Ilhan Omar Has a Point About AIPAC

It’s long past time that we moved towards the position that it’s okay to criticize the government of Israel. You can totally support the right of Israel to exist, as I do, and yet criticize a far-right government that’s used racism and has perhaps engaged in war crimes to maintain its position. Nor should we hesitate to criticize its leader, an individual unafraid to use racism to remain in power, nor it seems is he afraid to use allegedly corrupt actions to maintain that position either.

After all, we’re doing it in America about our leader right now.

It should not be something we dither about. Or worry about being called anti-Semitic by far-right individuals who want no criticism of the Israeli government. If this was any other country in the world, criticizing that government would not be seen as a hate crime.

Yes, we should also criticize the actions of corrupt and cruel organizations like Hamas, who has ruled the Gaza Strip with a relentless and brutal thirst for power of its own. Hamas hurts more than helps the Palestinian people. Its actions against the people of Israel also deserve to be condemned.

But it takes two to tango. And many the actions of the Netanyahu government and the Israeli Defense Forces are also relentless and cruel and if they are not war crimes they are very close to being so.

Nor should criticism of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) be off limits either. Which is why Democratic representative Ilhan Omar has a point. AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington along with the NRA and the energy lobby. To deny this is to stick your head in the sand and ignore reality. And it should be noted that Ilhan Omar is not the first person to make this point. The Mearsheimer and Walt report of 2007 presented a strong case of how individuals and organizations work very hard to push US policy in the direction of Israel.

But I would argue that one step farther. I don’t think AIPAC pushes American policy towards “Israel” in a broad sense. I believe they want to push US policy in the direction of a certain kind of Israel, basically one run by a far-right Israeli government. I don’t think AIPAC has much interest in a more liberal form of government in Israel, as it would undermine many of the views AIPAC has promoted or the years. One only has to read Thomas Friedman’s piece in the New York Times this week, critical of both Omar and AIPAC, that outlines many of the actions taken by AIPAC that sought to undermine an American administration that it saw as “unfavorable” toward a far-right Israeli government.

Representative Omar and I may have different reasons for criticizing AIPAC and the actions of the Israeli government and perhaps she needs to learn to hone her criticism so that she does not open herself up so easily to charges of anti-Semitism but I am glad she has moved us in a more open direction. Criticizing the government of Israel or an American lobby group that promotes a far-right agenda does not mean that you “hate Jews.” In fact, one of the most encouraging signs that things are changing was the number of American Jews who actually defended Omar’s right to criticize AIPAC and pointed out how the far-right tries to smear anyone who makes the kind of comments that she did.

The people of Israel deserve far better than the government they have now which has only served to isolate them from the world and undermine their image as one of the great democracies. Open and honest criticism of a far-right Israeli government and of an American lobby group that support it is a step in the right direction.

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Old White GOP Men Are Terrified of Ocasio-Cortez

GOP Strategist Calls Ocasio-Cortez ‘The Little Girl.’ She Lets Him Have It.

It’s amazing to me how scared Republicans, and particularly Republican white men, are of new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They attack her relentlessly. The other day when Nancy Pelosi was being sworn in as the new Speaker of the House, the GOP only booed one person when their name was called during the vote and that was Ocasio-Cortez. Conservative talking heads criticize her every move, every idea she has, they even tried to make fun of her because she likes to dance.

Oh how scared they must be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of covering politics and living in a political family is that you don’t attack someone like this unless you are really scared of what they represent and you need to try to knock them down. Unlike others in the past, however, who have been attacked this way Ocasio-Cortez gives as good as she gets and she is unafraid to clap back. And how it must bother these old white men that a young Latina is unafraid of them.

What really scares them is how much she is admired by young people. Her ideas, like a 70% tax the ultrarich (which is an idea that is supported by several Nobel prize-winning economists), resonate with young people who are struggling with student debt and only able to find minimum-wage jobs. I know my four children all between the ages of 16 and 23 feel that she speaks for them and their concerns. And that is really what has the GOP terrified.

Did the U.S. Cover Up a Civilian Massacre Before Black Hawk Down?

A few years ago, when I was still working at the Christian Science Monitor, photos showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq became public. I was writing about what the pictures told us about the US military one day when a member of our management team came by, saw what I was writing, and commented how terrible it was and this was the first time that he’d ever heard of any such thing connected to the US military.

I told him it was far from the first time that the US military had been accused of atrocities during wartime. The US war in the Philippines (in fact, the US committed so many atrocities in his conflict that then Pres. William McKinley asked the press not to write about them because it was endangering his chances of reelection), World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq all saw such atrocities take place along with an effort by the US military and the US government to cover up these incidents. We like to excuse these incidents as “the fog of war” but very often as with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, American troops and commanders knew exactly what they were doing.

But this was a new one to me. In an attack described as “mass murder” by Human Rights Watch, US forces destroyed a building in which many Somali elders had gathered to talk about ways to find a peaceful solution to the problems in Somalia. Over 200 civilians were killed. The attack so angered Somali citizens that they attacked and killed four Western journalists in retaliation. The attack also played a direct role in the incident we know as “Black Hawk Down,” where several American soldiers were killed and their bodies dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.

At the time, there didn’t seem to be any reason for the Somalis brutal treatment of the bodies of the dead American soldiers. Now that this incident is being exposed, perhaps it gives us more context to understand this horrifying reaction.

How 2 Student Reporters Exposed One Of The Internet’s Biggest Neo-Nazis

And this, friends, is why we need good solid journalism more than ever. These two Canadian journalism students at Concordia University in Montréal, through hard work and lots of shoe leather, discovered the identity of one of the most racist and terrifying figures promoting hatred on the Internet. They did so knowing that they would be attacked by the far-right not only digitally but perhaps even physically.

With the help of a reporter on the Montréal Gazette, their hard work led them to a self-employed information technology consultant in his early 30s, Gabriel Sohier Chaput, also a resident of Montréal. Unlike the United States, Canada has laws against hate speech. In Montréal when police moved in to arrest him, he vanished and his whereabouts are still unknown.

The actions of these two students illustrate why journalists become journalists. We don’t do it because we think that one day they’ll make a movie about what we do and ask some big Hollywood personality like Robert Redford to portray us. Most of us start our careers at small papers or media outlets reporting on local council meetings or chasing ambulances. We do it because we care about the truth and we believe that people have a right to know the truth, even little truths like you learned at council meetings. Sometimes that truth makes people angry, even the people who should know about it. That will not stop us from doing what we need to do.

It’s why people like Gabriel Sohier Chaput need to know we are out there and we will not stop at exposing what they do.

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The Canadian Busily Blowing up Pseudoscience – Musings 01/01/19

Has Tim Caulfield become the Canadian nemesis of pseudoscience?

A very nice piece on Tim Caulfield, who makes his home in Edmonton, Alberta, and his efforts to blow up the pseudoscience of people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Deepak Chopra. Like Caulfield, I believe that if it doesn’t have a scientific basis it is just so much humbugery, not very different from the snake oil peddlers who used to sell their wares across the American frontier. Just a new group of suckers easier to reach because of social media.

“If you are willing to believe this one magical thing, I think it’s easier to believe other magical things,” he says. “And I think this is a significant problem in this day and age: This deep erosion and loss of trust and critical thinking in how our world works.”

Homeopathic cures, anti-vaxxers, GMO haters, vaginally eggs, the endless stream of bogus health cures and wellness routines that never ends especially when these phonies realize that coming up with bogus concoctions can make them millions. Thank the stars above for people like Caulfield.

In the same vein, I would also recommend the podcast “Sawbones” which is done by one of the normally very funny McElroy brothers and his doctor wife which relentlessly seeks out and demolishes bogus medical theories while alternating with interesting looks at medical history.

This Western Mass. town rejected Comcast and will build its own broadband network

The Western Massachusetts town of Charlemont said thanks but no thanks to Comcast. And who can blame them? Especially after the FCC did away with Net Neutrality rules, largely thanks to the interventions and “donations” made by large networks to Republican politicians to support the measure. There is also the reality that when the deal with Massachusetts runs out in a few years, how much do you think Comcast is going invest in new equipment in small towns in western Massachusetts? Probably not much.

I think it is very smart of the people of the town to build their own network. I hope many other small towns in America make the same decision.

What the Believers Are Denying (The denial of climate change and the denial of racism rest on the same foundation: an attack on observable reality.)

When I heard that Chuck Todd would no longer allow guests on Meet the Press who are climate change deniers I wanted to add him to my Christmas card list. I, like Todd, also believe that it’s time to stop messing around with these foolish people. Climate change is an undeniable fact and because so many people in power, like Pres. Trump, choose to ignore it means really bad things for our planet, some of which we are just starting to see now.

“I don’t believe it,” President Donald Trump said in response. “No. No. I don’t believe it.”

I have heard this before. I can relate.

“No. No. I’m not racist,” Trump has said repeatedly. Evidence be damned.

It would also be nice if some national TV host said: “I’m not going to interview racists on the show anymore.” This, of course, would mean that Pres. Trump could never be interviewed, not to mention too many Republican members of Congress to enumerate. Heck, if Fox News ever adapted such an idea (I’m not an idiot, I promise you, I’m just daydreaming here to make a point) almost their entire nighttime lineup would be off the air not to mention three-quarters of the guests they interview.

Racism, like climate change, is an observable fact in the United States and the people who deny that are just as wrong as the climate change deniers are.

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Democrats Know How to Play Dirty Tricks Too – Musings, 12/27/18

[Illustration by Georgia Democrats, Creative Commons]

Internet billionaire Reid Hoffman apologizes for funding a group tied to disinformation in Alabama race

And they don’t like being caught doing it any more than the Russians or the Republicans did.

Apparently, a pro-Democrat research firmed used “Russian-like disinformation tactics” during the Alabama Senate race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones (Jones apparently had no idea this was being done). And these dirty Russian like tactics were done by none other than the firm that presented a major report on the Russian disinformation campaign to the Senate.

This disinformation campaign was apparently funded by Internet billionaire (anytime I see Internet billionaire I always get suspicious) Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linked In who was throwing around a lot of money to support democratic causes. He apologized for supporting this one in particular but offered no real details about the actual campaign itself.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Leave it up to the Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot while at the same time finding a way to make Vladimir Putin and his Russian thugs seem less ominous. I don’t know who okayed this particular operation but whoever it was needs to have his goddamn head examined. Idiot.

LeBron James apologises for ‘Jewish money’ Instagram post

LeBron James said that when he posted the lyrics from a song by 21 Savage he thought it was a “compliment.” LeBron James is no dummy so I fail to see how he could think that any reference to the term “Jewish money” is a compliment when it reinforces an anti-Semitic stereotype that stretches back centuries. Republican politicians and right-wing talking heads have been using it lately to smear Jews like George Soros.

Maybe he really didn’t know. But I hate the “I’m sorry if I offended anybody” nature of his apology. How about just saying “I screwed up and used a really anti-Semitic reference that did offend a lot of people.” And then using his massive bully pulpit to explain to people why it’s anti-Semitic. At this moment in history, with the Pittsburgh shooting so fresh in our memories and regular attacks on Jews in the U.S., it could’ve made a big difference if he had handled in the right way.

But he’s LeBron James. So he gets to skate. The NBA accepted his explanation that it was a mistake. ESPN carried a short piece about the comment, no doubt not wanting to upset one of America’s biggest sports stars. While this story may fade in a day or two, you have to wonder if LeBron’s posting the remarks, followed by his weak apology. will linger. Millions of young people pay attention to what he does and says. As this piece in SB nation puts it, will there be people who now think it’s okay to make allusions to “Jewish money” because LeBron did?

The Dollar Store Backlash Has Begun

An interesting piece about the boom of Dollar Stores across the United States and what it says about the real economy – not the one followed by billionaires on Wall Street, but the one everyday people live in. Basically, the article argues that if a Dollar Store appears in your neighborhood that means your neighborhood is in economic trouble.

Trump Brags To Troops About A Fictional Giant Pay Raise He Got Them

Because he’s Donald Trump and because lying is as natural to him as breathing is to most human beings, President Screw-Up couldn’t help himself when he went to visit U.S. troops in Iraq over Christmas. First, I’m glad he went to visit the troops. That’s a good thing. But rather than quietly and humbly (ha ha) thanking the men and women who put their lives on the lines for America every day, he tried to make the event all about himself by bragging that he had got them their first pay raise in a decade and it was a 10% pay increase!

Lies, damn lies and pretty poor statistics.

First, the military receives a pay increase every year. So the last time the military got a pay increase was last year, not a decade ago. And the pay increase they are receiving this year is 2.6%, not 10%. The people that I know in the American military watch their money pretty closely because we really don’t pay them very well. They are more than well aware of what is in their paychecks. They would know immediately that he was just gasbagging them. But Trump believes he can baffle the entire world with his bullshit.

By the way, that wasn’t the only screw-up that President Screw-up made. After his trip, he posted a video of his meeting with Seal Team Five, which had been deployed to Iraq. Only you’re not supposed to do that. Technically, as president of the United States, he can make any secret instantly not secret. But we all know he wasn’t thinking that.

Instead he posted a video that revealed the identities of members of a special operative squad. People who actually pay attention to things like security say that the president’s actions would normally be viewed as a violation of operational security because it endangers the lives of the members of that team. Not that Donald Trump ever even thought about that for a second.

Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds

With good reason. Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals do bad things to little boys and little girls. Evangelical clerics turn a blind eye to the many sins of Donald Trump in order to get the power that they want. There are many good people of faith in the United States. There may be even some in the clergy. But as the article above points out “a whole lot of really bad apples” spoil the bunch.

I do note that the group immediately below the clergy were journalists. We are unpopular because we tell people things they don’t want to hear. The clergy is unpopular because too many of them are liars and hypocrites. Like Congress, which finished last in the poll.

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What Really Happened to the Global Order

The Death of Global Order Was Caused by Clinton, Bush, and Obama

I’ve been a big Stephen Walt for a long time. Certainly, since he and John Mearsheimer wrote their brilliant exposé on the far-right Israeli lobby that wields so much power in official Washington. So I’m always happy to read what he writes even if I’m not sure I totally agree with it.

This piece on the death of the global order, however, is brilliant and contradictory. Progressives and liberals (like myself) are quick to blame the death of the way things were on Donald Trump. And they’re just as quick to blame him for the demise of America’s standing in the world.

Now Mr. Trump certainly deserves a lot of blame for this but as Walt points out in this article he actually may be the least responsible for where we are now. Basically, he argues that America had a moment after the end of the Cold War with Russia when we could’ve pushed our allies to take more responsibility on the world stage that would’ve freed the United States to focus more on problems at home. Instead, we went merrily around the globe trying to push our liberal values on anyone who would listen (and often those who wouldn’t) and the result has been disastrous. Donald Trump may have provided the “tipping point” but Clinton, Obama, and Bush had already set the wheels in motion.

Walt really does excoriate the United States for its stupidity and its responsibility for much of the chaos we see in the world. As I said above you may not agree with his point but it always makes for a really good read.

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Musings 12/06/18 – The Celebration and the Denunciation

George H.W. Bush’s funeral was a powerful renunciation of Trump
Bush’s Funeral Wasn’t About Trump. But Of Course It Was.

How odd it must’ve been for a man who insists that everything be about him, to sit through a 90-minute service about another person, and to listen to speaker after speaker extolled that person’s virtues when every virtue was a repudiation of how the listener conducts his life.

As John Harris writes in Politico, in Washington DC subtext is text. While each of the four speakers eulogizing the late Pres. George H. W. Bush focused on his service to his country, his understanding that the opposition is not the enemy, his desire for America to have a prominent place in the world, and perhaps most of all his kindness, they were also denouncing the lack of these traits in the current occupant of the oval office.

Trump sat through the service like a caged animal, arms folded in a defensive posture, restless, unable to tweet, not bothering to sing the songs or pray the prayers (probably because he didn’t know them – Trump probably has been near a church since he was baptized).

But the most stinging and straightforward rebukes came from a former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, who praised Bush for his work on NAFTA, in NATO, on environmentalism, and in international leadership, all things which Trump has derided or debased.

For me, watching the service I had mixed emotions. I was not a huge fan of the 41st President of the United States (I will never forgive him for the Willie Horton ad) but he understood service and you cannot question his love of country. More than anything else I came away with a feeling of nostalgia. A nostalgia for a time when the president of the United States, regardless of his political party, actually tried to make the office more about the people of the country than about himself.

Huawei CFO arrest ‘violates human rights’, China says

Hearing China condemn another country for violating human rights is a bit like listening to the Ku Klux Klan condemn another organization for being racist.

Nonetheless, I was a little surprised to read of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer. The daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom giant was picked up by Canadian authorities in Vancouver because her extradition is wanted by the United States for some reason. We don’t know what for yet, because Ms. Meng asked for a publication ban of the details of her arrest, which you can do under Canadian law. (Reporting on court cases and court proceedings in Canada is completely different than what is done under American law.)

Coming so soon after Pres. Trump and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping seemed to momentarily put aside their trade differences for 90 days, this will not help smooth that road.

Recently several Western countries have restricted the use of Huawei technology in the building of infrastructure for the new 5G networks. That tells me that Western security services are concerned that the Chinese are building lots of backdoors and ways to disrupt a country’s technology through the use of Huawei equipment.

Facebook discussed cashing in on user data, emails suggest

The more I read about Facebook, the happier I am that I am leaving it on December 15. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff recently compared using Facebook to having an addiction to nicotine. As he said, Facebook is the new cigarette. It’s hard to leave, I won’t lie, but with each new bit of news about Facebook, it reaffirms my belief that I’m doing the right thing. Good riddance to bad garbage.

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Musings, 12/02/2019 – Our witness tampering president

Is Donald Trump’s Tweet About Roger Stone Witness Tampering?
We all know that one of the worst things about Donald Trump’s presidency is the tweets. Presidential policy dispensed in 280 characters. Even Republicans in rural states who strongly support Trump have told the media they wish the president would lay off Twitter for a while.

Well, it turns out the tweets are not only annoying, but they may also be illegal. In this interesting piece written by Lawfair, a legal blog, the writers examine the issue of whether or not Trump’s tweets in August about Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen and his tweet earlier this week about Roger Stone amount to witness tampering. They present a pretty strong case that it does. They also point out that the later comments by Roger Stone that Trump’s tweets don’t amount to witness tampering are in fact mistaken. And when it comes to legal matters, I wouldn’t trust Roger Stone or Donald Trump as far as I could throw them.

Facebook Lets Users Post About Killing Immigrants and Minorities

As you know I going through the final stages of leaving Facebook. While I appreciate the opportunity to reach out to friends and to speedily post articles about which I think are important for people to read, I could no longer justify continuing to support a company that engaged in so many possibly illegal and certainly distasteful practices.

And here is just one more example. Lots of far-right supporters of Donald Trump calling for his opponents to be shot or for members of the caravan approaching the US border to be shot. It’s not just that Facebook allows these hateful posts in to be made and remain online (so much for its new anti-hate speech technology) what really bothers me is that many of these posts are not being made by stereotypical right-wing weirdos but by police officers and people in positions of authority. And these cretins know Facebook won’t do much of anything to stop them from posting their vile and evil sentiments. Especially if they are white.

Like the Texas man, many of the hateful and violent comments came from white users. In 2017, ProPublica reported on internal Facebook documents that showed the company had an apparent bias toward protecting the speech of whites while flagging posts by black and other minority users.

Time to give up on Facebook. folks. The only way that Facebook will change is if millions of people leave.

Senior aides push back on Trump’s claim that China agreed to cut auto tariffs

It must be difficult to be an aide to Donald Trump in any capacity. Part of the job description has to include undoing presidential lies and overstatements. Because almost nothing Donald Trump says is actually true. Certainly not of the time that he says it.

Take, for example, his boast on Twitter that China was going to remove all tariffs on American auto imports. If it was true it would be quite an accomplishment. China imposes a 40% import duty on American autos. But sadly, as has been the case so many times in the past, it is not true.

Many of Trump’s top economic aides spent yesterday “pulling back” the president’s statement because no such agreement exists at the present time. And while these advisors tried to be as optimistic as possible and say it might happen, no one bothered to consult the Chinese who haven’t said anything about any kind of an auto agreement.

All politicians polish the apple a bit when it comes to their accomplishments. Trump polishes it so hard he makes it too slippery to pick up. In fact, most of the time he is trying to polish it when there’s no apple at all.

Canada punches ticket to 2019 FIBA World Cup with rout of Brazil

Well, a Canadian invented basketball. Why shouldn’t we be good at it?

So Canadians are responsible for two of the four major North American sports, hockey and basketball. And Canada’s McGill University is probably responsible for the beginnings of American football that we see today. While the first sort of football match was played between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, it wasn’t until Harvard played McGill in 1874, and then adopted McGill’s rugby-style rules that football as we know it began to take shape. The first Harvard-Yale game was in 1875, and after that game, Yale and Princeton both decided to switch to the McGill rules. It was then the great Walter Camp at Yale who improved on these rugby-style rules and introduced the notion of downs, the quarterback and the 11-man team.

But it was those crazy Canucks who laid the groundwork.

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Musings for November 30, 2018

Why America doesn’t win wars anymore (4:39 p.m.)

Dominic Tierney, a professor at Swarthmore College and the author of multiple books about how America wages war, may know the reason why.

“We’re still stuck in this view that war is like the Super Bowl: We meet on the field, both sides have uniforms, we score points, someone wins, and when the game ends you go home,” he told me. “That’s not what war is like now.”

Vladimir Putin And Saudi Crown Prince Pal Around At G20 Summit(4:13 p.m.)

How murderers greet each other.

Three Remarkable Things About Michael Cohen’s Plea (10:06 a.m.)
As the rest of the headline says, “These developments would, under normal circumstances, end a presidency.” Maybe it will. Maybe it will.

Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis rising from smoke and ashes is depicted in this enormous carving “etched” into the side of Stone Mountain. (By Bryce Edwards, Creative Commons)

The Costs of the Confederacy

An intriguing piece by of all people Smithsonian magazine on how much the Confederacy continues to cost the taxpayers of the United States. Tax dollars continue to support shrines, monuments, parks, and historical sites that honor these losers to the tune of over $40 million a year. And often at many of the sites, the people involved continue to spread the lie that the main cause of the Civil War was not slavery. It’s time we cut funding to these places and that school boards in the South stop using them to take schoolchildren on “educational” visits. I’m tired of this whole “heritage” argument. Honoring the Confederacy, and that pile of propagandistic rubbish known as “The Lost Cause,” is just another way of honoring white supremacy.

First, far from simply being markers of historic events and people, as proponents argue, these memorials were created and funded by Jim Crow governments to pay homage to a slave-owning society and to serve as blunt assertions of dominance over African-Americans.

Second, contrary to the claim that today’s objections to the monuments are merely the product of contemporary political correctness, they were actively opposed at the time, often by African-Americans, as instruments of white power.

Finally, Confederate monuments aren’t just heirlooms, the artifacts of a bygone era. Instead, American taxpayers are still heavily investing in these tributes today. We have found that, over the past ten years, taxpayers have directed at least $40 million to Confederate monuments—statues, homes, parks, museums, libraries and cemeteries—and to Confederate heritage organizations.

‘White supremacy’ is really about white degeneracy

From the Guardian, a piece on how far right white supremacists are reveling in the fact that they can be as morally contemptible as they want to be and yet still prevail. And as long as Donald Trump is president of the United States, and people like the Republican Steve Bannon are roaming the world spreading racism and bigotry, this attitude will probably continue to motivate those who believe in white supremacy. It’s why the rest of us who see these liars and racists as the phonies that they are need to speak out strongly every chance we get to shut them down.

But for millions of Americans to choose Trump and to continue to support him cannot simply be dismissed as voters “holding their noses” and selecting the individual who could best forward their agenda, regardless of his personal qualities. For a significant proportion of his supporters, it was a deliberate choice for moral degeneracy, even a celebration of it. It is also a reproach to the Obama years and to Obama personally. A bad white man will always be better than a good black man, regardless of the political platforms they support.

Trump is a moral degenerate in every sense of the word. And we need to call him on it at every opportunity.

‘They got me. I’m afraid.’: Swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish professor’s office at Columbia

You can look in any corner of America and see how the racism and bigotry of Donald Trump are infecting and inspiring anti-Semites and white supremacists to engage in acts that once would’ve been thought unthinkable. But it’s not just Trump. The entire Republican establishment has for years undermined any efforts by law enforcement or other groups to bring attention to the activities of these people. Republican politicians would hide behind “oh they’re picking on us” and refused to fund investigations by departments like Homeland Security into areas of domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence. And you know why? Because if these governmental organizations were allowed to investigate these people, we would find nothing but far-right Republicans, Trump supporters, and members of the NRA.

Black People Don’t Get To Be ‘Good Guys With Guns’

In the past month, police murdered two African-Americans who were legally carrying handguns and attempting to help in troubling situations. That’s because for too many police in this country their first thought when they see an African-American with a gun is “shoot to kill.” Nevermind the situation, never mind trying to find out what’s going on, never mind if the African-American question is not pointing the gun at a police officer, never mind if the individual involved is actually following the orders of the police. Just shoot. And then issued a mealy-mouthed apology later that totally glosses over the blatant racism of the police officers involved.

There is no place in this country, no place, where African-Americans are safe from the brutality of the police.

GOP moves to dilute power of governor, AG, secretary of state

Yet one more sign that Republicans really don’t care about the will of the people, they just want power. Plain pure and simple. And they will do anything from changing laws, to suppressing voters, to putting their thumbs on the scales to make sure that they what the people want is ignored.

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Musings for November 29, 2018

Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior in regards to the Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation shows that he knows the jig is up. He has done everything he can to undermine this investigation, including behaving in a manner absolutely abhorrent for a president of the United States. I think that’s what bothers me the most. There has never been an individual to hold the highest office in the land who worked so hard to degraded it, to defame it and make it look ridiculous.

Yes, his election was the will of the people (not all the people, he lost the popular vote by a few million ballots) but he triumphed fairly under the ridiculous electoral system that exists in the United States. But you know what? Sometimes people make the wrong decision and American voters made the wrong decision electing Donald Trump. He is, without any doubt, the worst president in the history of this great country. Not even a close call.

Mueller’s Steady Stream of Russia Revelations Is Driving Trump Crazy (4:59 PM)

Canada imposes sanctions on 17 Saudis over killing of journalist Khashoggi (8:27 p.m.)

Cowards. The evidence is there to name MBS. And Trudeau runs away from it.No better than Trump.

Any day now, this house of cards will come tumbling down.

For those who are wondering why Trump doesn’t just go ahead and pardon Manafort and the rest, or have his new thug Attorney General Matthew Whi
taker shut down Mueller, I suggest the answer is simple: Someone has gotten it through Trump’s head that such blatant moves will not prevent Mueller’s stories from getting out, not successfully protect all the president’s guilty men (and possibly women) from criminal exposure, and not necessarily be constitutional if the aim is to exchange pardons for silence. What Trump would succeed in doing instead is adding another chapter or two to still another Mueller true-crime tale, the one about obstruction of justice.

Investigators Raid Offices of President of U.S. Catholic Bishops (4:50 pm)

The Catholic Church has finally run out its string. After decades of lying, coverups, and moving pedophile priests around from parish to parish – not just in the United States but all around the world – it’s time to pay the piper. Time for priests and cardinals and archbishops who have abused children, or who have a have hidden abusers, to go to jail. For a long time.

Trump Is Wrecking the Constitution, the Presidency—and Now, Romaine Lettuce, Too (6:48 a.m.)

The daily antics of Donald Trump constantly leaves people gasping “It can’t get worse.” But it does, of course.

What we are missing, however, is the way that the Trump administration is dismantling important regulations brought in by Pres. Obama and past administrations designed to protect the air quality, the water quality, and the food supply in order to protect the health of Americans. This Romaine lettuce outbreak can be directly traced to the policies of the Trump administration. They don’t care if there is crap all over your Romaine lettuce. They just want to save their friends in big Agri a few bucks. If a few people die because of inadequate food production, well, so be it. There’s money to be made.

Trump-led GOP grows increasingly tolerant of racially divisive politics

Let me translate that headline for you. The Republican Party is becoming a party of racists and bigots and they don’t care about trying to hide it anymore. It’s been moving that way for half a century, since the development of the southern strategy under Richard Nixon.

Five years after the GOP produced a self-examination that called for reconciliation with minority voters, the party has grown increasingly tolerant of racially divisive politics, making its support base even whiter as potential minority voters and candidates are driven away.

The shift has been led by a president who in the final days of the Mississippi Senate race said the Democratic candidate, an African American who was born here to a well-known family, doesn’t “fit in.”

These efforts of course are being led by a man who has a well-known history of racism and bigotry throughout his life and doesn’t seem to care if people know it. The GOP has become the party of less-educated white people, primarily white males. It’s a shame really. In about 20 years or so, less than 50% of the American population will be white. And as college-educated whites move increasingly towards the Democrats, the GOP’s base shrinks and shrinks. No doubt more than a few Republicans will deny this trend, but if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. A racist and bigoted duck.

Redskins ignore Colin Kaepernick, sign Reuben Foster and remind us of who they are

If you want to know something about American football, this story kind of sums it all up. The NFL makes a big deal about “defending the shield” and being solid, upright citizens in their communities. Well, maybe some teams fit this description. The Washington team does not. (I will not use their racist last name.) In a sense, the move by the Washington team to ignore a talented quarterback who protested racial injustice by the police and instead select a linebacker who has been accused of domestic abuse more than once, is a great reflection on where we are as a country right now. Basically, it’s okay to beat your partner but don’t you dare say anything bad about how the police treat black people in this country.

The Algorithms of August

Very good piece by Foreign Policy about how the US is losing the artificial intelligence race to countries like China and Canada. I hate to keep bringing us up, but this is another place where racism and bigotry are keeping the best people away from United States. Countries like Canada, which have a much more open door policy towards immigrants, are actively recruiting scientists who specialize in artificial intelligence research. The government has actually allocated millions of dollars to do so.

Since Trump has become president, however, with his incessant wars on both legal and illegal immigrants, scientists who might once have come and settled in the United States are now looking in other directions. Americans, for their part, failed to understand how stories about racism and bigotry in the United States resonate around the world. The Indian engineer who was murdered by a white racist in Kansas sent a shiver through the scientific communities of other nations around the world. Why come to the United States when you can go to a country that appreciate your talents and want you to settle there?

NRATV: Boys Should Be Trained To Charge At Active Shooters

Fortunately for all of us, the NRA is doing its very best to reduce its membership even more than it has in the past two years. If you want to find the epicenter of so much of the darkness that threatens to engulf the United States in the 21st century, you can begin that search at the NRA headquarters just outside Washington DC.

MSNBC declines to allow Sarah Sanders to dictate its programming

I know, MSNBC is seen as the left-wing counterpart of Fox News. It’s a bit disingenuous. Fox News programs like “Fox and Friends” or Sean Hannity’s Trump love-in or Tucker Carlson’s snoozer of a program regularly just make stuff up out of whole cloth, have never missed a chance to promote every conspiracy theory possible no matter how ridiculous or untrue, misuse videos to underscore their lies and make absolutely no attempt at fairness. There are times when I would accuse MSNBC of leaning too hard towards a liberal viewpoint but I would never accuse them of making stuff up.

And that is why I totally agree with their decision not to carry the Sarah Sanders lie-a-thon formally known as the White House press briefing. Ms. Sanders (or as I affectionately refer to her, Baghdad Bobbi) would no sooner be truthful during the press briefing than you would expect the sun to rise in the west. Sanders spreads misinformation like a farmer in Iowa spreads fertilizer on a corn field. So why bother covering it when you know everything that’s going to be said by Sanders is not true? I applaud their decision and I hope other media outlets do the same.

CA Dem Party Chair Takes Leave Of Absence Amid Misconduct Allegations

I read the other day how New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is taking a lot of friendly fire because of her position on the Al Franken resignation. She was one of the most outspoken voices of the need for Franken to resign. I thought that was the right call then and I think is the right call now.

I think this guy also needs to resign. This “leave of absence” nonsense is just so much horse manure. We are not talking about one person making this complaint. At least 10 women have come forward to talk about this man’s behavior. And while the Republicans have no problem nominating men who abuse women to the Supreme Court, the Democrats absolutely have to send a different message. This guy needs to resign and he needs to resign now.

Finally, for fans of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”…

Margaret Atwood announces The Handmaid’s Tale sequel, The Testaments

The novel ambiguously ended with Offred being placed in a van that will possibly deliver her to freedom outside Gilead. The novel’s epilogue is narrated by an academic giving a lecture about the authenticity of Offred’s story decades later, based on cassette tapes he had discovered in Maine.

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American musings for November 28

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith won the Senate runoff in Mississippi last night but it was a heck of a lot closer than people thought it would be. The day when an African-American Democrat would lose to a Republican by single digits in the state that is so Republican and so racist that it still has the Confederate flag in its state flag portends greater changes down the road.

I will make a prediction right here and right now. In two years Texas will go blue. This is especially the case if Beto O’Rourke is the Democratic nominee for president. The solid South has become the Purple South.

Trump Says He’s ‘Far Greater’ Than Reagan

I know Donald Trump is an egomaniac in public. His accomplishments are far below what most other sitting presidents (Republican or Democrat) have accomplished by their first two years in office but that never stops him from saying everything is the greatest, or the biggest, the best, yada, yada, yada. But if you ever needed more proof that Trump has verbal diarrhea it is his claim that he is actually greater than Ronald Reagan. Now, I’m no Reagan fan (my last name was misspelled for eight years when he was president) but I know he had some fairly major accomplishments. I could sense true conservative across America cringing as they read this report. Every time Trump opens his mouth he just shows how much of a snake oil salesman he is.

The NRA Just Reported Losing $55 Million in Income

Boo-hoo. And they would’ve lost even more money except that a single donor gave them $19 million. Membership in this domestic terrorist organization is definitely down. Let’s hope they just keep doing what they been doing for the last two years and that one day, like a puff of smoke, the NRA will just fade away like a bad dream.

What To Know About New York Judge’s Ruling Against The Trump Foundation

This is a little time bomb that is ticking away in Donald Trump’s background. Basically, the judge in the case ruled that it is totally allowable for a sitting president to be sued for activities that have nothing to do with his conduct in office. Basically, the Trump Foundation, which more or less operated as a charity organization for the benefit of one person, namely Donald Trump, “willfully and intentionally” engaged in serious misconduct. I also like the attempt by Trump to get the case switch to a federal court. (Gee, I wonder why? You would almost think he had a ringer in the Atty. Gen.’s Department.) That didn’t work either. If you pardon my language, this is going to to to be a huge shitstorm for the Trumps.

A Shadow Over Europe

This is a very good report from CNN about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, provoked by the far-right. Memories of the Holocaust are slowly fading away and about 1/4 of Europeans believe that Jews play “too big a role” in the world.

Before the midterm elections in the United States, a friend of mine asked on Facebook what we needed to do if we didn’t get a blue wave. Although we did, my answer was that it didn’t matter. This is not a one-time thing. This is a struggle that goes on all the time. The forces that desire to pull us back into a darker human past are never quiet, never still. If we relax for a moment, they will take that moment to push their agenda that much farther. It is a struggle that will never end and we just might as well face it. Our children and our children’s children will be fighting many of the same battles a hundred years from now. While we may be making progress in areas like racism, bigotry, misogyny, or homophobia, the far-right will always push back and try to take it all away.

Maybe They’re Just Bad People

But Trump is unique as a magnet for grifters, climbers and self-promoters, in part because decent people won’t associate with him. With the exception of national security professionals sticking around to stop Trump from blowing up the world, there are two kinds of people in the president’s orbit — the immoral and the amoral.

I’m glad someone in the mainstream media has finally said this out loud. The people who surround Donald Trump reminded me of the Obi-Wan quote from the first Star Wars:”You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” And for me the biggest villain is Stephen Miller. Drones like Sanders, Conway or Kelly are little more than Trump puppets. But Miller…If I was casting a horror movie and I need someone to play a soulless demon without any conscience and totally capable of any evil, I would just give the part to Miller right away. Call it typecasting.

The Dangers Junk Science of Vocal Risk Assessment

A great piece by the Intercept on a company who is trying to persuade corporate leaders in Washington that their software allows them to listen to people’s voices and detect if they are possible troublemakers. Almost every expert on the subject calls a totally bogus and even a dangerously misleading practice. The Trump administration is, of course, interested because totally bogus and dangerous misleading practices are kind of their thing.

Chancellor admits UK will be worse off under all Brexit scenarios

There is no good Brexit for the UK. The United Kingdom loses under every single scenario. It’s what we’ve all known from that first night when Britons allow themselves to be misled by a band of lying miscreants. Brexit is the “New Coke”of British politics. Well, they asked for and boy are they going to get it.

And finally…

The World’s Highest-Paid TV Hosts 2018

It’s not Ellen. It’s not Dr. Phil. Definitely not Dr. Oz. Not Steve Harvey or Ryan Seacrest.

It’s Judge Judy! Last year Americans favorite cranky judge made $137 million. Not only that but she has three times the audience of Sean Hannity. I daresay that if Judge Judy promoted a presidential candidate on her show, he would always guarantee him or her election.

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