Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hate Unbound

The upcoming election is not really a choice between Republicans and Democrats. It is really a choice about the moral compass of America.

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Website

31 October 18

emagogues rarely commit violence directly. Instead, they use blame, ridicule, fear and hate – and then leave the violence to others. That way, they can always claim “it wasn’t me. I don’t have blood on my hands.”

Of the tens of millions of Americans that the Trump-Fox News regime has made fearful, only a small percentage – say, a hundred thousand – have been moved to hate the objects of that fear.

And of those hundred thousand, only a relative handful – say, a few thousand – have been motivated to act on that hate, posting loathsome messages online, sending death threats, spray-painting swastikas.

And of that few thousand, a tiny subset, perhaps no more than a hundred or so, have been moved to violence.

But make no mistake: This lineage of cause and effect begins with Trump and his Fox News propaganda machine.

Politicians and media moguls have long understood that fear and hate sell better than hope and compassion, no matter how much we might wish it otherwise. But before Trump, no president had based his office on it. And before Fox News, no major media outlet had based its ratings on it.

Ronald Reagan stoked racism by bashing “welfare queens” and George W. Bush by airing campaign ads featuring “Willie Horton,” but fear and hate weren’t the centerpieces of either presidency.

The two political operatives behind these campaigns bear mention, though: Lee Atwater, who had also been chairman of the Republican National Committee and a senior partner at the political consulting firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (yes, that Manafort and that Stone); and Roger Ailes, who went on to create and run Fox News.

Atwater and Ailes premised their careers on fear and hate. Ailes’s Fox News monetized fear and hate through phantom menaces like a “terror mosque” near Ground Zero, Barack Obama’s alleged connections to black nationalists and Muslims, and Sarah Palin’s fictitious “death panels.”

Trump took Atwater and Ailes to their logical extremes – building a political base by suggesting Obama wasn’t born in America; launching his presidential campaign by warning of “criminals” and “rapists” streaming across the Mexican border; and ending his campaign with an ad suggesting that prominent Jews — billionaire philanthropist George Soros, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen — were in league with Hillary Clinton to control the world.

Since taking office, Trump has ramped up fear and hatred – towards immigrants, journalists, black athletes who won’t stand for the anthem, major media, and prominent Democrats.

In recent weeks he suggested that criminals and terrorists from the Middle East had joined a caravan of immigrants heading toward the border, and even floated a conspiracy theory that Soros helped fund the caravan.

Fox News has magnified the fear and hate exactly as its founder would have wanted. A guest on Lou Dobbs’ show claimed the caravan was being funded by the “Soros-occupied State Department.”

That same week, Soros was among the targets of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and members of the media. A Florida man who identifies himself as a Trump supporter was arrested in connection with the attempted bombings.

Hours before a gunman entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed eleven worshipers, he reportedly wrote that a Jewish organization for refugees “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Bombs mailed to political leaders. Threats against the media. A shooting in a place of worship. None were directly ordered by Trump or his propaganda affiliate. They didn’t have to be.

Trump’s demagoguery inspired it. Fox News magnified it.

The hatefulness is unconstrained. Having fired the few “adults” in his Cabinet, Trump is now loose in the White House, except for a few advisors who reportedly are trying to protect the nation from him.

House and Senate Republicans are not holding him back. To the contrary, they have morphed into his sycophants. An increasing number are sounding just like him.

Atwater and Ailes are gone from this world, but their descendants – Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Bill Shine, formerly Roger Ailes’s deputy – have direct pipelines to Trump (Shine is now formally installed in the West Wing).

The upcoming election is not really a choice between Republicans and Democrats. Those traditional labels have lost most of their meaning, if not much of their value.  

It is really a choice about the moral compass of America.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt does not hold back in tonight's Commentary

We need about 10 million more, just like him.

And Steve Schmidt is calling out the Trump racism for what it is, again today.

Schmidt was on Chris Hayes show All-in tonight. And he did not hold back.
Here is a partial transcription of Schmidt’s startling and insightful observations on the recent acts of hate incited by Trump …  (though I encourage you to listen to the entire clip, from this former Republican).

However we got here -- we are here.
And where we are, is at an unprecedented place in American history.
We have never had a President of the United States do, what his president is doing.
He is stoking a cold civil war in this country, and it has turned hot on the periphery.
This man Bowers, what he said was, when he went in he said: "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw the optics -- I'm going in."
And he went in, to kill Jews. Jews that he believed were financing 'the Caravan’; the invading army, like a Panzer Division, that is threatening the southern border -- an army that is racked and riddled with disease.
The same type of rhetoric, the same type of propaganda, that you would have seen in Germany in 1938:  Dehumanization.  Turning people into infested vermin.
What Trump is doing is stoking and inciting, for the purposes of political power, the worst amongst us, to take action in his name.
We have a situation, whereby but for the grace of God, the largest mass assassination attempt was avoided -- that target amongst them, two former presidents of the United States.
Everyone of those people, was a target of Donald Trump's. And this man, a fanatic, was radicalized by Fox News, by talk radio, by a right-wing propaganda machine -- that is as sophisticated, as it has turned deadly.
Chris asks the "abnormal false equivalency" going on right now in politics.

Steve Schmidt:
William F Buckley's great contribution to America, and American conservatism, was to kick the crazies out of the conservative movement.
Probably a longer discussion than we have time for tonight.  Unfortunately looking back liberalism became an epithet [...] conservatism and liberalism [both historically are branches of ‘liberal thought’] — which compete in an open arena of ideas to move the country forward.
What we are seeing is the co-option of the Republican Party, in a cult of personality, which is fundamentally unconservative led by Donald Trump.
That is authoritarian in nature, that is antithetical to the Republican Party and the conservative movement as it has existed over the last 40 years.
But it is something more. It is the incitements.
Imagine, AFTER a bomb was sent to CNN the president goes and says
"the press is the enemy of the people,” and then he says "the anger in the country is because the press is critical of him."
What he is saying to the next sick person at the end of transmission is: 'if you take an action, it is because they deserve it.'
What we are seeing, just as we saw young, displaced, evil or sick, or just plain losers being radicalized by ISIS -- we are are seeing that same thing in the US right now.
These 2 losers, these 2 sick people -- 3 sick, evil people -- are being radicalized by the right-wing propaganda machine industry. And that's exactly what it is.
This whole ‘Caravan’ in the last week of the Election is by a giant Lie.
[...]  That a whole military division would be deployed to the border, to confront women and children [ — is unbelievable.]
Schmidt goes on call out the right-wing propaganda machine participants by name …

Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Brietbart, and Newsbusters, and Judical Watch, and all the rest of them — have blood on their hands. [...] The white nationalists, the daily stormer, talk radio, dark-corners of the internet, Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, it’s exactly the same message.
Steve Schmidt concludes ...

[...] and anybody who says there is no causality between these events and the incitements are as dishonest, as they are blind.

Thought you might want to hear someone, who is channeling your anger, outrage, and shock.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Republican Party promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theory: a week later, 11 people are dead

Screenshot from NRCC attack ad in MN-01 featuring photo of George Soros behind stacks of dollar bills.
A recent National Republican Congressional Committee campaign ad features a photoshop of George Soros behind stacks of money. Soros was the victim of an attempted bombing only days later.
What once was an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory peddled by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups has not just been elevated, in recent weeks, but adopted as campaign strategy by multiple Republican groups and office holders. The theory is that moneyed Jewish "puppet masters" are behind recent efforts to bring asylum-seekers and immigrants to America, part of a plan to destabilize white rule. It is a decades-old anti-Semitic trope by the far-right, but one that leapt to prominence in recent weeks with claims that a "caravan" of Central American refugees is the product of a devious plot by Holocaust survivor George Soros.

Rep. Matt Gaetz was overt in this. On October 17th he tweeted:
BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!
The tweet has remained undeleted, even after Soros was the target of an attempted bombing and after an anti-Semitic white supremacist murdered eleven Jewish Americans in their synagogue, wounding several others. The accusation was entirely false, and remains entirely false, but that did not stop Donald Trump himself from obliquely promoting it in a televised rally the next evening.

The theory that George Soros is secretly responsible for nearly all political events in America–to an extent that far exceeds any other named American–continues to be both one of the most commonly expressed current anti-Semitic tropes and the one that regularly, and incessantly, finds its way to Fox News, to Republican lawmakers, to Republican election campaigns and PACs, and in statements by the Republican president. But it is not Trump that has been doing the heavy lifting on advertising, promoting and mainstreaming those notions: That role has been embraced by Republican Party leadership.

And like Matt Gaetz, they have spent the last few weeks aggressively promoting anti-Semitic theories. The National Republican Congressional Committee crafted not just one, but two ads attacking Soros. One features a photoshopped George Soros sitting behind stacks of money, calling him the "connoisseur of chaos." (That wealthy Jews are bankrolling the "caravan" and other groups in order to foment "chaos" in America is, very precisely, the premise of the white supremacist conspiracy theory.)

NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers once again defended those clear anti-Semitic dog-whistles this Sunday, even as the nation was roiled by far-right violence, sniffing on Meet The Press that "That ad is a factual ad."

Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy himself repeated the refrain, only one day after a pipe bomb was discovered at Soros' home.
"We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA," McCarthy wrote in the tweet posted Tuesday and deleted a day later, a reference to top donors to Democratic causes George Soros and Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
It is of course impossible to know whether the hate-inspired mass murder of eleven Jewish Americans at their synagogue would still have happened if the current environment was different, but it should be uncontroversial to point out that the elevation of anti-Semitic hate speech by top Republican Party members is seen as explicit support for those views by those that would contemplate or commit violence as a result of those theories. By endorsing the theories of white supremacist groups, the Republican Party is explicitly signaling to those groups that their conspiracy theories are valid–or are at least worthy of discussion at the highest levels of party discourse.

If party leaders claim that Jewish agents are intentionally fomenting "chaos" in America, it stands to reason that would-be patriots would see the "stopping" of those agents, by force if necessary, as necessary for national survival. If top American politicians promote an invented theory that Jewish groups are behind a "caravan" that, by virtue of its mere existence, threatens American sovereignty, then it should not be at all surprising when a murder-inclined white supremacist thug uses the threat of those immigrants and those Jewish groups as justification for action.

George Soros and other Americans would not have received pipe bombs in the mail had Donald Trump not engaged in a relentless campaign of demonizing his enemies as "enemies of the people". Mass murderer Robert Bowers would not have felt the same urgency to kill Jewish Americans immediately had his personal conspiracy theories not been mainstreamed, by Fox News and other groups, into supposedly "legitimate" fears.

Those that advocate for conspiracy theories do so with the intent of panicking their marks and goading them into action. Those that peddle anti-Semitic theories cannot possibly claim, by any stretch, that they did not know that broadcasting those theories could goad violent individuals to take action to "prevent" the peddled conspiracies from being successful. Each of these top Republicans knows full well the implications of photoshopping a picture of George Soros to include stacks of cash; there is no doubt what sort of person campaign strategists are targeting when they use a Star of David on a background of money to attack non-Jewish opponents like Hillary Clinton.

The Republican calculation has been that appealing to anti-Semitic elements of the base is, as campaign tool, valuable enough to risk such violence. The Republican calculation has been to eagerly promote absolutely false conspiracy theories, such as that peddled by Rep. Matt Gaetz, as path to inflaming racist voters enough to stoke the required fervor, even if those that believe such theories are disproportionately likely to believe a violent response is required.

We can absolutely make the assertion that anti-Semitic rhetoric broadcast over the airwaves results in a likelihood of anti-Semitic violence. We can especially do so in an environment that has seen such violence escalate uncontrollably since the 2016 elections.

The Trump supporter who attempted to assassinate over a dozen of Donald Trump's most railed-against critics believed he was acting as patriot by murdering Trump's enemies. The mass murderer who targeted a Pittsburgh synagogue explicitly did so because he genuinely believed Jewish groups were behind a new supposed wave of violent immigration–the very subject of recent (and viciously false) Fox and Republican rhetoric.

There is not even the slightest question over whether or not the increasingly conspiratorial rhetoric of the party has made acts of violence–that is, domestic terrorism–against their opponents more likely: It is measurable. It is obvious. We cannot say with assurance whether this or that specific domestic terrorist would not have still acted out had their own personal conspiracy theories not been mainstreamed and promoted as supposed truth by Republican Party lawmakers and officials, but was can absolutely say that the embrace of those conspiracy theories by figures of authority lent them an air of truth, and of absolute urgency, that they would not have otherwise had.

Rep. Matt Gaetz asserted without evidence that a named Jewish American was somehow a mastermind of a "caravan" of immigrants, even as the rest of his party emphasized the supposed existential danger of allowing such refugees to approach the border; a pipe bomb was delivered to that man's house. The sitting president and Republican media figures gave voice to an explicitly anti-Semitic theory that it was the Jews who were behind this new supposed effort to infiltrate America with a violent other; one of the anti-Semites who believed in that theory suddenly deemed it absolutely urgent that he take action to punish those Jewish Americans right now.

We cannot possibly sniff that we did not see it coming. It was a calculation; those that elevated the conspiracies believed that the utility of rallying those that would believe anti-Semitic theories would outweigh whatever violence such theories might provoke. It was a dice roll, one that turned out badly for Americans who are not them.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Synagogue shooter explained exactly why he killed—Republican conspiracy theories

Despite a thousand and one window stickers and a long history on social media, the press has been careful to avoid “speculating” about the motives of pipe-bomber Cesar Sayoc. After all, it’s hard to say why he sent explosives to the people whose pictures he had decorated with cross-hairs below tableaus celebrating the wisdom of Donald Trump. Why … it could be anything.

That’s not an issue with synagogue shooter Robert Bowers. On the morning of his mass murder, Bowers sent a message explaining exactly why he was doing it.

This isn’t complicated. It’s not a conspiracy plot hidden in pizza ingredients. It doesn’t need to be interpreted by a mystery character hiding behind a Sesame Street name.

Republicans have spent years building up the idea that immigration is an existential threat to America. Republicans have also spent years alleging that Jews are secretly funding both immigrants and protesters. What Bowers did on Saturday morning is the direct result of that one plus one = 10 dead and counting. Bowers’ finger may have been on the trigger. But a lot of Republicans encouraged him to pull it. Including Donald Trump.

Let one of Trump’s Fox friends explain the connection.
Steve Doocy: "The President of the United States referred to the caravan at wide-ranging events out in Montana in Missoula. He said he suspects Democrats could be behind the caravan and while he didn't cite any evidence, it is thought he was referring to a video that Matt Gaetz, Congressman from Florida who tweeted out earlier, apparently showed migrants being handed down in Honduras, it was believed, they don't know where it was, being handed cash and Mr. Gaetz yesterday called for an investigation whether U.S. backed NGO's, or George Soros were behind the caravan. So, you know, obviously, it's a political thing to the White House."

This is hardly the only time that Gaetz pulls on his anti-Semitic armband to make unsupported allegations against Soros. He flies that red-white-and-black flag proudly and often. And of course, Gaetz is far from the only one. As Huffington Post noted on Friday, attacks on Soros are a staple of Fox News.
Since April, people on Fox News have depicted Soros as a “dirty word” and a “radical” who “hates the United States.”
Jewish billionaire investor George Soros is the most-frequent bogeyman of the right not because he’s a billionaire, or because he’s an investor. It’s that … other adjective in front of his name that counts. Judicial Watch, a group frequently cited by both Gaetz and Trump, has an entire archive of Soros conspiracy theories, and a fund-raising page just dedicated to those who want to get in his way.

Trump has said that the midterm elections are about “Kavanaugh and the caravan,” and Trump has blamed Soros for both.

Just four days ago, Donald Trump declared himself a nationalist. In terms that left no doubt he knew exactly what he was saying.
Trump: You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I am a nationalist. Use that word.
It’s fair to say that Robert Bower used that word. He certainly demonstrated what that word means, and the absolute result of a Republican Party that has supported xenophobia and antisemitism to the death. Not their death, of course.

Trump is right to say that the people in that synagogue needed protection. From people like him.

Trump admits his attacks on the media are lies

Mr. Trump was open about the tactic in a 2016 conversation with Lesley Stahl of CBS News, which she shared earlier this year

 “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,” she quoted him as saying.

Jim Rutenberg
New York Times
Oct. 28, 2018

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Fox News Blurring Images Of Stickers On Bomber's Van. Here's A Clear Shot:

So Fox News is blurring the stickers/images on the bomber’s van. And saying they are ‘political’ without identifying the -type- of politics involved. So here’s a clear shot of the van. And a quote from Voltaire to encapsulate what happens when the populace are kept ignorant and fed nonsense and trained to discount facts: 



Thursday, October 25, 2018

So today we are seeing the true face of Donald Trump and the Republican Party

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House October 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. The President was returning from a campaign appearance with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tasos Katopodis-Pool/Getty Images)
The reports of explosive devices mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of Donald Trump have not stopped as of this writing. And although the sender has not yet been identified, some of the devices have been confirmed as live and functional, indicating that this individual or individuals truly intended to harm specific Democrats or supposedly Democratic-leaning organizations. We don’t know the sender's motivation. We do know what it appears to be.

What it appears to be, tragically, should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is what the Republicans have allowed themselves to become. This is the nascent, unbridled emotion within each of them that Donald Trump has carefully nurtured and encouraged since he announced his presidential campaign. It’s the same sinister emotion he has channeled since taking office. It’s the emotion of eliminationism, hate, resentment, and murder.

It is the same emotion that kept—and continues to keep—Republicans of all stripes, whether in Congress, the Senate, or even your Republican “friends" on Facebook, from speaking up and objecting while he gleefully demonized whole swaths of Americans as undesirables, or "enemies of the people." While he made fun of women who dared to complain about being sexually assaulted.  When he took pains to offer subtle encouragement to Nazis marching in Charlottesville. When he loudly proclaimed himself a (white) “nationalist.”

Trump’ s actions aren’t made in a vacuum—they are calculated—by Trump himself, by Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and others of their ilk, to inflame the hidden passions of a base already reflexively trained like rabid dogs to chant “Build the wall!" or "Lock her up!" Trump is just articulating what they really want, most of all, in their heart of hearts. They want to kill. They want to kill the press. They want to kill Democrats. And now, one or more of their own demented minions has, from all appearances, finally taken up the challenge. More will likely follow.

Some Americans must have thought they were getting a reality TV star. What they got was a terrorist with more power at his disposal than Osama bin Laden could have ever dreamed of.

With every tweet castigating Democrats for some imagined slight, with every unbalanced, vicious utterance at his Nuremberg-style rallies, Donald Trump has cultivated the Republican Party for this exact moment in time: The time when they would reveal their inner nature to us all.

Why this moment? That would seem obvious. They are feeling threatened.

I don’t think any of us can get inside the raw mess of sewage that is in the head of the person or persons that built and mailed these bombs, but the timing is hardly coincidental. The Democrats are on the verge of retaking the House of Representatives, and poised to throw a number of big wrenches into the Trump juggernaut—exposing the abject, stark criminality of this regime that House Republicans have struggled mightily to keep secret. The Mueller probe also still looms like a darkening shadow, absorbing and consuming members of this administration, one by one.

So Trump’s eliminationist rhetoric has gone berserk and stratospheric as he flails about, looking for targets. The pathetic “caravan” of dirt-poor migrants trudging a thousand miles away towards a dismal rejection at the border has suddenly become a secret cabal of “terrorists,” an easy shiny object to point at and scream, while Republican governors and secretaries of state work feverishly to disenfranchise as many American voters as possible before their date of reckoning on November 6.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, CNN, George Soros, Eric Holder—all targets straight out of the Trump demonization playbook—have all been subject to Trump's Twitter finger. And look who got the bombs delivered to them first.

Meanwhile the same Republicans under threat are running on nothing but pure racism and demonization of other Americans, since they have nothing else to point to, in terms of actual “achievements” (tax cuts for millionaires, anyone?). And on top of that, the stock market is violently gyrating, no longer offering relief, but a sense of dread to most Americans. To the extent there ever was a center there, it did not hold.

So now, we have murder and terror—the default option of the Republican mentality. Always available, always tempting, and always waiting for the right time to be unleashed.

And now it looks like it's here.

Vote November 6th. The future of this country depends on it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Clarence Thomas's terrible wife tweets completely fake news about immigrant caravan violence

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 23:  Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, moderates a pannel discussion titled "When did World War III Begin? Part A: Threats at Home" during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 23, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland. Hosted by the American Conservative Union, CPAC is an annual gathering of right wing politicians, commentators and their supporters.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The big boogie man for right-wing groups right now is the “George Soros-funded” immigrant caravan that is bringing thousands of criminals into our country, where they will steal your teenage daughters … and your jobs! Virginia Thomas, wife of and apologist for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, likes to mix it up from her position on high. From her (now) protected Twitter account, she passed along this frightening image of a bloody Mexican law enforcement officer.

That’s some pretty damning stuff. I wonder why the media won’t share that image?

Oh, right, because they already did share that image when it was taken, back in 2012!

Snopes was able to quickly break down where this and other images came from, and it turns out it had nothing to do with the immigrants working their way up into the United States. That image came from clashes between students and police during protests over school curriculum in Michoacan.

This isn’t the first or last time Virginia Thomas has passed on right-wing conspiracy-theory bullshit to quiet the screaming guilt she must feel for being such a grotesque human being. After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, Thomas promoted the old anti-Semitic claim that Jews were killed during the Holocaust in part because they had given up their right to carry firearms. 

This is the same lady that gave an award to fraud James O’Keefe at a Trump hotel in Washington back in December of last year.

So, like her husband, Virginia Thomas is a terrible person who uses false information to prove fake points.