they live in a coun­try com­mit­ting an ongo­ing holo­caust.

    Final­ly, even if none of the above points were true, the ques­tion would be, so what? Sup­pose Democ­rats under­cut their posi­tion by refus­ing to take cli­mate change seri­ous­ly. What does that tell us about the pol­i­cy they did car­ry out under Oba­ma? And, more­over, which ele­ment in Weinstein’s chain of rea­son­ing under­mines the log­ic of the sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus of the dan­gers of green­house-gas emis­sions or poli­cies that are reduc­ing those emis­sions? Wein­stein does not con­nect his alle­ga­tions of hypocrisy to any of those con­clu­sions. He sim­ply levies a spe­cious charge and then pro­ceeds imme­di­ate­ly to this con­clu­sion: “Rather than con­demn­ing the world to a thou­sand years of dark­ness, Trump’s deci­sion to scut­tle the Paris Agree­ment will more like­ly help Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians raise a few thou­sand dol­lars apiece, or more, from their lib­er­al base.”

    Noth­ing he has argued remote­ly sup­ports Trump’s deci­sion to aban­don Paris. It is what Lionel Trilling, describ­ing the intel­lec­tu­al style of the post­war right, called “irri­ta­ble men­tal ges­tures which seek to resem­ble ideas.” Wein­stein points a dis­mis­sive fin­ger at the left and dis­miss­es the entire prob­lem of cli­mate change as a cyn­i­cal pose.

    ++

    I’m high­light­ing Weinstein’s col­umn not because it’s espe­cial­ly dumb, or espe­cial­ly smart, by the stan­dards of a con­ser­v­a­tive cli­mate-change polemic. I am high­light­ing it because it’s close at hand (hav­ing run yes­ter­day) and cap­tures the pre­dom­i­nant (though not, of course, uni­ver­sal) style of argu­ment on the sub­ject. It con­tains a defi­ant refusal to take the pol­i­cy ques­tions seri­ous­ly, com­bined with a glee­ful reproach of the urgency with which lib­er­als view the issue. A crude trib­al­is­tic impulse over­rides any reck­on­ing with the prob­lem. The prox­i­mate issue in con­ser­v­a­tive minds is not cli­mate change itself but the fact that lib­er­als are con­cerned about all these things. Dis­in­te­grat­ing ice shelves, extinc­tions, or droughts are abstrac­tions.

    It is sim­i­lar to the pre­dom­i­nant response to lib­er­al ter­ror over the prospect of hand­ing the most pow­er­ful office in the world to an impul­sive con­gen­i­tal liar with author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies. Con­ser­v­a­tives on the whole devot­ed less atten­tion to pon­der­ing the risks Trump might pose to their own coun­try and par­ty than enjoy­ing the lib­er­al tears.

    “Every­body who hates Trump wants him to stay in Paris,” argues con­ser­v­a­tive activist Grover Norquist. “Every­body who respects him, trusts him, vot­ed for him, wish­es for him to suc­ceed, wants him to pull out.” Here is an argu­ment that approach­es, even if it does not ful­ly reach, com­plete self-aware­ness: The Paris cli­mate agree­ment is bad because it is sup­port­ed by peo­ple who oppose Trump. There­fore, the oppos­ing posi­tion is the cor­rect one.

    ...

    ———-
    “Every­thing Con­ser­v­a­tives Said About the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment Is Already Wrong” by Jonathan Chait; New York Mag­a­zine; 06/01/2017

    ““Every­body who hates Trump wants him to stay in Paris,” argues con­ser­v­a­tive activist Grover Norquist. “Every­body who respects him, trusts him, vot­ed for him, wish­es for him to suc­ceed, wants him to pull out.” Here is an argu­ment that approach­es, even if it does not ful­ly reach, com­plete self-aware­ness: The Paris cli­mate agree­ment is bad because it is sup­port­ed by peo­ple who oppose Trump. There­fore, the oppos­ing posi­tion is the cor­rect one.

    That appears to be Chait’s gen­er­al con­clu­sion: It’s all about the pol­i­tics. Specif­i­cal­ly, the pol­i­tics of brain-dead trib­al­is­tic “if you like it, I hate it” zero-sum rea­son­ing. Or rather, non-rea­son­ing. And that no doubt plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in this whole sick dynam­ic.

    But is that it? Is there no oth­er broad­er objec­tive that the far-right thinks will be accom­plished if we can sow the seeds of future pover­ty and ruin today? Well, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle sug­gests, that trib­al­is­tic reac­tionary trolling approach to pol­i­cy real­ly might be the pri­ma­ry dri­ving force for the Right’s seem­ing­ly sui­ci­dal behav­ior. At least, that’s what we can infer from a snap­shot of Steve Ban­non’s white­board of doom:

    CNN

    How Steve Ban­non’s white­board explains Don­ald Trump’s cli­mate deci­sion

    Analy­sis by Chris Cil­liz­za, CNN Edi­tor-at-large

    Updat­ed 4:13 PM ET, Thu June 1, 2017

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)Last month, thanks to the end­less acci­den­tal-shar­ing pow­er of social media, we got a reveal­ing peek into the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. It came via a white­board in the office of Trump White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non. A white­board packed with promis­es and pledges Trump made dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

    Here it is:

    [see pic]

    And here’s how CNN’s Jeff Zele­ny and Maeve Reston described it in a piece for State, CNN’s online mag­a­zine:

    When he moved into the White House, Trump’s chief strate­gist removed the floor-to-ceil­ing book­shelves and sofa from his office and posi­tioned his desk in the cor­ner to make room for giant white­boards that are lined up in four columns beneath the cam­paign theme: Make. Amer­i­ca. Great. Again. In the final hours of the first 100 days, the promis­es kept were marked with a red X, includ­ing aban­don­ing a mas­sive Pacif­ic trade deal. The col­umn with­out a sin­gle red X: Leg­isla­tive accom­plish­ments.

    Ban­non’s the­o­ry of the case was — and is — sim­ple: If Trump makes good on the things he promised his base dur­ing the cam­paign, he will be well posi­tioned to get re-elect­ed. That the biggest dan­ger for Trump is not say­ing impolitic things or fight­ing with the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment but look­ing like he “went Wash­ing­ton,” that all his tough talk on the cam­paign trail about going in, knock­ing heads and get­ting things done was just talk.

    That strat­e­gy is built on the idea that if you keep your base hap­py, you win. And it’s not a bad one giv­en that the last two re-elec­tion races of pres­i­dents — Bush in 2004 and Oba­ma in 2012 — were, func­tion­al­ly, bat­tles between the par­ty bases each won by the incum­bent.

    It also appears to be the strat­e­gy Trump is fol­low­ing — to the extent he is fol­low­ing one at all — when he makes deci­sions on con­tentious issues in this first four months in office.

    Take the Paris cli­mate accord, which Trump announced Thurs­day after­noon he for­mal­ly pull out of.

    Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump was adamant that, if elect­ed, he would end US com­mit­ment to the accord.

    “We’re going to can­cel the Paris cli­mate agree­ment and stop all pay­ments of Unit­ed States tax dol­lars to UN glob­al warm­ing pro­grams,” Trump promised dur­ing a major ener­gy speech in late May 2016. “This agree­ment gives for­eign bureau­crats con­trol over how much ener­gy we use on our land, in our coun­try. No way.”

    Trump waf­fled some­what over the inter­ven­ing months as the influ­ence of peo­ple like his daugh­ter, Ivan­ka, and Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son — both of whom sup­port the US stay­ing in the Paris agree­ment — was felt.

    Ban­non has long been a lead­ing voice on the oth­er side, insist­ing that Trump made a promise to his base dur­ing the cam­paign and should keep it.

    This, from For­eign Pol­i­cy last month, gets at the Ban­non argu­ment:

    Some White House aides, includ­ing Ban­non, view a US with­draw­al from the agree­ment as a cam­paign promise to be ful­filled and an explic­it rejec­tion of an accord cham­pi­oned by Oba­ma.

    And, CNN’s sto­ry from ear­li­er this week makes the same point:

    Steve Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist and the for­mer head of Bre­it­bart, had pressed Trump to stick with his cam­paign promise and leave the deal.

    ...

    You can argue about the strat­e­gy. You can say that Trump’s base is sim­ply not big enough to win him a sec­ond term — espe­cial­ly if he can’t demon­strate an appeal to polit­i­cal inde­pen­dents. (Trump beat Hillary Clin­ton by 4 points among inde­pen­dents in 2016.)

    And you might just be right! But if you are look­ing for a piece of con­nec­tive tis­sue between Day 1 of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­cy and Day 132, it’s all right there on Ban­non’s white­board. Appease the base. Wor­ry about all the rest lat­er.

    ———-
    “How Steve Ban­non’s white­board explains Don­ald Trump’s cli­mate deci­sion” by Chris Cil­liz­za, CNN; 06/01/2017

    “Ban­non’s the­o­ry of the case was — and is — sim­ple: If Trump makes good on the things he promised his base dur­ing the cam­paign, he will be well posi­tioned to get re-elect­ed. That the biggest dan­ger for Trump is not say­ing impolitic things or fight­ing with the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment but look­ing like he “went Wash­ing­ton,” that all his tough talk on the cam­paign trail about going in, knock­ing heads and get­ting things done was just talk.”

    Step 1. Trump promis­es his base dur­ing the cam­paign that he’ll pull out of the Paris accord because any­thing opposed by lib­er­als is per­ceived as inher­ent­ly good.

    Step 2. After win­ning, Trump now has to put do it. Because he promised to. And Steve Ban­non’s core strat­e­gy for re-elec­tion is to sim­ply car­ry out as many cam­paign promis­es as pos­si­ble.

    That’s it. At least based on the analy­sis by Jonathan Chait and Chris Cil­liz­za. And who knows, maybe that’s extent of the Trump/GOP rea­son­ing on this...combined with the obvi­ous incen­tive of pleas­ing petro-oli­garchs like the Kochs.

    But let’s not for­get one of the oth­er rather incred­i­ble and dis­turb­ing aspects of all this: Steven Ban­non isn’t just some ran­dom polit­i­cal strate­gist. He’s Steve Ban­non, far-right white nation­al­ist polit­i­cal strate­gist and close ally of white nation­al­ist bil­lion­aires like Robert Mer­cer. The guy is basi­cal­ly a con­tem­po­rary neo-Nazi the­o­reti­cian. That’s how Ban­non views the world. And it’s not like his views are out of whack with most of the rest the GOP’s through lead­ers.

    So when we’re talk­ing about some­one with Steve Ban­non’s far-right world­view aggres­sive­ly try­ing to thwart the only real attempt to do any­thing mean­ing­ful about poten­tial­ly cat­a­stroph­ic cli­mate change which could severe­ly impact the course of events over the next cen­tu­ry, is the motive real­ly just an adher­ence to a reac­tionary trib­al­is­tic trolling impulse? Because let’s not for­get which parts of the world are going to get hit the hard­est of tem­per­a­tures rise, deserts expand, and crops chron­i­cal­ly fail: the third world...the parts of the world white nation­al­ist like Ban­non appear to loathe and wish would go away or at least agree to be sub­ju­gat­ed. If any oppor­tu­ni­ty to unleash such a weapon upon the world had been giv­en to, say, the Nazis, would they have passed it up?

    Let’s also not for­got one of Ban­non’s favorite books: The Camp of the Saints, a book writ­ten by an anti-semit­ic neo-Nazi about waves poor peo­ple from the third world flood­ing the shores of France that trig­gers a race war. If you want­ed a tool from pro­mot­ing waves of des­per­ate non-white peo­ple flood­ing into places like Europe you almost could­n’t come up with a more effec­tive tool than cli­mate change. Just take a look at Syr­ia. And Ban­non and oth­er far-right strate­gists sure­ly rec­og­nize this. So we real­ly need to ask: Is Steve Ban­non try­ing to exac­er­bate and accel­er­ate cli­mate change specif­i­cal­ly in order to cre­ate a peri­od of mas­sive third world cri­sis in order to cre­ate a mas­sive “is us or them” glob­al zeit­geist? The kind of cri­sis sit­u­a­tion men­tal­i­ty that soft­ens psy­ches up enough to enable the kind of race wars the Ban­nons of the world clear­ly desire? A peri­od of glob­al despair where soci­eties start think­ing “if we don’t let all those des­per­ate peo­ple over there die over there they might come here, so let’s make sure they die over there.” Isn’t that a desir­able out­come for some­one like Ban­non? It would appear to be the case based on his read­ing habits.

    So that’s one of the very unpleas­ant ques­tions we’re forced to ask: are Trump and the GOP try­ing to cre­ate a future glob­al dis­as­ter as part of some sort of Ban­non-esque far-right pow­er play? Or they real­ly just hor­ri­ble trolls who val­ue trolling above all else and care noth­ing for the future? A bit of both?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 1, 2017, 3:54 pm
  29. Remem­ber when James Buchal, the high­est rank­ing GOP­er in Port­land and the sur­round­ing Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty, sug­gest­ed that maybe the Oath Keep­ers should be used as secu­ri­ty for the June 4th Alt-Right ‘free speech’ ral­ly? Well, the Port­land GOP got its wish:

    The Guardian

    Oath Keep­ers mili­tia will attend Port­land ‘free speech’ ral­ly, says leader

    Stew­art Rhodes tells Guardian group will ‘pro­tect’ an ‘alt-right’ event set to go ahead Sun­day in after­math of dou­ble mur­der despite mayor’s attempt to block

    Jason Wil­son in Port­land

    Sun­day 4 June 2017 16.19 EDT
    First pub­lished on Sat­ur­day 3 June 2017 17.11 EDT

    Mem­bers of the Oath Keep­ers mili­tia will attend an alt-right”-hosted “free speech” ral­ly in Port­land, Ore­gon, on Sun­day, accord­ing to the group’s leader. The ral­ly is due to take place lit­tle more than a week after the deaths of two men who came to the aid of women being sub­ject to racial abuse on a train in the city.

    The man charged in the stab­bings, which killed Tal­iesin Myrd­din Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, and left 21-year-old stu­dent Mic­ah David-Cole Fletch­er injured, is Jere­my Chris­t­ian, 35. He was found to have post­ed white suprema­cist rhetoric online and to have attend­ed an “alt-right” ral­ly in the city in April.

    In an atmos­phere of height­ened ten­sion in Port­land, and as the city’s may­or, Ted Wheel­er, appealed for fed­er­al author­i­ties to fol­low him in with­hold­ing per­mits for the ral­ly, the chair of the city’s Repub­li­can par­ty last week told the Guardian he was con­sid­er­ing con­tact­ing groups like the Oath Keep­ers to pro­vide secu­ri­ty for par­ty events.

    Speak­ing on Sat­ur­day on his way to Ore­gon from his home in Mon­tana, Oath Keep­ers leader Stew­art Rhodes said: “We’re going to pro­tect free speech, the exact same thing we have been doing at the last sev­en events we’ve been to over the past few months.”

    The Guardian con­tact­ed Rhodes about a Red­dit post that claimed to repro­duce the text of an email he sent to Oath Keep­er mem­bers, adver­tis­ing a Fri­day “webi­nar” that would dis­cuss the Port­land ral­ly, a sched­uled “anti-sharia” ral­ly in Seat­tle next week, and “why we need to be at such events to pro­tect free speech against ter­ror­ism”.

    “That was not for pub­lic use,” Rhodes said. “Some ass­hole post­ed that.” But he con­firmed the con­tents of the email: “Of course I said that, why not.”

    Asked if he had been in touch with orga­niz­ers of the Port­land ral­ly, Rhodes replied: “Of course. And also the Port­land police, DHS [Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty], and every­one else, as always.”

    The post­ed text of the email read: “The Port­land PD PIO [Pub­lic Infor­ma­tion Office], and also DHS let us know that the feds won’t allow any weapons in the park, even for our cops. That sucks, but we will have to deal with it. And the ‘park’ includes the side­walk in front of it.”

    The ral­ly is due to take place in Schrunk plaza, an area in down­town Port­land with space for pub­lic per­for­mances and meet­ings.

    The email con­tin­ued: “The Port­land PD PIO also said that out­side the park our retired cops can car­ry con­cealed under LEOSA [Law Enforce­ment Offi­cers Safe­ty Act], and peo­ple with a valid OR con­cealed car­ry can car­ry out­side the park.”

    PIO spokesman Sgt Peter Simp­son said he was unaware of any con­ver­sa­tion the Oath Keep­ers would have had with the police bureau.

    Asked about the infor­ma­tion Rhodes said he had been giv­en, and whether it accu­rate­ly reflect­ed the legal­i­ty of con­cealed car­ry in down­town Port­land, Simp­son said: “I have nev­er spo­ken with one of these peo­ple. It appears that he is tak­ing infor­ma­tion I pro­vid­ed in inter­views and turn­ing it into a con­ver­sa­tion.

    “They did not speak with a Port­land PIO. The law does not allow for guns in the fed­er­al park and city code does not allow for guns in parks unless there is a con­cealed hand­gun per­mit.”

    On Sun­day, Rhodes said he had spo­ken to a Sgt Niiya in the civ­il dis­tur­bance unit, which Sgt Simp­son then con­firmed.

    The email post­ed to Red­dit also said Rhodes had been in con­tact with Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­can par­ty chair­man James Buchal, who last week told the Guardian he was con­sid­er­ing using groups such as the Oath Keep­ers and Three Per­centers as secu­ri­ty for pub­lic events.

    Rhodes said: “I saw the Guardian arti­cle and I called him up to talk to him and let him know we’d be hap­py to do that and we’d do it for free. We’d be hap­py to do that.”

    Asked if Buchal accept­ed, Rhodes said: “He thanked me. And we talked for a while about how stu­pid it was for the left­ist press to be freak­ing out because we offered to pro­tect them. I mean, that’s what we do.”

    Buchal told the Guardian he “returned Mr Rhodes’ call, thanked him for his offer of assis­tance, and the mat­ter remains under con­sid­er­a­tion. It is not in the nature of a polit­i­cal par­ty, even a coun­ty sub-unit of one, to make deci­sions quick­ly.”

    He added that he remained “baf­fled by the accu­sa­tions of racism against this orga­ni­za­tion” and list­ed a series of the Oath Keep­ers bylaws, includ­ing one bar­ring any­one who “advo­cates dis­crim­i­na­tion, vio­lence, or hatred toward any per­son based upon their race, nation­al­i­ty, creed, or col­or”.

    Ear­li­er this week, in response to the Guardian sto­ry, the Anti-Defama­tion League (ADL) wrote an open let­ter to Buchal.

    “We think it is impor­tant for you to know that the Oath Keep­ers and Three Per­centers are not benign ‘secu­ri­ty forces’,” the ADL let­ter said. “They are, in our judg­ment, mili­tia-style, anti-gov­ern­ment extrem­ist groups.”

    Asked if he antic­i­pat­ed trou­ble at the event in Port­land on Sun­day, Rhodes said: “Well, we don’t know. But that’s the thing. Any time we do any kind of secu­ri­ty oper­a­tion like, you don’t know what’s going to hap­pen. I’m pret­ty con­fi­dent [Port­land police] are going to han­dle it pret­ty well.”

    Asked if any spe­cif­ic protest­ing or oppos­ing groups con­cerned him, Rhodes referred to left­wing counter-pro­test­ers in the city when he said: “Yeah. Antifa. That’s their claim to fame, right. To go punch peo­ple in the face, and declare that they’re not going to let them hold events etc etc.”

    Asked if his group would offer phys­i­cal resis­tance to any attacks, Rhodes said: “You mean would we defend our­selves and oth­er peo­ple? Yeah of course. But only against unlaw­ful action. If I were on the train I would have defend­ed peo­ple against the crazy knife guy as well.”

    Rhodes also said: “Part of the rea­son we go is to make sure peo­ple on our side don’t do any­thing stu­pid. It’s not just wait­ing to see if some­one comes through a line, try­ing to hurt some­body.”

    Rhodes also claimed to have offered pro­tec­tion to “a Flori­da coun­sel” who he said had received “death threats” in the course of bring­ing “their case against the DNC [Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee]”.

    “I let her know that we do that kind of pro­tec­tion, and if she needs help let us know. And she’s a Demo­c­rat, she’s a Bernie sup­port­er. We’re bipar­ti­san.”

    Rhodes did not name the coun­sel in ques­tion. A Mia­mi law firm, Beck and Lee, is suing the DNC over its treat­ment of Bernie Sanders dur­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry last year.

    The firm is run by a hus­band and wife team, Jared and Eliz­a­beth Lee Beck. Jared Beck has used his Twit­ter account to demand clos­er inves­ti­ga­tion of the mur­der of a DNC staffer, Seth Rich, which has become the sub­ject of rightwing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Eliz­a­beth Beck recent­ly com­plained about death threats on Twit­ter. She did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

    In two state­ments issued lat­er on Sat­ur­day, Rhodes said he had “pledged our uncon­di­tion­al sup­port” to Buchal and con­firmed that his group would be present at the ral­ly on Sun­day, “ready, will­ing, and able to effec­tive­ly defend the rights of all present if there is any fail­ure of the police to do so”.

    ...

    ———-

    “Oath Keep­ers mili­tia will attend Port­land ‘free speech’ ral­ly, says leader” by Jason Wil­son; The Guardian; 06/04/2017

    “In two state­ments issued lat­er on Sat­ur­day, Rhodes said he had “pledged our uncon­di­tion­al sup­port” to Buchal and con­firmed that his group would be present at the ral­ly on Sun­day, “ready, will­ing, and able to effec­tive­ly defend the rights of all present if there is any fail­ure of the police to do so”.”

    The Port­land GOP has a mili­tia secu­ri­ty force. Or, rather, shares a mili­tia secu­ri­ty force with the Alt-Right. Wel­come to Trum­p­land.

    And note oth­er group the Oath Keep­ers are offer­ing pro­tec­tion for: a pair of lawyers try­ing to sue the DNC over the treat­ment of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 pri­ma­ry while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­mot­ing the ‘Seth Rich was mur­dered by the DNC because he was the real leak­er’ meme:

    ...
    Rhodes also claimed to have offered pro­tec­tion to “a Flori­da coun­sel” who he said had received “death threats” in the course of bring­ing “their case against the DNC [Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee]”.

    “I let her know that we do that kind of pro­tec­tion, and if she needs help let us know. And she’s a Demo­c­rat, she’s a Bernie sup­port­er. We’re bipar­ti­san.”

    Rhodes did not name the coun­sel in ques­tion. A Mia­mi law firm, Beck and Lee, is suing the DNC over its treat­ment of Bernie Sanders dur­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry last year.

    The firm is run by a hus­band and wife team, Jared and Eliz­a­beth Lee Beck. Jared Beck has used his Twit­ter account to demand clos­er inves­ti­ga­tion of the mur­der of a DNC staffer, Seth Rich, which has become the sub­ject of rightwing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Eliz­a­beth Beck recent­ly com­plained about death threats on Twit­ter. She did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.
    ...

    So how did the ral­ly go? Did the Oath Keep­ers make any arrests? Not exact­ly. They assist­ed fed­er­al offi­cers in mak­ing arrests:

    The Port­land Mer­cury
    Blog­town

    Feds Are Review­ing Right Wing Mili­tia Mem­ber’s Assis­tance With Cops Mak­ing Arrest

    by Doug Brown • Jun 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    On Sun­day, a right-wing mili­tia mem­ber helped fed­er­al offi­cers chase, pin down, and hand­cuff a pro­test­er who tried to enter the pro-Trump ral­ly at Ter­ry Schrunk Plaza. The feds are now inves­ti­gat­ing.

    “The inci­dent involv­ing the pri­vate cit­i­zen is under review with the US Attor­ney’s Office,” DHS spokesper­son Lucy Mar­tinez tells the Mer­cury.

    The man—working secu­ri­ty for the rally—is seen on mul­ti­ple videos assist­ing DHS police offi­cers from the Fed­er­al Pro­tec­tive Ser­vice arrest the guy. At one point, he unfurls a zip-tie hand­cuff from the fed­er­al agen­t’s belt before hand­ing it to the agent, who then puts them on the wrists of the guy who’s pinned down.

    It was cap­tured on video by a blog­ger (the main action starts at 1:17 or so)
    [see video ]
    It was also cap­tured by Ore­gon­ian reporter Jim Ryan.
    [see video ]
    And it was pho­tographed by OPB’s Bryan Vance.

    I for­got I caught this image of an oath­keep­er (serv­ing as pri­vate secu­ri­ty for the pro-Trump crowd yes­ter­day) help… https://t.co/f1jAgk1GNx pic.twitter.com/2RRC4xz7Iy— Bryan M. Vance (@BryanMVance) June 5, 2017

    The man appears to be a mem­ber a right-wing mili­tia group. The group has run secu­ri­ty at pre­vi­ous pro-Trump ral­lies in the area. Ter­ry Schrunk Plaza is fed­er­al prop­er­ty and the pro-Trump ral­ly had a per­mit from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to be there.

    Here’s what the DHS’s Mar­tinez tells the Mer­cury about the arrest:

    The Fed­er­al Pro­tec­tive Offi­cers were in the process of remov­ing an unau­tho­rized pro­tes­tor from the demon­stra­tion. FPS offi­cers were oper­at­ing with­in the scope of their author­i­ty to ensure the safe­ty of all per­sons and sup­port the peace­ful expres­sion of their 1st Amend­ment rights.

    The inci­dent involv­ing the pri­vate cit­i­zen is under review with the US Attorney’s Office.

    Though the Port­land Police Bureau (PPB) had noth­ing to do with this spe­cif­ic arrest, we asked PPB spokesman Pete Simp­son if they have a pol­i­cy on this sort of thing:

    I’m aware of the image/video and it is FPS/DHS. My under­stand­ing is that event orga­niz­ers were asked to make clear that nobody should inter­fere with or get involved in arrests. Not sure what the sce­nario is on this arrest so you’d have to check with FPS. There’s not real­ly a PPB pol­i­cy about this kind of thing but as a prac­tice, we’d pre­fer not to have pri­vate cit­i­zen involve­ment in an arrest but there have been times where pri­vate secu­ri­ty (think bar bounc­ers, loss pre­ven­tion, etc) have jumped in to assist an offi­cer strug­gling with a sus­pect.

    ...

    ———-

    “Feds Are Review­ing Right Wing Mili­tia Mem­ber’s Assis­tance With Cops Mak­ing Arrest” by Doug Brown; The Port­land Mer­cury; 06/06/2017

    “The man—working secu­ri­ty for the rally—is seen on mul­ti­ple videos assist­ing DHS police offi­cers from the Fed­er­al Pro­tec­tive Ser­vice arrest the guy. At one point, he unfurls a zip-tie hand­cuff from the fed­er­al agen­t’s belt before hand­ing it to the agent, who then puts them on the wrists of the guy who’s pinned down.”

    In Trum­p­land, the far-right mili­tias that advo­cate sov­er­eign cit­i­zen legal the­o­ries that all law enforce­ment above the lev­el of coun­ty sher­iff are ille­git­i­mate help fed­er­al police (DHS) arrest peo­ple. That’s where we are.

    But it was­n’t all dis­turb­ing news from the ral­ly. For instance, no one had their throat slit by a rav­ing neo-Nazi lunatic. So, you know, could have been worse. Includ­ing for James Bachal and the Port­land GOP. After all, anoth­er round of throat-slit­ting prob­a­bly would­n’t have helped with Buchal’s GOP recruit­ment efforts at the Alt-Right ral­ly:

    The Guardian

    Repub­li­cans use ‘alt-right’ Port­land ral­ly to recruit new mem­bers

    Efforts to encour­age young con­ser­v­a­tives to ‘get active’, led by chair­man of the local Repub­li­can par­ty, were uncov­ered in a record­ing from the ral­ly

    Jason Wil­son in Port­land, Ore­gon

    Mon­day 5 June 2017 20.10 EDT
    First pub­lished on Mon­day 5 June 2017 19.36 EDT

    Repub­li­cans have used a con­tro­ver­sial “alt-right” ral­ly in Port­land, held in the wake of the the killing spree alleged­ly per­pe­trat­ed by a local white suprema­cist, to recruit new mem­bers to the par­ty.

    The effort was led by James Buchal, chair of the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­can par­ty, who urged atten­dees at the ral­ly on Sun­day to join to the GOP. Details of his efforts were uncov­ered in a record­ing from the ral­ly.

    “I want to say, since I am involved in the Repub­li­can par­ty, that the struc­ture to change the gov­ern­ment offi­cials in a par­ty, a polit­i­cal par­ty,” Buchal told the crowd . “And we are look­ing for young con­ser­v­a­tives to get active in the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­can par­ty.”

    He added: “We’re look­ing for young con­ser­v­a­tives to step up and run for local offices. We need to get con­trol of local school boards and every oth­er local dis­trict. We need peo­ple on the streets talk­ing to peo­ple, knock­ing on doors, mak­ing phone calls. The par­ty is there, the par­ty is open. Come and help us win Amer­i­ca back. “

    On Mon­day, Buchal con­firmed to the Guardian that he used the con­tro­ver­sial ral­ly to recruit new GOP mem­bers, and said the effort paid off. “I have had a hand­ful of calls from peo­ple, but I do not know whether or not they are ral­ly par­tic­i­pants, and I did not ask them.”

    Buchal shared a plat­form at the event with Kyle ‘Based Stick­man’ Chap­man, who became a cult fig­ure in the far right move­ment after wield­ing a stick in a skir­mish with anti-fas­cist pro­test­ers in Berke­ley.

    Not long after Buchal spoke, the leader of the mil­i­tant Oath Keep­ers group, Stu­art Rhodes, pub­licly swore Tusi­ta­la ‘Tiny’ Toese into the organ­i­sa­tion. Toese was filmed punch­ing an anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tor to the ground dur­ing a con­fronta­tion last month, lat­er defend­ing the move as an act of self-defense.

    Buchal and the organ­is­ers of Sunday’s ral­ly, which was osten­si­bly a protest over “free speech”, have dis­tanced them­selves from Jere­my Chris­t­ian, who is accused of fatal­ly stab­bing two men in Port­land when they tried to shield young women from his anti-Mus­lim tirade.

    How­ev­er the deci­sion to press ahead with the ral­ly, so soon after the racial­ly-charged mur­ders, has inflamed ten­sions in Port­land.

    Buchal is the same senior local Repub­li­can that the Guardian pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed was con­sid­er­ing using the Oath Keep­ers and a sim­i­lar group called The Three Per­centers as secu­ri­ty, because of what he called “bel­liger­ent, unsta­ble peo­ple who are con­vinced that Repub­li­cans are like Nazis”.

    The same mil­i­tant groups pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty for the Sunday’s ral­ly in down­town Port­land, where anti-fas­cist counter-pro­test­ers had tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets deployed against them by riot police.

    Buchal praised the Oath Keep­ers in his speech on Sun­day, com­par­ing them to the two men who vic­tims who were alleged­ly mur­dered by Chris­t­ian.

    ...

    Buchal said he did not attend the event in any offi­cial capac­i­ty. His main pur­pose was “to inves­ti­gate whether some of the media claims con­cern­ing the event were cor­rect: that the ral­ly would con­sist of hate speech uttered by big­ots and white suprema­cists.”

    Asked about the impres­sion he formed fol­low­ing his inves­ti­ga­tion, Buchal said: “I did not find that to be the truth.”

    ———-

    “Repub­li­cans use ‘alt-right’ Port­land ral­ly to recruit new mem­bers” by Jason Wil­son; The Guardian; 06/05/2017

    “The effort was led by James Buchal, chair of the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­can par­ty, who urged atten­dees at the ral­ly on Sun­day to join to the GOP. Details of his efforts were uncov­ered in a record­ing from the ral­ly.”

    Isn’t that nice. Just some pleas­ant youth out­reach. The future of the GOP is look­ing all right Alt-Right increas­ing­ly Alt-Right.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2017, 2:52 pm
  30. Giv­en the repeat­ed dis­turb­ing one-lin­ers, jokes, and oth­er ref­er­ences to polit­i­cal vio­lence that repeat­ed­ly emanat­ed from the 2016 Trump cam­paign (espe­cial­ly Trump’s “Sec­ond Amend­ment solu­tions” remark), the hope that such rhetoric was­n’t going to spi­ral out of con­trol was one of the hand­ful of sil­ver lin­ings from Trump vic­to­ry. But thanks to a deranged gun­man — a ‘Bernie or bust’ type with a his­to­ry of vio­lence — who attacked the Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans’ base­ball team in DC, play­ing into all the far-right fan­tasies about being vic­tim­ized by a vio­lent Amer­i­can left, that threat of polit­i­cal vio­lence is back in a big, bloody, and utter­ly point­less way:

    Slate

    Con­gres­sion­al Base­ball Shoot­er Hat­ed Repub­li­cans, Has Died of Injuries

    By Jere­my Stahl
    June 14 2017 11:57 AM

    Law enforce­ment offi­cials report­ed­ly iden­ti­fied Wednesday’s con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­can base­ball prac­tice shoot­er as James T. Hodgkin­son of Belleville, Illi­nois. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump report­ed that Hodgkin­son died after exchang­ing gun­fire with law enforce­ment.

    The 66-year-old home inspector’s social media accounts reveal him to have been a long­time Bernie Sanders sup­port­er who held a vocif­er­ous grudge against Repub­li­can law­mak­ers and also dis­liked Hillary Clin­ton.

    In recent months he had tak­en to post­ing mul­ti­ple polit­i­cal memes a day on his Face­book page often with a heav­i­ly anti-Repub­li­can slant. He would also attach his own mes­sages to those memes. Here are some of the most notable of those posts:

    * In one Decem­ber 2014 post, he wrote “The Repub­li­can Par­ty are a Group of Ter­ror­ists!”
    * In anoth­er from 2015, he wrote: “I Hate Repub­li­cans & every­thing they stand for. Which is Lie, Cheat, Steal, Low­er Tax­es on the rich­est peo­ple in the World, & Now Take Our Nation­al Forests so they Can Mine them & Deface them...Republicans Should go back to where they came from. I think that would be Under­neath a Rock..”
    * Last year, the Face­book page offered mes­sages of oppo­si­tion to “Lying, Cheat­ing Hillary” who he says “stole” the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry from Sen. Bernie Sanders. His Face­book page encour­aged fol­low­ers to either vote for third-par­ty can­di­date Jill Stein or to write in Sanders in the 2016 elec­tion.
    * In recent months, Hodgkinson’s Face­book page’s stance towards Clin­ton seems to have soft­ened as he focused his ire on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. “Hillary did­n’t Do Any­thing Wrong. Here is the Crook. Lock Him Up!” he wrote in one mes­sage about Trump.
    * “Trump & His Fam­i­ly are Trai­tors & Need to Be Pros­e­cut­ed to the Fullest Extent of the Law,” he wrote in anoth­er post about Jared Kush­n­er last month.
    * Last week he called Geor­gia spe­cial elec­tion con­gres­sion­al can­di­date Karen Han­del a “Repub­li­can Bitch.”
    * On Mon­day, he post­ed sev­en times and wrote “Trump is Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Trea­son.”
    * In April he tweet­ed that he was ask­ing Sen­ate Democ­rats to sup­port Sen. Jeff Merkley’s fil­i­buster of Supreme Court nom­i­nee Neil Gor­such.
    * In April 2014, Hodgkin­son tweet­ed at Sanders with a mes­sage about the influ­ence of mon­ey in pol­i­tics.

    Rep. Ron DeSan­tis said ear­li­er on Wednes­day that as he was leav­ing the field before the shoot­ing occurred, “a guy ... walked up to us that was ask­ing whether it was Repub­li­cans or Democ­rats out there.”

    The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that “Hodgkin­son was charged in April 2006 with bat­tery and aid­ing dam­age to a motor vehi­cle” and the charges were even­tu­al­ly dis­missed. The paper also not­ed that he owned a home inspec­tion busi­ness, but his license expired in Novem­ber and had not been renewed.

    Hodgkin­son’s wife report­ed­ly told ABC News that he’d been liv­ing in Alexan­dria, Virginia—the site of the shooting—for the past two months.

    Update, 12:30 p.m.: Hodgkin­son vol­un­teered for the Sanders cam­paign. The for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date has issued this state­ment on the Sen­ate floor:
    [see video]
    Mean­while, NBC News’ Peter Alexan­der is report­ing that the 2006 assault charge was for attack­ing his then-girl­friend. “At the time police recov­ered a pock­et knife, hair they say was pulled out of his girl­friend’s head, and they recov­ered a 12-guage shot­gun at the scene,” NBC report­ed.

    ...

    ———-

    “Con­gres­sion­al Base­ball Shoot­er Hat­ed Repub­li­cans, Has Died of Injuries” by Jere­my Stahl; Slate; 06/14/2017

    “The 66-year-old home inspector’s social media accounts reveal him to have been a long­time Bernie Sanders sup­port­er who held a vocif­er­ous grudge against Repub­li­can law­mak­ers and also dis­liked Hillary Clin­ton.”

    So a lunatic who loathed Repub­li­cans — and many Democ­rats — trav­els to DC, lives out of his gym bag at a YMCA for a cou­ple of months, and then attempts to gun down the GOP base­ball team. And in doing so he crit­i­cal wounds Steve Scalise, one of the GOP mem­bers most close­ly iden­ti­fied with white nation­al­ism. Whether or not this guy was active­ly try­ing to spark a cycle of vio­lence as part of some sort of “burn it all down” strat­e­gy or he was just act­ing out of rage, if you had to come up with an inci­dent designed to inflame ten­sions in an already tense polit­i­cal cli­mate it would be hard to come up with a more effec­tive plot. Case in point:

    CNN

    Gin­grich: Shoot­ing ‘part of a pat­tern’ on the left

    By Eli Watkins,
    Updat­ed 2:39 PM ET, Wed June 14, 2017

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)Former House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich respond­ed to the shoot­ing at a Repub­li­can base­ball prac­tice on Wednes­day by say­ing it was “part of a pat­tern” of behav­ior on the left.

    Gin­grich, speak­ing on Fox News’ “Out­num­bered,” offered his prayers to those injured and prompt­ly lumped the vio­lent inci­dent in with what he called a broad­er trend com­ing from those opposed to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

    “It’s part of a pat­tern,” Gin­grich said. “You’ve had an increas­ing inten­si­ty of hos­til­i­ty on the left.”

    He claimed he knew col­lege stu­dents who said they had received death threats for say­ing they sup­port­ed Trump, and also crit­i­cized come­di­an Kathy Grif­fin — who was round­ly chas­tised for pos­ing in a pho­to­graph hold­ing a blood­ied Trump head — and a New York pro­duc­tion of the Shake­speare play Julius Cae­sar, which fea­tures a Trump-like Cae­sar.

    Gin­grich dou­bled down when a mem­ber of the pan­el, Fox News’ Melis­sa Fran­cis, asked him: “Does that make sense?”

    “You’ve had a series of things which send sig­nals that tell peo­ple that it’s OK to hate Trump, it’s OK to think of Trump in vio­lent terms, it’s OK to con­sid­er assas­si­nat­ing Trump,” Gin­grich said. “And then sud­den­ly we’re sup­posed to rise above it until next time?”

    ...

    Gin­grich has a long his­to­ry of link­ing vio­lence to lib­er­als, includ­ing the mass shoot­ings at Vir­ginia Tech and Columbine High School.

    But in a Politi­co report from 2011, Gin­grich crit­i­cized lib­er­als for blam­ing con­ser­v­a­tives over the shoot­ing of Ari­zona Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords, a Demo­c­rat who sur­vived being shot in the head dur­ing a shoot­ing at a con­stituent event in Tuc­son.

    “There’s no evi­dence that I know of that this per­son was any­thing except nuts,” Gin­grich was quot­ed say­ing of the shoot­er at the time.

    ———-

    “Gin­grich: Shoot­ing ‘part of a pat­tern’ on the left” by Eli Watkins; CNN; 06/14/2017

    “Gin­grich, speak­ing on Fox News’ “Out­num­bered,” offered his prayers to those injured and prompt­ly lumped the vio­lent inci­dent in with what he called a broad­er trend com­ing from those opposed to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.”

    That’s the kind of response we should expect for Newt. Along with the broad­er right-wing media com­plex. And don’t for­get that this is hap­pen­ing at a time when clash­es between ‘Alt-Right’ neo-Nazis and ‘Antifa’ pro­tes­tors is fuel­ing a grow­ing nar­ra­tive on the right of a ‘vio­lent Left’ that requires an extra­or­di­nary response. Like invit­ing the Oath Keep­ers to act a pri­vate GOP pro­tec­tion squad. Which all is part of why you have to won­der if this guy was try­ing to feed into that nar­ra­tive and spark some­thing larg­er. If so, wow is that hor­ri­ble. If not, still pret­ty damn hor­ri­ble.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 14, 2017, 2:32 pm
  31. Here’s the lat­est indi­ca­tion that groups like the mili­tias, the ‘Three Per­centers’ — which had a sig­nif­i­cant armed pres­ence at the Mal­heur Nation­al wildlife refuge stand­off with the Bundy brigade — and the KKK are all more than hap­py form a heav­i­ly armed far-right coali­tion for the pur­pose of ‘defend­ing every­one against antifa’ or some­thing like that. In the case of the recent faux-show­down in Get­tys­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia, the armed coali­tion was there to respond­ing to a rumor that ‘antifa’ was going to des­e­crate Con­fed­er­ate memorials...despite local antifa groups deny­ing the rumor and say­ing they had no inten­tion of doing any such thing. But that did­n’t stop hun­dreds of KKK, mili­tia, and ‘Three per­centers’ from show­ing up, heav­i­ly armed, prepar­ing for a fight (which nev­er hap­pened, so instead the groups explained to reporters why the Con­fed­er­a­cy had noth­ing to do with slav­ery or racism):

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    Guns And KKK Mem­bers At Get­tys­burg Con­fed­er­ate Ral­ly, But No Foes To Fight
    The anti-fas­cists nev­er came, but pro-Con­fed­er­ate pro­test­ers at the Civ­il War bat­tle­field were still angry, and heav­i­ly armed.

    By Christo­pher Math­ias , Andy Camp­bell
    07/02/2017 04:15 pm ET | Updat­ed

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A few hun­dred armed mili­tia group mem­bers, Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans, Ku Klux Klan­ers, sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and oth­er self-described patri­ots descend­ed upon the Get­tys­burg bat­tle­field Sat­ur­day to defend the site’s Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols from phan­tom activists with the vio­lent far-left group Antifa.

    Some car­ried semi-auto­mat­ic rifles — per­mit­ted in Penn­syl­va­nia — as they peered out across the bat­tle­field with binoc­u­lars, on the look­out for the black-clad, face-masked anti-fas­cists, anar­chists and social­ists they said they had heard were trav­el­ing to the nation­al park to dis­hon­or Con­fed­er­ate graves, mon­u­ments and flags.

    Although many came expect­ing vio­lence — even after Antifa made it clear its adher­ents nev­er planned to show up — the only blood­shed came when a lone mili­tia group mem­ber acci­den­tal­ly shot him­self in the leg.

    In the two years since white suprema­cist and Con­fed­er­ate flag admir­er Dylann Roof mas­sa­cred nine black parish­ioners at a South Car­oli­na church, the move­ment to remove Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols from pub­lic prop­er­ty has gained renewed pur­pose and momen­tum. So far, 60 Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols have been removed from city and state-owned land across the U.S., accord­ing to the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter. Most recent­ly, the city of New Orleans top­pled four stat­ues hon­or­ing the Con­fed­er­a­cy.

    This has incensed and ener­gized mili­tia groups and white suprema­cists across the coun­try, who claim Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols rep­re­sent her­itage and his­to­ry, not hate. In May, white suprema­cists showed up with torch­es at a mon­u­ment to Con­fed­er­ate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, after the city moved to take it down.

    Saturday’s ral­ly in Get­tys­burg showed pro-Con­fed­er­ate activists increas­ing­ly agi­tat­ed, armed, and itch­ing for a fight — even when there is no one to clash with them.

    Once a storm had passed through and the swel­ter­ing July sun returned, they gath­ered on the bat­tle­field here just north of the head­quar­ters of Union Army Gen­er­al George Meade, whose army repelled the Con­fed­er­a­cy in the Civ­il War’s most deci­sive bat­tle.

    The Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans pledge alle­giance to the Con­fed­er­a­cy in Get­tys­burg pic.twitter.com/Pf2tCsw4XV— Andy Camp­bell (@AndyBCampbell) July 1, 2017

    After singing the Nation­al Anthem and per­form­ing the Pledge of Alle­giance, the hun­dreds of South­ern Army enthu­si­asts — many of whom wore Trump pins, hats or T‑shirts — took a moment to hon­or the Con­fed­er­ate flag.

    “I salute the Con­fed­er­ate flag,” they said in uni­son, “with affec­tion, rev­er­ence and undy­ing devo­tion to the cause for which it stands.”

    Bil­ly Snuffer, who iden­ti­fied him­self as the Impe­r­i­al Wiz­ard for the Rebel Brigade of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told Huff­Post that there were KKK mem­bers scat­tered across the bat­tle­field to “aid law enforce­ment” and pro­tect the area’s 20 or so Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments from Antifa.

    “The Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag has noth­ing to do with slav­ery,” he said, stand­ing in the same area where 154 years ago the Con­fed­er­ate Army marched into town, abduct­ing free black Amer­i­cans and send­ing them to the South to be sold into slav­ery.

    “This is our his­to­ry, this is our her­itage,” the Mar­tinsville, Vir­ginia, res­i­dent said of the mon­u­ments.

    In mid-June, rumors had spread online that Antifa, a decen­tral­ized group known for vio­lent­ly con­fronting white suprema­cists and hate groups, planned to burn a Con­fed­er­ate flag and des­e­crate Con­fed­er­ate grave­stones in Get­tys­burg on July 1, the date the three-day bat­tle began in 1863.

    The rumors mobi­lized var­i­ous far-right groups, who secured per­mits from the Nation­al Park Ser­vice to show up en masse to the bat­tle­field, set­ting the stage for what they thought would be a dra­mat­ic show­down between the oppos­ing fringe ele­ments of U.S. pol­i­tics.

    But the cen­tral Penn­syl­va­nia chap­ter of Antifa told local news­pa­pers last week that it nev­er intend­ed to gath­er at Get­tys­burg.

    The rumors, the group told Huff­Post in a Face­book mes­sage, were the work of online trolls. One such tale said Antifa mem­bers were going to uri­nate on Con­fed­er­ate grave­stones. One prob­lem: There aren’t any Con­fed­er­ate grave­stones to des­e­crate. Although some con­fed­er­ate sol­diers are buried at Get­tys­burg, their final rest­ing places aren’t marked.

    Still, efforts to quell the rumors didn’t stop anti-gov­ern­ment mili­tia groups from across the coun­try — includ­ing West Vir­ginia, Michi­gan, Nebras­ka and Cal­i­for­nia — from show­ing up Sat­ur­day.

    “Our main pur­pose is just to defend the his­tor­i­cal parts of the city here and stop them from being destroyed and keep peo­ple who aren’t part of any­thing ... safe,” said a 27-year-old who would give his name only as Thor and who said he was a vet­er­an of the war in Afghanistan.

    He said he was aware that Antifa like­ly wasn’t going to show, but that he felt com­pelled to be there, just in case.

    Thor, a Get­tys­burg-area res­i­dent and mem­ber of the anti-gov­ern­ment mili­tia group the Three Per­centers, wore an ammu­ni­tion belt around a bul­let­proof vest. The sleeves of his cam­ou­flage uni­form were rolled up, reveal­ing the word “INFIDEL” tat­tooed to his arm.

    Asked what he thought about all the Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols being removed from pub­lic prop­er­ty across the U.S., Thor didn’t mince words.

    “It piss­es me off,” he said.

    Ted Fields, a Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans leader wear­ing a black leather bik­er vest, addressed the crowd using a mega­phone and assert­ed that the dis­man­tling of Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments could lead to the dec­i­ma­tion of Amer­i­ca itself.

    “I believe their mas­ter plan is once they get us used to tak­ing down some mon­u­ments here and there in some lib­er­al cities, then they’re gonna try it out here and see if that works,” he said.

    “The next thing you know, they’re going to take our Con­sti­tu­tion and say you know what? That was writ­ten by slave-hold­ers, it’s racist, let’s get rid of it and become a com­mu­nist nation. I don’t want that on my watch.”

    The crowd cheered.

    A woman named Jen­ny Lee, who claimed to be Robert E. Lee’s 3rd great grand­niece, implored the crowd not to be bowed by polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

    “We must nev­er back down or be intim­i­dat­ed by the antics of the igno­rant,” she said. “And all the safe­ty-pin-wear­ing, eas­i­ly offend­ed, butt-hurt, tem­per-tantrum-throw­ing, vagi­na-hat-wear­ing, face-cov­ered, com­mie fas­cists can kiss my ass.”

    Lee was force­ful in telling the crowd that the Con­fed­er­a­cy — and by exten­sion, every­one gath­ered at the ral­ly — wasn’t racist. The Civ­il War, she said, wasn’t about slav­ery. (It was.)

    Plus, she added to great applause, thou­sands of blacks fought for the South, neglect­ing to men­tion that they were forced to do so.

    As the ral­ly con­clud­ed, the sound of can­nons could be heard in the dis­tance, as Civ­il War re-enac­tors not asso­ci­at­ed with the pro-Con­fed­er­ate ral­ly shot off blank rounds, smoke bil­low­ing out across a dif­fer­ent part of the bat­tle­field. Actors in blue and grey uni­forms played dead and injured.

    But the only per­son actu­al­ly shot Sat­ur­day in Get­tys­burg with a real bul­let was a 23-year-old mili­tia group mem­ber named Ben­jamin Horn­berg­er, of Ship­pens­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia. Accord­ing to U.S. Park police, Horn­berg­er trig­gered his revolver when the flag pole he was car­ry­ing bumped against his gun hol­ster. The bul­let went into his leg. Police say offi­cers quick­ly applied a tourni­quet, like­ly sav­ing his life.

    ...

    ———-

    “Guns And KKK Mem­bers At Get­tys­burg Con­fed­er­ate Ral­ly, But No Foes To Fight” by Christo­pher Math­ias, Andy Camp­bell; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 07/02/2017

    ““I salute the Con­fed­er­ate flag,” they said in uni­son, “with affec­tion, rev­er­ence and undy­ing devo­tion to the cause for which it stands.””

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly, these guys real­ly love not just the Con­fed­er­ate flag, but the “cause for which it stands”. A Con­fed­er­ate cause that they want to assure every­one has absolute­ly noth­ing to do with slav­ery or racism:

    ...
    Bil­ly Snuffer, who iden­ti­fied him­self as the Impe­r­i­al Wiz­ard for the Rebel Brigade of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told Huff­Post that there were KKK mem­bers scat­tered across the bat­tle­field to “aid law enforce­ment” and pro­tect the area’s 20 or so Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments from Antifa.

    “The Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flag has noth­ing to do with slav­ery,” he said, stand­ing in the same area where 154 years ago the Con­fed­er­ate Army marched into town, abduct­ing free black Amer­i­cans and send­ing them to the South to be sold into slav­ery.

    “This is our his­to­ry, this is our her­itage,” the Mar­tinsville, Vir­ginia, res­i­dent said of the mon­u­ments.

    ...

    A woman named Jen­ny Lee, who claimed to be Robert E. Lee’s 3rd great grand­niece, implored the crowd not to be bowed by polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

    “We must nev­er back down or be intim­i­dat­ed by the antics of the igno­rant,” she said. “And all the safe­ty-pin-wear­ing, eas­i­ly offend­ed, butt-hurt, tem­per-tantrum-throw­ing, vagi­na-hat-wear­ing, face-cov­ered, com­mie fas­cists can kiss my ass.”

    Lee was force­ful in telling the crowd that the Con­fed­er­a­cy — and by exten­sion, every­one gath­ered at the ral­ly — wasn’t racist. The Civ­il War, she said, wasn’t about slav­ery. (It was.)

    Plus, she added to great applause, thou­sands of blacks fought for the South, neglect­ing to men­tion that they were forced to do so.
    ...

    So that’s where were at with the right-wing’s ongo­ing attempts to exploit the actions of groups like a hand­ful of cas­es where peo­ple iden­ti­fied with the left engaged in vio­lence: cre­ate a nar­ra­tive where a coali­tion of mili­tia mem­bers, Klans­men, and groups like the Three Per­centers is need­ed to stop some sort of phan­tom vio­lent left-wing plot. And as we’ve already seen, in the case of Mult­no­ma Coun­ty, Ore­gon, this coali­tion of heav­i­ly armed mili­tia is also appar­ent­ly need­ed to pro­tect the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­cans. Now offi­cial­ly:

    The Port­land Mer­cury

    Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­cans For­mal­ly Allow Mili­tia Groups to Run Secu­ri­ty

    by Doug Brown • Jun 30, 2017 at 10:34 am

    he Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­can Par­ty (MCRP) has for­mal­ly decid­ed to pair up with right-wing mili­tia groups to run secu­ri­ty at local events.

    The for­mal res­o­lu­tion was passed on on Mon­day and its text was leaked to the Mer­cury Fri­day morn­ing. MCRP Chair­man James Buchal, despite being dis­pleased with the leak, con­firmed his group approved pair­ing up with the Ore­gon Three Per­centers and Oath Keep­ers via a res­o­lu­tion ear­li­er this week:

    Pro­posed Res­o­lu­tion of Chair­man Buchal: Resolve that the MCRP may uti­lize vol­un­teers from the Ore­gon Three Per­centers, Oath Keep­ers, and oth­er secu­ri­ty groups. To pro­vide secu­ri­ty where such vol­un­teers are cer­ti­fied to pro­vide pri­vate secu­ri­ty ser­vice by the Ore­gon Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safe­ty Stan­dards and Train­ing. Kay Bridges moved and Jan­ice Dysinger sec­ond­ed. Res­o­lu­tion passed.

    Update: We got ahold of the meet­ing min­utes from Mon­day night MCRP meet­ing at the Shiloh Inn. Here’s the rel­e­vant sec­tion:
    [see image of meet­ing min­utes]

    The Guardian report­ed late last month—in the wake of the MAX hate crime stab­bings and ahead of a June 4 alt-right ral­ly downtown—that the MCRP was con­sid­er­ing allow­ing the mili­tia groups to run secu­ri­ty for right-wing events. It’s now offi­cial.

    ...

    Mili­tia groups have also pre­vi­ous­ly vol­un­teered as secu­ri­ty at pro-Don­ald Trump ral­lies in Lake Oswego in March and at Patri­ot Prayer’s Van­cou­ver, WA, ral­ly in April. Patri­ot Prayer is host­ing a ral­ly in down­town Port­land Fri­day evening.

    “The vol­un­teers are afraid of going to Port­land street fairs and Port­land events because of what hap­pened to them,” Buchal tells the Mer­cury, specif­i­cal­ly cit­ing the anony­mous email threat regard­ing the MCRP march­ing in the 82nd Avenue of the Ros­es Parade that led to the parade’s can­cel­la­tion. “Our only recourse is vol­un­teers because we got no mon­ey. This vol­un­teer resource is avail­able.”

    Using these vol­un­teer mili­tia groups is nec­es­sary, Buchal said, because of “unhinged peo­ple scream­ing at (Repub­li­cans), in one case shov­ing them and in anoth­er case spit­ting on them. They don’t feel like it’s safe envi­ron­ment out there.”

    The res­o­lu­tion calls for the mili­tia mem­bers to be cer­ti­fied by the state to run pri­vate secu­ri­ty. Buchal said he did­n’t know if the Repub­li­cans will ask each mili­tia mem­ber to prove their cer­ti­fi­ca­tion before work­ing secu­ri­ty, as the kinks haven’t been worked out yet.

    “I don’t under­stand how it’s a whole hell of a lot dif­fer­ent than rich peo­ple hir­ing pri­vate secu­ri­ty guards,” explained Buchal about the vol­un­teer mili­tias. “I don’t under­stand why it’s so dif­fer­ent.”

    In the Guardian last month:

    The Oath Keep­ers are described by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter as “one of the largest rad­i­cal antigov­ern­ment groups in the US”, recruit­ing cur­rent and for­mer mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment per­son­nel. They have recent­ly appeared at ral­lies from Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, to Boston, stand­ing with activists from the far right, activists hold­ing what were once fringe posi­tions who have recent­ly risen to nation­al promi­nence.

    The Three Per­centers are described by Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates as “a para­mil­i­tary group that pledges armed resis­tance against attempts to restrict pri­vate gun own­er­ship”. They were a high­ly vis­i­ble pres­ence in Burns, Ore­gon, before and dur­ing the occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur wildlife refuge by rightwing mili­tia ear­ly in 2016.

    “One of the things we did before going down this road is research these groups,” Buchal tells the Mer­cury on Fri­day. “Because of all this gross dis­in­for­ma­tion in the media that they’re racist, white suprema­cists, Nazis and so forth — I was very pleased to find their bylaws and inter­nal pro­ce­dures say that nobody’s going to tol­er­ate racism and that kind of stuff. That’s not what it’s about. They are con­cerned that with the gov­ern­ment over­step­ping its con­sti­tu­tion­al bounds.”

    ———-

    “Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Repub­li­cans For­mal­ly Allow Mili­tia Groups to Run Secu­ri­ty” by Doug Brown; The Port­land Mer­cury; 06/30/2017

    “Pro­posed Res­o­lu­tion of Chair­man Buchal: Resolve that the MCRP may uti­lize vol­un­teers from the Ore­gon Three Per­centers, Oath Keep­ers, and oth­er secu­ri­ty groups. To pro­vide secu­ri­ty where such vol­un­teers are cer­ti­fied to pro­vide pri­vate secu­ri­ty ser­vice by the Ore­gon Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safe­ty Stan­dards and Train­ing. Kay Bridges moved and Jan­ice Dysinger sec­ond­ed. Res­o­lu­tion passed.”

    It’s offi­cial. And why is the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty GOP resort­ing to using groups like the Three Per­centers? Well, the way the main backer of this, GOP coun­ty chair­man James Buchal, puts it, the coun­ty GOP has no mon­ey:

    ...
    “The vol­un­teers are afraid of going to Port­land street fairs and Port­land events because of what hap­pened to them,” Buchal tells the Mer­cury, specif­i­cal­ly cit­ing the anony­mous email threat regard­ing the MCRP march­ing in the 82nd Avenue of the Ros­es Parade that led to the parade’s can­cel­la­tion. “Our only recourse is vol­un­teers because we got no mon­ey. This vol­un­teer resource is avail­able.”
    ...

    That’s the mes­sage: we have hire armed mili­tias to pro­tect us from those scary ‘antifa’ groups because we, the GOP, got no mon­ey. Yep.

    It’s got to be one of the worst, and scari­est, indi­rect fundrais­ing pitch­es of 2017. Per­haps not the worst. That award would like­ly go to the NRA’s ‘get a gun to stop the vio­lent left’ ads. Still, it’s pret­ty bad.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 5, 2017, 8:36 pm
  32. This was prob­a­bly inevitable giv­en the non-stop vil­i­fi­ca­tion of the media by Don­ald Trump, but it looks like Trump’s war on the media, which he has almost uni­form­ly labeled “Fake News” (unless it’s Fox News), appears to be lurch­ing into real phys­i­cal vio­lence thanks to an anti-CNN Trump meme cre­at­ed by a neo-Nazi-ish poster on Red­dit that was tweet­ed by Trump, prompt­ing a response from CNN about the nature of the Red­dit user who cre­at­ed it which, in turn, prompt­ing a new round of out­rage and pro-Trump memes and a wave of death threats against CNN employ­ees. And as we’ll see, these death threats did­n’t pop up in a vac­u­um but are part of a larg­er far-right push to cre­ate a “jour­nalo­caust” of real-world attacks on ‘the lib­er­al media’ intend­ed to silence all voic­es that basi­cal­ly are neo-Nazis. This is where we are:

    Slate

    Trump’s CNN Tweet Appears to Have Orig­i­nat­ed From Racist, Islam­o­pho­bic, Misog­y­nist Red­dit Troll

    By Daniel Poli­ti
    July 2 2017 5:31 PM

    While the world watched in shock as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweet­ed a video of him beat­ing up a man whose head was replaced by the CNN logo, there was at least one group of peo­ple that didn’t hide its ecsta­sy. Min­utes after Trump sent his tweet that many imme­di­ate­ly char­ac­ter­ized as a green­light for vio­lence against the media, mem­bers of the con­tro­ver­sial sub­red­dit The_Donald were cel­e­brat­ing. Lit­tle won­der. The video that Trump tweet­ed on Sun­day morn­ing appears to have orig­i­nat­ed from the infa­mous group that has long been known as a hub for racist, anti-Semit­ic, Islam­o­pho­bic, and misog­y­nist con­tent. And Trump’s appar­ent endorse­ment showed he is “one of us,” not­ed a post in the group that cel­e­brat­ed how “Dr. Pres­i­dent Trump uses /r/The_Donald for shit­post inspi­ra­tion.”

    ...

    The video Trump tweet­ed appeared to be the same gif that had been post­ed by the Red­dit user except he con­vert­ed it into a video and added sound. Plus the Trump ver­sion includ­ed an “FNN” logo at the end.

    #Fraud­NewsC­NN #FNN pic.twitter.com/WYUnHjjUjg— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017

    So, who is HanAss­holeSo­lo? He or she has been a reg­is­tered Red­dit user since Decem­ber 2015 and is a fre­quent par­tic­i­pant in the sub­red­dit The_Donald, accord­ing to data from Red­dit Inves­ti­ga­tor. He or she is fond of posts den­i­grat­ing blacks, Mus­lims, women, and, of course, lib­er­als. HanAss­holeSo­lo was over the moon by Trump’s tweet: “Wow!! I nev­er expect­ed my meme to be retweet­ed by the God Emper­or him­self!!!” At the same time he appears to have gone on a bit of an edit­ing spree, know­ing his posts would be under the micro­scope he start­ed san­i­tiz­ing some of his most offen­sive screeds, delet­ing the N‑word and a com­ment about killing Mus­lims, for exam­ple. Quartz took screen­shots of some of his posts before they were edit­ed.

    Despite the edits, there is still plen­ty of offen­sive mate­r­i­al that HanAss­holeSo­lo has post­ed that is still on the site (at least for now). The user, for exam­ple, post­ed a link to a meme that advo­cates run­ning over Mus­lims with a tank. He or she also post­ed a meme that iden­ti­fied CNN con­trib­u­tors as Jews using a Star of David. The user also fre­quent­ly posts racists com­ments that tar­get African-Amer­i­cans in par­tic­u­lar, in one instance writ­ing that Amer­i­cans spend less on Father’s Day than Mother’s Day gifts because “most blacks don’t know who their fathers are.” The troll nature of the user is per­haps best exem­pli­fied by a post in which HanAss­holeSo­lo makes clear he just posts cer­tain things to get a rise out of peo­ple. “Don’t mind me,” he writes in one post con­sist­ing of a burn­ing Quran, “just post­ing an image to offend Islam.”

    This is hard­ly the first time Trump appears to have got­ten inspi­ra­tion from the con­tro­ver­sial sub­red­dit with which he did a Q&A dur­ing the cam­paign. In May, Trump post­ed a Decem­ber tweet from Rosie O’Donnell call­ing for then-FBI chief James Comey to be fired short­ly after it had been post­ed in The_Donald.

    ———-
    “Trump’s CNN Tweet Appears to Have Orig­i­nat­ed From Racist, Islam­o­pho­bic, Misog­y­nist Red­dit Troll” by Daniel Poli­ti; Slate; 07/02/2017

    “So, who is HanAss­holeSo­lo? He or she has been a reg­is­tered Red­dit user since Decem­ber 2015 and is a fre­quent par­tic­i­pant in the sub­red­dit The_Donald, accord­ing to data from Red­dit Inves­ti­ga­tor. He or she is fond of posts den­i­grat­ing blacks, Mus­lims, women, and, of course, lib­er­als. HanAss­holeSo­lo was over the moon by Trump’s tweet: “Wow!! I nev­er expect­ed my meme to be retweet­ed by the God Emper­or him­self!!!” At the same time he appears to have gone on a bit of an edit­ing spree, know­ing his posts would be under the micro­scope he start­ed san­i­tiz­ing some of his most offen­sive screeds, delet­ing the N‑word and a com­ment about killing Mus­lims, for exam­ple. Quartz took screen­shots of some of his posts before they were edit­ed.”

    Sur­prise, sur­prise, Don­ald Trump’s anti-CNN meme video came from a super-big­ot poster on Red­dit’s “The_Donald” forum apt­ly named “HanAss­holeSo­lo”. In a nor­mal world this would be news. Or rather, the Trump team’s repeat­ed an unre­pen­tant reuse of memes from neo-Nazis would be news. Again. Although in this case it sounds like “HanAss­holeSo­lo” was sort of repen­tant so that’s a new twist.

    But when a CNN reporter, Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki, tracked down the mid­dle-aged man behind HanAss­holeSo­lo iden­ti­ty and point­ed out that they won’t reveal his iden­ti­ty because he showed remorse — but also sug­gest­ed the net­work could reveal his iden­ti­ty in the future if HanAss­holeSo­lo returned to his shit­post­ing ways — the entire sto­ry become “CNN is try­ing to black­mail a 15 year old and is super evil!” (and no, the guy isn’t 15 years old) and neo-Nazis are now threat­en­ing Kaczyn­ski’s fam­i­ly:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    The Red­dit user behind Trump’s CNN meme apol­o­gized. But #CNNBlack­mail is the sto­ry tak­ing hold..

    By Abby Ohlheis­er
    July 5, 2017

    The Red­dit user said he nev­er intend­ed his anti-CNN meme — you know, the one tweet­ed by Pres­i­dent Trump in which the now-pres­i­dent beats up CNN in a wrestling match — to become a call for vio­lence against jour­nal­ists.

    “I am not the per­son that the media por­trays me to be in real life,” user HanA–holeSolo wrote in an apol­o­gy, post­ed to the pop­u­lar pro-Trump r/The_Donald sub­red­dit Tues­day. “I was trolling and post­ing things to get a reac­tion … and nev­er meant any of the hate­ful things I said in those posts.”

    The apol­o­gy, which has since been delet­ed along with the user’s entire Red­dit account, end­ed with a call for peace: “This is one indi­vid­ual that you will not see post­ing hurt­ful or hate­ful things in jest online. This is my last post from this account and I want­ed to do it on a pos­i­tive note and hope­ful­ly it will heal the con­tro­ver­sy that this all caused.”

    It didn’t.

    #CNNBlack­mail was the top trend­ing Twit­ter top­ic Wednes­day morn­ing, thanks to the efforts of a furi­ous Trump Inter­net, who had con­clud­ed that the user’s apol­o­gy was forced by a “threat” from CNN. Their evi­dence? A sto­ry CNN itself pub­lished, detail­ing its attempts to con­tact and iden­ti­fy the anony­mous Red­dit user ahead of their apol­o­gy, whose offen­sive post­ing his­to­ry sud­den­ly became part of a nation­al news sto­ry.

    The part of the arti­cle that infu­ri­at­ed the Trump Inter­net — and peo­ple on both sides of the polit­i­cal spec­trum, who ques­tioned the eth­i­cal stan­dards of the network’s deci­sion — had to do with how CNN described its rea­son­ing for not iden­ti­fy­ing the Red­di­tor by name. Reporter Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki wrote that CNN had spo­ken with the per­son behind the account, and would not iden­ti­fy the user because “he is a pri­vate cit­i­zen who has issued an exten­sive state­ment of apol­o­gy,” who had promised not to con­tin­ue flood­ing the Inter­net with offen­sive memes.

    But, he wrote, “CNN reserves the right to pub­lish his iden­ti­ty should any of that change.”

    Like many online con­tro­ver­sies of this era, it’s dif­fi­cult to explain exact­ly what’s going on here in one smooth nar­ra­tive. The eth­i­cal ques­tion of whether a news out­let should with­hold the iden­ti­ty of a pri­vate cit­i­zen who post­ed extreme­ly offen­sive things online on the appar­ent con­di­tion that they behave bet­ter in the future is one that res­onat­ed well beyond the bub­ble of the Trump Inter­net. But the meme that Trump sup­port­ers have picked up and spread is a mix of fact and fic­tion, of gen­uine­ly out­raged con­ser­v­a­tives and the glee­ful meme-lit­er­ate arson­ists who just like to see the Inter­net burn with fury.

    The media has often strug­gled to cov­er Trump’s online sup­port­ers, whose skep­ti­cism of main­stream pub­li­ca­tions has evolved into a total rejec­tion of the idea that places like CNN are even try­ing to report the truth. At the head of that rejec­tion is the pres­i­dent him­self, who reg­u­lar­ly tweets that news out­lets he doesn’t like are “fake news.” Media ethics experts who look at CNN’s arti­cle on all this might dis­cuss it in the con­text of a long and tricky media dis­cus­sion about out­ing anony­mous, racist Inter­net trolls. On the Trump Inter­net, how­ev­er, the sub­text of the meme is that “black­mail­ing” sources is a nor­mal part of main­stream jour­nal­is­tic prac­tice. The dif­fer­ence is, they believe, that some­one final­ly got caught.

    CNN’s @KFILE is extort­ing a pri­vate cit­i­zen, some­one not famous, with threats of dox­ing. https://t.co/4l2RZEvWXb pic.twitter.com/ecyMwmgEFS— Mike Cer­novich ???? (@Cernovich) July 5, 2017

    Don­ald’s hap­py day #CNNBlack­MailKeep the tweets com­ing ?????? pic.twitter.com/CJmkEFQsHO— Kim Dot­com (@KimDotcom) July 5, 2017

    A mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar TV net­work black­mail­ing a pri­vate cit­i­zen into not mak­ing fun­ny videos about it is not jour­nal­ism, CNN. #CNNBlack­mail— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) July 5, 2017

    The his­to­ry books will show that on #july4th2017 CNN black­mailed some­one who made a joke gif about them. #CNNBlack­mail— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) July 5, 2017

    CNN’s @KFILE is extort­ing a pri­vate cit­i­zen, some­one not famous, with threats of dox­ing. https://t.co/4l2RZEvWXb pic.twitter.com/ecyMwmgEFS— Mike Cer­novich ???? (@Cernovich) July 5, 2017

    Overnight, the r/The_Donald board that once host­ed the user’s apol­o­gy and plea for peace was filled up with even more anti-CNN memes, and posts call­ing for a full-on war against the net­work. The Trump-sup­port­ing Red­di­tors picked up an idea from 4chan’s /pol/ board, orga­niz­ing mass calls and tweet-storms to a long list of com­pa­nies, demand­ing they stop adver­tis­ing on CNN. The sto­ry soon spread to Trump-friend­ly pub­li­ca­tions like Gate­way Pun­dit and Infowars. It was the front page of Drudge:

    [see image of The Drudge Report home page head­line]

    The CNN reporter tweet­ed Tues­day that the line about with­hold­ing the troll’s iden­ti­ty is being “mis­in­ter­pret­ed.”

    This line is being mis­in­ter­pret­ed. It was intend­ed only to mean we made no agree­ment w/the man about his iden­ti­ty. https://t.co/9FL6EvTikx— andrew kaczyn­s­ki ?? (@KFILE) July 5, 2017

    On Wednes­day, CNN released a state­ment:

    CNN state­ment on the HanAss­holeSo­lo sto­ry pic.twitter.com/mf2tilu9UB— Steven Perl­berg (@perlberg) July 5, 2017

    The ref­er­ence to the Redditor’s age comes from a tan­ta­liz­ing but extreme­ly uncon­firmed detail that began to attach itself to the meme as it spread. Was the user a 15-year-old kid, as many posts on the #CNNBlack­mail hash­tag repeat as fact? Even though CNN, and screen­shots of the user’s own Red­dit his­to­ry seem to con­tra­dict this, indi­cat­ing that the user is sig­nif­i­cant­ly old­er, the notion that CNN had just threat­ened to doxx a minor was extreme­ly share­able among Trump sup­port­ers, includ­ing one of the president’s own sons:

    So I guess they weren’t effec­tive threat­en­ing the admin so they go after & bul­ly a 15 y/o? Seems in line w their “stan­dards” #CNNBlack­mail https://t.co/u8YmNnLonj— Don­ald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 5, 2017

    Oth­ers called for a very per­son­al form of revenge against CNN, and Kaczyn­s­ki specif­i­cal­ly. A link to a paste­bin page that appeared to con­tain the per­son­al iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion of Kaczyn­s­ki, some of his fam­i­ly mem­bers and his col­leagues cir­cu­lat­ed on 4chan Wednes­day morn­ing. And the neo-Nazi Dai­ly Stormer web­site called for even more. A pop­u­lar post called for CNN employ­ees to quit their jobs and denounce the net­work, or face con­se­quences if they didn’t:

    “We are going to track down your par­ents.
    We are going to track down your sib­lings.
    We are going to track down your spous­es.
    We are going to track down your chil­dren. Because hey, that’s what you guys get to do, right? We’re going to see how you like it when our reporters are hunt­ing down your chil­dren.”

    ...

    ———-

    “The Red­dit user behind Trump’s CNN meme apol­o­gized. But #CNNBlack­mail is the sto­ry tak­ing hold.” by Abby Ohlheis­er; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 07/05/2017

    “Like many online con­tro­ver­sies of this era, it’s dif­fi­cult to explain exact­ly what’s going on here in one smooth nar­ra­tive. The eth­i­cal ques­tion of whether a news out­let should with­hold the iden­ti­ty of a pri­vate cit­i­zen who post­ed extreme­ly offen­sive things online on the appar­ent con­di­tion that they behave bet­ter in the future is one that res­onat­ed well beyond the bub­ble of the Trump Inter­net. But the meme that Trump sup­port­ers have picked up and spread is a mix of fact and fic­tion, of gen­uine­ly out­raged con­ser­v­a­tives and the glee­ful meme-lit­er­ate arson­ists who just like to see the Inter­net burn with fury.

    As the arti­cle points out, while the eth­i­cal ques­tion of whether or not CNN should have includ­ed a “we’ll iden­ti­fy you if you mis­be­have in the future”-clause to their report­ing is an inter­est­ing ques­tion for jour­nal­ism, it’s rather dif­fi­cult to have that debate when fake ‘facts’ about the case sud­den­ly take hold — like the fake ‘fact’ that the meme cre­ator was 15 years old — and become part of the right-wing meme-storm. Espe­cial­ly when Don­ald Trump Jr. pro­motes it and the Dai­ly Stormer issues a gen­er­al death threat against all CNN employ­ees’ chil­dren:

    ...
    The ref­er­ence to the Redditor’s age comes from a tan­ta­liz­ing but extreme­ly uncon­firmed detail that began to attach itself to the meme as it spread. Was the user a 15-year-old kid, as many posts on the #CNNBlack­mail hash­tag repeat as fact? Even though CNN, and screen­shots of the user’s own Red­dit his­to­ry seem to con­tra­dict this, indi­cat­ing that the user is sig­nif­i­cant­ly old­er, the notion that CNN had just threat­ened to doxx a minor was extreme­ly share­able among Trump sup­port­ers, includ­ing one of the president’s own sons:

    So I guess they weren’t effec­tive threat­en­ing the admin so they go after & bul­ly a 15 y/o? Seems in line w their “stan­dards” #CNNBlack­mail https://t.co/u8YmNnLonj— Don­ald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 5, 2017

    Oth­ers called for a very per­son­al form of revenge against CNN, and Kaczyn­s­ki specif­i­cal­ly. A link to a paste­bin page that appeared to con­tain the per­son­al iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion of Kaczyn­s­ki, some of his fam­i­ly mem­bers and his col­leagues cir­cu­lat­ed on 4chan Wednes­day morn­ing. And the neo-Nazi Dai­ly Stormer web­site called for even more. A pop­u­lar post called for CNN employ­ees to quit their jobs and denounce the net­work, or face con­se­quences if they didn’t:

    “We are going to track down your par­ents.
    We are going to track down your sib­lings.
    We are going to track down your spous­es.
    We are going to track down your chil­dren. Because hey, that’s what you guys get to do, right? We’re going to see how you like it when our reporters are hunt­ing down your chil­dren.”

    ...

    Yep, the Trump fam­i­ly and neo-Nazis are join­ing up to pro­mote fake ‘facts’ about a CNN response to ‘fake news CNN’ meme cre­at­ed by a neo-Nazi troll and tweet­ed by by Trump. And all for the pur­pose of demo­niz­ing the net­work in the minds of his fol­low­ers. Again, this is where we are:

    Politi­co

    I Found HanAssholeSolo’s anti-Semit­ic Posts. Then, the Death Threats Start­ed.

    This is what it’s like to report on extrem­ism in the Trump era.

    By Jared Yates Sex­ton

    July 06, 2017

    It took only a few min­utes to fig­ure out that HanAss­holeSo­lo, the per­son behind Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s most retweet­ed tweet, had also used racial slurs and post­ed deroga­to­ry com­ments about Mus­lims. Then, there was the one that caused all the prob­lems: a thread titled “Some­thing Strange About CNN…can’t quite put my fin­ger on it…,” with a graph­ic of dozens of the network’s tal­ents with tiny blue Stars of David.

    Shared more than 300,000 times, and the sub­ject of debate over whether it inspired vio­lence against the media, HanAssholeSolo’s ani­mat­ed GIF reengi­neered Trump’s 2007 Wrestle­Ma­nia appear­ance into a liv­ing, breath­ing polit­i­cal car­toon in which the osten­si­ble leader of the free world clothes­lined a man with the CNN logo for a face and then pro­ceed­ed to beat him with his fists. Allies argued it was a joke and all in good fun, but the post I uncov­ered paint­ed it in a new, more sin­is­ter, light.

    My report­ing on the Stars of David meme quick­ly went viral. At this moment it’s been shared more than 14,000 times by the likes of CNN’s own Jake Tap­per and MSNBC’s Joe Scar­bor­ough, who’s had his own run-ins with the pres­i­dent as of late. In the past, when a post or sto­ry of mine has gar­nered that much atten­tion, I’ve always dealt with the inevitable crit­i­cism and harass­ment that fol­lows. Sure enough, it wasn’t far behind.

    Before the hour was up, I was receiv­ing mes­sages from the usu­al cus­tomers: anony­mous accounts with Pepe avatars and bios declar­ing them­selves “eth­nona­tion­al­ists” and “white iden­ti­tar­i­ans.” Despite my South­ern Bap­tist upbring­ing, they assumed I was Jew­ish because I’d uncov­ered anti-Semi­tism, and so the threats and memes pre­dictably fea­tured pic­tures of Adolf Hitler, scenes from the Holo­caust and oth­er anti-Semit­ic garbage. I was pep­pered with the usu­al slurs and insults before a user call­ing his or her­self “Pepe’s Imam” told me: “There’s a civ­il war com­ing, left­ist. Memes are the least of your prob­lems.”

    Over the past few weeks I’d heard plen­ty of talk about a new civ­il war, this one sup­pos­ed­ly the loom­ing vio­lent clash between left and right. Since last year I’ve been threat­ened reg­u­lar­ly, includ­ing an inci­dent in which some­body cir­cled my house at 4 in the morn­ing, and so I’ve kept a close eye on extreme right-wing com­mu­ni­ties. In their posts and on the subculture’s favorite media out­let InfoWars, I’d heard talk of that con­flict, but now the rhetoric seemed uni­ver­sal.

    I returned to the Red­dit forum where HanAss­holeSo­lo had been post­ing, a sub­red­dit called The_Donald in which extreme sup­port­ers of the pres­i­dent rail against the “MSM,” or the main­stream media, and jour­nal­ists like myself. They’d already spun my out­ing of their con­fed­er­ate as part of the larg­er con­spir­a­cy against them and the man they call “God Emper­or.” By fol­low­ing their post­ing his­to­ries, I found plen­ty of men­tions of that civ­il war, as well as sub­red­dits like Physical_Removal that focused on “remov­ing” prob­lem­at­ic mem­bers of the media and lib­er­als.

    In the past few hours I’d been get­ting plen­ty of threats about going on a “heli­copter ride” and car­toons of peo­ple being hurled out the doors of an air­borne chop­per. Here I found it was all a ref­er­ence to the mur­der­ous Chilean dic­ta­tor Augus­to Pinochet’s prac­tice of toss­ing his vic­tims into the sea. The posters there, and in my Twit­ter feed, seemed to take a great deal of plea­sure at the thought of repli­cat­ing that atroc­i­ty in mod­ern-day Amer­i­ca.

    Oth­er threats appeared on relat­ed sites, par­tic­u­lar­ly on 4chan, the wild west of inter­net forums. Here, in ref­er­ence to my report­ing, they talked open­ly about “the Journocaust,” a term some used in place of the civ­il war. The fan­ta­sy seemed to be open hos­til­i­ties in which jour­nal­ists, aca­d­e­mics and lib­er­als could be hung in pub­lic, an event some called “The Day of the Rope” after a plot point in William Pierce’s The Turn­er Diaries, a 1978 nov­el about a fic­tion­al race war some in the extreme right hold as a holy book of sorts.

    One anony­mous mem­ber coun­seled on how to intim­i­date and threat­en me with­out run­ning afoul of social media mod­er­a­tors and the author­i­ties. Anoth­er post­ed excerpts from a short sto­ry about killing jour­nal­ists with lines like, “the media lies, the media dies” and “a trai­tor in front of a cam­era is still just a trai­tor.” Yet anoth­er said death was too good for jour­nal­ists and “they should have their flesh twist­ed from their bones.”

    And then, this:
    I mean, he’s not wrong. If I could slit his flab­by neck and dump him in a ditch some­where with­out get­ting caught, I absolute­ly would in a heart­beat.

    Same goes for pret­ty much any shitlib whiny or fake-news pro­pa­gan­dist. The only thing stop­ping me is that it would be incon­ve­nient, and the fact that the law enforce­ment appa­ra­tus is still semi-func­tion­al.

    I’m sur­round­ed by peo­ple who feel the same way. Shitlibs have dehu­man­ized them­selves in our eyes. We sim­ply don’t give a shit about them, don’t con­sid­er them human.

    Trump’s stu­pid meme didn’t do any­thing to rein­force that belief. Decades of con­stant brow­beat­ing, whin­ing, lying, and despi­ca­ble decep­tion by left­ists and their media estab­lish­ment are what did it.

    I learned last year the best strat­e­gy is to be open about this kind of stuff and expose it how­ev­er pos­si­ble. On my Twit­ter feed I pre­pared screen­shots of the offend­ing rhetoric while crit­ics accused me of lying. The left is the vio­lent group, they told me while link­ing to sto­ries about clash­es with antifas­cist groups. In the same thread, as they claimed I’d made the whole thing up, the anti-Semit­ic mate­ri­als and threats were pil­ing up.

    Things didn’t slow down.

    The Dai­ly Stormer, the most pop­u­lar Neo-Nazi pub­li­ca­tion in Amer­i­ca, set its sights on me and declared my agen­da as “Jew­ish.”

    Then, for­mer impe­r­i­al wiz­ard of the Ku Klux Klan and recent U.S. Sen­ate can­di­date David Duke, one of the lead­ers in white suprema­cist thought, weighed in and said peo­ple like me had “pro­mot­ed the mass col­lec­tive guilt of Whites and laughed about it,” a charge that seemed to open the door for more white suprema­cists to come after me.

    Paul Joseph Wat­son, sec­ond banana over at Alex Jones’ con­spir­a­cy empire InfoWars, crit­i­cized me for dis­cussing the harass­ment, crit­i­cism that then led to Jones’ army to join in.

    ...

    I kept think­ing about HanAssholeSolo’s post­ing record. His ram­pant use of racial slurs. His talk of want­i­ng all Mus­lims elim­i­nat­ed. The CNN meme with the Stars of David. That wrestling GIF that, upon first glance, might appear to be tongue-in-cheek, but, with clos­er inspec­tion, hides some­thing much, much dark­er.

    HanAss­holeSo­lo has apol­o­gized, and vowed nev­er to post that kind of hate­ful rhetoric again. But as I dis­cov­ered, there are thou­sands more like him—and they’re not sor­ry.

    ———-

    “I Found HanAssholeSolo’s anti-Semit­ic Posts. Then, the Death Threats Start­ed.” by Jared Yates Sex­ton; Politi­co; 07/06/2017

    “Oth­er threats appeared on relat­ed sites, par­tic­u­lar­ly on 4chan, the wild west of inter­net forums. Here, in ref­er­ence to my report­ing, they talked open­ly about “the Journocaust,” a term some used in place of the civ­il war. The fan­ta­sy seemed to be open hos­til­i­ties in which jour­nal­ists, aca­d­e­mics and lib­er­als could be hung in pub­lic, an event some called “The Day of the Rope” after a plot point in William Pierce’s The Turn­er Diaries, a 1978 nov­el about a fic­tion­al race war some in the extreme right hold as a holy book of sorts.

    This is what being a jour­nal­ist is like in Trump’s Amer­i­ca: when you stum­ble upon ref­er­ences to your own report­ing on places alt-right troll dens like 4chan you just might also stum­ble across talk of “the Journocaust” or “The Day of the Rope” inspired by The Turn­er Diaries in addi­tion to the threats against spe­cif­ic jour­nal­ists and their fam­i­lies.

    And per­haps the worst aspect of the whole sit­u­a­tion is that, as bad as it is, it’s no longer remote­ly shock­ing. It’s the goal from the per­spec­tive of a neo-Nazi troll army intent on nor­mal­iz­ing neo-Nazi world­views and the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States is play­ing the lead role in the nor­mal­iza­tion of neo-Nazi threats of vio­lence as a tool of con­trol. If you think about it, it’s a pret­ty mas­sive threat to the chil­dren. Every­one’s chil­dren.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 6, 2017, 7:10 pm
  33. Here’s a not very sur­pris­ing update on the per­son on the Dai­ly Stormer call­ing for white suprema­cists to threat­en to kill the fam­i­ly mem­bers of CNN employ­ees as part of grow­ing right-wing hys­te­ria over CNN and “fake news”: Sur­prise, that Dai­ly Stormer author is Andrew “the weev” Auer­heimer:

    South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter

    Dai­ly Stormer Troll Army Threat­ens CNN Staffers Over Red­dit User Behind Trump/CNN GIF

    July 05, 2017
    Kee­gan Han­kes

    Andrew Auern­heimer, the noto­ri­ous hack­er and Inter­net troll known as ‘Weev,’ ral­lied the neo-Nazi Dai­ly Stormer’s troll army for its lat­est cam­paign this morn­ing, claim­ing that CNN was black­mail­ing a “teen shit­poster.”

    The events lead­ing to this online call to arms began Sun­day morn­ing, Pres­i­dent Trump tweet­ed a gif cre­at­ed by Red­dit user HanAss­holeSo­lo depict­ing a scene from Wrestle­ma­nia XXIII in which Trump body slams and pum­mels WWE pro­mot­er Vince McMa­hon. In the gif, the CNN logo is super­im­posed over McMahon’s face.

    Auern­heimer her­ald­ed the tweet as “eas­i­ly the great­est tweet in the his­to­ry of Twit­ter.”

    After scour­ing HanAss­holeSolo’s Red­dit account, which con­tained scores of racist and xeno­pho­bic post­ings, CNN’s KFile was able to track down the user’s Face­book page and con­tact him.

    Fear­ing pub­lic embar­rass­ment and his safe­ty, HanAss­holeSo­lo pub­lished a lengthy apol­o­gy on the Red­dit group r/theDonald, ask­ing that CNN not pub­lish his iden­ti­ty. (The apol­o­gy has since been removed.)

    CNN oblig­ed, on the con­di­tion that HanAss­holeSo­lo remove his offend­ing posts and cease his trolling, but that didn’t stop the self-pro­claimed “real media” at the Dai­ly Stormer from issu­ing an ulti­ma­tum to every staffer at CNN.

    “Just like CNN tracked down this child and used media expo­sure as a blud­geon against him for post­ing (truth­ful and fun­ny) things that they don’t like, we are going to begin track­ing down their fam­i­lies as a blud­geon against them for pub­lish­ing (sedi­tious­ly fraud­u­lent) things that we don’t like,” wrote Auern­heimer. “CNN, this is your one sin­gu­lar chance to walk back this behav­ior of pub­lic black­mail. You have one week to fix this.”

    Auernheimer’s list of demands includes the pub­lic fir­ing of the KFile team, a denounce­ment of their alleged threats, a $50,000 col­lege schol­ar­ship for HanAss­holeSo­lo, and a pub­lic assur­ance that “he and his fam­i­ly will nev­er be harmed by your orga­ni­za­tion.”

    The only prob­lem: HanAss­holeSo­lo is an adult, accord­ing to CNN.

    “We are going to track down your par­ents. We are going to track down your sib­lings. We are going to track down your spous­es. We are going to track down your chil­dren. Because hey, that’s what you guys get to do, right? We’re going to see how you like it when our reporters are hunt­ing down your chil­dren,” con­tin­ued Auern­heimer.

    Auern­heimer instruct­ed CNN employ­ees that do not want to be doxed to quit with­in the week and denounce the organization’s alleged black­mail.

    “We didn’t make these rules – you did – and now we’re going to force you to play by them. Hope you enjoy what is com­ing, you filthy rat kike bas­tards. Kill your­selves, kike news fak­ers. You deserve every sin­gle bit of what you are about to get,” con­clud­ed Auern­heimer.

    The call to “kill the lying mass of shi t that is CNN” post­ed to 4chan’s polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect forum, /pol/.

    With­in hours, per­son­al infor­ma­tion for mul­ti­ple CNN staffers and their fam­i­ly mem­bers — along­side images and gifs of indi­vid­u­als with CNN super­im­posed over their faces being shot in the head — appeared in the com­ments of the post­ing.

    The inci­dent is a rare moment of uni­ty for the far-right with mem­bers of r/theDonald, 4chan, the Dai­ly Stormer, and the alt-lite band­ing togeth­er to attack CNN.

    The 4chan mes­sage board /pol/, which is ded­i­cat­ed to polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect dis­cus­sion, dubbed the cam­paign “Operation:Autism Storm” and post­ed a four part plan of attack that includes band­ing togeth­er with oth­er far right sites, going after CNN’s adver­tis­ers, dis­cred­it­ing every­one at CNN, and form­ing a legal strat­e­gy for HanAss­holeSo­lo should he lat­er be doxed.

    At least nine sep­a­rate hash­tags trend­ed across far-right accounts Tues­day evening – includ­ing #cnnblack­mail, #cnn­dox­ing, and #fraud­newsc­nn – as the con­tro­ver­sy erupt­ed.

    ....

    ———-

    “Dai­ly Stormer Troll Army Threat­ens CNN Staffers Over Red­dit User Behind Trump/CNN GIF” by Kee­gan Han­kes; South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter; 07/05/2017

    ““We are going to track down your par­ents. We are going to track down your sib­lings. We are going to track down your spous­es. We are going to track down your chil­dren. Because hey, that’s what you guys get to do, right? We’re going to see how you like it when our reporters are hunt­ing down your chil­dren,” con­tin­ued Auern­heimer.”

    Yes, Andew Auer­heimer, the neo-Nazi hack­er who is also the top sus­pect in the recent Macron hacks, is the guy call­ing for a ter­ror cam­paign against CNN employ­ees, fram­ing it as some sort of retal­i­a­tion against CNN’s awk­ward non-out­ing of the hyper-big­ot­ed Red­dit poster who cre­at­ed the ‘CNN Fake New’ GIF recent­ly tweet­ed by Don­ald Trump because that Red­dit poster was actu­al­ly a 15 year old. And yes, the idea that the Red­dit poster was a 15 year old appears to be actu­al ‘Fake News’ that orig­i­nat­ed sole­ly from a false claim made on 4Chan that was ampli­fied across the right-wing media land­scape:

    Media Mat­ters

    No, the Red­di­tor who made the Trump/CNN GIF is not 15 years old

    How a lie spread from 4chan to Fox News in less than 12 hours

    ALEX KAPLAN
    July 5, 2017 5:54 PM EDT

    A false claim post­ed on 4chan that a Red­di­tor who cre­at­ed an anti-CNN GIF, and who was tracked down by CNN, was just 15 years old made its way to Don­ald Trump Jr. and on Fox News with­in 12 hours. Accord­ing to CNN and the reporter who helped iden­ti­fy the Red­dit user, the man is actu­al­ly mid­dle aged. The fact that the claim (made to smear CNN for attack­ing a teenag­er) was able to spread so quick­ly exem­pli­fies how mis­in­for­ma­tion from fringe sources can make its way through the “alt-right”/fake news ecosys­tem and to out­lets with a broad­er reach, such as Fox News.

    On July 2, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweet­ed a video show­ing him­self wrestling and punch­ing a man with the CNN logo super­im­posed on his face. The video start­ed as a GIF post­ed on the Red­dit forum r/The_Donald by user HanAss­holeSo­lo and was lat­er turned into a video with music, which is the ver­sion Trump tweet­ed. The Red­dit user expressed glee at his GIF being tweet­ed by the pres­i­dent. On July 4, CNN’s Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki report­ed that CNN had iden­ti­fied the man but was “not pub­lish­ing” his name “because he is a pri­vate cit­i­zen who has issued an exten­sive state­ment of apol­o­gy … and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behav­ior on social media again,” adding, “CNN reserves the right to pub­lish his iden­ti­ty should any of that change.”

    CNN and Kaczyn­s­ki received a flur­ry of crit­i­cism, “simul­ta­ne­ous­ly draw[ing] accu­sa­tions of going soft and issu­ing a threat,” as The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Cal­lum Borchers wrote. But among the accu­sa­tions made by online trolls and fig­ures affil­i­at­ed with the “alt-right” was that CNN had threat­ened and black­mailed a 15-year-old. Respond­ing to the alle­ga­tion, Kaczyn­s­ki tweet­ed, “HanAss­holeSo­lo is a mid­dle aged man. Peo­ple claim­ing he’s 15 are wrong. Some are inten­tion­al­ly spread­ing this.” Busi­ness Insid­er pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that the user had “claimed to be 37 in anoth­er post.”

    The claim seems to have first appeared right before mid­night on July 4, when a user on the alt-right”-affiliated 4chan forum /pol/ claimed that the “tough guys over at CNN” “doxxed a 15 year old kid.” With­in an hour, in the ear­ly hours of July 5, Twit­ter user Kaiser Willy tweet­ed a pho­to of the 4chan user’s post, writ­ing, “Poten­tial­ly huge devel­op­ment in #CNNBlack­mail Red­dit user is believed to only be 15.” A cou­ple of hours lat­er, neo-Nazi and “alt-right” web­site The Dai­ly Stormer point­ed to Willy’s tweet to push the claim, adding that CNN “must be made to taste their own med­i­cine.”

    Short­ly after 1 a.m., “alt-right” per­son­al­i­ty Rick Vaughn tweet­ed a pho­to of a 4chan post of sup­posed CNN adver­tis­ers, writ­ing, “Would be a shame if we make this List of @CNN ‘s Adver­tis­ers a lot short­er after CNN black­mailed a 15 year-old... #CNNBlack­mail.” Addi­tion­al­ly, “alt-right”-affiliated Lucian Win­trich of The Gate­way Pun­dit tweet­ed, “@CNN push­es pro­pa­gan­da for 1/2 a year, Trump calls them out, they threat­en to doxx a 15 year old, now #CNNBlack­mail is trend­ing. Hap­py 4th!” Mike Cer­novich, an online troll who dwells in the alter­na­tive media sphere, retweet­ed both Vaughn and Wintrich’s tweets. The claim then spread to Reddit’s r/The_Donald, with users high­light­ing the orig­i­nal 4chan post. Short­ly after, “alt-right” fig­ure Jack Poso­biec tweet­ed, “I can con­firm Red­dit user HanA­HoloSo­lo is 15 and is an LGBT Trump sup­port­er.” Paul Joseph Wat­son of Infowars, also an “alt-right” fig­ure, tweet­ed, “The poor kid that CNN threat­ened to dox is report­ed­ly only 15 years old. #CNNBlack­mail.”

    At around 7 a.m., fake news pur­vey­or Truth­Feed pub­lished a post, claim­ing, “Many are say­ing that the Red­dit user is actu­al­ly a 15-year-old kid, which looks even worse for CNN.” Not long after, Don­ald Trump Jr., who reg­u­lar­ly push­es fringe claims, tweet­ed, “So I guess they weren’t effec­tive threat­en­ing the admin so they go after & bul­ly a 15 y/o?”

    By 9:00 a.m., the lie had made its way to Fox News, as fre­quent Fox News guest Dan Bongi­no said CNN “out[ed] a 15-year-old” and added that CNN should find sources for its Trump/Russia sto­ries before they “out a bunch of teenagers play­ing their Xbox, mak­ing giphys you don’t like.” In response, Fox & Friends host Bri­an Kilmeade said that CNN “made the kid apol­o­gize” and not­ed that the inter­net was “going to bat for the 15-year-old.”

    ...

    UPDATE: Dur­ing Fox News’ Fox News Spe­cial­ists at 5:00 p.m. on July 5, host Eric Bolling fal­si­ties the lie, claim­ing the per­son being “threat­ened by CNN” was “a young kid.”

    ———-

    “No, the Red­di­tor who made the Trump/CNN GIF is not 15 years old” by ALEX KAPLAN; Media Mat­ters; 07/05/2017

    “The claim seems to have first appeared right before mid­night on July 4, when a user on the alt-right”-affiliated 4chan forum /pol/ claimed that the “tough guys over at CNN” “doxxed a 15 year old kid.” With­in an hour, in the ear­ly hours of July 5, Twit­ter user Kaiser Willy tweet­ed a pho­to of the 4chan user’s post, writ­ing, “Poten­tial­ly huge devel­op­ment in #CNNBlack­mail Red­dit user is believed to only be 15.” A cou­ple of hours lat­er, neo-Nazi and “alt-right” web­site The Dai­ly Stormer point­ed to Willy’s tweet to push the claim, adding that CNN “must be made to taste their own med­i­cine.”

    So, yes, ‘the weev’ is try­ing to use fake news to orches­trate ter­ror cam­paign against CNN over a ‘CNN Fake News’ gif. And his actions, while par­tic­u­lar­ly vile, are just one part of a broad­er and increas­ing­ly bizarre right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion media envi­ron­ment that’s cur­rent wag­ing a cam­paign to brand all non-right-wing news as ‘fake news’ and pro­mot­ing real fake news to do it. Yes, we now have to dis­tin­guish between real ‘fake news’ and fake ‘fake news’ because the peo­ple howl­ing the most about ‘fake news’ keep mak­ing up fake ‘fake news’ while doing it.

    Giv­en all that, it’s prob­a­bly worth recall­ing that the Macron hacks — orig­i­nal­ly attrib­uted to Rus­sia due to high­ly ques­tion­able evi­dencewas lat­er attrib­uted to ‘the weev’ and con­tained fake doc­u­ments that orig­i­nal­ly showed up on 4Chan:

    New York Mag­a­zine

    Dubi­ous Macron Leaks Linked to Infa­mous Neo-Nazi Hack­er-Troll Weev

    By Bri­an Feld­man
    May 16, 2017 3:20 pm

    Short­ly before Emmanuel Macron was elect­ed pres­i­dent of France on May 7, doc­u­ments appeared online that sup­pos­ed­ly linked him to off­shore finan­cial accounts — damn­ing alle­ga­tions that threat­ened to undo his cam­paign. The doc­u­ments, as it turned out, were fal­si­fied, but their sud­den appear­ance and dis­tri­b­u­tion mim­ic­ked the now-estab­lished for­mat for polit­i­cal dis­rup­tion in a dig­i­tal age: doc­u­ment dumps con­sist­ing of pri­vate data and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    In this case, the doc­u­ments appeared on 4chan, but promised that more would appear on the web­site nouveaumartel.com. Through a bit of com­plex tech­no­log­i­cal detec­tive work, secu­ri­ty researchers have found the nouveaumartel.com is tied to Andrew Auern­heimer, the noto­ri­ous white-suprema­cist hack­er also known as “Weev.” Accord­ing to research firm Quri­um, the #Macron­Gate doc­u­ments were host­ed on a Lat­vian serv­er that also hosts the Dai­ly Stormer, a lead­ing white-suprema­cist web­site.

    Tord Lund­ström, a com­put­er foren­sics inves­ti­ga­tor, told The Wall Street Jour­nal, “We strong­ly believe that the fake off­shore doc­u­ments were cre­at­ed by some­one with con­trol of the Dai­ly Stormer serv­er.” Auernheimer’s lawyer told the paper that he had no com­ment. Andrew Anglin, the Dai­ly Stormer’s pub­lish­er, stopped reply­ing when asked if they were behind the doc­u­ments. Anony­mous 4chan users con­grat­u­lat­ed Weev on the leaks, in the thread where they were post­ed.

    ...

    ———-

    “Dubi­ous Macron Leaks Linked to Infa­mous Neo-Nazi Hack­er-Troll Weev” by Bri­an Feld­man; New York Mag­a­zine; 05/16/2017

    “In this case, the doc­u­ments appeared on 4chan, but promised that more would appear on the web­site nouveaumartel.com. Through a bit of com­plex tech­no­log­i­cal detec­tive work, secu­ri­ty researchers have found the nouveaumartel.com is tied to Andrew Auern­heimer, the noto­ri­ous white-suprema­cist hack­er also known as “Weev.” Accord­ing to research firm Quri­um, the #Macron­Gate doc­u­ments were host­ed on a Lat­vian serv­er that also hosts the Dai­ly Stormer, a lead­ing white-suprema­cist web­site.

    Notic­ing any pat­terns here?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 8, 2017, 2:20 pm
  34. Buz­zFeed has a long piece based on a cache of leaked emails that tell a sto­ry about the behind-the-scenes efforts at Breibart to main­stream the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis with­out seem­ing too neo-Nazi-ish them­selves. It appears those efforts pri­mar­i­ly revolved around Milo Yiannopou­los. Specif­i­cal­ly, Yiannopou­los was tasked with reach­ing out to all sort of ‘Alt Right’ fig­ures, get­ting com­ments from them about what the ‘Alt Right’ was all about, and then lat­er get­ting feed­back from them about the planned arti­cles before they were pub­lished. It was clear­ly a group effort. A group effort that includ­ed Andrew ‘the weev’ Auern­heimer, Cur­tis Yarvin (the founder fo the “Dark Enlight­en­ment” move­ment), and Devin Sauci­er, a neo-Nazi Yiannopou­los describes as his best friend.

    The emails have a sick, almost dark com­e­dy ele­ment to them because they includ­ed plen­ty of back and forths between Yiannopou­los and Bre­it­bart edi­tors about whether or not the pub­li­ca­tion was get­ting too open­ly friend­ly with the Nazis, with Yiannopou­los being told at one point that it was fine to use a “shekels” joke but “you can’t even flirt with OKing gas cham­ber tweets.” There’s also some oth­er fun facts in the piece, like how Cur­tis Yarvin said he was “coach­ing” Peter Thiel on pol­i­tics, or how the two Yiannopou­los pass­words found in the emails were “a pass­word that began with the word Kristall”, and “LongKnives1290”.

    So in case it was­n’t com­plete­ly and total­ly obvi­ous that Bre­it­bart is a white nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tion run by neo-Nazis for the pur­pose of main­stream neo-Nazi ideals, here’s the evi­dence, in their own neo-Nazi words:

    Buz­zFeed

    Alt-White: How The Bre­it­bart Machine Laun­dered Racist Hate

    Here’s How Bre­it­bart And Milo Smug­gled Nazi and White Nation­al­ist Ideas Into The Main­stream

    A cache of doc­u­ments obtained by Buz­zFeed News reveals the truth about Steve Bannon’s alt-right “killing machine.”

    Joseph Bern­stein
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter
    Post­ed on Octo­ber 5, 2017, at 3:28 p.m.

    In August, after a white nation­al­ist ral­ly in Char­lottesville end­ed in mur­der, Steve Ban­non insist­ed that “there’s no room in Amer­i­can soci­ety” for neo-Nazis, neo-Con­fed­er­ates, and the KKK.

    But an explo­sive cache of doc­u­ments obtained by Buz­zFeed News proves that there was plen­ty of room for those voic­es on his web­site.

    Dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, under Bannon’s lead­er­ship, Bre­it­bart court­ed the alt-right — the insur­gent, racist right-wing move­ment that helped sweep Don­ald Trump to pow­er. The for­mer White House chief strate­gist famous­ly remarked that he want­ed Bre­it­bart to be “the plat­form for the alt-right.”

    The Bre­it­bart employ­ee clos­est to the alt-right was Milo Yiannopou­los, the site’s for­mer tech edi­tor known best for his out­ra­geous pub­lic provo­ca­tions, such as last year’s Dan­ger­ous Fag­got speak­ing tour and September’s can­celed Free Speech Week in Berke­ley. For more than a year, Yiannopou­los led the site in a coy dance around the movement’s nas­ti­er edges, writ­ing sto­ries that min­i­mized the role of neo-Nazis and white nation­al­ists while giv­ing its politer voic­es a fair hear­ing. In March, Bre­it­bart edi­tor Alex Mar­low insist­ed “we’re not a hate site.” Breitbart’s media rela­tions staff repeat­ed­ly threat­ened to sue out­lets that described Yiannopou­los as racist. And after the vio­lent white suprema­cist protest in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, in August, Bre­it­bart pub­lished an arti­cle explain­ing that when Ban­non said the site wel­comed the alt-right, he was mere­ly refer­ring to “com­put­er gamers and blue-col­lar vot­ers who hat­ed the GOP brand.”

    These new emails and doc­u­ments, how­ev­er, clear­ly show that Bre­it­bart does more than tol­er­ate the most hate-filled, racist voic­es of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fuel­ing and being fueled by some of the most tox­ic beliefs on the polit­i­cal spec­trum — and clear­ing the way for them to enter the Amer­i­can main­stream.

    It’s a rela­tion­ship illus­trat­ed most stark­ly by a pre­vi­ous­ly unre­leased April 2016 video in which Yiannopou­los sings “Amer­i­ca the Beau­ti­ful” in a Dal­las karaoke bar as admir­ers, includ­ing the white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes.

    These doc­u­ments chart the Bre­it­bart alt-right uni­verse. They reveal how the web­site — and, in par­tic­u­lar, Yiannopou­los — links the Mer­cer fam­i­ly, the bil­lion­aires who fund Bre­it­bart, to under­paid trolls who fill it with provoca­tive con­tent, and to extrem­ists striv­ing to cre­ate a white eth­nos­tate.

    They cap­ture what Ban­non calls his “killing machine” in action, as it dredges up the resent­ments of peo­ple around the world, sifts through these griev­ances for ideas and con­tent, and pro­pels them from the unsa­vory parts of the inter­net up to Trump­World, col­lect­ing adver­tis­ers’ checks all along the way.

    And the cache of emails — some of the most news­wor­thy of which Buz­zFeed News is now mak­ing pub­lic — expose the extent to which this machine depend­ed on Yiannopou­los, who chan­neled voic­es both inside and out­side the estab­lish­ment into a clear nar­ra­tive about the threat lib­er­al dis­course posed to Amer­i­ca. The emails tell the sto­ry of Steve Bannon’s grand plan for Yiannopou­los, whom the Bre­it­bart exec­u­tive chair­man trans­formed from a charis­mat­ic young edi­tor into a con­ser­v­a­tive media star capa­ble of mag­ne­tiz­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of reac­tionary anger. Often, the doc­u­ments reveal, this anger came from a legion of secret sym­pa­thiz­ers in Sil­i­con Val­ley, Hol­ly­wood, acad­e­mia, sub­ur­bia, and every­where in between.

    “I have said in the past that I find humor in break­ing taboos and laugh­ing at things that peo­ple tell me are for­bid­den to joke about,” Yiannopou­los wrote in a state­ment to Buz­zFeed News. “But every­one who knows me also knows I’m not a racist. As some­one of Jew­ish ances­try, I of course con­demn racism in the strongest pos­si­ble terms. I have stopped mak­ing jokes on these mat­ters because I do not want any con­fu­sion on this sub­ject. I dis­avow Richard Spencer and his entire sor­ry band of idiots. I have been and am a stead­fast sup­port­er of Jews and Israel. I dis­avow white nation­al­ism and I dis­avow racism and I always have.”

    ...

    Now Ban­non is back at the con­trols of the machine, which he has said he is “revving up.” The Mer­cers have fund­ed Yiannopoulos’s post-Bre­it­bart ven­ture. And these doc­u­ments present the clear­est look at what these peo­ple may have in store for Amer­i­ca.

    **

    A year and a half ago, Milo Yiannopou­los set him­self a dif­fi­cult task: to define the alt-right. It was five months before Hillary Clin­ton named the alt-right in a cam­paign speech, 10 months before the alt-right’s great hope became pres­i­dent, and 17 months before Char­lottesville clinched the alt-right as a stalk­ing horse for vio­lent white nation­al­ism. The move­ment had just begun its explo­sive emer­gence into the country’s pol­i­tics and cul­ture.

    At the time, Yiannopou­los, who would lat­er describe him­self as a fel­low trav­el­er” of the alt-right, was the tech edi­tor of Bre­it­bart. In sum­mer 2015, after spend­ing a year gath­er­ing momen­tum through Gamer­Gate — the open­ing sal­vo of the new cul­ture wars — he con­vinced Bre­it­bart upper man­age­ment to give him his own sec­tion. And for four months, he helped Ban­non wage what the Bre­it­bart boss called in emails to staff “#war.” It was a war, fought sto­ry by sto­ry, against the per­ceived forces of lib­er­al activism on every con­ceiv­able bat­tle­ground in Amer­i­can life.

    Yiannopou­los was a use­ful sol­dier whose very pub­lic iden­ti­ty as a gay man (one who has now mar­ried a black man) helped defend him, his anti-polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness cru­sade, and his employ­er from charges of big­otry.

    But now Yiannopou­los had a more com­pli­cat­ed fight on his hands. The left — and worse, some on the right — had start­ed to con­demn the new con­ser­v­a­tive ener­gy as reac­tionary and racist. Yiannopou­los had to take back “alt-right,” to rede­fine for Breitbart’s audi­ence a poor­ly under­stood, lead­er­less move­ment, parts of which had already start­ed to resist the term itself.

    So he reached out to key con­stituents, who includ­ed a neo-Nazi and a white nation­al­ist.

    “Final­ly doing my big fea­ture on the alt right,” Yiannopou­los wrote in a March 9, 2016, email to Andrew “Weev” Auern­heimer, a hack­er who is the sys­tem admin­is­tra­tor of the neo-Nazi hub the Dai­ly Stormer, and who would lat­er ask his fol­low­ers to dis­rupt the funer­al of Char­lottesville vic­tim Heather Hey­er. “Fan­cy brain­dump­ing some thoughts for me.”

    “It’s time for me to do my big defin­i­tive guide to the alt right,” Yiannopou­los wrote four hours lat­er to Cur­tis Yarvin, a soft­ware engi­neer who under the nom de plume Men­cius Mold­bug helped cre­ate the “neo­re­ac­tionary” move­ment, which holds that Enlight­en­ment democ­ra­cy has failed and that a return to feu­dal­ism and author­i­tar­i­an rule is in order. “Which is my who­r­ish way of ask­ing if you have any­thing you’d like to make sure I include.”

    “Alt r fea­ture, fig­ured you’d have some thoughts,” Yiannopou­los wrote the same day to Devin Sauci­er, who helps edit the online white nation­al­ist mag­a­zine Amer­i­can Renais­sance under the pseu­do­nym Hen­ry Wolff, and who wrote a sto­ry in June 2017 called “Why I Am (Among Oth­er Things) a White Nation­al­ist.”

    The three respond­ed at length: Weev about the Dai­ly Stormer and a pod­cast called The Dai­ly Shoah, Yarvin in char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly sweep­ing world-his­tor­i­cal asser­tions (“It’s no secret that North Amer­i­ca con­tains many dis­tinct cultural/ethnic com­mu­ni­ties. This is not opti­mal, but with a com­pe­tent king it’s not a huge prob­lem either”), and Sauci­er with a list of thinkers, politi­cians, jour­nal­ists, films (Dune, Mad Max, The Dark Knight), and musi­cal gen­res (folk met­al, mar­tial indus­tri­al, ’80s syn­th­pop) impor­tant to the move­ment. Yiannopou­los for­ward­ed it all, along with the Wikipedia entries for “Alter­na­tive Right” and the eso­teric far-right Ital­ian philoso­pher Julius Evola — a major influ­ence on 20th-cen­tu­ry Ital­ian fas­cists and Richard Spencer alike — to Allum Bokhari, his deputy and fre­quent ghost­writer, whom he had met dur­ing Gamer­Gate. “Include a bit of every­thing,” he instruct­ed Bokhari.

    “I think you’ll like what I’m cook­ing up,” Yiannopou­los wrote to Sauci­er, the Amer­i­can Renais­sance edi­tor.

    “I look for­ward to it,” Sauci­er replied. “Ban­non, as you prob­a­bly know, is sym­pa­thet­ic to much of it.”

    Five days lat­er Bokhari returned a 3,000-word draft, a tax­on­o­my of the move­ment titled “ALT-RIGHT BEHEMOTH.” It includ­ed a lit­tle bit of every­thing: the brains and their influ­ences (Yarvin and Evola, etc.), the “nat­ur­al con­ser­v­a­tives” (peo­ple who think dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups should stay sep­a­rate for sci­en­tif­ic rea­sons), the “Meme team” (4chan and 8chan), and the actu­al hate­mon­gers. Of the last group, Bokhari wrote: “There’s just not very many of them, no-one real­ly likes them, and they’re unlike­ly to achieve any­thing sig­nif­i­cant in the alt-right.”

    “Mag­nif­i­cent start,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed.

    Over the next three days, Yiannopou­los passed the arti­cle back to Yarvin and the white nation­al­ist Sauci­er, the lat­ter of whom gave line-by-line anno­ta­tions. He also sent it to Vox Day, a writer who was expelled from the board of the Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fan­ta­sy Writ­ers of Amer­i­ca for call­ing a black writer an “igno­rant sav­age,” and to Alex Mar­low, the edi­tor of Bre­it­bart.

    “Sol­id, fair, and fair­ly com­pre­hen­sive,” Vox Day respond­ed, with a few sug­ges­tions.

    “Most of it is great but I don’t want to rush a major long form piece like this,” Mar­low wrote back. “A few peo­ple will need to weigh in since it deals heav­i­ly with race.”

    Also, there was anoth­er sen­si­tive issue to be raised: cred­it. “Allum did most of the work on this and wants joint [byline] but I want the glo­ry here,” Yiannopou­los wrote back to Mar­low. “I am telling him you said it’s sen­si­tive and want my byline alone on it.”

    Min­utes lat­er, Yiannopou­los emailed Bokhari. “I was going to have Mar­low col­lude with me … about the byline on the alt right thing because I want to take it solo. Will you hate me too much if I do that? … Truth­ful­ly man­age­ment is very edgy on this one (They love it but it’s racial­ly charged) and they would pre­fer it.”

    “Will man­age­ment def­i­nite­ly say no if it’s both of us?” Bokhari respond­ed. “I think it actu­al­ly low­ers the risk if some­one with a brown-sound­ing name shares the BL.”

    Five days lat­er, March 22nd, Mar­low returned with com­ments. He sug­gest­ed that the sto­ry should show in more detail how Yiannopou­los and most of the alt-right reject­ed the actu­al neo-Nazis in the move­ment. And he added that Tak­i’s Mag­a­zine and VDare, two pub­li­ca­tions Yiannopou­los and Bokhari iden­ti­fied as part of the alt-right, “are both racist. … We should dis­claimer that or strike that part of the his­to­ry from the arti­cle.” (The pub­lished sto­ry added, in the pas­sive voice, “All of these web­sites have been accused of racism.”) Again the sto­ry went back to Bokhari, who on the 24th sent Yiannopou­los still anoth­er draft, with the sub­ject head “ALT RIGHT, MEIN FUHRER.”

    On the 27th, now co-bylined, the sto­ry was ready for upper man­age­ment: Ban­non and Lar­ry Solov, Breitbart’s press-shy CEO. It was also ready, on a sep­a­rate email chain, for anoth­er read and round of com­ments from the white nation­al­ist Sauci­er, the feu­dal­ist Yarvin, the neo-Nazi Weev, and Vox Day.

    “I need to go thru this tomor­row in depth…although I do appre­ci­ate any piece that men­tions evola,” Ban­non wrote. On the 29th, in an email titled “steve wants you to read this,” Mar­low sent Yiannopou­los a list of edits and notes Ban­non had solicit­ed from James Pinker­ton, a for­mer Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush staffer and a con­tribut­ing edi­tor of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive. The 59-year-old Pinker­ton was put off by a car­toon of Pepe the Frog con­duct­ing the Trump Train.

    “I love art,” he wrote inline. “I think [Bre­it­bart News Net­work] needs a lot more of it, but I don’t get the above. Frogs? Ker­mit? Am I miss­ing some­thing here?”

    Lat­er that day, Bre­it­bart pub­lished “An Estab­lish­ment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” It quick­ly became a touch­stone, cit­ed in the New York Times, the Los Ange­les Times, the New York­er, CNN, and New York Mag­a­zine, among oth­ers. And its influ­ence is still being felt. This past July, in a speech in War­saw that was cel­e­brat­ed by the alt-right, Pres­i­dent Trump echoed a line from the sto­ry — a sto­ry writ­ten by a “brown-sound­ing” amanu­en­sis, all but line-edit­ed by a white nation­al­ist, laun­dered for racism by Breitbart’s edi­tors, and super­vised by the man who would in short order become the president’s chief strate­gist.

    The machine had worked well.

    ...

    **

    On July 22, 2016, Rebekah Mer­cer — Robert’s pow­er­ful daugh­ter — emailed Steve Ban­non from her Stan­ford alum­ni account. She want­ed the Bre­it­bart exec­u­tive chair­man, whom she intro­duced as “one of the great­est liv­ing defend­ers of Lib­er­ty,” to meet an app devel­op­er she knew. Apple had reject­ed the man’s game (Capi­tol HillAwry, in which play­ers delete emails à la Hillary Clin­ton) from the App Store, and the younger Mer­cer won­dered “if we could put an arti­cle up detail­ing his 1st amend­ment polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion.”

    Ban­non passed the request from Mer­cer to Yiannopou­los. Yiannopou­los passed it to Char­lie Nash, an 18-year-old Eng­lish­man whom he had met at a con­fer­ence of the pop­ulist right-wing UK Inde­pen­dence Par­ty con­fer­ence the pre­vi­ous year, and who start­ed work­ing as his intern imme­di­ate­ly after. Like some bleach-blonde mes­si­ah of anti–political cor­rect­ness, Yiannopou­los tend­ed to draw in ide­o­log­i­cal­ly sym­pa­thet­ic young men at con­fer­ences, cam­pus speech­es, and on social media, accu­mu­lat­ing more and more acolytes as he went along.

    In June 2015 it was Ben Kew, who invit­ed Yiannopou­los to speak at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bris­tol, where he was a stu­dent; he’s now a staff writer for Bre­it­bart. In Sep­tem­ber 2015 it was Tom Cic­cot­ta, the trea­sur­er of the class of 2017 at Buck­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, who still writes for Bre­it­bart. In Feb­ru­ary 2016 it was Hunter Swog­ger, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan stu­dent and then the edi­tor of the con­ser­v­a­tive Michi­gan Review, whom Yiannopou­los cul­ti­vat­ed and brought on as a social media spe­cial­ist dur­ing his Dan­ger­ous Fag­got tour. Yiannopou­los called these young researchers his “truf­fle­hounds.”

    Nash, who had just been hired by Bre­it­bart at $30,000 a year after months of lob­by­ing by Yiannopou­los, duti­ful­ly field­ed the request from the bil­lion­aire indi­rect­ly pay­ing his salary and turned around a sto­ry about the reject­ed Capi­tol HillAwry app on the 25th — and a fol­low-up five days lat­er after Apple reversed its deci­sion.

    “Huge vic­to­ry,” Ban­non emailed after the rever­sal. “Huge win.”

    This was the usu­al way sto­ries came in from the Mer­cers, accord­ing to a for­mer Bre­it­bart edi­tor: with a request from Ban­non refer­ring to “our investors” or “our invest­ing part­ners.”

    After Cannes, as Ban­non pushed Yiannopou­los to do more live events that pre­sent­ed expen­sive logis­ti­cal chal­lenges, the involve­ment of the invest­ing part­ners became increas­ing­ly obvi­ous. Fol­low­ing a May event at DePaul Uni­ver­si­ty in Chica­go in which Black Lives Mat­ter pro­test­ers stormed a Yiannopou­los speech, he wrote to Ban­non, “I wouldn’t con­fess this to any­one pub­licly, of course, but I was wor­ried ... last night that I was going to get punched or worse. ... I need one or two peo­ple of my own.”

    “Agree 100%,” Ban­non wrote. “We want you to stir up more. Milo: for your eyes only we r going to use the mer­cers pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny.”

    Copied on the email was Dan Fleuette, Bannon’s copro­duc­er at Glit­ter­ing Steel and the man who act­ed for months as the go-between for Yiannopou­los and the Mer­cers. As Yiannopou­los made the tran­si­tion in sum­mer 2016 from being a writer to becom­ing large­ly the star of a trav­el­ing stage show, Fleuette was enlist­ed to process and wran­gle the legion of young assis­tants, man­agers, train­ers, and oth­er tal­ent the Bre­it­bart tech edi­tor demand­ed be brought along for the ride.

    First came Tim Gionet, the for­mer Buz­zFeed social media strate­gist who goes by “Baked Alas­ka” on Twit­ter, whom Yiannopou­los pitched to Fleuette as a tour man­ag­er in late May. Gionet accom­pa­nied Yiannopou­los to Flori­da after the June 2016 Pulse night­club killings in Orlan­do. The two planned a press con­fer­ence out­side a mosque attend­ed by the shoot­er, Omar Mateen. (“Bril­liant,” Ban­non emailed. “Btw they are ALL ‘fac­to­ries of hate.’”) But after some imper­ti­nent tweets and back talk from Gionet, Fleuette became Yiannopoulos’s man­age­r­i­al con­fi­dante.

    “He needs to under­stand that ‘Baked Alas­ka’ is over,” Yiannopou­los wrote in one email to Fleuette. “He is not a friend he is an employ­ee. … He is becom­ing a laugh­ing stock and that reflects bad­ly on me.” In anoth­er, “I think we need to replace Tim. … [He] has no news judg­ment or under­stand­ing of what’s dan­ger­ous (thinks tweets about Jews are just fine). … He seems more inter­est­ed in his career as an obscure Twit­ter per­son­al­i­ty than my tour man­ag­er.”

    At the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion, Yiannopou­los delib­er­ate­ly chose a hotel for Gionet far from the con­ven­tion cen­ter, writ­ing to anoth­er Bre­it­bart employ­ee, “Exact­ly where I want him. … He needs the com­mute to remind him of his place.”

    Gionet did not respond to mul­ti­ple requests by Buz­zFeed News for com­ment.

    But Gionet, who would go on to march with the alt-right in Char­lottesville, was still use­ful to Yiannopou­los as a gate­way to a group of young, hip, social media–savvy Trump sup­port­ers.

    Yiannopou­los man­aged all of his assis­tants and ghost­writ­ers under his own umbrel­la, using “yiannopoulos.net” emails and pri­vate Slack rooms. This struc­ture insu­lat­ed Breitbart’s upper man­age­ment from the 4chan savants and Gamer­Gate vets work­ing for Yiannopou­los. And it gave Yiannopou­los a staff loy­al to him above Bre­it­bart. (Indeed, Yiannopou­los shopped a sep­a­rate “Team Milo” sec­tion to Dow Jones, which pub­lish­es the Wall Street Jour­nal, in July 2016.)

    It also some­times led to extra­or­di­nar­i­ly fraught orga­ni­za­tion­al and per­son­al dynam­ics. Take Allum Bokhari, the Oxford-edu­cat­ed for­mer polit­i­cal con­sul­tant whom Yiannopou­los reward­ed for his years of grunt work with a $100,000 ghost­writ­ing con­tract for his book Dan­ger­ous.

    But the men were spy­ing on each oth­er.

    In April 2016, Yiannopou­los asked Bokhari for “a com­plete list of the email, social media, bank accounts, and any oth­er sys­tem and ser­vices of mine you have been access­ing, and how long you’ve had access.” Bokhari con­fessed to hav­ing logged into Yiannopoulos’s email and Slack, and had used Yiannopoulos’s cred­it card for an Airbnb, a con­fes­sion Yiannopou­los quick­ly passed on to Lar­ry Solov, the Bre­it­bart CEO.

    “My basic posi­tion is that he is not sta­ble and needs to be far away from me,” Yiannopou­los wrote to Mar­low and Solov.

    Mean­while, Yiannopou­los had com­piled a tran­script of what he called “a short sec­tion of 30 hours of record­ing down on paper,” which appeared to be of con­ver­sa­tions between Bokhari and a friend.

    The new­com­ers brought in by Gionet weren’t much bet­ter behaved. Yiannopou­los had to boot one prospec­tive mem­ber of his “tour squad” for post­ing cocaine use on Snapchat. Mike Mahoney, a then–20-year-old from North Car­oli­na, had to be mon­i­tored because of his propen­si­ty for racism and anti-Semi­tism on social media. (Mahoney was lat­er banned from Twit­ter, but he’s relo­cat­ed to Gab, a free speech uber alles social net­work where he is free to post mes­sages such as “reminder: mus­lims are fags.”)

    “Let me know if there’s any­thing spe­cif­ic that’s real­ly bad eg any Jew stuff,” Yiannopou­los wrote of Mahoney in an email to anoth­er mem­ber of his staff. “His entire Twit­ter per­sona will have to change dra­mat­i­cal­ly once he gets the job.” On Sep­tem­ber 11, 2016, Mahoney signed a $2,500-a-month con­tract with Glit­ter­ing Steel.

    As the Dan­ger­ous Fag­got tour swung into gear, Yiannopou­los grew increas­ing­ly hos­tile toward Fleuette, whom he exco­ri­at­ed for late pay­ments to his young crew, lack of sup­port, and dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion. “The entire tour staff is demand­ing mon­ey,” Yiannopou­los wrote in one email to Fleuette in Octo­ber. “No one knows or cares who Glit­ter­ing Steel is but this rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant­ly dam­ag­ing risk to my rep­u­ta­tion if it gets out.” And in anoth­er, “Your prob­lem right now is keep­ing me hap­py.”

    Yet ulti­mate­ly Fleuette was nec­es­sary — he con­nect­ed Yiannopoulos’s mad­cap world and the mas­sive­ly rich peo­ple fund­ing the machine.

    “I think you know who the final deci­sion belongs to,” Fleuette wrote to Yiannopou­los after one par­tic­u­lar­ly fran­tic request for mon­ey. “I am in dai­ly com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them.”

    **

    Yiannopoulos’s star rose through­out 2016 thanks to a suc­ces­sion of con­tro­ver­sial pub­lic appear­ances, social media con­fla­gra­tions, Bre­it­bart radio spots, tele­vi­sion hits, and mag­a­zine pro­files. Bannon’s guid­ance, the Mer­cers’ patron­age, and the cre­ative ener­gy of his young staff had come togeth­er at exact­ly the time Don­ald Trump turned offen­sive speech into a defin­ing issue in Amer­i­can cul­ture. And for thou­sands of peo­ple, Yiannopou­los, Breitbart’s poster child for offen­sive speech, became a secret cham­pi­on.

    Aggriev­ed by the encroach­ment of so-called cul­tur­al Marx­ism into Amer­i­can pub­lic life, and egged on by an end­less stream of sto­ries on Fox News about safe spaces and racial­ly charged cam­pus con­fronta­tions, a diverse group of Amer­i­cans took to Yiannopoulos’s inbox to thank him and to con­fess their fears about the future of the coun­try.

    ...

    And some of these dis­grun­tled tech work­ers reached beyond the rank and file. Vivek Wad­hwa, a promi­nent entre­pre­neur and aca­d­e­m­ic, reached out repeat­ed­ly to Yiannopou­los with sto­ries of what he con­sid­ered out-of-con­trol polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. First it was about a boy­cott cam­paign against a Kick­starter with con­nec­tions to Gamer­Gate. (“These peo­ple are tru­ly crazy and destruc­tive. … What hor­ri­ble peo­ple,” wrote Wad­wha of the cam­paign­ers.) Then it was about Y‑Combinator cofounder Paul Gra­ham; Wad­wha felt Gra­ham was being unfair­ly tar­get­ed for an essay he wrote about gen­der inequal­i­ty in tech.

    “Polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness has gone too far,” Wad­hwa wrote. “The alter­na­tive is com­mu­nism — not equal­i­ty. And that is a failed sys­tem…” Yiannopou­los passed Wadhwa’s email to Bokhari, who prompt­ly ghost­wrote a sto­ry for Bre­it­bart, “Social Jus­tice War­rior Knives Out For Start­up Guru Paul Gra­ham.”

    Wad­wha told Buz­zFeed News that he no longer sup­ports Yiannopou­los.

    Yiannopou­los also had a pri­vate rela­tion­ship with the ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Peter Thiel, though he was more cir­cum­spect than some oth­er cor­re­spon­dents. After turn­ing down an appear­ance on Yiannopoulos’s pod­cast in May 2016 (Thiel: “Let’s just get cof­fee and take things from there”), Thiel invit­ed the Bre­it­bart tech edi­tor for din­ner at his Hol­ly­wood Hills home in June, a din­ner Yiannopou­los boast­ed of the same night to Ban­non: “You two should meet. … An obvi­ous can­di­date for movie financ­ing if we got exter­nal. … He has fuc ked [Gawk­er Media founder Nick] Den­ton & Gawk­er so many ways it brought a tear to my eye.” They made plans to meet dur­ing the July Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion. But much of Yiannopoulos’s knowl­edge of Thiel seemed to come sec­ond­hand from oth­er right-wing activists, as well as Cur­tis Yarvin, the blog­ger who advo­cates the return of feu­dal­ism. In an email exchange short­ly after the elec­tion, Yarvin told Yiannopou­los that he had been “coach­ing Thiel.”

    “Peter needs guid­ance on pol­i­tics for sure,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed.

    “Less than you might think!” Yarvin wrote back. “I watched the elec­tion at his house, I think my hang­over last­ed into Tues­day. He’s ful­ly enlight­ened, just plays it very care­ful­ly.”

    And Yiannopou­los vent­ed pri­vate­ly after Thiel spoke at the RNC — an oppor­tu­ni­ty the younger man had craved. “No gays rule doesn’t apply to Thiel appar­ent­ly,” he wrote to a promi­nent Repub­li­can oper­a­tive in July 2016.

    Thiel declined to com­ment for the sto­ry.

    In addi­tion to tech and enter­tain­ment, Yiannopou­los had hid­den helpers in the lib­er­al media against which he and Ban­non fought so uncom­pro­mis­ing­ly. A long-run­ning email group devot­ed to mock­ing sto­ries about the social jus­tice inter­net includ­ed, pre­dictably, Yiannopoulos’s friend Ann Coul­ter, but also Mitchell Sun­der­land, a senior staff writer at Broad­ly, Vice’s women’s chan­nel. Accord­ing to its “About” page, Broad­ly “is devot­ed to rep­re­sent­ing the mul­ti­plic­i­ty of wom­en’s expe­ri­ences. … we pro­vide a sus­tained focus on the issues that mat­ter most to women.”

    “Please mock this fat fem­i­nist,” Sun­der­land wrote to Yiannopou­los in May 2016, along with a link to an arti­cle by the New York Times colum­nist Lindy West, who fre­quent­ly writes about fat accep­tance. And while Sun­der­land was Broadly’s man­ag­ing edi­tor, he sent a Broad­ly video about the Satan­ic Tem­ple and abor­tion rights to Tim Gionet with instruc­tions to “do what­ev­er with this on Bre­it­bart. It’s insane.” The next day, Bre­it­bart pub­lished an arti­cle titled “Satan­ic Tem­ple’ Joins Planned Par­ent­hood in Pro-Abor­tion Cru­sade.”

    In a state­ment to Buz­zFeed News, a Vice spokesper­son wrote, “We are shocked and dis­ap­point­ed by this high­ly inap­pro­pri­ate and unpro­fes­sion­al con­duct. We just learned about this and have begun a for­mal review into the mat­ter.”

    (A day after this sto­ry was pub­lished, Vice fired Mitchell Sun­der­land, accord­ing to a com­pa­ny spokesper­son.)

    ...

    **

    For near­ly a decade, Devin Sauci­er has been estab­lish­ing him­self as one of the bright young things in Amer­i­can white nation­al­ism. In 2008, while at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty, Sauci­er found­ed a chap­ter of the defunct white nation­al­ist stu­dent group Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion, which counts among its alum­ni the white nation­al­ist leader Matthew Heim­bach. Richard Spencer called him a friend. He is asso­ci­at­ed with the Wolves of Vin­land, a Vir­ginia neo-pagan group that one reporter described as a “white pow­er wolf cult,” one mem­ber of which plead­ed guilty to set­ting fire to a his­toric black church. For the past sev­er­al years, accord­ing to an observ­er of far-right move­ments, Sauci­er has worked as an assis­tant to Jared Tay­lor, pos­si­bly the most promi­nent white nation­al­ist in Amer­i­ca. Accord­ing to emails obtained by Buz­zFeed News, he edits and writes for Taylor’s mag­a­zine, Amer­i­can Renais­sance, under a pseu­do­nym.

    In an Octo­ber 2016 email, Milo Yiannopou­los described the 28-year-old Sauci­er as “my best friend.”

    Yiannopou­los may have been exag­ger­at­ing: He was ask­ing his acquain­tance the nov­el­ist Bret Eas­t­on Ellis for a signed copy of Amer­i­can Psy­cho as a gift for Sauci­er. But there’s no ques­tion the men were close. After a March 2016 din­ner togeth­er in George­town, they kept up a steady cor­re­spon­dence, thrilling over Brex­it, approv­ing­ly shar­ing head­lines about a Finnish far-right group called “Sol­diers of Odin,” and mak­ing plans to attend Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Kennedy Cen­ter.

    Sauci­er — who did not respond to numer­ous requests for com­ment — clear­ly illus­trates the direct con­nec­tion between open white nation­al­ists and their fel­low trav­el­ers at Bre­it­bart. By spring 2016, Yiannopou­los had begun to use him as a sound­ing board, intel­lec­tu­al guide, and edi­tor. On May 1, Yiannopou­los emailed Sauci­er ask­ing for read­ings relat­ed to class-based affir­ma­tive action; Sauci­er respond­ed with a half dozen links on the sub­ject, which Amer­i­can Renais­sance often cov­ers. On May 3, Sauci­er sent Yiannopou­los an email titled “Arti­cle idea”: “How trolls could win the gen­er­al for Trump.” Yiannopou­los for­ward­ed the email to Bokhari and wrote, “Drop what you’re doing and draft this for me.” An arti­cle under Yiannopoulos’s byline appeared the next day. Also in ear­ly May, Sauci­er advised Yiannopou­los and put him in touch with a source for a sto­ry about the alt-right’s obses­sion with Tay­lor Swift.

    Sauci­er also seems to have had enough clout with Yiannopou­los to get him to kill a sto­ry. On May 9, the Bre­it­bart tech edi­tor sent Sauci­er a full draft of the class-based affir­ma­tive action sto­ry. “This real­ly isn’t good,” Sauci­er wrote back, along with a com­plex expla­na­tion of how “true class-based affir­ma­tive action” would cause “black enroll­ment at all decent col­leges” to be “dec­i­mat­ed.” The next day, Yiannopou­los wrote back, “I feel suit­ably admon­ished,” with anoth­er draft. In response, after spec­u­lat­ing that Yiannopou­los was try­ing to “soft ped­al” racial dif­fer­ences in intel­li­gence, Sauci­er wrote, “I would hon­est­ly spike this piece.” The sto­ry nev­er ran.

    At oth­er times, though, Yiannopoulos’s writ­ing delight­ed the young white nation­al­ist. On June 20, Yiannopou­los sent Sauci­er a link to his sto­ry “Milo On Why Britain Should Leave The EU — To Stop Mus­lim Immi­gra­tion.” “Nice work,” Sauci­er respond­ed. “I espe­cial­ly like the ref­er­ences to Euro­pean iden­ti­ty and the West­ern greats.” On June 25, Yiannopou­los sent Sauci­er a copy of an analy­sis, “Brex­it: Why The Glob­al­ists Lost.”

    “Sub­tle truth bomb,” Sauci­er respond­ed via email to the sen­tence “Britain, like Israel and oth­er high-IQ, high-skilled economies, will thrive on its own.” (IQ dif­fer­ences among races are a fix­a­tion of Amer­i­can Renais­sance.)

    “I’m eas­ing every­one in gen­tly,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed.

    “Prob­a­bly beats my ‘bite the pil­low, I’m going in dry’ strat­e­gy,” Sauci­er wrote back.

    On occa­sion Yiannopou­los didn’t ease his mas­ters at Bre­it­bart in gen­tly enough. Fre­quent­ly, Alex Marlow’s job edit­ing him came down to reject­ing anti-Semit­ic and racist ideas and jokes. In April 2016, Yiannopou­los tried to secure approval for the neo-Nazi hack­er “Weev” Auern­heimer, the sys­tem admin­is­tra­tor for the Dai­ly Stormer, to appear on his pod­cast.

    “Great provoca­tive guest,” Yiannopou­los wrote. “He’s one of the fun­ni­est, smartest and most inter­est­ing peo­ple I know. ... Very on brand for me.”

    “Got­ta think about it,” Mar­low wrote back. “He’s a legit racist. … This is a major strate­gic deci­sion for this com­pa­ny and as of now I’m lean­ing against it.” (Weev nev­er appeared on the pod­cast.)

    Edit­ing a Sep­tem­ber 2016 Yiannopou­los speech, Mar­low approved a joke about “shekels” but added that “you can’t even flirt with OKing gas cham­ber tweets,” ask­ing for such a line to be removed. Mar­low held a sto­ry about Twit­ter ban­ning a promi­nent — fre­quent­ly anti-Semit­ic and anti-black — alt-right account, “Ricky Vaughn.” And in August 2016, Bokhari sent Mar­low a draft of a sto­ry titled “The Alt Right Isn’t White Suprema­cist, It’s West­ern Suprema­cist,” which Mar­low held, explain­ing, “I don’t want to even flirt with okay-ing Nazi memes.”

    “We have found his lim­it,” Yiannopou­los wrote back.

    Indeed, a major part of Yiannopoulos’s role with­in Bre­it­bart was aggres­sive­ly test­ing lim­its around racial and anti-Semit­ic dis­course. As far as this went, his opaque orga­ni­za­tion-with-an-orga­ni­za­tion struc­ture and crowd­sourced ideation and writ­ing process­es served Breitbart’s pur­pos­es per­fect­ly: They offered upper man­age­ment a veil of plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty — as long as no one saw the emails Buz­zFeed News obtained. In August 2016, a Yiannopou­los staffer sent a “Milo” sto­ry by Bokhari direct­ly to Ban­non and Mar­low for approval.

    “Please don’t for­ward chains like that show­ing the sausage being made,” Yiannopou­los wrote back. “Every­one knows; but they don’t have to be remind­ed every time.”

    By Yiannopoulos’s own admis­sion, main­tain­ing a suf­fi­cient­ly believ­able dis­tance from overt racists and white nation­al­ists was cru­cial to the machine he had helped Ban­non build. As his pro­file rose, he attract­ed hordes of blaz­ing­ly racist social media fol­low­ers — the kind of peo­ple who harassed the black Ghost­busters actress Leslie Jones so severe­ly on Twit­ter that the plat­form banned Yiannopou­los for encour­ag­ing them.

    “Pro­tip on han­dling the end­less tide of 1488 scum,” Cur­tis Yarvin, the neo­re­ac­tionary thinker, wrote to Yiannopou­los in Novem­ber 2015. (“1488” is a ubiq­ui­tous white suprema­cist slo­gan; “88” stands for “Heil Hitler.”) “Deal with them the way some per­fect­ly tai­lored high-com­mu­nist NYT reporter han­dles a herd of greasy anar­chist hip­pies. Patron­iz­ing con­tempt. Your heart is in the right place, young lady, now get a show­er and shave those pits. The lib­er­al doesn’t purge the com­mu­nist because he hates com­mu­nism, he purges the com­mu­nist because the com­mu­nist is a pub­lic embar­rass­ment to him. … It’s not that he sees ene­mies to the left, just that he sees losers to the left, and losers rub off.”

    “Thanks re 1488,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed. “I have been strug­gling with this. I need to stay, if not clean, then clean enough.”

    He had help stay­ing clean. It came in the form of a media rela­tions appa­ra­tus that issued imme­di­ate and vehe­ment threats of legal action against out­lets that described Yiannopou­los as a racist or a white nation­al­ist.

    “Milo is NOT a white nation­al­ist, nor a mem­ber of the alt right,” Jen­ny Kefau­ver, a senior account exec­u­tive at Cap­i­tal­HQ, Breitbart’s press shop, wrote to the Seat­tle CBS affil­i­ate after a sto­ry fol­low­ing the shoot­ing of an anti-Trump pro­test­er at a Yiannopou­los speech. “Milo has always denounced them and you offer no proof that he is asso­ci­at­ed with them. Please issue a cor­rec­tion before we explore addi­tion­al options to cor­rect this error imme­di­ate­ly.”

    Over 2016 and ear­ly 2017, Cap­i­tal­HQ, and often Yiannopou­los per­son­al­ly, issued such demands against the Los Ange­les Times, The For­ward, Busi­ness Insid­er, Glam­our, Fusion, USA Today, the Chica­go Tri­bune, the Wash­ing­ton Post, and CNN. The result­ing retrac­tions or cor­rec­tions — or refusals — even spawned a new cat­e­go­ry of Bre­it­bart sto­ry.

    Of course, it’s unlike­ly that any of these jour­nal­ists or edi­tors could have known about Yiannopoulos’s rela­tion­ship with Sauci­er, about his attempts to defend gas cham­ber jokes in Bre­it­bart, or about how he tried to put Weev on his pod­cast.

    Nor could they have known about the night of April 2, 2016, which Yiannopou­los spent at the One Nos­tal­gia Tav­ern in Dal­las, belt­ing out a karaoke ren­di­tion of “Amer­i­ca the Beau­ti­ful” in front of a crowd of “sieg heil”-ing admir­ers, includ­ing Richard Spencer.

    Sauci­er can be seen in the video film­ing the per­for­mance. The same night, he and Spencer did a duet of Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” in front of a beam­ing Yiannopou­los.

    And there was no way the jour­nal­ists threat­ened with law­suits for call­ing Yiannopou­los a racist could have known about his pass­words.

    In an April 6 email, Allum Bokhari men­tioned hav­ing had access to an account of Yiannopoulos’s with “a pass­word that began with the word Kristall.” Kristall­nacht, an infa­mous 1938 riot against Ger­man Jews car­ried out by the SA — the para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion that helped Hitler rise to pow­er — is some­times con­sid­ered the begin­ning of the Holo­caust. In a June 2016 email to an assis­tant, Yiannopou­los shared the pass­word to his email, which began “LongKnives1290.” The Night of the Long Knives was the Nazi purge of the lead­er­ship of the SA. The purge famous­ly includ­ed Ernst Röhm, the SA’s gay leader. 1290 is the year King Edward I expelled the Jews from Eng­land.

    **

    Ear­ly in the morn­ing of August 17, 2016, as news began to break that Steve Ban­non would leave Bre­it­bart to run the Trump cam­paign, Milo Yiannopou­los emailed the man who had turned him into a star.

    “Con­grats chief,” he wrote.

    “u mean ‘con­do­lences,’” Ban­non wrote back.

    “I admire your sense of duty (seri­ous­ly).”

    “u get it.”

    In the month after the con­ven­tion, Yiannopou­los and Ban­non con­tin­ued to work close­ly. Ban­non and Mar­low encour­aged a bar­rage of sto­ries about Yiannopoulos’s late July ban from Twit­ter. Ban­non and Yiannopou­los worked to dis­tance them­selves from Charles Johnson’s plans to sue Twit­ter. (“Charles is PR poi­son,” Yiannopou­los wrote. “Charles is well intentioned–but he is wack,” Ban­non respond­ed.) And the two went back and forth over how hard to hit Paul Ryan in an August sto­ry defend­ing the alt-right. (“Only the head­line mocks him cor­rect,” Ban­non wrote. “We nev­er actu­al­ly say he is a cuck in the body of the piece?”)

    But once Ban­non left Bre­it­bart, his email cor­re­spon­dence with Yiannopou­los dried up, with a few excep­tions. On August 25, after Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech, Yiannopou­los emailed Ban­non, “I’ve nev­er laughed so hard.”

    ...

    Still, as the cam­paign pro­gressed into the fall, there were clues that Ban­non con­tin­ued to run aspects of Bre­it­bart and guide the career of his bur­geon­ing alt-right star. On Sep­tem­ber 1, Ban­non for­ward­ed Yiannopou­los a sto­ry about a new Rut­gers speech code; Yiannopou­los for­ward­ed it to Bokhari and asked for a sto­ry. On the 3rd, Ban­non emailed to tell Yiannopou­los he was “try­ing to set up DJT inter­view.” (The inter­view with Trump nev­er hap­pened.) And on Sep­tem­ber 11, Ban­non intro­duced Yiannopou­los over email to the dig­i­tal strate­gist and Trump sup­port­er Oz Sul­tan and instruct­ed the men to meet.

    There were also signs that Ban­non was using his prox­im­i­ty to the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee to pro­mote the cul­ture war pet caus­es that he and Yiannopou­los shared. On Octo­ber 13, Sauci­er emailed Yiannopou­los a tweet from the white nation­al­ist leader Nathan Dami­go, who went on to punch a woman in the face at a Berke­ley ral­ly in April of this year and led marchers in Char­lottesville: “@realDonaldTrump just said he would pro­tect free speech on col­lege cam­pus.”

    “He used phras­es extreme­ly close to what I say — Ban­non is feed­ing him,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed.

    Yet, by the ear­ly days of the Trump pres­i­den­cy — and as the hard­er and more explic­it­ly big­ot­ed ele­ments with­in the alt-right fought to reclaim the term — Ban­non had clear­ly estab­lished a for­mal dis­tance from Yiannopou­los. On Feb­ru­ary 14, Yiannopou­los, who months ear­li­er had worked hand in glove with Ban­non, asked their mutu­al PR rep for help reach­ing him. “Here’s the book man­u­script, to be kept con­fi­den­tial of course… still hop­ing for a Ban­non or Don Jr or Ivan­ka endorse­ment!”

    The next week, video appeared in which Yiannopou­los appeared to con­done pedophil­ia. He resigned from Bre­it­bart under pres­sure two days lat­er, but not before his attor­ney beseeched Solov and Mar­low to keep him.

    “We implore you not to dis­card this ris­ing star over a 13 month old video that we all know does not reflect his true views,” the lawyer wrote.

    Ban­non, ensconced in the chaot­ic Trump White House, didn’t com­ment, nor did he reach out to Yiannopou­los on his main email. But the machine wasn’t bro­ken, just run­ning qui­et­ly. And it wouldn’t jet­ti­son such a valu­able com­po­nent alto­geth­er, even after seem­ing to endorse pedophil­ia.

    After fir­ing Yiannopou­los, Mar­low accom­pa­nied him to the Mer­cers’ Palm Beach home to dis­cuss a new ven­ture: MILO INC. On Feb­ru­ary 27, not quite two weeks after the scan­dal erupt­ed, Yiannopou­los received an email from a woman who described her­self as “Robert Mercer’s accoun­tant.” “We will be send­ing a wire pay­ment today,” she wrote. Lat­er that day, in an email to the accoun­tant and Robert Mer­cer, Yiannopou­los per­son­al­ly thanked his patron. And as Yiannopou­los pre­pared to pub­lish his book, he stayed close enough to Rebekah Mer­cer to ask her by text for a rec­om­men­da­tion when he need­ed a peri­odon­tist in New York.

    Since Ban­non left the White House, there have been signs that the two men may be col­lab­o­rat­ing again. On August 18, Yiannopou­los post­ed to Insta­gram a black-and-white pho­to of Ban­non with the cap­tion “Win­ter is Com­ing.” Though he ulti­mate­ly didn’t show, Ban­non was orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled to speak at Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week at UC Berke­ley. (The event, which was sup­posed to fea­ture an all-star line­up of far-right per­son­al­i­ties, was can­celed last month, report­ed­ly after the stu­dent group spon­sor­ing it failed to fill out nec­es­sary paper­work.) And Yiannopou­los has told those close to him that he expects to be back at Bre­it­bart soon.

    Steve Bannon’s actions are often ana­lyzed through the lens of his pro­fessed ide­ol­o­gy, that of an anti-Islam, anti-immi­grant, anti-“Globalist” cru­sad­er bent on destroy­ing pre­vail­ing lib­er­al ideas about immi­gra­tion, diver­si­ty, and eco­nom­ics. To be sure, much of that comes through in the doc­u­ments obtained by Buz­zFeed News. The “Camp of the Saints” Ban­non is there, demand­ing Yiannopou­los change “refugee” to “migrant” in a Feb­ru­ary 2016 sto­ry, speak­ing of the #war for the West.

    Still, it is less often we think about Ban­non sim­ply as a media exec­u­tive in charge of a pri­vate com­pa­ny. Any suc­cess­ful media exec­u­tive pro­duces con­tent to expand audi­ence size. The Bre­it­bart alt-right machine, embod­ied by Milo Yiannopou­los, may read most clear­ly in this con­text. It was a bril­liant audi­ence expan­sion machine, financed by bil­lion­aires, designed to draw in peo­ple dis­gust­ed by some com­bi­na­tion of iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics, Mus­lim and His­pan­ic immi­gra­tion, and the idea of Hillary Clin­ton or Barack Oba­ma in the White House. And if expand­ing that audi­ence meant involv­ing white nation­al­ists and neo-Nazis, their par­tic­i­pa­tion could always be laun­dered to hide their con­tri­bu­tions.

    ...

    ———–

    “Alt-White: How The Bre­it­bart Machine Laun­dered Racist Hate” by Joseph Bern­stein; Buz­zFeed; 10/05/2017

    “But now Yiannopou­los had a more com­pli­cat­ed fight on his hands. The left — and worse, some on the right — had start­ed to con­demn the new con­ser­v­a­tive ener­gy as reac­tionary and racist. Yiannopou­los had to take back “alt-right,” to rede­fine for Breitbart’s audi­ence a poor­ly under­stood, lead­er­less move­ment, parts of which had already start­ed to resist the term itself.”

    Yep, for Yiannopou­los, his “defin­i­tive guide to the alt right” was pri­mar­i­ly an attempt to help the neo-Nazi move­ment clean up its rep­u­ta­tion. Which is why he reached out direct­ly to ‘the weev’, Cur­tis Yarvin, and Devin Sauci­er for the pur­pose of mak­ing sure his arti­cle por­trayed them in the friend­liest way pos­si­ble with­out miss­ing any of the key points they want­ed him to include:

    ...
    So he reached out to key con­stituents, who includ­ed a neo-Nazi and a white nation­al­ist.

    “Final­ly doing my big fea­ture on the alt right,” Yiannopou­los wrote in a March 9, 2016, email to Andrew “Weev” Auern­heimer, a hack­er who is the sys­tem admin­is­tra­tor of the neo-Nazi hub the Dai­ly Stormer, and who would lat­er ask his fol­low­ers to dis­rupt the funer­al of Char­lottesville vic­tim Heather Hey­er. “Fan­cy brain­dump­ing some thoughts for me.”

    “It’s time for me to do my big defin­i­tive guide to the alt right,” Yiannopou­los wrote four hours lat­er to Cur­tis Yarvin, a soft­ware engi­neer who under the nom de plume Men­cius Mold­bug helped cre­ate the “neo­re­ac­tionary” move­ment, which holds that Enlight­en­ment democ­ra­cy has failed and that a return to feu­dal­ism and author­i­tar­i­an rule is in order. “Which is my who­r­ish way of ask­ing if you have any­thing you’d like to make sure I include.”

    “Alt r fea­ture, fig­ured you’d have some thoughts,” Yiannopou­los wrote the same day to Devin Sauci­er, who helps edit the online white nation­al­ist mag­a­zine Amer­i­can Renais­sance under the pseu­do­nym Hen­ry Wolff, and who wrote a sto­ry in June 2017 called “Why I Am (Among Oth­er Things) a White Nation­al­ist.”

    The three respond­ed at length: Weev about the Dai­ly Stormer and a pod­cast called The Dai­ly Shoah, Yarvin in char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly sweep­ing world-his­tor­i­cal asser­tions (“It’s no secret that North Amer­i­ca con­tains many dis­tinct cultural/ethnic com­mu­ni­ties. This is not opti­mal, but with a com­pe­tent king it’s not a huge prob­lem either”), and Sauci­er with a list of thinkers, politi­cians, jour­nal­ists, films (Dune, Mad Max, The Dark Knight), and musi­cal gen­res (folk met­al, mar­tial indus­tri­al, ’80s syn­th­pop) impor­tant to the move­ment. Yiannopou­los for­ward­ed it all, along with the Wikipedia entries for “Alter­na­tive Right” and the eso­teric far-right Ital­ian philoso­pher Julius Evola — a major influ­ence on 20th-cen­tu­ry Ital­ian fas­cists and Richard Spencer alike — to Allum Bokhari, his deputy and fre­quent ghost­writer, whom he had met dur­ing Gamer­Gate. “Include a bit of every­thing,” he instruct­ed Bokhari.
    ...

    And as the bulk of the Buz­zFeed piece demon­strates, pleas­ing the ‘Alt Right’ and mak­ing them look as non-neo-Nazi-ish as pos­si­ble, while still pro­ject­ing their neo-Nazi ideals and avoid­ing an overt neo-Nazi taint for Breibart, was the pri­ma­ry goal. A goal that Yiannopou­los clear­ly saw as part of the Bre­it­bart “brand”, as evi­denced by the fact that Yiannopou­los describes Auern­heimer in one email as “one of the fun­ni­est, smartest and most inter­est­ing peo­ple I know. ... Very on brand for me.”:

    ...
    On occa­sion Yiannopou­los didn’t ease his mas­ters at Bre­it­bart in gen­tly enough. Fre­quent­ly, Alex Marlow’s job edit­ing him came down to reject­ing anti-Semit­ic and racist ideas and jokes. In April 2016, Yiannopou­los tried to secure approval for the neo-Nazi hack­er “Weev” Auern­heimer, the sys­tem admin­is­tra­tor for the Dai­ly Stormer, to appear on his pod­cast.

    “Great provoca­tive guest,” Yiannopou­los wrote. “He’s one of the fun­ni­est, smartest and most inter­est­ing peo­ple I know. ... Very on brand for me.”

    “Got­ta think about it,” Mar­low wrote back. “He’s a legit racist. … This is a major strate­gic deci­sion for this com­pa­ny and as of now I’m lean­ing against it.” (Weev nev­er appeared on the pod­cast.)

    Edit­ing a Sep­tem­ber 2016 Yiannopou­los speech, Mar­low approved a joke about “shekels” but added that “you can’t even flirt with OKing gas cham­ber tweets,” ask­ing for such a line to be removed. Mar­low held a sto­ry about Twit­ter ban­ning a promi­nent — fre­quent­ly anti-Semit­ic and anti-black — alt-right account, “Ricky Vaughn.” And in August 2016, Bokhari sent Mar­low a draft of a sto­ry titled “The Alt Right Isn’t White Suprema­cist, It’s West­ern Suprema­cist,” which Mar­low held, explain­ing, “I don’t want to even flirt with okay-ing Nazi memes.”

    “We have found his lim­it,” Yiannopou­los wrote back.

    Indeed, a major part of Yiannopoulos’s role with­in Bre­it­bart was aggres­sive­ly test­ing lim­its around racial and anti-Semit­ic dis­course. As far as this went, his opaque orga­ni­za­tion-with-an-orga­ni­za­tion struc­ture and crowd­sourced ideation and writ­ing process­es served Breitbart’s pur­pos­es per­fect­ly: They offered upper man­age­ment a veil of plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty — as long as no one saw the emails Buz­zFeed News obtained. In August 2016, a Yiannopou­los staffer sent a “Milo” sto­ry by Bokhari direct­ly to Ban­non and Mar­low for approval.

    “Please don’t for­ward chains like that show­ing the sausage being made,” Yiannopou­los wrote back. “Every­one knows; but they don’t have to be remind­ed every time.”

    By Yiannopoulos’s own admis­sion, main­tain­ing a suf­fi­cient­ly believ­able dis­tance from overt racists and white nation­al­ists was cru­cial to the machine he had helped Ban­non build. As his pro­file rose, he attract­ed hordes of blaz­ing­ly racist social media fol­low­ers — the kind of peo­ple who harassed the black Ghost­busters actress Leslie Jones so severe­ly on Twit­ter that the plat­form banned Yiannopou­los for encour­ag­ing them.

    “Pro­tip on han­dling the end­less tide of 1488 scum,” Cur­tis Yarvin, the neo­re­ac­tionary thinker, wrote to Yiannopou­los in Novem­ber 2015. (“1488” is a ubiq­ui­tous white suprema­cist slo­gan; “88” stands for “Heil Hitler.”) “Deal with them the way some per­fect­ly tai­lored high-com­mu­nist NYT reporter han­dles a herd of greasy anar­chist hip­pies. Patron­iz­ing con­tempt. Your heart is in the right place, young lady, now get a show­er and shave those pits. The lib­er­al doesn’t purge the com­mu­nist because he hates com­mu­nism, he purges the com­mu­nist because the com­mu­nist is a pub­lic embar­rass­ment to him. … It’s not that he sees ene­mies to the left, just that he sees losers to the left, and losers rub off.”

    “Thanks re 1488,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed. “I have been strug­gling with this. I need to stay, if not clean, then clean enough.”
    ...

    By Yiannopoulos’s own admis­sion, main­tain­ing a suf­fi­cient­ly believ­able dis­tance from overt racists and white nation­al­ists was cru­cial to the machine he had helped Ban­non build. As his pro­file rose, he attract­ed hordes of blaz­ing­ly racist social media fol­low­ers — the kind of peo­ple who harassed the black Ghost­busters actress Leslie Jones so severe­ly on Twit­ter that the plat­form banned Yiannopou­los for encour­ag­ing them.”

    Note how Cur­tis Yarv­in’s advice on “han­dling the end­less tide of [open Nazi] 1488 scum,” (by telling them their hearts are in the right place but they need to clean up their image) prob­a­bly was­n’t lim­it­ed to Bre­it­bart giv­en the email exchange short­ly after the elec­tion where Yarvin talks about how he’s “coach­ing Thiel”:

    ...
    Yiannopou­los also had a pri­vate rela­tion­ship with the ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Peter Thiel, though he was more cir­cum­spect than some oth­er cor­re­spon­dents. After turn­ing down an appear­ance on Yiannopoulos’s pod­cast in May 2016 (Thiel: “Let’s just get cof­fee and take things from there”), Thiel invit­ed the Bre­it­bart tech edi­tor for din­ner at his Hol­ly­wood Hills home in June, a din­ner Yiannopou­los boast­ed of the same night to Ban­non: “You two should meet. … An obvi­ous can­di­date for movie financ­ing if we got exter­nal. … He has fuc ked [Gawk­er Media founder Nick] Den­ton & Gawk­er so many ways it brought a tear to my eye.” hey made plans to meet dur­ing the July Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion. But much of Yiannopoulos’s knowl­edge of Thiel seemed to come sec­ond­hand from oth­er right-wing activists, as well as Cur­tis Yarvin, the blog­ger who advo­cates the return of feu­dal­ism. In an email exchange short­ly after the elec­tion, Yarvin told Yiannopou­los that he had been “coach­ing Thiel.”

    “Peter needs guid­ance on pol­i­tics for sure,” Yiannopou­los respond­ed.

    “Less than you might think!” Yarvin wrote back. “I watched the elec­tion at his house, I think my hang­over last­ed into Tues­day. He’s ful­ly enlight­ened, just plays it very care­ful­ly.”

    And Yiannopou­los vent­ed pri­vate­ly after Thiel spoke at the RNC — an oppor­tu­ni­ty the younger man had craved. “No gays rule doesn’t apply to Thiel appar­ent­ly,” he wrote to a promi­nent Repub­li­can oper­a­tive in July 2016.

    Thiel declined to com­ment for the sto­ry.
    ...

    Keep in mind that one of the big sto­ries about the for­ma­tion of the Trump team was the pro­found influ­ence Peter Thiel had in shap­ing who would staff the Trump team. And we’ve already had reports about Yarv­in’s influ­ence on the Trump team post-elec­tion, but there was still a big of mys­tery over who Yarv­in’s inter­me­di­ary with Steven Ban­non was at the time. So this is anoth­er big hint about that mys­tery (which was nev­er real­ly much of a mys­tery since it was either going to be Thiel or Charles John­son).

    And final­ly, there’s Yiannopoulos’s Nazi-lov­ing pass­words:

    ...
    In an April 6 email, Allum Bokhari men­tioned hav­ing had access to an account of Yiannopoulos’s with “a pass­word that began with the word Kristall.” Kristall­nacht, an infa­mous 1938 riot against Ger­man Jews car­ried out by the SA — the para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion that helped Hitler rise to pow­er — is some­times con­sid­ered the begin­ning of the Holo­caust. In a June 2016 email to an assis­tant, Yiannopou­los shared the pass­word to his email, which began “LongKnives1290.” The Night of the Long Knives was the Nazi purge of the lead­er­ship of the SA. The purge famous­ly includ­ed Ernst Röhm, the SA’s gay leader. 1290 is the year King Edward I expelled the Jews from Eng­land.
    ...

    “LongKnives1290.” A pass­word that incor­pates both the Knight of the Long Knives Nazi purge with the 1290 expul­sion of Jews from Eng­land. Note that Yiannopoulis claims to be Jew­ish but iden­ti­fies as Catholic, not that any of that real­ly mat­ters since he’s clear­ly a Nazi troll at heart. But based on that pass­word choice it sure sounds like Yiannopou­los is pin­ing for some sort of GOP purge of ‘the Jews’, where ‘the Jews’ will pre­sum­ably be any GOP­er who isn’t ful­ly on board the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazi agen­da. And, sure enough, we appear to be on the verge of Steve Ban­non declar­ing ‘war’ on almost the GOP ‘estab­lish­ment’ and promis­ing to issue far(ther)-right pri­ma­ry chal­lengers against almost all GOP incum­bants in the upcom­ing 2018 mid term elec­tions.

    So might 2018 end up being “LongKnives2018” for the GOP con­gress? A year when the Breitbart/Mercer wing man­ages to secure even more con­trol over the par­ty? If so, it def­i­nite­ly won’t involve purg­ing more than two actu­al Jews (that’s all the GOP has left to purge).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 10, 2017, 3:01 pm
  35. Fol­low­ing up on that mas­sive Buz­zFeed piece about how Bre­it­bart active­ly worked with ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis like Andrew ‘the weev’ Auern­heimer and Cur­tis Yarvin for the pur­pose of main­stream­ing their ideas, Right Wing Watch has a new piece on a sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­na, where far right per­son­al­i­ty get main­streamed by osten­si­bly ‘main­stream’ con­ser­v­a­tives, tak­ing place on one of the biggest new medi­ums on the plan­et: YouTube:

    Right Wing Watch: In Focus

    White Suprema­cy Fig­ured Out How To Become YouTube Famous

    By Jared Holt
    Octo­ber 2017

    YouTube is home to a seem­ing­ly end­less vari­ety of videos that reach all kinds of view­ers and is creep­ing up on TV as the most watched video plat­form in the Unit­ed States. But as John Her­rman doc­u­ment­ed in The New York Times Mag­a­zine last month, polit­i­cal pun­dit­ry on YouTube is vast­ly dom­i­nat­ed by right-wing talk­ers. Some of the site’s notable right-wing polit­i­cal stars include the always-cam­era-ready men and women at the Infowars stu­dio, fre­quent­ly-shirt­less 4chan muse StyxHexxenHammer666, and elab­o­rate cos­play car­toon char­ac­ter “Mr. Dap­per­ton.” Although these fig­ures dif­fer vast­ly in for­mat and tone, their mes­sages are aligned exclu­sive­ly toward the hard, uncom­pro­mis­ing Right, and have been increas­ing­ly influ­enced by their even more extrem­ist coun­ter­parts on YouTube.

    Shoren­stein Cen­ter on Media fel­low Zach Elexy not­ed in a case study of YouTube com­men­ta­tor Black Pigeon Speaks that in the same way that “lib­er­als, schol­ars and pun­dits have failed to give talk radio—which is almost whol­ly conservative—its due,” those same observers “stand to miss a new plat­form that, so far, is also dom­i­nat­ed by the right wing.” Far-right YouTube per­son­al­i­ties are large­ly aware that they are at the epi­cen­ter of polit­i­cal talk on the plat­form, and open­ly gloat about their dom­i­nance.

    As a plat­form, YouTube has served as an alter­na­tive media ecosys­tem apart from the main­stream where any per­son can con­tribute to nation­al con­ver­sa­tion and reach thou­sands of peo­ple overnight. But the Right’s overt dom­i­na­tion of the plat­form, in addi­tion to polit­i­cal forums on Red­dit and 4chan, has cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment where white nation­al­ists and right-wing extrem­ists can eas­i­ly inject hate­ful rhetoric and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries into nation­al polit­i­cal dis­course by posi­tion­ing them­selves along­side less overt­ly hate­ful ris­ing right-wing media per­son­al­i­ties.

    These extrem­ists role­play as mod­ern-day shock-jock radio hosts as they insert their sex­ist, racist, big­ot­ed rhetoric—which they excuse by say­ing they are try­ing to “trig­ger” lib­er­als and fight for “free speech”—into the exist­ing stream of right-wing com­men­tary on YouTube. By suc­cess­ful­ly iden­ti­fy­ing how right-wing e‑celebrities oper­ate and col­lab­o­rate in the YouTube ecosys­tem, white nation­al­ists and white suprema­cists have cracked the code to achiev­ing YouTube suc­cess and get­ting their ideas val­i­dat­ed by more pop­u­lar inter­net fig­ures, and there­fore have embold­ened the polit­i­cal base they rep­re­sent and recruit­ed new audi­ences.

    The pun­dit­ry fac­tion of YouTube, much like cable news, thrives on col­lab­o­ra­tion and guest appear­ances on oth­er pun­dits’ chan­nels. These right-wing YouTube com­men­ta­tors believe that by bol­ster­ing one anoth­er they can break through “fake news” main­stream media nar­ra­tives and spread their own fla­vor of polit­i­cal analy­sis. The most extreme of these com­men­ta­tors will iden­ti­fy YouTube pun­dits slight­ly clos­er to cen­ter-Right than them, and appear on their pro­grams to share their view­points. They then use this access to a larg­er plat­form to recruit more peo­ple to their own pages, where they espouse extrem­ist views with even less restraint.

    In prac­tice, this means that some of the most pop­u­lar right-wing social media pun­dits have val­i­dat­ed white suprema­cists and eth­no-nation­al­ist voic­es by join­ing these extrem­ists on their pro­grams and allow­ing them to grow their audi­ences. And as a result, those voic­es have quick­ly recruit­ed a rad­i­cal­ized fol­low­ing and felt embold­ened to take their ide­olo­gies offline. The nation saw this dynam­ic play out with trag­ic results ear­li­er this year, when alt-right activists who had orga­nized online con­verged on Char­lottesville for a “Unite the Right” ral­ly that end­ed in the death of a counter-pro­test­er.

    On YouTube, major right-wing inter­net per­son­al­i­ties such as self-described “New Right jour­nal­ist” and social media per­son­al­i­ty Mike Cer­novich and Lau­ren South­ern, a for­mer reporter for Rebel Media, a news site that has act­ed as an alt-right safe space, val­i­date less­er known extrem­ists by pro­mot­ing them with their plat­forms, which reach mil­lions of peo­ple every month and rou­tine­ly earn expo­sure from main­stream press. Although these two are now attempt­ing to break away from their pri­or affil­i­a­tions with the alt-right, they have used their YouTube plat­forms to val­i­date and share ideas with open­ly alt-right pun­dits like Tara McCarthy, who believes a glob­al­ist agen­da is under­way to under­mine white peo­ple.

    In May, Cer­novich appeared on right-wing YouTu­ber Brit­tani Pettibone’s “Virtue of the West” pod­cast, which is ded­i­cat­ed to dis­cussing the white nation­al­ist ide­ol­o­gy of a vir­tu­ous West­ern world under attack by a lib­er­al agen­da. Cernovich’s appear­ance effec­tive­ly endorsed the legit­i­ma­cy of Pet­ti­bone and her for­mer co-host McCarthy to Cernovich’s much larg­er audi­ence and exposed poten­tial new fans to the duo, who open­ly express much more extrem­ist views than Cer­novich does.

    This trick­le-down effect is not lim­it­ed to Cer­novich. Many oth­er promi­nent right-wing social media per­son­al­i­ties have appeared on pro­grams like “Virtue of the West.” For exam­ple, video blog­ger Tarl War­wick, who is her­ald­ed on 4chan and pro­mot­ed by major video blog­gers like Paul Joseph Wat­son, has guid­ed his audi­ence to open­ly alt-right media plat­forms such as Red Ice. Dig­i­tal pun­dit Carl Ben­jamin, known best as “Sar­gon of Akkad,” has exposed his reg­u­lar audi­ence of hun­dreds of thou­sands of view­ers to white nation­al­ists and their hate­ful ide­olo­gies.

    This trick­le-down expo­sure effect is a char­ac­ter­is­tic of all media, but the lack of a gate­keep­er on social media has allowed unchecked extrem­ists like McCarthy to har­ness the pow­er grant­ed by voic­es such as Cer­novich to ele­vate open­ly white suprema­cist alt-right ide­olo­gies. Soon after McCarthy scored an inter­view with Cer­novich, she treat­ed her fol­low­ers to a con­ver­sa­tion with Andrew Anglin and Greg John­son of the neo-Nazi web­site The Dai­ly Stormer. (McCarthy’s inter­view with Anglin and John­son was lat­er removed from YouTube and re-uploaded off-site.)

    Cernovich’s appear­ance on “Virtue of the West” is not an iso­lat­ed event. Every day, all across YouTube, pop­u­lar pun­dits with large audi­ences and con­nec­tions to those in pow­er are engag­ing with, pro­mot­ing and val­i­dat­ing extrem­ist YouTube per­son­al­i­ties who seek to rad­i­cal­ize their audi­ences. and pro­mote extreme right-wing pol­i­tics.

    Ten­sions Rise, Blog­gers Flee As YouTube’s Efforts To Com­bat Extrem­ism Begin

    YouTube has been crit­i­cized for design­ing algo­rithms that are, as The Guardian report­ed, “draw­ing view­ers into ever more extreme con­tent, rec­om­mend­ing a suc­ces­sion of videos that can quick­ly take them into dark cor­ners of the inter­net,” and has been toy­ing with reme­dies that can effec­tive­ly iso­late extrem­ist and ter­ror­is­tic con­tent with­out cen­sor­ing speech on the site.

    In ear­ly August, YouTube announced it would no longer allow videos on its site that were flagged for “con­tro­ver­sial reli­gious or suprema­cist con­tent” to earn ad rev­enue and rack up views from the platform’s “rec­om­mend­ed videos” fea­ture. Since that announce­ment, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, alt-right activists and “new right” inter­net pun­dits have expressed out­rage.

    Videos these social media pun­dits cre­at­ed that meet YouTube’s cri­te­ria for extrem­ism have been placed in a “lim­it­ed state,” where they exist in a pur­ga­to­ry space with­out adver­tis­ing or video rec­om­men­da­tions, mean­ing only a direct link will bring view­ers to the video and that the con­tent cre­ator earns no rev­enue. YouTube’s action served to accom­plish two things: It removed finan­cial incen­tives for these per­son­al­i­ties to cater to extrem­ists, and it helped curb a rab­bit-hole effect in which the site’s algo­rithms rec­om­mend­ed increas­ing­ly more extrem­ist con­tent to oth­er­wise main­stream right-wing audi­ences and result­ed in right-wing extrem­ist YouTube stars receiv­ing oth­er­wise unearned expo­sure.

    Lead­ers of the right-wing polit­i­cal YouTube uni­verse crit­i­cized the pol­i­cy in a myr­i­ad of ways, even liken­ing it to Nazism. In a post announc­ing a nation­al protest against Google (which was lat­er can­celled), right-wing troll Jack Poso­biec claimed YouTube was “cen­sor­ing and silenc­ing dis­sent­ing voic­es by cre­at­ing ‘ghet­tos’ for videos ques­tion­ing the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive.” Right-wing vlog­ger Tarl War­wick claimed that the new “sup­pres­sion fea­ture” would be counter-pro­duc­tive to YouTube’s goals. Infowars edi­tors Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Wat­son gloat­ed that they reach mil­lions of view­ers and have made YouTube a “right-wing safe space” and that YouTube imple­ment­ed the new pol­i­cy because they “real­ized they were los­ing.”

    Now, extrem­ists and white suprema­cists ensnared by YouTube’s new pol­i­cy are threat­en­ing to leave YouTube and have begun host­ing their videos on alter­na­tive sites such as VidMe and BitChute. The migra­tion to video plat­forms friend­ly to the alt-right is sim­i­lar to an alt-right push last year to ditch Twit­ter and join “Gab.ai” after Twit­ter banned many white suprema­cist accounts. These extrem­ist YouTube stars have asked their fol­low­ers to join them on these new plat­forms and send them mon­ey on Patre­on (and alt-right alter­na­tive Hatere­on) to replace the rev­enue they were pre­vi­ous­ly earn­ing from YouTube adver­tis­ing. But as Busi­ness Insid­er report­ed, this effort has been so-far unsuc­cess­ful.

    ...

    The Extrem­ists Using YouTube To Get Famous

    Below is an intro­duc­tion to a few of the most promi­nent exam­ples of right-wing extrem­ists who have used YouTube to build large online fol­low­ings, some with the help of bet­ter known right-wing social media per­son­al­i­ties.

    Black Pigeon Speaks

    Black Pigeon Speaks (BPS) is an anony­mous YouTube vlog­ger based in Japan with hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers. Shoren­stein Cen­ter on Media fel­low Zach Elexy not­ed that BPS’s world­view “over­laps with old­er ideas from many diverse move­ments and ide­olo­gies such as white nation­al­ism, neo-Nazism, anti-Semi­tism, con­ser­vatism, clas­si­cal lib­er­al­ism, lib­er­tar­i­an­ism, and Chris­t­ian con­ser­vatism.” BPS does not out­ward­ly iden­ti­fy with any par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy, but fre­quent­ly reit­er­ates talk­ing points pop­u­lar among alt-right cir­cles, such as his belief that empow­ered women destroy civ­i­liza­tions, trans­gen­der peo­ple are men­tal­ly ill, and efforts for diver­si­ty erase West­ern cul­tures. BPS dis­trib­utes his videos to hun­dreds of thou­sands of sub­scribers.

    Blonde in the Bel­ly of the Beast

    Rebec­ca, who does not share her last name, is a YouTu­ber based in Seat­tle who has said the idea that “all cul­tures are equal” is “garbage.” On her Patre­on fundrais­ing page, Rebec­ca states that she has become “increas­ing­ly hos­tile this last decade as I real­ized that fem­i­nism, Islam, Cul­tur­al Marx­ism and unre­strict­ed tol­er­ance have incre­men­tal­ly erod­ed our once great soci­ety into some­thing unrec­og­niz­able.” On YouTube, she shares views about white iden­ti­ty, tells young women to aban­don fem­i­nism, and makes big­ot­ed argu­ments against migra­tion in Europe. Rebec­ca has more than 70,000 sub­scribers to her chan­nel and has been host­ed by far-right super­star Ste­fan Molyneux, alt-right extrem­ist Tara McCarthy, and alt-right media net­work Red Ice TV. She has also been pro­mot­ed numer­ous times on white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer’s site, AltRight.com.

    Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone

    Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone is a YouTube per­son­al­i­ty who refers to her­self as an “Amer­i­can nation­al­ist” but has expressed white nation­al­ist views, such as that it’s “our fault” if white peo­ple become a minor­i­ty race. She uses her plat­form to host even more unabashed white nation­al­ists and has appeared on extrem­ist out­lets like Red Ice. Pet­ti­bone has also per­pet­u­at­ed “white geno­cide” and “Piz­za­gate” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Although Pettibone’s per­son­al YouTube fol­low­ing is mod­est in com­par­i­son to oth­ers list­ed, she has been able to recruit many pop­u­lar pun­dits to appear on her “Virtue of the West” series, which until recent­ly was co-host­ed by open­ly alt-right pun­dit Tara McCarthy. Recent­ly, Pet­ti­bone joined for­mer Rebel Media reporter Lau­ren South­ern in anti-immi­grant group Defend Europe’s blun­der­ing effort to keep NGO boats full of refugees away from the Euro­pean coast.

    James All­sup

    James All­sup is a pop­u­lar YouTube per­son­al­i­ty with hun­dreds of thou­sands of sub­scribers who once deliv­ered a speech at a Trump cam­paign ral­ly. He was spot­ted along­side open white suprema­cists at the Unite the Right ral­ly last month, where he told Medi­aite that “white peo­ple are tired of being told by the cos­mopoli­tan elites that we are the prob­lem.” All­sup has used his YouTube chan­nel to host open­ly white suprema­cist guests such as Baked Alas­ka, an inter­net troll who reg­u­lar­ly espous­es Nazi pro­pa­gan­da memes, to sym­pa­thize with white nation­al­ist alt-right fig­ure Richard Spencer, and to deliv­er out­landish respons­es to dis­cus­sions about white priv­i­lege.

    Mil­len­ni­al Woes

    Col­in Robert­son, known online as Mil­len­ni­al Woes, is a Scot­tish video blog­ger who speaks open­ly of his alt-right iden­ti­ty and his con­cern that the white race will per­ish unless white peo­ple take actions to defend their cul­ture and pre­vent their race from diver­si­fy­ing. Ear­li­er this year, Robert­son was revealed to be a job­less ex-stu­dent who lives with his father. Robert­son spoke at the now-infa­mous con­fer­ence host­ed by Richard Spencer’s Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute where atten­dees shout­ed “Heil Trump!” while giv­ing Nazi salutes. He has been host­ed by pop­u­lar video blog­ger Carl “Sar­gon of Akkad” Ben­jamin, alt-right per­son­al­i­ty Tara McCarthy, white nation­al­ist blog­ger Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone, and alt-right broad­cast chan­nel Red Ice TV. Robert­son fre­quent­ly spreads white suprema­cist ideas, such as the notion that it is “exas­per­at­ing” to see white women with mixed-race chil­dren, and argues that believ­ing in racial equal­i­ty is “clear­ly delud­ing your­self.”

    Ramz­Paul

    Paul Ray Ram­sey, known as RamZ­Paul, is an inter­net per­son­al­i­ty who iden­ti­fies as alt-right and white nation­al­ist, and has spo­ken at mul­ti­ple events host­ed by the white suprema­cist group Amer­i­can Renais­sance. The South­ern Pover­ty Law cen­ter has iden­ti­fied Ram­sey as a “smil­ing Nazi” because of his pub­lic affil­i­a­tions with white suprema­cist fig­ures such as Amer­i­can Renais­sance founder Jared Tay­lor and Richard Spencer. Although Ram­sey no longer claims to iden­ti­fy as alt-right, days before the Unite the Right ral­ly in Char­lottesville he post­ed a video claim­ing that white peo­ple “will not be replaced.” Ram­sey was an ardent sup­port­er of alt-right Unite the Right ral­ly, has appeared on alt-right broad­cast net­work Red Ice TV, and has been inter­viewed by NPR and Buz­zFeed.

    Red Ice TV (Hen­rik Palm­gren and Lana Lok­t­eff)

    Herik Palm­gren, the Swedish host of Red Ice, found­ed the network—which simul­casts on YouTube—in 2003 to cater to peo­ple look­ing for “pro-Euro­pean” news. Lana Lok­t­eff, a Russ­ian co-host, joined the net­work in 2012. Red Ice TV is trans­par­ent­ly white nation­al­ist, with show titles like “Diver­si­ty Is a Weapon Against White Peo­ple” and “The War on Whites Is Real.” The net­work also fea­tures open­ly and bla­tant­ly white suprema­cist guests and serves as a gate­way for extrem­ist YouTube blog­gers seek­ing alt-right audi­ences.

    Tara McCarthy

    Tara McCarthy is a British YouTube per­son­al­i­ty who open­ly touts her affil­i­a­tion with the white suprema­cist alt-right. McCarthy hosts the “Real­i­ty Calls” pod­cast and for­mer­ly co-host­ed with Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone “Virtue of the West,” a show that func­tions both as a plat­form for pop­u­lar YouTube pun­dits and a crit­i­cal boost­er for many alt-right inter­net stars. McCarthy is one of the most bla­tant white suprema­cists on YouTube and often uses her plat­form to boost the voic­es of neo-Nazis, warn view­ers about a “white geno­cide con­spir­a­cy” and advo­cate that women sub­mit to sub­servient gen­der roles. McCarthy has also sug­gest­ed orga­niz­ing an alt-right men­tor­ship pro­gram to help guide young men who are explor­ing the move­ment. McCarthy is fre­quent­ly able to book pop­u­lar right-wing per­son­al­i­ties to appear on her chan­nel and shared screen time with pop­u­lar per­son­al­i­ties on “Virtue of the West.”

    Wife with a Pur­pose

    Ayla, who does not pub­licly share her last name, advo­cates for “rad­i­cal tra­di­tion­al­ism” on YouTube and her blog. Her blog warns that “fem­i­nism, homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, athe­ism, hedo­nism, and trans­gen­der-ism” have over­shad­owed the West­ern world’s “hard work and pri­or­i­ties of fam­i­ly and faith.” Ayla, who con­sid­ers her­self an alt-right poster girl, is best known for propos­ing to her audi­ence a “white baby chal­lenge.” Ayla, who is Mor­mon, claimed the Mor­mon church “turned it’s (sic) back on its white mem­bers” when it denounced white suprema­cy fol­low­ing the Unite the Right ral­ly in Char­lottesville. Ayla has been pro­mot­ed by alt-right broad­cast sta­tion Red Ice TV and right-wing blog­ger Brit­tany Pet­ti­bone.

    Peo­ple Who Enable The Hate

    Below is an intro­duc­tion to some of the most promi­nent right-wing social media per­son­al­i­ties who have used the pop­u­lar­i­ty of their own plat­forms to host peo­ple with even more extreme views, or who have appeared on plat­forms host­ed by extrem­ists. These fig­ures do not reg­u­lar­ly use their plat­forms to per­son­al­ly express par­tic­u­lar­ly racist or extrem­ist ide­olo­gies, but fre­quent­ly host guests or appear on plat­forms that do with min­i­mal crit­i­cism.

    Sar­gon of Akkad

    Carl Ben­jamin, best known as Sar­gon of Akkad (or “Sar­gon” for short), is a YouTube per­son­al­i­ty who rose to fame dur­ing the “gamer­gate” con­tro­ver­sy, which end­ed in death threats being sent to a female video game devel­op­er. Ben­jamin has hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers, with whom he shares anti-SJW (social jus­tice war­rior) rhetoric, crit­i­ciz­ing lib­er­als who express out­rage at offen­sive con­tent. Ben­jamin con­sid­ers him­self a “clas­si­cal lib­er­al,” but has expressed his fas­ci­na­tion with the racist alt-right and has shared his plat­form with bla­tant­ly alt-right fig­ures.

    Ste­fan Molyneux

    Ste­fan Molyneux is an author and vlog­ger with a large fol­low­ing on YouTube. He is a pop­u­lar fig­ure among “red-pilled” men’s right activists (“red pilled” is a term from the sci-fi movie The Matrix that refers to rec­og­niz­ing the bru­tal real­i­ties of the world rather than liv­ing in bliss­ful igno­rance), and iden­ti­fies him­self as a “race real­ist,” a com­mon euphemism among white suprema­cists. Although Molyneux’s polit­i­cal views are bent toward the unfor­giv­ing Right, his pri­ma­ry involve­ment in the spread of extrem­ism is his will­ing­ness to host open­ly alt-right extrem­ists, pro­vid­ing these fig­ures a big step toward online rel­e­van­cy.

    Roam­ing Mil­len­ni­al

    Roam­ing Mil­len­ni­al (RM) is an anony­mous Cana­di­an video blog­ger who uses her incred­i­bly pop­u­lar YouTube chan­nel to con­vey far-right talk­ing points that strad­dle the line of extrem­ism. RM’s videos have been ded­i­cat­ed to botched debunks of racial oppres­sion and gen­der inequal­i­ty, label­ing social jus­tice “can­cer,” and decry­ing non-tra­di­tion­al gen­der iden­ti­ty. Although RM does not iden­ti­fy as alt-right, she has wel­comed right-wing extrem­ists like Tara McCarthy to appear on her chan­nel.

    Styxhexenhammer666

    Tarl War­wick, or “Styx,” was an ear­ly arrival to YouTube in 2007 and now posts dai­ly polit­i­cal com­men­tary videos in which he espous­es nation­al­is­tic views to his audi­ence of more than 170,000 sub­scribers. War­wick is often her­ald­ed on the racist cesspool of 4chan and 8chan’s “polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect” forum boards, where he says he sources his news to “break the stran­gle­hold of the main­stream media.” War­wick has appeared on bla­tant­ly alt-right YouTube chan­nels with Red Ice hosts and Tara McCarthy. He does not denounce eth­no-nation­al­ism, but does not claim to per­son­al­ly believe in a white eth­no-state. Recent­ly, War­wick has been seen boost­ing his pro­file on Infowars and Ste­fan Molyneux’s chan­nel.

    ———-

    “White Suprema­cy Fig­ured Out How To Become YouTube Famous” by Jared Holt; Right Wing Watch; 10/2017

    Shoren­stein Cen­ter on Media fel­low Zach Elexy not­ed in a case study of YouTube com­men­ta­tor Black Pigeon Speaks that in the same way that “lib­er­als, schol­ars and pun­dits have failed to give talk radio—which is almost whol­ly conservative—its due,” those same observers “stand to miss a new plat­form that, so far, is also dom­i­nat­ed by the right wing.” Far-right YouTube per­son­al­i­ties are large­ly aware that they are at the epi­cen­ter of polit­i­cal talk on the plat­form, and open­ly gloat about their dom­i­nance.”

    Just as the polit­i­cal left in the US has inex­plic­a­bly large­ly aban­doned the talk radio plat­form to the right-wing, it appears that YouTube is being suc­cess­ful­ly turned into a right-wing dom­i­nat­ed for­mat too. So much so that YouTube, respond­ing to crit­i­cisms that its algo­rithms effec­tive­ly draw view­ers fur­ther and fur­ther into the far right, has start­ed remov­ing the finan­cial reward from videos flagged for “con­tro­ver­sial reli­gious or suprema­cist con­tent.” The videos can still be post­ed, but they don’t have ads so the poster won’t make any mon­ey. And this is lead­ing to threats to cre­ate a ‘Alt Right’ YouTube alter­na­tives:

    ...
    Ten­sions Rise, Blog­gers Flee As YouTube’s Efforts To Com­bat Extrem­ism Begin

    YouTube has been crit­i­cized for design­ing algo­rithms that are, as The Guardian report­ed, “draw­ing view­ers into ever more extreme con­tent, rec­om­mend­ing a suc­ces­sion of videos that can quick­ly take them into dark cor­ners of the inter­net,” and has been toy­ing with reme­dies that can effec­tive­ly iso­late extrem­ist and ter­ror­is­tic con­tent with­out cen­sor­ing speech on the site.

    In ear­ly August, YouTube announced it would no longer allow videos on its site that were flagged for “con­tro­ver­sial reli­gious or suprema­cist con­tent” to earn ad rev­enue and rack up views from the platform’s “rec­om­mend­ed videos” fea­ture. Since that announce­ment, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, alt-right activists and “new right” inter­net pun­dits have expressed out­rage.

    Videos these social media pun­dits cre­at­ed that meet YouTube’s cri­te­ria for extrem­ism have been placed in a “lim­it­ed state,” where they exist in a pur­ga­to­ry space with­out adver­tis­ing or video rec­om­men­da­tions, mean­ing only a direct link will bring view­ers to the video and that the con­tent cre­ator earns no rev­enue. YouTube’s action served to accom­plish two things: It removed finan­cial incen­tives for these per­son­al­i­ties to cater to extrem­ists, and it helped curb a rab­bit-hole effect in which the site’s algo­rithms rec­om­mend­ed increas­ing­ly more extrem­ist con­tent to oth­er­wise main­stream right-wing audi­ences and result­ed in right-wing extrem­ist YouTube stars receiv­ing oth­er­wise unearned expo­sure.

    Lead­ers of the right-wing polit­i­cal YouTube uni­verse crit­i­cized the pol­i­cy in a myr­i­ad of ways, even liken­ing it to Nazism. In a post announc­ing a nation­al protest against Google (which was lat­er can­celled), right-wing troll Jack Poso­biec claimed YouTube was “cen­sor­ing and silenc­ing dis­sent­ing voic­es by cre­at­ing ‘ghet­tos’ for videos ques­tion­ing the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive.” Right-wing vlog­ger Tarl War­wick claimed that the new “sup­pres­sion fea­ture” would be counter-pro­duc­tive to YouTube’s goals. Infowars edi­tors Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Wat­son gloat­ed that they reach mil­lions of view­ers and have made YouTube a “right-wing safe space” and that YouTube imple­ment­ed the new pol­i­cy because they “real­ized they were los­ing.”

    Now, extrem­ists and white suprema­cists ensnared by YouTube’s new pol­i­cy are threat­en­ing to leave YouTube and have begun host­ing their videos on alter­na­tive sites such as VidMe and BitChute. The migra­tion to video plat­forms friend­ly to the alt-right is sim­i­lar to an alt-right push last year to ditch Twit­ter and join “Gab.ai” after Twit­ter banned many white suprema­cist accounts. These extrem­ist YouTube stars have asked their fol­low­ers to join them on these new plat­forms and send them mon­ey on Patre­on (and alt-right alter­na­tive Hatere­on) to replace the rev­enue they were pre­vi­ous­ly earn­ing from YouTube adver­tis­ing. But as Busi­ness Insid­er report­ed, this effort has been so-far unsuc­cess­ful.
    ...

    We’ll see if any of these ‘Alt Right’ ver­sions of YouTube take off (it’s not going to be easy find­ing adver­tis­ers), but it’s worth recall­ing one of the schemes Steve Ban­non and Peter Thiel have in mind that relates to exact­ly this top­ic: reg­u­lat­ing Google and Face­book as pub­lic util­i­ties in order to force them to let any­one, regard­less of hate speech con­tent, to make mon­ey:

    Van­i­ty Fair

    Is Trump Mulling Peter Thiel for a Top Intel­li­gence Advi­so­ry Post?
    Ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Peter Thiel has been qui­et­ly advis­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion for months. Now—as sources say he could be in line for a top intel­li­gence over­sight role—Steve Ban­non, White House offi­cials, friends, and foes gauge the billionaire’s moti­va­tions, and his Wash­ing­ton mojo.
    by

    Adam Ciral­sky

    Sep­tem­ber 20, 2017 11:30 am

    ...

    Sources in the admin­is­tra­tion con­tend that more dis­rup­tion is com­ing. For starters, accord­ing to one senior White House advis­er, there has been seri­ous thought giv­en to whether Ama­zon, Google, and Face­book are, in fact, “pub­lic util­i­ties.” Said this senior offi­cial, “Maybe not Ama­zon, but cer­tain­ly Face­book and Google. They’re vir­tu­al­ly monop­o­lis­tic. And ‘anti-trust’ ought to take a hard look at them. . . . Is [their] data a pub­lic trust? Is infor­ma­tion now a com­mon good? You are going to see a big drum­beat on this. I’m not say­ing anything’s going to hap­pen, but it’s cer­tain­ly going to be looked at. That will be an air­burst over Broth­er Zucker­berg.”

    And how does such talk sit with Thiel, who has long­stand­ing inter­ests in Face­book? Said anoth­er senior admin­is­tra­tion aide, “Peter has indi­cat­ed that if he takes the P.I.A.B. posi­tion he intends to take a com­pre­hen­sive look at the U.S. intel­li­gence community’s infor­ma­tion-tech­nol­o­gy archi­tec­ture. He is super-con­cerned about Ama­zon and Google”—and Face­book, less so. “He feels they have become New Age glob­al fas­cists in terms of how they’re con­trol­ling the media, how they’re con­trol­ling infor­ma­tion flows to the pub­lic, even how they’re purg­ing peo­ple from think tanks. He’s con­cerned about the monop­o­lis­tic ten­den­cies of [all three] com­pa­nies and how they deny eco­nom­ic well-being to peo­ple they dis­agree with.” When I asked this source how like­ly it is that Thiel will assume the post, he answered, “He’s heav­i­ly lean­ing toward it. He feels there’s a lot of good he can do and it’s worth putting up with all the bull­shit and scruti­ny that will accom­pa­ny his appoint­ment.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Is Trump Mulling Peter Thiel for a Top Intel­li­gence Advi­so­ry Post?” by Adam Ciral­sky; Van­i­ty Fair; 09/20/2017

    And how does such talk sit with Thiel, who has long­stand­ing inter­ests in Face­book? Said anoth­er senior admin­is­tra­tion aide, “Peter has indi­cat­ed that if he takes the P.I.A.B. posi­tion he intends to take a com­pre­hen­sive look at the U.S. intel­li­gence community’s infor­ma­tion-tech­nol­o­gy archi­tec­ture. He is super-con­cerned about Ama­zon and Google”—and Face­book, less so. “He feels they have become New Age glob­al fas­cists in terms of how they’re con­trol­ling the media, how they’re con­trol­ling infor­ma­tion flows to the pub­lic, even how they’re purg­ing peo­ple from think tanks. He’s con­cerned about the monop­o­lis­tic ten­den­cies of [all three] com­pa­nies and how they deny eco­nom­ic well-being to peo­ple they dis­agree with.” When I asked this source how like­ly it is that Thiel will assume the post, he answered, “He’s heav­i­ly lean­ing toward it. He feels there’s a lot of good he can do and it’s worth putting up with all the bull­shit and scruti­ny that will accom­pa­ny his appoint­ment.””

    And keep in mind that the above arti­cle was most­ly about how Thiel might be tapped to become the hired of the Pres­i­den­tial Intel­li­gence Advi­so­ry Board, so when he talks about things he’d like to see the gov­ern­ment do he might be for­mal­ly join­ing that gov­ern­ment soon. So don’t be sur­prised if that ends up being a Trump agen­da item. Espe­cial­ly now that it’s very clear YouTube is an ‘Alt Right’ out­reach dream machine.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 11, 2017, 2:56 pm
  36. @Pterrafractyl–

    Bril­liant work, as usu­al. In this whole, dizzy­ing, nau­se­at­ing Nazi pan­theon, remem­ber that Red Ice media are run by Daniel Friberg, now a part­ner with Richard Spencer.

    He is part of the Carl Lund­strom, Joran Jer­mas, Julian Assange Wik­i­Fas­cist crew.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-951-fascism-2017-world-tour/

    Ain’t we got fun.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | October 11, 2017, 5:29 pm
  37. Here’s anoth­er recent arti­cle about the suc­cess­ful Bre­it­bart-led main­stream­ing of neo-Nazi ideals and how this process is being dri­ven by var­i­ous YouTube and social net­work ‘stars’. The arti­cle is about Patrik Her­mans­son, a Swedish grad­u­ate stu­dent and mem­ber of the anti-racist “Hope Not Hate”, who went under­cov­er in Sep­tem­ber or 2016, infil­trat­ing the secret meet­ings and gath­er­ings of the ‘Alt Right’ in the US and UK.

    This includ­ed attend­ing a pri­vate din­ner in the UK where reclu­sive Amer­i­can far-right fig­ure Greg John­son dis­cussed the main­stream­ing strat­e­gy and its suc­cess. Col­in Robert­son a.k.a. Mil­len­ni­al Woes — one of the YouTube starts men­tioned in the above Right Wing Watch piece on the net­work of far right YouTube stars — gave a talk at the din­ner talk about the impor­tance of putting for­ward a friend­ly, acces­si­ble face: “If we don’t appear like angry mis­fits, then we will end up mak­ing friend­ships with peo­ple who don’t agree with us.”. Yes, the same guy who gets exas­per­at­ed see­ing white women with mixed-race chil­dren feels the need to not appear like an angry mis­fit in order to make friends. And appar­ent­ly this strat­e­gy is work­ing.

    Anoth­er inter­est­ing inter­ac­tion Her­mans­son man­aged to doc­u­ment dur­ing his time under­cov­er was with Jason Reza Jor­jani, a founder, along with the Amer­i­can white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer and oth­ers, of the AltRight Cor­po­ra­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished to fos­ter coop­er­a­tion and coor­di­na­tion among alt-right groups in Europe and North Amer­i­ca. Accord­ing to Jor­jani, “We had con­nec­tions in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion — we were going to do things!” And while Jor­jani claims that his fel­low neo-Nazis are now cut off from the White House, he admit­ted that, “Our orig­i­nal vision was the alt-right would become like a pol­i­cy group for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion,” and Steven Ban­non as the “inter­face” with the admin­is­tra­tion.

    The arti­cle also talks about the impor­tance of the more mod­er­ate extrem­ists (the ‘alt lite’) in pro­mot­ing this main­stream­ing agen­da, with fig­ures like Milo Yiannopou­los and Mike Cer­novich play­ing a key role in being social­ly ‘accept­able’ fig­ures who act as gate­way drugs to the more overt neo-Nazi per­son­al­i­ties and ideas:

    The New York Times

    Under­cov­er With the Alt-Right

    By JESSE SINGAL
    SEPT. 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

    ...

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

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

    Mr. John­son lat­er expressed con­fi­dence that this process is work­ing. “I see the upward curve in web traf­fic, and the upward trend in qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of younger peo­ple get­ting involved,” he told Mr. Her­mans­son in con­ver­sa­tion cap­tured on hid­den-cam­era footage. (Dur­ing that same chat, he said he believed in eth­nic home­lands and favored telling Jews, “You need to go to Israel or we’re going to freeze you out of our soci­ety.”)

    This goal of main­stream­ing is an abid­ing fix­a­tion of the far right, whose mem­bers are well aware of the prob­lems their move­ment has had with attract­ing young peo­ple in recent decades. At one point in Mr. Hermansson’s footage, Col­in Robert­son, a far-right YouTube per­son­al­i­ty who goes by the name Mil­len­ni­al Woes, explained to an old­er extrem­ist the impor­tance of putting for­ward a friend­ly, acces­si­ble face: “If we don’t appear like angry mis­fits, then we will end up mak­ing friend­ships with peo­ple who don’t agree with us,” he said.

    Some of Mr. Hermansson’s most arrest­ing footage comes from a June meet­ing with Jason Reza Jor­jani, a founder, along with the Amer­i­can white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer and oth­ers, of the AltRight Cor­po­ra­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished to fos­ter coop­er­a­tion and coor­di­na­tion among alt-right groups in Europe and North Amer­i­ca.

    Mr. Her­mans­son and Mr. Jor­jani met at an Irish pub near the Empire State Build­ing, where the baby-faced Mr. Jor­jani imag­ined a near future in which, thanks to lib­er­al com­pla­cen­cy over the migra­tion cri­sis, Europe re-embraces fas­cism: “We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bona­parte, Alexan­der the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexan­der, not like some weird mon­ster who is unique in his own cat­e­go­ry — no, he is just going to be seen as a great Euro­pean leader.”

    More shock­ing­ly, Mr. Jor­jani bragged about his con­tacts in the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment. “We had con­nec­tions in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion — we were going to do things!” he said at one point. “I had con­tacts with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion,” he said at anoth­er.

    “Our orig­i­nal vision was the alt-right would become like a pol­i­cy group for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion,” he explained, and the admin­is­tra­tion fig­ure “who was the inter­face was Steve Ban­non.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he told Mr. Her­mans­son, the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment was “dis­con­nect­ing us from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, almost com­plete­ly.” (In June, Mr. Ban­non hadn’t yet left the White House and returned to Bre­it­bart, the pop­u­lar and ardent­ly pro-Trump far-right out­let he had led before his time work­ing for Mr. Trump.)

    When I called Mr. Jor­jani, he was cagi­er about his “con­nec­tions” and “con­tacts” in the White House. All he meant, he said, was that he had been in touch with peo­ple who had a direct line to Pres­i­dent Trump, though he wouldn’t say who. Asked to com­ment, a White House spokes­woman said, “We have no knowl­edge of any con­ver­sa­tions or con­tact with this per­son.”

    Either way, Mr. Jor­jani said, with the ousters of Michael Fly­nn in Feb­ru­ary and then Mr. Ban­non in August, he now views the alt-right’s efforts to carve out a place in the White House as hav­ing failed. (Mr. Jor­jani resigned from the AltRight Cor­po­ra­tion in August.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Under­cov­er With the Alt-Right” by JESSE SINGAL; The New York Times; 09/19/2017

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

    Going under­cov­er to hang out with neo-Nazis. It had to be rather unset­tling going to pri­vate neo-Nazi din­ners, watch­ing them all get drunk, and then lis­ten­ing to YouTube star “Mil­len­ni­al Woes”, a guy who gets angry at the sight of mixed race peo­ple, talk­ing about the impor­tance of not act­ing like an angry mis­fit:

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

    Mr. John­son lat­er expressed con­fi­dence that this process is work­ing. “I see the upward curve in web traf­fic, and the upward trend in qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of younger peo­ple get­ting involved,” he told Mr. Her­mans­son in con­ver­sa­tion cap­tured on hid­den-cam­era footage. (Dur­ing that same chat, he said he believed in eth­nic home­lands and favored telling Jews, “You need to go to Israel or we’re going to freeze you out of our soci­ety.”)

    This goal of main­stream­ing is an abid­ing fix­a­tion of the far right, whose mem­bers are well aware of the prob­lems their move­ment has had with attract­ing young peo­ple in recent decades. At one point in Mr. Hermansson’s footage, Col­in Robert­son, a far-right YouTube per­son­al­i­ty who goes by the name Mil­len­ni­al Woes, explained to an old­er extrem­ist the impor­tance of putting for­ward a friend­ly, acces­si­ble face: “If we don’t appear like angry mis­fits, then we will end up mak­ing friend­ships with peo­ple who don’t agree with us,” he said.
    ...

    And then Her­mans­son had to meet with peo­ple like Jason Reza Jor­jani at Irish pubs so they could brag about their inside con­tacts with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and how “Our orig­i­nal vision was the alt-right would become like a pol­i­cy group for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion”:

    ...
    Some of Mr. Hermansson’s most arrest­ing footage comes from a June meet­ing with Jason Reza Jor­jani, a founder, along with the Amer­i­can white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer and oth­ers, of the AltRight Cor­po­ra­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished to fos­ter coop­er­a­tion and coor­di­na­tion among alt-right groups in Europe and North Amer­i­ca.

    Mr. Her­mans­son and Mr. Jor­jani met at an Irish pub near the Empire State Build­ing, where the baby-faced Mr. Jor­jani imag­ined a near future in which, thanks to lib­er­al com­pla­cen­cy over the migra­tion cri­sis, Europe re-embraces fas­cism: “We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bona­parte, Alexan­der the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexan­der, not like some weird mon­ster who is unique in his own cat­e­go­ry — no, he is just going to be seen as a great Euro­pean leader.”

    More shock­ing­ly, Mr. Jor­jani bragged about his con­tacts in the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment. “We had con­nec­tions in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion — we were going to do things!” he said at one point. “I had con­tacts with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion,” he said at anoth­er.

    “Our orig­i­nal vision was the alt-right would become like a pol­i­cy group for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion,” he explained, and the admin­is­tra­tion fig­ure “who was the inter­face was Steve Ban­non.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he told Mr. Her­mans­son, the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment was “dis­con­nect­ing us from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, almost com­plete­ly.” (In June, Mr. Ban­non hadn’t yet left the White House and returned to Bre­it­bart, the pop­u­lar and ardent­ly pro-Trump far-right out­let he had led before his time work­ing for Mr. Trump.)

    When I called Mr. Jor­jani, he was cagi­er about his “con­nec­tions” and “con­tacts” in the White House. All he meant, he said, was that he had been in touch with peo­ple who had a direct line to Pres­i­dent Trump, though he wouldn’t say who. Asked to com­ment, a White House spokes­woman said, “We have no knowl­edge of any con­ver­sa­tions or con­tact with this per­son.”
    ...

    “All he meant, he said, was that he had been in touch with peo­ple who had a direct line to Pres­i­dent Trump, though he wouldn’t say who.”

    It’s anoth­er round of Guess the White House Cryp­to-Nazi! Steve Ban­non? Peter Thiel? Charles John­son? Per­haps Cur­tis Yarvin? Michael Fly­nn Junior? Sebas­tion Gor­ka? Who could it be?

    And while it the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis are cur­rent­ly com­plain­ing about the Trump admin­is­tra­tion not ful­ly liv­ing up to their full blown neo-Nazi ambi­tions, let’s not for­get that hav­ing move­ment lead­ers who don’t act like a full blown neo-Nazi is part of the ‘Alt Right’s’ long-term strat­e­gy:

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

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

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

    If Patrik Her­mansson’s under­cov­er work was part of his grad­u­ate degree work he cer­tain­ly earned it.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, Her­mans­son was­n’t the only per­son to go under­cov­er and report on this same ‘Alt Lite’-meets-‘Alt Right’ white suprema­cist net­work. David Lewis, a jour­nal­ist in Seat­tle, also man­aged to sneak into a Seat­tle meet­ing of this net­work by pre­tend­ing to be a white suprema­cist film mak­er. This one was host­ed by the same Dr. Greg John­son who spoke at UK pri­vate din­ner Her­mans­son attend­ed.
    It sounds like Lewis had a pret­ty sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence to Her­mans­son, but it’s worth not­ing the “secret-agent” agen­da Lewis was exposed to when he expressed reser­va­tions about using his film mak­ing skills for the white nation­al­ist cause: As John­son put it, that’s total­ly fine. Lewis can just be one of the many “secret-agents”: white nation­al­ists meet in secret at con­ven­tions while pay­ing “lip ser­vice to diver­si­ty” at their day jobs. This allows them to get into posi­tions of pow­er where they can hire oth­er racists and keep non-whites from get­ting into the com­pa­ny. That’s the plan. A Good ‘ol neo-Nazi Boy secret net­work:

    The Stranger

    We Snuck into Seat­tle’s Super Secret White Nation­al­ist Con­ven­tion

    by David Lewis
    Oct 4, 2017

    Back in Jan­u­ary, I e‑mailed Dr. Greg John­son, orga­niz­er of North­west Forum, Seattle’s hottest closed-door white nation­al­ist con­ven­tion, ask­ing for an inter­view on the lat­est in region­al racism. He turned me down. Thanks to the inter­net, the far right no longer needs the main­stream media to get its mes­sage out. Print, tele­vi­sion, and radio lose their rel­e­vance when everybody’s just a click away from Pepe the Frog, Dis­ney songs dubbed with racist lyrics, and pseu­do-intel­lec­tu­al essays that some­how try to bring ancient Rome into all this.

    Also thanks to the inter­net, it only took me about an hour to change my iden­ti­ty from David Lewis, Seat­tle his­to­ri­an, to Dave Lewis, Neo-Nazi film edi­tor and aspir­ing book crit­ic from Char­lottesville, cur­rent­ly liv­ing in Los Ange­les. This Dave Lewis has nev­er been to Seat­tle, but has always want­ed to attend North­west Forum.

    My film edi­tor per­sona dan­gled a giant chunk of cheese in front of Dr. John­son. In addi­tion to being a racist, John­son is also a huge cinephile who has pub­lished two books of “pro-white” movie reviews where­in he rants against Zootopia as “pure evil” but sur­pris­ing­ly enjoyed 8 Mile. The role of film edi­tor also worked to my advan­tage because, despite a recent fundrais­ing spike, the white nation­al­ist move­ment still has a hard time attract­ing peo­ple with artis­tic or tech­ni­cal tal­ent.

    Dr. John­son bit the cheese. Entry into North­west Forum typ­i­cal­ly requires “extreme vet­ting,” which means meet­ing in per­son and get­ting a beer with one of the Northwest’s white sep­a­ratist orga­ni­za­tions like True Cas­ca­dia. But I didn’t even have to send in a pho­to after men­tion­ing that, as a Char­lottesville native (actu­al­ly from Bal­lard), I was writ­ing an essay titled Tear Down Lee and Put Up Lin­coln: Abra­ham Lin­coln, World’s Great­est White Nation­al­ist. The essay actu­al­ly wasn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. One of Abra­ham Lincoln’s main objec­tions to slav­ery was that it led to mis­ce­gena­tion, and he believed in deport­ing all the freed slaves to Haiti or Liberia as soon as the war was over. As the abo­li­tion­ist Fred­er­ick Dou­glas put it, African-Amer­i­cans were “at best only his stepchil­dren.”

    My e‑mail invite list­ed the forum for August 26th at noon, the same day Black Lives Mat­ter activists planned a march to Lake View Ceme­tery to protest the Con­fed­er­ate Civ­il War memo­r­i­al. Only the stat­ed loca­tion aroused my sus­pi­cions, since the invite said we would be meet­ing at the Queen Anne Pub­lic Library, and pol­i­cy dic­tates that library events have to be open to the pub­lic. A white nation­al­ist con­ven­tion def­i­nite­ly wasn’t the kind of thing you’d want Joe Seat­tle to stum­ble in on after he fin­ish­es pirat­ing CDs onto his lap­top. Nev­er­the­less, as I got clos­er to the library, I noticed sev­er­al young white dudes sport­ing the “fashy” hair­cut, pre­vi­ous­ly known as a “Mack­le­more.” A look­out Nazi in a white polo shirt stood on the front lawn, twirling his curly tech-dick mus­tache. He noticed my white polo, which like the “Mack­le­more,” is now asso­ci­at­ed with white nation­al­ism. Just to scrub out any doubt, I was also car­ry­ing a copy of the 1958 Neo-Nazi clas­sic The Light­ning and the Sun. “Are you here for the thing?” He asked. They were real­ly going all out on the secret agent stuff. I nod­ded and he point­ed me across the street to an ear­ly-20th cen­tu­ry Mason­ic Lodge with dozens of oth­er white nation­al­ists head­ing through the door­way. Dr. John­son said he told the Masons this was a writ­ers group.

    Orig­i­nal­ly built by the tele­phone com­pa­ny in 1900, the lodge was refur­bished by the Masons in 1927. Upon enter­ing, a woman who looked like a griz­zled wait­ress from a black and white movie hit me up for a $40 admis­sion fee (not men­tioned in my invi­ta­tion). Women, it turns out, are only slight­ly more com­mon than black peo­ple at white nation­al­ist con­ven­tions.

    Of the 70 to 80 peo­ple in the lodge, only about four were female. By far the one who creeped me out the most was a five-year-old girl in white dress clomp­ing around in pink boots with her blond hair in a pink rib­bon who played Beethoven on the piano. When she walked by in her white dress eat­ing a white Top Pot donut, the fawn­ing look of admi­ra­tion she received from Dr. John­son see­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of white suprema­cy made my jaw drop. One of my new friends noticed the look on my face:

    DL: Sor­ry, I’m just not used to see­ing kids at these things.
    NAZI: You wouldn’t see her if this was an Antifa ral­ly.
    DL: Yeah, she’d be wear­ing a lit­tle black ban­dana.
    NAZI: No. She’d be a fuc king abor­tion.

    Vir­tu­al­ly every time I use the word “Nazi” I’m using it as an insult. In the world of mil­len­ni­al white nation­al­ism, there aren’t a ton of peo­ple who actu­al­ly self-iden­ti­fy as Nazis. Despite usu­al­ly agree­ing with every­thing the Nazis did and believ­ing the Holo­caust is just “anti-white pro­pa­gan­da,” they always claim a tech­ni­cal rea­son for why they aren’t “Nation­al Social­ists.” None of these rea­sons would ever make sense to any­body out­side the com­mu­ni­ty and “I’m not a Nazi, but” is one of the most com­mon white nation­al­ist recruit­ment tricks to have peo­ple hear them out.

    White nation­al­ists gen­er­al­ly don’t want to look like char­ac­ters out of Amer­i­can His­to­ry X any­more. Fash­ion choic­es at the con­ven­tion ranged from Ruby Ridge to Mad Men, but most of the peo­ple there looked like you might run into them on Capi­tol Hill or in the U‑District. That said, there is a type. Accord­ing to my obser­va­tions, the stan­dard Seat­tle Nazi is a white male under 30 who either works in the tech indus­try or is going to school to work in the tech indus­try. “You’re also a coder? Do you mind if I send you some­thing I’ve been work­ing on?” I heard that more than once.

    Nobody at the con­ven­tion looked less like a Nazi than orga­niz­er Greg John­son in his sports coat and open-col­lared shirt. Before the forum I didn’t even know what the for­mer phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor Dr. John­son looked like, as he is extreme­ly good at keep­ing pic­tures of him­self off the inter­net. Before an under­cov­er Swedish activist work­ing for Hope Not Hate secret­ly filmed him as part of a year­long inves­ti­ga­tion into inter­na­tion­al white nation­al­ism, the only pic­ture of John­son any­where on the inter­net was a heav­i­ly blown up pho­to of him from his pro­fes­sor days on a Neo-Nazi web­site accus­ing him of being gay, call­ing him “Grinder Greg John­son.” (The own­er of the web­site is appar­ent­ly unaware that Grindr is spelled with­out an “e”.) Whether he is actu­al­ly gay and whether that’s an issue are among the more divi­sive ques­tions in the white nation­al­ist com­mu­ni­ty.

    When not fight­ing for the white eth­no-state, Dr. John­son lives an extreme­ly NPR lifestyle filled with world trav­el, vis­its to art gal­leries, and opera. Talk­ing to him, his col­lege phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor back­ground comes out. He even rec­om­mend­ed a bet­ter trans­la­tion of Giambat­tista Vico’s New Sci­ence to me, and dis­cussed Vico’s influ­ence on James Joyce. If not for sprin­kles of racial and anti-semit­ic slurs, he looks and acts exact­ly like some­one you would run into at the Hugo House. While most white nation­al­ists think John­son keeps his iden­ti­ty secret because they think he is gay, he prob­a­bly just doesn’t want to be rec­og­nized dur­ing inter­mis­sion at the Seat­tle Sym­pho­ny.

    Peo­ple attend the forum to meet the vis­it­ing blue chip racists that Dr. John­son flies in. Notable guests have includ­ed Iden­ti­ty Evropa founder Nathan Dami­go and anti-semit­ic pro­fes­sor Kevin Mac­Don­ald. The forum I attend­ed fea­tured Jared Tay­lor, founder and edi­tor of the online white nation­al­ist mag­a­zine Amer­i­can Renais­sance, fresh from his VICE inter­view with Eddie Huang. One of the world’s lead­ing advo­cates for sci­en­tif­ic racism, Tay­lor is unique among white nation­al­ists in that he believes East Asians to be objec­tive­ly supe­ri­or to whites. He signed some copies of his books in Japan­ese, hav­ing grown up in Japan to mis­sion­ary par­ents and devel­op­ing flu­en­cy in the lan­guage.

    Vis­it­ing speak­ers have been sur­prised by the turn out in Seat­tle. Tay­lor told me that the meet­ing was actu­al­ly big­ger than sim­i­lar events he has attend­ed around the coun­try. In a pod­cast fol­low­ing an ear­li­er forum, Kevin Mac­Don­ald said he was impressed by both the turn out and supe­ri­or qual­i­ty of the atten­dees. Orig­i­nal­ly, Dr. John­son planned on hav­ing a forum in Seat­tle on the even-num­bered months and a forum in New York City on the odd-numbed months, but recent­ly decid­ed he might pull the NYC forum because it is much hard­er to fill a venue in New York than in Seat­tle, despite the Big Apple hav­ing almost 8 mil­lion more peo­ple. The sur­pris­ing num­ber of racists in lib­er­al cities first occurred to John­son years ago. He was work­ing for a “high­brow” white nation­al­ist mag­a­zine and noticed that many of their read­ers lived close to one anoth­er with­out know­ing they had neigh­bors who shared their racist inter­ests. John­son set out to bring these peo­ple togeth­er in pri­vate. Seat­tleites, even the ones who love Hitler, hate con­fronta­tion.

    Speak­ing of Hitler, while at the bar get­ting cof­fee and Top Pot donuts, I noticed Seattle’s Hitler tea-pot guy, Charles Krafft, stood right behind me. In 2013, the art crit­ic Jen Graves revealed in The Stranger that Krafft’s Nazi-inspired ceram­ic art might not be iron­ic. While Krafft does not iden­ti­fy as a “Nation­al Social­ist” or believe his work to be pro-Nazi (he also does teapots of Kim Jong Il, Charles Man­son, and Amy Wine­house), he is also a Holo­caust denier who puts stock in con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about elab­o­rate plans for Jews to con­trol the world. So the short answer is he is a white nation­al­ist. As a result of his views, art shows that would for­mer­ly have been hon­ored to have Krafft 86ed him, includ­ing one in Lon­don that can­celled on him right before the con­ven­tion. What cred he’s lost in the art com­mu­ni­ty he has more than recov­ered among white nation­al­ists. He has become a sta­ple at North­west Forum, known for hold­ing before-par­ties at his house, which he rents from a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can land­lord.

    Unlike Dr. John­son, Krafft has no prob­lem open­ly giv­ing inter­views about north­west white nation­al­ism. I’d spo­ken with Krafft for a pod­cast two years ear­li­er, so he was the only per­son at the forum who could pos­si­bly iden­ti­fy me. My first thought upon see­ing him was how I had to stay as far away from him as pos­si­ble, but my sec­ond thought was how much white nation­al­ism has changed in the North­west since two years ago.

    When I’d asked Krafft back in 2015 how many white nation­al­ists resided in Seat­tle, he respond­ed “not many.” The only local voice for white sep­a­ratism was the laugh­ably uncharis­mat­ic Harold Cov­ing­ton of North­west Front, who accord­ing to Krafft, asks peo­ple for mon­ey imme­di­ate­ly upon meet­ing them. Sur­pris­ing­ly, some white nation­al­ist cir­cles now hold Harold Cov­ing­ton in high regard. That’s espe­cial­ly true among younger fol­low­ers (includ­ing the church shoot­er Dylann Roof). His “racial­ly aware” North­west sci-fi nov­els are required read­ing among con­ven­tion atten­dees. Some have read all of them. To prep for the forum, I planned on read­ing Cov­ing­ton’s best-known works. I start­ed with a young adult nov­el about a delin­quent and his cheer­leader girl­friend in the Seat­tle race war, but gave up after forty pages because the book is unread­able.

    Enough min­gling! It was time for the speech­es on the sec­ond floor. Dr. John­son announced that every­thing we were about to hear was total­ly off the record and not to be shared with any­body out­side our cir­cle of racists. Did this mean I would have to turn off the tape recorder that had been run­ning in my back­pack for the last 3 hours? Bet­ter not ask.

    The first speak­er to come up was Tay­lor (who dur­ing the break had per­formed a stun­ning act by using the ladies’ room after all the bull­shit I’d been lis­ten­ing to about how gen­der-neu­tral bath­rooms are destroy­ing Amer­i­ca. Though, to be fair, hav­ing a ladies’ room at an event like this is super­flu­ous any­way). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the super-secret, closed-door Nazi plan didn’t turn out to be near­ly as tit­il­lat­ing as you’d want. Speak­ers encour­aged fol­low­ers to take the Gand­hi approach and con­tin­ue get­ting punched in the face a la Richard Spencer. The media will have no choice but to turn to its side, their rea­son­ing went. Tay­lor, Dr. John­son, and the oth­er speak­ers are all pret­ty mar­ried to this strat­e­gy. They also dis­ap­prove of their fol­low­ers using eth­nic slurs in pub­lic because it gives the media sound­bites to latch onto.

    Much bleak­er is Dr. Johnson’s Seat­tle-suit­able, “secret agent” racism plan. Basi­cal­ly, white nation­al­ists meet in secret at con­ven­tions like North­west Forum while pay­ing “lip ser­vice to diver­si­ty” at their day jobs. They move into posi­tions of pow­er where they can hire oth­er racists and keep non-whites from get­ting into the com­pa­ny. Two years ago, this method would have seemed like a total joke, but these guys real­ly do most­ly work in tech, and they were doing a lot of net­work­ing. When talk­ing about the peo­ple he has coun­seled on the “secret agent” method, Dr. John­son has writ­ten that they include “col­lege pro­fes­sors, writ­ers, artists, design­ers, pub­lish­ers, cre­ative peo­ple work­ing in the film indus­try, busi­ness­men, and pro­fes­sion­als, some of them quite promi­nent in their fields.” When I told Dr. John­son I was reluc­tant to use my super film edit­ing skills (I can’t even work iMovie) for the move­ment because I was afraid I would be out­ed in Hol­ly­wood he said, “You know, you can always be a secret agent, there’s no shame in that.”

    ...

    From a clin­i­cal view­point, I was sort of impressed by Dr. Johnson’s recruit­ment approach. For­mer skin­head move­ments fiz­zled out because, in addi­tion to requir­ing fanat­i­cal racism from their fol­low­ers, they also required severe lifestyle changes like going off to live in sur­vival­ist com­pounds or being a Nazi 24/7. The John­son Seat­tle approach to racism is more like, “let’s get a cake for Hitler’s birth­day after pick­ing the kids up from soc­cer prac­tice,” mak­ing it more com­pat­i­ble with the way a lot of these peo­ple already live and the way they grew up.

    Twen­ty min­utes after we fin­ished eat­ing, it was time to go and the Wise Old Man looked around con­fused. “When is the food com­ing?” He can remem­ber all kinds of Zion­ist con­spir­a­cies, but he can’t remem­ber that he ate 15 min­utes ago. By sit­ting at the table with him, I had missed out on all kinds of invalu­able far-rightwing gos­sip blurt­ed at Dr. Johnson’s table. By the time I got there, most of the blue chip guests had left and John­son was sit­ting alone with the tick­et woman, doo­dling flow­ers and smi­ley faces on his paper menu. We made plans to meet for cof­fee or lunch the next day, but when the loca­tion was changed to Charles Krafft’s house, I made up the excuse that I was going to Wild Waves that day.

    At the time, I did­n’t real­ize I wasn’t the only under­cov­er reporter at North­west Forum. At the June forum they’d let in a much bet­ter look­ing, bet­ter fund­ed, Antifa activist all the way from Swe­den, equipped with James Bond-qual­i­ty cam­eras and sound equip­ment.

    Orig­i­nal­ly, I’d got­ten into this because I’m work­ing on a Seat­tle his­to­ry book and want­ed a chap­ter on North­west racism. It def­i­nite­ly did not occur to me that a local news sto­ry about white nation­al­ists who want to take over Amer­i­ca but can’t screen out reporters would have inter­na­tion­al appeal. Nev­er­the­less, Greg John­son became the top sto­ry in the New York Times when the paper revealed that the Swedish spy had actu­al­ly filmed him, the only thing in the North­west hard­er to get on cam­era than Big­foot. Dr. John­son actu­al­ly has a WAY big­ger fol­low­ing all over the world than I ever would have thought. In the two years since I’d inter­viewed Charles Krafft, Seat­tle had some­how gone from vir­tu­al­ly no open racists (although I’ve worked retail at places with pret­ty open whites only man­age­ment poli­cies) to being the kind of place to which you’d trav­el all the way from Swe­den to study a new style of racism. The city’s real­ly chang­ing.

    ———-

    “We Snuck into Seat­tle’s Super Secret White Nation­al­ist Con­ven­tion” by David Lewis; The Stranger; 10/04/2017

    “Much bleak­er is Dr. Johnson’s Seat­tle-suit­able, “secret agent” racism plan. Basi­cal­ly, white nation­al­ists meet in secret at con­ven­tions like North­west Forum while pay­ing “lip ser­vice to diver­si­ty” at their day jobs. They move into posi­tions of pow­er where they can hire oth­er racists and keep non-whites from get­ting into the com­pa­ny. Two years ago, this method would have seemed like a total joke, but these guys real­ly do most­ly work in tech, and they were doing a lot of net­work­ing. When talk­ing about the peo­ple he has coun­seled on the “secret agent” method, Dr. John­son has writ­ten that they include “col­lege pro­fes­sors, writ­ers, artists, design­ers, pub­lish­ers, cre­ative peo­ple work­ing in the film indus­try, busi­ness­men, and pro­fes­sion­als, some of them quite promi­nent in their fields.” When I told Dr. John­son I was reluc­tant to use my super film edit­ing skills (I can’t even work iMovie) for the move­ment because I was afraid I would be out­ed in Hol­ly­wood he said, “You know, you can always be a secret agent, there’s no shame in that.””

    So was we can see, the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis aren’t sim­ply exe­cut­ing a plan of ‘com­ing out’ on the inter­net and using ‘Alt Lite’ per­son­al­i­ties to chan­nel traf­fic to these ‘out’ indi­vid­u­als. They’re also using this com­ing out agen­da to increas­ing­ly coor­di­nate, in secret, for the pur­pose of devel­op­ing a secret net­work of racists who hide their views so they can gain pow­er and then secret­ly coor­di­nate with all the oth­er pow­er­ful secret racists to fur­ther that agen­da.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 12, 2017, 3:27 pm
  38. This news report talks about Kather­ine Gorka’s poten­tial pol­i­cy influ­ence. One can con­clude that despite Sebas­t­ian Gorka’s ouster from the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion, Kather­ine Gorka’s posi­tion in Home­land Secu­ri­ty poten­tial­ly is a very sub­stan­tial infil­tra­tion by the Under­ground Reich into the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Estab­lish­ment and its law enforec­ment poli­cies, designed to focus on Islam­ic extrem­ists, but not on Neo-Nazis and White Suprep­macists.

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnhudson/the-gorka-that-matters-isnt-leaving-the-trump-administration?utm_term=.fnqW8N8NM#.peo6QZQZV

    The Gor­ka That Mat­ters Isn’t Leav­ing The Trump Admin­is­tra­tion

    Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka is out at the White House, but his wife, Katharine, remains a force in gov­ern­ment, wield­ing more pow­er than her hus­band ever did.

    Post­ed on August 29, 2017, at 4:41 p.m.
    John Hud­son
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter
    Report­ing From​ ​Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

    A wide array of pro­gres­sive groups claimed vic­to­ry on Fri­day fol­low­ing the dis­missal of White House aide Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, a staunch crit­ic of Islam whose ties to anti-Semit­ic groups in Hun­gary made him the tar­get of a pub­lic cam­paign ded­i­cat­ed to his ouster.

    But the most effec­tive advo­cate of Gorka’s brand of hard­line poli­cies on Islam is still in the gov­ern­ment: Katharine Gor­ka, his wife and the coau­thor of scores of his pol­i­cy papers. She’s stay­ing on in her role as an advis­er to the sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty, offi­cials tell Buz­zFeed News.

    Though less high-pro­file than her hus­band, who reg­u­lar­ly appeared on tele­vi­sion to defend the pres­i­dent with his plum­my British accent and dis­tinc­tive half-beard, half-goa­tee, Katharine arguably has had a big­ger impact on US pol­i­cy.

    Unlike Sebas­t­ian, whose fail­ure to obtain a per­ma­nent secu­ri­ty clear­ance barred him from some pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions, Katharine has dived into the weeds, advis­ing top offi­cials at DHS on coun­tert­er­ror poli­cies, draft­ing the department’s reports to Con­gress on ter­ror­ism recruit­ment, and try­ing to instill her anti-Islamist phi­los­o­phy through­out the depart­ment.

    To her sup­port­ers, she is the intel­lec­tu­al fore­bear of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s promise to call out rad­i­cal Islam by name and shun polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. She is cred­it­ed with con­vinc­ing the depart­ment to claw back hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in grants for coun­ter­ing right-wing extrem­ism and pri­or­i­tiz­ing the role of law enforce­ment in com­bat­ing Islam­ic extrem­ism. Her detrac­tors accuse her of down­play­ing the threat of white nation­al­ism and alien­at­ing Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties who could be part­ners in US counter-extrem­ism efforts.

    “Katie is much more dan­ger­ous than Sebas­t­ian,” said Eric Rosand, a for­mer senior State Depart­ment offi­cial respon­si­ble for pro­grams on Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism, or CVE. “She played a sig­nif­i­cant role in deny­ing CVE grant fund­ing to groups that work to de-rad­i­cal­ize neo-Nazis and oth­er far right extrem­ists and Mus­lim-Amer­i­can groups that work to build resilience against vio­lent extrem­ism, but with­out the involve­ment of the police.”

    The grants in ques­tion include $400,000 to Life After Hate, a group that focus­es on neo-Nazis, and $393,800 to the Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil, a Mus­lim-Amer­i­can advo­ca­cy group involved in com­mu­ni­ty-based vio­lence pre­ven­tion. (On Mon­day, the Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil called on the gov­ern­ment to release doc­u­ments of inter­nal delib­er­a­tions on the deci­sion to can­cel the grant in a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act request.)

    Fund­ing to those groups was part of a $10 mil­lion appro­pri­a­tion by Con­gress from Decem­ber 2015 for coun­ter­ing vio­lent extrem­ism. The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion had already announced the recip­i­ents of the grants, but in Jan­u­ary, then-DHS Sec­re­tary John Kel­ly halt­ed the dis­burse­ment of funds and ordered a review of the pro­grams. Fol­low­ing the review, DHS ter­mi­nat­ed the grants for Life After Hate and the Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil while award­ing grants to 26 oth­er orga­ni­za­tions and police depart­ments around the coun­try.

    The deci­sion to revoke the grant came under fire ear­li­er this month after a white suprema­cist ral­ly in Char­lottesville led to three deaths and 19 injuries.

    Offi­cial­ly, the grants were rescind­ed because they did not meet Kelly’s new three-point cri­te­ria, which empha­sized sup­port for law enforce­ment, sus­tain­abil­i­ty and demon­strat­ed effec­tive­ness. But a sec­ond for­mer US offi­cial famil­iar with the process said Gor­ka “def­i­nite­ly played a role in killing the grant to Life After Hate and MPAC.”

    A third for­mer offi­cial cau­tioned that oth­er Trump polit­i­cal appointees also may have played a role, includ­ing John Barsa, the act­ing assis­tant sec­re­tary of DHS’s Office of Part­ner­ship and Engage­ment; Rev. Jamie John­son, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Faith-Based and Neigh­bor­hood Part­ner­ships; Tom DiNan­no, an assis­tant admin­is­tra­tor involved in grant pro­grams; and Frank Wuco, a for­mer con­ser­v­a­tive radio host who now advis­es on home­land secu­ri­ty issues.

    Togeth­er, those polit­i­cal appointees have cre­at­ed a cul­ture clash at DHS as career offi­cials grap­ple with a new team of ter­ror-pre­ven­tion col­leagues who har­bor a dis­tinct­ly dark­er view of Islam.

    The infight­ing adds a new lay­er to the ongo­ing debate over the government’s role in CVE. Dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, crit­ics on the left said the gov­ern­ment had no busi­ness run­ning ter­ror-pre­ven­tion pro­grams that dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly tar­get­ed Mus­lims. Crit­ics on the right often viewed CVE as a waste of mon­ey that often amount­ed to anti-pover­ty pro­grams mas­querad­ing as ter­ror­ism-pre­ven­tion.

    While those views are still held by many, the Trump era has ush­ered in a new class of “counter-jihadists” who see Islam as a unique threat to West­ern civ­i­liza­tion, and view pro­grams like CVE as hope­less­ly polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect and lack­ing a tougher law enforce­ment com­po­nent.

    “Why are we not shut­ting down the rad­i­cal mosques?” Katharine Gor­ka said in a 2015 inter­view about rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the Unit­ed States. Her hus­band shares a sim­i­lar dis­dain for cur­rent counter-extrem­ism pro­grams.

    “I pre­dict with absolute cer­ti­tude, the jet­ti­son­ing of con­cepts such as CVE,” Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka said in Novem­ber, a day after Trump won the elec­tion.

    In response to this array of com­pet­ing opin­ions, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is con­sid­er­ing a mid­dle road: Scrap­ping the name “CVE” and rebrand­ing it as sim­ply “Ter­ror­ism Pre­ven­tion.” The change would pro­vide a small vic­to­ry for anti-PC crit­ics who loathed the term CVE while refrain­ing from explic­it­ly men­tion­ing Islam in the pro­gram title — a move opposed by experts inside and out­side the admin­is­tra­tion. The name change would be admin­is­tra­tion-wide — apply­ing also to the State Department’s CVE pro­grams.

    Defend­ers of Katharine Gor­ka inside DHS argue that the Trump administration’s changes to CVE have been mod­est, and accu­sa­tions that she only cares about Islam­ic extrem­ism are over­stat­ed. “Katie’s been help­ing us advance an all-forms-of-extrem­ism approach,” said a DHS offi­cial. He empha­sized that of the 26 orga­ni­za­tions that received fund­ing, many do not sole­ly focus on Islam so any claims that she’s trans­formed the depart­ment in this regard are divorced from real­i­ty. “I’d push back against the argu­ment that she’s push­ing the depart­ment toward an Islamist-only approach to ter­ror­ism,” he said.

    What cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials are all in agree­ment about is that the Gorkas came into pub­lic office with a deter­mi­na­tion to increase the government’s focus on Islam and sow doubt about main­stream schol­ar­ship on rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

    The Gorkas, who met in Roma­nia in 1994 dur­ing a sym­po­sium for young lead­ers, have coau­thored numer­ous arti­cles on ter­ror­ism — a sub­ject they took an inter­est in pro­fes­sion­al­ly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    “Our pil­low talk is the Islam­ic State and al-Qae­da,” Gor­ka told an audi­ence dur­ing a talk about his book last Novem­ber.

    Sebas­t­ian, who earned a PhD in polit­i­cal sci­ence at Corv­i­nus Uni­ver­si­ty in Budapest, entered the Trump admin­is­tra­tion through his con­nec­tions with oust­ed White House strate­gist Stephen Ban­non, who employed him as an edi­tor at Bre­it­bart. Upon enter­ing the admin­is­tra­tion, Sebas­t­ian came under almost imme­di­ate attack as main­stream coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts ques­tioned his qual­i­fi­ca­tions and latched onto his past state­ments call­ing the accep­tance of Mus­lim refugees “nation­al sui­cide.” Reports that he belonged to the His­tor­i­cal Vitézi Rend, a far-right Hun­gar­i­an group that had ties to the Nazi par­ty, also caused a PR headache. He vig­or­ous­ly denied belong­ing to the group or that he held anti-Semit­ic beliefs.

    His fail­ure to obtain a per­ma­nent secu­ri­ty clear­ance, fre­quent TV appear­ances, and insis­tence that “Dr.” be includ­ed in his title, fueled accu­sa­tions that he over­stat­ed his influ­ence.

    “Sebas­t­ian was essen­tial­ly just a talk­ing head with lots of blus­ter, but lit­tle to no influ­ence on actu­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism or CVE pol­i­cy­mak­ing,” said Rosand.

    In con­trast to her hus­band, Katharine has been described by col­leagues as pro­fes­sion­al and cour­te­ous and lack­ing in the brava­do and the­atrics that typ­i­fy her husband’s tele­vi­sion per­sona. But ide­o­log­i­cal­ly, the two are on the same page.

    “They’ve been work­ing togeth­er as a research team for many years,” said James Carafano, a vice pres­i­dent at the con­ser­v­a­tive Her­itage Foun­da­tion who has known the Gorkas for more than 15 years.

    “They’re kind of like Kim and Fred Kagan,” he said, refer­ring to a well-known neo­con­ser­v­a­tive pow­er cou­ple. “One brain and two bod­ies.”

    The grant issue isn’t the only area where Gor­ka has had an impact, accord­ing to for­mer offi­cials. She has also been linked to the depar­ture of career DHS offi­cials who want­ed the depart­ment to engage with a broad­er group of Mus­lim-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties she viewed as too extreme.

    “Her CVE ‘world­view’ was so at odds with George Selim, the head of the CVE task force, that it led to his res­ig­na­tion over the sum­mer,” said Rosand.

    Selim, when con­tact­ed, declined to attribute his depar­ture ear­li­er this month to any one per­son or issue.

    “It was time for me to leave, and I’m thrilled and excit­ed to con­tin­ue part of my mis­sion at DHS at an amaz­ing new plat­form at the Anti-Defama­tion League,” he told Buz­zFeed News. Selim joined the anti–hate speech group this month as a senior vice pres­i­dent in charge of law enforce­ment and com­mu­ni­ty secu­ri­ty issues.

    In pre­vi­ous inter­views about his depar­ture from DHS, he expressed frus­tra­tion that “there were clear­ly polit­i­cal appointees in this admin­is­tra­tion who didn’t see the val­ue of com­mu­ni­ty part­ner­ships with Amer­i­can Mus­lims.”

    Despite Katharine’s abil­i­ty to influ­ence pol­i­cy, it’s unclear if she’ll main­tain the same sway fol­low­ing her husband’s uncer­e­mo­ni­ous ouster from the White House. One for­mer DHS offi­cial said the knowl­edge that she had an ally in the West Wing gave her sig­nif­i­cant clout with­in DHS — some­thing she clear­ly wouldn’t enjoy with his depar­ture.

    When asked if there were any plan or expec­ta­tion for she, too, to leave fol­low­ing her husband’s ouster, Home­land Secu­ri­ty Press Sec­re­tary David Lapan said, “there is not.”

    Mov­ing for­ward, CVE experts say Katharine is cur­rent­ly work­ing on the draft­ing of a DHS report to Con­gress on what the depart­ment is doing to counter the exploita­tion of the inter­net and social media as a recruit­ment tool for ter­ror­ists. An indi­vid­ual famil­iar with the process said Katharine “keeps putting in ref­er­ences to the inter­net being some­thing mil­len­ni­als use.” A DHS offi­cial acknowl­edged Gorka’s input on the report but said it’s only in an ear­ly draft form and is sub­ject to change.

    Sebas­t­ian, mean­while, is return­ing to Bre­it­bart where he com­pared his new life to that of a Jedi Mas­ter. “It’s like the last scene from Star Wars,” he said in a recent inter­view. “Do you remem­ber what Obi-Wan Keno­bi said to Darth [Vad­er]? ‘If you strike me down, I will be more pow­er­ful than you can ever imag­ine.’ The left thinks they’re win­ning. They have no idea what’s com­ing around the cor­ner.”​

    John Hud­son is a for­eign affairs reporter for Buz­zFeed News and is based in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

    Con­tact John Hud­son at john.hudson@buzzfeed.com.

    ​Anoth­er arti­cle reveals her appoint­ment is per­manant to Home­land Secu­ri­ty at a fair­ley high midlev­el posi­tion (GS-15) and that she was a con­tribut­ing edi­tor to Bre­it­bart. She is a pol­i­cy advi­sor in Home­land Secu­ri­ty so implic­it­ly she would have access to intel­li­gence files.
    https://theintercept.com/2017/05/23/homeland-security-hires-anti-islam-activist-katharine-gorka-as-trump-makes-overtures-to-muslim-states/

    HOMELAND SECURITY HIRES ANTI-ISLAM ACTIVIST KATHARINE GORKA AS TRUMP MAKES OVERTURES TO MUSLIM STATES

    Alex Emmons
    May 23 2017, 12:07 p.m.

    DONALD TRUMP MADE over­tures toward the Islam­ic world dur­ing his vis­it to Sau­di Ara­bia, soft­en­ing his out­ward stance on Islam, but his admin­is­tra­tion recent­ly appoint­ed a rec­og­nized anti-Mus­lim cam­paign­er.

    Katharine Gor­ka, a con­tro­ver­sial nation­al secu­ri­ty ana­lyst and anti-Mus­lim activist, has been named as an “advis­er” to the Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s pol­i­cy office, after serv­ing on Pres­i­dent Trump’s tran­si­tion team for the depart­ment. Dur­ing Barack Obama’s pres­i­den­cy, Gor­ka exten­sive­ly crit­i­cized DHS for teach­ing employ­ees — wrong­ly, in her view — that Islam is a reli­gion of peace.

    Gorka’s appoint­ment is list­ed in doc­u­ments obtained under the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act by the watch­dog group Amer­i­can Over­sight. Her title, as of April 7, is list­ed as advis­er to the department’s office of pol­i­cy. The doc­u­ments also list a pre­vi­ous “tem­po­rary tran­si­tion­al” appoint­ment in the chief of staff’s office, with a pay grade list­ed as GS-15, the high­est stan­dard pay for a fed­er­al civ­il ser­vant, indi­cat­ing a salary of at least $8,600 a month.

    David Lapan, the department’s deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary for media oper­a­tions, con­firmed that Gorka’s role in the pol­i­cy office was per­ma­nent and did not require Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion. Her pre­vi­ous appoint­ment in the chief of staff’s office was tem­po­rary and had expired.

    Gor­ka is the wife and fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor of Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, the embat­tled deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent who has come under fire for ties to far-right groups in Hun­gary. Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, the for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty edi­tor for Bre­it­bart News, has called pro­fil­ing Mus­lims “a syn­onym for com­mon sense,” and, like his wife, has accused main­stream Mus­lim civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions like the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions of using “sub­ver­sive tac­tics” and hav­ing ties to Hamas and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

    Before join­ing the Trump tran­si­tion, Katharine Gor­ka was a con­tribut­ing author to Bre­it­bart, the far-right site favored by white nation­al­ists. In one 2014 col­umn, she wrote that when “Pres­i­dents Bush and Oba­ma both pub­licly declared Islam to be a reli­gion of peace” it “struck a sour chord for many,” and that “Amer­i­can and West­ern lead­ers have pre­emp­tive­ly shut down any debate with­in Islam by declar­ing that Islam is the reli­gion of peace.”

    In a 2014 col­umn, she wrote in defense of five Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress who claimed in 2012, with­out evi­dence, that Mus­lim extrem­ists had infil­trat­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, and that Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abe­din had ties to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. The alle­ga­tions were denounced as Islam­o­pho­bic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries even by oth­er Repub­li­cans.

    Gor­ka claimed that the New York Times “pro­vid­ed proof of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood influ­ence” after it pub­lished a sto­ry on the lob­by­ing influ­ence of Per­sian Gulf monar­chies like Sau­di Ara­bia. But far from being con­nect­ed to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, the gulf states large­ly view the group’s brand of pop­ulist, polit­i­cal Islam as a threat. The Sau­di gov­ern­ment pre­vi­ous­ly banned Mus­lim Broth­er­hood activism — even des­ig­nat­ing the group a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion in 2014.

    In 2014, Gor­ka also pushed leg­is­la­tion spon­sored by Rep. Michelle Bach­mann, R‑Minn., to des­ig­nate the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion. The leg­is­la­tion list­ed main­stream Mus­lim civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions in the Unit­ed States as “affil­i­ates” — groups like the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions and the Islam­ic Soci­ety of North Amer­i­ca.

    With much of its top brass vacant, Trump’s Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty has relied on tem­po­rary appoint­ments to fill its ranks. So far, the Sen­ate has only con­firmed two posi­tions — the depart­ment sec­re­tary and deputy sec­re­tary — leav­ing 14 Sen­ate-con­firmable posi­tions vacant, and Trump has yet to even nom­i­nate assis­tant sec­re­taries to lead Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment and the Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion.

    The doc­u­ments obtained by Amer­i­can Over­sight list more than 25 employ­ees with tem­po­rary, tran­si­tion­al appoint­ments.

    Cor­rec­tion: May 23, 2017, 4:28 p.m.
    An ear­li­er ver­sion of this sto­ry incor­rect­ly described Katharine Gorka’s cur­rent posi­tion in the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty. She is an advis­er in the department’s pol­i­cy office, not a tem­po­rary advis­er to the department’s chief of staff. This sto­ry has been updat­ed to reflect Gorka’s cur­rent role.​”

    Here is anoth­er Arti­cle that involves Ms. Gor­ka and shows how she influ­enced Con­gress to focus on “rad­i­cal islam­ic ter­ror­ism” and defund­ing ap pro­gram to de-rad­i­cal­ize neo-Nazis. This is inter­est­ing giv­en her hus­bands link to Nazis. The efforts sup­port the Trump admin­stra­tion’s pol­i­cy to de-emp­haze Fed­er­al Law Enforce­ment Efforts against Neo-Nazis and White Suprema­cists and focus efforts on islam­ic extrem­ist despite the fact that more seri­ous crimes were com­mit­ted by a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of Neo-Nazis/White Suprema­cists.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/katharine-gorka-life-after-hate_us_59921356e4b09096429943b6

    POLITICS
    08/15/2017 08:34 am ET Updat­ed Aug 15, 2017

    Con­tro­ver­sial Trump Aide Katharine Gor­ka Helped End Fund­ing For Group That Fights White Suprema­cy

    Life After Hate works to de-rad­i­cal­ize neo-Nazis. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion decid­ed it wasn’t a pri­or­i­ty.

    By Jes­si­ca Schul­berg

    WASHINGTON ― Weeks before a vio­lent white suprema­cist ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, led to three deaths and 19 injuries, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-rad­i­cal­ize neo-Nazis.

    The Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty had award­ed the group $400,000 as part of its Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism pro­gram in Jan­u­ary, just days before for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma left office. It was the only group select­ed for a grant that focused exclu­sive­ly on fight­ing white suprema­cy. But the grant mon­ey was not imme­di­ate­ly dis­bursed.

    Trump aides, includ­ing Katharine Gor­ka, a con­tro­ver­sial nation­al secu­ri­ty ana­lyst known for her anti-Mus­lim rhetoric, were already work­ing toward elim­i­nat­ing Life After Hate’s grant and to direct all fund­ing toward fight­ing what the pres­i­dent has described as “rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism.”

    In Decem­ber, Gor­ka, then a mem­ber of Trump’s tran­si­tion team, met with George Selim, the DHS offi­cial who head­ed the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism pro­gram until he resigned last month, and his then-deputy, David Ger­sten.

    Gor­ka told Selim and Ger­sten she didn’t agree with the Oba­ma administration’s approach to coun­ter­ing vio­lent extrem­ism ― par­tic­u­lar­ly the way the admin­is­tra­tion had described the threat of extrem­ism, accord­ing to Nate Sny­der, an Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion DHS coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cial who was an advis­er on Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism efforts and was giv­en a read­out of the meet­ing. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has repeat­ed­ly crit­i­cized the pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tion for avoid­ing terms like “rad­i­cal Islam” out of con­cern that it could alien­ate Mus­lims in the U.S. and abroad.

    “That was sort of fore­shad­ow­ing what was going to come,” Sny­der said of the Decem­ber meet­ing.

    Gor­ka and Selim did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests for com­ment.

    “Katharine Gor­ka has been inte­gral in help­ing the Depart­ment broad­en efforts to focus on all forms of extrem­ism. Her work includes efforts to address every­thing from glob­al jihadists threats to domes­tic ter­ror­ists,” Anna Franko, a DHS spokes­woman, wrote in an email.

    Gor­ka and her hus­band, Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, also a Trump White House offi­cial, have col­lab­o­rat­ed on numer­ous writ­ings about the threat of rad­i­cal Islam. Though they have a large fol­low­ing with­in far-right cir­cles ― they both have bylines at Bre­it­bart News ― main­stream nation­al secu­ri­ty experts are either unfa­mil­iar with or crit­i­cal of their work.

    The day after Trump won the elec­tion, Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka said, “I pre­dict with absolute cer­ti­tude, the jet­ti­son­ing of con­cepts such as CVE.”

    Once Trump entered the White House in Jan­u­ary, the office of then-DHS Sec­re­tary John Kel­ly ordered a full review of the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism pro­gram. Kelly’s office want­ed to re-vet the groups receiv­ing a por­tion of the $10 mil­lion Con­gress had appro­pri­at­ed for the pro­gram — even though DHS had already pub­licly announced the grant recip­i­ents.

    While that review was under­way, DHS and the FBI warned in an inter­nal intel­li­gence bul­letin of the threat posed by white suprema­cy. White suprema­cists “were respon­si­ble for 49 homi­cides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any oth­er domes­tic extrem­ist move­ment,” the two agen­cies wrote in a May 10 doc­u­ment obtained by For­eign Pol­i­cy. Mem­bers of the white suprema­cist move­ment “like­ly will con­tin­ue to pose a threat of lethal vio­lence over the next year,” they con­clud­ed.

    Staffers in the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism pro­gram have long pushed for it to address threats from domes­tic ter­ror­ists, includ­ing white suprema­cists.

    But when DHS pub­lished a new list of award recip­i­ents on June 23, there was no men­tion of Life After Hate.

    DHS also revoked fund­ing from the Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil, an Amer­i­can Mus­lim advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion that was told in Jan­u­ary it would receive a $393,800 grant to cre­ate com­mu­ni­ty resource cen­ters through­out the coun­try.

    After pub­lish­ing its new list of grantees, DHS told Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil that it was now pri­or­i­tiz­ing orga­ni­za­tions that worked with law enforce­ment. The mon­ey that was ini­tial­ly set aside for com­mu­ni­ty-based groups like Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil and Life After Hate will now go to sev­er­al law enforce­ment agen­cies.

    “Is this real­ly just a front for tar­get­ing the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty?” asked Omar Noureldin, Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Council’s vice pres­i­dent. Noureldin is now look­ing into whether the Trump administration’s use of the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism program’s funds vio­lates con­gres­sion­al appro­pri­a­tion intent.

    Less than two months after DHS announced it was pulling fund­ing from Life After Hate, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohioan, trav­eled to Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, to join white suprema­cists armed with long guns, wav­ing Nazi and Con­fed­er­ate flags and protest­ing the removal of a stat­ue of Con­fed­er­ate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park.

    Fields is now accused of ram­ming a Dodge Chal­lenger into a crowd of pedes­tri­ans on Sat­ur­day, and has since been charged with sec­ond-degree mur­der for the death of 32-year-old coun­ter­pro­test­er Heather Hey­er. Dozens of oth­ers were injured, and two Vir­ginia state troop­ers died in a heli­copter crash while mon­i­tor­ing the vio­lent demon­stra­tion.

    Life After Hate was found­ed by for­mer white suprema­cists who have renounced the racist ide­ol­o­gy and who now help oth­ers tran­si­tion out of hate groups and re-assim­i­late into soci­ety. Chris­t­ian Pic­col­i­ni, a for­mer neo-Nazi and a co-founder of the group, told NPR on Sun­day he was not sur­prised by the dev­as­ta­tion in Char­lottesville.

    The white suprema­cy move­ment “has been grow­ing, but it’s also been shape-shift­ing,” Pic­col­i­ni said. “It’s gone from what we would have con­sid­ered very open neo-Nazis and skin­heads and KKK march­ing, to now peo­ple that look like our neigh­bors, our doc­tors, our teach­ers, our mechan­ics.”

    “And it’s cer­tain­ly start­ing to embold­en them, because a lot of the rhetoric that’s com­ing out of the White House today is so sim­i­lar to what we preached ... but in a slight­ly more palat­able way,” he added.

    Is this real­ly just a front for tar­get­ing the Mus­lim community?Omar Noureldin, Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil

    As the vio­lence in Char­lottesville unfold­ed on Sat­ur­day, Trump con­demned “this egre­gious dis­play of hatred, big­otry and vio­lence, on many sides,” adding that the prob­lem exist­ed dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. The pres­i­dent ignored sev­er­al calls to specif­i­cal­ly denounce white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis who said they were work­ing to ful­fill Trump’s cam­paign promis­es.

    It wasn’t until Mon­day, two days after the vio­lent ral­ly, that Trump specif­i­cal­ly denounced“the [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazis, white suprema­cists and oth­er hate groups.”

    Trump’s hes­i­tan­cy to dis­avow white suprema­cists echoes his prac­tice of repeat­ed­ly dodg­ing ques­tions about David Duke, a for­mer KKK grand wiz­ard who sup­port­ed Trump, dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Fac­ing pub­lic pres­sure, Trump even­tu­al­ly dis­tanced him­self from the infa­mous white suprema­cist.

    Now in the White House, Trump has sur­round­ed him­self with an array of peo­ple tied to white suprema­cist, anti-Semit­ic, anti-Mus­lim and anti-immi­grant groups.

    Katharine Gor­ka, now an advis­er in the Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s pol­i­cy office, has pushed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood infil­trat­ing the gov­ern­ment and media. Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka is a deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent and has described Islam as an inher­ent­ly vio­lent reli­gion. He argued days before the Char­lottesville attack that white suprema­cy is not “the prob­lem” fac­ing the coun­try.

    Stephen Miller, Trump’s speech­writer and pol­i­cy advis­er, has blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror attacks on poor immi­gra­tion enforce­ment, and accused black stu­dents of racial “para­noia.” Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil spokesman Michael Anton wrote under a pseu­do­nym that Islam is “incom­pat­i­ble with the mod­ern West,” and that diver­si­ty is “a source of weak­ness, ten­sion, and dis­union.”

    And Trump him­self cam­paigned for pres­i­dent on the plat­form of ban­ning Mus­lims from trav­el­ing to the U.S. and build­ing a wall to keep Mex­i­cans out ― pro­pos­als that won him enthu­si­as­tic sup­port from white suprema­cists.

    DHS did not direct­ly respond to a ques­tions about why it cut fund­ing for de-rad­i­cal­iz­ing neo-Nazis, and whether it views white suprema­cy as an extrem­ist threat.

    Six­teen of the 26 groups that received DHS fund­ing “have applic­a­bil­i­ty to all forms of vio­lent extrem­ism and as such will address the threat of domes­tic ter­ror­ism,” Franko, the DHS spokes­woman, wrote.

    Amer­i­ca does not do a good job of track­ing inci­dents of hate and bias. We need your help to cre­ate a data­base of such inci­dents across the coun­try, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your sto­ry.

    This sto­ry has been updat­ed with an addi­tion­al state­ment from DHS spokes­woman Anna Franko.

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 6, 2018, 4:05 pm
  39. Oh look, a Nazi is run­ning for Con­gress. As the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. Shock­er: Arthur Jones, a for­mer leader of the Amer­i­can Nazi Par­ty is the GOP nom­i­nee for Illi­nois’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict.

    So did the GOP actu­al­ly nom­i­nate this guy? Well, not exact­ly. That dis­trict swings so heav­i­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic that there’s almost no chance a Repub­li­can could be elec­tion. Thus, no oth­er GOP­ers both­ered to run. So when Jones got the required num­ber of sig­na­tures and filed on the last pos­si­ble day, the GOP was stuck with him.

    Pret­ty sneaky, right? Well, not quite. If this had been the first time Jones pulled this stunt that would indeed be pret­ty sneaky. But this isn’t the first time Jones did this. Or the sec­ond time. Or third time. Or fourth time. Or fifth time. Sixth time’s a charm!

    And the last time Jones tried this stunt he also man­aged to become the nom­i­nee and the GOP avoid­ed this night­mare only by peti­tion­ing the state elec­tion board to dis­qual­i­fy him over paper­work errors. And that was in 2016. So this was­n’t remote­ly sneaky. It was entire­ly pre­dictable.

    So why did­n’t the Illi­nois GOP find some­one, any­one, to run in this sure-lose race so they could avoid Jones doing exact­ly what he’s tried to do five times pre­vi­ous­ly and almost pulled off in the last race? Well, that’s unclear, because when the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee was asked this ques­tion they had no response. It’s also unclear why the GOP has­n’t scram­bled to find a write-in can­di­date despite hav­ing had 45 days do to so:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    A Holo­caust denier is the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for a con­gres­sion­al seat. The GOP faults the media for cov­er­ing him.

    By Cal­lum Borchers
    Feb­ru­ary 8, 2018

    CNN’s Alisyn Camero­ta inter­viewed the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for Illi­nois’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict on live tele­vi­sion Thurs­day morn­ing. Such a seg­ment is about as stan­dard as cable news gets, but this par­tic­u­lar can­di­date, Arthur Jones, hap­pens to be a for­mer leader of the Amer­i­can Nazi Par­ty and a Holo­caust denier.

    “Yes, I deny the Holo­caust,” Jones said when Camero­ta con­front­ed him about his views. “It’s an extor­tion rack­et. ... It is noth­ing but an inter­na­tion­al extor­tion rack­et by the Jews to bleed, black­mail, extort and ter­ror­ize their ene­mies.”

    Jones has got­ten a lot of press late­ly. My Wash­ing­ton Post col­league Amy B Wang wrote about him, not­ing that he is unop­posed in a March 20 GOP pri­ma­ry. The New York Times pub­lished a sim­i­lar arti­cle Wednes­day.

    Jones made the cov­er of the Chica­go Sun-Times this week and was the sub­ject of an edi­to­r­i­al in the Chica­go Tri­bune.

    The atten­tion on Jones is mad­den­ing to the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, which con­tends that the media should sim­ply ignore him.

    “This man is equal parts dis­gust­ing and delu­sion­al,” NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt said in an email. “He has run for office for over two decades, and the Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty pre­vi­ous­ly had him removed from the bal­lot. Why have you now decid­ed to cov­er him? In a race to gen­er­ate clicks and rat­ings, you all have giv­en his heinous and despi­ca­ble views the plat­form he des­per­ate­ly want­ed.”

    Whether, and how, the media should cov­er Jones are legit­i­mate ques­tions — part of a broad­er debate about report­ing on hate speech. But for news out­lets that have decid­ed to cov­er Jones, the rea­son is rather obvi­ous: Unlike his con­gres­sion­al cam­paigns in 1998, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2016, Jones’s bid in 2018 almost cer­tain­ly will make him the GOP’s stan­dard-bear­er in a race for nation­al office.

    “Was the bur­den not on the par­ty to field anoth­er can­di­date to make sure Jones would not be the nom­i­nee?” I asked Hunt in an email. He did not respond. A spokesman for the Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty did not respond to a sim­i­lar inquiry about cov­er­age of Jones and whether the par­ty should have field­ed anoth­er can­di­date.

    There is a case to be made that no, the bur­den was not on the par­ty. Illi­nois’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict is sol­id blue, and in the last con­test­ed gen­er­al elec­tion, in 2014, Rep. Daniel Lip­in­s­ki (D) was reelect­ed, win­ning by 29 points. Any Repub­li­can nom­i­nee is a sac­ri­fi­cial lamb.

    Is it rea­son­able to expect the par­ty to have draft­ed a can­di­date into cer­tain defeat for the sole pur­pose of block­ing Jones?

    Such a can­di­date would have had to be a write-in, by the way, because Jones filed on the last day to reg­is­ter for the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry, leav­ing the par­ty no time to put some­one else on the bal­lot.

    Still, the GOP had 45 days to find a write-in can­di­date and did not do so. And although Jones filed at the last minute, it was not hard to fore­see that the five-time entrant would run again. The Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty almost got stuck with Jones as its unop­posed nom­i­nee in 2016 but man­aged to avoid the embar­rass­ment by suc­cess­ful­ly peti­tion­ing the state elec­tion board to dis­qual­i­fy him because of paper­work errors.

    A more pub­lic-rela­tions-con­scious par­ty orga­ni­za­tion might have antic­i­pat­ed that Jones would be back in 2018 and proac­tive­ly thwart­ed him by find­ing some­one — basi­cal­ly, any­one — will­ing to give Repub­li­can vot­ers an alter­na­tive and save the GOP from the entire­ly pre­dictable media night­mare it is now liv­ing. Ensur­ing that Jones would not rep­re­sent the par­ty would have been espe­cial­ly pru­dent on the heels of the Roy Moore deba­cle in Alaba­ma.

    ...

    ———-

    “A Holo­caust denier is the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for a con­gres­sion­al seat. The GOP faults the media for cov­er­ing him.” by Cal­lum Borchers; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 02/08/2018

    ““Yes, I deny the Holo­caust,” Jones said when Camero­ta con­front­ed him about his views. “It’s an extor­tion rack­et. ... It is noth­ing but an inter­na­tion­al extor­tion rack­et by the Jews to bleed, black­mail, extort and ter­ror­ize their ene­mies.””

    That, right there, is why the GOP is so non-plussed about hav­ing this guy as the par­ty’s stan­dard bear­er for Illi­nois’s third Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict. He’s just way to open about his views.

    And while the GOP is offi­cial­ly decry­ing Jones, it’s pret­ty hard to ignore the par­ty’s com­plete­ly lack of action to pre­vent this when it was entire­ly pre­dictable that Jones would do exact­ly what he did and when it was so easy to pre­vent this:

    ...
    The atten­tion on Jones is mad­den­ing to the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, which con­tends that the media should sim­ply ignore him.

    “This man is equal parts dis­gust­ing and delu­sion­al,” NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt said in an email. “He has run for office for over two decades, and the Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty pre­vi­ous­ly had him removed from the bal­lot. Why have you now decid­ed to cov­er him? In a race to gen­er­ate clicks and rat­ings, you all have giv­en his heinous and despi­ca­ble views the plat­form he des­per­ate­ly want­ed.”

    Whether, and how, the media should cov­er Jones are legit­i­mate ques­tions — part of a broad­er debate about report­ing on hate speech. But for news out­lets that have decid­ed to cov­er Jones, the rea­son is rather obvi­ous: Unlike his con­gres­sion­al cam­paigns in 1998, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2016, Jones’s bid in 2018 almost cer­tain­ly will make him the GOP’s stan­dard-bear­er in a race for nation­al office.

    “Was the bur­den not on the par­ty to field anoth­er can­di­date to make sure Jones would not be the nom­i­nee?” I asked Hunt in an email. He did not respond. A spokesman for the Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty did not respond to a sim­i­lar inquiry about cov­er­age of Jones and whether the par­ty should have field­ed anoth­er can­di­date.
    ...

    “Was the bur­den not on the par­ty to field anoth­er can­di­date to make sure Jones would not be the nom­i­nee?” I asked Hunt in an email. He did not respond. A spokesman for the Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty did not respond to a sim­i­lar inquiry about cov­er­age of Jones and whether the par­ty should have field­ed anoth­er can­di­date.”

    And even after Jones got the nom­i­na­tion as the sole can­di­date, there was noth­ing stop­ping the GOP from field­ing a write-in:

    ...
    Is it rea­son­able to expect the par­ty to have draft­ed a can­di­date into cer­tain defeat for the sole pur­pose of block­ing Jones?

    Such a can­di­date would have had to be a write-in, by the way, because Jones filed on the last day to reg­is­ter for the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry, leav­ing the par­ty no time to put some­one else on the bal­lot.

    Still, the GOP had 45 days to find a write-in can­di­date and did not do so. And although Jones filed at the last minute, it was not hard to fore­see that the five-time entrant would run again. The Illi­nois Repub­li­can Par­ty almost got stuck with Jones as its unop­posed nom­i­nee in 2016 but man­aged to avoid the embar­rass­ment by suc­cess­ful­ly peti­tion­ing the state elec­tion board to dis­qual­i­fy him because of paper­work errors.
    ...

    So the GOP has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to stop Jones first by actu­al­ly field­ing a can­di­date. But they did­n’t. And then they could have at least tried to save face by field­ing a write-in can­di­date. But that has­n’t hap­pened either. Why no action? It’s quite a mys­tery. And not a new one.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 9, 2018, 3:24 pm
  40. Here’s an update on what Steve Ban­non has been up to that’s also sort of the flip side of the recent sto­ry about how Mar­i­on Marechal-Le Pen recent­ly spoke at the CPAC con­fer­ence in the US and was large­ly enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly embraced by the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive audi­ence: Ban­non appears to be doing some sort of Euro­pean tour at the moment. He met with lead­ers of the AfD and was the head­lin­er at the annu­al con­fer­ence the Nation­al Front in France . He also hint­ed at meet­ing Vik­tor Orban in Hun­gary. And Italy, which just had its elec­tions dom­i­nat­ed by the ‘pop­ulist’ Five Star move­ment, is now described as his de fac­to head­quar­ters.

    But he isn’t just meet­ing with Europe’s far-right. He’s also con­tin­u­ing his long-stand­ing dri­ve to cre­ate a larg­er far-right media pres­ence in Europe. His plan is to invest in a net­work of far-right ‘pop­ulist’ media out­lets and devel­op an ‘pop­ulist foot sol­diers in the lan­guage and tools of social media.’ In oth­er words, even more peo­ple skilled in right-wing trolling tech­niques. You know, the stuff typ­i­cal­ly blamed exclu­sive­ly on ‘Russ­ian bots’ these days. And he actu­al­ly open­ly endors­es the use of bots.

    He also says he’s weigh­ing whether to buy a name-brand out­let, like Newsweek or Unit­ed Press Inter­na­tion­al, or to start a new one.

    Plus, he’s real­ly get­ting into cryp­tocur­ren­cies. Of course.

    Oh, and there’s one more goal he has in mind: WWIII. Or, as he puts it, he feels it’s impor­tant to get pop­ulist nation­al­ist gov­ern­ments in place was to pre­pare for a com­ing great-pow­ers clash with an axis of ancient Turk­ish, Per­sian and Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tions. “Elites can’t fight that fight,” he said. “Because peo­ple have to buy into it.” So, yes, he’s lit­er­al­ly plan­ning on prep­ping Europe’s right-wing for a giant glob­al war. That’s also part of the ‘pop­ulism’ he has in mind.

    So, as we can see, the main­stream­ing of far-right ideas under the guise of ‘pop­ulism’ is pro­ceed­ing along at a steady pace? Where does it end? Well, it appar­ent­ly is going to end with WWIII. At least, that’s Ban­non’s plan in his own words:

    The New York Times

    Steve Ban­non Is Done Wreck­ing the Amer­i­can Estab­lish­ment. Now He Wants to Destroy Europe’s.

    By JASON HOROWITZ
    MARCH 9, 2018

    MILAN — Stephen K. Ban­non leaned back in an arm­chair oppo­site a copy of a paint­ing by an Ital­ian old mas­ter and explained his mod­est efforts to build a vast net­work of Euro­pean pop­ulists to demol­ish the Continent’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment.

    “All I’m try­ing to be,” he said, “is the infra­struc­ture, glob­al­ly, for the glob­al pop­ulist move­ment.”

    Just that.

    Only months ago, Mr. Ban­non was forced out of the White House and Bre­it­bart News, the alt-right news empire he helped make into a polit­i­cal force, for the sharp crit­i­cisms of Pres­i­dent Trump’s chil­dren attrib­uted to him in a book. “He’s lost his mind,” Mr. Trump said at the time.

    But now Mr. Ban­non, the archi­tect of Mr. Trump’s pop­ulist cam­paign mes­sage and the president’s for­mer chief strate­gist, has returned with an inter­na­tion­al mis­sion.

    On Sat­ur­day, he is set to head­line the annu­al con­fer­ence of France’s far-right Nation­al Front in the north­ern city of Lille, where he will be intro­duced by its leader, Marine Le Pen. Peo­ple with knowl­edge of Mr. Bannon’s itin­er­ary sug­gest­ed that he might meet lat­er in the week­end with the Hun­gar­i­an prime min­is­ter, Vik­tor Orban, but Mr. Ban­non declined to say whether or not he would, only say­ing that he admired Mr. Orban as a “hero” and “the most sig­nif­i­cant guy on the scene right now.”

    In Zurich, Mr. Ban­non says, he had a “fas­ci­nat­ing” meet­ing on Tues­day with lead­ers of Germany’s far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty.

    They includ­ed Alice Wei­del and Beat­rix von Storch, who recent­ly react­ed to a New Year’s Eve pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment by the Ger­man police that went out in var­i­ous lan­guages, includ­ing Ara­bic, by tweet­ing, “Are they seek­ing to appease the bar­bar­ic, Mus­lim, rapist hordes of men?”

    But it is Italy, where pop­ulist forces smashed the country’s estab­lish­ment by com­bin­ing to win more than half the vote on Sun­day, that Mr. Ban­non has turned into his de fac­to head­quar­ters.

    In a sprawl­ing inter­view here, he declined to name whom he had met, oth­er than to describe them as a broad array of politi­cians, oper­a­tives and investors.

    (A spokesman for Mat­teo Salvi­ni, the leader of the anti-immi­grant League, said the two would have liked to have met, but did not. A spokesman for the anti-estab­lish­ment Five Star Move­ment, which won a third of Ital­ian votes, did not return a request for com­ment.)

    Aside from the occa­sion­al cof­fee at Cam­po de’ Fiori or pho­to-op at Piaz­za Navona, Mr. Ban­non has been holed up in hotel rooms, tak­ing meet­ing after meet­ing.

    In Rome, he stayed at the lux­u­ri­ous Rafael hotel, where Bet­ti­no Craxi, the face of Italy’s cor­rupt estab­lish­ment and men­tor to Sil­vio Berlus­coni, was pelt­ed with coins in 1993 by an angry mob as he depart­ed the polit­i­cal scene.

    In Milan, he sat in a room at the grand Principe di Savoia, oppo­site a copy of Titian’s por­trait of the Duke of Man­tua, a mas­ter of intrigue in Renais­sance Italy and a long­time suf­fer­er of syphilis, sur­round­ed by red damask wall­pa­per. Jams were on a room ser­vice cart, and a copy of a book titled “Head­lines All My Life” was on the desk.

    In both cities, he wore a blue and white striped but­ton down over a polo shirt. In Rome the polo was orange. In Milan it was blue.

    He sipped sparkling water and described a grand vision for a glob­al pop­ulist future.

    In the Unit­ed States, Mr. Ban­non said, he is work­ing on a project to cre­ate a think tank to “weaponize” pop­ulist eco­nom­ic and social ideas.

    He sees that work spread­ing to Europe, where a pro­lif­er­a­tion of pop­ulist web­sites in the image of Bre­it­bart News, either owned by him or oth­ers, will spread those ideas, under his guid­ance.

    As a final com­po­nent, he wants to train an army of pop­ulist foot sol­diers in the lan­guage and tools of social media.

    Mr. Ban­non said that a com­mon mes­sage he had received from pop­ulists through­out Europe was a desire to estab­lish a media out­let for their views.

    “They see what Bre­it­bart did and they want it in their own lan­guage,” said Mr. Ban­non, who slipped into the present tense when talk­ing about the web­site from which he recent­ly sep­a­rat­ed. “That’s the key. Right now my sites are in Eng­lish, they want one in their own lan­guage,” he said, call­ing that “phase two.”

    He could be for­giv­en the slip, as the site still seems to be in his thrall. (“Stephen K. Ban­non took Zurich by storm Tues­day, address­ing a sell-out crowd,” began Breitbart’s arti­cle on the speech.)

    But Mr. Ban­non, who said he was pay­ing for the trip, said he was weigh­ing whether to buy a name-brand out­let, like Newsweek or Unit­ed Press Inter­na­tion­al, or to start a new one, or to con­nect entre­pre­neurs with cap­i­tal or invest him­self.

    He imag­ined a scoop-dri­ven and high-metab­o­lism out­let “like Axios,” he said, refer­ring to the buzzy Wash­ing­ton newslet­ter, but with a pop­ulist bent that would devour Europe’s sleepy lega­cy papers.

    “Whether I do it or a local entre­pre­neur does it,” he said, “there are going to be these pop­ulist nation­al­ist news sites that pop up in the next year on line. That will only take these things to the next lev­el.”

    With Europe more aggres­sive­ly tack­ling the migra­tion issue, Mr. Ban­non was aim­ing to move the future bat­tle of pop­ulism to oth­er ter­rains.

    He said that the rea­son it was so impor­tant to get pop­ulist nation­al­ist gov­ern­ments in place was to pre­pare for a com­ing great-pow­ers clash with an axis of ancient Turk­ish, Per­sian and Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tions. “Elites can’t fight that fight,” he said. “Because peo­ple have to buy into it.”

    He is also increas­ing­ly inter­est­ed in moti­vat­ing peo­ple to fight media con­glom­er­ates like Face­book that mon­e­tize their data. And he has become fas­ci­nat­ed with cryp­to cur­ren­cies and how they can help pop­ulist move­ments, the sub­ject of a speech he gave in Zurich this week.

    In prepa­ra­tion for the speech, orga­nized by Die Welt­woche, a con­ser­v­a­tive Swiss mag­a­zine, Mr. Ban­non said he vis­it­ed the town of Zug, known as Cryp­to Val­ley for its bustling cryp­tocur­ren­cy indus­try. He was impressed.

    “If Brus­sels and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank is wor­ried about Italy going to the lira, their con­cerns should be that all these com­mu­ni­ties and states are going to cryp­to,” he said in Milan.

    In the mean­time, he said, he admires Italy’s pop­ulist par­ties for already being on the tech­no­log­i­cal cut­ting edge.

    The Five Star Move­ment, a web-based par­ty that preach­es direct, online democ­ra­cy, and the League, the hard-right, for­mer­ly north­ern-based seces­sion­ist par­ty, both dom­i­nat­ed social media dur­ing the cam­paign.

    Often, their crit­ics say, they did it with spu­ri­ous and inflam­ma­to­ry fake news about migrants and crime. Many of those mes­sages seemed pro­pelled by auto­mat­ed bots rather than real sup­port­ers.

    “You can’t just have just all humans, I’m sure they have some bots,” Mr. Ban­non said, unboth­ered. “The thing is that they are gen­er­at­ing enthu­si­asm on shoe­strings.”

    He said he hoped the two par­ties would even­tu­al­ly join forces — some­thing not out of the ques­tion as the Ital­ians try to form a gov­ern­ment after an incon­clu­sive elec­tion.

    ...

    Mr. Ban­non said Ital­ian vot­ers on Sun­day also spurned Pope Fran­cis, who has urged tol­er­ance for migrants.

    “This vote was a rejec­tion of the pope,” said Mr. Ban­non, a Catholic who has nonethe­less been a long­time crit­ic of the pope’s pol­i­tics. “The pope likes to see him­self as a rad­i­cal and an anti-estab­lish­ment rev­o­lu­tion­ary for the lit­tle guy; the lit­tle guy put the pope in his place on Sun­day.”

    He said he had intend­ed to return to Rome to vis­it his allies in the Vat­i­can, includ­ing the Amer­i­can car­di­nal Ray­mond Burke, but then France’s Nation­al Front extend­ed its invi­ta­tion.

    “They said, ‘Hey would you stay for the week­end?’ ” Mr. Ban­non said. “ ‘All our peo­ple would love to hear you speak.’ ”

    ———-

    “Steve Ban­non Is Done Wreck­ing the Amer­i­can Estab­lish­ment. Now He Wants to Destroy Europe’s.” by JASON HOROWITZ; The New York Times; 03/09/2018

    “On Sat­ur­day, he is set to head­line the annu­al con­fer­ence of France’s far-right Nation­al Front in the north­ern city of Lille, where he will be intro­duced by its leader, Marine Le Pen. Peo­ple with knowl­edge of Mr. Bannon’s itin­er­ary sug­gest­ed that he might meet lat­er in the week­end with the Hun­gar­i­an prime min­is­ter, Vik­tor Orban, but Mr. Ban­non declined to say whether or not he would, only say­ing that he admired Mr. Orban as a “hero” and “the most sig­nif­i­cant guy on the scene right now.””

    Head­lin­ing at the Nation­al Front con­fer­ence. That’s pret­ty much what we should expect from Ban­non at this point. Along with the rest of his Euro­pean far-right net­work­ing:

    ...
    In Zurich, Mr. Ban­non says, he had a “fas­ci­nat­ing” meet­ing on Tues­day with lead­ers of Germany’s far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty.

    They includ­ed Alice Wei­del and Beat­rix von Storch, who recent­ly react­ed to a New Year’s Eve pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment by the Ger­man police that went out in var­i­ous lan­guages, includ­ing Ara­bic, by tweet­ing, “Are they seek­ing to appease the bar­bar­ic, Mus­lim, rapist hordes of men?”

    But it is Italy, where pop­ulist forces smashed the country’s estab­lish­ment by com­bin­ing to win more than half the vote on Sun­day, that Mr. Ban­non has turned into his de fac­to head­quar­ters.
    ...

    And this is all part of his grand vision for ‘glob­al pop­ulist future’. Which is appar­ent­ly a world unit­ed in fix­at­ing on our dif­fer­ences. Unit­ed in a mutu­al desire to con­tin­ue view ‘oth­ers’ as inher­ent­ly sus­pi­cious and threat­en­ing. And unit­ed in foment­ing far-right rev­o­lu­tions that sub­ju­gate one soci­ety after anoth­er under the slo­gan of pro­tect­ing soci­ety from the threats posed by oth­er ‘dif­fer­ent’ far-right soci­eties (with the wealthy and pow­er­ful pulling the strings the whole time...he does­n’t men­tion that part). That’s the ‘grand vision’, even if he does­n’t quite put it that way:

    ...
    He sipped sparkling water and described a grand vision for a glob­al pop­ulist future.

    In the Unit­ed States, Mr. Ban­non said, he is work­ing on a project to cre­ate a think tank to “weaponize” pop­ulist eco­nom­ic and social ideas.

    He sees that work spread­ing to Europe, where a pro­lif­er­a­tion of pop­ulist web­sites in the image of Bre­it­bart News, either owned by him or oth­ers, will spread those ideas, under his guid­ance.
    ...

    And, being a media guy, it makes sense that he views as crit­i­cal to achiev­ing this goal the train­ing of an army of ‘pop­ulist foot sol­diers in the lan­guage and tools of social media.’ In oth­er words, more right-wing trolls. A whole army of them. And that army of trolls will be wield­ing an even larg­er army of bots:

    ...
    As a final com­po­nent, he wants to train an army of pop­ulist foot sol­diers in the lan­guage and tools of social media.

    Mr. Ban­non said that a com­mon mes­sage he had received from pop­ulists through­out Europe was a desire to estab­lish a media out­let for their views.

    “They see what Bre­it­bart did and they want it in their own lan­guage,” said Mr. Ban­non, who slipped into the present tense when talk­ing about the web­site from which he recent­ly sep­a­rat­ed. “That’s the key. Right now my sites are in Eng­lish, they want one in their own lan­guage,” he said, call­ing that “phase two.”

    ...

    The Five Star Move­ment, a web-based par­ty that preach­es direct, online democ­ra­cy, and the League, the hard-right, for­mer­ly north­ern-based seces­sion­ist par­ty, both dom­i­nat­ed social media dur­ing the cam­paign.

    Often, their crit­ics say, they did it with spu­ri­ous and inflam­ma­to­ry fake news about migrants and crime. Many of those mes­sages seemed pro­pelled by auto­mat­ed bots rather than real sup­port­ers.

    “You can’t just have just all humans, I’m sure they have some bots,” Mr. Ban­non said, unboth­ered. “The thing is that they are gen­er­at­ing enthu­si­asm on shoe­strings.”
    ...

    But it’s not just trolls with bot armies he has in mind. He’s also look­ing to buy a major pub­li­ca­tion:

    ...
    But Mr. Ban­non, who said he was pay­ing for the trip, said he was weigh­ing whether to buy a name-brand out­let, like Newsweek or Unit­ed Press Inter­na­tion­al, or to start a new one, or to con­nect entre­pre­neurs with cap­i­tal or invest him­self.

    He imag­ined a scoop-dri­ven and high-metab­o­lism out­let “like Axios,” he said, refer­ring to the buzzy Wash­ing­ton newslet­ter, but with a pop­ulist bent that would devour Europe’s sleepy lega­cy papers.
    ...

    And, of course, there’s the oblig­a­tory shout out to cryp­tocur­ren­cies:

    ...
    He is also increas­ing­ly inter­est­ed in moti­vat­ing peo­ple to fight media con­glom­er­ates like Face­book that mon­e­tize their data. And he has become fas­ci­nat­ed with cryp­to cur­ren­cies and how they can help pop­ulist move­ments, the sub­ject of a speech he gave in Zurich this week.

    In prepa­ra­tion for the speech, orga­nized by Die Welt­woche, a con­ser­v­a­tive Swiss mag­a­zine, Mr. Ban­non said he vis­it­ed the town of Zug, known as Cryp­to Val­ley for its bustling cryp­tocur­ren­cy indus­try. He was impressed.

    “If Brus­sels and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank is wor­ried about Italy going to the lira, their con­cerns should be that all these com­mu­ni­ties and states are going to cryp­to,” he said in Milan.
    ...

    And this is all being done with the long-term goal of prep­ping the Euro­pean pop­u­lace for WWIII:

    ...
    With Europe more aggres­sive­ly tack­ling the migra­tion issue, Mr. Ban­non was aim­ing to move the future bat­tle of pop­ulism to oth­er ter­rains.

    He said that the rea­son it was so impor­tant to get pop­ulist nation­al­ist gov­ern­ments in place was to pre­pare for a com­ing great-pow­ers clash with an axis of ancient Turk­ish, Per­sian and Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tions. “Elites can’t fight that fight,” he said. “Because peo­ple have to buy into it.”
    ...

    “Elites can’t fight that fight...Because peo­ple have to buy into it.”

    A com­ing great-pow­ers clash with an axis of ancient Turk­ish, Per­sian and Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tions: That’s the end goal of the ‘pop­ulism’ Steven Ban­non and the forces behind him (e.g. right-wing bil­lion­aires like the Mer­cers) have in mind.

    So how did his speech at the Nation­al Front con­fer­ence go? Well, he implored the audi­ence to view labels of racism or xeno­pho­bia as a “badge of hon­or”. In oth­er words, it went about as well as one might expect for a speech by Steve Ban­non at a Nation­al Front con­fer­ence:

    CNN

    Ban­non: ‘Let them call you racists’

    By Eli Watkins and James Gray, CNN

    Updat­ed 3:20 PM ET, Sat March 10, 2018

    (CNN)President Don­ald Trump’s estranged advis­er Steve Ban­non told a far-right gath­er­ing in France on Sat­ur­day that they should han­dle accu­sa­tions of racism with pride.

    “Let them call you racists,” Ban­non said to the French Nation­al Front Par­ty. “Let them call you xeno­phobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of hon­or.”

    Ban­non told the Nation­al Front crowd that he had learned from trav­el­ing the world that “his­to­ry is on our side” and that “the glob­al­ists have no answers to free­dom.”

    At a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing his speech, Ban­non gave his expla­na­tion for the recent high-pro­file staff depar­tures from the White House.

    In response to a ques­tion from CNN, Ban­non said, “I think Pres­i­dent Trump has been pret­ty straight­for­ward in say­ing, hey, when we first start­ed, some of these advis­ers are what he would call glob­al­ists, and he’s clear­ly piv­ot­ing to more eco­nom­ic nation­al­ism.”

    Ban­non added that the piv­ot was part­ly in order to pre­pare for the upcom­ing midterm elec­tions.

    “He’s got to ener­gize that base and turn that base out,” he said.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ban­non: ‘Let them call you racists’ ” by Eli Watkins and James Gray; CNN; 03/10/2018

    “Let them call you racists...Let them call you xeno­phobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of hon­or.”

    A badge of hon­or. It’s sort of the Euro­pean fas­cist ver­sion of cel­e­brat­ing ‘snowflake tears’. And as Ban­non sees it, the far-right real­ly is ‘the good guys’ and “his­to­ry is on our side”:

    ...
    Ban­non told the Nation­al Front crowd that he had learned from trav­el­ing the world that “his­to­ry is on our side” and that “the glob­al­ists have no answers to free­dom.”
    ...

    So it’s worth not­ing that when some­one like Ban­non says ‘his­to­ry is on our side’, he’s implic­it­ly imply­ing that vir­tu­al­ly all of the social advances of the last cen­tu­ry or so seen in the West are against ‘the tide of his­to­ry’ and will even­tu­al­ly be wiped away and replaced with what came before: author­i­tar­i­an­ism, sys­tem­at­ic racism and misog­y­ny, anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic par­a­digms, and a gen­er­al unchecked rule by the few an the pow­er­ful. Oh, and lots and lots of nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­da to keep the clue­less rab­ble divid­ed and con­quered. That’s the side of his­to­ry that Steve Ban­non is cham­pi­oning and that’s what his planned WWIII is going to be all about: wip­ing away all of those social advances in the West under the guise of fight­ing a ‘clash of civ­i­liza­tions.’

    Because for Steve Ban­non, ‘pop­ulism’ is real­ly about the free­dom for peo­ple like Steve Ban­non to keep human­i­ty divid­ing and con­quer­ing itself for­ev­er. For the ben­e­fit of peo­ple Machi­avel­li pup­pet-mas­ters like Steve Ban­non. And pret­ty much only those peo­ple.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2018, 2:21 pm
  41. Here’s an update on Steve Ban­non’s plans for the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Europe: Ban­non is report­ed­ly plan­ning on cre­at­ing an orga­ni­za­tion, to be called “The Move­ment”, that will act as a one-stop shop for far right polit­i­cal tools and advice: polling data, advice on mes­sage, think-tank research, and what­ev­er else that might help the far right win elec­tions in Europe. Ban­non likens it to the kind of invest­ment George Soros has made for left-lean­ing pol­i­tics, which an empha­sis on pro­vid­ing resources to the var­i­ous far right par­ties spring­ing up all over Europe that may not have sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing or polit­i­cal struc­tures on their own.

    In addi­tion to hav­ing very high hopes for the project, Ban­non also has near-term hopes: He wants this orga­ni­za­tion up and run­ning for the May 2019 Europe-wide elec­tions with the goal of cre­at­ing a far right “super­group” that con­trols a third of the EU par­lia­ment:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Inside Ban­non’s Plan to Hijack Europe for the Far-Right
    Ban­non is mov­ing to Europe to set up The Move­ment, a pop­ulist foun­da­tion to rival George Soros and spark a right-wing revolt across the con­ti­nent.

    Nico Hines
    07.20.18 9:57 PM ET

    LONDON—Steve Ban­non plans to go toe-to-toe with George Soros and spark a right-wing rev­o­lu­tion in Europe.

    Trump’s for­mer White House chief advi­sor told The Dai­ly Beast that he is set­ting up a foun­da­tion in Europe called The Move­ment which he hopes will lead a right-wing pop­ulist revolt across the con­ti­nent start­ing with the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions next spring.

    The non-prof­it will be a cen­tral source of polling, advice on mes­sag­ing, data tar­get­ing, and think-tank research for a rag­tag band of right-wingers who are surg­ing all over Europe, in many cas­es with­out pro­fes­sion­al polit­i­cal struc­tures or sig­nif­i­cant bud­gets.

    Bannon’s ambi­tion is for his orga­ni­za­tion ulti­mate­ly to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Soci­ety, which has giv­en away $32 bil­lion to large­ly lib­er­al caus­es since it was estab­lished in 1984.

    Over the past year, Ban­non has held talks with right-wing groups across the con­ti­nent from Nigel Farage and mem­bers of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nation­al (recent­ly renamed Rassem­ble­ment Nation­al) in the West, to Hungary’s Vik­tor Orban and the Pol­ish pop­ulists in the East.

    He envi­sions a right-wing “super­group” with­in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment that could attract as many as a third of the law­mak­ers after next May’s Europe-wide elec­tions. A unit­ed pop­ulist bloc of that size would have the abil­i­ty to seri­ous­ly dis­rupt par­lia­men­tary pro­ceed­ings, poten­tial­ly grant­i­ng Ban­non huge pow­er with­in the pop­ulist move­ment.

    After being forced out of the White House fol­low­ing inter­nal wran­glings that would lat­er sur­face in the book Fire and Fury, Ban­non is now rev­el­ing in the oppor­tu­ni­ty to plot his new Euro­pean empire. “I’d rather reign in hell, than serve in heav­en,” he said, para­phras­ing John Milton’s Satan in Par­adise Lost.

    The Movement’s head­quar­ters are expect­ed to be locat­ed in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, where they will start hir­ing staff in com­ing months. It is expect­ed that there will be few­er than 10 full-time staff ahead of the 2019 elec­tions, with a polling expert, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions per­son, an office man­ag­er and a researcher among the posi­tions. The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 peo­ple post-2019 if the project has been a suc­cess.

    Ban­non plans to spend 50 per­cent of his time in Europe—mostly in the field rather than the Brus­sels office—once the midterm elec­tions in the U.S. are over in Novem­ber.

    The oper­a­tion is also sup­posed to serve as a link between Europe’s right-wing move­ments and the pro-Trump Free­dom Cau­cus in the U.S. This week Paul Gosar (R‑AZ) was its envoy to Bannon’s oper­a­tion in Lon­don.

    Ban­non and Raheem Kas­sam, a for­mer Farage staffer and Bre­it­bart edi­tor, set up shop in a five-star May­fair hotel for a week while Don­ald Trump was vis­it­ing Europe. Between TV appear­ances as Trump sur­ro­gates, they host­ed a raft of Europe’s lead­ing right-wingers at the hotel.

    “It was so suc­cess­ful that we’re going to start staffing up,” said Ban­non. “Every­body agrees that next May is huge­ly impor­tant, that this is the real first con­ti­nent-wide face-off between pop­ulism and the par­ty of Davos. This will be an enor­mous­ly impor­tant moment for Europe.”

    Hav­ing seen the shock right-wing vic­to­ry with the Brex­it ref­er­en­dum and Mat­teo Salvini’s elec­toral suc­cess in Italy, which were achieved on rel­a­tive­ly tight bud­gets, Ban­non sees the oppor­tu­ni­ty to boost rad­i­cal­ly dis­parate nation­al­ist par­ties by deploy­ing a well-financed cen­tral­ized oper­a­tion intend­ed to blow local oppo­nents out of the water.

    Up until now insur­gent pop­ulist groups across Europe have often suf­fered from sim­i­lar prob­lems: lack of exper­tise and finances. Le Pen’s par­ty was kept afloat by Russ­ian loans back in 2014, when French banks refused to extend lines of cred­it for the Front Nation­al. Le Pen was back in Moscow shak­ing Putin’s hand before last year’s French elec­tions, which the NSA sub­se­quent­ly revealed had been hacked by the Rus­sians..

    The Move­ment plans to research and write detailed pol­i­cy pro­pos­als that can be used by like-mind­ed par­ties; com­mis­sion pan-Euro­pean or tar­get­ed polling; and share exper­tise in elec­tion war room method­ol­o­gy such as mes­sage dis­ci­pline, data-led vot­er tar­get­ing and field oper­a­tions. Depend­ing on elec­toral law in indi­vid­ual coun­tries, the foun­da­tion may be able to take part in some cam­paigns direct­ly while bol­ster­ing oth­er pop­ulist groups indi­rect­ly.

    “I did­n’t get the idea until Marine Le Pen invit­ed me to speak at Lille at the Front Nation­al,” recalled Ban­non. “I said, ‘What do you want me say?’”

    The response came back: “All you have to say is, ‘We’re not alone.’”

    Ban­non was stunned to dis­cov­er that the nation­al­ist move­ments in Europe were not pool­ing skills and shar­ing ideas with pop­ulist par­ties in neigh­bor­ing countries—let alone on a glob­al scale.

    Ban­non said the Front Nation­al rec­og­nized that he was “the guy that goes round and under­stands us as a col­lec­tive.”

    Up on stage he told the crowd: “You fight for your coun­try and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The estab­lish­ment media are the dogs of the sys­tem. Every day, we become stronger and they become weak­er. Let them call you racists, xeno­phobes or what­ev­er else, wear these like a medal.”

    ———-

    The for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ag­er believes the fuse for the glob­al pop­ulist revolt—now led from Wash­ing­ton, D.C. by his for­mer boss—was lit 10 years ago dur­ing the finan­cial cri­sis and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s bailout of the bro­ken finan­cial sec­tor. With income inequal­i­ty grow­ing, Ban­non first cham­pi­oned Sarah Palin and then Don­ald Trump as van­quish­ers of the estab­lish­ment elite who were capa­ble of turn­ing tra­di­tion­al pol­i­tics on its head.

    His next pop­ulist heroes can be found in Europe.

    He sees Angela Merkel, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, as the per­fect foil to help accel­er­ate that dynam­ic in Europe.

    Not­ing Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial deci­sion to call out Merkel over her gas pipeline deal with Rus­sia last week, Ban­non said: “This is the lie of Angela Merkel. She’s a com­plete and total pho­ny. The elites say Trump is dis­rup­tive but she’s sold out con­trol to Rus­sia for cheap­er ener­gy prices.”

    He describes Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the French pres­i­dent who crushed Le Pen in a runoff elec­tion last year but has since flagged in the polls, as vul­ner­a­ble fig­ure­heads of estab­lish­ment Europe. With Britain vot­ing to quit the E.U., Merkel and Macron’s vision of a unit­ed con­ti­nent will be put to the test at next year’s elec­tions.

    Ban­non is con­vinced that the com­ing years will see a dras­tic break from decades of Euro­pean inte­gra­tion. “Right-wing pop­ulist nation­al­ism is what will hap­pen. That’s what will gov­ern,” he told The Dai­ly Beast. “You’re going to have indi­vid­ual nation states with their own iden­ti­ties, their own bor­ders.”

    The grass­roots move­ments are already in place wait­ing for some­one to max­i­mize their poten­tial. “It will be instantaneous—as soon as we flip the switch,” he said.

    The sight of Brex­it vir­tu­al­ly upend­ing the entire Euro­pean Union with a cam­paign spend­ing cap of £7 mil­lion ($9 mil­lion) was a great inspi­ra­tion. “When they told me the spend­ing cap was £7 mil­lion, I go, ‘You mean £70 mil­lion? What the fu ck?!’ £7 mil­lion doesn’t buy any­thing. It doesn’t buy you Face­book data, it doesn’t buy you ads, it doesn’t do any­thing.”

    “Dude! You just took the fifth largest econ­o­my in the world out of the EU for £7 mil­lion!”

    This week, British offi­cials ruled that the Brex­it cam­paign had not stuck to the legal lim­it—over­spend­ing by more than $600,000. There were also unof­fi­cial cam­paigns which spent addi­tion­al mil­lions argu­ing that Britain should leave the E.U.

    Nonethe­less, Britain’s GDP is around $2.6 tril­lion and leaked gov­ern­ment fig­ures esti­mate that Brex­it could wipe 10 per­cent off that fig­ure, mean­ing the impact of the demo­c­ra­t­ic deci­sion vast­ly dwarfs the scale of the invest­ment by the cam­paign.

    “The first thing they teach you at Har­vard Busi­ness School is oper­at­ing lever­age,” said Ban­non. With his exper­tise, con­tacts and finan­cial back­ing, he is con­vinced that he can have an out­sized impact all across Europe.

    Ban­non went to Italy to observe the cam­paign ear­li­er this year as pop­ulist par­ties surged in the polls despite their tiny oper­a­tions. “Look at Five Star and the North­ern League,” he said. “They used their own cred­it cards. They took con­trol of the sev­enth largest econ­o­my in the world—on their cred­it cards! It’s insane.”

    The two anti-estab­lish­ment par­ties reached a coali­tion agree­ment that made Mat­teo Salvi­ni deputy prime min­is­ter and put him in charge of the inte­ri­or min­istry two months ago. He has since shut Italy’s ports to NGO ships car­ry­ing res­cued migrants and called for a cen­sus of the Roma that may lead to mass depor­ta­tions. Last year, he called for a rad­i­cal crack­down on immi­grants. “We need a mass cleans­ing, street by street, piaz­za by piaz­za, neigh­bor­hood by neigh­bor­hood,” he said.

    Ban­non sees Salvi­ni as a mod­el for his future Move­ment part­ners to fol­low. “Italy is the beat­ing heart of mod­ern pol­i­tics,” he said. “If it works there it can work every­where.”

    He admit­ted that the scale of his right-wing coali­tion could be lim­it­ed by the extreme posi­tions of some of The Movement’s poten­tial part­ners. “Some peo­ple may opt out because they think some of the guys may be too immi­grant focused,” he con­ced­ed.

    “We’re not look­ing to include any eth­no-nation­al­ist par­ties in this although guys like the Swe­den Democ­rats or the True Finns are per­fect cast­ing.”

    Kent Ekeroth of the Swe­den Democ­rats was one of those who met Ban­non in Cen­tral Lon­don in the last week. The par­ty, which had its roots in the Neo-Nazi and white suprema­cist move­ments of the 1980s, has shot up to almost 20 per­cent in recent polls after adopt­ing a more con­ven­tion­al­ly pop­ulist, anti-immi­gra­tion mes­sage.

    Jérôme Riv­ière of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nation­al (Rassem­ble­ment Nation­al since June) also made the pil­grim­age to London’s May­fair, as did Mis­chaël Mod­rika­men of the People’s Par­ty of Bel­gium, Nigel Farage of UKIP and Fil­ip Dewin­ter of Vlaams Belang, a Flem­ish nation­al­ist par­ty formed in 2004 when its pre­de­ces­sor was found to be in breach of a Bel­gian law on racism and xeno­pho­bia.

    Ban­non said Farage and Le Pen would take the lead in fig­ur­ing out the logis­tics of cre­at­ing a new Euro­pean par­lia­men­tary group­ing that could be home to all of these par­ties and more.

    Gosar, the Repub­li­can con­gress­man, also stopped by Bannon’s Lon­don hotel. He was in Britain to attend a ral­ly for the street pro­test­er and alt-right provo­ca­teur Tom­my Robin­son, who was recent­ly jailed for con­tempt of court for breach­ing report­ing restric­tions on a tri­al. Dur­ing his trip, Gosar accused the British gov­ern­ment of jail­ing Robin­son as part of a cov­er up of rape per­pe­trat­ed by “dis­gust­ing and depraved indi­vid­u­als” from Mus­lim immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, which he described as a “scourge.”

    ———–

    Bannon’s ambi­tion is no less than to take a stran­gle­hold on Europe in the same way that he believes Soros has been able to dom­i­nate pro­ceed­ings in recent decades.

    “Soros is bril­liant,” he said. “He’s evil but he’s bril­liant.”

    Ban­non wants to ful­fil that role on the right and he is not ashamed to assert his objec­tives. “I’m about win­ning. I’m about pow­er,” he said. “I want to win and then I want to effec­tu­ate change.”

    He is not afraid of being car­i­ca­tured in the way that Soros has been vil­i­fied by the right. He com­pared it to the fall­out from the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca scan­dal. “Look at Chris Wylie [the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca whistle­blow­er]. He is say­ing ‘Ban­non made psy­cho­log­i­cal weapons.’ He’s lit­er­al­ly made me the most bril­liant evil genius. I’m a Bond vil­lain. I kind of dig it.”

    Kas­sam, who worked close­ly with Ban­non at Bre­it­bart and fol­lowed him out the door of the pop­ulist news site, said The Move­ment was shap­ing up as a force that would sub­sume nation­al pol­i­tics.

    ...

    ———-

    “Inside Ban­non’s Plan to Hijack Europe for the Far-Right” by Nico Hines; The Dai­ly Beast; 07/20/2018

    “The non-prof­it will be a cen­tral source of polling, advice on mes­sag­ing, data tar­get­ing, and think-tank research for a rag­tag band of right-wingers who are surg­ing all over Europe, in many cas­es with­out pro­fes­sion­al polit­i­cal struc­tures or sig­nif­i­cant bud­gets.”

    A uni­fied far right that coor­di­nates itself through Ban­non’s new non-prof­it. That’s the vision. A vision that includes hav­ing the far right grab at least a third of the EU par­lia­ment seats after the upcom­ing May 2019 elec­tion. It’s start­ing off with about 10 full-time staff, but if the far right does as well as Ban­non hopes next year the staff its going to grow sub­stan­tial­ly:

    ...
    Bannon’s ambi­tion is for his orga­ni­za­tion ulti­mate­ly to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Soci­ety, which has giv­en away $32 bil­lion to large­ly lib­er­al caus­es since it was estab­lished in 1984.

    Over the past year, Ban­non has held talks with right-wing groups across the con­ti­nent from Nigel Farage and mem­bers of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nation­al (recent­ly renamed Rassem­ble­ment Nation­al) in the West, to Hungary’s Vik­tor Orban and the Pol­ish pop­ulists in the East.

    He envi­sions a right-wing “super­group” with­in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment that could attract as many as a third of the law­mak­ers after next May’s Europe-wide elec­tions. A unit­ed pop­ulist bloc of that size would have the abil­i­ty to seri­ous­ly dis­rupt par­lia­men­tary pro­ceed­ings, poten­tial­ly grant­i­ng Ban­non huge pow­er with­in the pop­ulist move­ment.

    ...

    The Movement’s head­quar­ters are expect­ed to be locat­ed in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, where they will start hir­ing staff in com­ing months. It is expect­ed that there will be few­er than 10 full-time staff ahead of the 2019 elec­tions, with a polling expert, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions per­son, an office man­ag­er and a researcher among the posi­tions. The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 peo­ple post-2019 if the project has been a suc­cess.

    Ban­non plans to spend 50 per­cent of his time in Europe—mostly in the field rather than the Brus­sels office—once the midterm elec­tions in the U.S. are over in Novem­ber.

    The oper­a­tion is also sup­posed to serve as a link between Europe’s right-wing move­ments and the pro-Trump Free­dom Cau­cus in the U.S. This week Paul Gosar (R‑AZ) was its envoy to Bannon’s oper­a­tion in Lon­don.

    ...

    The Move­ment plans to research and write detailed pol­i­cy pro­pos­als that can be used by like-mind­ed par­ties; com­mis­sion pan-Euro­pean or tar­get­ed polling; and share exper­tise in elec­tion war room method­ol­o­gy such as mes­sage dis­ci­pline, data-led vot­er tar­get­ing and field oper­a­tions. Depend­ing on elec­toral law in indi­vid­ual coun­tries, the foun­da­tion may be able to take part in some cam­paigns direct­ly while bol­ster­ing oth­er pop­ulist groups indi­rect­ly.
    ...

    “The Move­ment plans to research and write detailed pol­i­cy pro­pos­als that can be used by like-mind­ed par­ties; com­mis­sion pan-Euro­pean or tar­get­ed polling; and share exper­tise in elec­tion war room method­ol­o­gy such as mes­sage dis­ci­pline, data-led vot­er tar­get­ing and field oper­a­tions. Depend­ing on elec­toral law in indi­vid­ual coun­tries, the foun­da­tion may be able to take part in some cam­paigns direct­ly while bol­ster­ing oth­er pop­ulist groups indi­rect­ly.”

    Keep in mind that, if Ban­non is cor­rect is most of Europe’s far right par­ties have yet to tru­ly exploit mod­ern polit­i­cal cam­paign­ing tac­tics, that does actu­al­ly sug­gest that there’s a lot of room for these par­ties to grow.

    And it was Ban­non’s expe­ri­ences with the Front Nation­al (Nation­al Front) in France that made Ban­non real­ize that the Euro­pean, let alone glob­al, far right just isn’t pool­ing its resources and ideas ade­quate­ly. Which, again, does sug­gest these move­ments could end up doing far bet­ter at the polls if they actu­al­ly start work­ing togeth­er more:

    ...
    “I did­n’t get the idea until Marine Le Pen invit­ed me to speak at Lille at the Front Nation­al,” recalled Ban­non. “I said, ‘What do you want me say?’”

    The response came back: “All you have to say is, ‘We’re not alone.’”

    Ban­non was stunned to dis­cov­er that the nation­al­ist move­ments in Europe were not pool­ing skills and shar­ing ideas with pop­ulist par­ties in neigh­bor­ing countries—let alone on a glob­al scale.

    Ban­non said the Front Nation­al rec­og­nized that he was “the guy that goes round and under­stands us as a col­lec­tive.”

    Up on stage he told the crowd: “You fight for your coun­try and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The estab­lish­ment media are the dogs of the sys­tem. Every day, we become stronger and they become weak­er. Let them call you racists, xeno­phobes or what­ev­er else, wear these like a medal.”
    ...

    “Ban­non said the Front Nation­al rec­og­nized that he was “the guy that goes round and under­stands us as a col­lec­tive.””

    And the fact that Ban­non appears to view him­self as the guy who rec­og­nizes the far right is real­ly a trans-nation­al col­lec­tive points towards one of the under-rec­og­nized ironies of the cur­rent ‘anti-glob­al­ist’ fer­vor sweep­ing the plan­et: the ‘anti-glob­al­ist’ far right has glob­al ambi­tions and a vision for a large­ly uni­form plan­et. Every nation on the plan­et is to be run by more or less the same under­ly­ing author­i­tar­i­an right-wing ide­ol­o­gy. The par­tic­u­lar tra­di­tions and cul­tur­al fetish­es might vary, but the under­ly­ing ide­ol­o­gy will be the same as it’s tra­di­tion­al­ly been through­out record­ed his­to­ry: some sort of strong-man rule that claims legit­i­ma­cy via the pro­mo­tion of nation­al myth, pro­pa­gan­da, and brute force. And once the far right is in pow­er every­one, the new glob­al­ism will be a glob­al col­lec­tive of far right nations ready to work togeth­er to squash any mean­ing­ful pop­u­lar left-wing move­ments that might actu­al­ly empow­er aver­age peo­ple in every nation on the plan­et. Giv­en the fact that we all live on a sin­gle plan­et means some sort of ‘glob­al­ism’ is inevitable. Steve Ban­non’s ver­sion of glob­al­ism just hap­pens to include an ‘anti-glob­al­ist’ pati­na.

    If this kind of vision makes Ban­non sounds like a Bond vil­lain, well, he’s prob­a­bly not going to dis­agree because com­par­isons to an evil genius appear to