"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 email@example.com
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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,
Letter: “Successful rebellion against arrogant elites”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 22, 2017
To the editor:
On Nov. 8, we experienced a rebellion by the American working class against the liberal/progressive elites who have for many years exercised way too much control over our citizens and our country. These liberal elites believe the average American isn't smart enough to know what's in his or her best interest and therefore must be guided. Elites feel they must have sufficient control of our government to insure we do not make the wrong decisions about how to live our lives.
Through their activist activities, the media, which are overwhelming liberal, and universities, most of which are controlled by liberals, and with the help of liberal judges, have been able to force their views on the rest of us. Liberal judges believe that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are "living documents" that they can change as they see fit. The liberal elites' control over us culminated with the election of Barack Obama. These arrogant elites jammed their views down the throats of citizens once too often and now we have rebelled against them.
Through this election, the working class has given the Republican Party the tools necessary to bring our wonderful country back to the traditional values on which it was founded. This rebellion took place for all of our citizens regardless of race, religion, gender or national origin. We are all Americans. Continued success, President Donald J. Trump. "Make America great again."
Letter: “Trump, GOP majority have created Utopia”
The Berkshire Eagle, June 18, 2017
To the editor:
As a conservative Republican, I can finally say I have found Utopia. The second greatest president since President Ronald Reagan in my lifetime is President Donald Trump.
I have the majority in the House of Representative, I have majority in the Senate (with a few exceptions), I am proud of all of them.
I have stopped watching CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC and NBC News, occasionally watching FOX News. I now know which news papers to avoid and those columnist not to read.
I see the liberals scrambling and sulking, and blaming everyone and everything for their defeat. The worst president in my lifetime is history; Barack Obama.
If you don't believe me, please try to avoid the above fake news media for one month. Happiness and peace will fill your hearts and for the long term, at least four more years, and probably six years you will find your utopia.
There is a God in heaven and he has made my life complete!
Thomas D. Gilardi,
"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.
Marine Le Pen, Leader of French party Front National (FN) speaks during a conference of European right-wing party ENF, Europe Nations and Freedom, in Koblenz, Germany, 21 January 2017. Several European leaders of national right-wing parties will deliver speeches at the conference organized by the AFD. EPA/Sascha Ditscher.
“Le Pen predicts year of ‘awakening’ at European nationalists’ meeting”
By Geir Moulson, Associated Press, January 21, 2017
KOBLENZ, Germany — French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen declared Saturday that 2017 will be the ‘‘year of the awakening of the people of continental Europe’’ as she joined fellow nationalist leaders in Germany at the beginning of a year of high-stakes national elections.
The mood was celebratory a day after Donald Trump was sworn in as U.S. president, following a campaign buoyed by anti-establishment and protectionist themes.
‘‘Yesterday, a new America. Today, hello Koblenz, a new Europe!’’ Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders said as he opened his speech at a congress center on the banks of the Rhine river, under heavy security.
‘‘The people of the west are awakening. They are throwing off the yoke of political correctness,’’ he said. ‘‘This year will be the year of the people ... the year of liberation, the year of the patriotic spring.’’
Wilders’ anti-Islam Party of Freedom could win the largest percentage of votes in the March 15 Dutch parliamentary election, though it is shunned by rivals and highly unlikely to be able to form a coalition. Le Pen is among top contenders in France’s April-May presidential vote. In September, Frauke Petry’s four-year-old Alternative for Germany party hopes to enter the German parliament.
The meeting of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament also featured Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League and Harald Vilimsky, the general secretary of Austria’s Freedom Party, which last year narrowly failed to win the country’s presidency.
‘‘We are experiencing the end of one world and the birth of another,’’ Le Pen said. ‘‘We are experiencing the return of nation-states.’’
The first ‘‘real blow to the old order’’ was last June’s British vote to leave the European Union, she said — followed closely by Trump’s election. The new U.S. president, she said, ‘‘will not support a system of oppression’’ in Europe.
Last year saw the awakening of Anglo-Saxon countries, she said, and ‘‘2017, I am sure, will be the year of the awakening of the people of continental Europe.’’
She denounced the EU as ‘‘a force of sterilization,’’ and assailed German Chancellor Angela Merkel — whose name was booed loudly — for allowing in large numbers of migrants.
‘‘Everyone sees that this migration policy is a daily disaster,’’ Le Pen said.
Left-wing protesters staged a sit-in outside the hall shouting slogans like ‘‘no border, no nation, stop deportation.’’
Not far away, demonstrators from the global AVAAZ activist group placed statues of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin, among others, in front of a landmark statue of German Kaiser Wilhelm.
AVAAZ organizer Pascal Vollenweider said the statues of the dictators were meant to send a ‘‘strong message’’ to the nationalist politicians meeting that ‘‘global citizens are rejecting their old dangerous ideas.’’
‘‘They are not fascists in jackboots, it’s a different type of fascism, of course, but if you look at the ideas ... it’s very dangerous, and we have to face it: these guys are carrying old, dangerous fascist ideas,’’ he said.
Marcus Pretzell, Alternative for Germany’s European lawmaker and Petry’s husband, denied accreditation to German public broadcasters and several other German outlets. Public broadcaster ARD has said it was refused access for ‘‘not meeting journalistic standards in its past reporting on the party,’’ a claim it has rejected.
Pretzell opened the congress lamenting the current state of the EU, its passport-free travel zone and the euro. He praised Trump’s opposition to trade agreements such as a planned EU-U.S. trade deal, and said that ‘‘we have a problem with political Islam.’’
‘‘Who would still want to become a member of the European Union of their own free will?’’ he asked.
‘‘We have to turn back some steps that have gone too far,’’ he said. ‘‘The solution is sitting in this room.’’
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
“In His Inaugural Address, Donald Trump Embraced Anti-Semites’ Slogan”
The Anti-Defamation League asked him to stop using it. He didn’t care.
By Nick Baumann, Senior Enterprise Editor, The Huffington Post, January 20, 2017
During Donald Trump’s campaign for president, the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, asked him to stop using the phrase “America First” to describe his foreign policy views. As the ADL explained, the slogan was used by people who warned, ahead of World War II, that Jewish Americans were pushing the U.S. to enter the war because they put their own interests ahead of the country’s.
But Trump never stopped using the slogan. And on Friday, he made it a key part of his inaugural address. “From this day forward,” he proclaimed, “A new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.”
The crowd went wild.
People who aren’t Jewish or familiar with the history may not realize this, but “America First” makes many people deeply uncomfortable. In 1941, as members of the America First movement campaigned against U.S. involvement in World War II and expressed sympathy for the Nazis, plenty of people already knew that Jews were being persecuted in Hitler’s Germany. Even Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator who led the America First movement, knew it.
“It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany,” Lindbergh said in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1941. “The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race.”
But Lindbergh blamed Jewish Americans for pushing the country towards war, and warned that tolerance of Jews in America could not “survive” war with Germany. The greatest danger to the U.S., he argued, came not from the Axis powers but in what he saw as Jewish “ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.”
This is dark stuff ― so dark it’s even inspired literature. Philip Roth, perhaps the most famous Jewish American writer, published The Plot Against America in 2004. The novel imagines an alternate U.S. history in which America First’s Lindbergh won the presidential election in 1940, defeating Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Things don’t go too well for the Jews after that.
“How can people like these be in charge of our country? If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d think I was having a hallucination,” Roth’s father says in the book.
In real life, Lindbergh ― a celebrity who was at least as famous as Trump at a time when public anti-Semitism was far more acceptable than it is today ― actually faced some backlash for his speech, as The New Yorker’s Louisa Thomas noted in July:
Anti-Semitism was prevalent in Lindberg’s time; his attitudes were not fringe. He had not made a secret of his interest in eugenics, nor his racial attitudes, which today seem reprehensible. But with that 1941 speech he seemed to cross a line. He was strongly and swiftly condemned for his anti-Semitic and divisive words—not only by interventionists who were opposed to America First but by those who had lionized him. The Des Moines Register called his speech “so intemperate, so unfair, so dangerous in its implications that it cannot but turn many spadefuls in the digging of the grave of his influence in this country.” The Hearst papers, which were generally sympathetic to the non-interventionists—and open about their hatred of Franklin Roosevelt—condemned Lindbergh, calling his speech “un-American.” His home town took his name off its water tower.
Trump has received some similar criticism: “For many Americans, the term ‘America First’ will always be associated with and tainted by this history,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt warned last April. “In a political season that already has prompted a national conversation about civility and tolerance, choosing a call to action historically associated with incivility and intolerance seems ill-advised.”
The new president doesn’t seem chastened.
“To me, America First is a brand-new modern term,” he told The New York Times’ David Sanger in July. “I never related it to the past.”
But the past has a way of catching up to you. David Duke, the Holocaust denier and former KKK leader who endorsed Trump and celebrated his ascension to power, has long been happy with the slogan (he used it in his campaign for U.S. Senate), and can hear the dog whistle loud and clear.
David Duke @DrDavidDuke
Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn't have said it better!
11:46 PM - 21 Jul 2016 - http://davidduke.com/
After Trump’s speech on Friday [1/20/2017], Duke tweeted:
David Duke @DrDavidDuke
"Trump Inauguration Speech Declares War on the Neocons & Promotes Our Slogan "America First!"
4:06 PM - 20 Jan 2017 - http://davidduke.com/
Letter: “Learn from history, and remain vigilant”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 20, 2017
To the editor:
An unprecedented election? Perhaps here, but a glance back to European history tells us otherwise.
I have recently begun reading Volker Ullrich's "Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939" (Knopf, 9/16). In his introduction, the author explains his intention to explore several issues.
Per Ullrich: "The artistry with which Hitler was able to conceal his real intentions from both friends and foes was [a] main key to his success as a politician. Seventeen years after the fall of the Third Reich, in his memoirs the former Finance Minister Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk identified `bottomless mendacity' as Hitler's primary personal characteristic. `He wasn't even honest towards his most intimate confidants,' Krosigk recalled. `In my opinion, he was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognise the difference between lies and truth.'"
Additionally, according to Ullrich, the German chancellor deliberately sowed uncertainty and discord within his government, stating that "Hitler's unusually improvisational and personal style of leadership, which created constant responsibility conflicts and an anarchic tangle of offices and portfolios, was anything but an expression of political incompetence. On the contrary, it served to make Hitler's own supremacy essentially unassailable."
To me, these assessments strike uncomfortably all too close to home. As President Obama cautioned us in his closing address just this past week, we must all be vigilant.
“President Trump has proposed a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports to pay for the border wall, his spokesman said”
The New York Times, January 26, 2017
President Trump plans to make Mexico pay for his border wall by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports into the United States from Mexico, raising billions of dollars that would cover the cost of the new barrier.
“President Trump's strategist Stephen Bannon attacked the media as the "opposition" and said it should "keep its mouth shut"”
The New York Times, January 26, 2017
Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief White House strategist, laced into the American press during an interview on Wednesday evening, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.
President Donald Trump halts immigration from 7 countries:
Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen
Source: The Rachel Maddow Show on "The Refugee Ban", January 27, 2017.
“President Trump's temporary ban on refugees establishes a religious test: Christians from Muslim nations will be given priority”
The New York Times, January 27, 2017
President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.
Declaring the measure part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” Mr. Trump also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.
“Dems eye legislation to overturn Trump's immigration ban”
The Hill, January 29, 2017
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday said Democrats are considering legislation to overturn President Donald Trump’s recent executive actions on immigration.
“If we get a few more Republicans, I think we might be able to pass legislation to overturn it,” Schumer said at a press conference in New York. “It will be up to getting more Republicans.”
“A federal judge stayed part of President Trump's immigration order, barring refugees stopped at U.S. airports from being sent back”
The New York Times, January 28, 2017
A federal judge blocked part of President Trump’s executive order on immigration on Saturday evening, ordering that refugees and others trapped at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.
Lawyers who sued the government to block the White House order said the decision, which came after an emergency hearing in a New York City courtroom, could affect an estimated 100 to 200 people who were detained upon arrival at American airports in the wake of the order that Mr. Trump signed on Friday afternoon, a week into his presidency.
“Airlines were allowing formerly barred passengers to fly after a federal judge blocked President Trump's immigration order nationwide”
The New York Times, February 3, 2017
A federal judge in Seattle on Friday temporarily blocked President Trump’s week-old immigration order from being enforced nationwide, potentially reopening the country’s door to visa holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries and dealing the administration a humbling defeat.
The White House vowed late Friday to fight what it called an “outrageous” ruling, saying it would seek an emergency halt to the judge’s order as soon as possible and restore the president’s “lawful and appropriate order.”
“Justice Dept. appeals federal judge's ruling halting immigration order”
The Hill, February 4, 2017
The Justice Department on Saturday evening filed a notice that it will formally appeal a federal judge's ruling halting President Trump's immigration order.
The notice was filed in response to a temporary nationwide restraining order issued Friday that halted Trump's executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the United States.
“Trump: Torture 'works'”
By Jordan Fabian – The Hill – 1/25/2017
President Trump said Wednesday [January 25, 2017] he believes that torture “works” and would consider reinstating banned interrogation methods depending on the advice of members of his national security team.
In an interview with ABC News, Trump indicated he wants to resume the use of torture in order to fight back against groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that have committed atrocities against U.S. citizens.
“We have to fight fire with fire,” he said.
Trump would spark a major legal and political battle if he decides to resume the use of torture.
The comments came as a draft memo leaked to the Associated Press shows the Trump administration is seeking to review interrogation techniques and the use of CIA “black site” prisons overseas.
“Trump’s pick for CIA No. 2 prompts fears”
The Hill, February 4, 2017
Senate Democrats and human rights activists are rallying against Donald Trump’s selection of an officer linked to the CIA’s controversial enhanced interrogation program to take the number-two seat at the agency.
As a clandestine officer, Gina Haspel oversaw the brutal interrogation of two terrorism suspects at a black site in Thailand — and then later played a role in the destruction of video tapes documenting the harsh treatment of the detainees, according to multiple reports.
In 2013, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reportedly blocked her promotion to head the agency’s clandestine service over her role in the program.
In an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir on January 25, 2017, President Donald Trump repeated his position that the United States “should have taken the oil” from Iraq during the occupation of the country following the 2003 US-led invasion. Trump has sought to justify this position as victor’s justice and as a move that might have stopped the rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). When Muir pressed him about critics who say doing this would have violated international law, Trump dismissed them as “fools.” Trump’s position on taking Iraq’s oil amounts to “pillage,” a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or the laws of war.
Source: “Trump, Iraqi Oil and International Law”, By Sarah Saadoun, Researcher, Business and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, January 27, 2017.
Letter: “Trump represents the dawn of fascism in US”
The Berkshire Eagle, February 3, 2017
To the editor:
I am second generation American. My grandparents emigrated to escape violent anti-Semite pogroms. Now I watch fascism evolve due to an incompetent demagogue`s personal agenda. Heil King Trump!
He demoralizes women, fires staff for disagreeing with him; promotes nepotism in the White House (now a kingdom?) and surrounds himself with the likes of Steve Bannon, a known anti-Semite and KKK apologist. He has implemented unprecedented gag orders and disputes climate change because it is not favorable to big oil. He is reckless and rash, as proved by his recent Muslim ban, attack on Mexicans, other immigrants and refugees and his continued unrealistic quest to build a wall along the Mexico/U.S. border.
His refusal to make his tax filings public, to divest himself of his business holdings and his Trump University scam only prove what a shyster he is. If you exercise your First Amendment right he says you should be stripped of your citizenship and put in prison. As his egomania grows, will he target those of us who protest and speak out against him and strip us of our citizenship and put us in prison?
His attempts to manipulate and silence the free press and replace their reporting with "alternate facts" is horrifying. He tweets like an insolent eighth grader, and bullies and attacks anyone who disagrees with him. He is impulsive and dangerous.
This is the dawn of fascism in America. Richard Rorty accurately termed it "politically acceptable sadism." No wonder Melania's platform is anti-bullying!
Candace Docimo Mahony,
“Trump administration withdraws protections for transgender students”
The Hill, February 22, 2017
The Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era regulation extending certain protections to transgender students.
“The Trump administration has rescinded protections for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms of their choice”
The New York Times, February 22, 2017
The Trump administration on Wednesday rescinded federal rules that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
The new policy overruled the advice of President Trump’s education secretary and placed his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind.
“Trump officially bans transgender people from military”
The Hill, August 25, 2017
President Trump signed a presidential memo Friday instructing the Defense Department to stop accepting transgender people who want to enroll in the military.
The memo details Trump's previous Twitter announcement that he would reimplement a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, and officially requests the Pentagon begin to implement the ban.
“White House hand-picks select media for briefing”
The Hill, February 24, 2017
The White House blocked a number of news outlets from covering spokesman Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session on Friday afternoon.
Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.
Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations that President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN.
The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.
“Journalists from several organizations, including The Times, were kept from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary”
The New York Times, February 24, 2017
Reporters from CNN, Politico and The New York Times were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for a scheduled briefing.
The White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the press corps, issued a quick rebuke of the White House’s actions.
“At CPAC, Trump lashes out at media”
The Hill, February 24, 2017
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — President Trump lashed out at the press from the beginning of his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), saying his administration was in a fight against “fake news.”
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s phony, fake,” Trump said before a crowd that appeared to love the media hits.
“I called the fake news the enemy of the people. They are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.”
“Bannon needles media at CPAC”
The Hill, February 23, 2017
NATIONAL HARBOR, M.D.-- White House chief strategist Steve Bannon chided the media throughout his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, tagging reporters with his favorite nickname: the opposition party.
Speaking alongside White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the controversial former head of Breitbart News framed the media as part of a global war against the president’s agenda.
"The corporatist globalist media is adamantly opposed to economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has," Bannon said.
“Conservatives at CPAC grapple with the rise of the alt-right”
The Hill, February 24, 2017
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — White nationalist Richard Spencer arrived at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, appearing to be a sign of the “alt-right” movement’s attempts to fit in with conservatives.
And then he got kicked out.
Spencer’s abrupt exit was just one way conservatives tried to grapple with the rise of the alt-right movement at CPAC, offering differing interpretations about who falls into that category and even what the term means.
“State legislators take steps to criminalize protests”
By Reid Wilson, The Hill, February 24, 2017
Republican state legislators across the country are advancing bills that would criminalize or penalize some public protests just a month after millions of Americans took to the streets in opposition to President Trump.
In North Dakota, where protesters occupied land around an unfinished section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) on Thursday signed four laws that would stiffen penalties against protests. The measures increase sanctions for offenses related to riots and broaden the definition of trespassing, allowing law enforcement officers to issue citations and fines.
The new laws, passed under emergency provisions that allow them to take effect immediately, came just hours after a protest camp near the pipeline was evacuated.
Senators in neighboring South Dakota on Thursday passed a bill that would allow the governor to create a "safety zone" in emergency situations. Anyone who entered the zone would be fined.
Legislators who backed the measure specifically cited the Dakota Access project and possible protests against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which will run through South Dakota. Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who sponsored the legislation, said it was needed to deter “professional agitators.”
“Certainly, the Keystone XL pipeline would be a likely prompt to these types of demonstrations,” Daugaard told reporters at a press conference last week.
Native American tribes objected to the legislation, which they say improperly targets them.
Minnesota lawmakers say cracking down on protesters who block access to highways is among their top priorities this legislative session. On Wednesday, two legislative committees voted to increase penalties for protests that block access and to make protesters liable for costs incurred by police responding to their demonstrations.
The Minnesota legislation follows protests against the shooting deaths of several black men by police. Those protests blocked roads leading to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Legislators in Indiana and Iowa have also considered bills to criminalize blocking streets during protests.
Arizona Republicans have introduced a measure to expand racketeering laws, which target organized crime groups, to include rioting. The bill would allow police officers to arrest and then seize the assets of those who organize protest events.
Civil libertarians say the measures are unconstitutional overreactions to a historic era of protests.
“Robust protest activity is a sign of the health of our republic. Our democracy is literally designed for citizens to get out in the streets and make their voices heard to their legislators,” said Lee Rowland, a senior attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.
“To see legislators in these states make it a priority not to listen to the voices of their constituents, but to silence them, is deeply troubling and fundamentally un-American.”
One measure in Tennessee goes so far as to give civil immunity to a driver who hits a protester blocking traffic.
The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R), comes after a car hit volunteers helping protesters cross a street in Nashville as they demonstrated against the Trump administration’s orders blocking immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Hill’s measure passed its first test in a state Senate committee earlier his month. Hill did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
A similar bill failed in the North Dakota legislature earlier this month.
Republican-led legislatures in Michigan and Virginia have already rejected their own measures increasing penalties on protests.
Rowland, who has been following state legislatures for about a dozen years, said the measures represent a “fairly unprecedented level” of action against protestors. The wave of bills come after high-profile protests including the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Women's March on Washington, which took place the day after Trump’s inauguration.
The women’s march drew more than 3 million participants in cities across the nation. It attracted more people to Washington’s subway system than Trump’s inauguration, the city's transit authority reported.
The cover of this English translation of The Camp of the Saints calls it “a chilling novel about the end of the white world.”
“And they went up on the breadth of the Earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Source: King James Bible version.
On his Breitbart News radio show, Stephen Bannon repeatedly used The Camp of the Saints as a metaphor for migrants and refugees.
“This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World” – “The Camp of the Saints” tells a grotesque tale about a migrant invasion to destroy Western civilization.”
By Paul Blumenthal, Money in Politics Reporter, JM Rieger, Producer, The Huffington Post, March 4, 2017
Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and the driving force behind the administration’s controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, has a favorite metaphor he uses to describe the largest refugee crisis in human history.
“It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe,” he said in October 2015.
“The whole thing in Europe is all about immigration,” he said in January 2016. “It’s a global issue today — this kind of global Camp of the Saints.”
“It’s not a migration,” he said later that January. “It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.”
“When we first started talking about this a year ago,” he said in April 2016, “we called it the Camp of the Saints. ... I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn’t it?”
Bannon has agitated for a host of anti-immigrant measures. In his previous role as executive chairman of the right-wing news site Breitbart — which he called a “platform for the alt-right,” the online movement of white nationalists — he made anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim news a focus.
But the top Trump aide’s repeated references to The Camp of the Saints, an obscure 1973 novel by French author Jean Raspail, reveal even more about how he understands the world. The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s never found a wider audience. There’s a good reason for that: It’s breathtakingly racist.
“[This book is] racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” said Cécile Alduy, professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on the contemporary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.”
The book, she said, “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.”
Upon the novel’s release in the United States in 1975, the influential book review magazine Kirkus Reviews pulled no punches: “The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”
Linda Chavez, a Republican commentator who has worked for GOP presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush but opposed Trump’s election, also reviewed the book back then. Forty years later, she hasn’t forgotten it.
“It is really shockingly racist,” Chavez told The Huffington Post, “and to have the counselor to the president see this as one of his touchstones, I think, says volumes about his attitude.”
The plot of The Camp of the Saints follows a poor Indian demagogue, named “the turd-eater” because he literally eats shit, and the deformed, apparently psychic child who sits on his shoulders. Together, they lead an “armada” of 800,000 impoverished Indians sailing to France. Dithering European politicians, bureaucrats and religious leaders, including a liberal pope from Latin America, debate whether to let the ships land and accept the Indians or to do the right thing — in the book’s vision — by recognizing the threat the migrants pose and killing them all.
The non-white people of Earth, meanwhile, wait silently for the Indians to reach shore. The landing will be the signal for them to rise up everywhere and overthrow white Western society.
The French government eventually gives the order to repel the armada by force, but by then the military has lost the will to fight. Troops battle among themselves as the Indians stream on shore, trampling to death the left-wing radicals who came to welcome them. Poor black and brown people literally overrun Western civilization. Chinese people pour into Russia; the queen of England is forced to marry her son to a Pakistani woman; the mayor of New York must house an African-American family at Gracie Mansion. Raspail’s rogue heroes, the defenders of white Christian supremacy, attempt to defend their civilization with guns blazing but are killed in the process.
Calgues, the obvious Raspail stand-in, is one of those taking up arms against the migrants and their culturally “cuckolded” white supporters. Just before killing a radical hippie, Calgues compares his own actions to past heroic, sometimes mythical defenses of European Christendom. He harkens back to famous battles that fit the clash-of-civilizations narrative — the defense of Rhodes against the Ottoman Empire, the fall of Constantinople to the same — and glorifies colonial wars of conquest and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan.
Only white Europeans like Calgues are portrayed as truly human in The Camp of the Saints. The Indian armada brings “thousands of wretched creatures” whose very bodies arouse disgust: “Scraggy branches, brown and black … All bare, those fleshless Gandhi-arms.” Poor brown children are spoiled fruit “starting to rot, all wormy inside, or turned so you can’t see the mold.”
The ship’s inhabitants are also sexual deviants who turn the voyage into a grotesque orgy. “Everywhere, rivers of sperm,” Raspail writes. “Streaming over bodies, oozing between breasts, and buttocks, and thighs, and lips, and fingers.”
The white Christian world is on the brink of destruction, the novel suggests, because these black and brown people are more fertile and more numerous, while the West has lost that necessary belief in its own cultural and racial superiority. As he talks to the hippie he will soon kill, Calgues explains how the youth went so wrong: “That scorn of a people for other races, the knowledge that one’s own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest — none of that had ever filled these youngsters’ addled brains.”
The Camp of the Saints — which draws its title from Revelation 20:9 — is nothing less than a call to arms for the white Christian West, to revive the spirit of the Crusades and steel itself for bloody conflict against the poor black and brown world without and the traitors within. The novel’s last line links past humiliations tightly to its own grim parable about modern migration. “The Fall of Constantinople,” Raspail’s unnamed narrator says, “is a personal misfortune that happened to all of us only last week.”
Raspail wrote The Camp of the Saints in 1972 and 1973, after a stay at his aunt’s house near Cannes on the southern coast of France. Looking out across the Mediterranean, he had an epiphany: “And what if they came?” he thought to himself. “This ‘they’ was not clearly defined at first,” he told the conservative publication Le Point in 2015. “Then I imagined that the Third World would rush into this blessed country that is France.”
Raspail’s novel has been published in the U.S. several times, each time with the backing of the anti-immigration movement.
The U.S. publishing house Scribner was the first to translate the book into English in 1975, but it failed to reach a wide audience amid withering reviews by critics. A rare favorable take appeared in National Review. “Raspail brings his reader to the surprising conclusion that killing a million or so starving refugees from India would be a supreme act of individual sanity and cultural health,” then-Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart wrote in 1975. “Raspail is to genocide what [D.H. Lawrence] was to sex.” Hart added that “a great fuss” was being made over “Raspail’s supposed racism,” but that the “liberal rote anathema on ‘racism’ is in effect a poisonous assault upon Western self-preference.”
The book received a second life in 1983 when Cordelia Scaife May, heiress to the Mellon fortune and sister to right-wing benefactor Richard Mellon Scaife, funded its republication and distribution. This time it gained a cult following among immigration opponents.
May’s money has also been instrumental in funding the efforts of John Tanton, the godfather of the anti-immigration movement in the U.S. Tanton, who began as an environmentalist and population control proponent, founded a host of groups focused on restricting immigration, including the Federation of American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and U.S. English. May’s fortune has fueled these groups with tens of millions of dollars in contributions over the years.
Linda Chavez was recruited in 1987 to head U.S. English, which advocates for English to be designated the country’s official language. But then a series of disturbing stories painted Tanton’s motives in a racial light. Among other issues, Chavez said she learned that his funding came from the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund and from May, who Chavez knew had helped publish The Camp of the Saints. Chavez recalled seeing Tanton’s staffers carrying the book around their offices. She quit the group.
Tanton, who insists his opposition to immigration is not connected to race at all, told The Washington Post in 2006 that his mind “became focused” on the issue after reading The Camp of the Saints. In 1995, his small publishing house, Social Contract Press, brought the book back into print for a third time in the U.S., again with funding from May. Historians Paul Kennedy and Matt Connelly tied the book to then-current concerns about global demographic trends in a cover story for The Atlantic.
“Over the years the American public has absorbed a great number of books, articles, poems and films which exalt the immigrant experience,” Tanton wrote in 1994. “It is easy for the feelings evoked by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to obscure the fact that we are currently receiving too many immigrants (and receiving them too fast) for the health of our environment and of our common culture. Raspail evokes different feelings and that may help to pave the way for policy changes.”
In 2001, the book was republished one more time, again by Tanton, and again gained a cult following among opponents of immigration like the border-patrolling Minutemen and eventually the online “alt-right.”
Bannon’s alt-right-loving Breitbart has run multiple articles over the past three years referencing the novel. When Pope Francis told a joint session of Congress that the U.S. should open its arms to refugees in September 2015, Breitbart’s Julia Hahn, now an aide to Bannon in the White House, compared his admonition to Raspail’s liberal Latin American pontiff. And the novel’s thesis that migration is invasion in disguise is often reflected in Bannon’s public comments.
The refugee crisis “didn’t just happen by happenstance,” Bannon said in an April 2016 radio interview with Sebastian Gorka, who now works for the National Security Council. “These are not war refugees. It’s something much more insidious going on.”
Bannon has also echoed the novel’s theory that secular liberals who favor immigration and diversity weaken the West.
“Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian West to actually win this war?” he asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), now the attorney general, in June 2016.
“I’m worried about that. … They’re eroding, regularly it seems to me, classical American values that are so critical to our success,” Sessions replied.
Like Raspail, Bannon has reveled in the past victories of Christendom over Islamic forces.
“If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing,” he said in a 2014 speech broadcast to a conference at the Vatican. “I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna [the Battle of Vienna in 1683], or Tours [the Battle of Tours in 732], or other places. … They were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind.”
Now Bannon sits at the right hand of the U.S. president, working to beat back what Bannon calls “this Muslim invasion.” And Trump is all in on the project. During the campaign, he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. His Jan. 28 executive order, since blocked in the courts, turned this campaign idea into executive policy.
Trump has continued to defend the executive order as a life-or-death national security issue. “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America,” he said in his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
Five days earlier, Trump had called his immigration enforcement efforts a “military operation.”
Although Department of Homeland Security officials walked back that statement, the president’s conflation of immigration with warfare did not go unnoticed.
“They see this as a war,” Chavez said.
Chavez, who supports some of Trump’s economic policy proposals, called the direction the White House is taking on immigration and race “extremely dangerous.” She said Trump’s immigration moves are “a kind of purging of America of anything but our Northern European roots.” Bannon, she added, “wants to make America white again.”
May 23, 2017
Re: Trump targets social programs
In the mid-1990’s, then President Bill Clinton made big cuts to welfare assistance programs by incentivizing work and transferring millions of people into disability programs. Over the past two decades, millions of jobs have been lost to automation and globalization, while millions of people have been added to the disability rolls. It has been a perfect storm of the poor getting to choose between a low-income job and/or disability benefits.
Meanwhile, the rich got richer! Business executives, politicians and their corrupt lobbyists have been doing better than ever financially. The federal government even bailed out Wall Street with trillions of taxpayer dollars after the financial meltdown in 2008.
Even billionaire Donald Trump declared business bankruptcies four times over to protect his personal wealth! Today [5/23/2017], President Donald Trump issued his first federal budget proposal that makes historic cuts to medicaid, food stamps, disability payments, and other social programs.
The defense budget would be the big winner this year, while Wall Street benefited after it collapsed in 2008, and big oil benefited after we invaded Iraq in 2003. But, when do the poor, working class, and disabled, get a financial break in this inequitable economy?
- Jonathan Melle
“The ‘March Against Sharia’ Protests Are Really Marches Against Muslims”
And they’re attracting neo-Nazis, white supremacists and armed anti-government groups.
By Christopher Mathias, The Huffington Post, June 10, 2017
An unholy alliance of Islamophobic hate group members, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and armed anti-government militia members will rally against the nonexistent threat of sharia, or Islamic, law in the U.S this weekend.
The “March Against Sharia” rallies are set to place on Saturday in 29 cities across 21 states, and are being organized by Act for America, the nation’s largest anti-Muslim hate group. Act for America has billed this weekend’s events as some kind of noble stand against “atrocities” it attributes ― wrongly ― to sharia.
But a quick look at the group’s origins and its members’ statements reveal that pretext to be a ruse. Saturday’s marches are against Muslims and Islam itself, and they’re attracting some of the most dangerous elements of the far right.
“They are calling them ‘Anti-Sharia’ rallies, but let us call them what they are: ‘Anti-Muslim’ protests,” Muslim activist and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour wrote on Facebook. “If your definition of Sharia was defined by an anti-Muslim bigot, you might want to rethink it and ask a Muslim who actually follows the religion of Islam.”
What You Need To Know About Act for America
Act for America is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. It was founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian immigrant from Lebanon. She has said that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.”
Although the “March Against Sharia” event page claims Act for America believes in religious freedom, Gabriel has also said that a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Quran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
Gabriel and Act for America have worked for years not only to spread fear of Muslims, but to strip Muslims of rights afforded to the followers of other faiths.
Act for America has also long pushed the conspiracy theory that sharia law ― the deeply misunderstood legal or philosophical code of Islam, interpreted differently by Muslims across the world ― poses a threat to the U.S. Constitution. (It does not.)
Still, Act for America has successfully lobbied state legislatures across the country to introduce, and often pass, bills banning sharia law in state courts. The “true aim” of these bills, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in 2011, is to “denigrate an entire faith system.”
Years ago, it was easier to brush off Gabriel as a fringe, far-right leader of a hate group. But that was before Donald Trump was president.
In recent months, Gabriel has bragged about having a “direct line” to the president, has been photographed having a meeting in the White House, and claims to have been dining with Trump at Mar-a-Lago when Trump decided to bomb Syria in April.
Act for America has also long pushed the conspiracy theory that sharia law ― the deeply misunderstood legal or philosophical code of Islam, interpreted differently by Muslims across the world ― poses a threat to the U.S. Constitution. (It does not.)
Still, Act for America has successfully lobbied state legislatures across the country to introduce, and often pass, bills banning sharia law in state courts. The “true aim” of these bills, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in 2011, is to “denigrate an entire faith system.”
Years ago, it was easier to brush off Gabriel as a fringe, far-right leader of a hate group. But that was before Donald Trump was president.
In recent months, Gabriel has bragged about having a “direct line” to the president, has been photographed having a meeting in the White House, and claims to have been dining with Trump at Mar-a-Lago when Trump decided to bomb Syria in April.
Yet Act for America’s veneer of legitimacy hasn’t prevented its members from blatant displays of bigotry. In February, member Robert Goodwill was recorded talking to a man who argued that all American Muslims should be killed.
“We’re not there yet,” Goodwill told the man.
The official Act for America “March Against Sharia” Facebook page is also rife with vile memes and comments denigrating Muslims.
‘March Against Sharia’ Rallies Draw Diverse Hate And Extremist Groups
The convergence of anti-Muslim groups and other fringe organizations is a growing phenomenon, the Southern Poverty Law Center noted.
SPLC trawled through all the local “March Against Sharia” Facebook groups and compiled an extensive list of extremist groups and white supremacists who said they will be showing up at the marches on Saturday.
They found a slew of armed anti-government militia groups, some with histories of threatening government officials. The groups claim they’ll be providing “security” at the rallies, which means they’ll likely show up with guns. Often called “Patriot” groups, they include the Oathkeepers, the III Percenters and American Civil Defense.
The SPLC also found avowed neo-Nazis and white supremacists eager to take part in the rallies across the country.
In Texas, members of the group Sons of Odin will be attending the Houston event. (Sons of Odin describes its beliefs as “closely aligned” with those of the Soldiers of Odin ― a white supremacist, anti-refugee vigilante organization.) And the neo-Nazi group White Lives Matter is set to attend the rally in Austin.
In Batesville, Arkansas, prominent neo-Nazi Billy Roper announced that he was organizing a “March Against Sharia” rally there. Earlier this week, when SPLC wrote a report about Roper’s involvement, Act for America was quick to distance itself from him and withdrew its affiliation with the Arkansas protest.
In a statement to HuffPost, Act for America organizer Scott Presler said “hateful individuals sometimes latch onto others in a parasitic way in order to elevate themselves, or a completely unrelated cause.”
Presler added that Act for America’s alleged diversity shields it from being grouped with white supremacists, noting that Gabriel is an Arab-American and that the head organizer of the marches is gay.
Still, that doesn’t preclude the group from rabid Islamophobia, as Gabriel’s statements in the video below make clear[.]
Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, says anti-Muslim hate is a great unifier among far-right groups, and especially militia groups, however disparate or seemingly opposed their beliefs may be.
“Alliances have been building for some time between anti-government and anti-Muslim groups, and Saturday’s events are another concrete example of this disturbing trend,” Beirich said.
Interfaith protesters across the country are planning counter-demonstrations at the “March Against Sharia” events.
On Friday, 129 organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, Amnesty International and the Center for New Community, sent a letter to mayors in the 29 cities where the marches are scheduled, calling on them to “reject” Act for America’s “bigotry,” and to “issue an official statement to reiterate to the people of your city that every person is welcome.”
March organizers canceled one rally in Portland, Oregon and relocated it to Seattle in response to pressure from Portland’s mayor, who worried about the rally’s effect on a city already reeling from two recent hate-fueled killings.
Late last month, a white supremacist aboard a MAX train in Portland screamed anti-Muslim threats at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. He then stabbed three men who stepped up to defend the girls, killing two of them.
One of the biggest rallies is happening in New York, but Rosemary Boeglin, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, told HuffPost that the event doesn’t represent New York City.
“To host an event, particularly during Islam’s highest holy month, with the explicit intention of reducing an entire community to inaccurate and hateful stereotypes is not what we stand for in New York City,” Boeglin said.
America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your story.
Stop Pretending The ‘Anti-Sharia’ Movement Has Anything To Do With Empowering Women
5 Things The Anti-Sharia Movement Gets Dangerously Wrong
“The White House condemned “white supremacists” for the violence in Virginia after President Trump blamed "many sides" on Saturday”
The New York Times, Sunday, August 13, 2017
The White House, under siege over President Trump’s equivocal response to this weekend’s bloody white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday condemned “white supremacists” for inciting the violence that led to one death.
The statement — issued more than 36 hours after the protests began — came in an email sent to reporters in the president’s traveling press pool, and was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson. It was not attributed directly to Mr. Trump, who often uses Twitter to communicate directly on controversial topics.
“Trump tries to quiet race storm”
The Hill, August 14, 2017
President Trump sought to quell the storm over his reaction to violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday but even some Republicans believe the damage has already been done.
“This should never have been a White House story,” said one House GOP aide granted anonymity to speak candidly. “They should have condemned it like everyone else and moved on.”
Speaking at the White House on Monday, Trump said, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
Letter: “Deplorables on display”
The Berkshire Eagle, August 14, 2017
To the editor:
Many people resented Hillary Clinton's use of the word "deplorable" (in reference to Trump supporters) because they felt it cast too wide a net. In Charlottesville, Va. we can see who she was referring to: white nationalists, Klansmen, alt-right anti-Semites and their ilk. We really have some bad people on the loose in this country — just as bad as Islamic terrorists. Driving cars into crowds of people.
The real question is, why now? These people were not tolerated before. One can only conclude that Trumpism has released these people's anger on the rest of us.
“After Trump’s Remarks, White Nationalists Say He’s Telling Truth About Charlottesville”; But Republican lawmakers urged condemnation of white supremacy.
By Dana Liebelson, The Huffington Post, August 15, 2017
WASHINGTON ― Republicans, Democrats and business leaders have called President Donald Trump’s response to last weekend’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, inadequate. But white nationalists involved in the rally have sung a different tune, praising the president for what they see as his truth telling about the incident.
Trump “sees the truth is the way I see it,” said Eli Mosley, a 25-year-old who advocates for “white rights” and helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally. “He’s seen through this ridiculous narrative that we went there to fight.”
Trump on Tuesday condemned “neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” but also suggested that anti-Nazi counter-protesters ― who the president termed the “alt-left” ― instigated the weekend’s violence.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right,” Trump said at Trump Tower in New York. “You had, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,” Trump added.
There were “very fine people on both sides,” Trump said.
“It sounds to me like [Trump] is being an objective observer,” said Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist from New Hampshire who attended Saturday’s rally. “Somebody who is not like a communist piece of filth would look at what happened there and say the leftists were the initiators of the force.”
The chaos at Saturday’s rally made it hard to tell who was responsible for every act of violence. But a few facts are clear: At least 35 people were injured — and one was killed. (Two more people, both state troopers working the rally, were also killed when their helicopter crashed.) James Alex Fields, the man who allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing the one and injuring 19 more, was reportedly fascinated with Nazis and stood with Vanguard America, a white supremacist group. (The group disavowed any connection with Fields.)
Even before Tuesday, Democrats and some Republicans had criticized Trump’s first response to the weekend’s events for blaming “many sides” for the violence. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) tweeted: “Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
The president followed up on Monday with a second, more comprehensive public denunciation of “the KKK, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
But on Tuesday afternoon, in a heated back and forth with reporters, Trump shifted his tone yet again, returning to the “both sides” rhetoric of his initial statement.
“White supremacy, bigotry & racism have absolutely no place in our society & no one - especially POTUS - should ever tolerate it,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) tweeted after the remarks.
“We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity,” tweeted House Speaker Paul Ryan.
In addition to negative reactions from lawmakers, several members of the White House manufacturing council also resigned in protest this week.
But prominent members of the so-called “alt-right,” a rebranding of white nationalism, jumped to Trump’s defense. Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” and attended the rally, thanked Trump in one tweet, adding: “President Trump is right!”
Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist leader, said he didn’t take Trump’s more guarded statement condemning hate groups seriously. It’s more “Kumbaya nonsense,” he told reporters on Monday, adding that it sounded “hollow and vapid.” After Trump’s latest remarks on Tuesday, however, Spencer tweeted, “I’m proud of [Trump] for speaking the truth.”
White nationalists that spoke to HuffPost don’t claim that Trump supports their views.
When asked about the president’s denunciation of white supremacist groups, Cantwell said he found it sincere, and also said the media is trying to conflate the views of the president and white nationalists.
“I know exactly what you’re trying to do, is tying Donald Trump to me, which is why you’re a piece of garbage, right, because you know it’s not accurate, he went out of his way to denounce all these different groups or whatever,” Cantwell said.
But “we have overlap, right, we want to save our nation,” Cantwell added, calling it a “poor strategic decision on his [Trump’s] part to denounce white supremacists. I don’t think there’s any benefit to it because obviously all the propagandists on the television are saying that he didn’t do it fast enough.”
But critics of Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, and his statement on Tuesday, were appalled.
“If the situation weren’t so serious, we could overlook his act, his ducking and weaving, his petulant behavior,” Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement Tuesday. “But at this point, it’s simply bizarre and disheartening.”
“We can’t accept excuses for white supremacy & acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn. Period,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
August 16, 2017
Re: Down with Trump!
U.S. President Donald Trump should be immediately impeached for defending the indefensible!
Dear Mr. Trump,
The Neo-Nazi's, White Nationalists, White Supremacists, alt-right, and the like are immoral. They are totally evil people.
You, Donald Trump, are WRONG!
- Jonathan Melle
Donald Trump = Adolf Hitler!
“We (Donald Trump and the alt-right) have overlap, right, we want to save our nation,” stated Christopher Cantwell, who is a white nationalist from New Hampshire.
Re: Anti-Hate Congressional resolution
Yesterday [8/15/2017], Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter co-introduced a resolution, together with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and 30 other members of Congress, urging President Trump to strongly condemn white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups, and to remove individuals who have supported white nationalists, including Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, from the White House.
Condemns the role of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, KKK and other hate groups in the “Unite the Right” rally and domestic terror attack in Charlottesville [Virginia];
Denounces the increase in organizing, fear-mongering, racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and violence perpetrated by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups;
Offers condolences and sympathies to the families of Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and urges a quick recovery to those injured;
Strongly urges the president to:
Fire individuals in the White House and Trump administration who have supported or encouraged support for white nationalists;
Quickly and publicly repudiate and denounce white supremacist, neo-Nazi, KKK and other hate groups;
Use all available resources of the Office of the President and the Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of such hate groups domestically; and
Use his office to unite all Americans against hate.
In addition to Shea-Porter and Jayapal, the resolution is co-sponsored by 30 members of Congress: Reps. Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Adam Smith (WA-09), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Andre Carson (IN-07), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Judy Chu (CA-27), Bill Foster (IL-11), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), John Delaney (MD-06), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Don Beyer (VA-08), Brendan Boyle (PA-13), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) and Al Lawson (FL-05).
"Trump fires chief strategist Bannon"
Bannon was instrumental in the ban on people from Muslim-majority countries, abandoning the Paris climate accord, tearing up international trade agreements and cracking down on illegal immigration.
Source: NH Union Leader, August 18, 2017
“Gorka resigns from White House post”
The Hill, August 25, 2017
Sebastian Gorka, special assistant to President Trump, has offered his letter of resignation to the president, according to multiple reports late Friday.
“[G]iven recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House,” Gorka wrote in a letter first reported by The Federalist.
“Donald Trump isn’t just a champion of white supremacists. He’s their leader”
By Renée Graham, Boston Globe Columnist, Op-Ed, August 17, 2017
I was wrong.
In a column about President Trump’s flaccid initial response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, I wrote: “They marched with Confederate flags and swastikas, guns slung from their shoulders and strapped to their waists, believing their champion occupies this nation’s highest office.”
I should not have called the 45th President of the United States a “champion” of white supremacists. Trump is their undisputed leader.
Indeed, Trump was a racist long before he had a base to mollify, branded Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” and tried to ban Muslims from entering this country. In 1989, he bought newspaper ads calling for reinstatement of the death penalty after five black and Latino teens were accused of raping a white woman in Central Park. All served prison time before their sentences were vacated based on DNA evidence and a detailed confession from a serial rapist. Trump has never apologized. There was that “birther” rubbish he flung at President Obama in an attempt to delegitimize a presidency that his own will never surpass. Now he won’t stop tweeting about the “foolish” removal of “our beautiful statues and monuments” — you know, the ones for seditious men who fought and lost a treasonous war to keep black people in chains.
Trump is not racially insensitive. He is not taken out of context. He is not an old man whose ideas are trapped in the past. White supremacists love him because bigots always embrace one of their own. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Trump wouldn’t have gotten to the White House without them and racists wouldn’t feel protected and understood without their personal president.
His supporters may believe I’m attacking their wonderful president with unfounded accusations, yet Trump’s own words always indict him. Who could have fathomed an American president defending neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Condemning such groups is the easiest thing a president can do. Yet Trump has failed miserably.
For those still in doubt, here’s a few signs your president is a racist:
■ He calls people who chanted, “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, “Very fine people.”
■ He makes an initial statement condemning hatred, but denounces violence “on many sides.” He ad-libbed that last bit, and repeated it twice just in case anyone couldn’t hear the dog whistle.
■ It takes two more days to cajole him into condemning by name neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK. When pushed to say something appropriate, he does so with all the sincerity of a four-year-old coerced into saying “thank you” for an ugly sweater.
■ Former KKK grand wizard and forever racist David Duke praises his “honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville” and “leftist terrorists.”
■ He has a massive crush on President Andrew Jackson, with his portrait prominently displayed in the Oval Office. It’s a statement piece about his admiration for a man best remembered for the “Trail of Tears,” which led to the deaths of thousands of Native Americans.
■ He employs Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, called “the platform for the alt-right.”
■ His tweets and comments are littered with white nationalist talking points.
■ He is silent about hate crimes against Muslims, yet giddily — and repeatedly — spreads a myth about US soldiers killing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood.
Like the unmasked men and women who marched for hate in Charlottesville, Trump has never concealed who he is. His combativeness is not a lack of discipline. It is a character trait on bold display.
As Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
Renée Graham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham
“Trump poised for a September fight over border wall”
The Hill, August 21, 2017
Funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall is poised to be a central issue in this fall’s showdown over government funding.
Unless Congress approves a new funding bill, the government will shut down on October 1, 2017.
Trump is demanding funds for the wall that was the centerpiece of his successful presidential campaign, but Democrats have warned they will vote en masse against any legislation that includes money for the wall.
Re: Open letter to Rinaldo Del Gallo, III
August 21, 2017
I agree with your view that freedom of speech must be protected and exercised by all of our fellow American citizens. I read several news articles about your experience in Boston this past Saturday, August 19th, 2017. There was a small group of people with a permit who spoke at a “free speech” event. There were over 500 police officers. There were over 40,000 protestors. You tried to attend the event as a “Bernie Sanders progressive”, but the police denied you entrance, and you are threatening to sue them. The protestors called you derisive terms, including “white trash”, and you asked for and received police protection. You called some of the protestors who you felt threatened by the term, “Antifa”.
Until I read the news articles that featured you in Boston on Saturday, I did not realize what the “Antifa” is and how long it existed. I copied a British news article, below. The long-standing “Antifa” movement is rising in standing with the general public since the election of U.S. President of Donald Trump and the “alt-right” movement he supports, which is linked with neo-nazi’s, the KKK, white supremacists, white nationalists, and the like.
What did you expect would happen, Rinaldo? We have a fascist and racist billionaire as our U.S. President who openly disrespects Human Rights! Race, violence, and conflictual politics are now dividing our nation. We are fighting each other instead of working together. To illustrate, the U.S. Congress and President Trump have only signed a few bills into law since January 20th, 2017. Moreover, the U.S. government may shut down on October 1, 2017, if they fail to raise the debt limit. We are in a period of ineffectual leadership and dysfunction!
Some political observers say this is all a diversion! The right-wing is reviving “hate” to distract us from their real agenda. The Republican Party wants to reform so-called “entitlements”, which means they want to gut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which are on the path to financial insolvency in the decades to come. They want to end “Obamacare”, too, which is also financially unsustainable. They want to cut federal taxes for the top 10% of income earners. They want to cut the corporate tax rate, too. They want to grow the military industrial complex by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. They want to defund Planned Parenthood, end limited abortion rights for women, and allow “religious” entities to invoke their “conscience” to limit insurance funding for birth control prescription medicine. They want to gut the EPA and give polluting businesses more discretion to poison our air, water, and land. They want to defund public education, and gut grant and loan funding for teenagers to afford college. They support harsh drug laws, private prisons, and a tough criminal justice system that many say targets the poor and minorities.
The question I have for you, Rinaldo, who takes the time to blog, write letters to the editor and political columns, proposes citizen initiatives, and runs for political office, is: “Why do so many people only protest instead of participate in the political process like you do?”
I am impressed with you, Rinaldo, because you take the time to participate in politics and government. You stand up for people, your community, and political causes. You fight the good fights, while so many people sit on the sidelines.
Jonathan A. Melle
“Antifa: Left-wing militants on the rise”
By Brenna Cammeron, BBC News, August 14, 2017
The violence and murder of a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend has been attributed to far-right elements that descended on the city to demonstrate against the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate war hero Robert E Lee.
President Donald Trump drew widespread criticism on Saturday when he said that there was violence on "many sides" in Charlottesville and initially neglected to explicitly censure the white supremacists who organised the rally.
On Monday, he bowed to pressure to castigate the KKK, white supremacists and neo-nazis.
But many conservatives say blame should be shared by Antifa, a loosely affiliated group of far-left protesters.
Critics argue the media tends to excuse violence by Antifa militants just because they are fighting white supremacists and their odious ideology.
What exactly is Antifa?
The social causes of Antifa (short for anti-fascist or Anti-Fascist action) are easily identifiable as left-leaning.
Most members oppose all forms of racism and sexism, and strongly oppose what they see as the nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-Muslim policies that Mr Trump has enacted.
However, as their name indicates, Antifa focuses more on fighting far-right ideology than encouraging pro-left policy.
Unlike the mainstream left, they do not seek to gain power through traditional channels - winning elections and passing bills into law.
Antifa is anti-government and anti-capitalist, and their methodologies are often perceived as more closely aligned with anarchists than the mainstream left.
Antifa does not shy away from militant protest methods, including the destruction of property and sometimes physical violence.
They were present at the 2017 Berkeley protests of far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos and at violent protests against Donald Trump's inauguration; they were also present at Charlottesville.
Antifa's roots go back almost as far as Nazis
Much like the far-right, Antifa members around the world comprise a patchwork of groups, though the most active appear to be based in the US, the UK (under the name Anti-Fascist Action) and Germany (Antifaschistische Aktion).
The German movement was founded in 1932 to provide a militant far-left group to counter the fast-rising Nazi party.
They were disbanded in 1933 after Hitler took control of parliament and resurrected in the 1980s as a response to neo-Nazism after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
President Trump's election seems to have been something of a touchstone for the Antifa movement, which has links with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and various anarchist groups.
According to James Anderson, one of a group of people who run the popular anti-fascist and anarchist news site, It's Going Down, interest has spiked since Mr Trump's election.
The It's Going Down website, which received around 300 hits daily in 2015, now garners between 10-20,000 hits a day.
Since the events in Charlottesville on Saturday, the It's Going Down Twitter handle has gained 2,000 new followers.
While interest may have spiked since Mr Trump's election, it is all but impossible to quantify how many people are active members of Antifa.
Much like the far-right, chapters of Antifa are loosely connected and highly secretive, and organise mostly on message boards such as Reddit and over social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Calls to label Antifa a terror organisation
Antifa has become a popular topic for right-leaning websites and among conservative pundits.
Fox News commentator and conservative speaker Erick Erickson says in The Resurgent, a conservative blog, that "Antifa and the white supremacists are two sides of a common coin. The people dead in Charlottesville died because of one neo-Nazi, but there were dozen [sic] of people left bleeding in the streets because of Antifa".
Meanwhile, a change.org petition lobbying Mr Trump to declare Antifa a domestic terror organisation has garnered nearly 100,000 supporters.
While Antifa has gained relatively little attention in the mainstream media, that may soon change.
According to Mr Anderson, the events in Charlottesville over the weekend represent a "sea change" in how Antifa is perceived.
"This is a huge turning point and vindication for our movement," he said.
"We are working with Black Lives Matter, local clergy, this is not a movement that wants to be a lone group of militants," he said.
"This is about popular power. Sometimes that looks controversial - but this is a broad movement, and we are looking to engage a wide variety of people."
“Berkshire slander suit seeks $50 million from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh”
By Bob Dunn, firstname.lastname@example.org – The Berkshire Eagle, October 24, 2017
PITTSFIELD — A former North Adams man is suing Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for $50 million, claiming he falsely associated him with hate groups during last August's Boston Free Speech Rally.
Brandon Navom, who now lives in Lowell, said the mayor's comments cost him his job and opened him up to threats after falsely claiming associations with white supremacists and other hate groups.
"My reputation has been ruined and I will suffer emotional and economic loss the rest of my life because of Mayor Marty Walsh's high profile defamatory comments," the suit reads.
A request for comment from Walsh's office was not returned by press time Tuesday.
The suit was filed Monday in Berkshire Superior Court by Pittsfield attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo, who also was a scheduled speaker at the Boston Free Speech Rally.
Del Gallo said he was invited by another rally organizer to speak as a "progressive."
Navom said he was one of the organizers of the Aug. 19 rally, but ultimately chose not to participate in it, according to the suit. The rally drew a few dozen participants to Boston Common — and tens of thousands of protesters.
It was held a week after a rally in Charlottesville, Va., which was attended by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, ended in violence and the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Navom appeared on an event flyer and on a television newscast, which identified him as an organizer who was scheduled to speak.
According to the suit, Walsh characterized the speakers as "white supremacists," "hate group members," and "neo-Nazis," despite none of them being affiliated with those groups.
"The Mayor's statements were either knowing lies or reckless false statements," the suit reads.
The suit alleges Walsh's comments were made with malice and showed a "reckless disregard for the truth," and served his own political purposes, according to the suit. A simple Google search would have alerted the mayor that none of the speakers were affiliated with hate groups, the suit alleges.
"There is no doubt that Mayor Marty Walsh was aware of such information but made his defamatory statements nonetheless with malice and for political gain," the suit claims.
It cites an Aug. 14 entry on the Anti-Defamation League's website, which noted significant differences between the Charlottesville rally and what was expected in Boston a week later.
"Unlike Charlottesville, the Boston event, as currently planned, is not a white supremacist gathering," according to the league's website.
The league went on to describe the Boston rally as having been organized "under the auspices of the alt lite, which embraces civic nationalism, rather than the alt right, which advocates white nationalism."
"But while the alt right and alt lite are theoretically distinct, there is crossover between them. There are a number of people and groups who walk the line between alt right and alt lite, to the extent that it's not always easy, or even possible, to tell which side they're on," according to the group.
The group did acknowledge that one of the scheduled Boston speakers, Augustus Invictus — born Austin Mitchell Gillespie of Orlando, Fla. — was involved in the planning of the Charlottesville rally and has ties to the alt-right political movement, but it also noted he had been "uninvited" to the event and would not be attending.
The group's website included biographies of the scheduled speakers, including Navom.
In its biography, the group described Navom as a software engineer who ran for Lowell City Council in 2013 and identifies as a Libertarian who attended the party's national convention as a delegate in 2016.
Navom also was a delegate for then-candidate Ron Paul in 2012 and "propagates the conspiracy theory that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered for political reasons," the biography states.
In Facebook posts leading up to the rally, the organizers of Boston Free Speech distanced themselves from the organizers of the Charlottesville rally.
"We will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry. We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence," the statement reads. "We believe that the way to defeat and disarm toxic ideas and ideologies is through dialogue and reason."
The suit alleges Walsh was aware of all of this when he made his statements.
In the time before and after the rally, Walsh allegedly referred to rally organizers as white supremacists, hate groups and neo-Nazis, characterized rally participants as "spewing hate," and made references to the state and city "rejecting hate."
"Mayor Marty Walsh's libelous statements were large and substantial statements mischaracterizing the organizers, speakers and invited attendees as white supremacists, haters or members of hate groups; these were not `minor inaccuracies," according to the suit.
The suit alleges Walsh made the comments to score political points and to portray himself as a "social justice knight," attacking anti-Semitism, white supremacy and racism.
Navom claimed Walsh's statements led to a loss of his software consulting job, and led to him being subjected to an "internet hate mob," which tracked him down and harassed his former employer until he was fired.
"They let me go simply because my name was on the list of speakers," according to Navom, who said the same mob exposed his personal information, including his home address, and threatened to send people after him.
His attorney, Rinaldo Del Gallo, of Pittsfield, said the suit was filed in Berkshire County rather than Suffolk County due to concerns about getting a fair trial in the Boston area.
Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.
October 25, 2017
I see you are the Attorney representing a man who wanted to speak as a Libertarian at Boston's Free Speech event this past summer, which was one week after the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Your client was terminated from his job due to his association with the aforementioned event in Boston that Mayor Marty Walsh spoke out against.
Please share your thoughts about President Donald Trump and his staff who are associated with the alt-right movement that has taken hold in both Europe and the United States of America. What are your beliefs on Neo-Nazis, White Supremacy, White Nationalism, and the alt-right movement?
As your friend, I wish to explain my views on the alt-right movement. I condemn it! I believe in Human Rights for All Peoples and people. I believe that the alt-right movement is totally immoral. It stands for everything this country stands against. We fought Hitler in WW2 and his violent, hateful ideology should have died with him in the Spring of 1945.
As for your lawsuit against the Mayor of Boston, I believe there is a relation or correlation between the Charlottesville, Virginia event one week prior to the Boston Free Speech event this past summer. To say there was no relation or correlation is wrong! The alt-right is both overt and COVERT! I disagree with you about Marty Walsh's stand on the event he spoke out against. I believe Marty Walsh did the right thing! He spoke his beliefs and showed himself to be a man of conscience who represents all of Boston's diverse residents.
“Lawyer sues Boston officials for 1st Amendment violations”
By Bob McGovern, Dan Atkinson, The Boston Herald, November 15, 2017
A self-styled Bernie Sanders progressive has hit city officials with a lawsuit for what he called “extreme violations” of the First Amendment at this summer’s Free Speech Rally — and he wants local authorities barred from repeating those alleged actions this weekend at another Boston Common event.
“I have never seen such extreme violations of the First Amendment, and I don’t think there has been anything like it in decades,” said Rinaldo Del Gallo, the attorney and former state Senate candidate from Pittsfield who brought the suit. “If municipalities are allowed to act like this, you can kiss the First Amendment goodbye.”
He argues in the federal civil suit that Boston officials prevented him from speaking at the Aug. 19 Free Speech Rally, that people weren’t allowed near the Parkman Bandstand to hear the speakers, and that event organizers weren’t allowed to use “sufficient amplification” to have their voices heard.
He added that the media was improperly barred from the bandstand.
Del Gallo filed the suit against Mayor Martin J. Walsh, police Commissioner William B. Evans, Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner Christopher Cook and several unnamed police officers last week.
He is asking for $500 million for what he called “unprecedented” free-speech violations.
“We just want it to be known that the damages here were serious,” he said. “These were ridiculous measures to squash free speech, and we don’t want the city to do this again. This can’t be a slap on the wrist.”
He is also asking that a federal judge block authorities from interfering with the “Rally for the Republic” — an event run by the Resist Marxism group, which is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common.
The city and police declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.
At a press conference yesterday at City Hall, organizers of the rally said they will also file suit against the city if officials attempt to shut down the gathering, which was not granted a permit.
“If a patriotic group such as ours continues to be discriminated against by the city, we are prepared to take legal action,” said John Medlar, an organizer of the Resist Marxism rally. “The mayor can explain to his constituents why taxpayer money is being used to pay for lawsuits.”
Boston police spokesman Lt. Det. Michael McCarthy said local authorities have been in communication with “all parties who are planning events this weekend.”
“We will have adequate resources in place to ensure the safety of all those attending the events,” he said, in an email. “We do not anticipate any issues with crowd size or planned events happening this weekend.”
Del Gallo is separately representing Brandon Navom, a Free Speech Rally organizer, in a civil defamation suit against Walsh.
The state lawsuit accuses the mayor of lying for characterizing the event organizers as “white supremacists.”
Rinaldo Del Gallo
“Pittsfield attorney's federal suit: First Amendment rights violated at 'Boston Free Speech' rally”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, The Berkshire Eagle, November 16, 2017
SPRINGFIELD — A Pittsfield attorney and former state senate candidate has a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Boston and several Boston officials, including Mayor Martin Walsh, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated at the "Boston Free Speech" rally in August.
A motion for a preliminary injunction in the case will be heard Friday in Springfield.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, a self-described progressive, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Springfield on Nov. 11, claiming that Walsh, Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans, Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner Christopher Cook and more than 300 police officers infringed on his constitutional rights at the August rally by not allowing him to enter the Parkman Bandstand in the Boston Common to speak, not allowing sufficient amplification for the speakers and preventing members of the press from being close enough to the speakers to sufficiently cover the event.
Del Gallo is seeking $250 million in actual damages from each defendant and $250 million in punitive damages, as well as the preliminary injunction allowing Resist Marxism to hold its upcoming scheduled "Rally for the Republic" gathering in the Boston Common on Saturday, during which he'll be allowed to speak.
A preliminary injunction is a court order filed before a final determination of the merits of a legal case.
"I've literally never heard of it happening," Del Gallo said Wednesday about the alleged limitations put on speakers and the media at the public rally in August. "It was kind of shocking."
On Aug. 19, the Boston Free Speech Coalition held the "Free Speech Rally" on the Boston Common. The event took place one week after a woman was killed and scores were injured at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., when a car plowed into counter-protesters.
The organizers of the Boston event had planned their rally before the attack in Charlottesville and had adamantly tried to distance themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who incited the violence in Virginia.
Still, the Boston rally drew more than 40,000 counter-protesters who chanted anti-Nazi slogans and overpowered the small group of Free Speech rally attendees.
It also drew a massive police presence and policies that Del Gallo alleges were "repressive."
"The Boston Free Speech Rally of August 19, 2017, ironically became one of the greatest specimens of the repression of free speech by a municipality," Del Gallo wrote in the complaint.
Del Gallo was invited to speak at the event by one of the organizers, John Medlar, to add a progressive voice to the rally.
While Del Gallo said he doesn't agree with the "alternative right," he is an advocate for free speech and attended the rally in support of the cause.
When he arrived at the bandstand in August, police security kept ushering him from gate to gate, and eventually that police presence, as well as restrictions, prevented him from speaking, he said.
"I knew that the people there were not going to be white supremacists," Del Gallo said. "I figured it out, but he (Walsh) didn't."
When contacted by The Eagle, Medlar declined to comment on Del Gallo's lawsuit and referred questions about Saturday's rally to the Resist Marxism website.
Those who attended the August rally, including members of the media, couldn't hear those who had the opportunity to speak because they were not allowed to use amplification other than bullhorns, Del Gallo said.
The media were kept outside a "buffer zone" and were unable to hear the speakers, he added.
Del Gallo is not the only person who took issue with media access to the August event.
In October, the New England First Amendment Coalition, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the New England chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Massachusetts sent the city a joint letter in response to the August rally. In it, they requested a meeting to discuss how the city can provide security while also protecting First Amendment rights and demanding increased press access to public demonstrations on the Boston Common.
On Thursday, the groups filed an amicus brief in Del Gallo's case, not taking the side of either party, but rather requesting that the judge order that media be allowed close-up access to public areas where speakers assemble Saturday and ensure that no member of the press is given less access than any member of the public.
John Ward, a spokesman for the ACLU of Massachusetts, said Wednesday that the organization is sending "legal observers" to Saturday's event to make sure press access isn't limited.
"Nobody from the Boston Free Speech Rally appointed the Boston Police to be gatekeepers — nonetheless they repeatedly refused my demands to be allowed to go to the Parkman Bandstand," Del Gallo said about the August rally.
In a response to the motion for a preliminary injunction that was filed Wednesday, an attorney for the city and named defendants called Del Gallo's claims about the August rally "factually inaccurate."
Del Gallo was permitted to enter the "cordoned off" area near the bandstand and was granted access by a police officer, but by the time he arrived to speak, at about 12:30 p.m., the program had concluded and officers were "extricating rally participants to a safe location," wrote attorney Eugene L. O'Flaherty, who represents the city of Boston.
In the motion for a preliminary injunction, Del Gallo requests access to speak and access for the media to Saturday's Rally for the Republic event, where speakers will not be separated from "non-protesting audience members."
He also wants a federal court judge to order the city to allow a "quality sound system" to be used and for the city to provide several dates for similar rallies in the spring, summer and next fall.
On Sept. 18, Mark Sahady, a representative of the Resist Marxism group, applied for a permit for the Parkman Bandstand with the Boston Department of Parks and Recreation for Saturday's "patriotic themed" rally.
On Oct. 26, the agency denied the group's permit because Saturday morning was booked by another organization for a 5-kilometer footrace, but it offered a permit for Sunday, which the group didn't accept.
Resist Marxism said in a statement that it intends on holding the event at noon Saturday, without a permit, because it finds the reasoning behind the denial "insufficient" and it took too long for the city to respond to the application.
"Their actions give the appearance that there are other reasons for the permit denial rather than just bureaucratic inefficiency," the statement read.
O'Flaherty said in opposition to the motion that because Del Gallo wasn't the person to file a request for permits in either rally, he does not have the right to seek relief on behalf of the organizers.
The city already has told organizers that, despite their lack of a permit, it will not interfere with the right of any individual, including Del Gallo, to speak on the Boston Common on Saturday, and so therefore Del Gallo also can't show a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction, which is a requirement for the pre-emptive judicial intervention, O'Flaherty wrote.
"Therefore, there is no actual claim which justifies the Court's intervention," he said. "Moreover, it is important to note that while a special event permit from the (Boston Parks and Recreation Department) is required to reserve a particular location within Boston's Parks for exclusive access or to arrange a larger-scale event that includes staging or sound amplification, an individual is in no way restricted from exercising his (or) her right to speak in a traditional public forum such as the Boston Common."
The city defended its denial of the permit for Saturday, referencing the more than 40,000 counter-protesters, confiscation of dangerous weapons, assaults on officers and members of the public and dozens of arrests made at the August rally.
Del Gallo called the city's response to his motion "poppycock," and that anyone whose constitutional rights were encroached on could have filed suit, regardless of whether their name was on the application for a permit.
Del Gallo also said he is "shocked" that the city would say he was allowed access when he recorded a video that shows otherwise.
"If they have no intention of interfering with the media this time, then they should have no problem with the (court) order," Del Gallo said.
Mayor Walsh's office declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.
In regard to the high dollar amounts sought in the suit, Del Gallo said he doesn't realistically expect to be awarded millions of dollars in damages, but he claimed the damages in an effort to not set an upper limit to what he could be granted.
The monetary damages of First Amendment violations are immeasurable, Del Gallo said.
"I don't really expect to walk away with almost half a billion dollars," he said. "It's just a pleading technique."
If the judge doesn't intervene before Saturday, Del Gallo expects that counter-protesters might try to block access to the bandstand or try to drown out the Resist Marxism speakers.
"There's a likelihood of havoc if there's no judge order" before Saturday, Del Gallo said.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at email@example.com, at @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.
"My big question for you, Mr. Del Gallo, is who are you and what are we here for?" Judge Michael A. Ponsor
“No injunction for Boston rally; federal judge denies request by Pittsfield's Rinaldo Del Gallo for action against the city”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, The Berkshire Eagle, November 17, 2017
SPRINGFIELD— Despite a Pittsfield attorney's lengthy argument on Friday, a federal court judge didn't order the City of Boston to issue a permit for Saturday's planned Resist Marxism: Rally for the Republic.
The City of Boston had already said it would not interfere with the rally.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, a scheduled speaker for Saturday's rally, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Springfield on Nov. 11 alleging that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans, Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner Christopher Cook and more than 300 police officers infringed on his constitutional rights at the August "Free Speech Rally" in Boston by not allowing him to enter the Parkman Bandstand to speak, not allowing sufficient amplification for the speakers and preventing members of the press from being close enough to the speakers to sufficiently cover the event.
In a motion for a preliminary injunction, which was heard Friday, Del Gallo requested a preemptive judicial order that the city change its policies at Saturday's free speech rally, but Judge Michael A. Ponsor denied the motion after expressing confusion why Del Gallo, who is not an organizer of the event, brought the suit in his own name.
"My big question for you, Mr. Del Gallo, is who are you and what are we here for?" Ponsor said at the hearing in Federal Court on Friday. The rally "is being initiated by someone who isn't in the courtroom and isn't being represented and that's a problem that we're going to have to wrestle with."
Del Gallo said he filed the motion to ensure that if the city did not stand by its word that it wouldn't interfere with the rally, that city officials could face "criminal" repercussions.
On Aug. 19, the Boston Free Speech Coalition held the "Free Speech Rally" on the Boston Common. The event took place one week after a woman was killed and scores were injured at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., when a car plowed into counter-protesters.
The organizers of the Boston event had planned their rally before the attack in Charlottesville and had adamantly tried to distance themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who incited the violence in Virginia.
Still, the Boston rally drew more than 40,000 counter-protesters who chanted anti-Nazi slogans and overpowered the small group of Free Speech rally attendees. Boston police officers spent the day securing the area that surrounded the bandstand, where assaults broke out and weapons and tactical gear were confiscated. Dozens of arrests were made.
Del Gallo said that police violated his free speech that day by not letting him get to the bandstand where he was scheduled to speak, but Nicole Taub, a senior attorney for the Boston Police Department said in court that officers weren't preventing him from speaking, but by the time he arrived the city had already started evacuating the event organizers from the area in a police van due to violence that broke out. Del Gallo was also evacuated from the area.
"It was for that reason that Mr. Del Gallo was not prevented from speaking, but (rather) prevented from entering the area where there was public discord," Taub said.
Del Gallo rejected the city's explanation and said he had a cellphone video that shows police officers denying him access to the area. In the video, which he played prior to the hearing and posted on his Facebook page, Del Gallo can be heard shouting threats that he would sue officers for not let him move to the bandstand.
On September 18, Mark Sahady, an organizer from the free speech activist group, Resist Marxism, filed a permit for a subsequent free speech rally to be held Saturday.
On Oct. 26, however, the city's department of Parks and Recreation denied the permit because of an already scheduled charity 5K roadrace in the area, but offered the group the permit for the next day.
Resist Marxism declined to accept the permit for the next day and said they would continue to hold the event as they had planned to on the 18th and the city had said it would not interfere with it, would allow them amplification and not restrict the media from covering it.
Del Gallo called the permit denial "viewpoint discrimination" and argued that the city took too long to respond to Sahady's application to intentionally "throw a wrench" in their plans. Speakers had already bought plane tickets and booked hotels in Boston, he argued.
Del Gallo said that without a permit, many speakers declined to attend because they were concerned of a standoff with police. Del Gallo identified Gavin McInnes, a founder of the far-right men's organization "Proud Boys," as one of the speakers who said he wouldn't come without a permit. Taub said that the permit was rejected for the requested date because of the already permitted race, paired with concerns of public safety and logistical issues.
Ponsor questioned why, if the city was engaging in viewpoint discrimination, it would offer the group a permit for the following day. He also told Del Gallo that he didn't have standing to argue irreparable harm on behalf of those attendees who are not a party in the suit and that he didn't show how he will suffer if the injunction is not ordered.
Ruth Bourquin, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, spoke briefly at the hearing.
While the ACLU made it clear it was not taking a side in DeGallo's case, Bourquin argued on behalf of members of the press who claim they were kept in an area where they were unable to hear or interview speakers at the August event.
She spoke in support of Del Gallo's injunction, only where it requested media access be unrestricted.
"I think it's uncontested that the media were subjected to very severe restrictions," she said. "As the city has said they have indicated that they do not intend to impose those restrictions again they have been very careful not to say they will not impose" the restrictions.
Ponsor denied the motion, calling Del Gallo's arguments "quite weak," but said there was a possibility his mind could be changed as the case progressed towards a trial. He said he is "not convinced" that moving the event one day would have caused significant harm to Del Gallo or the organizers of the event because they had three weeks' notice and could have rescheduled.
"I've had weddings that have done that. These things happen," Ponsor said. "I do not see significant harm to the plaintiff."
Ponsor also said he believes the city's stance that there are significant logistical and public safety concerns related to the rally. "We know what happened in Charlottesville. We know what happened in August," Ponsor said. "We are all aware of how easily these events can get out of control."
"We're willing to risk our lives for the First Amendment," Del Gallo said. "I'm in fear for my life but I'm going to show up and exercise my First Amendment."
Bourquin will also attend the rally as a "legal observer" taking note of any restrictions imposed on members of the press.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.
“President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, an ex-sheriff accused of profiling Latinos, after saying he was ‘convicted for doing his job’”
The New York Times, August 25, 2017
President Trump on Friday pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose aggressive efforts to hunt down and detain undocumented immigrants made him a national symbol of the divisive politics of immigration and earned him a criminal contempt conviction.
Mr. Trump, who made cracking down on illegal immigration a signature campaign issue and had pressed for local officials to do more to assist federal authorities in rounding up undocumented people, had been openly flirting with the idea of pardoning Mr. Arpaio.
President Trump has granted a pardon to Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., his press secretary said in a statement Friday night.
Arpaio, 85, was found guilty of criminal contempt last month for his defiance of a judge’s order against prolonging traffic patrols targeting immigrants.
credit: Boston Globe.
“Concentration Camps Expert Says Trump Just Endorsed The Idea Of Them In U.S.”
“Historically, when this kind of thing has happened, it’s encouraged other people to take up the same tactics.”
By Sam Levine, Associate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post, August 26, 2017
President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio amounts to an endorsement of the idea of concentration camps, says a journalist who has reported on the global history of the deadly facilities.
Arpaio referred to his own county jail as a ”concentration camp.” For over two decades, he operated “Tent City,” where detainees were kept in brutal conditions, including temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees Farenheit. They were also forced to work on chain gangs and to wear pink undergarments as a form of humiliation. Arpaio was convicted in July of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order prohibiting the detention of people based on mere suspicions about their legal status.
In an email to HuffPost Saturday, Andrea Pitzer, the author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, defined a concentration camp as a “mass civilian detention outside the standard legal process, usually on the basis of race, ethnicity, or political activity.” While Pitzer said Tent City was a prison technically constructed to hold those convicted by law, it bore familiar elements to a concentration camp, including “brutal dehuminization.”
“Once Arpaio began neighborhood sweeps and traffic stops deliberately targeting Latinos, and then detaining them without charges, his whole enterprise tilted further toward being a concentration camp for that set of detainees,” she wrote. “And even for those who had been convicted of crimes, it was a harrowing, often deadly experience.”
Pitzer said Trump pardoning Arpaio legitimized the 85-year-old former sheriff’s operation.
“When it was just Arpaio and his deputies doing it, it was a freelance, loose-cannon operation. What happened yesterday is that the President of the United States put his position behind it and used executive power to bless these tactics,” she wrote. “Historically, when this kind of thing has happened, it’s encouraged other people to take up the same tactics. I think we need to hear from the Department of Justice whether official guidance is forthcoming about the use of these strategies by law enforcement.”
The White House said Friday Arpaio deserved a pardon because of his history in law enforcement. Trump has faced widespread criticism for his decision to pardon Arpaio, including from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Jack Rosenthal survived the Holocaust, only to see neo-Nazi sentiments now rising in his adopted country.
“This Holocaust Survivor Noticed A Detail In Charlottesville You Might Have Missed”
“You see something like this, you know, it brings back memories and I’m concerned about what could happen in this country.”
By Alessandra Freitas, The Huffington Post, August 25, 2017
Shock and anger were common feelings for most Americans who followed the recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
To Jack Rosenthal, the hate-filled imagery was something he never thought he’d see again, at least not in the United States.
Rosenthal is one of 10,000 Romanian refugees who came to America after World War II. At 88 years old, he still mourns the loss of seven family members who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He was the only one to survive.
He was born and raised in a farming village in northern Romania. “Altogether in my village, there were 26 Jewish families,” Rosenthal told HuffPost. Most of them didn’t survive either.
He was 16 when he was taken to the German Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Later, he was transferred to Buchenwald, another camp near Weimar, Germany, where he was forced to work for the Nazis ― the only reason he was kept alive until U.S. military forces began to evacuate the camp’s 28,000 prisoners in 1945. He came to the U.S. hoping to find a new beginning.
“After I was liberated, I thought to myself the world has learned what terrible traces hate can bring to humanity,” he said. “And now this gives me a depressing feeling because it’s happening again, and it’s happening now.”
The successful real estate agent watched the protests from his home in Roslyn, New York, where he lives during the warmer months of the year. In the winter, Rosenthal flies to Florida.
Decades later, he remembers how hard it was to get settled in the U.S. while dealing with the trauma from the war. “When I came here, I used to get really bad nightmares and I would get up in middle of the night not being able to go back to sleep,” he said.
Those days of lingering fear and uncertainty felt much closer after watching neo-Nazis rage during the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, he said. But after all the anti-Semitic speeches and the deadly car attack, it was one particular detail that caught Rosenthal’s attention.
He noticed it while reading about a Aug. 14 court hearing for James Alex Fields Jr., the man accused of plowing his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the white nationalist rally, leaving a 32-year-old woman dead and injuring at least 19 other people. The article included a photo of Matthew Heimbach, who had helped promote the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, voicing his displeasure outside the courtroom after a judge denied bail for Fields.
The white supremacist’s T-shirt was the first thing Jack saw. On the shirt was a picture of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, a pre-WWII leader of the Romanian fascist Legion of Saint Michael the Archangel and the Iron Guard political party, which were both linked to the Nazi party.
White nationalist leader Matthew Heimbach yells at the media outside the Charlottesville General Courthouse on Aug. 14, 2017. credit: Justin Ide, Reuters.
Codreanu was the face behind pogroms in Romania. The large-scale violent riots killed tens of thousands of Romanian Jews during the 1930s leading up to the Holocaust.
“I recognized the name right away,” Rosenthal said. “You see something like this, you know, it brings back memories and I’m concerned about what could happen in this country,” he said.
The groups behind the Unite the Right rally are not the only ones of their kind. According to a February report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 917 hate groups exist throughout the country.
Many Americans were concerned when President Donald Trump failed to immediately condemn white supremacy in responding to the Charlottesville violence. Instead, Trump blamed both sides of the protests ― a point he repeated on Tuesday.
“You cannot compare fascism and Nazis to the other people protesting. Maybe there are people on both sides who are misguided, but there is simply no comparison,” Rosenthal said.
And he reminded us that the consequences of going through horrific violence never really end. “It’s 70 years after the war and it still has a tremendous impact on me,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget and that’ll always be with me as long as I live.”
"On the Agenda in Washington"
MSNBC cable television, September 4, 2017
#1 - Hurricane Harvey relief funding
#2 - Pass a budget, Raise the debt ceiling; Keep the government open
#3 - Reform tax-code and health care insurance
#4 - Russia probes
“Dreamers face long odds with GOP Congress”
The Hill, September 5, 2017
President Trump is calling for congressional action on immigration reform, but early indications suggest his Republican allies, particularly in the Senate, have little inclination to take up the thorny issue.
“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” the president tweeted Tuesday, hours before Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced the decision to roll back a key Obama-era immigration program over the next six months.
The president notably did not mention the other issues facing Congress this month, including hard deadlines to fund the government and raise the federal borrowing limit.
“TRUMP TO END DACA”, September 5, 2017, via Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the New York Times: “President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era executive action that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling the program an ‘amnesty-first approach’ and urging Congress to replace it with legislation before it begins phasing out on March 5, 2018. ... As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to comment on it.”
“Jeff Sessions Once Said Restrictions on Jewish and Italian Immigration Were ‘Good for America’”
By Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate.com – September 5, 2017
Jeff Sessions' history of involvement with the white nationalist/supremacist alt-right movement is illustrated by his remarks he made in 2015 during a radio interview with Steve Bannon.
“In seven years we'll have the highest percentage of Americans, non-native born, since the founding of the Republic. Some people think we've always had these numbers, and it's not so, it's very unusual, it's a radical change. When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly, we then assimilated through the 1965 [Immigration Act] and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America. We passed a law that went far beyond what anybody realized in 1965, and we're on a path to surge far past what the situation was in 1924.”
The Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 is one of the most infamously racist laws in American history, having been passed by advocates of Nazi-style eugenics in order to cut down on the number of Jews, Italians, and other allegedly inferior groups who were allowed into the United States. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, was designed consciously to halt the immigration of supposedly "dysgenic" Italians and eastern European Jews.
“Senate approves resolution condemning white supremacist groups”
The Hill, September 11, 2017
The Senate easily passed a resolution on Monday condemning white supremacist organizations and urging President Trump to speak out against hate groups.
The Senate measure formally condemns "the violence and domestic terrorist attack" that occurred last month around a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
In addition to urging Trump and the administration to publicly push back against hate groups, the resolution urges Trump and his Cabinet to "address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States."
25 million people live in North Korea! If we annihilate North Korea with U.S. nuclear weapons, Donald Trump will kill twice the number of people compared to Hitler's Holocaust.
We killed over one million Vietnamese people in the year of 1968 alone. During the U.S. conflict in Vietnam, we killed over 5 million Vietnamese people. That is one million people less than how many Jewish people were exterminated in Hitler's Holocaust.
During the Iraq Wars that the two Bushes ordered, we killed well over one million people in the Middle East.
Let us add up the number of people we have killed in Vietnam, Iraq, and Trump's threat to annihilate North Korea. That number comes in at well over 31 million people killed!
How are we any better than Hitler? The U.S. War Machine kills people! Let us not forget that when Trump threatens to annihilate North Korea, that we will kill over 25 million people!
- Jonathan Melle
“The White House announced a new travel ban targeting 7 countries, including Iran and North Korea. This ban is considered indefinite.”
The New York Times, September 24, 2017
President Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.
Starting next month, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be indefinitely banned from entering the United States, Mr. Trump said in a proclamation released Sunday night. Citizens of Iraq and some groups of people in Venezuela who seek to visit the United States will face restrictions or heightened scrutiny.
Letter: “Ignore Trump, back constitutional rights”
The Berkshire Eagle, September 29, 2017
To the editor:
I suppose that President Trump's lack of historical perspective includes this: in Hitler's Germany the Nazis severely punished Jehovah's Witnesses for refusing to raise their hands in the mandatory Hitler salute. Nevertheless, Mr. Trump calls professional athletes who refuse to stand for our flag "sons of bitches" and demands that the team owners fire them for this modest and peaceful exercise of their constitutional rights under the First Amendment.
This issue was definitively resolved by the Supreme Court 70 years ago in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). In rejecting the practice of enforced American flag salutes, Justice Robert Jackson, writing for the Court, said that "we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds." When Trump demands that professional teams fire any athlete who declines to salute the flag, he is promoting management conduct that would be patently unconstitutional.
Trump's unsolicited and patently erroneous legal advice to professional team owners is deeply distressing. Perhaps even worse is his attempt to persuade the public to punish the players and the owners for conduct that is protected by our Constitution. Because I love this country, our flag and the Constitution, I support the kneeling players and respect and thank the team owners. I ask that all Americans join me in this regard.
Donald S. Coburn, Monterey
“Trump ramps up the culture war”
The Hill, October 15, 2017
President Trump is expanding the culture wars, launching new attacks against institutions that he views as liberal, elitist or both.
With his agenda stalled in Congress and his poll numbers sagging, Trump has kept his base engaged and the left inflamed by escalating feuds with key figures in sports, entertainment, tech and media, effectively dragging politics into every corner of public life.
Trump’s aim is straightforward: To convince voters that there is a privileged class that scoffs at their patriotism and cares more about political correctness and diversity than ordinary Americans, their traditions and their economic plight.
Letter: “Trump rewards the haters”
The Berkshire Eagle, October 29, 2017
To the editor:
A recent letter writer argued that claiming that all of those who voted for Donald Trump were racist is counterproductive to real discourse. I agree. So, not all who voted for Donald Trump are bigoted, racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic white supremacists. However, let's be clear: It is also true that all the bigoted, racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic white supremacists voted for him and he has rewarded them with his validation.
Leon Serra, Pittsfield
Letter: “Speak out against Trump-era fascism”
The Berkshire Eagle, November 6, 2017
To the editor:
Anxiety by patriotic Republican Senators Corker, Flake and McCain, as well as President Bush about President Trump and the direction the GOP is taking, are being ignored by Republicans in Congress. Despite private concerns, Republicans politicians have about Trump, they avoid public criticism and embrace his thinly veiled racism, protectionism, attempts to crush a free press ("fake news") or other opposing views. They ignore his embracing alternate reality and blatant lying, and his criticisms of longstanding allies from democratic countries while admiring American enemies with totalitarian regimes.
Presumably, elected Republicans assume that they must follow Trump to win elections. Such expediency sounds eerily familiar and troubling to someone like me who was born in Germany during the rise of fascism. Both the German public and opposing politicians assumed that Hitler was a crackpot who would soon disappear, until it was too late.
When Trump was criticized on NBC, his response was to threaten cancelling their license, a classical fascist tactic. It is not too late now to sound the alarm and oppose Trump's radical neo-fascist views. Crushing defeats for Trump and his supporters in future elections are needed to show that his message of "from the needy to the greedy" and his neo-fascist views are unacceptable in this democratic, diverse, generous and wonderful country.
The survival of our democracy demands that we invest time and resources to assure GOP defeats in upcoming elections. Failure to do so imperils the survival of our democracy. Pastor Martin Niem ller, the German theologian and Lutheran pastor, sounded this immortal warning about the failure of Germans to oppose Hitler's rise to power:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me."
Let us heed Pastor Niem ller's warning in the age of Trump, before it is too late.
Sigmund Tobias, Pittsfield
“The Trump administration is ending a program that allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live legally in the U.S. after the 2010 earthquake”
The New York Times, November 20, 2017
The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, officials said.
Haitians with what is known as temporary protected status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.
“The British prime minister’s office said President Trump was “wrong” to share anti-Muslim videos by U.K. nationalists, a rare rebuke by an ally”
The New York Times, November 29, 2017
Mr. Trump retweeted the video posts from an ultranationalist British party leader, Jayda Fransen.
“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” the office of Theresa May, the British prime minister, said in a statement.
"Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans allowed to live in the United States of America temporarily after two earthquakes in 2001 must leave, the Trump administration said"
The New York Times, January 8, 2018
Nearly 200,000 from El Salvador who have been allowed to live in the United States of America for more than a decade must leave the country, two government officials familiar with the decision said on Monday. It is the Trump administration's latest reversal of immigration policies and one of the most consequential to date.
Letter: "El Salvador policy may end a dream"
The Berkshire Eagle, January 11, 2018
To the editor:
On Monday, Feb. 28, 2000, early in the morning, I left my house in San Vicente, El Salvador and said goodbye to my four kids who stayed behind with my aunt. Leaving my family was the hardest day of my life but as a single parent, I knew I needed to find something better for my family.
Coming to the United States, a country that is totally different than my country, was not easy for me. I was in California for two years, living with my sister and her family. Working two jobs in order to send money back to El Salvador for my kids, and having no car nor my own place to live was very difficult. Working and working was all I did to be able to support my kids. I missed them so much, but I had no choice.
In July 5, 2002, I moved to Massachusetts with my cousins and started to work again. I met very nice people and worked two jobs again to continue supporting my kids.
In 2005, my daughter Tatiana came and that changed my life a little bit and in 2006, the rest of my kids came to the U.S. We were moving from place to place as my family was growing. I didn't care because I had all the ones I loved the most.
In 2009, I was able to get a mortgage and buy a house where we were able to move in. I kept working and working and in 2016, I was able to get approved for my second mortgage and bought my second house for our growing family.
In 2017, I made the decision of finally doing something for me. I started going to the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center and am trying to earn a GED. I would love to go to college and pursue a business management degree or maybe even become a teacher but my dream may be squashed if I am forced to return to El Salvador.
As I await my fate, I rely on the faith that I have in God.
Isabel Orellana, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Steve Bannon, once President Trump’s chief adviser, has stepped down from his role as executive chairman at Breitbart News, the conservative website that has been called the “platform for the alt-right,” Breitbart announced Tuesday.
The move comes amid pressure from Rebekah Mercer, a major conservative donor, according to the New York Times.
Bannon was recently quoted in a new book by Michael Wolff as calling Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russians in Trump Tower “treasonous.”
Source: The Boston Globe, January 9, 2018.
"Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff and immigration hard-liner who was pardoned by President Trump, is running for Senate"
The New York Times, January 9, 2018
The move by Mr. Arpaio, who just six months ago faced the prospect of a jail sentence for criminal contempt, upends the race to replace Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican who abandoned his 2018 re-election campaign after coming under criticism from Mr. Trump.
“Being a U.S. senator is a little different than being the sheriff, because you can do a lot of things in the U.S. Senate, and I have many plans, believe me,” Mr. Arpaio told the Washington Examiner in announcing his bid. “I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump.”
"Using vulgar language, President Trump said the U.S. should welcome immigrants from Norway, not places like Haiti or Africa"
The New York Times, January 11, 2018
President Trump on Wednesday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and African countries, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than people from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.
"Justice Department to appeal court's DACA ruling"
The Hill, January 16, 2018
The Department of Justice is appealing a federal district court judge’s decision to block the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The DOJ said it filed a notice of its appeal to the 9th Circuit Court’s decision and intends later this week to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the merits of the case so the issue can be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved."
"The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to President Trump’s travel ban, which imposes limits on nations said to threaten national security"
The New York Times, January 19, 2018
The case concerns Mr. Trump’s third and most considered bid to make good on a campaign promise to secure the nation’s borders. But challengers to the latest ban, issued as a presidential proclamation in September, said it was tainted by religious animus and not adequately justified by national security concerns.
Re: Open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump
Dear Mr. President Donald Trump,
I watched CBS world news with my senior citizen parents earlier this evening, Wednesday, February 28, 2018. I was saddened and emotionally pained to see the tragic images of babies, toddlers, children, and people severely injured and dead in Syria by their evil dictator’s civil war. I told my parents that I wasn’t affected by the news since we watched CBS’ “60 Minutes” segment on the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting over 5 years ago. My mother told me to write to you and tell you how I feel. I request that you stop the evil dictator’s Syrian regime from killing and injuring babies, toddlers, children and civilian people. I request that you bring this evil dictator to justice. If I were in your shoes as U.S. President, I would immediately tell the international community to stop the Syrian Civil War by bringing the Syrian dictator and his military to justice. I will explain the sadness and emotional pain I felt to my new VA psychologist next week from what I saw on the news tonight when I watched on television the tragic images of injured and dead young children and people in Syria’s Civil War. In closing, I cannot believe that there are still crimes against humanity in our day and age. We are not powerless to stop evil dictators’ respective war crimes anymore!
Jonathan A. Melle
Donald Trump recently nominated Gina Haspel as the first woman to head the CIA. She tortured people for the CIA!
“Ms. Haspel’s background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also expressed skepticism about Haspel, given her background. “Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process,” he said.
Her promotion reflects President Trump’s sympathetic approach to torture. Trump has said he wants to bring back waterboarding.
Source: By Willa Frej, The Huffington Post, March 13, 2018
“Stormy Daniels Faces $20 Million in Damages in Trump Lawsuit”
By Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg Politics. March 16, 2018
Stormy Daniels may face more than $20 million in damages for violating a "hush agreement" that requires her to remain silent about an affair she alleges she had with President Donald Trump in 2006 and 2007.
The potential damages against Daniels, an actress in adult films whose real name is Stephanie Cliffords, were disclosed Friday in a filing in federal court in Los Angeles by Essential Consultants LLC, an entity that was set up by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in 2016 to pay her $130,000 in exchange for her silence.
The company moved the lawsuit, filed by Daniels last week in California state court against Trump, to federal court, saying that neither Daniels, Trump nor the LLC are California residents and the amount of damages exceeds the $75,000 limit for a case to proceed in state court. Trump supports the transfer of the case between courts, according to Essential Consultants’ filing.
“It could be a strategic move to intimidate them,” said Joseph Rothberg, a lawyer with Brutzkus Gubner Rozansky Seror Weber LLP in Woodland Hills, California. “They may be saying, ‘We’re not going to make it easy for you.”’
Federal judges, who are appointed by the president, are perceived as somewhat more conservative than California state court judges, who are elected, according to Rothberg, who isn’t involved in the case. On top of that, the anti-Trump sentiment in California may have played a role in the decision, Rothberg said.
Daniels faces $1 million in damages for each violation of the agreement, according to Friday’s filing. Essential Consultants said it will file a request at the earliest opportunity to force Daniels to arbitrate the case privately rather than to litigate it in open court.
She sued on March 6 to nullify the confidentiality agreement she says she struck with Cohen in October 2016, before the presidential election, to keep quiet about the alleged affair. She argues the document is invalid because Trump didn’t sign it, even though she took the $130,000 offered in exchange for her silence. Cohen has said he paid it himself, through a company he set up.
“The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20 million in bogus ‘damages’ against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is truly remarkable,” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, said in an emailed statement. “We are not going away and we will not be intimidated by these threats.”
“A former Playboy model, another woman who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump, is suing to be freed from a 2016 deal to remain silent”
The New York Times, March 20, 2018
The model, Karen McDougal, is suing the company that owns The National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which paid her $150,000 and whose chief executive is a friend of Mr. Trump’s.
“Sessions fires McCabe from FBI”
The Hill, March 16, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday fired Andrew McCabe, the number-two official at the FBI and a longtime target of President Trump.
His ouster comes just days before he was scheduled to retire on Sunday, after more than 20 years at the bureau. McCabe had already stepped down under pressure in January and has been on a leave of absence since.
"Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately," Sessions said in a statement Friday night.
March 29, 2018
Do you agree with a president who cheats on his 3rd wife, who just gave birth to her baby, with a porn star and a playboy bunny, but he won't own up to it?
Do you agree with a president who won't release his tax returns? What is he hiding?
Do you agree with a president who is under investigation for his campaign ties with Russia?
Do you agree with a president who declared business bankruptcy 4 times?
Do you agree with a president who hired white nationalists like Steve Bannon and the like?
Do you agree with a president who says he likes to grab women by their [meow]?
Do you agree with a president who discriminates against Muslims, Mexicans, Women, and other minority groups?
Do you agree with a president who has many women accusing him of sexual harassment, assault, and other kinds of inappropriate sexual behavior?
Do you agree with a president who treats authoritarian leaders like Putin with respect?
Do you agree with a president who taunts North Korea with nuclear annihilation, which would kill over 25 million human beings?
Do you agree with a president who uses tariffs and treaties to stunt the flow of free trade and markets?
- Jonathan Melle
“The F.B.I. raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer, seizing records on many topics, including payments to Stormy Daniels”
The New York Times, April 9, 2018
The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.
"The F.B.I. sought records on the “Access Hollywood” tape in its raid and any evidence that President Trump’s lawyer suppressed damaging reports"
The New York Times, April 11, 2018
The F.B.I. agents who raided the office and hotel of President Trump’s lawyer on Monday were seeking all records related to the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Mr. Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women, according to three people who have been briefed on the contents of a federal search warrant.
The search warrant also sought evidence of whether the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, tried to suppress damaging information about Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“In a blow to President Trump, a judge rejected a request by him and his lawyer to review files seized in F.B.I. raids before prosecutors do”
The New York Times, April 16, 2018
A federal judge on Monday rejected an attempt by President Trump and his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to block prosecutors in Manhattan from reviewing a trove of materials seized in F.B.I. raids last week on Mr. Cohen’s office, home, hotel room and safe deposit box.
“Trump calls Kim Jong Un 'very honorable'”
The Hill, April 24, 2018
President Trump on Tuesday called North Korea's leader a "very honorable" person and expressed hope their meeting will occur "as soon as possible."
“He really has been very open and, I think, very honorable from everything we're seeing," Trump said of Kim Jong Un during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House.
“The DACA program, which protects young immigrants, must resume and accept new applicants, a judge ruled in a major setback for President Trump”
The New York Times, April 24, 2018
Judge John D. Bates of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia said that the government’s decision to end the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was predicated on the “virtually unexplained” grounds that the program is “unlawful.”
The judge stayed his decision for 90 days, giving the Department of Homeland Security the opportunity to better explain its reasoning for canceling the program.
“Nationalists gain upper hand in Trump’s White House”
The Hill, April 25, 2018
The America Firsters are on the rise.
That’s the lesson some people in President Trump’s world are drawing from recent personnel moves.
In this telling, the populists and nationalists who powered Trump’s election are regaining a foothold as more establishment-friendly figures are marginalized.
But even as those developments please some of Trump’s most enthusiastic backers, they unnerve critics who fear what the president might do in the absence of more measured advice.
April 28, 2018
Re: Trump = Hate
Donald Trump should receive the Hate Prize!
* White nationalism
* Neo-Nazi Staff members such as Stephen Bannon
* Religious tests for Muslim immigrants
* Endorsed the use of torture
* Hawkish foreign policies
* Mocks the disabled
* Disparaged Mexicans and wants to build a border wall
* Moral hypocrite who cheated on all of his 3 respective wives
* Failed to condemn Neo-Nazi hate march in Charlottesville, Virgina
* Inequitable tax cuts that will see trillion dollar budget deficits
* In legal trouble with the Mueller “Russian collusion” investigation and the Stormy Daniels legal case
* Large numbers of staff turnover in his administration
* Will not release his federal tax returns; what is he hiding?
* Declared business bankruptcy 4 times over
* Disparages the news media every chance he gets
* DACA or “dreamers” program in limbo
* May 12th Iran nuclear deal deadline unresolved
* Wants a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census
* A.G. Jeff Sessions’ controversial and racist views on immigration policy
* Taunted the nuclear annihilation of tens of millions of people who live in North Korea
* Immature name-calling of political opponents
I am not alone in my criticisms of Donald Trump! He is a hateful politician! He is an embarrassment to our country and the World. He is a fascist who uses white nationalism to hurt Mexicans, Muslims, and Women. As for the economy, the stock market is volatile and the federal budget will have record deficits of over one trillion dollars! Many Republican Congressmen are retiring this year of 2018. House Speaker Paul Ryan knows the U.S. House of Representatives is going to flip to the Democrats with the midterm elections this year of 2018. The Republican Party is going to spend billions of dollars to try to hold onto power. I predict Trump will be a one-term prez if he isn’t impeached prior to 2020. I looked up “Moral Hypocrisy” in the Encyclopedia and I saw a picture of an orange pretzel that weighed close to 300-pounds!
- Jonathan Melle
“Impeachment looms large in White House midterm plans”
The Hill, April 30, 2018
President Trump wants to step up efforts to protect Republican control of the House in hopes of avoiding an impeachment debate and congressional investigations if Democrats seize the chamber, according to GOP sources.
“It is super important to the White House and really the whole White House is very focused on it,” said a source familiar with strategy talks about protecting the House majority.
“Our president is a bigot”
By Michael A. Cohen, op-ed, The Boston Globe, May 18, 2018
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said the following: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — we’re stopping a lot of them. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals.”
Trump’s comments came during a White House meeting about sanctuary city laws, and since then there have been several days of controversy as to whether Trump was referring to all immigrants or speaking specifically about the MS-13 gang, which has become a regular punching bag of the president. To be sure, calling any group of people “animals,” even criminals and gang members, is dehumanizing and gross and worthy of condemnation.
But the president’s supporters — as well as Trump himself, on social media — have criticized journalists for not providing the proper context for Trump’s statements and for daring to suggest that he was calling all immigrants “animals.”
Here’s some context on the president’s words.
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, he called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists.
He complained that a judge hearing a case related to Trump University was of Mexican heritage and thus could not be expected to treat him fairly.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump regularly highlighted crimes committed by undocumented immigrants to make the case for restrictive immigration laws, mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, and building a wall along the country’s southern border.
After a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., by a husband and wife who had pledged fealty to ISIS, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — not just ones that had been accused of or suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. Since then Trump regularly highlights incidents of terrorism committed by Muslims on Twitter while often ignoring violent acts by non-Muslims.
As president, Trump tried to enact a ban on Muslims entering the country from a host of predominately Muslim countries and has drastically reduced the number of Syrian refugees entering the country. In both cases, Trump’s justification was the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Trump used crude words to describe sub-Saharan African and Caribbean nations and said that he’d prefer higher rates of immigration from countries like Norway.
He said that immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that those from Nigeria should “go back to their huts.”
The president’s chief of staff was recently quoted as saying that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are “not people that would easily assimilate into the United States.” He said they are “overwhelmingly rural,” have poor education, don’t speak English, don’t have useful skills and “don’t integrate well.”
The Trump administration has taken away temporary protection status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, boasted of a policy – strongly pushed for by President Trump – that would forcibly separate parents from their children if they try to enter the country illegally.
In addition to all this, Trump has referred to white supremacists as “very fine people.” He’s questioned whether President Obama was born in the United States. He pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been held in criminal contempt by a federal court for unlawfully targeting and racially profiling Hispanics.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
The context for Trump’s comments is actually quite clear: The president is a vile bigot. He regularly demonizes and scapegoats immigrants and persons of color. He uses isolated examples of crime committed by immigrants and Muslims to justify racist policies that seek to limit nonwhite Americans from entering the country – and deport those who are already here. He’s done this repeatedly since he announced his candidacy for president, in June 2015.
His most adamant supporters will complain that the president, who struggles to speak in complete and coherent sentences and regularly uses out-of-context statements from his rivals to demonize and attack them, is being unfairly criticized for his “animals” comment. But these supporters are enablers and sycophants, who put tribal loyalty and partisanship ahead of truth and should not be taken seriously.
We know exactly who this president is and what he believes. Let’s not waste any more time trying to parse his words or give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a racist. Period.
Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.
“President Trump’s practice of blocking Twitter users who criticize him violates the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled”
The New York Times, Wednesday, May 23, 2018 2:39 PM EST
President Trump’s practice of blocking Twitter users who are critical of him from seeing his posts on the social media platform violates the First Amendment, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday.
The ruling came in a case brought by seven Twitter users who had been blocked by the @realDonaldTrump account after they criticized the president.
“New Fed data paint a vivid picture of two Americas”
By Mayra Rodríguez Valladares, Opinion contributor, The Hill, May 26, 2018
May 26, 2018
We often look to sociologists, politicians or pundits to tell us where we stand as a nation. Yet, far more incisive is the Federal Reserve’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017” published this week.
Data are powerful storytellers. The data tell a story of two Americas barely cohabiting within the same borders. One America is comprised of the people who are benefiting from a growing U.S. gross domestic product and having the lowest unemployment rate in 14 years.
This survey, now in its fifth year, had some uplifting information: 74 percent of adults responded that they were "ok financially" and living comfortably. This is 10 percentage points higher than five years ago.
The majority of survey respondents stated that they are "satisfied with the wages and benefits from their current job and are optimistic about their future job opportunities." Additionally, 95 percent of Americans have a bank account and hence are in a position to try to obtain credit if they needed it.
Yet, the data also tell a worrisome story about a vast swath of Americans being left behind in this country’s second-largest economic expansion in its history. These Americans’ plight should worry not only those affected, but also all of us as a nation whether we are legislators, central bankers, regulators or an ordinary resident.
Their plight, especially if it worsens, will have an effect on what legislative actions and policies will be needed to improve the living standards for everyone in this nation. Even setting moral considerations aside, leaving these people behind will impact our competitiveness in decades to come.
The job landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years, as evidenced by the fact that 30 percent of American adults are now in the gig economy. This may seem great in terms of allowing Americans more control of their leisure time.
The reality is that most people in the gig economy have to work much harder to have enough money to live, and they have to be able to cope with the risk and emotional strain of not having a stable, earnings stream.
Forty percent of adult Americans, or 100 million people, cannot cobble together $400 in cash for a medical emergency without selling a possession or going into debt. While the figure may appear better than five years ago, when it was 50 percent, the U.S. population has also grown since 2013.
Worse yet, 20 percent of adults cannot pay all of their current month’s bills in full, which means that they also get hit with penalty fees and risk being cut off from any credit. Sadly, 25 percent of American adults skipped necessary medical care because they couldn't afford it.
When you break out African- and Hispanic-American responses, only 66 percent state that they were doing "ok financially" as opposed to 75 percent for respondents as a whole. In all other categories, Hispanic- and African-Americans on average continue to have more hardships than Caucasians.
Most unfortunately, those 40 percent of Americans who are struggling are about to face even more hardships this year and in the foreseeable future since we are in a rising-interest-rate environment. Any variable-rate loan or credit card debt that they have already, or will take on, will be more expensive.
Late payments on credit cards in the U.S. have already been been rising, and as interest rates rise, those late payments are more likely to turn into defaults. Defaults lead to poor credit scores for those borrowers, which then shut them out of much of mainstream banking and often lead people to pay-day lenders who are barely regulated and where rates are bordering on usury.
Additionally, recent court and legal decisions are likely to make life worse for these already vulnerable groups. A recent court decision, Epic Systems Corporation vs. Lewis, compels workers into arbitration rather than allowing them to go to court when they are underpaid or discriminated.
Also troublesome are legislative changes and regulatory actions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that make it easier to discriminate against auto loan minority borrowers and to hurt student loan holders.
The Trump administration came into power on a populist campaign that stated he wanted to take care of the working class. He even made it a point to say that he loved the "poorly educated."
Unfortunately, similar to what happens in developing nations where populists reign, eventually the people will start to ask what has happened to the promises. Presently, the Federal Reserve data show that the Trump administration is not delivering to the very people whom he promised to help.
Mayra Rodríguez Valladares is managing principal of MRV Associates, which provides financial consulting, research and training on financial regulation issues. She has 25 years of financial regulatory experience from her time at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, JP Morgan and BT Alex. Brown. You can follow her on Twitter: @MRVAssoc.
The views expressed by opinion contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.