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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

33 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 (R), 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 (R). 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

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