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Collaboration: Be Careful Who You Work With

Sat, 2017-08-19 09:25

At a time when precise language has gone missing from the White House, how best to describe those loyal Republicans still dancing with the guy who brung them? You know, Jewish-Americans like economics guru Gary Cohn, who was reportedly “disgusted” with Trump’s smarmy apology for neo-Nazism and other anti-semitism, but stood by like window dressing while the venom was spewed.  Political-Americans like Paul Ryan, who expressed his outrage vehemently but failed to mention the name of the Outrager-in-Chief.  Female-Americans like his adviser/daughter Ivanka, who … well, you get the point.  Among the descriptors of these equally soulless souls: Pragmatists. Jellyfish. Enablers. Family.

I’ve got a better one.  Collaborators.

Our devilish bargain arose from a democratically conducted election, and the delusional notion, held by a minority, that a blowhard narcissist ignorant of both history and truth might be the great white hope for fame, fortune and a big fat tax cut.

The word—literally, “work together” — was corrupted more than half a century ago by French citizens who helped facilitate real Nazi atrocities thanks to a deal cut with Adolf Hitler. By insisting his countrymen tread “the path of collaboration” with the German invaders, the French leader, Marshal Pétain, turned the term into a death sentence. Thousands were executed after the war, many more publicly humiliated and stripped of their rights. Be careful who you work with.

Today, capital punishment may be unrealistic but the corruption remains. Our collaborators serve in Congress and the cabinet.

The connection struck me repeatedly this summer as I binge-watched six seasons of an addictive TV series called Un Village Français, a deep dive into the human condition during World War II. Starting with the German occupation of France in 1940, through Liberation in 1944 and its aftermath a year later, it peels back the layers of the complex lives of fictional French villagers as they variously try to repel, understand, cope with and all-too-frequently collaborate with the indignities forced upon them. How come? Because some thought they had to. Because they wanted to live. To love. And because some liked the perks and power that followed. It’s a mid-century soap opera about ordinary people dealing with dire consequences, a searing lens on our complex reactions to war and its extended fallout in a social community.

Specifically, why we sometimes go along to get along.

To be clear: I do not equate Trump with Hitler despite his disturbing embrace of the Charlottesville thugs and his “many sides” blather about bigotry. Nor do I think Washington is Vichy, France, where Pétain, the onetime war hero, presided over the deal that imposed the devil on a weary and defeated nation. His stated goal was peace, with an eye to improving the French future — to make France, you might say, great again. Some 75,000 Jews, along with other innocents, would be sacrificed for that bounty.

No, that’s not us, at least not now.

Our devilish bargain arose from a democratically conducted election, and the delusional notion, held by a minority, that a blowhard narcissist ignorant of both history and truth might be the great white hope for fame, fortune and a big fat tax cut. With heartbreaking exceptions, like the murder of Heather Heyer, our war confronts civil life, not life-and-death.  Within that context, the parallels are enlightening.

In the TV series, an apolitical businessman whose only goal is to outlast the occupation (and increase his holdings) agrees to supply the Wehrmacht with lumber. The pressure to collaborate is assuaged by profits, along with special privileges, like passes to cross barricaded lines.

Compare members of the president’s two business advisory councils, who voluntarily gilded the White House with their C-Suite prestige despite the acknowledged sexism, racism and lies of its current occupant. Notwithstanding one or two early escapees, most of the CEOs only gave up their privileged Oval access when the pressure inflated by the latest outburst seemed to challenge the bottom line.

Do not confuse corporate captains with Captains Courageous.

In the TV Village, called Villeneuve, compromises creep up incrementally and keep the community going: a vial of morphine to secure a housekeeper’s papers. A roll in the hay for extra rations. Actually, those sexual encounters fuel much of the narrative and the tension. As I said, it’s melodrama, accurately reflecting history.  And it’s France. More importantly, it’s about human beings, some of whom don’t confuse body parts with national politics. Spoiler alert: The mayor’s wife leaves him for the German torturer-in-chief. The lead French detective, who vigorously follows orders to round up Jews for deportation and extermination in Nazi death camps, falls in love with a Jewish woman. Each sells part of his or her soul for the passion.

One wonders about the romance of selling out for Trump.

And then there’s The List, the incident that brings home the true anguish of misguided alliance.

Villeneuve’s mayor (a dedicated physician named Larcher) and the sub-prefect (an administrative functionary named, appropriately, Servier) learn that 20 townspeople will be shot dead, payback for the murder of a German officer. After convincing the German Commander to reduce the number by half, Servier volunteers to choose the names themselves. Larcher is aghast, and tells Servier, correctly, “We’ll never be forgiven for what we’re doing.” Servier, ever the pragmatist, replies, “We’re saving the lives of 10 people.”

Collaboration or salvation? That’s the dilemma, a moral choice of such unimaginable magnitude it cannot be dissected in normal terms.

“I’m a civil servant,” Servier explains bureaucratically during the inevitable trial several years later. “I obeyed and I did what I could.”

Larcher, the former mayor, is more circumspect.

We are far beyond identifying the toxicity of the Trump presidency. We are mired too deep to excuse the silence of complicity.

“I wanted to limit the evil, but in reality I helped it,” he confesses. “But I’m neither a traitor nor a monster nor a manipulator. Just a man. A man who may have been a little mistaken about himself.”

One wonders if today’s collaborators – the men and women who daily support and report to a pathological liar, and who cherry-pick their issues in a colossal arrogance of self-interest – could ever show the same self-awareness.

As the TV series makes clear, life’s complications can seem unbearable; war is worse than hell; daily decisions loom gray, not black and white. In the tiny French village, good people do bad things and some collaborators join the Resistance. Anti-fascist Communists bungle their assignments. Resistance fighters squabble like children. Jews elbow each other for survival. Moral conflicts bow to the need for food and freedom.

Before they go to trial, Larcher asks Servier about The List: “Do you really think we were doing our duty that day?” Servier’s answer defines the problem: “In crisis situations,” he says, “the hard thing isn’t doing your duty, it’s identifying it.”

We are far beyond identifying the toxicity of the Trump presidency. We are mired too deep to excuse the silence of complicity. Or, as the witty Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri puts it, we probably don’t recognize their collaboration for what it is: “Silence sells hats, I guess.

I said earlier that today’s enablers aren’t necessarily life-threatening, the way the blessedly short-lived Nazi victory in World War II was. They do, however, imperil our planet, our future, our sanity. Un Village Français is a riveting reminder of their imminent danger, to our world if not ourselves. 

I asked the scriptwriter, Frédéric Krivine, why the court sent Servier to his death but finally pardoned Larcher, by then a broken man. “That’s life,” he told me by telephone, as only a Frenchman could. “These things happen.” But, he added, both of their fates “showed that collaboration was a dead end. It’s a path on which you cannot win.”

If only someone running our government read history.  Or even read.

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Bill Discusses Charlottesville and Our Trump-Russia Timeline on MSNBC

Fri, 2017-08-18 14:35

Bill Moyers appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell Thursday night to discuss two topics that have dominated the news in recent weeks: The violent clash between white supremacists and anti-racist activists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia.

In talking about Charlottesville, Bill reflected on his own time in the White House serving a Southern president who, despite our country’s toxic racial politics, pushed through key pieces of legislation to improve the lives of African-Americans and immigrants, including the Voting Rights Act and the Immigration Act of 1965. Racism has once again taken a central role in our politics, Bill said. “During the campaign last year, I kept thinking that Donald Trump has given a big bullhorn to some of the most malevolent furies in American life. I’ve now decided he is the malevolent fury.”

Bill continued, “This man does not seem to me to have what we would normally think of as a soul. He has an open sore. He is constantly at war with everyone. Everything antagonizes him, and he degrades everything around him. He is the malevolent fury that is attempting to provide a return to many of the practices and behaviors that we have spent 250 years overcoming.”

In a second segment, host Lawrence O’Donnell brought in lawyer Steven Harper, the author of our Trump-Russia timeline, to describe the process of putting together the 450-plus-entry chronicle of Trump’s relationship with Russia. “I can just thank you right off the top,” O’Donnell told Harper. “It is the greatest tool that we journalists have to work with every day as we stare at this story.”

Watch that segment below and then read our Trump-Russia timeline.

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Efforts to Curb Teen Pregnancy Face Drastic Cuts

Fri, 2017-08-18 14:29

Teen pregnancy prevention advocates were shocked to find out that crucial programs they support were abruptly terminated and will be defunded next year. The Trump administration is completely defunding the nationwide Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, cutting $213 million in assistance that supports roughly 1.2 million teenagers across the country. Groups that rely of the funding got notice this month that as of June 30, 2018 their funding will be shut off. This means they all lose two years of already-allocated money.

The decision is part of the Trump administration’s backlash against Obama-era policies. This time, Donald Trump’s budget cuts are primarily aimed at poor teenagers, an already vulnerable section of the population. These cuts will not only reduce services provided by clinics and prevention programs, but also dramatically affect the research activities of groups dedicated to optimizing and improving health care for teenagers.

This backlash isn’t only coming from the White House. For instance, in Texas, local legislators have introduced measures to significantly reduce access to reproductive health benefits and education for pregnant teens. They’ve already losing the federal funding — and the state has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.

RELATED: Health & Science Health Care Providers Reel After Trump Extends Global Gag Rule

BY BillMoyers.com Staff | July 5, 2017

Michelle Chen from The Nation reports that:

In Texas, teen birth rates are up. Moreover, the jump in teen moms has been concentrated in poor communities.

Anti-abortion groups’ continued push for total defunding of Planned Parenthood continues to expand the Christian right’s battlefront against reproductive health — making poor, vulnerable women live the consequences of politicians’ bad choices.

Nationwide, teen pregnancy had been declining over the past decade, especially after the Obama administration took steps to increase reproductive health access and made access to some contraception mandatory under the Affordable Care Act.

Molly Redden from The Guardian writes:

From 2010 to 2016, the teen birth rate nationally plummeted 4 percent. No other six-year period saw a decline even half that size. The shift took place right as the Obama administration was making unprecedented investments in sex education and other programming proven to reduce teen pregnancy.

Administrators for these programs received simply stated notices that their work was no longer in line with the priorities of the administration. It hasn’t taken long to make clear that the undermining of women’s reproductive health will be a common theme of the Trump White House.

Uncertainty has kept this change under the radar. The Trump administration is as-yet unclear about which government agency was in charge of making the decision. Redden adds:

The culprit behind the cuts is something of a mystery. One suspect is the Office of Management and Budget, which in May released a budget proposal gutting dozens of social programs. Another is the office of the assistant secretary for health, which indirectly oversees the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and is run by a Trump appointee, Valerie Huber, who has lobbied for federal funding of abstinence education.

 
Read more installments in our series “While He was Tweeting” – keeping an eye on Trump’s wrecking ball.

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Your Turn: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Kneeling Protest

Fri, 2017-08-18 14:21

A BillMoyers.com post this week on the significance of Colin Kaepernick’s on-field protest and the fallout it has created for the quarterback, hit a nerve with our readers, leading to more than 6,000 comments on Facebook (and counting). During the 2016 football season, Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem to express his concerns about racial issues in America. In “Why Colin Kaepernick Matters,” columnist Samuel G. Freedman describes how Kaepernick, who is now a free agent after six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, has been essentially blacklisted by the NFL for his nonviolent political protest. Here’s a sampling of the (lighted edited) comments that we received after asking our Facebook community what they thought of Kaepernick’s protest.

RELATED: Civil Liberties Why Colin Kaepernick Matters

BY Samuel G. Freedman | August 15, 2017

 

 

“It’s a disgrace that a young man kneeling in silent, respectful protest is considered inappropriate, while hundreds of angry, torch bearing, screaming monsters rampaging through the night is actually being defended by some people.” — Ellen Gordon

“I wish every black player in every single major US pro sport — basketball, football and baseball — would refuse to play until Colin has a contract. The owners literally think they own these players, but the players — the vast majority of whom are black — own these sports. Who wants to own boxes to watch second-string benchwarmers play? They need to show these organizations who is really boss.” — Rebecca Meiers-De Pastino

Players with domestic violence, animal cruelty, tax evasion and other crimes don’t seem to foster nearly the animosity of a young man making a peaceful statement of protest.— Eileen Peterson

“Here’s proof that this is a racist country. Players with domestic violence, animal cruelty, tax evasion and other crimes don’t seem to foster nearly the animosity of a young man making a peaceful statement of protest. While he is vilified for his politics, he has quietly gone about his life, having the unmitigated gall to commit acts like helping at risk youth and other charitable activities. He represents the best of America… The rich white men who own the teams of the NFL aren’t half the man he is.” — Eileen Peterson

“I paid too much money for a ticket for an NFL game to see some jerk turn it into a social comment. He had other venues to protest on. Don’t try to ruin my day just because you’re upset about something. Take it somewhere else.” — Scot Yates

“One thing I have recently become aware of is my own unearned privilege that doesn’t allow me to see things from a young black man’s perspective. The police officers who I have known are great people doing one of the toughest day-to-day jobs that there is. But right now we know that there is a thing called implicit bias affecting all of us. The only way to address that is to become aware of the limits of our own objectivity, and our ability to know what is true to others who come from a different perspective. I’m grateful that Collin helped me become more aware of that while suffering the consequences. If he spoke near my community, I would buy a ticket for each member of my family.” — David Farin

“Michael Bennett, one of our Seattle Seahawks, decided to sit on the bench during the national anthem at the game on Sunday. He was very humble as he explained why he chose to sit. In USA Today, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expressed his opinion. I will say this: I would sit with Michael Bennett before I’d ever stand with Donald Trump. I will never be so blind that I would pledge allegiance to a white supremacist who is destroying the reputation of America, and neither should any of us… Until Congress saves us from this scourge, I’m sitting with Michael!” [On Wednesday, Bennett said white players are needed to join the protest for it to be effective ]. — Karen Mcdonell

I will never be so blind that I would pledge allegiance to a white supremacist who is destroying the reputation of America. And neither should any of us. — Karen Mcdonell

“What you do in your private life is one thing, but doing protest during and at your place of EMPLOYMENT is wrong. Kaepernick deserved to be blackballed, and the NFL, NBA and MLB need policies in place to prevent this kind of behavior to occur when on the field.” — John W Campbell

To which Judy O’Connell replied:

“He is taking a knee to the national anthem, which isn’t played on any corner, and if you do it in private it isn’t exactly a protest, is it? Yes, we have rules in the workplace but I don’t believe it was a rule at the time he did it. He is paying the price for his conviction just as others have done before him, some with their life. Equality is an inch-by-inch battle. — Judy O’Connell

“Kaepernick obviously loves his country so much that he goes onto his knee, during the playing of the national anthem, and he is saying ‘I am waiting for my country to live up to what it stands for, by defending and respecting all of its citizens, so I will be able to stand up with my hand on my heart which would be full of pride.'” — David White

“I equate [it] to the 1968 Olympics when two US athletes [Tommie Smith and John Carlos] bowed their heads and raised their fists during the playing of the national anthem at the medal ceremony. It’s a shame that it’s 2017 and the black community is still protesting the same racist America.” — Cindy Newman

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‘Hymn’

Fri, 2017-08-18 14:00

Why do we measure people’s capacity

To love by how well they love their progeny?

That kind of love is easy. Encoded.
Any lion can be devoted

To its cubs. Any insect, be it prey
Or predator, worships its own DNA.

Like the wolf, elephant, bear, and bees,
We humans are programmed to love what we conceive.

That’s why it’s so shocking when a neighbor
Drives his car into a pond and slaughter-

Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Cultural Borders

April 12, 2013

Drowns his children. And that’s why we curse
The mother who leaves her kids — her hearth —

And never returns. That kind of betrayal
Rattles our souls. That shit is biblical.

So, yes, we should grieve an ocean
When we encounter a caretaker so broken.

But I’m not going to send you a card
For being a decent parent. It ain’t that hard

To love somebody who resembles you.
If you want an ode then join the endless queue

Of people who are good to their next of kin —
Who somehow love people with the same chin

And skin and religion and accent and eyes.
So you love your sibling? Big fucking surprise.

But how much do you love the strange and stranger?
Hey, Caveman, do you see only danger

When you peer into the night? Are you afraid
Of the country that exists outside of your cave?

Hey, Caveman, when are you going to evolve?
Are you still baffled by the way the earth revolves

Around the sun and not the other way around?
Are you terrified by the ever-shifting ground?

Hey, Trump, I know you weren’t loved enough
By your sandpaper father, who roughed and roughed

And roughed the world. I have some empathy
For the boy you were. But, damn, your incivility,

Your volcanic hostility, your lists
Of enemies, your moral apocalypse —

All of it makes you dumb and dangerous.
You are the Antichrist we need to antitrust.

Or maybe you’re only a minor league
Dictator — temporary, small, and weak.

You’ve wounded our country. It might heal.
And yet, I think of what you’ve revealed

About the millions and millions of people
Who worship beneath your tarnished steeple.

Those folks admire your lack of compassion.
They think it’s honest and wonderfully old-fashioned.

They call you traditional and Christian.
LOL! You’ve given them permission

To be callous. They have been rewarded
For being heavily armed and heavily guarded.

You’ve convinced them that their deadly sins
(Envy, wrath, greed) have transformed into wins.

Of course, I’m also fragile and finite and flawed.
I have yet to fully atone for the pain I’ve caused.

I’m an atheist who believes in grace if not in God.
I’m a humanist who thinks that we’re all not

Humane enough. I think of someone who loves me —
A friend I love back — and how he didn’t believe

How much I grieved the death of Prince and his paisley.
My friend doubted that anyone could grieve so deeply

The death of any stranger, especially a star.
“It doesn’t feel real,” he said. If I could play guitar

And sing, I would have turned purple and roared
One hundred Prince songs — every lick and chord —

But I think my friend would have still doubted me.
And now, in the context of this poem, I can see

That my friend’s love was the kind that only burns
In expectation of a fire in return.

He’s no longer my friend. I mourn that loss.
But, in the Trump aftermath, I’ve measured the costs

And benefits of loving those who don’t love
Strangers. After all, I’m often the odd one —

The strangest stranger — in any field or room.
“He was weird” will be carved into my tomb.

But it’s wrong to measure my family and friends
By where their love for me begins or ends.

It’s too easy to keep a domestic score.
This world demands more love than that. More.

So let me ask demanding questions: Will you be
Eyes for the blind? Will you become the feet

For the wounded? Will you protect the poor?
Will you welcome the lost to your shore?

Will you battle the blood-thieves
And rescue the powerless from their teeth?

Who will you be? Who will I become
As we gather in this terrible kingdom?

My friends, I’m not quite sure what I should do.
I’m as angry and afraid and disillusioned as you.

But I do know this: I will resist hate. I will resist.
I will stand and sing my love. I will use my fist

To drum and drum my love. I will write and read poems
That offer the warmth and shelter of any good home.

I will sing for people who might not sing for me.
I will sing for people who are not my family.

I will sing honor songs for the unfamilar and new.
I will visit a different church and pray in a different pew.

I will silently sit and carefully listen to new stories
About other people’s tragedies and glories.

I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.

And, oh, I know I will still feel my rage and rage and rage
But I won’t act like I’m the only person onstage.

I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.

We will march by the millions. We will tremble and grieve.
We will praise and weep and laugh. We will believe.

We will be courageous with our love. We will risk danger
As we sing and sing and sing to welcome strangers.

©2017 Sherman Alexie

Many thanks to Sherman Alexie. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

 

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This Q&A Is Top Secret, Contains Leaked Info and Definitely Was Not Peer Reviewed

Fri, 2017-08-18 13:57

On Monday last week, before North Korea, and before Charlottesville, you might recall that The New York Times published an article entitled “Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report” that kicked up a storm of press coverage. The draft report on the state of science relating to climate change and its physical impacts is part of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), which is congressionally mandated every four years.

Then on Wednesday, Washington Post reporter Eric Wemple wrote that The Times was “guilty of a large screw-up” on the story, because Times reporter Lisa Friedman gave the impression that the report had been leaked. Trouble was, the copy of the report that The Times originally presented alongside the story was a draft that had been publicly available since December. (The Times eventually updated the PDF with a different version of the report, one that had previously not been available to the public.)

We spoke with one of the report authors, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who is a professor in the department of political science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

 

 

TR: Can you explain what happened with the Times report and the different drafts?

KH: Yes, it’s so confusing, isn’t it? But yes, I can tell you exactly what’s going on. So, on Monday, [Aug. 7] I was contacted by Lisa Friedman, who wrote The New York Times article, saying that she would like to talk to me. I sent her some brief comments about how it was possibly the most comprehensive and conclusive and definitely the most up-to-date climate science report ever published in the United States — in the entire world, really, because the IPCC report is now 4 years old.

Then the article came out, and it was clear that the quote she used and the PDF they posted to accompany it were from the third-order draft, which was released for public comment in December of this past year. It’s still publicly available via the National Academy website. Although, I would venture to say, probably, that upward of a thousand more people have now read it than ever read it any time in the past six months!

I mean, I have never had a day like I had [last] Tuesday, where every single network on the planet, [laughs] it seemed, from Al Jazeera to CNN to Fox News even, was calling, saying, ‘We want to talk about this, can you be on camera in a few minutes?’ I mean, that never happened before.— Katharine Hayhoe

So, I pointed that out [via Twitter] because it’s very important, No. 1, just from an accuracy perspective, but, No. 2, because this was definitely being framed as, “Oh, all of these scientists were so afraid it was getting to be suppressed that they leaked this document.” I don’t know what scientists those were, and it didn’t necessarily have to be scientists. This document, our draft, has been available to hundreds of people in government agencies as well in all these other offices.

And then The New York Times uploaded a PDF of the fifth-order draft — the final draft that is currently under final review. The differences between the fifth-order draft and the fourth-order draft are primarily — not entirely, but primarily — the author’s responses to the very extensive National Academy of Sciences review, which [by the way] was incredibly constructive. The main messages, the main conclusion didn’t change, but there were definitely substantial changes to the content of some of the sections.

This report is so thoroughly reviewed. It has public review, peer review, agency review — the National Academy convened a special committee only to review this report. Their review was about as long as the report itself! So, that’s the difference between No. 3 and No. 5, and The New York Times has released No. 5.

I do understand that this was confusing, and it was certainly written one way and implied certain things, but at the same time, the final review phase is a point at which, in the past, going back to the Bush era, that is the point at which the political edits have happened.

TR: Interesting, OK. But it does seem then that somebody did leak the fifth version, right?

KH: Yes, that is correct. The original article and the original PDF were for the third version, but then subsequently they did post the fifth version, which means that somebody did send that to them. Like I said, though, there are headlines all across the world saying, “Scientists leak report, fearing it will be suppressed.” This report is accessible to hundreds of people, it only takes one person to push the button. Most of our offices, at least the people that I talked to, were actually feeling pretty good at the way the review was going so far. We did not have any indication that there were going to be any political [changes].

TR: Can you talk about how the two reports are different from the previous one (NCA3, released in 2014) to this one? What are the major points that you would say that you came up with?

KH: No. 1, this climate science report is much more comprehensive. It covers the entire gamut. It doesn’t just talk about temperature and precipitation fields, it [also] talks about new cutting-edge emerging science on how human-induced climate changes interacted with our weather patterns, with ocean circulation. It also talks about what’s going to be required if we’re going to meet the Paris Agreement. What’s the carbon budget remaining if we’re going to stabilize climate change? And then it talks about the potential for surprises in the climate future. What are the things that we know we don’t know, what are some of the things that we possibly don’t even know that we don’t know about this? What’s the chance of things turning out very differently than we expect, and what’s the chance of those surprises being negatives? And we concluded that the chances are pretty high, that surprises would be negative rather positive.

There’s a whole chapter not just on ocean acidification but also on ocean warming, which we don’t think about as much, but it can be even more important in [terms of] impact. And, then, also on the fact that oxygen levels are dropping in large parts of the ocean, which is very concerning as well.

TR: The report states that significant advances have been made in the attribution of human influence for individual climate and weather extreme events since the last report. It sounded like the most interesting advances were made in what is called attribution science. Can you explain a bit about that?

KH: Yes, that’s looking at individual events. [For example,] how did human-induced climate change contribute to the California drought? And the general conclusion is that the onset of the drought was part of natural variability, but the fact that this drought occurred over much warmer conditions, led to an enhancement of what they call the ridiculously resilient ridge. When a weather system that could possibly produce rain came along and hit that ridge, it would often get pushed up or pushed down but it couldn’t pass through and go over California. That ridge was enhanced and held in place for much longer than it would be otherwise by the abnormally warm temperatures. So there was this vicious cycle — the warmer it gets, the drier it gets, the drier it gets, the warmer it gets. That’s just one example of the way that we’re actually starting to, as they say, detect a human finger print in individual events.

TR: The report assessed 10 different US regions. What do you think were the regions that are suffering the most right now from climate change? Because that seemed to be another major finding, that we’re already seeing the affects.

The bottom line is, wherever we live, we experience climate change in the way that it’s exacerbating the weather and climate risks that we already face today.— Katharine Hayhoe

KH: Yes, well, when you say suffering, the climate science report specifically looked at physical changes in climate systems. We have to wait until the regional and sectoral chapters have been have done to actually talk about impact… So, that said, the way that climate change affects us in the places where we live, 99 percent of the time, is exacerbating the risks we already face today. If you look at the risks that we face in the places where we live, more often than not, many of those risks are being exacerbated.

In the US Northeast, they have seen significant increases in heavy precipitation events that are increasing their flood risk. If you look at Florida, our report talks about the sunny day flooding and the increase in the heavy precipitation events. In Texas, we’re at risk of hurricanes, which are getting stronger as we’ve got the warmer ocean water. We also have regular patterns of drought and flood that are being exacerbated by warmer conditions that accelerate the rate of evaporation. We talk about what things we do see trends in and what things we don’t. We don’t see trends in drought frequency, but we do see trends in the frequency of heavy precipitation events. The bottom line is, wherever we live, we experience climate change in the way that it’s exacerbating the weather and climate risks that we already face today.

NOAA has this really awesome map that shows how many weather and climate events that have cost over a billion dollars in damage have occurred in each state since 1980. And when you look at that, it’s really interesting, because the No. 1 state that has had the most number of million-plus dollar weather and climate events is Texas. And, now, let’s be clear, climate change is not causing all of these events, but climate change is interacting with and exacerbating many, not all, but many of these events, making them stronger than they would be otherwise, increasing the damages of these events in many cases.

Please note that the map reflects a summation of billion-dollar events for each state affected (i.e., it does not mean that each state shown suffered at least $1 billion in losses for each event).
*as of July 7, 2017 (NOAA)


 

So, this map, it shows you two things. It shows you which states are already naturally vulnerable and then which states are also in the front lines when it comes to climate change exacerbating the weather extremes.

TR: Texas is bright red. And that’s due to storms mostly?

KH: Oh, it’s due to a whole lot of things. It’s because Texas gets everything. Texas gets ice storms and blizzards, they get derechos and windstorms, tornadoes, hail, hurricanes, droughts, flood, everything — the only thing we don’t get really is snowmelt-related floods. Everything else we get.

TR: Since the report indicates that our lives are already being affected by climate change, do you think that Americans know that climate change is a culprit, and if not, how do we get them to know?

KH: Well, you’re probably familiar with the Yale climate opinion maps, right?

TR: Yes.

That’s why I think the National Climate Assessment is so important is because it takes climate science down to the individual states and cities that people live in and it says, ‘This is what’s happening in your back yard or your front yard.’— Katharine Hayhoe

KH: They really are fascinating because they ask people all kinds of questions and then you can view the response to the questions across the whole country, by congressional district, by state, by county. People focus very much on the question, “Do you think this is real?” “We believe in climate change.” The whole thing is like it’s some religion. But what absolutely fascinates me is that as you go through the maps, the ones that ask people about [climate change] solutions are dark orange all across the entire country, which means everybody says “yes” to the solutions that they’ve asked people if they agree with. The one that is the darkest blue across the entire country means most people said “no” to this question: “Do you think global warming is affecting your life personally or will affect you in the next 15 years?” Nobody thinks it is or it will.

TR: Yes, that’s incredible.

KH: And that’s why I think the National Climate Assessment is so important, because it takes climate science down to the individual states and cities that people live in and it says, “This is what’s happening in your back yard or your front yard. This is what we expect to happen, this is the way it’s going to impact your agriculture, your economy, your water resources, your energy, your health, national security.” It brings it down to the level we see — it’s not about the polar bears, it’s what you’ll be. Is this is the world that you want to live in?

TR: And when do those regional reports come out?

KH: They’re due up next year.

TR: In order to get the word out to people so they understand the personal impact, who do you think needs to up their game? Is it scientists or the media or political donors?

KH: Yes, that’s a great question. I’ve been part of three National Climate Assessments so far: No. 2, No. 3, and then this one that we’re working on right now. And in the past, the National Climate Assessment has pretty much gone according to schedule; there’s no leaks, there’s nothing that’s getting any coverage ahead of time.

We finished the report, we got the website done, we crossed our t’s, dotted our i’s, got all the nice figures ready, got our talking points ready and then we all sat down in a big room and we were all like, “OK, bring on the media.” And, you know, people who were already were concerned about climate change would be there — Climate Wire and EEM, E&E News… and papers with science writers like The Washington Post and The New York Times would all do their dutiful write-ups and do an article. But that was pretty much it.

I mean, I have never had a day like I had [last] Tuesday, where every single network on the planet, [laughs] it seemed, from Al Jazeera to CNN to Fox News even, was calling saying, “We want to talk about this, can you be on camera in a few minutes?” I mean, that never happened before.

Isn’t that interesting? Because from the beginning from NCA2 that I was involved in — actually even NCA1 — the US Global Change Research Program hired the best science writer in the business. They hired the best communications team they could find. They created the best graphics. They created the best government website I’ve ever seen — it’s an accessible, friendly, up-to-date format. They made videos, they did communication training for the authors. Over the years, they’ve done everything they can. I can’t think of a single thing that the US Global Change Research Program could have done more than what they’ve done over the years in terms of trying to improve their ability to communicate this.

But when we got together to communicate this thing, CNN never showed up. TIME never showed up.

The best science should be policy neutral; it should give you the same answer no matter how you vote.— Katharine Hayhoe

TR: So The New York Times and their “sort of” leak story really lit a fire under notice of this report as compared to the past.

KH: Yes, yes, they struck a chord, with words like “leak” and wanting to know the cracks in [the Trump administration] and things like that. My colleagues and I have been joking that from now on, we realize what went wrong in our communication program. What went wrong is we didn’t put the report in a brown paper envelope marked TOP SECRET and slide it under somebody’s door in the middle of the night [laughs]. So we’ve been joking about how we’re going to have completely different communication plans from now on. All our peer-reviewed journal articles are going to be stamped, SECRET — NOT FOR CITATION OR DISTRIBUTION. And we’re going to accidentally drop them in a coffee shop. [laughter]

TR: [laughs] That’s great.

KH: Yes, if you want to keep something secret, all you have to do is have a public review/comment period because clearly nobody will ever read it.

TR: One thing that is interesting about the report is that it doesn’t make any policy recommendations, right? Pure science?

KH: Actually, that was very deliberate. Our goal for this report was to provide, to the utmost extent of our ability, the science needed to inform sound decision-making. The best science should be policy neutral, it should give you the same answer no matter how you vote.

TR: One of the things that people coming to our site, particularly this year, are feeling, is “What can I do? How can I fix things? How can I make a change?” And feeling a little bit lost about that.

KH: Oh, yes.

TR: I was reading through some of your older interviews, and you were talking about hope and what gives you hope. One of the things you said was, “You have to offer people a vision of the world, of what the world could look like, if we could wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, if we could have a clean energy economy. We would all want to live in that world.” And I wondered if you could talk about that a little bit?

KH: Yes, I love that you brought that up. Fear and panic is great for a knee-jerk reaction but to fix this problem, we need endurance. To endure, we need hope. I really believe though that if we did have that picture, if we did understand what that world would like, who wouldn’t want it? I mean, who doesn’t want to live in a home where you grow your own energy on your own roof with your own solar shingles? And you plug in your car at home at the end of the day and you never have to visit a gas station and then wipe your hands off afterward. [laughs] That’s one of our Global Weirding videos. It’s a YouTube series that’s [part of] PBS’ digital shorts series.

One of the videos is “I’m just one person, what can I do?” and then another video is “It’s too late to fix this thing, isn’t it?” All the videos are around questions that we’ve heard people ask, and that’s why I think it’s so important to address what can we do.

TR: Just to push back a little bit, I know a lot of people say, “Oh, what can people really do? The real problem is that governments have to take action and if I go and get lightbulbs or do solar panels, is it really going to change things?”

KH: Well, that’s why, with the video, I actually conclude with what I think is the most important thing that people can do, which is talking about it. Because studies have shown that people don’t talk about this at all and they don’t think it matters to them. And so, talking about the fact that it matters, why it matters, what’s at stake, talking to people to we know, talking to elected officials — that is one of the most important things that we can do.

TR: Another thing you’ve talked about are the different things that excited you that are going on in terms of green energy — you’ve mentioned Tesla and the battery packs. And I wonder if you can talk a little bit about what new energy solutions are exciting to you right now.

KH: Oh, I’m super excited about the solar shingles. They are apparently halfway in price between a normal asphalt roof and a slate roof, and that’s without counting the energy savings. Of course, the new Tesla was just released for $35,000 or $37,000 and has a pretty amazing range. As do the Chevy and the Nissan plug-ins as well. I just feel like every time I look — and I specifically look for the hopeful news — the hopeful news is not going to be in the headlines. The headlines that you read is despairing news, it’s sad news, it’s depressing news; you have to go looking for the good news. But when you go looking for the good news, like, the Navajo Nation, this is the headline today: “The Navajo Nation is transitioning from coal to solar.” Or Elon Musk put an entire island in the South Pacific on solar and batteries, cooled it with batteries and everything. China built a giant floating solar farm on top of a coal mine that they flooded. Or the fact that people figured out ways to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into blocks that can be used for construction purposes — because the problem always was, if you pull the stuff out of the atmosphere, what do you turn it into that you can actually use? Now, it’s not cost-effective yet, but you know, the first step is figuring out how to do it and then the second step is making it cost-effective. I love the fact that they’re running airplanes off algae fuel, and Oslo airport is, I think one of the only major airports in the world where they make planes refuel with algae bio-jet fuel. That’s neat.

Every month there’s a new US city committing to going 100-percent carbon free and of course, you even have Georgetown making an exit. And then you see news headlines like China’s wind company is retraining oil and coal miners to work in the wind industry. Or the solar company in San Antonio that retrained oil workers who lost their jobs when the price of oil plummeted, to do solar installations. Or, Fort Hood, the biggest military base in the country, going with wind and solar for their next electricity contract because they can save $168 million. Or the fact that pay-as-you-go solar is estimated to revolutionize energy poverty in Africa, bringing electricity to people who have never had it before.

People — we need that hope, we need that encouragement, we need that sense that we’re in this together and people are moving forward on this, that means that I can move forward too.— Katharine Hayhoe

I mean, see once I get going, [laughs] I can just keep going. All of these really cool, incredibly hopeful stories. And we have to be hearing these stories too. On my Facebook page, I monitor what things I post that are most liked and shared, the good news, hopeful stories get by far the greatest likes and shares.

People — we need that hope, we need that encouragement, we need that sense that we’re in this together and people are moving forward on this, that means that I can move forward too. What holds us back is that sense of, “Anything I do won’t make a difference,” but there’s a second part to that sentence that we don’t often verbalize: “Nothing I do will make a difference, and nobody else is doing anything either.” But when we realize, “Oh, my goodness, all these other people are doing this amazing stuff,” all of a sudden we feel hope that “maybe I can make a difference too.”

 
Hayhoe spoke with us on Aug. 10.

The post This Q&A Is Top Secret, Contains Leaked Info and Definitely Was Not Peer Reviewed appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The Limits Imposed on Reform: Reginald Dwayne Betts

Fri, 2017-08-18 12:39

Poet and literature professor Kyle Dargan appeared on Moyers & Company in 2013, and in April of this year helped us celebrate National Poetry Month by interviewing and highlighting the work of five new practitioners of “civic poetry,” individuals whose poetry, Dargan wrote, “seeks to draw us from out of ourselves and affirm the individuals we are as whole and worthy.”

Recently, Kyle Dargan sent to us a New York Times opinion piece by Bari Weiss about one of those extraordinary poets, Reginald Dwayne Betts, who earlier this month was denied entry to the Connecticut bar because of a felony conviction more than 20 years ago. We asked Dargan for his thoughts.

 

 

One of the unexpected outcomes of my appearance as a guest on Moyers & Company was a flood of responses from people who watched the show — people I did not know, though they knew where to find me at American University. I had to set up a separate email folder for them, as I was determined to respond to them all. Some even mailed physical letters, and a good portion of that mail came from incarcerated individuals — some sharing stories of their cases, others simply offering notes of thanks or even poems.

RELATED: Poetry Month ‘Triptych’

BY Reginald Dwayne Betts | April 17, 2017

I am not much one for defining a poet’s “duty,” but I will suggest that when a poet sees another poet on the creative path, one can offer the other guidance in the form of work by other writers. So when the incarcerated writers reached out to me, I tried to send one of them a book by an artistic associate and friend — Reginald Dwayne Betts. His book, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, is an expression of survival through growth (or growth through survival) inside America’s prison system — a gauntlet Reginald Dwayne Betts experienced for eight years himself as the result of a teenage felony conviction.

I met Betts in DC right after that phase of his life — we are the same age, and I have only known him as fellow poet, scholar and father. I’ve watched the pace at which he has lived his life following his incarceration, and have had no better illustration of how the human mind — in comparison to the body — is so unwilling to concede lost time. Rather than advice or encouraging clichés, Betts’ voice is what I felt might best serve the incarcerated poets who were writing to me.

In a few weeks, that correction facility in the northeast sent the book back to me, claiming the incarcerated individual who wrote me could not have Mr. Betts’ book because it was considered a danger, a security threat. (Again, this book is a book of poems.)

When Mr. Betts was recently denied admission to the Connecticut bar — being judged as apparently having failed, despite his life since prison, to firmly prove “good moral character and/or fitness to practice law” — many were shocked. I was not. That could be attributed to a wealth of experiences I’ve had growing up as someone of African descent in America and some with incarcerated family members, but, more specifically, it was because I have on my bookshelf a collection of poem by Mr. Betts that an American correctional facility refused to forward to an inmate — a physical representation of resistance to two men’s transformation.

Poet Kyle Dargan on the Affluence and Austerity of DC

April 5, 2013

I can’t think about that without losing faith in the idea of not only correctional facilities but also the legal system which populates them. It is tolerable for people like Dwayne Betts to be mere characters in stories of reform, but should they attempt to gain agency within or influence over the realms in which such narratives play out, they must be scrutinized excessively, if not thwarted.

I have attentively watched Mr. Betts’ professional life develop — from his English degree and creative writing MFA to his Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship to his juris doctorate and Ph.D in law. He once said in a New Yorker profile that poetry and law have always been intertwined in his mind, but I have always wondered if he would keep writing poems, if the legal world would consume his creative mind. But thankfully, every few years, he releases a book.

Betts’ voice is so necessary to me for it speaks the truth about redemption stories, which is that there is no full redemption for people such as him. It’s actually not a “feel good” story. One is never fully in the clear — ever either dodging the sorrow over the lives one had to leave behind or bounding the hurdles of validation erected constantly, unexpected and often in spite. That he carries this complicated weight and manages to forge art out of some of it makes him a great citizen poet and, I imagine, a compassionate and effective aspiring public defender.

This is not a sidelong appeal to the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee — the onus is on that body to realize its dilemma of principle and not on others to plead on behalf of Mr. Betts’ worthiness to practice law. It is an appeal to you, though — as readers and thinkers and neighbors — to find Dwayne Betts’ writing and share it with those you think may find in it validation and strength.

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Charlottesville: Is America Becoming the Middle East?

Fri, 2017-08-18 11:46

This post originally appeared at The Nation.

Americans have been so entangled in the Middle East for the past few decades that they have begun interpreting their own politics in the terms of that region. Is driving a car into protesters an ISIL tactic? Is pulling down statues of Confederate generals like destroying ancient Assyrian antiquities? Is Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad a mass murderer or a bulwark against fundamentalist hordes? How helpful is this importation of symbols from a region the United States has done so much to roil?

Joyce Karam points out that the white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville had a love affair with Assad. KKK figure David Duke has been flying off to give speeches in Damascus for years, attracted by the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Syria’s ruling Baath Party and its enmity for Israel (about which it mainly talks a good game). The white nationalists also admire the Russian Federation as a bastion of whiteness. Russian president Vladimir Putin has put his country’s air force at the service of Assad. Both Putin’s and America’s far right (and some elements of the American far left) see Assad as a bulwark against Muslim terrorists.

President Donald Trump struck Syria with cruise missiles last spring after allegations that the regime had used sarin gas on villagers. Breitbart, the webzine built up by current White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as a voice for the “alt-right” (white nationalists in business suits or khakis and polo shirts), suggested that the strike was the work of Ivanka Trump. Duke and a neo-Nazi site also attributed the strike to “Jewish extremism” and “manipulation” by Jews, respectively.

Anti-Semitic slurs have a long history in America, but connecting them to Israel and Middle East policy is a recent wrinkle.

The far-right gangs who invaded Charlottesville last weekend chanted, “you will not replace us,” but at some point changed the slogan to “Jews will not replace us.” This sentiment reflects conspiracy theories about globalization being the work of Jewish business interests, leading to the offshoring of American jobs or the importation of cheap labor from abroad. These slurs have a long history in America, going back at least to Father Charles Coughlin’s Christian Front in the 1930s, but connecting them to Israel and Middle East policy is a recent wrinkle.

The Daily Beast and many other commenters referred to the homicide by automobile, allegedly committed by James Fields Jr., which robbed 32-year-old Heather Heyer of her life and injured 19 others, as an “ISIS-style terrorist attack.”

The reference was to the use of vehicles by lone-wolf sympathizers of the declining Muslim extremist group ISIL (IS, ISIS, Daesh) to ram civilians. Although they did not pioneer the technique, which has been used dozens of times by terrorists of various stripes for years, it has been wielded by the terrorist group’s acolytes with special lethality. In July 2016, a man of Tunisian background drove a heavy truck into crowds in Nice, France, killing more than 80. On June 3 of this year, two men of Moroccan heritage and one born in Pakistan launched a vehicular terrorism attack on London Bridge, killing eight, mostly tourists from abroad.

The alleged perpetrator in Charlottesville resembles some of the young ISIL terrorists in Europe.

The far right quickly took up the vehicle attack as a tactic. In an apparent revenge incident, a British man drove a van into congregants issuing from London’s Finsbury Park mosque on June 19, killing one and wounding 11. [NOTE: And on Aug. 17, it happened again. A van plowed into a crowd in the tourist district Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 13 and injuring more than 100. Later that day, a car containing five suspected terrorists drove into a car in the coastal Spanish town of Cambrils, killing one and injuring seven. And an explosion in Alcanar Platja, another coastal town, killed one and wounded several others. ISIS has claimed responsibility for all of the attacks.]

The alleged perpetrator in Charlottesville, James Fields, ironically enough, resembles some of the young ISIL terrorists in Europe. He idolized Nazi Germany and immersed himself in the minutiae of its military history. He tried to join the Army but was discharged after basic training for not meeting requirements. His wheelchair-bound mother’s 911 calls allege that he abused and terrorized her, at one point pulling a knife on her. He is said to have been prescribed medication for anger issues. The Nice attacker, Mohamed Bouhlel, was also accused of having anger issues and of abusing his family.

A predictable controversy also broke out about whether the alleged Charlottesville attacker could be termed a terrorist, as opposed to being a hothead who flew into a murderous rage. Some feared that tossing around the charge “terrorism” could encourage the government to attempt to widen its domestic terrorism statutes at a time when the Justice Department is increasingly hostile to any dissent. Others, myself included, pointed out that if Fields had been a Muslim, there would have been no controversy about using the label.

This debate is paralleled in the Middle East. Many who support the remaining rebels in Syria are justifiably angry that all are being tagged as al-Qaida or ISIL, pointing out that many just wanted to escape the tyranny of the Baath one-party state. The Lebanese political elite does not agree with the United States and Israel that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization (it functions as a national guard for the Lebanese south, given the long history of Israeli attempts to annex that region). The unsettled character of the definition of terrorist groups in the Middle East led neophyte Donald Trump simply to assume that the Lebanese government is an ally of the United States against Hezbollah — which is actually a part of the Lebanese government and has been for many years.

The American right wing has for some time peddled a meme that removing or vandalizing Confederate monuments resembles ISIL’s attacks on historic sites.

In the wake of the Charlottesville atrocity, left-leaning crowds gathered to protest the agenda of the white nationalists. In Durham, North Carolina, a crowd pulled down a Confederate statue. The American right wing has for some time peddled a meme that removing or vandalizing Confederate monuments resembles ISIL’s attacks on historic sites. The latter, a puritan Muslim iconoclastic movement, sees ancient Assyrian and other pagan statues and monuments as works of Satan (rather as in 391 AD, when Roman patriarch Theophilus and his followers tore down a pagan temple, the Serapeum, in Alexandria, as a den of demons).

The statues of Confederate figures, however, are hardly works of longstanding. Most were erected in the early or mid-20th century as a movement of official white nationalism in the South, celebrating Jim Crow or implicitly rejecting the civil rights movement. Many see them as celebrations of the region’s slave culture. As for history, the American right wing was positively ecstatic when Russians and other ex-Soviets tore down statues of Stalin, and in 2003, the Bush administration orchestrated the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussein in American-occupied Iraq. The issue does not appear to be the preservation of history (which could be addressed by putting Confederate statues in a museum, where they could be contextualized). It appears to be the preservation of the history of white nationalism.

That Americans are measuring themselves against the Middle East is no accident. The era of US neo-imperialism in that region, which changed in a big way with Ronald Reagan’s encouragement of the Muslim far right in its guerrilla insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and went on steroids with George W. Bush after 9/11, has helped affect how Americans see themselves at home. In a ratcheting movement, Reagan enabled the rise of al-Qaida, and Bush the rise of ISIL, providing further justifications for the new militarism. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have cycled through the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Headlines continually blare about the foreign terrorist threat, taking the spotlight off the dangerous white nationalists at home. While most veterans are highly admirable people, the Bush administration, desperate for canon fodder, lowered military standards and it is well known that some white nationalists sought to serve in his wars as part of their ideology. One such appears to be the leader of one of the hate groups that marched in Charlottesville. American wars abroad have fed into the new white supremacism, and our longest wars are warping domestic politics. The answer to the question in my title may be “yes.”

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Daily Reads: A Brazen GOP Power Grab in Nevada; Post-Charlottesville, Trump Embraces Culture War

Fri, 2017-08-18 10:25

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.

 

 

Terror –> The Guardian has a detailed timeline of the terror attacks in multiple Spanish cities that left 14 dead — not including the attackers — and over 100 wounded yesterday.

Power grab –> Republicans lost at the ballot box last year in Nevada, but they’re now trying to undo the results with an effort to recall three legislators, all women, despite the fact that the lawmakers haven’t even been accused of any sort of wrongdoing. The Las Vegas Sun’s editorial page calls the effort “despicable in so many respects, it’s hard to know where to start criticizing it.”

Partisanship and propaganda –> Researchers at Harvard released a remarkable study of the 2016 election yesterday. They found a stark difference between the “the structure and composition of media on the right and left,” and noted that the neutral media “largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda” by consistently emphasizing Clinton’s emails and Trump’s positions on trade and immigration.

Culture war –> Robert Costa and David Nakamura report for The Washington Post that on Thursday, Trump “assumed the role of leading spokesman for the racially charged cause of preserving Confederate statues on public grounds, couching his defense in historical terms that thrilled his core supporters and signaled his intent to use cultural strife as a political weapon.” A more skeptical take is that some recent polls found that removing Confederate memorials isn’t that popular, and he’s trying to change the subject from Charlottesville.

And you can’t have a good culture war without invoking what New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore calls the “brutal, bigoted myth of Pershing murdering Muslims” with bullets dipped in pig’s blood in the Philippines. It was a favorite of Trump on the campaign trail, and who says that you can’t rewrite history?

It really shouldn’t be necessary, but at Vox, Matt Yglesias runs down the problems with comparisons of George Washington with Robert E. Lee.

Aftermath –> Republican Sen. Bob Corker blasted Trump on Thursday, saying “the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.” Jeremy Herb has that story for CNN.

Rupert Murdoch’s son James, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, circulated a memo condemning Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville, and pledging to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. David Smith reports for The Guardian.

Yet the latest CBS poll finds that while the public as a whole doesn’t approve of Trump’s response to Charlottesville, 67 percent of self-identified Republicans do.

Eight people have been arrested and charged for toppling that Confederate memorial in Durham, North Carolina, reports P.R. Lockhart at Mother Jones. Dozens of activists tried to turn themselves in for the crime, Spartacus-style, and more protests were expected when the eight defendants appear in court today.

And after receiving heavy criticism for lending legal support to the organizers of Charlottesville’s hatefest, today the ACLU announced that it would no longer “represent hate groups who demonstrate with firearms,” according to Josh Delk at The Hill.

White supremacists –> At The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson offers some ideas that progressives could adopt as part of an explicit anti-fascist agenda.

Ed Mazza writes at HuffPost about how one German city made extremists’ heads spin by turning a neo-Nazi march into a fundraiser for programs that de-radicalize neo-Nazis. The effort was so successful that other communities with Nazi problems have emulated it. 

And Eric Boodman reports for Stat that here in the US, white nationalists have been flocking to those easy online genetic tests, but many of them have been unhappy when they learned that they’re not quite as pure and Aryan as they believed.

Kremlingate –> Jenna McLaughlin reports for Foreign Policy that last summer, “as WikiLeaks was publishing documents from Democratic operatives allegedly obtained by Kremlin-directed hackers, Julian Assange turned down a large cache of documents related to the Russian government.”

And Pamela Levy reports for Mother Jones that while the Department of Homeland Security has taken several steps to protect our election infrastructure from hacking, “several members of President Donald Trump’s controversial election commission oppose DHS’s move, and two of them have dismissed the threat entirely as a ploy for the federal government to intrude on states’ rights.”

Two takes on robots –> James Surowiecki reports for Wired that “everyone thinks that automation will take away our jobs,” but “the evidence disagrees.”

Yet at The GuardianJulia Carrie Wong writes that while automation is often blamed for the loss of manufacturing jobs, the retail industry, which is dominated by women workers, is the most vulnerable to losing jobs to machines.

The Cotton State –> It’s been 20 years since Howell Heflin, the last Democratic senator from deep-red Alabama, left office. Slate’s Jim Newell explains why some Democrats are cautiously hopeful about this year’s long-shot race to replace Jeff Sessions in a special election this fall.

Cloistered –> The Washington Post developed a tool that allows you to see what Donald Trump is seeing when he logs into Twitter. It’s a narrow world of sycophants who work for him and Fox News personalities.

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

 

 

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How the Deep History of White Supremacy in North Carolina Persists Today

Fri, 2017-08-18 09:16

This Q&A is part of Sarah Jaffe’s series Interviews for Resistance, in which she speaks with organizers, troublemakers and thinkers who are doing the hard work of fighting back against America’s corporate and political powers. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 

 

In the wake of the white supremacist attacks on Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, protests sprang up around the country. In North Carolina, a place laden with its own history of white supremacist violence, protesters pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier outside of the Durham County Courthouse. Arrests and raids on activists’ homes followed.

On Thursday morning there was an attempt by hundreds to march on the jail and turn themselves in to protest the arrests and call for charges to be dropped. Angaza Laughinghouse is a longtime organizer in the area and he talks about the protests, the long fight against white supremacy in the South, and workers’ role in that struggle.

Wow! Line of residents in Durham, NC attempting to turn themselves in for 'crime' of removing Confederate Monuments

(photo Katina Parker) pic.twitter.com/DjdNS8S6rc

— Auburn (@AuburnSeminary) Aug. 17, 2017


 

Angaza Laughinghouse: I’m the former president of North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, and I was a founding member of Black Workers for Justice. I grew up around the main streets of Greenville, North Carolina, where the demarcation line for apartheid was between Line Street and Boundary Street. We had no public libraries in Greenville for the black community. We couldn’t cross over the line on Boundary Street to get to any of the facilities. No equal access to public facilities at all.

Sarah Jaffe: I think that is one of the things that is striking right now, is how many people forget how close this history is.

AL: Me, it is my life experience.

SJ: In North Carolina, following the events in Charlottesville this weekend, people took it upon themselves to remove the Confederate statue in Durham. Tell us a little bit about what happened and the aftermath of that.

AL: Obviously, people were angered Friday night when they saw those people marching around with those torches, those racist, white supremacist chants. We knew right then and there that that couldn’t happen without more people being engaged in this discussion. By the time Saturday rolled around, everybody was on the phone — all the activists were — emails, texts communicating that this cannot stand without us responding to the death of Heather Heyer and the people who were injured.

Later on, people were communicating about the young black man that was beaten when he went to retrieve his car. In that moment, people began talking about Sunday, that we’d have to mobilize across the state of North Carolina to tell them, to tell the world, that we weren’t going to let these fascist Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists just murder and injure and rally their forces to push this historic white supremacist outlook.

That Sunday we began planning the activity in Durham. We began planning, also, another activity in Raleigh. In Raleigh we had a candlelight vigil in front of the Martin Luther King statue in the heart of the black community. Nine hundred people gathered to mourn the death of our comrade who was murdered and 19 injured people.

On Dec. 3 of last year the Ku Klux Klan tried to march in Raleigh to celebrate Trump. Some of them heard about the thousands of people who were gathering in Raleigh and decided to do a quick drive through through a small rural town called Roxboro, North Carolina. They actually drove down the main street for five minutes and disappeared, about 20 cars. So, we are accustomed here in North Carolina to them raising their ugly heads, ugly hate.

On Dec. 3 of last year the Ku Klux Klan tried to march in Raleigh to celebrate Trump. …They actually drove down the main street for five minutes and disappeared, about 20 cars. So, we are accustomed here in North Carolina to them raising their ugly heads, ugly hate.— Angaza Laughinghouse

SJ: After the rally in Durham and the statue being pulled down, I understand there have been arrests, that the police have been raiding people’s homes. Can you tell us a little bit about what has been happening?

AL: The day after the statue was pulled down, there was a press conference and two undercover agents approached Takiyah Thompson of North Carolina Central University, a black student and also a longtime activist. They just asked her, “Are you Takiyah Thompson?” And she said, “Yes.” There was a group of people that surrounded her as she approached the undercover car and they put her in handcuffs: “We love you and we have got your back.”

The following day they continued to round up individuals. One is a lawyer, Peter Gilbert, and one is a union organizer, Dante Strobino, and others. We are fortunate that we have a long history of working together in this community. We were able to acquire the legal services of a well-known social justice and criminal lawyer by the name of Scott Holmes. He is helping us get them out and process them as we try to pull together a team of lawyers to represent these freedom fighters that took down the statue.

SJ: The governor, who is now a Democrat, said that these statues should come down in the wake of this, right?

RELATED: Society New Orleans Mayor Defends Removing Confederate Monuments

BY Southern Poverty Law Center | May 24, 2017

AL: Yes. Yesterday, Gov. Roy Cooper came out with an announcement outlining steps for the removal of all Confederate statues from state property. Under the leadership of the Republican governor, whom he defeated, Pat McCrory, they passed a law that states that they cannot move, replace [or] relocate any of these historical confederate statues from any state property.

The governor also wants to fight a bill that the Republican majority pushed successfully through the North Carolina House of Representatives that they will not hold liable anyone driving a vehicle through any these protests. The governor is urging the state Senate not to pass this bill and it appears to be losing traction.

SJ: You were telling me that you have experienced that when you are organizing, that people try to run you down with a car.

AL: One of the things that we do as a union is we oftentimes go to areas where people have to drive down a road to get into their workplace. While we are handing out the flyers, some of the anti-union people, some of the people that have old white supremacist ideas and are union haters, said: “You goddamned union communist organizer…” They try to hit you.

This white supremacist thinking is institutionalized. It is everywhere. In the history, in the workplace. It is part of the anti-union, right-to-work climate.— Angaza Laughinghouse

It is not just a question of protests and rallies. In the “right-to-work” South, where only 1.9 percent of all workers in North Carolina were unionized in 2015, there is a lot of anti-union feeling. This white supremacist thinking is institutionalized. It is everywhere. In the history, in the workplace. It is part of the anti-union, right-to-work climate. These supremacists are now calling the county government telling them to prosecute these folks who pulled down the statue to the fullest extent of the law. It is fully institutionalized, it is systematic, this white supremacy. It is not just a few crazies as some people want to write it off.

SJ: Could you tell us a little bit more about your history in North Carolina? You have been confronting this stuff for a long time.

AL: Black people certainly have been confronting this for hundreds and hundreds of years. Whether it was lynchings or whether it was the Wilmington riots of 1898. That’s in the history books, where the white supremacists came and they burned down a black newspaper, black businesses and murdered and slaughtered black people.

As I think back to those stories my grandmother [told us] about how they robbed my great-grandfather’s store way back in the 1920s/’30s and they threw the safe on my father’s chest. My dad had a big scar on his chest. He was missing a whole pectoral muscle. There is a long history.

RELATED: History ‘Most People Didn’t Want a Riot… But They Knew It Was Coming’

BY Junius Williams | July 14, 2017

What brought me back was the murder of those five union organizers — the historic Greensboro Massacre of Nov. 3, 1979 — when the Klan came into a black community known as Morningside Heights and gunned down five community and union organizers who were having a rally there.

Now, there is a lawyer working down in rural areas, particularly Newton Grove, Johnson County, more what we call the Black Belt region, where the African-Americans live and the farmworkers, there again. It was very apparent the role that these white supremacists played in intimidating the workers. They would cheat them out of their wages, they would work them overtime without paying them, spray the fields with pesticides knowing the workers were still working in the fields. It shows just how this white supremacist ideology devalues black lives.

SJ: How can people support the folks that were arrested? How can people support your work in North Carolina and the organizing that is still going on in North Carolina?

RELATED: Society A Working-Class Strategy for Defeating White Supremacy

BY Gabriel Kristal | August 16, 2017

AL: One of the things we are asking people to do is call the district attorney in Durham County and tell whoever answers the phone to drop the charges on the freedom fighters that took down the statue.

I think workers, too, have a unique role to play. Many of us have heard about the recent loss down in Mississippi with the United Auto Workers Union organizing of the Nissan plant down there. In light of what is happening in our workplaces, I think we have to take up this discussion of why all workers have to make every effort to defeat white supremacy, this white nationalism and neo-fascist popular movement that is developing. It keeps workers divided so we can’t unionize and win basic rights and better conditions and wages in our workplaces. It is very important to take time out to see how this impacts our workplace.

 

 

Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.

The post How the Deep History of White Supremacy in North Carolina Persists Today appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Can Anyone Stop Trump’s FCC From Approving a Conservative Local News Empire?

Thu, 2017-08-17 17:42

President Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, under chairman Ajit Pai, has been clearing the way for a merger between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media, two television companies that together own hundreds of local news stations.

RELATED: Media Trump’s FCC Has Paved the Way For a Giant, Local Fox News

BY John Light | May 10, 2017

Just months ago, this sort of merger would have been illegal. For years, FCC rules prevented any one owner of local news stations from reaching too many Americans, or from owning more than one station in a single community. But Pai, who spent the day before Trump’s inauguration with Sinclair’s CEO, has been moving quickly to clear these regulations away so that Sinclair can move forward with its plans to grow larger.

Media watchdog groups are pretty certain that Sinclair will use these relaxed rules to do exactly what the rules were intended to prevent: The company’s new, nationwide network, they predict, will present a single viewpoint under the guise of local news.

Sinclair already does this, and has a long history of selective programming, including commentaries that, notably, are in line with Pai’s own conservative, pro-corporate political leanings. In the last few months, some of these commentaries have been presented by Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump adviser and college friend of Eric Trump who, despite his new position as chief political analyst for Sinclair Broadcasting, remains close with the White House and has been questioned as part of the House of Representative’s Russia probe.

Just spotted Sinclair media personality Boris Epshteyn being escorted into the West Wing

— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) July 18, 2017

After the $3.9 billion acquisition is complete, however, Sinclair will be America’s largest television conglomerate. The company will own 230 stations and will be able to reach 72 percent of homes in America.

“There’s no question the Trump regime is trying to fast-track this deal,” Craig Aaron of the media watchdog group Free Press told BillMoyers.com. “There’s no way to look at it except as a favor for Sinclair. They have been the ones lobbying for this for years.”

 
Rupert Murdoch has an opinion

However, the situation may soon become more complicated for Sinclair and its ally at the FCC. The company’s competitors, such as DishTV, are speaking out. Perhaps more important to the Trump administration are other conservative news outlets, who, recognizing the threat that Sinclair could pose to their business, are taking a stand.

Newsmax, a conservative website, has filed a petition with the FCC opposing the merger. Its CEO, Chris Ruddy, is a close friend of President Trump, and is often tapped by television bookers to fill viewers in on the sorts of things that might be running through the president’s mind. One America News Network and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, two other prominent voices within the constellation of conservative media, have also spoken out against the merger.

But the most prominent opponent of the merger is, perhaps, Rupert Murdoch, who owns Sinclair’s most direct competitor, Fox, and who recently dined with Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Chief of Staff John Kelly. During the meeting, The New York Times reports, Murdoch unloaded on Steve Bannon. But, according to sources close to the president interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, the president’s relationship with Murdoch had hit a rough patch in July because of the Sinclair merger. (At one point, Murdoch had hoped to buy Tribune Media himself.) The White House dinner may have been an attempt to ease the friction between the president and the media mogul — which means the issue of the Sinclair merger may have come up.

 
Full speed ahead?

So perhaps there is a chance that Trump’s friends who own Sinclair’s rivals will succeed, and delay the merger. Perhaps not. As this crony capitalist drama plays out, watchdog groups, meanwhile, are looking for holes in the Trump administration’s approach. Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has stepped onto legally shaky ground in his deregulatory fervor; Craig Aaron of Free Press says Pai might be making a similar mistake. “This administration has been really sloppy in how it’s carried out its policies. So whether it’s this media ownership approach or it’s their attack on the free and open internet, they aren’t necessarily doing this in legally sustainable ways. In some cases it’s hard to tell if they care,” he said with a laugh. “They’re scoring their political points.”

But even if groups like Aaron’s succeed in challenging Pai’s policies through the courts, victory may not come until after the merger has gone through.

“Once they move down that road it can be pretty difficult to unwind, which is obviously a real shame,” he said. “People are clamoring for better coverage of their communities. They want more local news. They want a diversity of opinions at the local level. They want to hear a variety of voices. Sinclair’s model is the same conservative cookie cutter content wherever they go.”

The post Can Anyone Stop Trump’s FCC From Approving a Conservative Local News Empire? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Charlottesville and the Confederate Legacy

Thu, 2017-08-17 14:20

As Americans struggle to make sense of the bloodshed resulting from the white supremacist “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville this past weekend, we must remember the movement’s historical predecessors.

In their vicious quest to “Make America White Again,” this motley conglomeration of different hate groups did more than simply protest the removal of Confederate monuments. Armed for war, these incendiary racists employ several of the same aggressive tactics that the slaveholding leaders of the Confederate rebellion once relied on to achieve secession.

Having spent months using the ominous threat of violence to gain attention in Charlottesville, these modern-day homegrown terrorists attacked their fellow countrymen in a spectacle-like setting. The death of heroic activist Heather Heyer and the injuries of 19 other brave men and women are, quite horribly, only the most recent casualties in a long string of murders by white supremacists.

As the American abolitionist movement gained steam in the 1830s, Southern vigilante posses began springing up throughout the region. Led by the most affluent men in each village and town, vigilance committees and “minute men” groups terrorized both slaves and poor whites in an effort to enforce segregation and prevent possible rebellions.

Donning helmets, bulletproof vests and military gear, armed with assault rifles, handguns and plenty of ammunition, “Unite the Right” members took a page right out of the old secessionist handbook. In fact, a highly functional culture of vigilante violence has long existed in the antebellum South. It was even more entrenched in the Deep South, where large percentages of slaves and greater economic inequality between whites intensified social tensions. And just as in their beloved Confederacy, where vigilantes worked hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, the Charlottesville vigilantes encountered very little resistance from the police.

The preservation of a multifaceted slave society required constant attention. By itself, the legal system could not assure the level of security slave owners needed to feel safe, so they employed extralegal means to buttress the criminal code. As the American abolitionist movement gained steam in the 1830s, Southern vigilante posses began springing up throughout the region. Led by the most affluent men in each village and town, vigilance committees and “minute men” groups terrorized both slaves and poor whites in an effort to enforce segregation and prevent possible rebellions. Precursors to the Ku Klux Klan, these terroristic groups used violence and the constant threat of violence to maintain the Southern hierarchy, and eventually achieve secession from the United States.

Along with legally sanctioned slave patrols, vigilante slave owners and their allies were always policing the underclasses, reminding them that every utterance, every allegiance and every movement was under surveillance, with bloodshed a quick remedy for disloyalty. They targeted whites who were not connected to the slave empire, or who disagreed with slavery morally or intellectually. But their primary targets were black Americans, who bore — and still bear — the vast brunt of our nation’s brutality.

Although slave owners’ extensive use of vigilante violence to achieve disunion has generally been overlooked by historians, it unquestionably existed. Secession certainly was not secured by popular (white) will, nor by free choice for that matter. The master class had long lorded over the region with slave patrols, vigilante violence and mob brutality, and these instruments of force all helped to secure disunion. “The subsequent proceedings of the Southern leaders convinced all that there was a large element of Southern society which had been drawn into secession by force,” one white abolitionist Virginian wrote. To be sure, “every step of the South has been marked by perjury, treachery and lawlessness.”[1]

In Charlottesville this past weekend the American public witnessed the same type of terroristic intimidation that vigilante slaveholders once employed. This racist violence and rhetoric was amplified during Trump presidential rallies and has since been consistently condoned — tacitly, or increasingly, explicitly — by the president himself.

Vigilante violence was unquestionably necessary, claimed the Vicksburg Weekly Citizen, just in case the government needed to “resort to drastic measures to [e]nsure secession.” W.S. Barry, the president of the Mississippi Secession Convention, even suggested that “a stiff limb and a strong rope vigorously applied” should quiet anyone who was opposed to “our work.”[2]

In Charlottesville this past weekend the American public witnessed the same type of terroristic intimidation that vigilante slaveholders once employed. This racist violence and rhetoric was amplified during Trump presidential rallies and has since been consistently condoned — tacitly, or increasingly, explicitly — by the president himself. Trump’s abhorrent comments essentially defending white supremacists Tuesday afternoon only serve to show just how ingrained racism is in our current executive branch.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, however, was the fact that police seemingly allowed the neo-Confederate white supremacists to do as they pleased, even declining to intervene as anti-racist counter-protestors were savagely attacked. Comparing the police’s often violent reaction to Black Lives Matter protestors with their “coddling” of white supremacists, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote that by contrast, in Charlottesville “police stood passively as white supremacists lined up in formation, charged at protestors, and beat people.”[3]

In a nation that grapples with the egregious overuse of police force daily, the Charlottesville police force’s inaction in this matter clearly exposes the incredible power of modern white privilege. Still, the relationship between the police and these domestic terrorists again harkens back to the slaveholding South, where these vigilante groups were populated by the same men who ran state and local governments and law-enforcement agencies.

Always working in tandem with local criminal courts and sheriff’s departments, the antebellum South’s vigilante groups served to buttress the other systems and ensure that the masses were rendered either powerless or terrified. Slaveholding Confederates so nearly perfected this system that even after emancipation they continued using this matrix of violence to re-establish control over the region, with the practice of racial terror dominating the Jim Crow era — and reappearing with a vengeance in 2017.

By using violence and intimidation to gain political clout, the white supremacists who descended upon Charlottesville accomplished more than just saving for now a Confederate monument. Not only did they openly tout the benefits of a slavery-ridden society, they brought back the vicious tactics of Confederate vigilante groups as well. By the early 1860s, historian Roger Shugg wrote, white supremacist secessionists had accomplished their goals by “farce and fraud; the knife, the slingshot [and] the brass knuckles determining…who shall occupy and administer the [public] offices.” Nearly 160 years later, white supremacy – and its resulting violence — threatens to tear our nation asunder once again.[4]

 

 

[1] M.D. Conway, Testimonies Concerning Slavery (London: Chapman and Hall, 1855), 96-97.

[2] Quoted in Michael P. Johnson, Toward a Patriarchal Republic: The Secession of Georgia (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), 19; quoted in Charles C. Bolton, Poor Whites in the Antebellum South: Tenants and Laborers in Central North Carolina and Northeast Mississippi (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994), 175.

[3] Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “No More Charlottesvilles,” Jacobin, Aug. 14, 2017.

[4] Roger W. Shugg, Origins of Class Struggle in Louisiana: A Social History of White Farmers and Laborers during Slavery and After, 1840-1875 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1939), 147.

The post Charlottesville and the Confederate Legacy appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The Joe Arpaio I Knew

Thu, 2017-08-17 14:00

This post first appeared at ProPublica.

For most of Joe Arpaio’s two-plus decades as Maricopa County sheriff, he directed operations from the top floor of a downtown Phoenix tower, worlds away from the jails overseen by rank-and-file deputies. The executive offices wrapped around an expansive conference room, where I spent weeks in early 2008 with banker boxes full of arrest records and hanging out with Arpaio himself — a politician who built his career on bashing immigrants long before the rise of Donald Trump.

Back then, I was working for the East Valley Tribune, then a daily newspaper in the Phoenix area. I had filed a public records request for all documents from deputies’ immigration operations. Teamed with Paul Giblin, a fellow Tribune reporter, we were trying to figure out how the sheriff was enforcing immigration laws, and what effect their monomaniacal focus was having on regular police work — like solving crimes. Arpaio had long before achieved national notoriety for making prisoners wear pink underwear and housing them in an outdoor tent city so hot that the inmates’ shoes melted.

Arpaio, 85, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5, with a maximum potential penalty of six months in prison. That is the plan, unless President Donald Trump intervenes.

The sheriff’s office had spent the previous year carrying out a constitutionally dubious dragnet search for undocumented immigrants. Patrol deputies became expert at inventing pretexts for stopping the “load cars” that ferried immigrants through the county to points across the nation. Sheriffs descended on neighborhoods where day laborers waited for people willing to pay for their work. Voters repeatedly re-elected Arpaio as he carried out his pledge to transform the sheriff’s office into “a full-fledged anti-illegal immigration agency.”

The final chapter of this story is playing out now on the national stage.

Last month, federal Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court. In December 2011, another federal judge ordered the sheriff’s office to stop detaining people based solely on their immigration status. The agency ignored the judge’s ruling and went right on targeting immigrants. Arpaio, who lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff in November, testified that he had no idea his deputies were blatantly violating the order. Judge Bolton decided he was not telling the truth. As she concluded in her written opinion, Arpaio had demonstrated a “flagrant disregard” for the court order.

Arpaio, 85, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5, with a maximum potential penalty of six months in prison. That is the plan, unless President Donald Trump intervenes.

RELATED: For the Record Lest We Forget: the Birther Lie

BY Bill Moyers | January 20, 2017

On Sunday, as much of the nation fixated on the events in Charlottesville, the president told Fox News that he is “seriously considering” issuing a pardon to Arpaio. The former sheriff campaigned for Trump throughout 2016, shares his views on immigration and, in the past, was a supporter of Trump’s efforts to raise doubts about former President Obama’s birth certificate.

Trump and Arpaio share more than one trait. They both rose to national prominence as showmen who cannily worked the press to their advantage. Over time, their media relationships eventually mutated into more combative interactions with parts of the media, and both Trump and Arpaio took to engaging in periodic press-bashing. But all those years ago, Arpaio did not treat me as an enemy.

After submitting the records request on Dec. 31, 2007, I braced for the kind of belligerent rejection local reporters had often received from the sheriff’s office, and the months of legal struggle to come. Instead, Arpaio’s public affairs team invited us to come by and handed over thousands of pages of unredacted records. They were pleased the press wanted to write in detail about how many undocumented immigrants the agency was arresting.

As we worked our way through the files over the succeeding weeks, Arpaio would pop into the conference room each day, sometimes to say hello. Just as often, he came to hang out. To banter. To try out the wording of press statements before releasing them to the rest of the media. One day, he asked us how we’d respond if he announced something like: “illegal immigrants drive violent crime.” In our conversations, Arpaio would switch from relaxed to fiery and combative — his press conference persona — in an instant. We countered with questions of our own. It was a surprisingly candid and collegial conversation. Though Arpaio publicly raged against the press, he very much loved being covered by the media (especially on television), and he was also fond of spending time with journalists. At least when he wasn’t having them arrested. (But that’s another story.)

Arpaio was puzzled by our insistence that we review every single page of every arrest report. “Can’t we just summarize this for you?” He asked. No, not on this, I said, explaining that we were building a database of the agency’s immigration enforcement. Arpaio shrugged, “OK.”

We were puzzled, too. In moments alone, Giblin and I would turn to each other and wonder aloud, “Why are they letting us see all this?” The documents showed the operations were hugely expensive and relied on practices that seemed obviously unconstitutional. After months of more arduous reporting, we would find that the sheriff’s office had stopped investigating sex crimes, depleted its patrol division and nearly bankrupted itself in taking on immigration enforcement.

But those consequences seemed of little consequence. Arresting undocumented immigrants was the point, of course, but even more essential was press coverage of his deputies arresting undocumented immigrants.

First elected in 1992 as a tough-on-crime reformer, Arpaio built his reputation on disregard for inmates. Faced with overcrowded cells, he erected the infamous “tent city,” an outdoor jail that held the convicts in US Army tents from the Korean War. During Arizona summers, temperatures sweltered well above 110 degrees in the tents. Inmates were caught stealing underwear, so Arpaio had all jail underwear dyed pink in the belief that would end the black-market for briefs. Or that’s what he told the press, which produced scores of stories about the sheriff and his endeavors.

RELATED: Activism Breaking the Deportation Machine

BY Sarah Jaffe | February 15, 2017

He’d been uninterested in undocumented immigrants until 2006, when he seized on rising public anger over the issue, both locally and nationally. Once Arpaio was in the battle, he was all in. Collateral damage accumulated quickly. By 2008, numerous US citizens had been wrongly arrested by Maricopa County deputies, and several filed a federal lawsuit accusing the sheriff’s office of racial profiling.

The agency lost that case four years ago, but its remnants continue to imperil Arpaio today.

In December 2011, as the civil suit over racial profiling played out, Judge G. Murray Snow prohibited the sheriff’s office “from detaining any person based only on the knowledge or reasonable belief” that the person is in the country illegally. The direction was simple: no more local enforcement of federal immigration laws, no arrests unless deputies have evidence of a crime other than immigration.

The agency simply ignored Snow’s ruling. Over the next 18 months, deputies detained at least 171 people without criminal charges and turned them over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to its own internal reports. Arpaio did not deny this occurred but pleaded ignorance, saying he was uninvolved with day-to-day operations.

In an interview with Fox News over the weekend, the former sheriff said: “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”

That’s not precisely accurate. Records of his subsequent trial show that in the months after Judge Snow’s order, Arpaio implied or explicitly said during 10 different television interviews that the agency was violating it. Further, the sheriff’s office issued six news releases saying much the same.

However, the president’s justification for an Arpaio pardon does not rest on his innocence on the charge of disregarding the courts. “Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” Trump told Fox News. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

Trump’s assertion is at odds with our reporting. In the shift to full-time immigration enforcement, Giblin and I found that the sheriff’s police work faltered across the board in its mission to protect the citizens of Maricopa County. Detectives shelved dozens of sex crime cases without investigating them. By Arpaio’s own admission, the number of uninvestigated sex crime cases eventually swelled to more than 400. Many of the victims were children.

Arpaio did apologize years later for failing to pursue suspected sex criminals. But he has remained largely defiant, and consistently on the record about his defiance. The former sheriff summed up many observers’ feelings in an interview for “The Joe Show,” a documentary on Arpaio’s tenure.

“It’s amazing what I say, and what I do, and what I get away with,” Arpaio told the filmmakers. “It’s amazing.”

The post The Joe Arpaio I Knew appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Texas Republicans Intentionally Discriminated Against Minority Voters, Court Rules

Thu, 2017-08-17 11:28

This post originally appeared at Mother Jones.

On Tuesday, hours after President Donald Trump refused to blame white nationalists for the violence in Charlottesville, a federal court ruled that congressional districts drawn by Texas Republicans after the 2010 election were enacted with “racially discriminatory intent” against Latino and African-American voters.

This is the seventh time since 2011 that a federal court has found that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters, through its redistricting plans and strict voter-ID law. This repeated finding of intentional discrimination means that federal courts could once again require Texas to clear any changes to voting laws or procedures with the federal government — a requirement that was in place until the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

The League of Women Voters called the 2011 redistricting plan ‘the most extreme example of racial gerrymandering among all the redistricting proposals passed by lawmakers so far this year.’

Texas added 4.3 million new residents from 2000 to 2010 and gained four new congressional seats after the 2010 census. Although nearly 90 percent of that growth came from minorities, who lean Democratic, under the congressional redistricting map passed by Texas Republicans in 2011, white Republicans won three of the four new seats that resulted. The League of Women Voters called the plan “the most extreme example of racial gerrymandering among all the redistricting proposals passed by lawmakers so far this year.”

In August 2012, a federal court in Washington, DC, blocked the maps under the Voting Rights Act, writing that “the plan was enacted with discriminatory purpose.” A federal court in San Antonio hastily drew new maps for the 2012 election, based largely on the rejected 2011 maps. They were intended to be only a short-term fix, but the Texas Legislature made them permanent after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling that freed states like Texas with a long history of discrimination from federal oversight of voting changes. Civil rights groups challenged both the 2011 and 2013 congressional redistricting maps in court.

In March 2017, a federal court in San Antonio finally ruled on the original 2011 plan, finding that Texas Republicans “intentionally diluted minority voting strength in order to gain partisan advantage.” On Tuesday, the same federal court panel unanimously ruled against the 2013 maps as well, finding that they failed to cure discrimination in two of the state’s congressional districts. Here’s the key language from the ruling:

In sum, the court concludes that the racially discriminatory intent and effects that it previously found in the 2011 plans carry over into the 2013 plans where those district lines remain unchanged. The discriminatory taint was not removed by the legislature’s enactment of the court’s interim plans, because the legislature engaged in no deliberative process to remove any such taint, and in fact intended any such taint to be maintained but be safe from remedy. The legislature in 2013 intentionally furthered and continued the existing discrimination in the plans.

RELATED: Civil Liberties The Trump Administration’s Voter-Suppression Plans Are Backfiring Badly

BY Ari Berman | July 6, 2017

Specifically, the court found that in the 35th Congressional District, which runs from Austin to San Antonio, Republicans sought to “intentionally destroy an existing district with significant minority population (both African-American and Hispanic) that consistently elected a Democrat.” (Nonetheless, a Democrat, Lloyd Doggett, has held the seat ever since.) And in the 27th District in southeast Texas, Republicans transformed a majority-Latino district into a majority-white district to protect Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, who famously challenged female senators opposed to repealing Obamacare to a duel. The court said Hispanic voters were “intentionally deprived of their right to elect candidates of their choice.”

The ruling means that the districts could be redrawn in a way that favors minority candidates. (In a victory for Republicans, the court rejected claims to redraw districts in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and South Texas.) Texas has already said it will appeal the case to the Supreme Court, which is “pretty likely” to hear it, says Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Justice. The ruling also means that Texas could become the first state to be subject again to preclearing its voting changes with the federal government under the Voting Rights Act.

Texas’ voter-ID law, which requires certain forms of government-issued photo ID to vote, was passed at the same time as the redistricting maps and was also initially blocked under the Voting Rights Act. It has subsequently been ruled intentionally discriminatory by a federal district court on two occasions, in October 2014 and April 2017. A federal judge is currently deciding whether to block full implementation of the law.

Republicans in state and federal government broadly condemned the racism on display in Charlottesville. But there have been repeated instances of voting changes by Republican-controlled state governments, in states beyond Texas, that have been found to discriminate against minority voters:

  • In North Carolina, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Republican legislature tried to disenfranchise African-American voters “with almost surgical precision.”
  • In Wisconsin, a federal judge found that Republicans cut early voting locations and hours “to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African-Americans.”
  • In Indiana, Republicans closed polling places and cut early voting in minority areas but not in white ones.
  • In Ohio, African-American voters were twice as likely to be purged from the rolls by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted as white voters.
  • In Alabama, after passing a strict voter-ID law, Republican officials closed DMVs in eight of the 10 counties with the highest non-white populations of registered voters.

It’s impossible to truly denounce white supremacy without confronting suppression of minority voters.

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Daily Reads: Trump Lawyer Pushes “Secessionist Rhetoric”; Bannon: No Military Option in N. Korea

Thu, 2017-08-17 10:17

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.

 

 

Still our top story –> On Wednesday, Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, gave a moving and at times inspiring eulogy for her daughter, who was killed in Saturday’s terror attack in Charlottesville. At Crooks and Liars, Karoli Kuns writes, “It’s not hard to see where Heyer got her passion.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s personal lawyer sent an email around DC on Wednesday that The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo described as “echoing secessionist rhetoric.” In it, he said Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups,” and claimed “there literally is no difference between” George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Wondering what the deal is with antifa, the anti-fascist groups that inspired Trump’s claim that both sides were responsible for the violence last weekend? The Nation’s Natasha Lennard offers some insight into who they are and what motivates them.

An extraordinary documentary from Vice offers a brutal on-the-ground look at what transpired in Charlottesville. We think it’s important for informed citizens to understand the reality, but the film is not for everyone and we’d caution that it features disturbing images and hateful rhetoric.

President Trump said that on Saturday, the counterprotesters had no permit — this was a central point of his “both-sides” argument — but Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler found that this claim is false.

One of the men featured in the Vice film, a gun-toting neo-Nazi, got teary-eyed when he learned that there might be a warrant out for his arrest. Despite admitting to violence in a short video message, he seems to believe that he’s being persecuted. David Ferguson has more at Raw Story.

Speaking of gun-toting white supremacists, at The Atlantic, David Frum, a “never Trump” conservative, looks at “the chilling effect” of openly carried firearms at protests, writing that “Charlottesville marks a new era of even bolder assertion of the right to threaten violence for political purposes.”

And Joshua Holland writes for Reuters that Trump has not only minimized the growing threat of extreme right-wing violence, “he’s turning that denial into policy.”

The fallout –> Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein report for The Daily Beast that Trump’s allies in the business community are fleeing in droves. On Wednesday, Trump claimed that he had disbanded two of his “business councils,” but “in reality, they dumped him first.”

Slate’s Joshua Keating reports that leaders of countries allied with the US are facing increasing pressure at home to denounce Trump and Trumpism.

A number of reports suggest that even Steve Bannon’s ideological allies within the White House are turning on him, and rumors of his imminent dismissal have been coming daily, but Greg Price reports for Newsweek that Trump is likely worried that if he sent “Bannon packing… he could become a vocal critic of the administration once free of its political inner-workings.”

Speaking of Bannon –> Yesterday, he cold-called Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, to offer some thoughts on China, North Korea and the fact that for all of the regime’s bluster, they know there’s no military solution to the nuclear standoff.

Jonathan Swan reports for Axios that Bannon appears to have pulled a Scaramucci, and now claims that he had no idea calling up a journalist and giving him a juicy story without asking to speak off the record would be fair game for publication. Swan writes that “the piece gives Bannon’s enemies ammunition at a time he’s extraordinarily vulnerable.”

And as if on cue, Ankit Panda reports for Politico that a series of intelligence leaks suggest that “Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons and missile programs have passed the point of no return,” which “makes Trump’s threats of preventative war a fantasy.”

In other news –> A Ukrainian hacker who’s working as a witness with the FBI may shed new light on the Russian intervention into last year’s election. Andrew Kramer and Andrew Higgins have that story for The New York Times.

And the Center for American Progress’ Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy offer a new report detailing nine ways that we could secure our elections in the future.

Our allies –> A top UN adviser has recommended that the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen be put on a list of state actors “that kill and maim children in war,” according to Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy.

Ripoff by middleman –> Tim Henderson reports for Pew’s Stateline that “employers who want to hire unauthorized workers — or to escape accountability for their poor treatment of legal workers — appear to be [increasingly] turning to temp agencies and other labor contractors to evade scrutiny.”

Dog whistle politics –> Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a speech about the regime’s crackdown on “sanctuary cities” in which he focused exclusively on Chicago, repeatedly invoked the specter of “crime” and “lawlessness” and used words like “predator.” Alexi McCammond has more at Axios.

Here’s a statement on the speech from the ACLU, with some fact-checking.

Occupy Chicago –> Meanwhile, on Chicago’s South Side, community activists are organizing “peace marches” and overnight camp-outs in an effort to take back some of the area’s most violent street corners. Carlos Ballesteros has that story for In These Times.

Reprieve –> We’ve talked a lot about Trump’s threats to halt payments to insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for the poor. Sy Mukherjee reports for Fortune that the August payments will be made on time, meaning Trump won’t intentionally blow up the individual market for at least another month.

Triple-checking –> “Can the eclipse tell us if Einstein was right about general relativity?” Well, it’s already been confirmed, but Lisa Grossman writes at Science News that nerds around the world will take the opportunity to test it yet again next week.

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email.

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Don’t Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out

Wed, 2017-08-16 17:23

It’s just happened again. Someone has fled the White House. This time under her own volition. The CEO of Campbell’s Soup, Denise Morrison, stepped down today from Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. She was preceded a hour earlier by Inge Thulin of 3M and Richard Trumpka, president of the AFL-CIO, yesterday afternoon.

After some of her co-members fled over the weekend, Morrison had initially said she’d stay on. But evidently President Trump’s news conference yesterday changed her mind. She said in a statement today:

Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the president should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous on that point.

So great was the outflow from Trump’s two business councils — the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the Strategic and Policy Forum — that he announced via his favorite medium that he, yes, he, was ending both endeavors.

Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Aug. 16, 2017

The announcement came after reporting from both The New York Times and Bloomberg that the remaining members of the Strategic and Policy Forum had scheduled a conference call to discuss the group’s future.

Although the president has stated many times that his White House is not “in chaos”

Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2017

… the facts and figures tell a different story. Not only has Trump failed to fill a record number of political positions, but the roster of administration has-beens is quite long. Luckily, the Los Angeles Times is keeping track for us. In their graphic-filled newsletter, they update each prominent exit with the number of days served and reason for leaving. Check it out so you don’t miss a beat. And don’t miss Vanity Fair’s tongue-in-cheek take, “Trump Has Fired Enough Staffers for an All-Trump Season of Dancing with the Stars.”

The Los Angeles Times’ running list of White House exits.

 

 

Read more installments in our series “While He was Tweeting” — keeping an eye on Trump’s wrecking ball.

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Trump Wants to Make America Great Again: But Great Like When?

Wed, 2017-08-16 17:02

Emblazoned on his red baseball caps and bumper stickers, Donald Trump’s campaign slogan — Make America Great Again — captured something in the American zeitgeist. The phrase is still a popular hashtag, #MAGA, on Twitter, and appears in the graphic of every email the Trump campaign continues to send out to supporters.

1980 campaign poster.

Trump claims he came up with the phrase himself in 2012 and even trademarked it, but Ronald Reagan used a similar slogan in his 1980 presidential campaign: “Let’s Make America Great Again.” At the time, the United States was suffering an economic slowdown and Reagan invoked the slogan to stir up patriotic feelings among voters who remembered the post-World War II era as one of dynamic economic growth and peace and stability at home.

Even though he was an early Reagan supporter, Trump says he didn’t realize that Reagan had used the catchphrase first. During the campaign, when asked when he thought America was great, Trump told The New York Times that America was great at the turn of the 20th century and again in the post-World War II years.

We wondered how much his legislation, regulatory rollbacks and policies matched up with these periods in history, and what it was about those periods that Trump found so great, so we reached out to three historians to get their take.

 
Dismantling LBJ’s Great Society

Christina Greer is an associate professor at Fordham University and the author of Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream. She takes a look at Trump’s plans to take apart Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society focusing on three key pieces of legislation that Trump is targeting today.

 
The End of a Political Era: Movement Conservatism Gets Real

Heather Cox Richardson teaches 19th-century history at Boston College. Her history of the Republican Party, To Make Men Free, examines the fundamental tensions in American politics from the time of the Northwest Ordinance to the present. She writes about how Donald Trump in the White House means the end of a political era. Movement conservatives have been talking about reversing the reforms of the New Deal since the late 1930s, but they’re finding out that while voters liked the talk, they’re not actually willing to walk the walk, and lose the public safety net that President Roosevelt put in place.

 
Get Ready for the New Gilded Age

Lastly, Bernie Weisberger is a historian and author of Many People, One Nation, a history of immigration to the United States. Weisberger writes about some of the reforms of the Progressive Era, and suggests that you’d have to go back to the Gilded Age to realize Trump’s American dream.

The post Trump Wants to Make America Great Again: But Great Like When? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Forward to Yesteryear! Get Ready for the New Gilded Age

Wed, 2017-08-16 16:51

The “Brains” that achieved the Tammany victory at the Rochester Democratic Convention, 1871. (Woodcut by Thomas Nast)

As Democrats debate whether they should adapt some slogan snappier than “A Better Deal” to woo voters in next year’s elections, I offer one to the Republicans, based on recent legislative announcements, that should cleverly appeal to both forward-looking and conservative thinkers alike, to wit, FORWARD TO YESTERYEAR!

Alas, it’s no laughing matter.

On Aug. 2, President Trump announced two new initiatives to advance his campaign to “make America great again” without any clear message of exactly what he means. But if you look closely, they go a long way toward clarifying a couple of his intentions.

One was the repeal and replacement of the Immigration Act of 1965, which itself replaced earlier laws of the 1920s. Those had set racial and ethnic quotas to limit the entry of so-called racially “inferior” post-Civil War immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. They also banned immigration from Asian countries entirely, completing a process begun with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 on the grounds that both these groups brought crime and disease in their wake and undercut the wages of American workers.

Today, the heirs of those same economic royalists are back in the saddle, with a program that is nothing less than the erasure not only of the “Roosevelt Revolution” but of the entire list of achievements of the Progressive movement dating back to the 1880s.

The 1965 legislation abandoned such restrictions entirely and replaced them with a system based on uniting families and encouraging immigrants with special artistic or scientific talent.

Trump’s new proposal would be “merit-based” and award points to those with literacy in English, advanced education, lucrative job offers waiting or, of course, existing capital. What’s more, the overall numbers of immigrants admitted would be slashed almost in half. The huddled masses would stay huddled in their refugee camps and slums. Back we would go to the “safety” of 1925.

Trump’s other new initiative is the creation of a special unit in the Department of Justice to investigate “anti-white” discrimination. This is a tactic to pump new life into the long campaign by conservatives to undo desegregation measures mandated in the civil rights laws of the ‘60s, which guarantee equal opportunities in hiring and college admissions to African-Americans.

Coupled with the ongoing assault on voting rights that primarily would disenfranchise low-income and especially black voters on the phony grounds of preventing nonexistent election frauds, they make it plain that the reel of Trumpian “reforms” always spins backward.

Consider the evidence. First came the attack on the programs of the Great Society, including such programs as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as deep cuts in programs for early education, nutrition, mass transportation and urban renewal. Creation of some agencies now under attack, like the EPA and OSHA were even signed by Richard Nixon, however reluctantly, after LBJ had left office. Those two agencies will be gelded by leadership dedicated to their destruction, the goal of Trump’s alt-brain, Steve Bannon. The concept seems to be to cleanse the nation of any trace of progressive policy injected into society since LBJ left office. Away with them, then tackle their origins which go back to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms. We will once again enjoy America when it was truly great, in 1929 just before the speculations of the rich plunged us into the Great Depression.

I remember the passion of reactionaries to repeal the New Deal, because I was living through the 1930s as a teenager.

I remember the passion of reactionaries to repeal the New Deal, because I was living through the 1930s as a teenager. Efforts to create what we now call the liberal welfare state were despised and assailed by the “economic royalists” who hated FDR and whose hatred he “welcomed.” Small wonder. To fight the Depression and the power of Wall Street to bring on another, the New Deal dissolved monopolies, regulated banks and the stock market to curb runaway speculation, enabled workers to organize in unions, created beautiful and useful public works built by unemployed Americans earning public salaries, increased public housing, restored drought-stricken areas of the public domain with conservation measures carried out by a peaceful “army” of jobless youths, and brought electricity to rural America, among other successes.

Today, the heirs of those same economic royalists are back in the saddle, with a program that is nothing less than the erasure not only of the “Roosevelt Revolution” but of the entire list of achievements of the Progressive movement dating back to the 1880s. Their primary weapon is the revival of a 1944 “Bible” of government-hating libertarians, Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. No bad idea ever really dies, and with Trump’s ascendency and Republican control of all three branches of government, this one got a robust new lease on life.

Hayek’s basic argument was that government intervention in the workings of the free market meant giving power to officials to regulate economic behavior, such as telling a businessman at what price he could sell his product, could lead to a radical expansion of authority eventually reaching every corner of life — in essence to wipe out freedom entirely and to slide down the slippery slope to Fascism. Though Hayek did allow for the government to step in on occasion to curb a visible abuse, his more ardent followers spent most of their time and energy emphasizing the threat to liberty in abandoning market principles.

No bad idea ever really dies, and with Trump’s ascendency and Republican control of all three branches of government, this one got a robust new lease on life.

It was no coincidence that at the beginning of the Reagan era in 1980 Milton and Rose Friedman’s book Free to Choose became a best-seller and the subject of a television series — on PBS, of all places. Hayek died in 1992. In 2008 Jonah Goldberg published Liberal Fascism, which argues that progressives had created an “administrative state” run by an elite of liberal economists who practiced “social engineering,” which, among other indignities, contemptuously trampled on the natural and God-given rights of intelligent workers to “freely” contract with employers for jobs that in reality paid less than a living wage in return for exhausting, dehumanizing hours of work. It’s a position that gives new meaning and power to the word “reactionary.”

Hayek’s book enjoyed a new and enlarged audience in 2010, when Glenn Beck made it the subject of a set of TV interviews. A recent request I made for “articles citing Friedrich Hayek appearing in 2017″ yielded more than 700 articles. I have just recently read the 2016 Illiberal Reformers by Thomas Leonard, which contends that “modern liberalism permanently discarded economic liberties” and likewise got around to “trampling on individual rights to person, to free expression, to marriage and to reproduction.”

Whether Trump truly believes in this exaggerated “government is the enemy” doctrine can’t be said for sure. The man doesn’t appear to think; he only reacts to challenges to his inflated opinion of himself. But he does not seem uncomfortable about returning us to a pre-progressive era in which unions struggled to be born, bloody strikes were crushed by troops, small children worked long hours in dangerous trades, the Senate was a millionaire’s club elected by corrupt state legislatures instead of directly by the vote of the people, consumers risked being poisoned by patent medicines or tainted foodstuffs, and prices were rigged.

Trump’s race to consign every evidence of past progress to the “memory hole” of history, where they can be forgotten and replaced with state lies and alternate reality as defined by the maximum leader, is poison directed at the heart of democracy. It shouts for resistance in every medium and in every form — now. There may not be a second chance.

So, historians, to the barricades!

 
This post is part of a three-part series in which historians examine Donald Trump’s plans to “Make America Great Again” and consider what point in American history President Trump was thinking about when he said “again.” Clearly, different voters heard different things. Now that we’re more than six months into his presidency, these historians review his legislation and policies and explain where that might place us in the past. Read other posts in the series.

The post Forward to Yesteryear! Get Ready for the New Gilded Age appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Trump Tears Down LBJ’s Great Society Piece by Piece

Wed, 2017-08-16 16:11

Roughly two years ago, Donald Trump descended his gold-plated escalator in Trump Tower and declared that he (and he alone) would Make America Great Again. Throughout the course of his campaign and extending into his presidency, Trump has promised to undo all of the ills of the Obama era, kick out “illegals” (all of whom seem to be murderers, rapists, terrorists, job thieves or a combination thereof) and restore America to the great nation she used to be. He even promised to bring back saying “Merry Christmas.” Significantly, Trump has gone out of his way to establish an election commission to prove what he believes is rampant voter fraud. When assessing the litany of Trump promises and proposed policies, they are not so much an undoing of Obama’s legacy, but rather in direct contrast to the civil rights gains achieved under Lyndon Johnson just over 50 years ago.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Immigration Act of 1965 are a triumvirate of measures signed and implemented by President Lyndon Johnson as the core of his presidential policy. The acts of Trump and his team should be seen as no less than a modern-day attack on 21st-century civil rights, voting rights and inclusive immigration efforts that were guaranteed under that legislation.

A man without a vote is a man without protection.— Lyndon Johnson

Signed just after President Johnson assumed the presidency in 1964, the Civil Rights Act signaled a mid-20th century commitment to uphold equal protections of all citizens. The landmark legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In 1965, Johnson followed with the Voting Rights Act, which upheld the civil rights protections and also expanded rights and liberties of blacks and other nonwhite groups living in the US. Of course, these rights had been laid out in the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, but it took roughly 100 years for those rights to begin to manifest themselves. It was LBJ’s maneuvering with Congress that secured (at least on paper and by law) voting rights for racial minorities, especially in the South. LBJ also shepherded through the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, abolishing the earlier quota system based on national origin and establishing a new immigration policy based on reuniting immigrant families and attracting skilled labor to the United States.

Johnson signed these landmark bills into law as part of his Great Society, and argued that “a man without a vote is a man without protection.” Trump’s draconian efforts to eliminate millions of Americans from the voting and registration rolls, a central tenant of his electoral plan, should be seen as a direct assault on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act is often heralded by the Department of Justice as the most significant and effective piece of legislation ever enacted.

RELATED: For the Record LBJ Launches Medicare: ‘You Can’t Treat Grandma This Way’

BY Bill Moyers | July 30, 2017

In order to see the methodical dismantling of American democracy under this current regime, we must view the successful passage of all three acts as building blocks toward the collective legislative progress and increased incorporation for blacks and other racial minorities living in the US. Essentially, dismantling the Voting Rights Act significantly unravels the Civil Rights and Immigration acts as well. The Voting Rights Act ensures that millions of American citizens have the legal right to register, vote and participate in free and fair elections. As the US attempted (and still attempts) to fully integrate all into its electoral process the expansion of civil rights was further expanded to include racial minorities, and black Americans in particular. Similarly, an attempt to erode voting rights directly affects immigrant groups and the strides made through the Immigration Act to fully incorporate them as citizens into the electoral process and to help them realize their full civil rights under the law.

The principles and tenets of all three acts are manifestly still a work in progress and under the Trump administration are on even more fragile ground. It comes as no surprise that voting equity and transparent immigration efforts would be in the crosshairs of this administration. A recent report stated that arrests of immigrants under the Trump administration have almost doubled in the past six months. Additionally, rates of Americans removing themselves from voting rolls have increased. Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has prided himself on his downsizing of voter rolls in his home state of Kansas. Trump and Kobach’s intimidation tactics appear to be working, scaring Americans and their families into the shadows and away from the electoral process.

RELATED: Democracy & Government Kobach ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Gets Fast Thumbs Down

BY Miles Rapoport | June 7, 2017

Although these three acts passed in the mid-1960s, all three acts remain relevant in the 21st century largely because the equal protections, franchise and robust and equitable immigration practices have yet to be fully realized for many people of color currently living in the US. LBJ was cognizant that the passage of legislation that would be perceived as assisting blacks and other marginalized groups could signal the exit of Southern Democrats from the party, possibly forever. In many ways, LBJ’s fears were realized. Currently, there are no Democratic US senators representing Southern states, and Southern statehouses are solidly Republican.

Trump does not share the concerns of LBJ. He does not care that his policies and appointments contribute to the unraveling of inclusive acts passed just over 50 years ago. What he does care about is admiration — and as long as his loyal base continues to cheer when he denounces civil rights for others at home and abroad, repeat baseless claims of voter 2016 fraud and tout his Muslim ban and Mexican wall, we are in for a long three and a half years — and in grave jeopardy of losing not just the South, but progress toward US democracy forever.

 
This post is part of a three-part series in which historians examine Donald Trump’s plans to “Make America Great Again” and consider what point in American history President Trump was thinking about when he said “again.” Clearly, different voters heard different things. Now that we’re more than six months into his presidency, these historians review his legislation and policies and explain where that might place us in the past. Read other posts in the series.

The post Trump Tears Down LBJ’s Great Society Piece by Piece appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The Testosterone-Fueled Presidency

Wed, 2017-08-16 15:05

Oh, those authoritarian strongmen! They are so much more masculine than we ordinary males, so much more alpha, so much more physically powerful. At 73, Mao Zedong allegedly swam the Yangtze River at a pace that would have been faster than that of Sun Yang, the 2012 Chinese 1,500-meter Olympic gold medal winner. There were even photos that claimed to document the septuagenarian’s achievement.

This summer, papers were abuzz about Vladimir Putin’s shirtless Siberian vacation, during which he engaged in a series of macho exercises, highlighted by chasing a razor-toothed pike underwater for two hours before spearing it. In Turkmenistan, the government recently released a video of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in camouflage throwing knives at targets, firing a machine gun and standing on the tarmac, calling in an airstrike.

And then we have our own president, Donald Trump, he of the “I guarantee you, there’s no problem” genitalia. His short-lived communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, introduced himself by enumerating his boss’ unparalleled athletic feats; more Brady than Tom Brady, more Curry than Steph Curry, more Speith than Jordan Speith:

“I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on. He’s standing in the key and he’s hitting foul shots and swishing them, okay? He sinks 30-foot putts. I don’t see this guy as a guy that’s ever under siege.”

(By the way, Scaramucci originally said “3-foot putts,” but the White House later amended it. Seriously.)

All of this would just be more comical Trumpian absurdity, severe overcompensation, if it weren’t for one thing: Trump’s hypermasculinity is bringing us perilously close to a military confrontation with North Korea.

All of this would just be more comical Trumpian absurdity, severe overcompensation, if it weren’t for one thing: Trump’s hypermasculinity is bringing us perilously close to a military confrontation with North Korea. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta even had the nerve to ask whether Trump’s bluster was a result of his thinking that Kim Jung-Un was questioning the president’s manhood, which is not something I ever recall being raised in any previous presidential discussion.

But just think about it: We may go to war because our president has problems with his masculinity, and war is his method of dealing with it. You don’t really need Freud to look at the shape of a nuclear weapon and see where Trump is coming from.

But it isn’t only what has been dubbed Trump’s “Toxic Masculinity Syndrome” that’s at issue. It is America’s TMS. Apparently, to judge from Trump’s support, tens of millions of white male Americans suffer from the same syndrome, which is why Trump clearly feels enabled to flirt with war. He knows these guys will have his back. What are a few hundred thousand casualties in the service of demonstrating your maleness?

In analyzing Trump’s white male base, especially those in the Rust Belt, pundits have fastened onto their sense of economic disempowerment. These men are undergoing a status crisis, which is why Trump scores so well among white uneducated voters and also, arguably, why these white men are so hostile to liberals, whom they see as snooty elitists.

The problem with this analysis is that college-educated white males also supported Trump, as did white males who made over $50,000 — which isn’t to say that these groups don’t suffer from a status crisis, only that the crisis isn’t a function of education or economics.

I suspect it is in some large measure a function of something that has received far too little attention in the media: the threat that women pose to traditional male dominance.

There has been a resurgence of an ugly misogyny that resents women and hopes to put them back in “their place” — a resentment that our president represents, amplifies and legitimizes. That there is a war of men against women in America today is undeniable, and, as said, it isn’t limited to men at the bottom of the totem pole.

There has been a resurgence of an ugly misogyny that resents women and hopes to put them back in “their place” — a resentment that our president represents, amplifies and legitimizes. That there is a war of men against women in America today is undeniable, and, as said, it isn’t limited to men at the bottom of the totem pole.

For example, however much the right defends the memo by former Google engineer James Damore — that women are not discriminated against in Silicon Valley, but just happen to have a different mindset from successful tech men — the thrust of that memo was yet another way to marginalize women and justify their inequality. Silicon Valley is notorious for hatred of women — geek retribution.

To anyone who is the least bit enlightened, which doesn’t include our president, such thoughts are antediluvian. But to the right wing, efforts to marginalize women are foundational. Conservatism is not just fundamentally an anti-feminist movement, a designation it embraces proudly, but an anti-women movement. Under the rubric of “traditional values,” it is predicated on preventing males from losing their dominance. In fact, almost nothing exercises conservatives as much as women’s encroaching power. And while this misogyny is generated by white men for white men, white women, a majority of whom also voted for Trump, are accomplices, apparently resenting women who refuse to submit to the male power structure.

Again, much of this was discounted, even among liberals, in last year’s presidential election, and when Clinton herself adduced sexism as one reason for her loss, pundits tended to pooh-pooh it. They preferred economic and social sources for white male disaffection, possibly because these just sounded better.

But it is no stretch at all to view the election as a gender status contest between a conventional blustering male egotist and a powerful woman. Nor is it a stretch to see the election not as one in which a rich, powerful alpha male was vanquishing a woman with the temerity to challenge the social order, but as one in which an old, overweight, doughy male with ill-fitting suits, ties down to his knees and a bad haircut — in short, the very personification of the ignorant, unregenerate male troglodyte — was vanquishing that woman and everything she represented. It wasn’t, as many said, hatred of Hillary that beat her. It was hatred of women.

I would posit that Trump connects with his base not because they feel some surge of vicarious power through his power. He connects with them because they see in him the same insecurity, humiliation and emasculation they feel, and see in him the same unhinged response they have.

Scholars have long seen the affinity between hypermasculinity and fascism, and the way gender roles get translated into politics. Indeed, in many ways, fascism and “alt-right” movements are the political versions of hypermasculinity born of a fear of female empowerment. Christina Wieland, of the University of Essex, has written a book titled The Fascist State of Mind and the Manufacturing of Masculinity, one chapter of which is suggestively titled “Masculinity and its discontents.”

In the same vein, Michael Kimmel at Stony Brook University’s Center for the Study of Male and Masculinities has looked at the confluence of masculinity endangerment and far-right movements, recently focusing on white male Trump supporters with their simmering resentments and sense of humiliation.

Kimmel sees the relationship between male endangerment and violence, and spoke recently about his own conclusions, as well as those of author James Gilligan. “He argued that shame and humiliation underlie basically all violence: ‘Because I feel small, I will make you feel smaller,’” he said. This certainly speaks to domestic violence. It is only now, however, with Trump, that it speaks to international violence, threats of nuclear war.

I would posit that Trump connects with his base not because they feel some surge of vicarious power through his power. He connects with them because they see in him the same insecurity, humiliation and emasculation they feel, and see in him the same unhinged response they have. Because he feels small, he is going to make the world smaller. He is going to show them! Disempowered men get that.

Which is where North Korea comes in. Putting aside the harm that white men who feel emasculated can do to women, a testosterone-fueled presidency is an extremely dangerous one. It leads almost inevitably to confrontation precisely because it has nothing to do with strategic policy, only with personal slights.

Trump has always had a masculinity problem. It is why so much of his discourse is consumed with insisting on his maleness — on his sexual prowess, on his irresistibility to women, on feminizing his opponents as weak, on his fake bravado, on objectifying and denigrating women, and now his threats to North Korea. He’s even threatening Venezuela.

Methinks the man protests too much. Even so, it seems beyond belief that Trump would take us to war to show just how big a man he is. But, then, so did a Trump presidency seem beyond belief. It only goes to show that when you fear women enough and can rouse hatred against them in similarly threatened males, anything can happen — none of it good. Nukes, anyone?

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