Egberto Willies

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Updated: 2 days 8 min ago

Why I give racists 2nd, 3rd, and more chances and it’s about sexism

Tue, 2017-10-17 22:33

Like most men, I grew up sexist, (and homophobic). It did not help that I am from a Latin American country. My path away from homophobia deserves another blog post. Most importantly, my path to becoming a feminist (and gay rights activist) makes me a much more empathetic person towards racists. I know it sounds strange, and to many, outright crazy. I am sure many would use "other" adjectives.

I became a feminist soon after I entered the University of Texas Austin. But it was an intellectual realization that women as a class, like many other groups (blacks, Asians, gays, etc.), were discriminated against. Moreover, the systemic nature of said discrimination resulted in the male/female economic and power disparity.

This morning I read an FB friend, Jim Rigby's post that really spoke to me.

Listen guys, I understand your resistance to what women are saying this week about the prevalence of male abuse of women, but there is a gift in this for you if you can find the courage to set aside your defenses and hear what is being said.

I remember my own painful awakening to MY role in the patriarchy- sitting in training classes at the Rape Crisis Center decades ago.

I remember the temptation to co-op the conversation making it about MY discomfort with the conversation instead of what was happening to women. I remember resisting the statistics.

I remember, after that training, speaking to colleges and high schools where the males CONSISTENTLY tried to shut down the conversation by presenting the experiences of women as though they were nothing more than personal criticisms of men.

I certainly remember a fraternity at U.T. shutting down my talk on rape prevention by shouting "f*ck you, f*ck you."

To recognize how I had been taught to see women as objects and how I had been conditioned by the culture to "fix" women and to try to stay in control, without even realizing it, was not easy.

I, personally, could not THINK my way out of patriarchy. I kept finding flaws in what was being said. I did not realize I was using my own sexist interpretations of my life to measure the justice claims of women. Eventually, I had to GRIEVE my way out of patriarchy. I had to die to my false hyper-masculinity. I had to learn to stop trying to control and fix others. I had to die to my false bravado, and be born into the ambiguities of my deeper humanity.

Like alcoholism, undoing male privilege is a life time struggle, but the reward of being fully human is worth every tear.

Jim Rigby hits the nail on the head. The person in the privileged position tends to take a defensive posture even if they consider themselves enlighted and understand that the aggrieved class is really aggrieved.

It was not until I joined Move to Amend where we centralized on race and gender, that I really understood the concept of just listening through the eyes of the offended class. That organization had some strong women, and it was not long before they penetrated my faux feminism. It was not for me to negotiate an understanding of what women go through, via the lens of my still embedded sexism. It was these women, and some men taking control and breaking me down whether I could accept it or not.

The reality, however, is that I still had the opportunity to walk away to flee the discomfort. Or I could stay and cathartically heal. I chose the latter. But I was ready intellectually to do that. This behavior is true when going through the interhuman dynamics of any aggrieved class.

I once wrote that sexism has a much higher hurdle in our society than racism in my article titled "Hillary Clinton proved that sexism is worse than racism in America." I got a lot of pushback from white Liberals but especially black women, among my many dear friends at Daily Kos.

Patriarchy, male supremacy, is deeply embedded in most cultures and "races." As such males across cultures are offenders. While racism has a worldwide economic power component, sexism is prevalent in absolutely every corner of society which makes it that more ingrained. It is hard to move that juggernaut.

I now view most racists through the eyes of my past sexism and the continual journey to fully extricate it. The mind has two components, the intellectual part, and the muscle memory part. When working with racists, the intellectual part is easy. Even if they try not to get the intellectual argument, they ultimately do. However, the muscle memory portion of our minds requires practice and stimulation. That is where integration in all aspects of living can provide that positive stimulus. But one has to give the racist the opportunity for redemption after a screwup.

Look, I am not naive. There are racists who are willful racists. It fulfills them financially or it empowers them in a manner they find appealing. My contention is that they do not represent the majority. Most are swayed by ignorance, upbringing, and peer pressure.

A racist, a sexist, a homophobe can always take the easy way out. Just like I could have run away from my own enlightenment, which would have been much easier, they can too. If we really want change, if we really want to have a truly functional multicultural, multiracial, and multigendered society based on true social equality, we must give 2nd, 3rd, and more chances.

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Journalist all but call Trump a liar to his face about the corporate tax (VIDEO)

Tue, 2017-10-17 16:05

Reporters are slowly attempting to do their jobs. One hopes more will challenge our lying president with the necessary determination as this journalist did.

Mike Sacks, National Political Correspondent @EWScrippsCo gave a clinic on how one should interview a lying president. It was civil, hard-hitting, and beautiful all at once.

Journalist corners Trump on his lying statements

I asked POTUS today why he keeps saying "We're the highest taxed nation in the world" when it's objectively false. Here's how he answered: pic.twitter.com/2EHa0nbm5p

— Mike Sacks (@MikeSacksEsq) October 17, 2017

"You've repeatedly said that we're the highest tax nation in the world," said Mike Sacks of Scripps. "When that's been seen as objectively false. How with the credibility you need to pass tax reform, why do you say it?"

"Some people say it differently," Trump said. "And they'll say we're the highest developed nation tax in the world."

The reporter then challenged Trump.

"Then why don't you say it that way," Sacks interjected.

"Because a lot of people know exactly what I'm talking about," Trump responded. "And in many cases, they think I'm right when I say the highest. As far as I'm concerned, I think we're really essentially the highest but if you'd like to add the developed nation you can say that too. But a lot of people agree that the way I'm saying it is exactly correct. Thank you very much."

The president ran off to shut the line of questioning down. But by then Sacks had forced the president to concede. And it is all on video for all to see him resort to a verbal salad.

Just imagine if our journalists were not derelict in their duty during the primaries and the general election. Imagine if they did not allow Trump to bloviate and lie on air which gave him a semblance of a plausible president even as many knew he just was not mentally capable to execute the job.

It is, however, not too late. Trump has not yet made irreversible changes to our body politic or our laws. Yes, many of the environmental regulations he overturned will create short-term chaos, in the bigger scheme, they are manageable. His healthcare shenanigans may disrupt the markets enough where Medicare for All becomes the only option Americans will accept for their healthcare.

So here is a message for the mainstream media. Progressive bloggers are doing their part. Many print journalists are doing their jobs even if they do not get the coverage they deserve (bloggers continue to push their great work). It is your turn, long overdue to step up.

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Progressive bloggers I respect that you must read every chance you get

Tue, 2017-10-17 16:04

This Progressive Bloggers page is being populated. Please index and comeback shortly.

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Convicted evangelist warns those making fun of him will face the wrath of God (VIDEO)

Tue, 2017-10-17 11:37

This convicted felon, evangelist Jim Bakker wants his followers to know something that is very important for their souls. If this was not so sad given the gullibility many Americans have shown to the likes of Bakker and Trump, it would be funny. His passion and conviction in his delivery of the words fool many.

Convicted Evangelist Jim Bakker to those making fun of him

Jim Bakker is tired of those who continue to watch him given his proclivity to crookery. And it is getting to him. He first wanted to mitigate his past "God-driven" assertions.

“When God says something to you, you don’t always know the exact time it’s going to happen,” Jim Bakker said. “Stop beating up the prophets because God says, ‘Woe unto you when you beat up on the prophets.’”

In other words, it will happen at some time in human history, so don't blame me if the timing is off. But if you hold me, Jim Bakker to account, guess what? God has a special something for you.

“If you don’t want to hear it, just shut me off,” Bakker said. “Especially you folks that monitor me every day to try to destroy me. Just go away. You don’t have to be there, you don’t have to hear it. But one day, you’re going to shake your fist in God’s face and you’re going to say, ‘God, why didn’t you warn me?’ And He’s going say, ‘You sat there and you made fun of Jim Bakker all those years. I warned you but you didn’t listen.’”

Now let's remember who Jim Baker is. He is the guy who preached moral superiority while he was involved in sexual escapades and bilked his followers out of over $158 million.

The American psychology in which a Jim Bakker can pilfer and harm and still hold the trust and faith of many is the same psychology that Donald Trump depends on. But this psychology can be broken. Bakker's attack on 'those watching' him is just the beginning. The biggest problem is that Progressives many times lack the consistency to attack a specific person, issue, or evil at maximal levels. The Right is good at that and that is why their misinformation stick.

#RESIST consistently at high levels and watch the frauds come tumbling down.

(h/t RawStory, RightWingWatch.org)

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Robert Reich schools Trump economist lying about tax cuts & middle-class income (VIDEO)

Tue, 2017-10-17 02:06

Robert Reich has been a stalwart in the Progressive movement by keeping the body politic informed. Most importantly he challenges those who spew lies and misinformation like he did with Trump economist Stephen Moore. This one was a doozy.

Once again Robert Reich nails a Trump economist for lying to the American people, this time about tax cuts increasing the income of the middle-class.

Robert Reich nails Trump economist Stephen Moore.

Robert Reich schools Trump economist lying about tax cuts & middle-class income (VIDEO) pic.twitter.com/Ni7ehGZa94

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) October 17, 2017

Erin Burnett pointed out that Kevin Hassett, president of the Council of economic advisors did a study that concluded that corporate tax cuts would result in an income increase of $3.000 for middle-class Americans. But there is a caveat.

"Because that looked like a lot of money," Erin Burnett said. "I looked up what has happened to the median income in the last few years. Here is what I have found. 2014, just shy of $54,000. 2015, just shy of $57,000. If you look at the years that we've just seen, 2014, 2015. 2016, it's going up $3,000 a year. Steve, that is without this big tax cut. So they are trying to say, oh, this tax is going to get $3,000. They are already getting $3,000. That would mean this tax cut is not a good idea."

Stephen Moore balked at her fact-based analysis. He attempted to conflate what occurred during the economic meltdown with the recovery. He then continued the false premise that companies would invest their tax windfall on employees. Robert Reich would have none of it.

"I am looking at history," Reich said. "Corporations have never done as well as they are doing now., They have huge profits. Where are those prophets going now? They are not going to wages. They are not going into jobs. They are going into executive pay and they are going to shareholders. And the top 1% of Americans have a huge percentage of the total shares of shares of stock in this country."

Reich continued. He debunked the supply-side economic theory of trickle down. He said the only way to create jobs is to put the money in the hands of the masses and not the elite. The marginal propensity to spend of the masses is much greater than that of the wealthy. As such they will spend much of what they get from the tax cuts. The demand created would likely cause corporations to expand and higher to cover the demand.

Reich further pointed out that over the last 44 years supply-side economics failed.

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Trump insults Mitch McConnell at press conference for taking lobbyists’ money (VIDEO)

Mon, 2017-10-16 15:33

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell appeared at the White House for a press conference after they had lunch. Trump took the opportunity to insult Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he aggrandized himself.

Mitch McConnell gave an uncomfortable but very visibly pained smile after Trump implied that McConnell was on the take from the healthcare lobby.

Donald Trump insults Mitch McConnell

To many, it may seem shallow to concentrate what Trump did to McConnell in his answer to an important question. A reporter asked Trump what specifically did he want to do to the insurance and drug companies. The following reply was interesting.

"So the insurance companies have made a fortune with Obamacare, an absolute fortune," said Trump. "As you know what I did with the cuts at the end which we're all going, you know, you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars a month going right into the pockets of the insurance companies. And I'm very happy with what I did. And because of that people are talking now. Democrats are talking to the Republicans for a short-term taking care of what we will call health care; So that people can have good health care without big spikes. You would have had massive spikes. You already have. I mean every year the massive spikes to Obamacare have been ridiculous. As far as, and I didn't speak to Mitch about this today, but a priority of mine and you know that this is coming up, will be the cost of prescription drugs. We're going to get the costs way down, way down."

Trump, then went at Mitch McConnell in a rather direct manner. He was speaking about the Washington Establishment.

"And those drug companies," Trump said. "So you have the insurance companies in one case and the other case, actually with regard to both, you have the drug companies. They contribute massive amounts of money to political people. I don't know Mitch maybe even to you. But I have to tell you, they contribute massive amounts of money. Me I'm not interested in their money. I don't need their money. I will tell you. You have prescription drugs. You go to England. You go to various places, Canada. You go to many many countries and the same exact pill from the same company, the same box, the same everything is a tiny fraction of what it costs in the United States. We are going to get drug prices, prescription drug prices, way down. Because the world has taken advantage of us. The world has taken advantage of us."

Of course, Trump does not talk about him being on the take throughout his life. He does not mention that his cabinet looks like Wall Street. Many Americans will see that jab as the outsider beating back a corrupt Washington on the take.

This is a funny aside but one that will mean a lot to his followers. It will give him some cover when working with the evil Washington Establishment. I would not be surprised to see this in an ad.

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Zeke Emanuel eviscerates Rick Santorum on Trump’s Obamacare sabotage (VIDEO)

Mon, 2017-10-16 12:38

Dr. Zeke Emanuel appeared on CNN alongside Right Wing former Senator Rick Santorum to discuss Donald Trump's latest sabotage to the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. He eviscerated Santorum with facts and style that should make every Progressive happy.

It was great seeing this Obamacare expert go toe to toe with the fallacies emanating from an evil Right Wing sect that would deny Americans affordable healthcare.

Zeke Emanuel eviscerates Rick Santorum on Obamacare sabotage

Zeke Emanuel eviscerates Rick Santorum on Trump's latest Obamacare sabotage (VIDEO) pic.twitter.com/dHxNmtAHsv

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) October 16, 2017

Watch the entire CNN segment of the debate here.

Zeke Emanuel started the segment by calling out Donald Trump for sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. He pointed out that Trump reduced advertising, his siphoning of healthy people, and elimination of subsidies is a definite sabotage. Most importantly he said that while a few people will get lower premiums because they are young and healthy, the number of people that will have their premiums massively increased is much higher than those who would save money.

"This is just fake news that this is going to make premiums better," said Zeke Emanuel. "There would be a few hundred thousand who benefit. Most people would not benefit."

Rick Santorum had to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent in blocking the subsidies that will cause premiums to fall. Emanuel did not let that statement go unnoticed. He pointed out that it made Trump's assertions about his reasons for canceling subsidies, false."

Santorum attempted to blame Democrats for not coming to the table. Emanuel reminded him that seven years have passed and Republicans have yet to come up with a bill evaluated by independent organizations that shows a reduction in healthcare premiums.

Emanuel then did what many Progressive pundits and analysts never do. He went on the offensive. He pointed out that as a result of a direct action from the president, counties that had exchange health care plans are now bare. That hurts people. He should have gone further, however. He should have pointed out that those that will be hurt the most by the president's action are those who voted for Donald Trump.

Santorum lied about Obamacare being in a death spiral. Emanuel rebuffed the false claim by pointing out independent studies that say otherwise. Moreover, California's exchange which is run by a Progressive government who believes in helping its citizens is working very well.

Santorum continued with his statements that Obamacare failed. Zeke Emanuel had a simple answer.

"I would like us to come back," Emanuel said. "And see if in 2018 premiums go down or they go up 20%. If they go up 20% Rick Santorum has to eat his words."

Well done Zeke.

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Republican Rep: Many in GOP want a Democratic House to save America from Trump (VIDEO)

Sat, 2017-10-14 12:48

You know things are crazy in the country when you have Republicans wishing for a Democratic Congress to counter the existential danger that is Donald Trump.

Former Representative David Jolly did not mince his words as he excoriated Donald Trump while on a panel with Joy-Ann Reid. He made it clear that many Republicans are unlikely to do anything to fight Donald Trump. Because of that, he said, many Republicans believe it is best if the House is taken over by Democrats.

Reid asked Jolly at what point does Republicans have responsibility for Trump's bad acts.

"They have responsibility now," David Jolly said. "This is a commander-in-chief with no understanding or appreciation for national security. We know that. I have great confidence in John Kelly. He is a sober leader, a very experienced national security leader. I think he is doing a good job trying to contain him. If the moment comes when he cannot, watch John Kelly because the seriousness of this administration rest on how long John Kelly stays."

But Jolly was not done. He gave the following striking statement.

"There are Republicans, not elected ones in Washington right now," Jolly said. "Beginning to question whether or not we would be a safer nation if Democrats took the House in 2018."

Fmr. Rep. David Jolly's shocking statement on Trump

Fmr Republican Rep- Many GOP members want Democratic House to save America from Trump pic.twitter.com/7LeUL6tj5k

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) October 14, 2017

The former Congressman's words should not be taken lightly. He has been a recent critic of the president, many times with jarring admonishments. As explained on the panel. It is clear that the President may be wagging the dog. His bombastic performance with both North Korea and Iran cannot be taken lightly.

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Trump bloviator to Fox News Shep Smith for calling him out : You sound like a Democrat (VIDEO)

Sat, 2017-10-14 02:24

Aaron Zitner, Wall Street Journal News Editor, and Trump bloviator appeared on Fox News to defend Trump's new healthcare executive order. Shep Smith forced Zitner to contrast the Republican and Democratic ideologies. One sounded pretty darn inhumane.

Shep Smith told he seemed like a Democrat for slapping the Trump healthcare spox with talking points blowing facts. This how we enlighten citizens.

Shep Smith calls out Trump bloviator

Trump bloviator to Fox News Shep Smith for calling him out: You sound like a Democrat (VIDEO) pic.twitter.com/CLEitU3Zq3

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) October 14, 2017

The following interchange between Aaron Zitner and Fox News Shep Smith is probative.

"The president is saying with these actions, the executive order in particular," Aaron Zitner said. "I'm gonna bring more insurance options to people. There'll be more lower-cost options. Sure, the plans might not be as comprehensive."

"They might not be cover what is wrong with you," Shep Smith interjected.

"That's right," Zitner said.

"Because now we have a law that says if you buy insurance it has to actually cover you," Shep Smith said. "It has to give you the -- everything that you need for your illnesses. And whether you had your illness before or you get it tomorrow you're covered. In this new world though it won't be required to cover anything. You can pay for insurance that won't cover your sickness."

"Yeah," Zitner said. "And what critics of the president say are healthier people who aren't concerned about coverage and don't want to buy expensive insurance will come out of the insurance pools that they are in now. Buy this lower cost less comprehensive insurance. And leave the sicker people and more expensive patients to kind of fend for themselves. And that can only mean that costs will go up because there are fewer healthy people subsidizing the sicker people."

"One thing about those young and healthy people," Shep Smith said. Someday if they're lucky they will be old. And then they'll be stuck with this. It tends to be how things work. You know, if everybody pays in then everybody gets coverage. That's sort of the basics of insurance. It's like car insurance, right? "

"Shep you're speaking like a true Democrat there in a certain sense," Zitner replied. "This is a great issue."

"Car insurance is political? Shep Smith asked.

"This is a good issue because it really shows the differences between the two parties in a very crystalline way," Zitner said. "Republicans think markets can solve problems best and they think the markets insurers and consumers with minimal government interference should be left alone to decide how to get the best insurance to the most people at the best price. Democrats say health care is not a normal market. It's not like the market for pencils or automobiles because you have to pay for sick people who are expensive. And so they think the government has to step in and put requirements on insurers and put requirements on individuals. Markets should be free or a government should intervene that's the difference in philosophy here."

Shep Smith has been doing some good reporting recently. He made sure the discussion appropriately identified the distinction between ideologies.

Republicans, Conservatives believe that some mythical market automatically solves problems.  Democrats, Progressives believe that it takes the intelligence of humanity to design a system intentionally that solves our problems.

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Trump Effect: Woman’s racist voicemail to professor who appeared on Fox News (VIDEO)

Fri, 2017-10-13 16:15

The Trump Effect continues. I toiled on whether to post this or not. I decided to do it because of a sentence the racist woman said near the end of the voicemail.

University of Maryland professor Jason Nichols, a black man, appeared on Fox News' Tucker Carlson to discuss whether one should celebrate Columbus Day. He returned to a racist voicemail.

The topic on Tucker Carlson's show was interesting. Christopher Columbus was cruel to the indigenous people on the islands he pillaged. The professor made it clear that just like no one glorifies Hitler, Stalin, or other leaders who killed thousands, Columbus should not either. Tucker pushed back but it was a pleasant debate.

Professor Jason Nichols on Tucker Carlson

The segment made a white woman go into a full-fledged racist mode. She called the professor and let him a voicemail filled with a litany of racial epithets and

Professor Jason Nichols listening to the racist voicemail

What was shocking about the racist rant on the voicemail is the stereotypes of black people this woman still believes in 2017. One would think by now they would be debunked in the minds of most. But the main reason I posted this is the last statement in the voicemail.

"It is about time you hear it from us white people," the woman said. "A lot of white people feel like I do. Because you are nothing but f$cking n$ggers."

Look in the mirror and make sure both in your mind and your heart, you are not one of the "a 'lot' of white people" this woman is talking about.

 

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Bush speechwriter: It’s time to panic about Trump’s mental stability

Fri, 2017-10-13 12:33

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote a riveting piece in the Washington Post where he admonished Republicans who are appeasing President Trump.

Michael Gerson, was not kind to Paul Ryan as he believes Republicans are not sufficiently panicky about their titular leader, a Donald Trump divorced from reality.

In the midst of a governing crisis, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has once again risen to his role as the voice of bland complacency. Concerning the open warfare between President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ryan advises “these two gentlemen to sit down and just talk through their issues.”

Further, he points out that with all his flaws, the Presidents most concerning is that he is psychologically and morally incapable of being president.

GOP denial about Trump has generally taken Ryan’s form. The president may be eccentric and divisive, but Republicans need to keep their heads down and think of tax reform. This assumes that the main challenge is to avoid distraction from essential tasks.

But the real problem has always been Trump’s fundamental unfitness for high office. It is not Trump’s indiscipline and lack of leadership, which make carrying a legislative agenda forward nearly impossible. It is not his vulgarity and smallness, which have been the equivalent of spray-painting graffiti on the Washington Monument. It is not his nearly complete ignorance of policy and history, which condemns him to live in the eternal present of his own immediate desires.

No, Corker has given public permission to raise the most serious questions: Is Trump psychologically and morally equipped to be president? And could his unfitness cause permanent damage to the country?

Gerson wants Republicans to wake up. He thinks it is time to panic and so he is admonishing his party leaders.

The time for whispered criticisms and quiet snickering is over. The time for panic and decision is upon us. The thin line of sane, responsible advisers at the White House — such as Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — could break at any moment. Already, Trump’s protests of eternal love for Kelly are a bad sign for the general’s future. The American government now has a dangerous fragility at its very center. Its welfare is as thin as an eggshell — perhaps as thin as Donald Trump’s skin.

Any elected Republican who shares Corker’s concerns has a political and moral duty to state them in public. If Corker is correct, many of his colleagues do have such fears. Their silence is deafening and damning.

“Brave men are all vertebrates,” said G.K. Chesterton. “They have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle. But these modern cowards are all crustaceans; their hardness is all on the cover, and their softness is inside.”

More than anything else at this moment, the nation has need of Republican vertebrates.

It goes without saying that Michael Gerson does not think much of the fortitude of Republicans. Unfortunately, the soft overthrow of an unfit president by his party won't come easy, even though it may be in progress.

 

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Why didn’t most Americans know about the airport bomber last week?

Thu, 2017-10-12 11:30

Terrorism comes in all forms, colors, religions, and more. That is why profiling does not work. Our government and media would have you believe that terrorism has one face. This behavior puts us all at risk. Why didn't we know about this latest terrorist act?

According to CBS News, Michael Christopher Estes,

planted a Mason jar filled with explosive chemicals and nails at a western North Carolina airport last week and vowed to "fight a war on U.S. soil," according to court documents released Tuesday.

The criminal complaint written by an FBI agent said investigators found the improvised explosive device Friday morning at the Asheville airport near a terminal entrance. Asheville police bomb technicians then rendered it safe.

The complaint accuses Michael Christopher Estes of attempted malicious use of explosive materials and unlawful possession of explosives at an airport.

Estes was arrested Saturday, and the complaint says he admitted leaving the explosive device at the airport. The complaint states that Estes "claimed he was getting ready to 'fight a war on U.S. soil,'" but didn't elaborate on this alleged motive.

So was this a real bomb?

Court documents say authorities found the improvised explosive device around 7 a.m. Friday at Asheville Regional Airport. It contained ammonium nitrate and Sterno fuel, along with steel wool that was then wrapped around nails and a .410 gauge Winchester shotgun cartridge, the complaint says.

An alarm clock was taped to the outside of the jar with matches attached to the arm that strikes the bells, according to court documents. The alarm had been set for Friday at 6, the complaint says. ...

"Estes described how he created the device ... and then rigged the alarm clock to strike the matches and cause the flame necessary to trigger the device," the complaint states. "More specifically, the alarm clock would go off, the matches would strike, the Sterno would heat up, and then the Ammonium Nitrate would explode."

If this were a Muslim who did this, it would be on the main news and cable news 24/7. It is clear that because this man did not 'fit the profile, he was mentioned as just another criminal complaint. This hurts us all. It gives the impression that cracking down on one group could keep us safe. Every group has a propensity to do both good and evil. Profiling does not make you safer.

 

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The Trump overthrow may have started. The Establishment is starting to reassert. (VIDEO)

Thu, 2017-10-12 01:35

The shocker continues to fly. What does it say when the architect of your win believes you only stand a 30% chance of fulfilling your first term as President? Here is why I think that barring a sudden change, the countdown to an overthrow, a post-Trump, is on.

Donald Trump is in over his head.  He along with his Trumpian posse are the only ones that are oblivious to the reasserting of the Establishment as they build an overthrow. In a riveting article by Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair, it is clear that all of the grown-ups surrounding Trump know he is unstable.

West Wing aides have also worried about Trump’s public appearances, one Trump adviser told me. The adviser said aides were relieved when Trump declined to agree to appear on the season premiere of 60 Minutes last month. “He’s lost a step. They don’t want him doing adversarial TV interviews,” the adviser explained. Instead, Trump has sat down for friendly conversations with Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee, whose daughter is Trump’s press secretary. (The White House official says the 60 Minutes interview is being rescheduled.)

Are these signs of the overthrow?

The Establishment is starting to reassert. The Trump overthrow may have started (VIDEO) pic.twitter.com/imInkSj1P6

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) October 12, 2017

Ironically Steve Bannon may be accelerating his ex-boss' demise.

Even before Corker’s remarks, some West Wing advisers were worried that Trump’s behavior could cause the Cabinet to take extraordinary Constitutional measures to remove him from office. Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.

Everyone knows Trump is a paranoid thin-skinned person. Why then would Bannon talk to Trump about the 25th Amendment which in effect tells the president that he must always be looking over his shoulders with a cabinet that may be ready to overthrow him? He wants the overthrow with the expectation of destabilizing the country to fulfill his "deconstruction of the administrative state."

The media is now in concert with a narrative of an unhinged president that cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes. A few respected Republicans like David Frum and Bob Corker are building the 25 Amendment case. Others are making the case for impeachment.  Folks, the soft overthrow is in process.

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Rep. Al Green (D-TX) to enter Articles of Impeachment on Trump today

Wed, 2017-10-11 12:58

Washington, DC -- On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Congressman Al Green (D-TX)
released a statement on impeachment:

I love my Country, I salute my Flag. I say the Pledge of Allegiance and I believe in
liberty and justice for all as declared in the pledge.

I also believe that to acquire liberty and justice for all, some must stand alone.

Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I believe that the “truest measure of a person is not
where you stand in times of comfort and convenience,” when the world is with you, but
rather, where do you stand in times of challenge and controversy, when you may stand
alone.

Today, I rise to use the constitutionally prescribed political process of impeachment to
speak truth to the most powerful man on earth, the President of the United States of
America.

I do so knowing that the public has been led to believe that a President must commit a
crime to be impeached, which is not true. If any President persisted with the lie that
“Hitler was right,” he would be, and should be, impeached not for a crime, but for
betraying his trust as President.

I do so knowing that many, of my contemporaries will criticize my actions. Some will
castigate me, others may desire to do something more dastardly with hopes of
suppressing all embers of courage that might inflame others to speak truth to power or the
powerful.

Ultimately, to again quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I will do that which is “neither safe, nor politic, nor popular.” I will do that which is right and let others do what they may and allow history to judge us all.

 

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In the world of fake news how do we get at the truth?

Wed, 2017-10-11 12:17

Fake news is not new. The only difference is that the average person through social media can get the same traction established media and government get. So how exactly do we declutter in a world of competing ideas to arrive at the real, unadulterated truth that we can trust and share?

President Johnson, President Bush, corporations, churches, and many other institutions have lied to Americans with fake news that changed the course of history. We must enlighten ourselves to mitigate the weaponization of untruths. If we understand the difference between perception, experience, and truth, that will help solve our confusion.

I ran across Cody Pogue's post that did not get much traction on Facebook, but it should have.

A good rhetorician uses emotion, half-truth, and other tools to fool people into accepting easy answers. He does this because he will benefit by convincing people to accept his argument. Maybe he will gain power, money, or esteem from convincing people, or maybe he will just boost his self-confidence and feel like a "winner" by winning the argument and defeating his "opponent." What his skillful argumentation doesn't pursue, however, is the truth.

Truth is much more difficult to come by. It is so difficult that most people simply give up and rely instead on opinion, which is merely their experience. Experience is great, but it is not the truth.

Experience is just the history of what a person has gained from their sensory perception, which can often be flawed (our senses fool us every time we see "magic tricks") and are based upon our position (the experience of a wealthy person is different than the experience of a poor person, black person different than that of a white person, healthy person different than that of a sick person, etc).

Because we all have different experiences in life, the easy temptation is to say "well, some things are true for me and other things are true for you," but that is irrational because contradictory things cannot both be true.

To find the truth, we must look beyond our own perspective and try to understand reality from the perspectives of people who are different than us. If something is actually true, it will be true from all perspectives. Truth must be universal. If it is true from one perspective and not another, it is merely an opinion. It is only true if it is a reality from all perspectives, in all places, and at all times.

A person skilled at argument can manipulate us to believe their opinions, but their opinions are not true regardless of how many people believe them. Skilled argumentation does not create truth. It only convinces people to believe lies. Only careful searching for the universal reality that is correct in every situation can bring us toward truth.

The best way to find that something is true is not to try to prove that it is correct, but to prove that it is incorrect. If we are unable to prove it to be incorrect, then we just might accidentally prove it to be the truth.

Pass everything you hear through a discerning filter. It works.

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Voter regrets as Trump’s xenophobic reality reach conservative suburbs?

Wed, 2017-10-11 01:09

Many a Trump voter in Kingwood, Texas, a mostly white, ultra-conservative upper-middle-class suburb of Houston is about to get the shock Progressives always knew a Trump administration would bring. And it started with her maid. It is likely to be replicated throughout the country.

This Kingwood, Texas woman's maid was affected directly by Trump's actions. Trump's xenophobia will affect his voters not only economically but socially. A friend of mine wrote the following Facebook post.

This is the real-life human toll this presidency is inflicting on us. I just had a long conversation with my maid. She was apologizing for being late ... because she is suddenly short staffed. One of the ladies who has worked in my home for years is being sent back to Mexico. She has been here LEGALLY for 17 years. Every year she dutifully reports in and has her work permit renewed. This time she was told "no more" and that she had to return to Mexico. She has a 12-year-old American born son and husband who works hard as a plumber. They have never been in any kind of trouble, have never applied for any kind of government assistance, and pay their taxes.

I would like for someone who voted for Trump to explain to me how deporting her is going to make us safer. Explain to me how breaking up law abiding families is an American value. I particularly want to hear from all those good Christians who supported him. How do you reconcile the teachings of Christ with heartless policies like this?

Many in this town live a semblance of prosperity beyond their actual income because of their dependency on cheap cash labor. Residents incur no employer costs (social security, Medicaid, worker's comp, etc.) for their lawn service, maid service, babysitting service, tree service, pool service, and on and on. But it gets even worse. Hurricane Harvey decimated over 160 Business in the community and almost 3,000 homes. Most of the home builders and contractors used out here fit Trump's xenophobic profile. No Trump tax cut will mitigate their increase in cost if he lives up to the xenophobic rhetoric they all voted for last November.

The questions my friend asked at the end of her post goes beyond the economic. One wonders when rational thinking will return to many. When will they swallow their pride and accept that they allowed themselves to be swept into a self-destructive immoral abyss?

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Tucson restaurant closed permanently after owner post Trumpian crap on Facebook

Tue, 2017-10-10 16:13

Restaurant owners decided that they could mix their Trumpian politics with their business, Cup It Up America Grill, in a very multicultural city. They paid dearly for it.

How could these restaurateurs believe that they would get away with such a divisive statement? How could they show such disregard for their customers with such a Trumpian statement?

Restaurant owners' Trumpian Facebook

Tucson.com reported the following.

The owners of the University of Arizona-area restaurant Cup It Up American Grill on Saturday apologized for bringing their personal political beliefs “into a business forum.”

The statement, sent to the Star and signed by Cup It Up owners Christopher Smith and Jay Warren, came after the pair was criticized for a Facebook post on Friday that laid out their political beliefs. Among them was support for President Trump and opposition to NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

“Our decision to bring our personal political beliefs into a business forum is regretful, and for this we apologize to all,” the pair’s statement read.

Earlier Saturday, Smith had toyed with the idea of indefinitely closing the restaurant, located in the bustling Main Gate district near the UA, in light of the widespread condemnation for the politically charged post.

“It’s hate feedback and it’s for one reason only and it’s that we showed our support for Donald Trump,” he said Saturday morning. “There was nothing that we put in the post that was absolutely wrong and terrible in that we supported our president and our troops.”

Cup it Up’s Facebook post was up for three hours Friday before it was removed. On Saturday, the restaurant’s Facebook page was deleted.

In the Smith-Warren statement, the pair admitted they “never ever fathomed this would create such negative and hateful responses, including threats to burn down our building with us inside.”

“These types of comments have no place regardless of anyone’s political beliefs,” the statement read. “We assumed there would be some discussion and shares, but never this type of animosity and hostility.”

Tucson.com now reports that the restaurant is now closed after the backlash.

Cup It Up American Grill closed for good on Monday, three days after two of its owners posted a politically charged statement on Facebook that prompted angry social media backlash and calls to boycott the University of Arizona-area restaurant.

Julian Alarcon, a former partner who was not involved in Friday’s Facebook post, said the restaurant at 760 N. Tyndall Ave. was the target of harassing and threatening phone calls throughout the weekend. Two employees quit Saturday because of the calls and several more quit throughout the weekend, he said.

“It’s not worth it,” said Alarcon, the operating partner and chef who resigned Saturday morning in response to the Facebook post from partners Christopher Smith and Jay Warren.

The pair’s post laid out their political beliefs that included support for President Trump, standing for the national anthem and repealing Obamacare, and opposition to fake news and the concept of global warming.

One hopes more of these business people will realize that most Americans do not share their draconian beliefs. And trying to exercise them while dependent on the masses for their income will not be tolerated.

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Daniel Ellsberg Warns of Nuclear Dangers in the Era of Trump

Tue, 2017-10-10 11:38

by

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

For most people, Daniel Ellsberg is known mainly for — or only for — the Pentagon Papers he leaked in 1971. And that's plenty. It set in motion a landmark First Amendment case and led to shifts in public opinion that helped quicken the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the end to that war. Ellsberg was back in the public eye recently in relation to the epic 10-part PBS series on Vietnam, which included a lengthy segment on the Pentagon Papers — but his absence from the series as an interview subject drew criticism. Coming up: a movie drama on the Papers directed by Steven Spielberg.

But, for me, the name Ellsberg does not immediately evoke "Vietnam" but rather "anti-nuclear." And now he has written a book titled The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, to be published by Bloomsbury in December. In it he reveals that the 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers that he copied from his office at the Rand Corporation in 1969-70 were only "a fraction" of what he had borrowed from office safes. Much of the rest amounted to the "other" Pentagon papers — secret documents on US nuclear war plans and capabilities.

In Doomsday Machine — the title taken, of course, from Dr. Strangelove — he discloses that he intended to release all of these copies at the same time but became convinced that it was vital to first concentrate on a war already raging rather than on one that was even more deadly but not at hand (although the threat certainly was). His story of what happened to the nuclear papers is almost worth the price of the book, as they are hidden in a compost pile, then at a garbage dump, before the outer fringes of a hurricane scatter them to history. Ellsberg has since obtained some of them again via FOIA requests and other means.

While I wrote about the Pentagon Papers in the early 1970s, my close connection with Ellsberg began only in the 1980s after I became the editor of Nuclear Times magazine. Ellsberg, then (and still) living in the San Francisco area, had started appearing at antinuclear protests — the "freeze" campaign was in full swing across the country. Naturally I wanted him to write an essay for the magazine on this subject but I was warned that while he often tried to write articles he "never finishes them." When he completed a column for us, it drew wide attention as his first published piece in many years.

And so began our friendship. His anti-nuclear activism only increased, leading to his arrest at numerous protests, including at the Nevada test site, over the next decade. Most of the world still knew him only for the Papers, but he had become a hero in anti-nuclear circles. We had long talks, in person or over the phone, about nuclear issues and about Hiroshima, a subject I had written about for dozens of newspapers and magazines after my visit there in 1984. He took particular interest in the book I was writing with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial, and attended with me several of the annual gatherings at Lifton's summer home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. At those retreats he would talk about his anti-nuclear civil disobedience and grow quite emotional discussing his little-known work on nuclear war plans that preceded his months in Vietnam in the mid-1960s. But he had not written widely about that.

In recent years, Ellsberg has been hailed by many and decried by some as "the world's most famous whistleblower," often interviewed for his early support for WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. But his passion — and my own — surrounding nuclear threat has never faded. I wrote a book, Atomic Cover-Up, on the US suppression of film footage from Hiroshima that he deeply appreciated.

In my current book, The Tunnels, peak nuclear dangers during the Cold War play a key role as I cover escapes under the Berlin Wall and how the Kennedy White House tried to kill US television coverage of them. This happened in 1962, at a time when Ellsberg was intimately involved in nuclear theorizing and "game" play. One reason JFK did not support tunnel escapes and publicity about them, was fear that it might spark a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets. He managed to scuttle Daniel Schorr's CBS coverage and delay an NBC primetime special, The Tunnel, but when the latter finally aired it would stand as a landmark in TV history and profoundly influence a generation of broadcast journalists (including Bill Moyers).

So, for all these reasons, I was particularly pleased to read Ellsberg's upcoming The Doomsday Machine, already hailed in blurbs by everyone from Edward Snowden to Arundhati Roy.

Ellsberg, now 86, wrote an autobiography about 15 years ago, but this is his first book tracing his full encounter with nuclear weapons. It goes back to his teen years in the postwar 1940s when he read John Hersey's Hiroshima, which would inform his nuclear views for the rest of his life. In the book, even though I thought I knew Dan well, I was surprised to read that he belatedly learned that his father, a builder, had top-secret clearances and refused to work on the hydrogen bomb project on principle — and cited Dan introducing him to the Hersey book as a turning point.

Part I of the book, making up about two-thirds of the pages, is titled "The Bomb and I," and kicks off with the chapter, "How Could I: The Making of a Nuclear War Planner." We follow his early career, which included stints in the US Marines and at Harvard, to Vietnam and to Rand, with nuclear risk always in the background, if not the foreground. I was surprised to learn that as an avowed Cold Warrior he had played a key role in drafting one of the key documents in my Tunnels book, the official, step-by-step US war plan for initiating a first-strike nuclear attack. Then his book moves on to two subjects at the heart of my Tunnels: the Berlin crisis and the Cuban missile showdown.

On Cuba he reveals in a straightforward fashion his intimate involvement as an adviser to White House insiders before and during the October 1962 episode. Ellsberg was in the "dovish" camp, advising those around Kennedy to first try blocking Soviet shipments to Cuba instead of following the Joint Chiefs' urgings to bomb and/or invade the island. We all know the happy ending to that crisis, but in the following chapter Ellsberg covers what he, and the public, did not know at the time: the full extent of how close we came to World War III, not because of actions by Soviet or American leaders but the dangers posed by trigger-happy Cubans manning anti-aircraft batteries and Soviet officers in submarines. But, as in so much of the book, it's not merely "history" but a warning for today with many of the same technological — and human — elements still holding sway.

In the final third of the book, Ellsberg goes beyond his personal experiences to tackle the track record and philosophy of what he calls "bombing cities," "burning cities" and "killing a nation" before concluding with the real driving force of this book, and why it's so significant today: a close study of US "first-use" policy. Yes, no matter the president, from Truman and Ike to Obama and Trump, it has been American policy to launch a nuclear first-strike even if we have not yet been attacked.

It is Ellsberg's belief that multiple presidents have used nuclear weapons in threatening other nations since Nagasaki. He presents a long list of such moments, and along with many, he is particularly worried about Trump's recklessness toward North Korea. He recalls Trump asking an adviser about nuclear weapons, "If we have them, why can't we use them?" Trump also wondered if our allies, Japan and South Korea, should consider designing their own nukes.

But he also argues that accidental nuclear war is a real threat, and that the final decision to fire weapons may be delegated to subordinates in the US and Russia and probably in other nuclear nations. Vital information about all things nuclear, meanwhile, has been kept from the public for decades: "Like discussion of covert operations and assassination plots, nuclear war plans and threats are taboo for public discussion by the small minority of officials and consultants who know anything about them." Few in Congress even know much about them.

This "systematic official secrecy, lying and obfuscation" guarantees that "most aspects of the US nuclear planning system and force readiness that became known to me half a century ago still exist today" and are "as prone to catastrophe as ever." Ellsberg calls this "the hidden reality" he hopes to expose in his book — and in my view, he succeeds at that.

At a time when nuclear dangers grow, along with activism to combat them — elevated just this week by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receiving the Nobel Peace Prize — Ellsberg’s book is a timely reminder of the nuclear threat and essential reading in the Trump era.

Greg Mitchell is the former editor of Editor & Publisher and author of a dozen books. His latest is The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK Tried to Kill. Follow him on Twitter: @GregMitch.

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John Young: The NRA’s prostitution ring

Tue, 2017-10-10 02:56

by John Young

The Denver Post's top headline after one of the gun lobby's very best customers killed 59 people from above read thusly: "NRA supports restriction."

Yes, the top story was what the NRA might do after all that killing.

It wasn't, "Congress admits cowardice in the face of carnage." It wasn't, "President lifts thumb to avert next slaughter."

It wasn't even, "Thoughts and prayers waft over Las Vegas."

It was, "What does the NRA think about this?"

Understand: The NRA's deigning to consider any restrictions at all on a hyper-killing device called a bump stock is headline news. It's: "China calls for safer toys." It's "Medellin Cartel urges: 'Just say no.'"

That "NRA supports (fill in the blank)" is Page 1 fodder may be the greatest indictment of our political system, next to Donald Trump's ascendancy.

The NRA is a group of hobbyists -- people with time and gunpowder residue on their hands.

What a group of hobbyists says should be of no interest to anyone except to fellow hobbyists – say, if the next NRA convention opts for cold cuts over cutlets.

To make NRA an adviser for public policy on anything involving firearms is akin to the Fraternal Order of Vespa Riders dictating traffic policy.

What actual people think about gun policies – and solid majorities support stricter gun laws such as universal background checks – is immaterial.

The same applies, for instance, to environmental protection. But when the Trump administration wants advice on that matter, it turns to the special interests affected.

Recent news coverage has flagged Environmental Protection Administration director Scott Pruitt as one of the profligate offenders in the Trump administration's jetting around on taxpayers' dollars for spurious reasons.

What is more significant, though, is what the New York Times reports: that Pruitt's itinerary as EPA director reveals almost non-stop canoodling with corporations that have vested concerns in his decisions.

These include meeting with major campaign donors like coal mining behemoth Alliance Resource Partners, which is now thinking the $2 million it gave the Trump campaign was one heck of an investment.

Well, back to the NRA. Public disclosures reveal that it spent more on lobbying in the first two quarters of this year -- $3.2 million just through June -- than it did in all of last year.

You wonder where all those dollars went.

No mystery as to what those dollars have wrought. One of the first things Trump did as president was sign a Republican bill to roll back an Obama administration rule adding people deemed mentally incompetent to the national background check database.

Yes, this was Job 1 for a new president. Those gun hobbyists have clout.

Because the man who killed so many in Las Vegas passed a background check doesn't mean we should throw up our hands on the rightness of such checks for all gun purchases, including online purchases like the Aurora theater gunman used to amass his arsenal.

However, when President Obama sought to impose such a restriction after the massacre of innocents at Sandy Hook, the "thoughts and prayers" bravehearts in Congress shot it down.

No doubt the hobbyists' lobbyists helped steady the aim for the GOP.

This week conservative media are making a big production of the fact that some Democrats received campaign contributions from now-certifiably sleazy, if not criminal, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

This might concern us if Weinstein were, like Big Coal and the gun lobby, helping formulate public policy. He's not. It's hardly a concern at all.

We seem resolved to ignore what vested industries have done to steal our democracy.

In other news, the president of the Brazil Olympic Committee was arrested for buying votes to bring the 2016 games to Rio de Janeiro.

It's a criminal offense to buy a sports spectacle. But you'll never see gun merchants or big polluters doing a perp walk for buying our government.

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