Spreading the gospel of white nationalism, alienating allies, and attacking a woman who isn’t Theresa May… just another day with Trump

This morning, our President, Donal Trump, shared three videos by way of social media that had originally been posted to Twitter by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, an anti-Muslim extremist political organization. The three videos appear to show a Muslim man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary, an “Islamist mob” shoving a young man to his death from the roof of a building, and a Muslim “migrant” beating up a Dutch boy on crutches. The first of these two videos, it would appear, date back to at least 2013, and the perpetrator of the crime in the third tape, we now know, wasn’t a migrant at all, but a 16 year old who was born in the Netherlands. England’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, after hearing that Donald Trump had shared these videos put on social media by a British extremist group, issued a statement condemning the action. Trump, she said, was “wrong” to have shared this material, which was posted to Twitter by Britain First, an entity, according to May, that seeks to “peddle lies,” “stoke tensions,” and “divide communities through their use of hateful narratives.

Trump, as I suspect will surprise no one, didn’t take this rebuke lightly, tweeting a nasty note back to someone who he thought, based on her Twitter handle, might be Theresa May. [It wasn’t.]

And, now, May, the leader of what has historically been our closest ally, is now facing pressure to un-invite Trump, who is supposed to visit the UK early next year.

As for the damage Trump has done to our standing in England, here’s a tweet from Sam Coates, the deputy political editor at The Times.

Meanwhile, here at home, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders essentially told reporters that, even if the videos weren’t real, it was OK for Trump to have shared them, as they’ve brought our collective attention to the very real problem of Muslim migration. “Whether it is a real video, the threat is real,” Sanders said. “That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it.” Sanders then went on to tell the assembled reporters that they were “focusing on the wrong thing” here. “The threat is real,” she said. She then went on to say, “The threat has to be talked about and that is what the President is doing in bringing that up.” Here’s the video.

If you’re struggling with this concept – that, when Trump lies, he’s actually speaking the truth – I’d suggest listening to the episode of Sam Harris’s Waking Up podcast, where he talks with Trump fan Scott Adams about the concept he refers to as “emotional truth”… or this idea that sometimes a lie can contain more truth within it than the truth itself. [It’s absolutely infuriating to hear Adams defend Trump’s lies as “emotional truths,” but, if you’ve got the stomach for it, I’d suggest you give it a listen, as it helps explain to some extent why the President’s supporters seem so impervious to the truth.]

So, just to recap… The President today retweeted videos that were posted by a woman in the UK who not only leads a neofascist organization, but was just recently found guilty of having committed a hate crime under British law. And, in doing so, he earned the public rebuke of a longstanding democratic ally, unlike anything I can remember in my lifetime. [Guess what? The Brits, given their history, apparently don’t take too kindly to people playing footsie with fascists.] Then, to make matters worse, Sanders said it didn’t really matter if the videos were fake, as they pointed toward a greater truth, at which point Trump attacked a woman on Twitter, thinking that she was Theresa May, telling her to stay out of our business… Oh, and this all happened after Trump hinted that his former friend, Joe Scarborough, may have murdered a former intern… Just another day in Trump world.

Oh, and guess what? Britain First loves Putin… Small world, right?

note: I almost didn’t post this, as it crossed my mind that this whole thing may have been orchestrated to keep our attention off the fact that the cruel, dishonest and unfair Republican tax plan is currently making its way through the Senate, but then it occurred to me that maybe, if you haven’t already picked up the phone to call your Senators and demand that they put an end to it, this most recent incident, as outlined above, may light a fire under your ass… This man, if you haven’t noticed, is dragging along with him into a world of madness, and we need to fight him at every turn. We need to kill this tax bill. And then we need to get Doug Jones into the Senate. If we can do those two things, the Republicans, I suspect, may finally turn on Trump and force him from office. And, here’s the bonus. Even if that doesn’t work, and Trump stays in office, we still keep Roy Moore out of the Senate, and stop the Republicans from raising taxes on the middle class to pay for unprecedented give-aways to the wealthy… So, what do you say? Will you CALL YOUR SENATORS and demand they vote “no” on this tax bill?

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Five simple things you can do to stop Trump’s Tax Scam

If you read this site, you know the Republican tax bill is shortsighted, cruel and stupid. You know that, even though it was sold to us as a middle class tax cut, the truth is, tax cuts for the middle class are small and temporary, while the tax cuts for billionaires and corporations are large and permanent. You know that, if passed in its most current form, the Republican tax plan would, among other terrible things, add nearly $1.5 Trillion to the national debt, raise taxes on the middle class, take health care from 13 million Americans, decimate higher education, and, through the elimination of the estate tax, pave the way for development of a true American aristocracy.

The question is, what can we do to stop it, now that it appears as though the Republicans may have the votes they need to pass it into law.

Before we get to that, though, here’s where we stand right now, process-wise… The House version of the bill, as you may recall, passed several weeks ago, meaning that the battle has transitioned to the Senate, where it looks as though Republicans have finally started to convince themselves that passing something – even a bad bill that fucks a majority of their voters – is better than passing nothing at all. [They haven’t, after all, passed a single piece of legislation into law over the past year, even though they’ve had control over the House, the Senate and the White House.] And, of course, as we’ve discussed before, their donors have made it clear that they won’t continue to write checks unless this is done. [The Republicans in Congress have admitted as much.] So, given all of that, the Senate version of the bill just passed through the Senate Budget Committee this afternoon with a 12-11 vote along party lines. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Bob Corker of Tennessee, both of whom had threatened to oppose the bill, ended up voting to pass it out of committee, moving it to the floor of the Senate, where it’s expected that there will be a vote Wednesday on whether or not to proceed. Assuming a majority vote to proceed, members of the Senate can then begin offering and debating amendments to the bill. And, if all goes according to the Republican plan, there could be a final vote as early as Friday. If they don’t get it done on Friday, though, they still have approximately one week. If they miss that window, though, they might be sunk, as it looks as though we might be facing a government shutdown on December 8. And, on December 12, assuming the people of Alabama decide to do the right thing and vote for the non-pedophile on the ballot, the dynamics of the Senate could be considerably different. [If you can, please consider joining me and sending a few dollars to Doug Jones, the man opposing Roy Moore in that incredibly important Senate race.]

So, now, here are a few things you can do right now.

1. Wherever you live, log into Indivisible’s new Trump Tax Scam site, which is full of great, state-specific information and resources, and start making calls to the offices of your Senators using their cal scripts.

Here, to give you an idea of what you’ll find when you visit the site, is what they have to say about Michigan, where I live.

[Just follow the “Michigan” link above, and you’ll find information like what’s above about your state, but with clickable links, call scripts, and any number of other cool, helpful tools and resources. If you want, they’ll even give you the number of a left-leaning person in a state with Republican Senators, so you can encourage them to call their offices.]

Remember, nothing is as effective as calling the offices of your elected officials, except maybe showing up in person… Speaking of which, the arrests in DC have already begun.

And, remember, just because you live in a state that has Democratic Senators, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be making calls, either to your Senators, demanding that they do more to slow the progress of the bill, or to your friends and family members in other states, asking that they place calls to their Senators. Try minute you spend on the phone today will make a difference.

2. Go on Facebook and post the following question: “Who do I know in Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, Montana, Wisconsin, or Alaska?”

Then, when you start hearing back from people in those states, explain to them what’s at stake, and ask that they please take a minute and call the offices of John McCain (Arizona), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tennessee), Steve Daines (Montana), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) or Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). There are other Republican Senators that might be in play as well, as you can see from this new Washington Post graphic, but these are the seven that I’m focusing on, given what they’ve said on the record about their reservations concerning either the bill itself, the shady process whereby it came to the Senate floor, or the fact that it raises the deficit. [McCain, for instance, has said that he would vote against any bill that didn’t follow “regular order,” which this bill surely hasn’t. So Im encouraging everyone I know in Arizona to remind him of this fact.] And, remember, we just need three of them to flip, like McCain, Murkowksi and Collins did during the health care debate, to make this whole thing crumble. [I should add, I’m not adverse to comprehensive tax reform. I think it could be a good thing. I just think this particular bill is terrible is terrible for the working men and women of our country.]

[Just follow the “new Washington Post graphic” link above to be taken to the interactive series of graphics, which will show you what each of these Senators has said on the record about this bill on which they’ll be voting.]

3. Troll the Senate Republicans mercilessly on social media.

It may not be as effective as a polite but forceful call placed by a constituent, but, after doing everything else that needs to be done, I’ve found it cathartic to just spend a few minutes on Twitter, reminding folks like Bob Corker what they’ve said in the past about how they’d never vote in favor of a tax bill that would raise the deficit, etc. [The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has forecasted that the Republican tax bill, if passed into law, would increase the federal deficit by $1.4 Trillion over 10 years.] Here, to give you an idea as to how I’ve gone about it, is something that I tweeted to John McCain earlier today. [He’s yet to respond.]

4. Ask Resistbot for assistance.

I know calls are more effective than emails and texts when it comes to things like this, but I signed up for Resistbot earlier today, and it helped me to shoot out a few messages to my Senators. So, if you can’t make calls, and you have access to a smartphone, give it a shot. Here, if it helps, is what I sent out. [If I were to do it again, I’d explicitly ask for them to “withhold consent” to slow down the process, as was a tactic used effectively during the last health care fight. And, of course, I’d correct the grammar.]

5. Just talk with people.

It’s probably a good thing to do anyway, right? We should all be talking more. And not just with people we already know. We should be more open to conversations about these things. And we should be ready, when opportunities present themselves, to share facts about what’s going on. And, in this case, it’s really not all that hard, as the facts are on our side. The middle class tax cuts are temporary. The corporate tax cuts aren’t. It’s that simple. They’re lying to us, and they’re raising our taxes in order to hand over billions of dollars to America’s most wealthy. It’s that simple… So, if you’re at the barbershop today, standing in line at the grocery store, or picking your kid up from school, and you see an opportunity to mention what’s going on, give it a shot. Sure, it could lead to an awkward conversation with a Fox News watcher, but we owe it to future generations to at least try, right?

If you have other ideas for how people can get involved, please leave a comment. And, if you feel so inclined, please share this link on social media.

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The hijacking of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

There’s so much I want to talk about right now… the failed attempt on the part of Project Veritas to trick the Washington Post into running a fake story about Roy Moore’s fondness for child rape; the fact that our President couldn’t help but make a racist joke today while honoring Navajo ‘code talkers’ for their service during World War II; the campaign on the part of industry to gut net neutrality; this Republican tax bill which seems to be moving quickly through the Senate in spite of the fact that it would add $1.5 Trillion to the national debt, raise taxes on the middle class, take health care from 13 million Americans, and decimate higher education… but what I’m really drawn to right now is this story about the fight over the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which, apparently, as of today, has two directors, each claiming legitimacy.

I mean, how can you see something like this, and not want to know more?

The above comes from a suit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by CFPB Acting Director Leandra English, in an attempt to prevent former Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, from taking her position. [He showed up at the CFPB office this morning, with a bag of donuts, telling people that Trump had made him their new boss, in violation, it would seem, of standard protocol.]

Before getting into all of that, though, I should start by saying that the Republicans have always hated the CFPB, since Elizabeth Warren first proposed the formation of the agency a decade ago, as we were looking for ways to rein in financial institutions and keep them honest in the wake of the collapse that nearly tanked our economy. As you might recall, members of the banking industry fought viciously to keep the agency, which is charged with protecting consumers in the financial sector, from ever seeing the light of day, first attempting to keep it from launching, and then delaying the confirmation of Richard Cordray, who President Obama had chosen to run the organization, for over two years… Cordray was finally confirmed by the Senate in July of 2013, “cementing,” in the words of the New York Times, “a new era of expansive federal oversight of companies that lend money to consumers.” And, it would seem, at least from the perspective of consumers, that Cordary and the agency have been successful. According to California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the CFPB has, since its launch, “returned $12 billion to veterans, seniors, and families who have been cheated by banks and corporations.” But, apparently, not everyone sees this as a good thing. Mick Mulvaney, who Trump wants to install as the head of the agency now that Cordray has stepped down, has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke” in the past. What’s more, just today, Mulvaney told reporters that, under his direction, the agency will “protect people without trampling on capitalism.” [I guess, from Mulvaney’s perspective, the CFPB was “trampling on capitalism” when it recently got Citibank to return $700 million to customers for misleading them into purchasing “add-ons,” like identity-theft protection.]

OK, so here, with a little more background as to what just happened, is a clip from today’s New York Times.

…The bureaucratic standoff began Friday afternoon when Richard Cordray, the Obama-appointed leader of the bureau, abruptly announced he would leave the job at the close of business, a week earlier than anticipated. He followed up with a letter naming his chief of staff, Leandra English, as the agency’s deputy director.

The announcement came with a twist. Under the law, he said, that appointment would make the new deputy director the agency’s acting director. The move was seen as an effort to delay Mr. Trump from appointing his own director, whose confirmation could take months.

The White House retaliated, saying that the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, who once characterized the consumer protection bureau as a “sad, sick joke,” would be running the agency. He would also keep his current job as head of the Office of Management and Budget.

Mr. Mulvaney said he would assume the additional role until a permanent successor was found.

“I believe Americans deserve a C.F.P.B. that seeks to protect them while ensuring free and fair markets for all consumers,” he said in a statement. “Financial services are the engine of American democratic capitalism, and we need to let it work.”

In a letter to the consumer protection agency’s staff, Mr. Cordray named Ms. English as deputy director. Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which established the regulatory agency, the deputy director is to serve as acting director in the absence of a permanent leader, Mr. Cordray said.

The conflicting appointments were a fitting development for an agency under constant attack from Republican leaders, and it leaves supporters wondering about the agency’s future with Mr. Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress…

Interestingly, this is all happening at a time when, according to Newsweek’s David Sirota, the CFPB is preparing a huge lawsuit against the megabuck Santander. As Sirota pointed out on Twitter yesterday, not only did Trump appoint Mulvaney the same day that Reuters broke the story about the case against Santander, but “Mulvaney’s former top aide is right now lobbying for Santander”.

What’s more, according to Think Progress’s Ian Millhiser, the lawsuit seeking to stop Mulvaney’s appointment has been assigned to Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee and former Republican Senate staffer‏, which means that the decision, at least at the district court level, will likely favor Trump and Mulvaney. The question, as Millhiser says, is how fast the case makes it to the DC Circuit Court, and who will be on the panel that hears the case.

For what it’s worth, according to Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, the law is pretty clear on this matter, and “the law says that the agency’s deputy director takes over when the director resigns.” Not that the law really matters anymore.

I know I don’t need to tell you this, but what we’re seeing here fits a pattern we’ve seen before. This is what the administration does. They find the person most likely to destroy a particular organization within government, and they install that person at the head of the organization. Just like Trump appointed an anti-public education activist (Betsy DeVos) to run the Department of Education, a friend of Putin’s (Rex Tillerson) to run the State Department, or a governor who once called for the destruction of the Energy Department (Rick Perry) to head that entity, this is all about the purposeful destruction of what Steve Bannon called the “administrative state.” This is about destroying the very foundation of our American government. And we should all be very concerned.

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Having cautioned that we might not be so keen on the Russia investigation when it starts taking down our heroes on the left, former National Security Agency analyst John Schindler points to John Conyers

A few days ago, former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John Schindler‏ noted on Twitter that the Russia investigation would eventually take down not just Republicans, but Democrats as well. “If you think the coming takedown of Kremlin spy-influence networks in DC will only bag people you dislike,” he said, “consider hiding in a cave now.” And, today, in an article written for the Observer titled “The Real John Conyers Scandal Has Nothing to Do With Sex,” Schindler followed through on his threat, making the case against Michigan’s beloved Democratic icon has been doing the work of the Kremlin for years… Here’s a clip.

…In June 2015, Conyers went on a tirade against Ukraine on the floor of the House, denouncing Kyiv’s military as “neo-Nazi”—a slander that was quickly parroted by Kremlin mouthpieces online. He stated that Ukraine should not get anti-aircraft missiles from Washington, citing as evidence the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, the murder of 299 innocents—without noting that it was Russians, not Ukrainians, who downed the civilian airliner. It comes as no surprise that the bill amendment before the House to block anti-air missiles for Ukraine that was sponsored by Conyers was arranged by the notorious pro-Kremlin lobbyist Paul Manafort—the very same swamp macher who’s now facing indictments over his shady ties to President Trump and the Russians.

Conyers’ decades of spouting unfiltered Kremlin propaganda is so notorious in Washington that last year the Huffington Post, nobody’s idea of a right-wing outlet, ran a piece on him entitled “Putin’s Man in Congress.” That charge seems fair, based on the evidence, and is something that needs public discussion, particularly as Washington prepares to root out Moscow’s secret spy-propaganda apparatus in our nation’s capital.

That dirty apparat has been at work for decades. Kremlin disinformation didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and any thorough investigation of Russian espionage will reveal plenty of collaborators in Washington, on both sides of the political aisle. Some of them will even be Democratic “icons.” If the “resistance” isn’t willing to confront the bipartisan nature of the Kremlin’s clandestine political warfare against our country, they need to get out of the amateur counterspy business before they do real damage to our democracy.

If I had to guess, I’d say that we won’t have Conyers in the House much longer, given the seriousness of the sexual harassment charges he’s now facing, but it does make one wonder where the Russia investigation, if we really take it seriously, and allow it to unfold naturally, might lead. Just how much further will we allow the investigation to go once we move beyond members of the Trump administration? Will Dana Rohrabacher‏ be held accountable for his interactions with the Kremlin? And will the Democrats, assuming they have some power after 2018, still be as enthusiastic about the investigation, once members of their own party are being called to testify?

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Down the staircase and through the rabbit hole…

As I type this, I’m laying on the couch in our living room, silently watching the family cat slowly disembowel a naugahyde chair on the other side of the room, as I try to assess just how broken I am. As I was able to walk on my own from the bottom of the staircase to where I now lay, I’m pretty sure I didn’t break anything, but I’ve clearly done damage to my elbow, ankle, hip, and knee, which are now competing with one another for the attention of my brain’s currently overloaded pain center. [As of right now, the hip has a pretty significant lead.] I’ve been living in this 175 year old house of ours for the past 17 years, running up and down the well-worn wooden stairs in my socks without incident, but I guess it was just a matter of time before my luck ran out. And it ran out in a big way, with me slipping on the very top step earlier this evening, sending me crashing the whole way down.

[I tried to find a fitting image for this post, but everything that came to mind was too dark… the staircase death scene from the Exorcist, the scene where Martin Balsam gets stabbed in the face and falls down the staircase in Psycho, the famous scene from Battleship Potemkin, etc. Finally, though, I settled on the above image from a Japanese game show in which men race to the top of a slippery staircase. The circumstances of my accident were somewhat different, but I suspect that the video would be just as funny.]

Arlo just counted the stairs for me. He says there are 15. I can’t get up to check, but that sounds about right. Assuming it is, I’d say I hit about 10 stairs before I came to a stop, approximately four steps from the bottom of the staircase, against a stack of suitcases and Lego boxes that Arlo had just gotten for his birthday. [Arlo turns 6 next week, but we just celebrated a bit early, taking advantage of the fact that most of my relatives were gathered in Kentucky over Thanksgiving.] And each of those 10 stairs hit my elbow, ankle, hip, and knee like a sledgehammer as I made my way toward the earth like Icarus.

I don’t know how it works for the rest of you who live your lives divided between two floors, but our staircase serves as a kind of staging area, as it sits between these two distinct areas of our home. Dishtowels and the like, after going through the laundry (which is on the second floor), get folded and stacked on the upstairs banisters, alongside dirty dishes that need to make their way back down to the kitchen. And everything we gather up when cleaning downstairs, that needs to eventually make its way back up to the second floor, where the bedrooms are, gets stacked on along the righthand side of the staircase, starting on the bottom step, and moving upward. And, at least in theory, when one of us goes up or down, we take a load with us, putting whatever it is where it needs to be. Of course, sometimes, the stacks on both ends grow to the point of being Suessian, with teetering towers of teacups and cutlery and the like, growing taller by the day.

In this instance, if memory serves, I was mid-stride onto the first step, at the top of the staircase, when it crossed my mind that I should take the clean dishtowels stacked on the banister down to the kitchen with me. So, I turned to my left to grab them, at which point I felt me feet fly out from under me, sending my left hip crashing into the hard edge of what was probably the second step down from the top… From that point onward, everything was in slow motion. I remember stretching out above my head with both arms, trying to grab onto a stair above me to keep from sliding. But, apparently, when you weigh about 200 pounds, and the stairs are slippery, gravity is pretty difficult to overcome. So, stair by stair, I made my way down, with my inside left elbow, left hip, left knee and left ankle hitting every one with a loud crack that sent my family running.

Linette was convinced that I must have tripped over one of the books, toys, or piles of dirty clothing that we’d stacked along the right side of the staircase when unloading the car. The truth is, however, that’s probably what kept me from hitting the final five stairs, and going on to crash through the front door like a bloated, pink Kool-Aid Man.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all that serious. Had it happened a few years from now, I have no doubt that I would have broken a hip, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be up and around in a few days. I’ll probably be limping for a while, and I’m sure I’ll have some pretty nasty bruises, but I’ll be OK. It does make one think, however, how things may have gone differently, as I personally know of people, not much older than myself, who have actually died after similar slip and fall accidents. So, as bad as I feel right now, I’m thankful.

Anyway, what this means for you is that you’re likely going to hear a lot of venting as I lay here, reading the news between searches for “stair runners” and movies like All The President’s Men.

So, let’s begin, shall we? And if you know of anything to add to my ever growing list of things to be outraged about, please share a link. Anything to take my mind off my left hip right now is a good thing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS… THE TRUMPS ARE CASHING IN

I know the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, strictly speaking, says that elected officials cannot profit from their office by accepting payments, or gifts, from foreign governments. And I know, when it comes time for indictments, there will be ample evidence that Trump has violated the law in significant ways, not only having accepted the assistance of the Russian government to win the presidentcy, but having used his position to steer international business toward his D.C. hotel and other properties. With the said, though, I think it’s worth noting that he and his family of grifters have continued, in both large and small ways, to push ethical boundaries and established norms in hopes of further cashing in on what’s left of their White House residency. Yesterday, the Trump campaign texted out a Black Friday special offer under the headline “President Trump has a GREAT DEAL for you!”, and, today, Don Jr. has begun tweeting out about deals to be had on the shitty wines of the Trump Winery. This, of course, is exactly what we should have expected when we elected the man that gave us Trump-branded water, steak, and ties, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or infuriating when, after telling his white power base about his efforts to protect the sanctity of Christmas, he uses it as a platform to move more shit.

Oh, and speaking of Black Friday, according to the FBI, they got a record-breaking 203,086 requests for gun background checks… So I guess we’ll all be a lot safer in the coming year, right?

THE NORMALIZATION OF NAZIS

For whatever reason – maybe to prove to the world that they’re not elitist, and that they have their finger firmly on the pulse of the American heartland – the folks at the New York Times today chose to publish a charming little profile about a cool Nazi in Ohio who likes Seinfeld, has a Twin Peaks inspired tattoo, and even tolerated the presence of a bi-racial couple at his wedding. Well, as you might imagine, this didn’t sit well with some, who apparently feel kind of strongly that we shouldn’t be normalizing the far right, so much as reminding people where such beliefs, if left unchecked, ultimately lead. After saying “the election of President Trump helped open a space for people like him,” the article then dives into an exploration of just how normal the guy is, eating at Applebee’s, shopping at Target, and just living his life like the rest of us. Here, if you can stomach it, is a clip.

…On a recent weekday evening, Mr. Hovater was at home, sautéing minced garlic with chili flakes and waiting for his pasta to boil. The cats were wandering in and out of their tidy little rental house. Books about Mussolini and Hitler shared shelf space with a stack of Nintendo Wii games. A day earlier, a next-door neighbor, whom Mr. Hovater doesn’t know very well, had hung a Confederate flag in front of his house…

I suspect the folks at the Times would say it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, and that there’s this growing far right movement that people need to be aware of. The feature did, however, strike me as odd in tone, almost as if it were born from a grudging acceptance of this new reality, as opposed to sense that we need to defeat it… I’ll have to go back and check the Times archives to see if they wrote anything like this in the 1930s. Maybe, I’m thinking, there’s a piece somewhere that says, “Hitler, with a good-natured chuckle, refers to me as a member of the Lügenpresse, placing his hand on the small of my back and guiding me to a window overlooking the Alps, where he begins talking passionately about the ‘international Jew.’ I smile politely, and remind him that I’ve come to talk about his landscape paintings.” Regardless of intent, now that I’ve read the New York Times piece, I’m wondering if maybe it’s me that’s closed-minded. Should I be seeking out Nazi friends? If I just gave the Nazis a chance, would I come to see that they’re pretty much just like me, except, of course, for the stuff about hating democracy, people of color, etc.?

Oh, and speaking of white nationalism, I also just read that, after a meeting of the University of Michigan Regents, it looks as though the prospect of a Richard Spencer speaking engagement on campus is now pretty likely. For what it’s worth, I understand the situation the University is in. Given the many statements University administrators have made in defense of freedom of speech, and the fact that, as President Mark Schlissel just pointed out, they’re “legally prohibited from blocking such requests based solely on the content of that speech,” it would appear as though, at least to some extent, they were backed into a corner, with no good options. Still, though, it strikes me as odd, to say the least, that we’ll likely be seeing Spencer on campus when, as of yesterday, he’s been banned altogether for a period of five years from 26 European Union countries including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, and Poland, where some 60,000 white supremacists just marched in a “Europe Must Be White” march.

One last thing. For what it’s worth, the New York Times wasn’t the only publication making questionable decisions today. The Washington Post ran an editorial about how we shouldn’t try to stop species like polar bears from going extinct.

PUTTING EVERYTHING ELSE ASIDE AND FOCUSING ON PRESERVING OUR DEMOCRACY

Benjamin Wittes, who is the editor-in-chief at the Lawfare blog, as well as a fellow at the Brookings Institution, has just posted something worth reading on Twitter… a political manifesto that suggests, for the good of our democracy, we put aside all of our disagreements concerning social issues, tax policy, etc., and just focus on the national emergency embodied by the Trump administration. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but here’s a clip.

TRUMP NEVER SAID THAT HE GRABBED WOMEN BY THE PUSSY

A full year after the Access Hollywood hot mic recording of Donald Trump talking about how, because he was famous, he could grab women “by the pussy” without their consent, became public, President Trump appears to be changing his story. According to a report in today’s New York Times, he’s recently been suggesting to people in his inner circle that the tape was fake, reversing his original defense, which was that it was just “locker room talk”. One wonders if perhaps he’s getting ready for the release of even worse tapes, laying the groundwork for a “fake news” defense.

TRUMP SHARES LINK TO CONSPIRACY WEBSITE

Earlier today, Trump tweeted out a link to a site called MAGAPILL.com, which he positioned as an anecdote to “fake news”. Here, to give you a sense of what MAGAPILL is all about, is a graphic they tweeted out a few weeks ago.

Here, if you can’t make out the detail, is a bit of background from the conservative Weekly Standard: “Among the conspiracies listed are: ‘false flag terrorism’, genetically modified crops, the use of ‘algorithmic censorship’ of social media, ‘rogue intel factions’ at the CIA and Mossad, a ‘network of global corporate control’, ‘Luciferian rituals’, secret societies like the Knights Templar and the Jesuits, and ‘trauma based mind control.’ At the bottom of the entire conspiracy are the ‘Overlords’ from ‘Bloodline Families’ that include the aristocracy and royalty, the papacy, and the banking families, all of whom apparently practice a Luciferian religion that worships ‘the Dark Side through rituals, including child/human sacrifice’.”

That’s right. The sitting President of the United States, after attacking CNN as “fake news”, just directed the American people to get their news instead from an entity promoting the idea that “bloodline families” engaged in “Luciferian ritual” are secretly ruling the world. Not too long ago, this would have, on its own, been an impeachable offense. Now, though, on a day that the President has actively started campaigning on behalf of an accused pedophile, it doesn’t even make the evening news.

[It’s interesting to note, I think, that this graphic shared by MAGAPILL has completely spun Trump’s concept of “the swamp” on its head. When Trump ran for President, he said that he’d “drain the swamp,” removing Washington insiders from power. Instead, though, he brought these people – the super lobbyists and the Wall Street elite – into his administration. In more sane times, people would see this as a broken promise. Under Trump, though, all we have to do is say, “By ‘drain the swamp,’ he wasn’t referring to lobbyists, but to the members of the ‘Dark Side’ whole rule from the shadows, ‘through rituals, including child/human sacrifice’.”]

OK, that’s it for me. I hope you’ve gained something from my nearly eight hours of sitting here on this couch, reading the news and venting.

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