Archive for the ‘Trump (Donald’ Category

Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump

May 27, 2017

David Swanson via ActionNetwork.org david@davidswanson.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
May 24

Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump: An Interview with David Swanson

By Ann Garrison at Black Agenda Report
Anti-war activist and author David Swanson told the author that party partisanship fuels the anti-Russian obsession among rank and file Democrats. “If the Democratic Party had made a grand cause of friendship with Russia and disarmament and ending nuclear weapons madness, then liberal supporters of the Democratic Party would be out there saying, ‘Let’s be friends with Russia.’”

Never Mind the Real Russia, It’s All about Trump: An Interview with David Swanson


by Ann Garrison



“Russians have absolutely no idea that hatred of Russia can be driven by hatred of Trump.”

In American politics, Donald Trump has been so effectively identified with Russia that hostility or friendship toward Russia is now driven by feelings about Trump. David Swanson, founder of World Beyond War and author of “War is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just,” was on a friendship tour in Russia when a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a Confederate monument in his hometown and chanted “Russia is our friend.” I spoke to David Swanson upon his return.

Ann Garrison: On May 13, in your hometown—Charlottesville, Virginia—a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protesters chanted “Blood and Soil,” a well-known Nazi slogan invoking the bloodline of a people and its territory, and “Russia is our friend.” You were in Russia at that time on a friendship tour, so could you tell us how Russians perceived this?

David Swanson: At that time, few of them had heard about it, and I hope that remains the case. I did discuss it with some, and I mentioned it immediately to a Russian friend I was with. He objected, “But we didn’t have slavery; we had serfdom. It’s not the same.” He just didn’t understand connecting Russia to slavery, much less to Nazism, given that Russia is the country that defeated Nazism. 

Russians have absolutely no idea that hatred of Russia can be driven by hatred of Trump. They have no idea whatsoever that Trump is doing anything unpopular on the domestic front. They don’t know that he’s going after environmental protections, or poverty relief, or women’s rights, or that he’s going after immigrants. They do know about longstanding, deeply entrenched, decades-long hatred of Russia in Washington, D.C. They think that hatred of Russia drives hatred of Trump. Of course, the reality is both ways, but they only know about the one. So you have to explain to them who Trump is, why somebody who wants to be friends with Russia, like myself, does not like Trump. There’s a lot of explaining to do.

AG: Didn’t you lead the effort to have the Robert E. Lee statue taken down there in Charlottesville?

“The only statues we have here in Charlottesville are war statues. There are no peace statues.”

DS: No, I certainly don’t think anyone would give me credit for that. In fact, the push to get rid of these Confederate statues in Charlottesville came from directions similar to the Black Lives Matter movement and was driven, I think, purely by opposition to racism. Most of the advocates for taking down the Confederate general statues in Charlottesville probably having nothing whatsoever against war any more than any other good war-loving Americans. Their problem is with racism, with bad wars, with a war for slavery and defending the slavery side of that war. That’s why they wanted these statues gone. 

I jumped in and said, “Yes, you’re absolutely right. Get rid of these statues. There are some other reasons, too, to get rid of these statues. They’re war statues. The only statues we have here in Charlottesville are war statues. There are no peace statues. There are no anything else statues. There are no civil rights statues, no women’s rights statues, no labor movement statues. There’s nothing memorializing 99.99% of the history of this town. Only these two Confederate generals who, so far as I know, never even visited this town are memorialized by monumental statues.” 

Ironically, the issue of memorializing war, which nobody in the United States ever wants to face, was forced into the conversation because there’s a law in Virginia that says, “Thou shalt never tear down a war statue.” Even if you’re doing it purely because it’s a racist statue. Now it’s in the courts. Even though the city has said, “Take down the statue,” there’s a court case arguing that it can’t be taken down because we’re not allowed to take down any war statues. 

There is no law that says you can’t take down any peace statues or any peace memorials. For that matter, there aren’t any peace memorials to consider taking down. Yet that’s hardly scratched the surface of the ongoing conversation, which remains purely about racism and that’s of course been inflamed further by the racists at this torch-lit rally chanting Nazi slogans and “Russia is our friend.” I’m very glad that at least a few people were confused by this “Russia is our friend” slogan.

AG: I know that you always favor dialogue over confrontation, and you’ve said that despite everything, you feel some empathy for these people and understand their concerns. Could you explain that?

DS: Well, we should feel empathy for everyone. I’ve had people attack me in this debate for trying to humanize the racists. If you can’t humanize humans, who can you humanize? Some of them are cynical politicians, including a candidate for governor of Virginia who comes from Minnesota, a pro-Trump guy who wants to become a Confederate by leading the charge to defend the Confederate monuments. By the way, these monuments are coming down in New Orleans just ahead of Charlottesville, and there’s discussion of taking them down in Richmond.

Aside from the cynical politicians, a lot of these people share the obvious, legitimate grievance of living in a country that’s rolling in money and does not provide decent education, opportunity, retirement security, or health care, and leaves them on edge and ill at ease about their lives all the time.

And it must be noted that we’re a culture that’s progressed so far in certain ways that it’s just inexcusable to make sexist or racist comments about women and most minorities, but you can make jokes about white rednecks anytime you like. You can have comedy specials about rednecks. You can push any sort of stereotypes or generalizations about white people, and especially poor white people, and that’s totally acceptable. That fuels this sort of resentment among people who haven’t been taught anything about history, but know that some African-American kid got a scholarship to a school that they didn’t get. 

We haven’t found the wisdom and the political force to do things right, to do things the way Scandinavia does—to provide rights for everyone, a basic income for everyone, health care for everyone, job security, retirement, paid vacation, a clean environment, transportation, and child care for everyone. We have a system that funnels resentment into our politics by creating giant bureaucracies to weed out the deserving poor from the undeserving poor and make sure the little scraps get tossed to the right people and not the wrong people. So that’s a lot of where this movement comes from.

“We haven’t found the wisdom and the political force to do things right, to do things the way Scandinavia does—to provide rights for everyone, a basic income for everyone, health care for everyone, job security, retirement, paid vacation, a clean environment, transportation, and child care for everyone.”

These people will tell you they’re not racist. They’ll tell you they don’t want slavery. They’ll tell you they’re out there to defend the white something, and sometimes they’ll say the white race. Sometimes they’ll say the white ethnicity. They identify with the white something as their group. They ask, if it’s acceptable to identify with and celebrate being a Latino, an African American, or an African American homosexual, or this, that, or the other thing, then why isn’t it acceptable to celebrate being white? This is their cause. I don’t think it’s a kind or generous or productive cause. I don’t think it’s helpful and I wouldn’t defend it, but to suggest that they’re not human, that they’re monsters, that they just behave irrationally without any explanation is to treat them the way U.S. government propaganda treats Russia, Iran and North Korea, and that’s not helpful.

AG: When I volunteered at the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans after the flood, they let us know that the racist aspersion “cracker” was not acceptable there.

DS: I don’t think it should be acceptable anywhere. I don’t think any racial insults should be acceptable anywhere.

AG: How do you think the people at this torch lit protest understood the chant, “Russia is our friend”?

DS: I don’t know any more than you do really. I haven’t spoken with them or communicated with them about it. The other response to that protest that I heard first in Russia, then back here at home, was, “Oh, it’s the work of the deep state. The CIA has planted that.” No, I don’t think so. This is the work of a handful of racists feeding off of what has been deeply implanted in U.S. culture over the past six to eight months. That is, the idea that Trump is on one side and the people attacking Trump are on the other side, and Russia is on the Trump side. It doesn’t matter if six months ago, you would have cared nothing about Russia or been hostile toward Russia. The defenders of Trump accept without any evidence, just as the opponents of Trump accept without any evidence, that Russia had something to do with electing Trump. 

We haven’t seen a shred of proof. I’m absolutely certain that if there were any proof we would have seen it by now. The whole thing’s become a bait and switch where, instead of any evidence coming forth, we start hearing about other abuses whether it’s obstruction of a federal investigation—whether that investigation was going anywhere or not—or financial ties to Russian criminals on the part of Trump’s subordinates, or whatever. Even so, this idea that Russia somehow determined the outcome of our presidential election has been so firmly implanted in U.S. culture that both sides just accept it. The side that’s out there to cheer for Trump, they want to thank Russia and be friends with Russia.

“I’m absolutely certain that if there were any proof we would have seen it by now.”

If the right wing populists in this country had, for whatever reasons, chosen to demonize Russia, these same people would be out there demonizing Russia. If the Democratic Party had made a grand cause of friendship with Russia and disarmament and ending nuclear weapons madness, then liberal supporters of the Democratic Party would be out there saying, “Let’s be friends with Russia.” 

It’s pure partisanship, and yet it’s very dangerous because it’s stirring up hostility between two nuclear-armed governments. Much of the deep state in Washington, D.C. benefits from and openly wants hostility with Russia to increase weapons sales and bureaucratic power, and this is playing with fire. It’s playing with apocalypse. It might be funny if it weren’t for that.

AG: In this piece you recently wrote, “Leave Russia the Блядь Out of U.S. Scandals,” you address the recent uproar about Donald Trump sharing classified info about ISIS with Russian officials. Could you tell us what you had to say about that?

DS: Well, I don’t know any more about what was shared than you do. We were told it was information helpful in going after ISIS that came from Israel’s so-called intelligence so-called services and that this might therefore endanger our relationship with these so-called intelligence services. 

Trump has always maintained that he wants to work with Russia on combating terrorism. Russia has always maintained the same public approach to working with the United States, and, as far as we know, the same private approach. They want us to work together. 

Now they want to work together on something that I see as counterproductive, immoral and illegal on its own terms. That is, using warfare to stamp out terrorism, using a larger tactic of terrorism to stamp out terrorism, which of course just fuels a cycle of violence and produces more terrorism, but this is what they both want to do. This is what just about everybody agrees the United States should be doing. They’re just outraged that Trump would do it in collaboration with Russia.

“Some Russians complained to me that Stalin was never demonized in the U.S. media the way Vladimir Putin has been.”

You can go back and look at when past U.S. presidents and past presidents and premiers of Russia and the Soviet Union have shared all kinds of secrets with each other. Bush the First told Gorbachev that there was a coup coming and who the source of the information was. FDR and Stalin shared all kinds of information. And by the way, some Russians complained to me that Stalin was never demonized in the U.S. media the way Vladimir Putin has been. And Stalin killed millions of people. The bait and switch that I mentioned earlier, beginning with the story that Russia decided the U.S. presidential election, then switching to all these other crimes that have some sort of connection to Russia—any connection to Russia—is creating this atmosphere where not just the Russian government but the Russian people are identified as enemies of the United States. A people is not a government, and a government that has flaws does not typically see those flaws improve in response to threats, sanctions, attacks, or lies about it.

I met with opponents of Putin in Russia who said, “The sanctions have cut Russian incomes by about ten percent even though they’ve benefited Russian agriculture. As long as these sanctions are in place, I’m not going to oppose Putin. I’m going to align with Putin and unite behind Putin, and if the sanctions ever end, well, then I’m going to go back to criticizing Putin.” This is the predictable and consistent result of going after a country. The country unifies against the external aggressor. The approach the United States has been taking since Obama put these sanctions in place and created this new Cold War is not working, and it’s never going to work.

AG: Anything else you’d like to say?

DS: Go to Russia, if you’re going to take a vacation. Russia has the largest, most beautiful cities in Europe. Russian people speak English and love Americans. The signs are in Russian and English. You get lots of rubles for your dollar. The sun comes up in the middle of the night now and stays up nearly twenty-four hours, and it’s beautiful weather. More Americans need to meet more Russians and invite Russians to come back and meet them.

David Swanson is the founder of World Beyond War, and the author of “War is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just.” He can be reached at davidswanson.org or worldbeyondwar.org.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in Oakland California. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@kpfa.org.

Ann Garrison’s blog

Talk Nation Radio: Francis Boyle on How to Impeach Trump

May 27, 2017

David Swanson via WarIsACrime.org david@davidswanson.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
May 23 (3 days ago)

Talk Nation Radio: Francis Boyle on How to Impeach Trump

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-francis-boyle-on-how-to-impeach-trump.

http://davidswanson.org/talk-nation-radio-francis-boyle-on-how-to-impeach-trump/
Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Professor Boyle has served as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. He has represented the Blackfoot Nation, the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989. And he has been a strong advocate over the years for the proper use of the power of impeachment.

Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

May 11, 2017

David Swanson via WarIsACrime.org david@davidswanson.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
12:27 PM (10 hours ago)

Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

By David Swanson
http://davidswanson.org/impeach-trump-for-right-reasons/
The Constitution suddenly seems to have bestirred itself and declared itself, through its many Washington spokespeople, to be in crisis.

I’m sorry, interjects the world, but what the hell took you so long?

We laid out the clear Constitutional violations of Trump’s financial and business interests on the day he became president (in the real sense, not the media event months later when “He finally became president” by bombing enough people) at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org.

Since the later hours of Day 1 back in January through the present instant, the clear and documented (when not openly bragged about) Constitutional offenses have been piling up.

As of a 2015 disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump owns stock in the maker of the missiles he sent into Syria, Raytheon, as well as numerous other weapons makers, Canadian tar sands, etc. Trump has continued, escalated, and threatened numerous illegal and immoral wars. That he may be personally profiting from them just adds to the supreme international crime, which of course already violates the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, supreme laws of the U.S. under the Constitution.

Trump has unconstitutionally discriminated against refugees, been stopped by the judiciary, and immediately done it again.

Trump has pushed policies that will aggravate climate change, a crime against humanity that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court even against a non-member. On December 6, 2009, Trump signed a public letter to President Barack Obama urging action to protect the earth from climate change. “If we fail to act now,” the letter read, “it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” Trump is knowingly endangering all human (and many non-human) residents of the United States, right along with the other 96% of humanity.

Trump openly sought to intimidate voters prior to his election, and fought the counting of ballots where they existed, was elected with a minority of votes, was elected with numerous votes uncounted and numerous voters blocked from voting by the partisan stripping of the rolls and by ID laws, following a nomination principally decided by dramatically biased media coverage. If none of that put the Constitution into crisis, why keep the rotting document around at all?

Pre-presidency but still available grounds for impeachment, Trump violated, according to the list in Alan Lichtman’s book on Trump impeachment, the Fair Housing Act, New York charity law, tax laws, the Cuban embargo, casino regulations, the RICO statute, laws against employing undocumented immigrants, and of course laws against sexual assault. You don’t have to have never been in Congress to spot a pattern of criminality here.

Of course there is one charge against Trump that has not been proven, risks confrontation with a nuclear armed government, and needlessly adds a xenophobic excuse to the dozens of solid reasons that last year’s U.S. election was illegitimate. So of course this is the one everybody wants to focus on: blaming Russia for exposing the Democratic Party’s slanting of its own primary against its strongest candidate. Let’s remember that the people who have most vigorously pursued this approach are the same people who nominated possibly the only candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump.

Now we come to a charge of possible, conceivable, or an appearance of possible or conceivable obstruction of justice — and perhaps something or other at the base of the story around which justice was being sought. If we can remove Trump this way, by all means, proceed. And proceed with impeachment, not with a 2020 election campaign by some otherwise repulsive candidate who plans to win by virtue of not being Trump and somehow surviving four years of Trumpism.

But here are my concerns:

The coverup is not worse than the crime. Serious crimes are available as impeachment charges, and overlooking them effectively permits them going forward, along with any other crimes, as long as there’s no coverup.

We have yet to see any actual evidence of any actual Russian influence on the U.S. election. Toying with hostility toward a nuclear government is more reckless than anything (else) Trump has done. Can you impeach and try Trump for obstructing an investigation into what all the corporate media refer to as if it were established fact, without actually focusing on whether there is any evidence, and without demonizing Russia?

If some lesser crimes are proven that involve Russia in some way, can you try them without advancing the notion that the fundamental crime is friendship with Russians?

Can you keep in perspective the hypocrisy that all of this telegraphs to the earth? Barack Obama recorded a campaign ad for a French candidate in last week’s election, while Samantha Power was busy accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to influence the French election. The U.S. has openly sought to influence dozens of elections, including Yeltsin’s (the Trump of Russia?), not to mention overthrowing dozens of governments — still being pursued in Syria. How does this look? Wouldn’t it look better to at least add in a few articles of impeachment for the highest of crimes even if Russia isn’t involved in them?

And, yes, I mean even crimes committed by Obama and Bush and others before them. I’m not expecting consistency. While I supported impeachment for Bush and Obama as well as Trump, one cannot expect all Democrats to have gone that far in supporting the rule of law when Obama was drone master — although they may now ask Republicans to reach that higher standard of integrity. I understand that partisanship is strong poison. I just ask for at least the appearance of seriousness — even if only because going into a trial in the U.S. Senate with charges that are already proven makes a conviction far more likely.

The bigger concern, of tamping down the warmongering, of lowering the risk of nuclear conflict should be made to appeal to as many as can hear it.

Impeachment certainly should be pursued, and certainly cannot wait. But it will only establish the proper threat of impeachment for the next person to hold the office if it is done for the right reasons in the right way. The right way includes being led by the public. We, not Congress, must decide when there is a crisis.

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A HUNDRED DAYS OF TRUMP

April 26, 2017

COMMENT MAY 1, 2017 ISSUE

With his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, he threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker.
By David Remnick
170501_r29883illuweb_rd

Illustrations by Tom Bachtell
On April 29th, Donald Trump will have occupied the Oval Office for a hundred days. For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-racked constancy. Trump does not afford this. His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. The hundred-day marker is never an entirely reliable indicator of a four-year term, but it’s worth remembering that Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama were among those who came to office at a moment of national crisis and had the discipline, the preparation, and the rigor to set an entirely new course. Impulsive, egocentric, and mendacious, Trump has, in the same span, set fire to the integrity of his office.

Trump has never gone out of his way to conceal the essence of his relationship to the truth and how he chooses to navigate the world. In 1980, when he was about to announce plans to build Trump Tower, a fifty-eight-story edifice on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street, he coached his architect before meeting with a group of reporters. “Give them the old Trump bullshit,” he said. “Tell them it’s going to be a million square feet, sixty-eight stories.”

This is the brand that Trump has created for himself—that of an unprincipled, cocky, value-free con who will insult, stiff, or betray anyone to achieve his gaudiest purposes. “I am what I am,” he has said. But what was once a parochial amusement is now a national and global peril. Trump flouts truth and liberal values so brazenly that he undermines the country he has been elected to serve and the stability he is pledged to insure. His bluster creates a generalized anxiety such that the President of the United States can appear to be scarcely more reliable than any of the world’s autocrats. When Kim In-ryong, a representative of North Korea’s radical regime, warns that Trump and his tweets of provocation are creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment,” does one man sound more immediately rational than the other? When Trump rushes to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for passing a referendum that bolsters autocratic rule in Turkey—or when a sullen and insulting meeting with Angela Merkel is followed by a swoon session with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the military dictator of Egypt—how are the supporters of liberal and democratic values throughout Europe meant to react to American leadership?

Trump appears to strut through the world forever studying his own image. He thinks out loud, and is incapable of reflection. He is unserious, unfocussed, and, at times, it seems, unhinged. Journalists are invited to the Oval Office to ask about infrastructure; he turns the subject to how Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, is a “good person,” blameless, like him, in matters of sexual harassment. A reporter asks about the missile attack on Syria; he feeds her a self-satisfied description of how he informed his Chinese guests at Mar-a-Lago of the strike over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.”

Little about this Presidency remains a secret for long. The reporters who cover the White House say that, despite their persistent concerns about Trump’s attempts to marginalize the media, they are flooded with information. Everyone leaks on everyone else. Rather than demand discipline around him, Trump sits back and watches the results on cable news. His Administration is not so much a team of rivals as it is a new form of reality entertainment: “The Circular Firing Squad.”

This Presidency is so dispiriting that, at the first glimmer of relative ordinariness, Trump is graded on a curve. When he restrains himself from trolling Kim Jong-un about the failure of a North Korean missile test, he is credited with the strategic self-possession of a Dean Acheson. The urge to normalize Trump’s adolescent outbursts, his flagrant incompetence and dishonesty—to wish it all away, if only for a news cycle or two—is connected to the fear of what fresh hell might come next. Every day brings another outrage or embarrassment: the dressing down of the Australian Prime Minister or a shoutout for the “amazing job” that Frederick Douglass is doing. One day nato is “obsolete”; the next it is “no longer obsolete.” The Chinese are “grand champions” of currency manipulation; then they are not. When Julian Assange is benefitting Trump’s campaign, it’s “I love WikiLeaks!”; now, with the Presidency won, the Justice Department is preparing criminal charges against him. News of Trump’s casual reversals of policy comes with such alarming regularity that the impulse to locate a patch of firm ground is understandable. It’s soothing. But it’s untenable.

Cartoon

“Someone’s at the hole.”
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There is frustration all around. During his first hundred days in office, Trump has not done away with populist rhetoric, but he has acted almost entirely as a plutocrat. His Cabinet and his cast of advisers are stocked with multimillionaires and billionaires. His positions on health care, tax reform, and financial regulation are of greatest appeal to the super-wealthy. How he intends to improve the situation of the middle class remains obscure. A report in Politico described thirty staffers holed up in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, attempting a “rebranding” of this first chapter of the Trump Administration. The aides furiously assembled “lists of early successes” on whiteboards.

One success they can name is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, although Democrats rightly judge that his seat was stolen from Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. The first hundred days are marked most indelibly by Trump’s attempted ban of travellers from six Muslim countries, which failed in the courts, and the effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which imploded in the House of Representatives. The list of domestic initiatives is largely confined to reversals of achievements of the Obama era. Trump has proposed an expansion of the prison at Guantánamo and ordered the easing of Dodd-Frank financial regulations. He has reversed plans to save wetlands and protect waterways from coal waste; he has reversed executive orders that banned gun sales to the mentally ill and that protected L.G.B.T. federal employees from discrimination; his Vice-President voted in a Senate tiebreaker to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood clinics. Trump, because of the lavish travel habits of his family, is shaping up to be the most expensive executive in history to guard. At the same time, his budget proposals would, if passed in Congress, cut the funding of after-school programs, rental-assistance programs, the Community Development Block Grant program, legal assistance for the poor, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scorekeepers will credit these as promises kept. Guardians of democratic values and the environment, champions of economic opportunity and the national well-being will view them as an ever-growing damage report.

ere’s a slight madness to thinking you should be the leader of the free world,” Obama admitted before he went ahead and ran for President. But even after Richard Nixon’s anti-Semitic rants and Ronald Reagan’s astrology-influenced daily schedule, we are at a new level of strangeness with Donald Trump—something that his biography had always suggested.

Trump emerged from neither a log cabin nor the contemporary meritocracy. He inherited his father’s outer-borough real-estate empire—a considerable enterprise distinguished by racist federal-housing violations—and brought it to Manhattan. He entered a world of contractors, casino operators, Roy Cohn, professional-wrestling stars, Rupert Murdoch, multiple bankruptcies, tabloid divorces, Mar-a-Lago golf tournaments, and reality television. He had no real civic presence in New York. A wealthy man, he gave almost nothing to charity. He cultivated a kind of louche glamour. At Studio 54, he said, “I would watch supermodels getting screwed . . . on a bench in the middle of the room.” He had no close friends. Mainly, he preferred to work, play golf, and spend long hours at home watching TV. His misogyny and his low character were always manifest. Displeased with a harmless Palm Beach society journalist named Shannon Donnelly, he told her in a letter that if she adhered to his standards of discretion, “I will promise not to show you as the crude, fat and obnoxious slob which everyone knows you are.” Insofar as he had political opinions, they were inconsistent and mainly another form of performance art, part of his talk-show patter. His contributions to political campaigns were unrelated to conviction; he gave solely to curry favor with those who could do his business some good. He believed in nothing.

By the mid-nineties, Trump’s investment prospects had foundered. Banks cut him off. He turned to increasingly dubious sources of credit and branding opportunities at home and abroad. A typical deal, involving a hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan (described at length in these pages by Adam Davidson), included as partners an Azerbaijani family distinguished for its outsized corruption and for its connections to some Iranian brothers who worked as a profit front for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. There is little mystery as to why Trump has broken with custom and refuses to release his tax returns. A record of his colossal tax breaks, associations, deals, and net worth resides in those forms. It may turn out that deals like the one in Baku will haunt his Presidency no less than his grotesque conflicts of interest or any of the possible connections to Russia now being investigated by the F.B.I. and congressional committees will.

As Trump struggled in business, he made a deal with NBC to star in “The Apprentice,” which, for fourteen seasons, featured him in a role of corporate dominance. It was there that he honed his peculiar showmanship and connected to a mass audience well beyond New York City, perfecting the persona that became the core of his Presidential campaign: the billionaire populist. That role is not unknown in American history: in the eighteen-seventies, wealthy leaders of the Redeemer movement, a southern faction of the Bourbon Democrats linked to the Ku Klux Klan and other white paramilitary groups, set out to defund public schools, shrink government, lower taxes for land owners, and undercut the rise of a generation of black politicians.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
And yet Trump has discovered that it’s far more difficult to manage the realities of national politics than the set of “The Apprentice.” In the transitional period between Election Day and the Inauguration, Obama’s aides were told that Trump, who has the attention span of a hummingbird, would not read reports of any depth; he prefers one- or two-page summaries, pictures, and graphics. Obama met with Trump once and talked with him on the telephone roughly ten times. The discussions did little to change Obama’s mind that Trump was “uniquely unqualified” to be President. His grasp of issues was rudimentary, at best. After listening to Obama describe the framework of the nuclear agreement with Iran—a deal that Trump had previously assessed as “terrible” and vowed to dismantle—he conceded that maybe it made sense after all. In one of the many books published under his name, “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire,” he said, “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.”

On Inauguration Day, at the Capitol, Trump no longer affected any awe of the task before him or respect for his predecessors. He furiously rebuked the elected officials seated behind him and the international order that they served. Using the language of populist demagogues, from Huey Long to George Wallace to Silvio Berlusconi, the new President implied that he, the Leader, was in perfect communion with the People, and that together they would repair the landscape of “American carnage” and return it to its prelapsarian state of grace. In this union, it seemed, there was no place for the majority of the electorate, which had voted for Hillary Clinton. African-Americans, Muslim Americans, Latinos, immigrants—it was hard to tell if Trump counted them as the People, too. More likely, they remained the objects of anxiety, fear, and disdain that they had been during the campaign. As George W. Bush was leaving the grandstand, according to New York, he was heard to say, “That was some weird shit.”

By all accounts, the West Wing has become a battlefield of opposing factions. The most influential of them is also the only one with a guarantee of permanence—the Family, particularly Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. (His sons Eric and Donald, Jr., have remained in New York to run the family business. Despite the responsibility to put country before personal profit, the President refuses to divest from the business.) Kushner has no relevant experience in foreign or domestic policy, but he has been tasked with forging a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, steering U.S. relations with China and Mexico, reorganizing the federal government, and helping to lead the fight against the epidemic of opioid use. It is hard to know if Kushner, as an executive, is in charge of everything or of nothing at all. But, as a counsellor, he clearly is powerful enough to whisper in his father-in-law’s ear and diminish the prospects of rival counsellors, including those of the Administration’s most lurid white nationalist, Steve Bannon. Ivanka Trump’s duties are gauzier than her husband’s, but they seem to relate to getting her father to go easier on L.G.B.T. and women’s-rights issues and calming his temper.

The way that Trump has established his family members in positions of power and profit is redolent of tin-pot dictatorships. He may waver on matters of ideology, but his commitment to the family firm is unshakable and resists ethical norms. The conflicts and the privileges are shameless, the potential revenues unthinkable. On the day that the Trump family hosted Xi Jinping in Palm Beach, the Chinese government extended trademarks to Ivanka’s businesses so that she could sell her shoes and handbags to the vast market from Harbin to Guangzhou.

Trump is wary of expertise. During the campaign, he expressed his distrust of scientists, military strategists, university professors, diplomats, and intelligence officers. He filled the executive branch accordingly, appointing a climate-change denier as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency; a Secretary of Education who, during her confirmation hearing, displayed stunning ignorance of public education; an Energy Secretary who previously called for closing the Department of Energy; a United Nations Ambassador whose international experience is limited to trade missions for the state of South Carolina; and a national-security adviser who trafficked in Islamophobic conspiracy theories until, three weeks into the job, he was forced to resign because he lied to Vice-President Pence about his ties to the Russian government.

Trump has left open hundreds of important positions in government, largely because he sees no value in them. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have,” he has said. “I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.” Among the many federal bureaucracies that are now languishing with countless empty offices are the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Defense. A recent article in The Atlantic described the State Department as “adrift and listless,” with officials unsure of their duties, hanging around the cafeteria gossiping, and leaving work early.

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Trump seems to believe that foreign affairs require only modest depths of thought. It’s the generals who are the authoritative voices in his Administration. To a President whose idea of a strategic move is to “bomb the shit out of” isis, they are the ones who have to make the case for international law, the efficacy of nato, the immorality of torture, and the inadvisability of using the rhetoric of “radical Islamic terrorism.” At the same time, the pace of bombing in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen appears to have increased; tensions with Iran, Russia, and North Korea have intensified. Trump, an erratic and impulsive spokesman for his own policy, needs competent civilian advisers, if only as a counterweight to the military point of view and his own self-admiring caprices. When conservative columnists write about Trump and fondly recall Richard Nixon’s “madman theory” of international relations—a calculated unpredictability directed at the North Vietnamese—they tend to leave out that it did not work. The war in Southeast Asia went on for years after Nixon’s brinksmanship.

The Trump Presidency represents a rebellion against liberalism itself—an angry assault on the advances of groups of people who have experienced profound, if fitful, empowerment over the past half century. There is nothing about Trump’s public pronouncements that indicates that he has welcomed these moral advances; his language, his tone, his personal behavior, and his policies all suggest, and foster, a politics of resentment. It is the Other—the ethnic minority, the immigrant—who has closed your factory, taken your job, threatened your safety.

The Trumpian rebellion against liberal democracy is not a local event; it is part of a disturbing global trend. When the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, and the Soviet Union dissolved, two years later, the democratic movement grew and liberalism advanced, and not only in Eastern and Central Europe. During the course of thirty years, the number of democracies in the world expanded from thirty to roughly a hundred. But, since 2000, nation-states of major consequence—Russia, Hungary, Thailand, and the Philippines among them—have gone in the opposite, authoritarian direction. India, Indonesia, and Great Britain have become more nationalistic. The Arab Spring failed nearly everywhere. The prestige and the efficacy of democracy itself is in question. The Chinese Communist Party, which crushed a pro-democracy movement on Tiananmen Square, in 1989, then set out to make the case that it could achieve enormous economic growth while ignoring the demand for human rights and political liberties. In Russia, Vladimir Putin has suppressed political competition, a nascent independent media, and any hope for an independent judiciary or legislature while managing to convince millions of his countrymen that the United States is hypocritical and immoral, no more democratic than any other country. In Turkey, Erdoğan has jailed tens of thousands of political opponents, muzzled the press, and narrowly won a referendum providing him with nearly dictatorial powers. Western Europe is also in question. In France, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, is polling credibly in a Presidential campaign guided by two of her longtime associates and fascist sympathizers, Frédéric Chatillon and Axel Loustau.

The stakes of this anti-democratic wave cannot be overestimated. Nor can it be ignored to what degree authoritarian states have been able to point out the failures of the West—including the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Libya—and use them to diminish the moral prestige of democracy itself. As Edward Luce writes, in “The Retreat of Western Liberalism,” “What we do not yet know is whether the world’s democratic recession will turn into a global depression.”

If we were ever naïve enough to believe that progress in political life is inevitable, we are experiencing the contradiction. Freedom House, a nongovernmental organization that researches global trends in political liberty, has identified an eleven-year decline in democracies around the globe and now issues a list of “countries to watch.” These are nations that “may be approaching important turning points in their democratic trajectory.” The ones that most concern Freedom House include South Africa, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and, the largest of them, the United States. The reason the group includes the U.S. is Trump’s “unorthodox” Presidential campaign and his “approach to civil liberties and the role of the United States in the world.”

In 1814, John Adams evoked the Aristotelian notion that democracy will inevitably lapse into anarchy. “Remember, democracy never lasts long,” he wrote to John Taylor, a former U.S. senator from Virginia, in 1814. “It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.” As President, Donald Trump, with his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker, and a fulfillment of Adams’s dark prophecy.

Pushing back against Trumpism will not be easy. Even if the President drops some of his most brutal promises, even if he throws his smartphone into the Potomac, and ceases to titillate his base with racist dog-whistling and to provoke his enemies with a rhetoric of heedless bravado, he still commands a Republican Congress, and he is still going to score some distressing political victories. He is certainly not finished with his efforts to repeal Obamacare in a way that would deprive millions of people of their health insurance; he is certainly not going to relax his effort to enact hard-line immigration restrictions; he is certainly not through trying to dismantle legislative and international efforts to rescue an environment that is already suffering the grievous effects of climate change.

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“Can you ask them to do a little dance?”

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Trump forces us to recognize the fragility of precious things. Yet there are signs that Adams and the doomsayers of democratic values will be proved wrong. Hope can be found in the extraordinary crowds at the many women’s marches across the country on the day after the Inauguration; in the recent marches in support of science and a more compassionate, reasonable immigration policy; in the earnest work of the courts that have blocked the “Muslim ban” and of various senators and House members in both parties who, unlike Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, have refused to put cynicism and expedience before integrity; in the exemplary investigative journalism being done by traditional and new media outlets; in the performance of anti-Trump candidates in recent congressional races in Kansas and Georgia.

The opposition to Trump also has to give deeper thought to why a demagogue with such modest and eccentric experience could speak with such immediacy to tens of millions of voters anxious about their lives and their prospects, while the Democratic nominee could not. The intellectual and political task ahead is at once to resist the ugliest manifestations of the new right-wing populism—the fears it plays on, the divisions it engenders—and to confront the consequences of globalism, technology, and cultural change. Politicians and citizens who intend to defeat the forces of reaction, of Trumpism, need to confront questions of jobs lost to automation and offshoring head on. Unemployment is at five per cent, but that does not provide an accurate picture of an endangered middle and working class.

The political math is clarifying: four hundred and eighty-nine of the wealthiest counties in the country voted for Clinton; the remaining two thousand six hundred and twenty-three counties, largely made up of small towns, suburbs, and rural areas, voted for Trump. Slightly fewer than fifty-five per cent of all voting-age adults bestirred themselves to go to the polls. That statistic is at least as painful to process as the Comey letter, the Russian hack of the D.N.C., the strategic failures of the Clinton campaign, and the over-all darkness of the Trump campaign. It’s a statistic about passivity, which is just what a democracy in the era of Trump can no longer afford.

There is still time for younger politicians to gather themselves for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 Presidential race. One well-established figure, Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, just published “This Fight Is Our Fight,” a book on the decline of middle-class prospects and conservative ideology since the Reagan era. It’s the sort of manifesto, like “The Audacity of Hope,” that frequently augurs higher political ambition. Warren came by our offices last week for an hour-long interview, and, while she made the ritual demurrals about a run for the Presidency, she spoke with a combative focus on precisely the issues that Clinton ceded to Trump in the 2016 race. Warren will be sixty-nine when it comes time to make a decision, but it would be foolish to think that she is not among those who are testing the waters.

The clownish veneer of Trumpism conceals its true danger. Trump’s way of lying is not a joke; it is a strategy, a way of clouding our capacity to think, to live in a realm of truth. It is said that each epoch dreams the one to follow. The task now is not merely to recognize this Presidency for the emergency it is, and to resist its assault on the principles of reality and the values of liberal democracy, but to devise a future, to debate, to hear one another, to organize, to preserve and revive precious things. ♦

David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992. He is the author of “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.” More
This article appears in other versions of the May 1, 2017, issue, with the headline “One Hundred Days.”
MORE: POLITICS DONALD TRUMP RUSSIA SYRIA AMERICAN HISTORY

Tell Trump: No War on North Korea

April 26, 2017

World Beyond War via WorldBeyondWar.org info@worldbeyondwar.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
8:38 AM (5 hours ago)

Donald Trump claims he has no choice but to threaten North Korea with war — a war that would prove disastrous for multiple countries, if not the entire world.

In reality, from all appearances, Trump has no clue as to the choices available or the history at work.

From everywhere in the world, please click here to help educate him — or at least the U.S. media and some of those around him.

The fact that North Korea is a horrific dictatorship does not change the reality that threatening to attack that nuclear-armed country is an extremely reckless policy that gravely risks setting off a cataclysmic catastrophe.

North Korea has repeatedly offered to abandon its nuclear weapons program if the United States and South Korea would stop flying over North Korea practicing to bomb it as well as engaging in other explicitly threatening military exercises nearby.

North Korea has shown interest in developing a peace treaty with the South to finally end the Korean War.

North Korea adhered to an agreement to halt its nuclear weapons program right up until George W. Bush labeled it a member of an axis of evil and viciously attacked one of the other designated members, Iraq.

A lot of such information is unfamiliar to many people. The “Background” links below provide a bit of that information.

Let’s remind Trump and the U.S. media of this context, and of the options it opens up.

When Trump says he’s sending ships to North Korea, people in North Korea with historical knowledge will remember the devastating bombing inflicted on the country by the United States nearly 70 years ago. The U.S. bombed dams, bridges, and villages. It dropped huge quantities of napalm. It dropped insects and feathers infected with anthrax, cholera, encephalitis, and bubonic plague.

The United States has never relinquished wartime command of the South Korean military, and it has been building big new bases in South Korea opposed by serious popular protests. The U.S. is building what it calls a missile defense system in South Korea that North Korea and China consider offensive and part of an offensive first-strike policy. The people of South Korea have been protesting it in huge numbers.

Click here to tell Trump some of the damaging policies that he has the option of halting.

Legally, when North Korea tests missiles it breaks no laws. The United States tests missiles all the time. But when the United States threatens war it commits a grave violation of the law as well as risks getting us all killed.

Let’s chart a different course before it is too late.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

Share on Facebook and Twitter.
If you are in the United States, you should also phone your two senators today at 1-202-224-3121.

Background:
> Bruce Cumings, The Nation, “Korean War Games”
> Dave Chaddock: “This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since”
> John DeLury, The Washington Post: “Instead of Threatening North Korea, Trump Should Try This”

Sign the Declaration of Peace.

Find events all over the world that you can take part in.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Support World Beyond War’s work by clicking here.

Find out why we support World Beyond War:

Webinar: Passing resolutions to stop Trump war budget

April 25, 2017

x

World Beyond War via WorldBeyondWar.org info@worldbeyondwar.org via sg.actionnetwork.org
3:00 PM (7 hours ago)

WEBINAR on Tuesday, April 25th

Cities are passing resolutions like this one against Trump’s military budget:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/resolution
Here’s a free webinar with those who’ve done it, to help you do the same in your town, city, or county. Join World Beyond War, Code Pink, and U.S. Peace Council.

Time: 8:30 pm eastern, 5:30 pm pacific
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/345776823
Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16465588656, 345776823# or +14086380968, 345776823#
Or Telephone: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 345 776 823
International numbers available:
https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=m5-jAw0lM0PmYWkkIuKN1kBfcyjp6Kbf
*****
On Saturday, April 29, in Washington, D.C., please join the peace contingent of the People’s Climate March.

As you know, we worked hard to get peace included in this march. Ending war is now part of the central message, and we have a peace rally and march planned.

We will join with other marches for a unified march and rally at the end.

To be part of the peace rally, be at 3rd Street south of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, before 11 a.m. for our 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. rally before marching.

Learn more, get involved, print flyers:
https://peace.peoplesclimate.org

More flyers:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/flyers

How war threatens the natural environment:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/war-threatens-environment-detail

Sign the Declaration of Peace.

Find events all over the world that you can take part in.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Support World Beyond War’s work by clicking here.

Find out why we support World Beyond War:

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

February 28, 2017

OpEdNews Op Eds 2/27/2017 at 19:53:08

By David Swanson Follow Me on Twitter Message David Swanson Permalink
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Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Ski Plant
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Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.

For similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.

If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.

Instead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.

If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes. And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true? We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war. But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind. Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption. Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war. That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.

So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first? Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?

Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)

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February 14, 2017

Five faces of dystopia
Never before has a government been so completely fused with business.

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By Paul Buchheit – February 14, 2017 | Op-Ed 1 Comment 171
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TAGSAndrew JacksoncorruptionDonald Trumpecocideracism
Based on reliable news sources, his biographer, and his own writings, the most powerful man of his era has been referred to as an “egomaniac” and “narcissist,” possessing a “big mouth” with an “impulsive style,” unable to differentiate between truth and falsehood, preferring emotion over facts, focused on national greatness and law & order, fearful of “foreignization,” prone to coarseness and put-downs in speeches, and fond of “mantralike phrases” filled with “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.”

Depravity

The man described above is Adolf Hitler. All of the descriptions were attributed to the Nazi leader: some of it by news media in the 1930s, some of it by modern historian and biographer Volker Ullrich, some of it by Hitler himself in “Mein Kampf.” Eerily familiar to the present day.

Racism

Donald Trump placed a painting of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, apparently feeling pleased that, in his own words, “a lot of people they compare the campaign of Trump with the campaign of [Jackson].”

Andrew Jackson may have been our most racist president. To him, Native Americans were only ‘savages’ standing in the way of progress. For ten years Jackson arranged ‘treaties’ with Indians in the American southeast, setting up his own friends as land agents, traders, and surveyors while encouraging white squatters to take over the land. Eventually recognizing Florida as vital to “national security,” he initiated raids on Seminole villages, burning down homes and forcing out residents, all in the name of the “immutable laws of self-defense.” The result was a Trail of Tears that led thousands of sick and starving Cherokees across the Mississippi in the middle of winter to unfamiliar and unproductive land far from their home.

Indian removal, according to Jackson, would help the Native Americans to “cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.” He hypocritically added, “Say to the chiefs and warriors that I am their friend…[their land] they shall possess as long as grass grows or water runs.”

Jackson didn’t reserve his enmity for Native Americans alone. He was the only president to have driven a “coffle” of chained slaves to work in faraway locations. As a reward for returning one of his runaway slaves, he promised: “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him.”

Simplemindedness

Ronald Reagan said, “Government is the problem.” Donald Trump said, “Good people don’t go into government.”

There are other similarities, many of them reported by historian William E. Leuchtenburg, author of “The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.” Says Leuchtenburg, “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill-informed.” A Reagan presidential aide remarked, “He made decisions like an ancient king…passively letting his subjects serve him, selecting only those morsels of public policy that were especially tasty.”

Reagan provided entertaining moments that Trump is beginning to emulate with newer technology. According to Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, during a meeting on the MX missile “Reagan’s only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he’d watched a movie the night before.” On the day before a global summit meeting he was given a briefing book, which he never opened, and when asked about it by chief of staff James Baker, Reagan replied, “Well, Jim, The Sound of Music was on last night.” Reagan had his movies, Trump his TV. He watches it for hours, apparently searching narcissistically for news about himself, and then at times turning it into official policy. According to Fortune, “At least five times since he took office on Jan. 20, Trump has tweeted about policy ideas and thoughts that seem directly related to news that was being shown on channels such as Fox News.”

Through the 1980s, Reagan’s staff “protected him by severely restricting situations where he might blurt out a fantasy” while “keeping the press at shouting distance or beyond.” Yet he “alarmed members of his staff by flying into a rage if the press reported that he had changed his position on an issue, even when he undoubtedly had.” More similarities to the present day.

Ecocide

Stalin destroyed not only people, but also the environment. In “An Environmental History of Russia,” it is stated that “During the Stalin era, state-mandated programs…ensured that economic development was the sine qua non of decision making. Those who stood in the way of the programs…were often labeled ‘wreckers.’ The ‘wreckers’ included some of the nation’s most able biologists, forestry and fisheries specialists, agronomists, and ecologists. Officials…came to consider nature itself an ‘enemy of the people.’”

“We cannot expect charity from nature,” said Stalin. “We must tear it from her.”

Donald Trump has shown the same disdain for the earth with statements like “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” His new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is an obfuscating climate change denier whose company, Exxon, has been linked to the great majority of other climate change deniers.

Corruption

Historian Kevin Kruse might be providing some insight into Donald Trump’s mind in his summation of Warren G. Harding, considered by many to be the worst president: “He felt woefully under-qualified for the job…so he surrounded himself with old friends…who themselves were unqualified for the jobs they held and many of them corrupt.”

Historian Eric Foner goes on to discuss Harding’s and Coolidge’s corruption in office, and their penchant for “channeling money and favors to big business.” The two presidents, says Foner, “slashed income and corporate taxes and supported employers’ campaigns to eliminate unions.”

“Never before,” said the Wall Street Journal at the time, “has a government been so completely fused with business.”

Until the dystopian Trump era.

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World to Trump

January 31, 2017

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With the Muslim ban, Trump has shown that the worst fears about his Presidency are true. Add your voice to the open letter below to join the resistance — then spread it far and wide:

—-

Dear Mr. Trump,

This is not what greatness looks like.

The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you.

Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding.

As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.

Sincerely,
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Make it illegal for Trump to start a nuclear war.

January 26, 2017

Meredith, Global Zero globalzero@globalzero.org via mail.salsalabs.net
2:27 PM (1 hour ago)

Friend,

On the heels of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved up the Doomsday Clock to 2.5 minutes to midnight. The Clock tells us how close the world’s top scientists think humans are to destroying the planet. This is the closest we’ve been since 1953, when the U.S. and Soviet Union were testing hydrogen bombs.

In a statement explaining their decision, the scientists specifically pointed to Donald Trump’s dangerous positions about the use and spread of nuclear weapons. [1]

Help us #RollBackTheClock and demand Congress stop Trump from starting a nuclear war.

We’ve already seen Trump make good on a lot of campaign promises. He’s issued 12 executive orders in 6 days, from censoring scientists to starting his “border wall” to laying the groundwork for a ban on Muslims and refugees. That tells us two things: He won’t hesitate to use the power of the presidency, and every dark promise of the last 18 months must be taken seriously.

When it comes to nuclear weapons, nowhere are his promises darker or his power more absolute.

We’ve plunged into uncertain, dangerous times, and anxiety about nuclear war is higher than ever. But with bold leadership and a rising tide of resistance, we can stop Trump and roll back the Doomsday Clock.

Starting with last weekend’s Women’s March, powerful protests have erupted around the world in response to Trump’s agenda. Our resistance is only beginning: Just this week, two brave members of Congress proposed urgent legislation (“Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act,” H.R. 669 & S.200) that can stop Trump from launching a nuclear war on his own. The law requires a Congressional declaration of war before nuclear weapons can be used, except in response to an incoming nuclear attack. In other words, it would limit Trump’s ability to impulsively light the world on fire and move us back from Doomsday.

Click here to urge your member of Congress to support the “Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.”

We have a lot of work to do, and at 2-and-a-half minutes to midnight, time is not on our side. We can immediately limit Trump’s power and rein in this threat — but only if we act quickly and with resolve.

Onward,
Meredith Horowski

P.S. — If you can chip in right now, it would be a huge help in the many battles ahead.

[1] – “Thanks to Trump, the Doomsday Clock Advances Towards Midnight,” New York Time: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/opinion/thanks-to-trump-the-doomsday-clock-advances-toward-midnight.html

Sent by GLOBAL ZERO | 1342 Florida Avenue NW | Washington, DC 20009 USA

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