"A Field Guide To Identifying A White Nationalist"
“It becomes one of those ‘if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck’ kind of things.”
By Dana Liebelson, Staff Reporter, The Huffington Post, and Matt Ferner, National Reporter, The Huffington Post, November 18, 2016
WASHINGTON ― White nationalists tried repeatedly throughout the presidential campaign to sanitize their language to appeal to mainstream voters as they threw their efforts behind electing Donald Trump.
White nationalists who tried to play down their white nationalism won a victory this week as the president-elect not only chose Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as his chief strategist ― a man who heads a website that regularly airs white nationalist viewpoints ― but many news outlets also are reluctant to use the specific label “white nationalist,” instead calling Bannon a “flame-throwing outsider” and a “nationalist media mogul.”
Of course, calling a person a “white nationalist” who hasn’t self-identified as one is somewhat fraught. In Bannon’s case, the website he runs peddles racist and misogynist conspiracy theories and is a go-to resource for white nationalists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Whether or not Bannon personally holds white nationalist views, it’s indisputable that his website has perpetuated them.
As David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University in Michigan, said, it’s useful to look at an individual’s statements, associations and sentiments. “It becomes one of those ‘if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck’ kind of things,” he said.
The Trump campaign denies allegations that Bannon is a white nationalist or a part of the so-called alt-right, the movement’s latest preferred moniker. “Nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s irresponsible for anyone to even make such a baseless accusation,” said Jason Miller, communications director for Trump’s transition team, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post.
Bannon in July told Mother Jones: “We’re the platform for the alt-right” and that the site espoused a “nationalist” philosophy but argued that its attraction for racists was incidental.
It’s helpful first to parse the various terms that have been thrown around. “White supremacy” refers to a “full-fledged ideology” that asserts whites should have dominance over people of other races, according to the Anti-Defamation League. “White separatists” promote physical separation of races. A “white nationalist” emphasizes that countries or regions should be defined by a white racial identity. Other ideologies under the nationalist umbrella ― Neo-Nazi groups, for example ― openly praise Adolf Hitler. The founder of Aryan Nations, Richard Butler, wanted an all-white homeland in the Pacific Northwest.
But delving into the specifics of each of these subgroups can sometimes miss the point. “Very often it’s useful to call people what they are: racists or white supremacists,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Complicating these distinctions even further, white nationalist groups often use euphemisms to make their ideas appear less repugnant. Jared Taylor, publisher of American Renaissance, a website that regularly features racist screeds, says that he is not a white supremacist, a Nazi or a racist. “A ‘racist’... is always considered to be a moral inferior,” he wrote in an email. “I totally reject that view.”
Terms that Taylor and others who hold similar views prefer: “race realist” or “white advocate.” They may also refer to themselves as advocating for “Western civilization” or “European heritage,” or say they are merely combating white “dispossession” or the “administrative removal of Americans of European extraction.”
They also love the term “alt-right,” which SPLC defines as “a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals” who believe white identity is under attack. The term is merely “a relabeling of white nationalism for the digital age,” said Potok. “It’s a little more pitched to young people,” he said. (Millennials may be well aware that being seen as a racist is a bad thing, even if they embrace racist viewpoints.)
Breitbart has published a glowing guide to the alt-right, suggesting its members are different from “old-school racist skinheads” because they are “a much smarter group.” In a post earlier this year, a headline described political analyst Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew.” Another article published last year, weeks after the mass shooting at a black church in South Carolina, celebrated the Confederate flag, a symbol embraced by racists.
“I am very frustrated by the normalization of these ideas and the notion that they are finding acceptability in mainstream discourse,” said Ted Shaw, a law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. He noted that it should be “terrifying” that the alt-right has found legitimacy in Bannon’s appointment to serve in the White House.
Taylor strongly denies that Bannon is a white nationalist. But many self-identified individual white nationalists told The Huffington Post that they are excited that he was picked to serve on Trump’s team.
The Trump campaign has sought to distance Bannon from the website’s posts that traffic in white nationalism. “Here’s what folks need to know about Steve Bannon: He’s worked with people of all backgrounds and has embraced diversity throughout his career,” Miller said Thursday.
In response to a HuffPost inquiry, the Trump transition team also referred to a statement from Republican Jewish Coalition board member Bernie Marcus, who defended Bannon’s appointment and said the charges against him are false.
Earlier this week, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told the “Today” show that Bannon is “not as scary” as he has been portrayed and that the “charges are very unfair.”
But anti-extremist groups, such as the SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League, disagree with the Trump camp’s characterization of Bannon. “[He] was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill,” SPLC said on Twitter this week. Breitbart News is “the premier website of the alt-right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists,” said ADL.
After Bannon’s appointment, progressive commentators criticized some news organizations for using euphemisms to describe him. They argued that not explicitly referring to him as a “white nationalist” ignored or downplayed Bannon’s role in promoting extremist rhetoric.
Conservative media organizations also defended Bannon, calling him a “brilliant strategist” and “a patriot.” They said the allegations that he promotes white nationalism are “smears” and “slander,” and claimed Breitbart’s publications should not be linked to Bannon because that content is merely “designed to attract audiences.”
But Cheryl Harris, a UCLA law professor who focuses on civil rights and race, said, “These debates obfuscate the issue with respect to Bannon, which is whether Bannon self-consciously and explicitly created a platform for white nationalism to flourish, and it seems that he did, proudly and by his own admission.
“There is also a great danger of normalization as Trump takes state power. Many will be reluctant to call out the president for racism, either in his tactics or his policy.”
Jim Crow Museum founder Pilgrim said he has “no doubt” that as time goes on, alt-right adherents will be seen as promoting white nationalism, even if they’re not dressed up like neo-Nazis or wearing Klan hoods. “We’ve allowed someone, and I’m not sure whom,” to restrict the use of the term “white supremacist” “to only the guy in the racist uniform.”
Demonstrators marched to the site of the annual “Become Who We Are” conference, a key gathering of the so-called alt-right, in Washington, on Saturday. Al Drago/The New York Times.
"White nationalists converge on capital to celebrate ‘an awakening’"
By Alan Rappeport and Noah Weiland, New York Times, November 20, 2016
WASHINGTON — For years, they have lurked in the web’s dark corners, masking themselves with cartoon images and writing screeds about the demise of white culture under ominous pseudonyms. But on Saturday, in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising election victory, hundreds of his extremist supporters converged on the capital to herald a moment of political ascendance that many had thought to be far away.
In the bowels of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, three blocks from the White House, members of the alt-right movement gathered for what they had supposed would be an autopsy to plot their grim future under a Clinton administration. Instead, they celebrated the unexpected march of their white nationalist ideas toward the mainstream, portraying Trump’s win as validation that the tide had turned in their fight to preserve white culture.
“It’s been an awakening,” Richard B. Spencer, who is credited with coining the term alt-right, said at the gathering Saturday. “This is what a successful movement looks like.”
The movement has been critical of politicians of all stripes for promoting diversity, immigration and perceived political correctness. Its critics call it a rebranded version of the Ku Klux Klan, promoting anti-Semitism, violence and suppression of minorities.
Intellectual leaders of the movement argue that they are merely trying to realize their desire for a white “ethno-state” where they can be left alone. Trump, with his divisive language about immigrants and Muslims, has given them hope that these dreams can come true.
“I never thought we would get to this point, any point close to mainstream acceptance or political influence,” said Matt Forney, 28, of Chicago. “The culture is moving more in my direction.”
Emboldened by Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party, Forney said he expected people openly associated with the white nationalist movement to run as candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. The rise of populism and the decline of political correctness, he said, presented a rare opportunity.
Robert Taylor, 29, described the conference as a “victory party.” Taylor was a committed libertarian, he said, working for Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns and even moving to New Hampshire for a project organized by the like-minded. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, he said, he would have advocated secession.
“I thought I had all the right answers and had read all the right books,” he said. “I heard about the alt-right movement, and it just lit a fire in me.”
Taylor said that with Trump, “we have breathing room; we have a little time.”
Trump has shrugged off any suggestions that he has connections to the alt-right. But his hard-line views on immigration and his “America First” foreign policy have captivated members of the movement. His appointment as chief strategist of Stephen K. Bannon, who has called Breitbart News, the website he long ran, a platform for the alt-right, has reinforced the notion that the incoming president is on their side.
The white nationalist embrace of Trump was on display Saturday at the gathering, which was the annual conference of a group called the National Policy Institute. Guests nibbled on chicken piccata while discussing ways to reorient America’s demographics. Many of the attendees, who were mostly white men, wore red “Make America Great Again” hats. T-shirts emblazoned with Trump’s face sold quickly.
While the enthusiasm inside the conference was evident, the resistance to the alt-right remains powerful. A recent surge in hate crimes and reports of verbal and physical assaults on minorities are putting new pressure on groups that promote racism.
Many sites will not host their events, and some of their members have had their social media accounts suspended in response to vicious trolling of Jewish journalists and critics of Trump. A large group of protesters marched around the Ronald Reagan Building, which, as a federal property, could not decline to host the conference.
“These people have their right to freedom of speech, but the values they represent don’t represent America,” said Jon Pattee, 48, of Mount Rainier, Maryland. “I characterize them as the shirt-and-tie arm of the white supremacist-nationalist movement.”
Republicans who are more mainstream are also unlikely to accept the movement’s more provocative ideas.
“They have to grow up and start shedding some of their more controversial elements,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative blogger and commentator who has been critical of Trump. “I don’t think they will ever be accepted wholeheartedly in the Republican Party.”
Nonetheless, alt-right leaders said they planned to use their newfound influence to pressure Trump to take more “heretical” policy positions, such as a moratorium on net immigration for the next 50 years.
“In the long run, people like Bannon and Trump will be open to the clarity of our ideas,” said Jared Taylor, the founder of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance.
Like Trump, Spencer, the alt-right leader, derided NATO as “clumsy and ineffective.” He called for friendlier relations with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and for the deportation of undocumented immigrants, drawing chants of “build that wall.”
“I think moving forward the alt-right as an intellectual vanguard can complete Trump,” Spencer said. “We can be the ones who are out front, who are thinking about things that he hasn’t grasped yet.”
Although alt-right leaders say they want to become more politically active, it remains unclear how they will react to being more closely aligned to the establishment or what they will do if Trump starts to moderate his views. His outreach to African-Americans during the final months of the campaign angered some of his white nationalist followers, raising concerns among them that Trump might not be so different after all.
“It’s a fleeting moment of optimism,” said Al Stankard, 29, of Baltimore, who goes by the pseudonym Haarlen Venison online and was handing out his novel, “Death to the World.”
Stankard said he thought it was unlikely Trump would be able to do things like end affirmative action, even though he believes that the president-elect sympathizes with the plight of “white racists.” He predicted that Trump might disappoint white nationalists in the same way that President Barack Obama disappointed some of his supporters by failing to bring postracial unity to the nation.
“These are semi-delusional fantasies,” Stankard said.
“Amal Clooney Says Trump’s Ideas ‘Are Violations of International Human Rights Law’”
The human rights lawyer recently spoke at a women’s conference in Texas.
By Cavan Sieczkowski, Deputy Director, News & Analytics, The Huffington Post, November 18, 2016
Amal Clooney did not mince words when taking on President-elect Donald Trump’s proposals at a recent women’s conference.
The international human rights lawyer spoke at the Texas Conference for Women in Austin Tuesday in front of a crowd of 7,000, and spoke out against Trump’s plans for the Muslim community.
“[Trump’s comments] that there should be a religious test imposed on entering the U.S. or the fact that there should be state-sponsored torture or that families of suspected terrorists should all be killed — all of those things are violations of international human rights law and the values that underlie that,” she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Clooney ― who was a Hillary Clinton supporter and challenged Trump’s rhetoric for months before the election ― did, however, praise his plans for combating ISIS.
“We have to hope for the best,” she said. “The president-elect has said that fighting ISIS is actually a priority … so it may be that there can be progress, and obviously everyone has to respect the outcome of the democratic process here, and we have to hope for the best.”
Clooney has been fighting against ISIS on behalf of the terror group’s Yazidi victims for the crimes of genocide, human trafficking and sex abuse.
From: Michael Brune, Sierra Club
To: Jonathan A. Melle
Re: Take action: Stop hate in the White House
Date: November 20, 2016
President-elect Trump is naming some truly terrifying people to advise him and fill his cabinet. Their extreme positions and climate denial are dangerous not just to the environment but to our country in general and millions of Americans.
We must speak out immediately. If President-elect Trump wants to uphold his word to bring the country together and be a president for all Americans, then he should publicly rebuke these advisers and declare that he will not listen to anyone that propagates hate or science-denial. Anything less is unacceptable.
Here are just a few:
Stephen Bannon, CEO of the extreme right-wing conservative outlet Breitbart News, is known for his record of sickening and dangerous attacks against women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Jews, and Muslims -- in addition to fueling climate denialism. President-elect Donald Trump's reckless decision to appoint him as his Chief Strategist in the White House is a threat to the safety and prosperity of all Americans.
President-elect Trump has also named noted climate denier and fossil fuel hack Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute as the head of his EPA transition team. That means Ebell, who has called climate change "nothing to worry about" and has ZERO scientific training will be in charge of choosing the head of the EPA and local EPA regional offices. Ebell actually wrote an article in Forbes called, "Love Global Warming," where he said warmer temperatures would make colder regions more inhabitable. And for the rest? "...the higher temperatures are killing people who are likely to die soon anyway."
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was rejected by a Republican Senate in 1986 for a federal judgeship because of allegations he had used racial slurs, called civil rights groups like the NAACP "un-American," and stated on the record that as of the 1980s "the fundamental legal barriers to minorities had been knocked down, and that in many areas blacks dominate the political area, and that when the civil rights organizations or the ACLU participate in asking for things beyond what they are justified in asking, they do more harm than good."
He would be in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and Voting Rights Section, allowing him to defang the agency to allow for more local voter suppression. He has voted and spoken out against immigration, equal pay, and confirmation of numerous nominees who he claims have "the ACLU gene." He would also be given the power to investigate, arrest, and harass members of Black Lives Matter, protesters against pipelines like DAPL and KXL, and other environmental groups.
Sessions' environmental voting record also shows he cannot be trusted to stand up for laws that protect clean air, water, communities, public health, or the climate.
Hate group leader Frank Gaffney is a noted Islamophobe, unrepentant bigot, and conspiracy theorist who has reportedly been advising the Trump administration's transition team. Gaffney is the head of the Center for Security Policy, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. With news that the Trump team may already be planning to create a "Muslim registry" of Americans, the prospect of someone like Gaffney in a position of influence is an urgent threat to our democracy and basic human decency.
Send your representatives in Congress a message now: there's absolutely no place for hate and dangerous science denial in our government.
Thank you for speaking out against hate,
Executive Director, Sierra Club
Richard B. Spencer, a leader of the alt-right movement, spoke at a conference in Washington on Saturday. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times
“Alt-Right Exults in Donald Trump’s Election With a Salute: ‘Heil Victory’”
By Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times, November 20, 2016
WASHINGTON — By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.
In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.
But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”
As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.
These are exultant times for the alt-right movement, which was little known until this year, when it embraced Mr. Trump’s campaign and he appeared to embrace it back. He chose as his campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the media executive who ran the alt-right’s most prominent platform, Breitbart News, and then named him as a senior adviser and chief strategist.
Now the movement’s leaders hope to have, if not a seat at the table, at least the ear of the Trump White House.
While many of its racist views are well known — that President Obama is, or may as well be, of foreign birth; that the Black Lives Matter movement is another name for black race rioters; that even the American-born children of undocumented Hispanic immigrants should be deported — the alt-right has been difficult to define. Is it a name for right-wing political provocateurs in the internet era? Or is it a political movement defined by xenophobia and a dislike for political correctness?
At the conference on Saturday, Mr. Spencer, who said he had coined the term, defined the alt-right as a movement with white identity as its core idea.
“We’ve crossed the Rubicon in terms of recognition,” Mr. Spencer said at the conference, which was sponsored by his organization, the National Policy Institute.
And while much of the discourse at the conference was overtly racist and demeaning toward minorities, for much of the day the sentiments were expressed in ways that seemed intended to not sound too menacing. The focus was on how whites were marginalized and beleaguered.
One speaker, Peter Brimelow, the founder of Vdare.com, an anti-immigration website, asked why, if Hispanics had the National Council of La Raza and Jews had the Anti-Defamation League, whites were reluctant to organize for their rights. Some speakers made an effort to distance themselves from more notorious white power organizations like the Ku Klux Klan.
But as the night wore on and most reporters had gone home, the language changed.
Mr. Spencer’s after-dinner speech began with a polemic against the “mainstream media,” before he briefly paused. “Perhaps we should refer to them in the original German?” he said.
The audience immediately screamed back, “Lügenpresse,” reviving a Nazi-era word that means “lying press.”
Mr. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of Mr. Trump throughout the campaign in order to protect Jewish interests. He mused about the political commentators who gave Mr. Trump little chance of winning.
“One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” he said, referring to a Jewish fable about the golem, a clay giant that a rabbi brings to life to protect the Jews.
Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Spencer said, was “the victory of will,” a phrase that echoed the title of the most famous Nazi-era propaganda film. But Mr. Spencer then mentioned, with a smile, Theodor Herzl, the Zionist leader who advocated a Jewish homeland in Israel, quoting his famous pronouncement, “If we will it, it is no dream.”
The United States today, Mr. Spencer said, had been turned into “a sick, corrupted society.” But it was not supposed to be that way.
“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
But the white race, he added, is “a race that travels forever on an upward path.”
“To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror,” he said.
More members of the audience were on their feet as Mr. Spencer described the choice facing white people as to “conquer or die.”
Of other races, Mr. Spencer said: “We don’t exploit other groups, we don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around.”
The ties between the alt-right movement and the Trump team are difficult to define, even by members of the alt-right.
Mr. Bannon was the chief executive of Breitbart, an online news organization that has fed the lie that Mr. Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim. As recently as last year, Breitbart published an op-ed article urging that “every tree, every rooftop, every picket fence, every telegraph pole in the South should be festooned with the Confederate battle flag.”
Mr. Bannon told Mother Jones this year that Breitbart was now “the platform for the alt-right.”
But in an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bannon said that the alt-right was only “a tiny part” of the viewpoint represented on Breitbart.
“Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment,” he told The Journal, adding that the alt-right had “some racial and anti-Semitic overtones.”
When asked about Mr. Bannon, the conference’s speakers said that they might have shaken his hand on occasion, but that they did not know him well.
Mr. Brimelow said that he had met “Mr. Bannon once, earlier this summer, before he ascended to Olympus.” He said he had told Mr. Bannon that he was doing great work at Breitbart. “He agreed,” Mr. Brimelow recalled to the audience.
As for Mr. Trump, Mr. Brimelow said he had met him about 30 years ago at a “conservative affinity meeting” in Manhattan. But that was it.
“Trump and Steve Bannon are not alt-right people,” Mr. Brimelow said, adding that they had opportunistically seized on two issues that the alt-right cares most about — stopping immigration and fighting political correctness — and used them to mobilize white voters.
Mr. Spencer said that while he did not think the president-elect should be considered alt-right, “I do think we have a psychic connection, or you can say a deeper connection, with Donald Trump in a way that we simply do not have with most Republicans.”
White identity, he said, is at the core of both the alt-right movement and the Trump movement, even if most voters for Mr. Trump “aren’t willing to articulate it as such.”
At various points, he and other speakers outlined where they differed from Mr. Trump. They see him as too beholden to Israel. They do not see any reason to start a trade war with China, and they are not necessarily opposed to the Iran nuclear deal.
For them, immigration is the most potent mobilizing issue, less for economic reasons than because of the prospect that white Americans will someday represent less than half of the population of the country.
For the alt-right, the most exciting thing about Mr. Trump was that he built a campaign around the issues that mattered most to them, and that white people had voted for him in numbers that left the political establishments of both parties stunned. Now, Mr. Spencer said, it is up to the alt-right to formulate the ideas and policies to guide the new administration.
“I think we can be the ones out in front, thinking about those things he hasn’t quite grasped yet, who are putting forward policies,” Mr. Spencer said, that “have a realistic chance of being implemented.”
“‘White Nationalism,’ Explained”
By Amanda Taub, The New York Times, November 21, 2016
White nationalism, he (Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at Birkbeck University in London) said, is the belief that national identity should be built around white ethnicity, and that white people should therefore maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s culture and public life.
White nationalism places the interests of white people over those of other racial groups. White supremacists and white nationalists both believe that racial discrimination should be incorporated into law and policy.
White supremacy is based on a racist belief that white people are innately superior to people of other races; white nationalism is about maintaining political and economic dominance, not just a numerical majority or cultural hegemony.
The white nationalist movement argues that the United States should protect its white majority by sharply limiting immigration, and perhaps even by compelling nonwhite citizens to leave.
Although the alt-right (see Stephen K. Bannon) is ideologically broader than white nationalism — it also includes neoreactionaries, monarchists, and meme-loving internet trolls — white nationalism makes up a significant part of its appeal.
In a 2015 radio interview that was resurfaced this week by The Washington Post, Mr. Bannon opposed even highly skilled immigration, implying he believed it was a threat to American culture. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think...” he said, trailing off midsentence before continuing a moment later, “a country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”
Richard Spencer, who runs the website AlternativeRight.com, is also the director of the National Policy Institute, an organization that says it is devoted to protecting the “heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”
Mr. Spencer argues that immigration and multiculturalism are threats to America’s white population, and has said his ideal is a white “ethno-state.” He has avoided discussing the details of how this might be achieved, saying it is still just a “dream,” but has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to remove nonwhite people from American soil.
From: George Takei
To: Jonathan Melle
Re: Japanese internment
Date: November 21, 2016
Just a few weeks after my fifth birthday, in the spring of 1942, my parents got my younger brother, my baby sister, and me up very early, hurriedly dressed us, and quickly started to pack.
When my brother and I looked out the window of our living room, we saw two soldiers marching up the driveway, bayonets fixed to their rifles. They banged on our front door and ordered us out of the house. We could take only what we could carry with us.
We were loaded on to train cars with other Japanese-American families, with guards stationed at both ends of each car as though we were criminals, and sent two-thirds of the way across the country to an internment camp in the swamps of Arkansas.
For nearly three years, barbed wire, sentry towers, and armed guards marked home. Mass showers, lousy meals in crowded mess halls, and a searchlight following me as I ran from our barracks to the latrine in the middle of the night -- in case I was trying to escape -- became normal.
So when I hear Donald Trump's transition advisors talk about building a registry of Muslims and his surrogates using the internment of Japanese-Americans as their model, I am outraged -- because I remember the tears streaming down my mother's face as we were torn away from our home. And I am resolved to raise my voice and say, loudly and clearly, that this is not who we are.
My mother was born in Sacramento, my father grew up in San Francisco, and my siblings and I were born in Los Angeles. We were American citizens, as proud of our country as we were of our Japanese heritage. But in the fear and mass hysteria of wartime, none of that mattered. When our government allowed hatred and racism to overtake our values, nothing else mattered.
We cannot allow our country to be led down that dark path ever again.
Jonathan, I am committed to fighting for our values, our democracy, and the moral character of our nation. And I am committed to standing with the Democratic Party against bigotry and oppression for the next four years and beyond, no matter what form it takes. I hope you will do the same.
“Trump: I don't want to 'energize' alt-right movement”
By Lisa Hagen – The Hill – 11/22/2016
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday said he did not want to “energize” the alt-right movement and denounced the conference held over the weekend where white nationalists cheered his election and used Nazi-era terms and salutes.
“I disavow and condemn them,” Trump said at an on-the-record session with New York Times reporters and columnists when asked directly about the meeting.
He also said he didn’t believe that he had energized such groups.
“It's not a group I want to energize,” Trump said. “And if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.”
White supremacist and Nazi groups have latched on to Trump’s campaign and victory, arguing at times that it represents a victory for their own cause.
At its annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, National Policy Institute leader Richard Spencer addressed the crowd with “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!,” according to The Atlantic.
Spencer, according to a separate report in the Times, suggested at the conference that the news media had been critical of Trump to protect Jewish interests.
“One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” he said, according to the Times.
The Trump team at times has sought to distance itself from such groups. Eric Trump at one point said former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke should get “a bullet.”
But the remarks to the Times represent the first time that Trump has outright condemned last week’s event, news of which has circulated heavily on social media in recent days.
In a Monday night statement, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team said that Trump continues to denounce all racism, but didn’t directly acknowledge the conference.
“President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he elected because he will be a leader for every American,” spokesman Bryan Lanza said in the Monday statement.
Trump’s decision to appoint Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as his White House strategist has also been condemned by Democrats who say Breitbart is an alt-right news site that includes news articles meant to incite white nationalists.
Bannon and Trump’s transition team have pushed back at that narrative, and Trump defended his former campaign chairman to the Times.
Trump dismissed any notion that Bannon is a racist or is associated with the “alt-right” movement.
“If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn't even think about hiring him,” Trump reportedly said.
“Trump disavowal of white supremacists doesn't quiet concerns”
Associated Press, November 26, 2016
ATLANTA — Donald Trump's disavowal this week of white supremacists who have cheered his election as president hasn't quieted concerns about the movement's impact on his White House or whether more acts of hate will be carried out in his name.
Members of the self-declared "alt-right" have exulted over the Nov. 8 results with public cries of "Hail Trump!" and reprises of the Nazi salute. The Ku Klux Klan plans to mark Trump's victory with a parade next month in North Carolina. Civil rights advocates have recoiled, citing an uptick in harassment and incidents of hate crimes affecting African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Muslims, Latinos, gays, lesbians and other minority groups since the vote.
The president-elect has drawn repeated criticism for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign.
Further, Trump has named Stephen Bannon, the conservative media provocateur who shaped the final months of Trump's campaign, as a White House chief strategist who will work steps from the Oval Office. Bannon's appointment has become as a flashpoint for both sides.
Trump's detractors and his "alt-right" supporters broadly agree on one thing: It may not even matter what Trump himself believes, or how he defines his own ideology, because his campaign rhetoric has emboldened the white identity politics that will help define his administration.
"Those groups clearly see something and hear something that causes them to believe he is one who sympathizes with their voice and their view. ... Donald Trump has to take responsibility for that," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a black Democrat. He was among 169 members of Congress who signed a letter opposing Bannon's White House appointment.
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer said he believes Trump, Bannon and the "alt-right" are "all riding in the same lane." Spencer explained that neither Trump nor Bannon is a movement "identitarian," Spencer's preferred term for his racially driven politics. But Spencer said Trump's election validates Spencer's view that America must reject multiculturalism and "political correctness" in favor of its white, Christian European heritage.
Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, drew headlines for their recent gathering where some attendees mimicked the Nazi salute as they feted Trump. Spencer told The Associated Press the salutes were "ironic exuberance" that "the mainstream media doesn't get."
But at the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks incidents of anti-Semitism, Oren Segal said it is part of a disturbing postelection atmosphere tied to Trump's 17-month campaign.
Before, Segal said, it wasn't "surprising" for the ADL to get calls about a swastika, the Nazi insignia, defacing public or private property. "What's surprising now," he said, "are the references to the campaign" in the incidences. "'Make American White Again' ... 'Go Trump' with the swastika," he said. "That is unique."
Trump was asked about the rash of incidents during a postelection interview on CBS' "60 Minutes." Trump said he was "saddened," and he looked into the camera and said, "Stop it." But Trump has steadfastly defended his hiring of Bannon, who previously led Breitbart News and in July described it as a "platform for the alt-right" — just a month before he took the job running the Republican nominee's campaign.
Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist magazine "American Renaissance," said Trump bears some responsibility for his pitched rhetoric, which included describing Mexican immigrants as "rapists" at the outset of his campaign and proposing a ban on all Muslim immigrants. But Taylor said Trump is still unfairly maligned as a white supremacist and racist because he "cares about Americans already here."
But white supremacist imagery was a common sight at Trump rallies. Pepe the frog, a cartoon character appropriated by the white supremacist movement on social media, appeared on dozens of T-shirts and signs. The "Make America Great Again" motto was seen by some as a call back to the nation's simpler, whiter, past. While the businessman's campaign never actively courted votes from the movement, it did recognize the long-term fears that some whites feel about immigration.
Taylor insisted, "There's nothing Ku Klux Klan about any of this."
But, in fact, Trump drew Klan backing.
As part of his prolific Twitter use, he has retweeted white nationalist accounts and a famous quote of Benito Mussolini, the 20th century fascist leader of Italy, saying "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep." In February, Trump declined to repudiate former Klan leader David Duke during a CNN interview. Afterward, Trump blamed the move on a faulty earpiece, only to come back days later and offer an explicit condemnation.
He has several times fallen back on the excuse of merely retweeting when asked about his controversial social media behavior. In February, he retweeted a message from the account of a neo-Nazi, which came shortly after he retweeted false crime statistics that dramatically overstated the number of whites killed by blacks.
"Bill, am I gonna check every statistic?" he asked Fox News host Bill O'Reilly at the time. "All it was is a retweet. It wasn't from me."
While Trump is quick to blast his foes on Twitter — in recent days that includes The New York Times and the cast of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" — he has yet to proactively condemn racist acts his win has inspired. His eldest son, Don Jr., has used Twitter to liken Syrian refugees to a poisoned bowl of Skittles candy, and he has posted images of Pepe. And Trump's rise to political celebrity came as he peddled the falsehood that the nation's first black president, Barack Obama, was born in Africa, not in the United States.
In an interview Tuesday with The New York Times, Trump did denounce the white supremacist movement when asked, saying "I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn." But he has yet to convene the traditional news conference held by a president-elect in the days after winning where he could potentially face more pointed questions about it.
The ADL's Segal called Trump's answers when questioned an important step to "allay any illusions" white supremacists have about their place in a Trump administration.
But Ben Jealous, a former national president of the NAACP, went a step further, saying Trump should "pull a George Wallace." The segregationist Alabama governor ran for president on white identity politics but years later publicly apologized for his views.
Trump "shouldn't just disavow the worst behavior of others," Jealous said, "but take accountability for the worst behavior he's engaged in him himself."
Lemire reported from New York.
Reach Barrow on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and Lemire and http://twitter.com/JonLemire
"Councilors must step forward in condemning hate, racism"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, November 28, 2016
To the editor:
My statement to the North Adams City Council on Nov. 22:
I stood before this City Council in 2003 to ask the Council to stand with other communities to pass a resolution requesting the federal government to revise the hastily written and adopted Patriot Act, an act that eroded many of our civil liberties and paved the way for further erosion of them. The good members of that Council sat by and did nothing.
I stood before this City Council in 2006 to ask the Council to impeach Bush and Cheney for acts of treason, for purposefully and willfully lying to the American people to take us into an illegal and ongoing failed war of aggression, a war that continues to kill untold thousands, foment terrorism and is bankrupting our country. The good members of that Council sat by and did nothing.
Our country has elected a dangerously incompetent demagogue as our as next President. I stand before you today as an American and I salute you: Sieg Heil! And, I ask you how did that make you feel? That is the hateful salute of a growing neo-Nazi movement within our country, as unleashed by Trump.
If that salute offended you, then you, as a Council must condemn the appointment of Steven Bannon, an avowed white supremacist neo-Nazi, as Trump's chief strategic adviser. There is no place for neo-Nazis in our government, period.
This condemnation must happen at every level of government, in every house of worship and in every community. Failure to condemn this appointment, normalizes it and allows the evil reach of the neo-Nazis to expand.
As civic leaders, you act as a moral compass for our community and our children. If we tacitly accept racism, bigotry, anti-anti-Semitism, misogyny, and Islamaphobia in the White House, we are teaching them to our children.
To say that it is not within your purview as city councilors to condemn a presidential appointment is cowardly. It is every citizen's responsibility to condemn racism, bigotry and hate. It has been said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke.
Today, on the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy, I quote: "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." As in no other time in my lifetime has our country needed us more.
Dr. Peter D. May,
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arriving for a pre-trial hearing at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., in January. Credit Ted Richardson/Associated Press.
SundayReview | EDITORIAL
“The Soldier Donald Trump Called a Traitor”
By The New York Times Editorial Board, November 27, 2016
The case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who, after leaving his post, was held hostage by the Taliban for five years, became a recurring theme of Donald Trump’s unruly campaign speeches.
In August 2015, Mr. Trump fired up a New Hampshire crowd by calling Sergeant Bergdahl “a dirty rotten traitor.” He proceeded to falsely claim that “six young beautiful people were killed trying to find him.” Then he dismissed arguments that the former hostage’s “psychological problems” may have led him to walk off a base in Afghanistan in 2009. “In the old days,” Mr. Trump said, pantomiming an execution by pretending to fire a rifle twice. “Bing bong.”
Those remarks are certain to loom large over Sergeant Bergdahl’s court-martial, which is scheduled to start in April. Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy; a guilty verdict could result in a sentence anywhere from no jail time to life. But how can he get a fair trial in the military justice system when the next commander in chief has proclaimed his guilt and accused him of treason?
The short answer is he can’t. Eugene Fidell, Mr. Bergdahl’s lawyer, says he intends to submit a motion the day Mr. Trump takes office, cataloging the roughly 40 times Mr. Trump made disparaging remarks about his client, and seeking to have the case dismissed.
“There is no precedent for a candidate running for high office to go after a single individual like this,” Mr. Fidell said in an interview. “Because he is at the pinnacle of the chain of command, what he says not only has direct and indirect legal consequences but symbolic potency.”
Mr. Trump recognized early on that the Bergdahl case had become a flash point for many voters who had contempt for the Obama administration. In one of the most thorny national security decisions of his administration, President Obama released five Afghan detainees held at Guantánamo Bay in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl. The negotiations and the swap stunned members of Congress, who are required by law to be notified before any detainee is released from Guantánamo.
While Sergeant Bergdahl initially came home to a hero’s welcome, the terms and secrecy of the exchange, which angered Republicans and some members of the military, soon turned the soldier into a political pawn.
There is an alternative to a potentially drawn out legal fight over Mr. Trump’s incendiary remarks in the Bergdahl case. Mr. Obama could issue a pardon before he leaves office. That would put to rest a prosecution that was questionable from the outset because Sergeant Bergdahl had pre-existing mental health problems when the Army granted him a waiver to enlist. He emerged from captivity deeply traumatized after five years of being subjected to physical and psychological torture. It is time to let him rebuild his life.
"Bowe Bergdahl Asks Obama For Pardon Before Trump Takes Office"
Trump has been very critical of Bergdahl, whose desertion court-martial is approaching
The Huffington Post, (Reporting by Doina Chiacu [Reuters]; Editing by Alistair Bell [Reuters]), 12/3/2016
WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who is charged with desertion for walking away from his combat post in Afghanistan in 2009, has asked President Barack Obama for a pardon, the White House said on Saturday.
Obama will relinquish office on Jan. 20 to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who made caustic comments about the sergeant during the presidential campaign that drew complaints from Bergdahl’s defense team.
Trump savaged Bergdahl as “a no-good traitor who should have been executed” and criticized the prisoner swap in 2014 that won his release.
Bergdahl, 30, is facing a court-martial with a potential life sentence on charges of desertion and endangerment of U.S. troops after he walked away from his post in Afghanistan. He was captured by the Taliban and became a prisoner for five years.
The White House has received Bergdahl’s pardon application, but could not comment on pending cases per standard practice, an official said on Saturday on condition of anonymity.
U.S. military prosecutors have said the 45-day search for Bergdahl after he left his post put soldiers’ lives at risk and diverted attention from the fight against the Taliban.
Bergdahl was freed in a prisoner swap involving the release of five Taliban leaders held by the United States. The deal drew heavy criticism from Republicans.
In January, Bergdahl lawyer Eugene Fidell said Trump had made “appalling” comments about the sergeant and might be called as a witness in the court-martial.
In August, defense lawyers asked to have the charges against the former prisoner of war dismissed, arguing comments made by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain violated his due process rights. The filing quoted McCain as saying the committee would hold a hearing if Bergdahl received no punishment and that U.S. soldiers’ lives were put in danger by having to look for him.
Now that Trump is president-elect, a fair military trial will be impossible, Fidell told The New York Times.
“I have grave concerns as to whether Sergeant Bergdahl can receive a fair trial given the beating he has taken over many months from Mr. Trump, who will be commander in chief, as well as Senator McCain’s call for a hearing in case Sergeant Bergdahl is not punished,” Fidell said. “It is really most unfair.”
"25th Amendment Could Declare Trump Mentally Unfit"
By Tim Marcin, IBTimes, November 28, 2016
Amid widespread protests and worrying signs of dysfunction in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, millions across the United States are likely wondering how, or if, it's possible to oust the billionaire from the White House before the 2020 presidential election. While there have long been talks of impeachment hearings, a favorite theory this week for removing Trump from power involves the 25th amendment to the Constitution.
The amendment was approved in 1967, pushed into existence in the wake of the stunning 1963 death of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas. The Constitution had never officially laid out a succession plan that detailed how, exactly, a vice-president should take power should a president no longer be able to carry out his or her duties. Up until the amendment, vice presidents effectively took over because of a precedent set by Vice President John Tyler in 1841, according to the National Constitution Center. The 25th amendment clearly spelled out that a vice president took over if a president died, resigned or, importantly, was removed from office.
The amendment opened the door for removal if a president was deemed to be unfit for office, different from an impeachment hearing that typically centers around investigating if a president acted illegally while in office.
There are two options to remove a mentally unfit president, which were helpfully laid out step-by-step by Fusion. The first option requires a majority of the president's cabinet — positions such as secretary of state and secretary of defense — joining together with the vice president to declare the president is unfit. The second option requires the vice president to convince a majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate to decide the president is unfit. Both chambers of Congress then submit a letter stating such, which removes the president from power.
In both cases, the president can then submit a letter claiming he is fit for office, which then mandates a special session to vote on the issue. Once that special session is called, those trying to oust the president, in this case Trump, would have 21 days to convince a two-thirds majority of both Congressional chambers to vote to keep Trump out of the Oval Office.
While this might seem like a long shot, many are navigating toward it. Liberal "GQ" correspondent Keith Olbermann called it an instant impeachment, a sort-of "crazy-man clause." "For my money, he's nuts — couldn't pass a sanity test, open book," Olbermann said. "But of course, Section Four of the 25th Amendment here does not say 'nuts' — or impaired, or erratic or unbalanced or unhealthy or bipolar or narcissist or sociopath or psychopath. It only says 'that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.'"
"Trump mulls loss of citizenship, jail for flag burning"
The Hill, November 29, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed harsh punishments for flag burning, mentioning loss of citizenship or a year in jail.
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet.
“Trump's war on media should worry all Americans”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, November 30, 2016
To the editor:
A free press has always been a great tool for the American people to hold public officials accountable. Watchdog journalism has provided us with numerous stories that shed light on the various types of corruption and scandals. If anything good came out of Watergate it was that the American public knew that they could trust the press to hold even the highest public officials accountable.
With the election of President-elect Donald Trump, the reliability of the media has come under constant scrutiny. Never before has a major presidential candidate, let alone a president-elect, questioned the legitimacy of the free press. He has called for strengthening libel laws, routinely banned certain reporters on the campaign trail, and his surrogates even suggested that he not hold press conferences while in office. This crusade against the media has caused distrust for actual fact-based news and an affinity for fake news over social media.
Mr. Trump's war on the media is dangerous for all Americans, whether you voted for him or not. Mr. Trump, like all presidents before him, needs to be held accountable by a free press, and to do that we must demand that he accept the media as a check against unilateral power and corruption.
Jacob "Coby" Tarjick,
"Donald Trump Will Be President In Just Over A Month And The Constitution Is Already Under Attack"
It doesn’t take long.
By Sam Levine, Associate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post, 12/3/2016
With a little over a month until Donald Trump takes office, the president-elect and his allies have already begun to attack the guarantees of the First Amendment, signaling how imperiled the fundamental freedoms of the Constitution could be under a Trump presidency.
Trump has long shown contempt for the media and, as he prepares to take power, he and his allies haven’t held back.
On Thursday, Corey Lewandowski, who is Trump’s former campaign manager and expected to have a role in a Trump White House, said that New York Times editor Dean Baquet should be in jail because the paper published parts of Trump’s tax return during the campaign.
“We had one of the top people at The New York Times come to Harvard University and say, ‘I’m willing to go to jail to get a copy of Donald Trump’s taxes so I can publish them,’” Lewandowski said, according to Politico. “Dean Baquet came here and offered to go to jail — you’re telling me, he’s willing to commit a felony on a private citizen to post his taxes, and there isn’t enough scrutiny on the Trump campaign and his business dealings and his taxes?”
“It’s egregious,” Lewandowski added. “He should be in jail.”
Even after winning the presidency, Trump has had an almost myopic focus on the Times, criticizing the paper’s coverage of him. He has pledged to sue the newspaper, though, when he met with its staff, he called it “a great, great American jewel. A world jewel.”
But Trump has undermined the press by limiting its access to him, while surrogates have made the absurd claim that facts simply don’t exist anymore. The incoming commander in chief has also suggested that Americans who burn flags should lose their citizenship and do jail time. That would be a clear violation of the constitution, as the Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that flag burning was constitutionally protected speech.
The New York Observer, which is owned by Trump’s son in law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, also published an op-ed this week calling on the FBI to investigate nationwide protests ― a form of constitutionally protected free speech ― following Trump’s victory.
Trump’s statement that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States is also an attack on the First Amendment, along with several other constitutional protections.
But perhaps more disturbingly, there’s been logic emerging from the Trump team that anything Trump does is protected by the office of the presidency.
When he explained the potential conflict of interest with his business, for example, Trump said “the law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”
Kellyanne Conway, another of Trump’s campaign managers, said that his spreading misinformation on Twitter constituted presidential behavior simply because he specifically engaged in it.
“He’s the president-elect, so that’s presidential behavior,” she said.
From: Alex Hart, PFAW firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply to: email@example.com
Re: Reject Trump’s cabinet of hate & Wall Street greed
Date: December 7, 2016
Petition to members of the U.S. Senate:
Donald Trump’s first appointments to cabinet-level roles in his administration are horrifying. Trump’s nominees and rumored picks have promoted white nationalism, attacked climate science, and used their power as Wall Street insiders and corporate lobbyists to fleece working families.
As representatives of all Americans, you must stand up against hatred and greed. Fight to block and resist every Trump nominee who embraces racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, climate denial, and Wall Street greed.
Trump rose to power with a divisive campaign that showed he was willing to embrace every bigoted ideology from xenophobia to sexism to flat-out racism in order to gain power. Some of the people he's begun to name as cabinet picks embody these ideologies -- and that is unacceptable.
Trump’s Broken Promises
Trump promised on election night to be “a president for all Americans.” But the parade of horribles that Trump has nominated to his administration show he is welcoming hate right into the White House.
And his pledge during the campaign to “drain the swamp” and make Washington work for ordinary Americans instead of powerful elites? Forget about it. Trump’s cabinet is so pro-corporate it’s called “an investment banker’s dream.”
Who the Trump Cabinet Really Works For
Wall Street bankers and Trump’s corporate cronies are cheering the Trump agenda. It’s a corporate wish list that would eliminate protections for working people and our environment, and eviscerate strong rules reining in Wall Street.
The Trump administration is shaping up to benefit Donald Trump and his family’s business empire in a big way, with massive conflicts of interest posed by Trump’s continued stake in the Trump Organization.
The Senate Must Block and Resist Trump’s Cabinet
The U.S. Senate has confirmation power over most of Trump's cabinet. Senators must use this power to block and resist Trump’s cabinet of hate and greed. Here are just some of the examples of who we’re talking about:
* Enemy of civil rights and women's rights Jeff Sessions (Attorney General)
* Foreclosure king Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary)
* Wall Street billionaire Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce)
* Climate science denier Myron Ebell (EPA Administrator)
Thanks for all you do!
-- Alex Hart, Online Team
“Donald Trump’s Proposed Cabinet Is Very White, And Very Male”
Trump has chosen just three people so far who are not white men.
By Amanda Terkel, Senior Political Reporter, The Huffington Post, 12/14/2016
Donald Trump’s Cabinet is shaping up to be the least diverse in recent history, with just three people so far who are not white men.
Of the 13 people Trump has nominated for Cabinet positions, only Ben Carson (Housing and Urban Development), Elaine Chao (Transportation) and Betsy DeVos (Education) are not both white and male.
There are still two Cabinet positions, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, for which Trump has not nominated anyone. For Agriculture, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has been mentioned as a front-runner.
As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has noted, the line of succession to the presidency ― which includes the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore ― is shaping up to consist of 12 white men unless Trump picks Heitkamp, or another woman or person of color, for agriculture secretary.
Trump’s proposed Cabinet would be far less diverse than those of the past three presidents when they first took office. Bill Clinton had eight people in his initial Cabinet who were not white men, George W. Bush had seven and Barack Obama had nine.
Twitter post: Chris Donovan @chrisdonovan
If Trump's picks confirmed, 1st time in 24 yrs no woman/minority serving at least 1 of “Big 4” cabinet posts(State,Defense,Treasury,Justice)
1:30 PM - 13 Dec[ember] 2016
Donald Trump, U.S. President-elect
Mike Pence, U.S. Vice President-elect
Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State-nominee
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury-nominee
James Mattis: Secretary of Defense-nominee
Jeff Sessions: Secretary of Justice-nominee
Ryan Zinke: Secretary of Interior-nominee
Unknown: Secretary of Agriculture-nominee
Wilbur Ross: Secretary of Commerce-nominee
Andrew Puzder: Secretary of Labor-nominee
Tom Price: Secretary of Health & Human Services-nominee
Ben Carson: Secretary of Housing-nominee
Elaine Chao: Secretary of Transportation-nominee
Rick Perry: Secretary of Energy-nominee
Betsy DeVos: Secretary of Education-nominee
David Shulkin: Secretary of Veterans Affairs-nominee
John Kelly: Secretary of Homeland Security-nominee
Breaking News: For his envoy to Israel, Donald Trump has chosen a supporter of West Bank settlements who has insulted left-leaning American Jews"
The New York Times, December 15, 2016
"Trump chooses hard-liner as Ambassador to Israel"
By Matthew Rosenberg, The New York Times, December 15, 2016
President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.
Mr. Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Through decades of Republican and Democratic administrations, the embassy has been in Tel Aviv, as the State Department insists that the status of Jerusalem — which both Israel and the Palestinians see as their rightful capital — can be determined only through negotiations as part of an overall peace deal.
Mr. Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, has said that he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank and he supports building new settlements there, which Washington has long condemned as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace.
The Trump transition team’s statement focused on Mr. Friedman’s long history with Israel, portraying him as a friendly supporter of the country whose views were in line with the United States’ position toward it.
“The two nations have enjoyed a special relationship based on mutual respect and a dedication to freedom and democracy,” it said. “With Mr. Friedman’s nomination, President-elect Trump expressed his commitment to further enhancing the U.S.-Israel relationship and ensuring there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries.” The statement said that Mr. Friedman was a fluent speaker of Hebrew and “a lifelong student of Israel’s history.”
Mr. Friedman’s appointment was quickly praised by the Republican Jewish Coalition, whose executive director, Matt Brooks, called it “a powerful signal to the Jewish community.”
But beyond Republicans, there were deep concerns over the choice of Mr. Friedman. J Street, a dovish lobbying organization that has been critical of some Israeli policies, said in a statement that it was “vehemently opposed to the nomination.”
“As someone who has been a leading American friend of the settlement movement, who lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials,” it said, “Friedman should be beyond the pale.”
Mr. Friedman has made clear his disdain for those American Jews — especially those connected to J Street — who support a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians. Writing in June on the website of Arutz Sheva, an Israeli media organization, Mr. Friedman compared J Street supporters to “kapos,” the Jews who cooperated with the Nazis during the Holocaust.
“The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty,” he wrote. “But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”
At a private session this month at the Saban Forum, an annual gathering of Israeli and American foreign policy figures, Mr. Friedman declined to disavow the comments and even intensified the sentiment.
Questioned by Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of the Atlantic, Mr. Friedman was asked if he would meet with various groups, including J Street. Mr. Friedman said he would probably meet with individuals but not with the group, according to several people who attended.
Mr. Goldberg then raised the kapos comparison and asked if he stood by it. Mr. Friedman did not back away. “They’re not Jewish, and they’re not pro-Israel,” he said, according to the people in the room.
Daniel Levy, a left-leaning former Israeli peace negotiator, said that in naming an ambassador with the hard-line views of Mr. Friedman, Mr. Trump could end up undercutting the security of Israel and the United States and condemn “the Palestinians to further disenfranchisement and dispossession.”
“If an American ambassador stakes out positions that further embolden an already triumphalist settler elite, then that is likely to cause headaches for American national security interests across the region and even for Israel’s own security establishment,” Mr. Levy said. “Especially an ambassador committed to the ill-advised relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”
In its statement, the Trump team noted that Mr. Friedman had held his bar mitzvah 45 years ago in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. The wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, is a remnant of the retaining wall that surrounded the ancient Temple Mount, the most sacred site in Judaism.
The site today houses the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. Control over the site has been a persistent source of friction between Israel and the Palestinians, and has sparked violence between the two sides.
More recently, the Western Wall itself has been a source of tension and clashes between the Orthodox authorities who control the site and more liberal Jews, many of whom are from North America and oppose the restrictions there on prayer by women.
Follow Matthew Rosenberg on Twitter @AllMattNYT.
Peter Baker and Helene Cooper contributed reporting.
Jewish American political thinker Hannah Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933, saw the problem as “not what our enemies did, but what our friends did.” New York Times Co. via Getty Images.
“What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About The Strange Reaction To Donald Trump”
While it’s important to watch the president-elect closely, we also must be mindful of our own response to him.
By Shawn Hamilton, Freelance Writer, The Huffington Post, December 19, 2016
On election night, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had a revelation. Matthews, with a pained expression, began to piece together the basis for Hillary Clinton’s pending defeat. She had failed to communicate a tough position on illegal immigration. She had supported bad trade deals. She had not renounced all of the “stupid wars.”
Her presidential rival, Donald Trump, on the other hand, had waged what Matthews called a “legitimate” campaign on these issues, a claim that seemed to stretch the bounds of legitimacy, but Matthews was not alone. In the following days and weeks, others would make similar claims implying a victory that, weeks before, had been impossible was actually inevitable ― and liberalism was largely to blame.
People magazine put Trump on its cover in November, a month after one of its journalists, Natasha Stoynoff, accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2005. The magazine’s editor-in-chief reassured readers that they stood by their journalist and her allegations, but Trump had “made history” and thus earned the cover.
In a New York Times op-ed, “The End of Identity Liberalism,” Mark Lilla argued that “moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity” had “distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.” Trump’s popularity, Lilla argued, was not a consequence of a white backlash (whitelash) but rather a reaction to “the omnipresent rhetoric of identity or ‘political correctness.’”
Michael Lerner, in another New York Times op-ed, “Stop Shaming Trump Voters,” argued that “the pain and rage of the Trump voter is legitimate” after decades of this constituency being ignored or attacked by the left for cultural and religious reasons. He added that “we need to reach out to Trump voters in a spirit of empathy and contrition” and reassured us that “the racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans.”
These reactions to Trump and his supporters have a way of separating ideas that usually move in tandem. Facts and truth are suddenly unrelated. Power no longer implies responsibility. Legitimacy and decency are now somehow passengers on separate ships. In this dynamic, People magazine can champion both the perpetrator and the victim and see no contradiction or betrayal. Lilla can use the victory of a campaign steeped in identity politics to highlight the ineffectiveness of identity politics. And Lerner can argue that a campaign “advanced” by sexism, racism and xenophobia can tell us much about the targets of that bigotry, i.e. that they need to behave differently, but little about the supporters of that campaign.
So, why the rush to defend Trump’s supporters? Why the self-recriminations? Why the willingness to stretch the bounds of legitimacy to accommodate Trump’s antics? Much has been written about Trump’s demagoguery and its similarity to totalitarian leaders of the past, but what about Trump’s opponents? Are many of us borrowing a page from totalitarianism without realizing it? Are we empowering him? Are we coordinating?
The word Gleichshaltung is often translated from the German as “coordination” and refers to the process of ― politically speaking ― getting in line. It often appears in books about the Nazi era. German Jewish philologist Victor Klemperer and German journalist Joachim Fest wrote about the personal cost of coordinating in their respective memoirs. German author Sebastian Haffner and Americans including journalist William Shirer wrote about the propaganda and politics of coordination.
German-born Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, in one of her last interviews, explains it best.
“The problem, the personal problem, was not what our enemies did, but what our friends did. Friends ‘coordinated’ or got in line.” And this coordination was not necessarily due to the “pressure of terror,” said Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933. Intellectuals were particularly vulnerable to this wave of coordination. “The essence of being an intellectual is that one fabricates ideas about everything,” and many intellectuals of her time were “trapped by their own ideas.”
People rejected the uglier aspects of Nazism but gave ground in ways that ultimately made it successful. They conceded premises to faulty arguments. They rejected the “facts” of propaganda, but not the impressions of it. The new paradigm of authoritarianism was so disorienting that they simply could not see it for what it was, let alone confront it.
The faulty premise that empowered Hitler and helped place him in the German mainstream was called the Dolchstoss or the legend of the “stab in the back.” It argued that, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, Germany was winning World War I only to have politicians surrender prematurely.
Hitler, as a political figure, was the embodiment of this hack theory. While many rejected Hitler’s anti-Semitism and bellicosity, his deep sense of having been wronged by Germany’s surrender in World War I ― a war in which he fought ― gave him authenticity. It also created a hole in the German Republic’s legitimacy that he and his followers barreled through.
Before there were the camps and murders ― and the euphemisms to hide all of the camps and all of the murders ― there was this feel-good lie that should have been dismissed ― along with the people telling it, from the beginning.
In today’s United States, the suggestion that illegal immigration is the cause of the economic struggles of working-class whites is an American Dolchstoss. Mechanization, globalization and the decline of unions have affected working-class whites to a far greater extent than illegal immigration ― or immigration of any kind. And this is not an obscure fact or liberal talking point. Yet many who supposedly reject Trump’s scapegoating of illegal immigrants seem willing to concede it.
The debates about how or what, if anything, workers can do to combat this reality are endless, but the claim that immigrants are to blame is the talking point of the demagogue, not a reflection of economic reality.
When the decline of working-class jobs was perceived as a problem for African-Americans primarily, the neoliberal and conservative positions were much less sympathetic. According to William Julius Wilson’s 1996 book, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, “Between 1967 and 1987 Philadelphia lost 64% of its manufacturing jobs; Chicago lost 60%; Detroit 51%.” This meant hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, disproportionately affecting African-Americans. The solution from conservatives? “Migrate” was black conservative Shelby Steele’s prescription. “Get new skills,” said others. And even more popular was “behave more like Asians.” Yet whites need an entirely new mythology, even if that mythology hurts prospects. According to a recent Politico article by Dana Goldstein, “America: This Is Your Future,” “Rust Belt cities that are attracting immigrants are in better shape than those, like Dayton, Ohio, with fewer foreign-born residents.” Yet, “the people who are upset about immigration live in areas where immigration has had very little impact. A lot of the upset is symbolic.” The symbolism and the propaganda form a kind of feedback loop, each reinforcing the other, regardless of the underlying truths ― or lack thereof.
In his 1940 book, Germany: Jekyll and Hyde, Haffner explains this relationship between impression and propaganda, even for those opposed to the Reich. He writes, “Outside of Germany people often wonder at the palpable fraudulence of Nazi propaganda, the stupid incredible exaggerations, the ludicrous reticences concerning what is generally known. Who can be convinced by it? They ask. The answer is that it is not meant to convince but to impress. It addresses emotion and fantasy. Nazi propaganda seeks to create in our minds tenacious ideas and fantasies.”
In Haffner’s time, the tenacious ideas and fantasies were the subhuman images of the Reich’s enemies. Many Germans rejected the “facts” of this propaganda: that Czechoslovakia or Poland posed existential threats to Germany and the German people, but the impression of the propaganda remained. “The image,” Haffner wrote, “of the Czechs and Poles as a snub-nosed, unpleasant, dwarfish half-ape brandishing a revolver, whip or rubber truncheon at a number of barely clad women, children, and blond men bound to posts.” Who could trust such a person? Why risk it?
Trump’s propaganda about Mexican rapists and Muslim terrorists operates in a similar way. The informed listener knows that most rapes are committed by perpetrators that are known to the victim. They know that most terrorist attacks in the United States are committed by non-Muslims, but the impression that those groups are not to be trusted ― that to trust them is taking an unnecessary risk ― remains.
The impressions born of the propaganda give birth to discussions that worsen the problem. Commentator Van Jones, for example, debated CNN panelists recently about discrimination against Muslims. To support his argument that Muslims are not the enemy, he cataloged many of the positive attributes of the Muslim community as if Americans that are hostile to Muslims are acting in good faith based on bad information rather than cherry-picking incidents to support their underlying prejudices. Jones reminded viewers and other panelists that Muslims have low crime rates, high educational achievement and high rates of entrepreneurship. The fact that it needs to be said demonstrates the relative power of the people asking the questions to those who must answer. It morphs questions about Muslims into a kind of Muslim Question that exists not to seek answers but to emphasize the otherness of the Muslim community and to limit its rights.
While on the campaign trail in February, Trump urged followers to “knock the hell” out of protesters, promising to pay their legal bills if they were arrested and charged. That same February in Fort Worth, he promised a crowd that he would “open up our libel laws” so that news outlets can be sued for writing “false” or “purposely negative” articles. In July, he urged Russia to interfere in the election on his behalf, later saying he was joking. In September, he urged still other supporters to “monitor” polling stations. In October, he promised when victorious to throw his rival, Hillary Clinton, in jail. And just recently he advocated revoking the citizenship of Americans who burn flags.
So, in the last year, Trump has flirted with or, maybe more his style, groped and pawed at totalitarianism, yet the advice from many is to “give him a chance” ― or to coordinate.
In 1949, Harvard psychologists James Bruner and Leo Postman performed a study that helps explain the contradiction. Bruner and Postman recruited two dozen college students to participate in a study of perception and expectations. The experiment involved playing cards. Participants were shown a series of cards. Most of them were standard playing cards, but included in the series were several trick card: a black four of hearts, a red six of spades, a red six of clubs, to name a few. Each card was presented, and the participant was instructed to identify it correctly.
There were four possible reactions to the trick cards. The first was “recognition,” or describing the trick card accurately. The second was “disruption,” or being confused by the card and as a result be unable to describe it. The third option was “compromise,” which mixes the incongruities in the cards: the black four of hearts is reported as “grayish”; the red six of spades is reported as “purple.”
The fourth and most common reaction by far was “dominance.” The participants expected to view a normal series of cards, so when faced with a trick card their minds approximated, and the trick card became the most similar normal card: a red spade was identified as a red heart or diamond; a black heart was identified as a spade.
The report of the study, “On the Perception of Incongruity: A Paradigm,” said, “Our major conclusion is that perceptual organization is powerfully determined by expectations built upon past commerce with the environment. When such expectations are violated by the environment, the perceiver’s behavior can be described as resistance to the unexpected or incongruous.”
The participants could only see what they expected to see. Their minds coordinated. For many Americans, the expectations of the game are divided government, stability and continuity regardless of what the candidate promises. However, if the new regime has embraced authoritarianism, then there will be trick cards in the deck that have to be identified correctly and challenged.
“Patriotism” became a trick card in Klemperer’s memoir and study of Nazi language, The Language of the Third Reich. Klemperer wrote of a Jewish neighbor, Frau K, who continued to speak with pride about Germany and the “Fuhrer,” despite having been deemed subhuman by the regime. Patriotism and deference to leadership ― respect for the office of the president, as we call it ― might have elevated Frau K in the old paradigm, but in the new one it worsened her condition.
“Divided government” became a trick card in Shirer’s 1960 history, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, when Hitler pushed through the Enabling Act and, “In five brief paragraphs,” took the power to legislate, approve treaties, and initiate constitutional amendments away from Parliament. A divided government essentially “committed suicide,” according to Shirer, and bequeathed its power to a dictator.
There were many others, but “dominance” made them difficult to recognize. Joachim Fest writes in his memoir Not I, “At first, the countless violations of the law by our new rulers still caused a degree of disquiet. But among the incomprehensible features of those months, my father later recalled, was the fact that soon life went on as if such state crimes were the most natural thing in the world.” Those months would turn to years. Not the thousand years that Hitler had predicted, but enough to cause millions of deaths.
We should not waste our time or imaginations trying to reconfigure Trumpism to explain why all of the “good people” supported him. It is more important to see it for what it is and resist. Hopefully, they will join us. If not, it will not be necessary to call them names, they will have named themselves.
New York City – “Muslims targeted”
The Week, Volume 16 Issue 801, December 16, 2016, News Page 7
Three Muslim women – one of them an off-duty NYPD officer – were attacked in alleged hate crimes in New York City this week. In one incident, a transit worker wearing a Muslim head covering was allegedly pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal by a man who called her a “terrorist.” In another, three intoxicated white men reportedly tried to rip the hijab off a young woman riding the subway as they shouted “Donald Trump!” and “Get the hell out of the country!” Yasmin Seweid, 18, who was born in Brooklyn, said she got off the train crying and shaken. “I’m an American, you know?” she said. Days later, an off-duty Muslim cop who was born and raised in New York City was allegedly abused by a man on the street who said to her, “ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat.” The Southern Poverty Law Center says there has been a surge in hate crimes since Trump’s election.
“'Alt-right' groups will 'revolt' if Trump shuns white supremacy, leaders say”
Prominent members of the American far right predict that waning influence on the president-elect could trigger discord and vengeance within the movement
By Rory Carroll in Los Angeles @rorycarroll72 – The Guardian – December 27, 2016
Donald Trump will disappoint and disillusion his far-right supporters by eschewing white supremacy, according to some of the movement’s own intellectual leaders.
Activists who recently gave Nazi salutes and shouted “hail Trump” at a gathering in Washington will revolt if the new US president fails to meet their expectations, the leaders told the Guardian.
The prospect of such disillusion and internecine squabbling may console liberals who fear a White House tinged with racism and quasi-fascism. The analysis is all the more reassuring because it comes from far-right influencers and analysts, not wishful progressives.
Instead of enjoying proximity to power, according to this analysis, vocal parts of the loose coalition known as the “alt-right” could remain on the political fringe, wondering what happened to their triumph.
“Their hearts are bigger than their brains,” said Mark Weber, who runs the Institute for Historical Review, an organisation dedicated to exposing “Jewish-Zionist” power. “Saying they want to be the intellectual head of the Trump presidency is delusional.”
Jared Taylor, a white supremacist who runs the self-termed “race-realist” magazine American Renaissance, said the president-elect had already backpedalled on several pledges that had fired up the far-right. “At first he promised to send back every illegal immigrant. Now he is waffling on that.”
David Cole, a self-proclaimed Holocaust revisionist and Taki magazine columnist, envisaged the movement sliding into bickering and in-fighting, stuck in “rabbit warrens” of online trolling rather than policy shaping.
“In January Trump will start governing and will have to make compromises. Even small ones will trigger squabbles between the ‘alt-right’. ‘Trump betrayed us.’ ‘No, you’re betraying us for saying Trump betrayed us.’ And so on. The alt-right’s appearance of influence will diminish more and more as they start to fight amongst themselves.”
In an email interview Peter Brimelow, founder of the webzine Vdare.com, which alleges Mexican plots to remake the US, said Trump’s failure to deliver “important bones” could trigger a backlash. “I think the right of the right is absolutely prepared to revolt. It’s what they do.”
There is, however, a catch: Weber, Taylor and Brimelow – all classified as “extremists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – said Trump’s victory energised the far-right and that the movement can grow with or without White House help.
The young crowd that roared “Hail Trump” at last month’s gathering in Washington will fight for its beliefs no matter what, Brimelow said. “None of them were looking for jobs in the Trump administration. These are not party loyalists. They know they’re entirely outside the establishment consensus. And they’re used to guerrilla warfare.”
Trump’s relationship with the far-right – an unruly grouping which includes opponents to illegal immigration, free trade, police reform, political correctness, miscegenation and mainstream Holocaust scholarship – will partly define his administration.
The casino mogul turned Republican insurgent electrified this group during the election by calling undocumented Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. He vowed to deport 11 million undocumented people, ban Muslims from entering the US and build a wall on the southern border. He was slow to disavow an endorsement from David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader.
He put Steve Bannon, who turned Breitbart News into a platform for the far right, in charge of his campaign and rewarded him with a senior White House post.
A few weeks after Trump’s victory the innocuously named National Policy Institute, which espouses an “ethno-state” for Americans of European descent, held its annual conference in the Ronald Reagan Building a few blocks from the White House.
Its leader, Richard Spencer, concluded the event by shouting “Hail Trump! Hail our people!” and “Hail victory!”, an English translation of the Nazi exhortation “Sieg heil”. Some audience members gave the Nazi salute.
Some observers saw their worst fears realised: unbound, exuberant fascism.
But some of the far-right’s intellectuals saw something else: self-sabotage and delusion.
It was an “idiot conclusion” to a conference packed with other speeches and panel discussions, said Brimelow, who addressed the gathering.
Taylor, another speaker, agreed. “It was going very well until (then). Richard Spencer has said that the way he closed the talk was meant as pure irony, and I hope that’s the case, that it was all ironic and over-exuberance. I don’t think that anything that has any whiff of Nazism is a particularly effective way to bring Americans or even Europeans to an effective understanding of race.”
Cole said Spencer, a rising star of the far-right movement, overreached. “He blew a lot of goodwill ... and became an embarrassment to some of his own people.”
Spencer and his supporters will pay for hubris, Cole predicted. “They’ll burn out. After Trump’s victory they had a belief they were behind it, or had a lot of clout. All they can hope for is to get something on the immigration reform/restrictions. Otherwise they’re enjoying the bragging rights, saying they won it, even though they didn’t.”
Asked about that weekend and his impact on the white supremacist movement, Trump told the New York Times: “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group ... But it’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.”
Spencer, unabashed, has continued touring university campuses and is considering a congressional run in Montana, where he lives. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the critiques are correct he and his supporters will, to co-opt a favoured “alt-right” term, have a rude awakening. “In the eagerness for hope many have latched on to Trump. They’re trying to get a step on the escalator. I’m convinced they’ll be disappointed,” said Weber. Far-right youths are “on fire” but Trump, he said, will not be able to turn the clock back to the 1950s, a perceived golden age for white America.
Taylor said some on the far-right fell, as did liberals, for what he termed media distortions. “Donald Trump was never a racial dissident of the sort that I am. He was never one of us. He’s an American nationalist. The left was wrong to think that he was dancing to the tune of people like myself.”
Taylor said the far right would need patience. “Racial nationalism has not triumphed in America. It will some day. But to think it has done so (already) is delusive.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that Richard Spencer is not a native of Montana.
Letter: "Trump may be Twain's wrong kind of statesman"
The Berkshire Eagle, December 24, 2016
To the editor:
On Thursday, Vladimir Putin gave a speech and said "We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces."
Shortly thereafter on the same day, Donald Trump tweeted "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
Then, on Friday, Trump said: "Let it be an arms race," and "We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."
More than 100 years ago, Mark Twain derisively said this game of one-upmanship is what is called statesmanship. "By and by, when each nation has 20,000 battleships and 5,000,000 soldiers, we shall all be safe and the wisdom of statesmanship will stand confirmed," and "This singular game, which is so costly and so ruinous and so silly, is called statesmanship - which is different from assmanship on account of the spelling. Anybody but a statesman could invent some way to reduce these vast armaments to rational and sensible and safe police proportions "
According to the Arms Control Association, we have 7,100 nuclear warheads and Russia has 7,300, which together make up about 90 percent of all nuclear weapons in the world. Our stockpile has been reduced from about 30,000 in the middle 1960s to its current level, of which 1,367 are actually deployed and can be used at the flip of a switch. Russia has about 1,800 similarly positioned.
It seems to me there are enough nuclear weapons already existing to destroy the world more than once, so why would we need more? Have we learned nothing in the past century? I am concerned our 45th president will be suckerpunched by Putin, and then will react as he always does when his pride is wounded, by covering up with some sort or bravado and rash, vindictive response.
We have to give Mr. Trump a chance to lead, but so far he has shown mostly a propensity for reaction, as demonstrated above. We need a statesman at the helm, but not the kind to which Mark Twain referred.
Charles I. Francis,
Letter: “Keep Trump's finger off nuclear button”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 6, 2017
To the editor:
Many of us are extremely nervous about the potential actions of our new president-to-be. With respect to climate change, affordable health care, high- quality public education, economic disparity and many other issues, we are waiting with great anxiety to see what will happen.
Another issue for grim reflection has to do with our next president's thoughts about nuclear weapons.
While I applaud President Obama's efforts to reduce the nuclear stockpiles that imperil life on our planet, I fail to understand why his administration not long ago approved spending roughly a trillion more dollars over the next 30 years on further development of ever more sophisticated nuclear weapons and delivery systems. This makes no sense at all.
Now we have a president-elect who during the pre-election debates seemed to think that if we have nuclear weapons we should be able to use them. He seemed also to be unaware of our nuclear triad. i.e. our ability to deliver nuclear weapons on targets using planes, submarines and ground-launched missiles. He further has speculated that other countries such as Japan and South Korea should also acquire such weapons.
The accidents and close calls from suspected attacks between us and the old Soviet Union suggest that simply having these horrendous weapons in abundance around the planet is not a sane response to fear between nations.
According to my American Heritage dictionary, one of the legal definitions of insanity is: "... a degree of mental malfunctioning sufficient to prevent the accused from knowing right from wrong in the act he is charged with or to render him unaware of the nature of the act when committing it." I therefore conclude that one who would launch potentially civilization-destroying weapons against an another nation fully ready to retaliate, is performing an act of insanity.
Readers who share this concern may wish to click on the following website, where a petition highly relevant to this concern is available: www.ploughshares.org/keep-donald-trumps-finger-off-nuclear-button
Letter: “Give NRA due credit for Trump's election”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 2, 2017
To the editor:
There has been a continuous barrage of head wind coming from the Clinton and the Democratic Party as to who was responsible for Hillary's defeat. Fingers have been pointed out FBI Director Comey, WikiLeaks, Fox News, the Russians, and the list goes on. It seems like everybody is responsible except the candidate herself. At best, a mediocre candidate with a poor campaign strategy.
Early in her campaign, Clinton stated that she was going to take on the gun lobby. The attack backfired. The National Rifle Association (NRA) was glad to oblige her and is more than happy to take a big piece of the credit in contributing to her defeat. Early on, the NRA endorsed Donald Trump and went to work on an unprecedented campaign to defeat Clinton. It energized its 5 million members as well as the other 80 million-plus legal gun owners in the U.S. According to the NRA's official publication, the American Rifleman, it sent out 38 million mailings, made 15 phone calls, knocked on tens of thousands of doors, and ran millions of television and digital ads across the country. The impact of these efforts had to be tremendous.
The anti-Second Amendment and pro-gun control crowded that supported Clinton took it on the chin. There you have it.
Dennis L. Lattizzori,
Letter: “Clinton lost because she was poor candidate”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 16, 2017
To the editor:
Since Nov. 8, Democrats have blamed the loss on just about everything except where the blame actually belongs, Hillary Clinton herself.
How could she lose? The media was in her corner, the Hollywood elite backed her, minorities were for her, she was endorsed by all but two major newspapers and she outspent her opponent 2 to 1.
Back in 1996, New York Times columnist William Safire diagnosed her real problem. He called her a "congenital liar," which she has definitely lived up to. CBS showed film clips of her and Chelsea greeting officials on the tarmac in Bosnia while she had claimed the landing had been made under sniper fire and they were told to run for their cars. On Benghazi, she told the families of the deceased that it was the fault of an anti-Muslim video, while emailing her daughter the same day that it was terrorism. She claimed that 90 percent of her emails were on the State Department server while the inspector general stated it was 2 percent.
She and the Democratic National Committee claim that the election was lost because of fake news, the Russians, James Comey, angry white men, voter suppression, and the Electoral College. The reason she lost is that she had no message with any substance. In the last month, her main message over and over again that Trump was not qualified.
The popular vote total is meaningless, with California giving her the roughly 3 million votes she needed to win the popular vote. If that was the criteria for picking a president, it would guarantee a Democratic win in all past elections other than Reagan's two wins. Without California, Trump would have won the popular vote by 1.4 million.
Armand "Pic" Delisle,
"House Republicans voted to gut the congressional ethics office, set up after corruption scandals. The move was made without notice."
The New York Times, January 2, 2017
House Republicans, defying their top leaders, voted Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.
The move to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics was not public until late Monday. The full House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the rules, which would take away both power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.
"Donald Trump rebuked House Republicans, saying there were more important things to do than “weakening" the independent ethics office"
The New York Times, January 3, 2017
President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday criticized House Republicans for their surprise move to gut an independent congressional ethics office on the eve of a new legislative session, saying they should focus instead on domestic policy priorities such as health care and a tax overhaul.
In a pair of postings on Twitter, Mr. Trump called the Office of Congressional Ethics “unfair,” but said focusing on it now was a case of misplaced priorities. He appended the hashtag “DTS,” an apparent allusion to his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
“House Republicans reversed course and withdrew a plan to gut an ethics office, after intense criticism from Donald Trump and others”
The New York Times, January 3, 2017
The reversal came less than 24 hours after House Republicans, meeting in a secret session, voted to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics, created in 2009 in the aftermath of a series of scandals involving House lawmakers.
115TH CONGRESS [Republican Party's] AGENDA:
* Repeal/Replace ACA aka Obamacare
* Cut Medicaid (more than 1 in 5 Americans rely on Medicaid for healthcare insurance)
* Kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
* Repeal Dodd-Frank
* Privatize Veteran's care (the VA)
* Tax cuts
Source: The Rachel Maddow Show on January 2, 2017.
“House GOP passes rules aimed at preventing lawmaker protests”
The Hill, January 3, 2017
House Republicans adopted new rules on Tuesday to slap hefty fines on lawmakers who take photos or video on the floor, a move meant to deter Democrats from staging another sit-in similar to last year’s gun violence protest.
The new rules enforce a previously existing prohibition on taking pictures or video on the House floor. Lawmakers of both parties routinely ignored the rules over the years and snapped photos at big events such as the State of the Union and addresses from foreign leaders.
"GOP aims to rein in liberal cities"
The Hill, January 5, 2017
After consolidating power in Washington, D.C. and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas.
Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues.
January 6, 2017
Elizabeth Warren announced this morning that she is running for reelection in 2018, seeking a second term as US Senator from Massachusetts.
“The people of Massachusetts didn’t send me to Washington to roll over and play dead while Donald Trump and his team of billionaires, bigots, and Wall Street bankers crush the working people of our Commonwealth and this country,” she wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “This is no time to quit.”
Source: The Boston Globe
"Trump calls for investigation into intel leaks to NBC"
The Hill, January 6, 2017
President-elect Donald Trump on Friday called for lawmakers to investigate U.S. intelligence leaks to NBC about information on Russian interference in the election.
“I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it,” Trump tweeted Friday.
“Spicer: Media doesn’t treat Trump with respect, cheers on Democrats”
The Hill, January 8, 2017
The media doesn’t treat President-elect Donald Trump with the proper respect, the man set to be the next White House spokesman says in an interview with The Hill.
Sean Spicer, the longtime GOP operative and strategist for the Republican National Committee, criticized a media landscape that he said mocked Trump even as it cheers on Democrats.
“Senate readies for blizzard of confirmation battles”
The Hill, January 8, 2017
The Senate will begin a blizzard of confirmation hearings Tuesday [January 10, 2017] for Donald Trump’s prospective Cabinet, as Republicans race to get members of the president-elect’s team in place on day one of his administration.
But the fast-tracking of nominees is frustrating Democrats, who hope to use the hearings to press Trump’s team on a host of issues.
“Law enforcement officials see Sessions as 'police-first' attorney general pick”
The Hill, January 9, 2017
Police and law enforcement officials are backing Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Justice.
Law enforcement groups view Sessions as someone who will bring a "police-first" mentality to Justice that they say was absent during President Obama's eight years in office.
“Government ethics chief blasts Trump business plan”
The Hill, January 11, 2017
The head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) on Wednesday slammed President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to separate himself from his business interests, calling it “wholly inadequate” in resolving potential conflicts of interest.
“The plan the president-elect has announced doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades have met,” OGE Director Walter Shaub said during a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective," he said.
"Donald Trump will turn over business operations to a trust run by his sons and an associate, but won’t divest himself of his empire"
The New York Times, January 11, 2017
He will donate to the United States government all profits from foreign government payments to his hotels, top officials with his company said Wednesday, describing the arrangements as voluntary measures taken to answer concerns about potential conflicts of interest that would allow Mr. Trump to focus on running the country.
The Trump Organization will also refrain from entering into any new deals with foreign partners, his legal advisers said, backing off from an earlier claim by Mr. Trump that his company would have “no new deals” of any kind during his presidency. Instead, the Trump enterprise will have to clear any new transactions with an ethics adviser to be chosen by the president-elect in coming days.
"CNN in Trump’s crosshairs"
The Hill, January 14, 2017
CNN has become public enemy number one for Donald Trump and the latest media outlet to become entangled in a high-stakes stand-off with the president-elect.
Trump has long been critical of CNN, claiming it is biased against him and labeling it the “Clinton News Network.” During the presidential campaign Trump ripped the network as “dishonest as hell” and “disgusting.”
That feud escalated this week with CNN’s decision to run a controversial report highlighting Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which provoked an explosive public exchange between Trump and CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
“Anti-Immigrant French Candidate Marine Le Pen Visits Trump Tower”
A spokesman for Trump said Le Pen would not be meeting with the president-elect.
By Christina Wilkie, White House reporter, The Huffington Post, January 12, 2017
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and some of her campaign staff were spotted Thursday morning at Trump Tower, prompting speculation that the leader of the hard-line conservative National Front party would be meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.
A Trump spokesman denied that Le Pen would meet with the president-elect or anyone from the transition team, telling reporters that “Trump Tower is open to the public.”
An aide to Le Pen said a meeting with Trump “is not on her public agenda,” but added, “We don’t communicate about private visits.”
Le Pen is a deeply polarizing figure in France, where she is frequently accused of racism and xenophobia for her nationalist, anti-immigrant policy positions. The daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, she regularly claims to be “fighting the Islamisation of French society.” In a 2010 speech, she likened the presence of Muslims in France to the Nazi occupation.
Le Pen was accompanied to Trump Tower by her partner, George “Guido” Lombardi, a longtime friend of Trump’s who lives in the building and was active in the “Citizens for Trump” campaign this fall. Lombardi is also the leader of a group called the North Atlantic League, which espouses anti-Islamic views, and warns that “Judeo-Christian civilization” is under attack from Islam, the media and a “cultural assault.”
Like Trump, Le Pen’s presidential campaign is built on a populist, nationalist ideal that promises a return to bygone days. Both she and Trump supported Britain’s vote to exit the European Union last year, and both are champions of strict border controls to prevent the arrival of undocumented immigrants.
Le Pen has repeatedly said she admires Trump, calling his victory in November “a sign of hope” for hard-line conservative European politicians.
Trump has met several times with another populist European politician, Nigel Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party.
It was unclear late Thursday morning whether Le Pen would ride the elevator to Trump’s offices, or just sit downstairs and drink coffee.
Donald Trump tweeted that Congressman John Lewis was an inactive congressman whose district was “crime infested” and “falling apart.”
Many people, including Democrats, Republicans and residents in his district, immediately came to Lewis’ defense on social media and noted that Trump’s argument couldn’t be further from the truth.
That Trump attacked a civil rights icon, who marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, on Martin Luther King Day weekend is, unfortunately, not a surprise. The support pouring in for Lewis, however, is inspiring and on par with the respect he deserves.
Source: News Article – “John Lewis’ Book Sales Skyrocket After Trump’s Appalling Tweet”, By Taryn Finley, Black Voices Associate Editor, The Huffington Post, January 16, 2017
List of Lewis’ books:
* March, his graphic novel trilogy set
* Walking the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement
* Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change (2012)
The hotel’s decision to ban media from property owned by the federal government and from a hotel controlled by the president-elect comes amid a broader debate over media access to the incoming administration. | Getty
"Trump's D.C. hotel bans press during inauguration week"
By Daniel Lippman, POLITICO, 1/18/2017
The Trump International Hotel in Washington is banning the media from its premises during inauguration week.
“Media is not allowed in this week in respect of the privacy of our guests,” Patricia Tang, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing wrote in an email.
President-elect Donald Trump and his three adult children own the project after winning a 2012 bid to redevelop D.C.’s Old Post Office. They have a 60-year lease with the federal General Services Administration, which owns the property. The lease that the GSA signed with Trump says (on page 30) that the public is allowed to access historic sections of the building "subject to such reasonable rules and time restrictions as Tenant may formulate from time to time and as approved in writing by Landlord" unless there is a "risk to public safety."
The hotel’s decision to ban media from property owned by the federal government and from a hotel controlled by the president-elect comes amid a broader debate over media access to the incoming administration. Trump has resisted forming a protective pool around him, instead opting for a “semi-protective pool” that afford the media less access than previous presidents allowed.
Further, D.C. legal code prohibits public places like hotels from denying “the full and equal enjoyment” of its facilities to people based on “source of income,” among other reasons, calling it an “unlawful discriminatory practice.” “Source of income” could reasonably include one’s occupation as a journalist.
Tang did not immediately reply to an email asking whether the hotel was in violation of this part of the lease by barring media. The GSA did not immediately reply for a request for comment.
On Wednesday morning, the hotel was encircled by metal barricades while police officers stood nearby and a firetruck and ambulance lingered outside on Pennsylvania Avenue. An official-looking black car with red and blue lights was also seen entering the hotel driveway followed by a black SUV with flashing red lights.
A POLITICO reporter attempted to enter the hotel Wednesday [1/18/2017] morning for a previously scheduled breakfast meeting but was stopped at the door. He then identified himself as a journalist and was told “media” was not allowed.
January 20, 2017
NEVER! I come from the Human Rights school of politics. My place in politics is to be a voice for the voiceless! Those without rights or power, they all have rights or power under my leadership. I represent the most disadvantaged people in our society! I am for the homeless, the underclass, the bullied, the friendless, and the good that exists in everyone's heart. I despise anyone who believes they are superior to "other" people because of their class and status. I will never be a top-down, corrupt, insider big government or big business bureaucrat. I would never be a lobbyist for K Street's corporate elite. I need to sleep at night. I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live. I want the powerful to legally and legitimately fear people like me who stand for Human Rights for ALL people and peoples. I hope that my character and leadership will stand in sharp contrast to the fascist 45th U.S. President Donald Trump!
- Jonathan Melle