Friday, February 24, 2017

Who's Ignoring Domestic Terrorism Based On Race?

One of the faces of domestic American terrorism:
racist killer Adam W. Purinton
Earlier today Donald Trump was quick to take the stage at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland to rant about deporting brown-skinned immigrants.

As the New York Times reported, Trump's rambling CPAC speech "included a promise to throw illegal immigrants 'the hell out of the country' and a recitation of his law-and-order campaign promises." 

Right-wing hot-air rhetoric custom tailored to his overwhelmingly white conservative audiences that are replete with coded racist overtones and the intentional vilification and "othering" of people with dark skin.


45 has been big on pedantic inflammatory blathering about kicking people off welfare, simplistically characterizing cities like Chicago as vast post-apocalyptic wastelands and his incessant finger pointing at terrorist attacks abroad; both real or, as in the case of Sweden, imagined.

But interestingly, the White House has been virtually silent about a recent act of violent domestic terror that resulted in the shooting death of an innocent person of color and the wounding of two other people.  

On Wednesday night patrons at a popular sports bar in the affluent suburb of Olathe, Kansas called Austin's Bar and Grill were watching a Kansas Jayhawks basketball game on TV when witnesses heard 51-year old Adam Purinton yell out "get out of my country" before he pulled out a gun and began shooting at two Indian men.

According to an article on the Huffington Post, 32-year-old Alok R. Masadani and 24-year-old Ian P. Grillot both suffered gunshot wounds, and a third man of Indian descent named Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot and killed.

Grillot, who is white, did not know the the two locally-employed engineers from Hyderabad, India, but according to an Aljazeera.com article bartender Garret Bohnen said in an interview, "From what I understand, when he [the gunman] was throwing racial slurs at the two gentlemen, Ian stood up for them." 

Like other terrified patrons Grillot hid as Purinton fired nine shots, but then he attempted to subdue the gunman as he tried to escape, but was shot in the chest.

Victims Masadani, Kuchibhotla (center) and Grillot
Purinton fled across state lines and eventually found his way to an Applebees 70 miles away in Clinton, Missouri where he allegedly told a bartender that he'd "just killed two Middle Eastern men."

It took the White House two whole days to comment on the shooting, by the time Sean Spicer offered a statement about the incident earlier today, it was to insist the shooting was not related to Trump's anti-immigrant fear-mongering.

At a press conference on Thursday an FBI spokesman said the agency is still trying to determine if the senseless attack was motivated by racial bias.

By any definition the shooting that took place in a crowded bar on Wednesday night has all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

So where's the heated condemnation and muscular anti-terrorism rhetoric from the White House?

Maybe that righteous indignation only applies when the attacker is Muslim and has dark skin.

Perhaps the problem for the White House in this case is one of perception since Purinton, a 51-year-old white American male who looks exactly like a textbook definition of a Trump supporter, doesn't fit into the current White House definition of "other."

Regardless, what's becoming clear about the High-Chair President is that sometimes his silences can be just as revealing as his endless Twitter messages and rambling speeches.

For the past two weeks he's done little but blather on about terrorism and the danger that unprovoked attacks based on hatred pose to innocent people.

But for 48 hours this week the same guy who watches television all the time and Tweets about crap as meaningless as a retail chain not carrying his daughter Ivanka's fashion accessories, says nothing about a white American man hurling racial slurs at and then shooting two innocent Indian men minding their own business at a crowded bar full of patrons - while yelling "get out of my country"?

I mean honestly, who does that sound like? Same guy who told the audience at CPAC earlier today that he planned to throw illegal immigrants "the hell out of the country"?

Why don't Trump and Spicer mention domestic terror
attacks against people of color in America?
Remember a few weeks ago when Trump stood in front of an audience at the U.S. Central Command and leveled false accusations about the media underreporting incidents of terrorism?

Specifically he said:

"It's gotten to the point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it."


Later that day, in what can only be described as a case of the chaotic Trump administration trying to coordinate their flagrant (and frequent) lies, White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited "several instances" where he claimed the media had not adequately reported terrorist acts committed or supported by the Islamic State.

The White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks that it claimed were underreported.

In response to those wildly unsubstantiated accusations leveled by the White House, on February 7th the BBC published a list of the 78 incidents and carefully detailed the ones they had reported on - all but 12.

Well the media is reporting on the terror attack that took place in Olathe, Kansas - but this time it's Trump who isn't talking about it.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla and his wife Sunayana Dumala
Last week Trump spent at least three days talking about a terror attack in Sweden that never happened, but in three days he's said nothing substantive about an actual terror attack that actually did happen on American soil where one person was killed and two injured?

He's got some balls using ten minutes of his CPAC speech earlier today talking about "fake news media" being the "enemy of the people".

And thus Srinivas Kuchibhotla, yet another unarmed innocent person, joins the ranks of The Counted.

According to the latest statistics from GunViolence.org that number now stands at 2,320 for 2017.

2,320 human lives, and it's only February 24th.

Just remember folks, one of the first pieces of legislation the Republican-majority House and Senate went after was overturning an Obama administration order that made it tougher for people with mental illnesses to obtain firearms - think about that when Purinton tries to plead insanity.

Who's the real "enemy of the people" in this country?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Oceti Sakowin Camp Closes: But the Struggle Continues

 Water protectors march out of Oceti Sakowin camp
The was a sense of poignancy, defiance and nobility as the last remaining residents of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp in North Dakota departed yesterday in advance of a 2pm deadline-to-vacate order signed by Governor Doug Burgum.

The thousands of native peoples from around the world who joined the protests represented the vanguard of a much broader grassroots protest movement.

Opposition not just to oil, but to the increasingly soul-less coalition of extremist political and social conservatives whose rigid ideology now serves the interests of the massive corporate monarchies that rule over the various fiefdoms of banking, fossil fuel and petrochemical production, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and telecommunications.  

The 150 or so protesters who walked arm-in-arm out of the snow and mud covered grounds of the Oceti Sakowin camp Wednesday afternoon ( under the eyes of over a hundred law enforcement officers from different states) were still singing, chanting and most importantly - standing.

With a federal court having ruled that drilling to run pipelines that will carry crude oil directly beneath a fresh water source the Sioux share with 20 million other people can proceed, this particular battle is done for now.

But the war of non-violent resistance is not over.

Hundreds of other protesters who defiantly stuck out the freezing temperatures of the winter in support of the sovereign rights of the Standing Rock Sioux are reportedly moving on to other protest camps in the area that have been set up on private land where government officials cannot order them off.

New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt
Others will take the next stage of the fight to court rooms and legislative chambers.

Even if many of those too are stacked with conservative Republicans who've shown a willingness to bend the law to the will of the alliance of oil companies, pipeline manufacturers and banks behind the DAPL regardless of the cost to human and environmental health.

Republicans like the climate change denying lackey of the oil industry Scott Pruitt.


After being sworn in last Friday as the administrator of the same federal agency he repeatedly sued as the attorney general of Oklahoma, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, addressed members of his staff for the first time on Tuesday.

As Rebecca Leber reported for Mother Jones on Tuesday, Pruitt delivered a generic 11-minute speech that was short on policy specifics and gave no indication of what the Trump administration has in mind for the EPA's role in addressing climate change.

As America comes to grip with the reality of a man who denies the existence of climate change heading up the government agency charged with protecting the environment, his confirmation doesn't bode well for grassroots environmental groups opposing oil and natural gas pipeline projects around the nation.

In the same way that an executive order issued by the White House has tasked members of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to begin an unprecedented roundup of illegal immigrants in the United States, regardless of how long they've been here or whether they've committed a criminal offense, in the wake of the inauguration on January 20th, efforts to remove the Standing Rock protesters increased in some unsettling ways.

   CLDC attorney Lauren Regan
According to an article posted on The Guardian back on February 10th, Lauren Regan, the executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Oregon reported that at least three different DAPL protesters were contacted directly by agents from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to ask them for information about the Standing Rock protests.

As she told The Guardian, "From the very beginning, law enforcement has attempted to justify it's militarized presence...by making false allegations that somehow these water protectors were violent." 

Rumors about FBI surveillance of Standing Rock protesters had been swirling on social media just days after Trump's inauguration.



An interview on the Tuesday February 7th episode of The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC with Cora Currier and Trevor Arronson, contributing writers to The Intercept, offered some chilling perspective and insight on the kinds of tactics the FBI likely used in Standing Rock to monitor protesters and undermine demonstrators.

Click the link above if you have a few minutes, it's definitely worth a listen.

Currier's and Arronson's contribution to an Intercept series called 'The FBI's Secret Rules', uncovered some fascinating details on the scope of FBI surveillance.

For example, they noted that in the late 60's and early 70's, the FBI employed approximately 1,600 informants as part of their notorious COINTELPRO program of domestic surveillance of groups they deemed subversive; including Civil Rights activists, Black Panther Party members, Vietnam War protesters, feminist organizations and the KKK.

By the post-911 era when the U.S. government was appropriating billions to anti-terrorism and homeland security efforts, the number of FBI informants had soared to over 15,000 - so it's fair to assume that the FBI had informants in place at the Standing Rock protests.

Oceti Sakowin camp structures burning on Wednesday
Members of local law enforcement were engaged in the same kinds of harassment tactics too.

A Monday February 13th article posted on the Website of
 The Guardian chronicled claims by several members of the veterans activist group VeteransRespond that local police stopped their vehicles simply for having out of state plates and conducted bogus searches.




Flagrantly illegal police searches that turned up small amounts of weed that some of the vets take for medical reasons to alleviate symptoms of PTSD which were used to arrest and detain the protesters.

As my friend James, who lives on the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, reminded me the other night, Native Americans have been viewed as terrorist suspects by the U.S. government since long before the highly-publicized 1973 occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota by some 200 Oglala Lakota and members of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

As I write this late Wednesday night, there are reports that at least 50 to 75 protesters remain inside the Standing Rock protest camp, though local law enforcement have made no efforts to forcefully remove them even though the governor's order to evacuate expired at 2pm on Wednesday.

Despite the outcome, the Standing Rock protests brought global attention to both the sovereignty of indigenous peoples as well as the environmental dangers posed by the slew of oil and natural gas  pipeline projects being constructed across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The intentional burning of temporary wooden structures at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp by departing protesters yesterday is symbolic.

Protesters claimed the burning of those structures was an "ending prayer", maybe it's meant to symbolize the end of this latest chapter of the ongoing war for Native American sovereignty.

The global support that the Standing Rock Sioux garnered raised awareness of the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in America and around the globe - but it also helped to galvanize a much broader protest movement that made its presence known on January 21st.

What happened in Cannon Ball, North Dakota reaffirms the power of peaceful protest, civil disobedience and non-violent resistance at a time when million of Americans are gearing up to oppose the policies of the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress.

A chapter may have ended in the Sakowin camp with the assistance of the corpratocracy, federal and state entities including the FBI, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, federal courts and local law enforcement from multiple states.

But this story is far from over.

As one of the camp's leaders Phyllis Young noted in an interview, "The camps will continue, freedom is in our DNA, and we have no choice but to continue the struggle."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fallout From 45's Swedish Fantasy

At this point it's difficult to tell whether it's more embarrassing to be America's unpopular Groper-In-Chief, a member of the Republican Party, or a citizen in the nation that elected the delusional clown who calls himself our president.

Apparently undeterred by the recent backlash from senior White House staff members Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway talking about fictional terrorist acts in Atlanta and Bowling Green, yesterday the increasingly erratic SCROTUS made reference to a terrorist attack in Sweden that never actually happened.

As the New York Times reported 45's latest lie was told in front of an audience of supporters in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday.

Evidently he'd fled there to try and escape his historically low poll numbers, growing anger over his disastrous policy rollouts and scrutiny over his ties to Russia.

Was the delusional Donald simply trying to re-stoke the irrational anti-immigrant hysteria that fueled his presidential campaign in a desperate attempt to boost his sagging poll numbers?

Perhaps he said it as a distraction from a story posted on Saturday by Reuters about the federal government's inquiries into Russian interference in the November 8th elections including three separate FBI investigations into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, the hacking of Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta's email account and a counterintelligence probe of financial transactions between Russian individuals and organizations with known ties to the Trump campaign.

Who knows, maybe it was a poorly-planned klutzy combination of both.

Regardless of his intentions, the absurdity of his lie has gone global - further reinforcing the public perception of him as being detached from reality, averse to telling the truth and completely unqualified to hold the office he's held for less than a month.

The flagrant lie drew a swift response from social media that ranged from bewilderment, to condemnation, to amusement and mockery.

One of the funniest responses was from an unknown Twitter user who had the presence of mind to quickly create a parody Twitter account called "Last Night In Sweden" that began posting some pretty hysterical sarcastic responses to the mythical terrorist attack.

One of the photos published by Aftonbladet showing
actual scenes of Sweden on Friday night
Some of my favorites include:

"Last night we listened to ABBA. Today, we are listening to an angry yam."

"Last night, no one in Sweden had heard of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution. Today we are very interested."

And (Last Night In Sweden) "It was very cold."

Swedish media was quick to jump in on the act as well.

The popular Swedish tabloid daily Aftonbladet posted an article in English that listed a brief timeline of routine things that actually WERE happening in Sweden on Friday night when Trump's non-existent terrorist attack was supposedly happening.

Including:

"8:46pm: Due to harsh weather in the northern parts of Sweden, the road E10 was closed between Katterjakk and Riksgransen. Due to strong winds and snow in the region the Met office also issued an avalanche warning."

Ex-Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt
Upon learning of Trump's statement, early this morning former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt posted a brief message on his Twitter account that read:

"Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound."

Questions indeed.

Like where's the White House focus on REAL terror plots here in America?


While Trump and members of his senior staff have been trying to incite fears about foreign terrorist acts that haven't actually happened, the White House is facing growing criticism for ignoring the danger of real terror attacks by white extremists here in America.

As the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center Richard Cohen warned in a recent article, with the Trump administration so consumed with the idea of terrorists from foreign nations entering the U.S., they are ignoring the potential for threats faced from right-wing American extremists.

As Cohen notes, individuals like white supremacist Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 men, women and children and injured nearly 700 in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, Neo-Nazi Wade Page who shot and killed six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin in 2012, or more recently, Dylan Roof, who murdered nine African-Americans attending a Bible study in South Carolina, represent a far more dangerous threat to American lives than the fictional terror plots consuming the Trump administration's attention.

Trump, Stephen Bannon, his anti-immigrant zealot policy adviser Stephen Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions only being capable of seeing a boogeyman with dark skin is troubling.

The inability of Republican leaders to acknowledge that a terrorist that looks more like them also represents a clear and present danger to Americans of all faiths and ethnicities is a threat far more menacing than the imaginary terrorists who did not attack Sweden on Friday night.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ladies' Choice & Patriots' Prerogative

Will members of the UConn women's basketball team
sit out a visit to the White House? 
On paper the New England Patriots and the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team would seem to have very little common aside from their being elite athletic teams that have won multiple championships.

But in the past couple weeks they've both been thrust into the national political arena over questions related to whether members of the respective teams will pay visits to the White House.

We're all familiar with the traditional visit to the White House for championship teams.

But what has traditionally been seen as mark of honor and privilege, to have athletic excellence recognized in person by the president of the United States, has now become a source of controversy because of the man who now occupies the Oval Office - and in particular, what he represents.

As I perused today's headlines on the New York Times Website on my Kindle from the comfort of my bed this morning, I was struck by Jere´ Longman's interesting article in the sports section over the unusual quandary facing UConn's top-ranked Lady Huskies basketball team.

Having recently notched their historic 100th straight victory over 6th ranked South Carolina last Monday night in front of a sellout crowd, these exceptional student-athletes are 24-0 on the season and an odds-on favorite to capture UConn's 5th straight National Championship in a row.

An incredible feat for any team, let alone a team like the Lady Huskies who consistently perform well in the spotlight and under pressure against the nation's premiere Division-I women's basketball teams.

Coach Auriemma, asst. coaches & players celebrate
their 90th straight victory earlier this season 
As Longman noted in his New York Times piece this morning, when the UConn Lady Huskies players and coaches visited the White House last year after capturing their 4th straight national title, President Obama "joked that he would keep a room with a cot waiting for coach Geno Auriemma and the Huskie's regular visit to the White House."

But should these young women be compelled to accept congratulations from a man who bragged openly about groping women's privates? He's a pig.


Reading through the numerous comments from Times' readers on Longman's article, there was an interesting mix of reactions that reflect the division that Trump's campaign, statements and fledgling presidency have sewn amongst people in this nation and abroad.

Some readers argued vehemently that the UConn players, should they win the national title, are bound to attend the White House ceremony out of respect for the office of the presidency - regardless of who occupies the Oval Office.

Buy my sense was that many more readers, including myself, felt that appearing at the White House with Trump represents not just a tacit acceptance of his presidency and the intolerance, ignorance, misogyny and bigotry it represents.

Appearing next to him would also contribute to the normalization of this man, his advisers and their reprehensible views - lest we forget his chief policy adviser Stephen Bannon is a white supremacist with ties to Neo-Nazis.

Patriots tight-end Marcellus Bennett
Ever since the Patriots' dramatic comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, that same question has hovered over the team like an ominous cloud.

 It's fair to say that the Patriots dilemma is somewhat different than that facing the Huskies.

First, the Pats are no strangers to headline-grabbing controversies in recent years.

From head coach Bill Belichick and his staff getting caught using cameras to try and read opposing coaches signals on the field, to quarterback Tom Brady's infamous "Deflategate".


Both team owner Bob Kraft and Brady are on record as being Trump supporters.

But as various media outlets, including Poltico.com have reported, at least six different Pats players, including tight-end Marcellus Bennett, have gone on record as saying the will not attend the team's visit to the White House specifically because of their opposition to Trump and what he represents.

In an interview with Time, Pats free safety Devon McCourty said he will not be attending the White House ceremony because, "I don't feel accepted at the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won't."

This isn't the first instance of members of the Patriots using their visibility as NFL players to weigh in on the national debate.

And it likely won't be the last either.

Patriots defensive end Chris Long
Defensive end Chris Long (who is white), McCourtney and Bennett all voiced their strong support for San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel silently during the national anthem before NFL games earlier this season to protest the killing of unarmed  people of color by some members of the American law enforcement community.




To me, as a former Division-I college and professional football player, I both applaud and think it's important for these guys to use their position in the spotlight to chime in on important social and political issues that are dividing the country.

And for the Lady Huskies, no coach, college administrator, fan or populist sentiment has any right telling these student-athletes what they should or shouldn't do in this situation - they have the right to Free Speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution and they're old enough to be able to make that decision for themselves.

No one should force any woman to be in the same room as a man who bragged about sexual assault who has been accused by at least ten different women of rape - no matter who he is or what office he occupies.

Trump has made his own bed with his loutish statements and bigotry, and if some folks choose not to go to the White House to be recognized by him, that choice is up to the ladies of UConn and it's the prerogative of the Patriots.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dishonorable Dealings In the Dakotas?

The massive Crazy Horse Monument, Black Hills, SD
Even before the Sacred Black Hills territory was stripped away from the Great Sioux Reservation by an Act of Congress passed on February 28, 1877, an act which violated Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie signed nine years before on April 29, 1868, lawmakers and the federal courts (in conjunction with private interests) have consistently conspired to systematically violate the rights of the Sioux.


In what would become an unfortunate portent of the future, it was the discovery of gold in the Black Hills by European prospectors in 1874 that sparked the decision by the U.S. government to move the Sioux from the same very territory which had been promised to them by said government in perpetuity just over a decade before.

In fact, a 1980 Supreme Court Case decision in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians ruled that the Sioux had been unfairly stripped of their ownership of the Black Hills territory in 1877.

The high court awarded the Sioux the value of that land in 1877 plus interest, $106 million, but in a testament to their resolve, the Sioux refused to take it; preferring to wait to gain back their rightful ownership of the Black Hills.

That award has been held in trust in the U.S. Treasury and is reportedly worth over a $1 billion today.

In their majority opinion the Supreme Court wrote in part, "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history."

Construction continues near a DAPL protest camp  
Could the justices who handed down that decision 37 years ago have predicted the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the 21st century?

Probably not - but history often repeats itself.

And construction on that controversial stretch of pipeline slated to carry another valuable natural resource, oil, under yet another stretch of land sacred to the Sioux, began again last Thursday.

Aided by another court decision.

As Nika Knight reported in an article for CommonDreams.org, on Monday U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied an emergency request by lawyers representing the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux to halt contruction of the pipeline.

With that ruling, contractors hired by Energy Transfer Partners (the company building the DAPL), can continue to prepare to run a stretch of pipeline directly beneath Lake Oahe - a resevoir near Cannon Ball, North Dakota near the Missouri River.

Once completed, hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day will flow through that pipeline underneath a source of fresh water for some 20 million people.

Aside from the obvious environmental danger, lawyers for the Sioux also tried to make the case that the presence of the pipeline is an infringement on their religious rights because the oil will flow next to sacred lands.

But Judge Boasberg played down their concerns, saying in part, "as long as oil isn't flowing through the pipeline, there is no imminent harm to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes."

But it's not Judge Boasberg's fresh water supply that will be threatened by an oil pipeline spill.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg 
Judge Boasberg was appointed by President Obama.

But as CounterPunch.org reports, he is, by virtue of his upbringing, a child of privilege and means.

He prepped at St. Albans, one of the most prestigious private schools in the D.C. area, and attended Yale and Oxford.

Clearly he's a learned man with extensive legal experience and a keen intellect.

But it's still fair and reasonable to ask the question: will he follow the law in this case?

Should the disturbing pattern of infringements upon Sioux tribal lands and sovereignty by the U.S. government and private interests motivated by profit in the 19th century be taken into account in the legal challenges to the DAPL?

Or will this scion of the establishment be more swayed by the collective legal muscle of the corporate lawyers working on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners and the group of banks (including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, HSBC and Goldman Sachs) that backed construction of the project with a $3.75 billion line of credit?

In all fairness to Judge Boasberg, he is scheduled to hear arguments at a hearing on February 27th to rule on the Sioux's request for an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps for their having granted the final easement that allowed ETP's contractors to begin drilling under Lake Oahe.

He also ordered ETP to provide updates to the court on a weekly basis so that all concerned will know exactly when oil will actually being to flow through the pipeline.

But those are all big "if's" considering how the federal government stripped the Sioux of the Black Hills 140 years ago.

And in the meantime, the forces of American of corporatocracy are quietly stirring in the vast open stretches around Cannonball, North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation - and beyond.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Ship Adrift In 45's Swamp

Patriot? Or lying Russian lackey? Michael Flynn
Well before the erratic High Chair President assumed office it was clear that America was heading into uncharted waters.

The chaotic two weeks following the inauguration on January 20th brought to mind a quote from the writer James Joyce:

"Zeal without prudence is like a ship adrift."


The troubling revelations that have surfaced over the past 48 hours regarding the decisions and conduct of this fledgling White House show that these amateurs have a lot more zeal than they do sense.

But it's also now quite evident that the Republican leadership of this nation is indeed adrift in waters not found on any map - and the besieged captain has never even sailed a ship before.

Casting former national security adviser Michael Flynn overboard last night like ballast was kind of like stomping on the burning ember next to the fireplace while flames and smoke have already engulfed the house.

And watching Kellyanne Conway's sad attempts to "spin doctor" the potentially crippling crisis this White House is facing earlier today in an interview with Matt Lauer on Today was almost too painful to watch.

Matt Lauer grills Kellyanne Conway on Today
Seriously, take a couple minutes to watch her as she tries to answer Lauer's questions with the kind of meaningless claptrap the media is no longer tolerating from her or Spicer.

Three weeks into her job as White House counselor and this poor woman looks like she wants to flee Washington, D.C. with her kids and go live off the grid in a cabin in the woods of North Dakota. 

Just think about what she's going on national television to defend.

The bombshell revelation that the Department of Justice had personally notified 45 weeks ago that his recently-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn had intentionally misled top White House officials over his illegal communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. well before the inauguration made a complete mockery of indignant denials made over the past few weeks by VP Mike Pence, press secretary Sean Spicer and Conway.

And of course the big Cheeto himself.

Who apparently decided to sit on that information for at least four weeks before finally deciding to demand Flynn's resignation last night.

The fact that the leaders of this administration decided to publicly lie to the media and the American people to protect a man who either lied to them, or had violated the Logan Act at the behest of the Groper-in-Chief is so beyond the scope of Hillary Clinton storing emails on a personal server as to be almost mathematically incalculable.

But as most people around the globe have long suspected, there is far more to the allegations that the Trump campaign actively worked with Russian intelligence to undermine American's faith in Democracy and manipulate the outcome of the 2016 presidential elections.

Former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort
Slowly but surely, irrefutable evidence of 45's complicity in conspiring with a foreign power to rig an election is beginning to bubble to the surface of the swamp.

Earlier this evening the New York Times reported  that data collected from tapped phone calls and phone records analyzed by the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies show that members of the Trump campaign had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials.

At least a year before the election no less.

Those campaign members named by the Times include Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager who worked behind the scenes of the 2016 Republican National Convention to radically soften the Republican Party's hardline stance on Russia -which had stiffened after Putin ordered troops to invade Ukraine and seize Crimea in violation of international law.

As the Associated Press reported back in August, a report showed that ledgers revealed that Manafort helped steer over $2 million in payments from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political organization to two American lobbying firms in order to try and secretly influence U.S. lawmakers to relax their stance on Russia.

This as the-then Republican candidate for president repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin publicly, including the now-infamous invitation for the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's emails - which of course they did.

Public demands on the Republican led Congress to begin investigating the Russian ties are growing more intense, and with all 435 seats in the House up for election in two years, GOP Congressman are risking linking themselves to 45's flagrant ethical and legal violations by appearing unwilling to conduct hearings with the same zeal that they went after Hillary Clinton on Benghazi and her emails.

Remember, as Christopher Zullo observed on Twitter, this Republican led Congress spent at least $125 million in taxpayer money to conduct 13 separate hearings and 50 briefings using up 588,000 man hours of lawmakers time to investigate Benghazi.

As of today Congress has spent zilch investigating a foreign power illegally influencing our elections.

That swamp 45 promised to drain is starting to spillover like the Oroville Dam in California.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Poisonous Illusions In the White House

Creepy fascist thinker Julius Evola
My stomach is still hurting from laughing at Melissa McCarthy's second outing last night on the opening segment of Saturday Night Live as she once again skewered White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

But Jason Horowitz's enlightening must-read article in this morning's New York Times about senior White House advisor Stephen Bannon being influenced by the fascist Italian thinker Julius Evola was no laughing matter.

As Horowitz's article notes, Evola has influenced 20th century Italian facists, far-right thinkers and modern day European Neo-Nazis with his bizarre mix of pre-Christian theology, white supremacy and 'Traditionalism':

"...a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes that progress and equality are poisonous illusions."


Unfortunately for this nation, Bannon is not the only White House advisor shaping foreign and domestic policy with established ties to Neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

As Michael F. Brown reported in an article posted on ElectronicIntifada.com, a 2007 email from Peter Laufer, a senior professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, shows that current White House advisor Stephen Miller worked closely with alt-right Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer while the two worked together to organize a debate on anti-immigrant policy when they both attended Duke University.

Spencer has become familiar to many as the speaker leading a crowd of white supremacists in a disturbing "Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!" chant as audience members gave Nazi salutes during an alt-right conference in Washington, D.C. back in November celebrating 45's election victory.

This morning the White House trotted out Spencer's conservative college homey Stephen Miller on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos where the anti-immigrant ideologue criticized the federal judges who struck down the legality of 45's disastrous ban on Muslims entering the United States.

White House policy advisor Stephen Miller
If you really want to get a sense of the depth and scope of the nationalist anti-immigrant hysteria at the core of 45's domestic agenda, take a few minutes to listen to Miller being interviewed with Stephanopoulos this morning on ABC.

He also tried to justify the current wave of ICE agents forcefully removing illegal immigrants, some of them working parents who've been in the U.S. for years, in an unprecedented wave of deportation.

Those targets include the heartbreaking case of 35-year-old Mexican immigrant Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, which made global headlines last week.

As CNN.com reported, the working mother of two, who snuck into the U.S. illegally 20 years ago and was arrested and convicted by immigration officials in 2008 for using a fake Social Security number, had gone to an immigration center in Phoenix, Arizona (as she'd done regularly for the past eight years) to check in with government officials.

But despite that fact that she complied with the law, this time she was detained and deported back to Mexico within 24 hours.

During his interview on ABC this morning Stephen Miller defended such actions as necessary to national security and called these efforts "magnificent"even though the rollout of 45's immigration plan is almost universally viewed as a disaster.

(Did you hear about the American-born NASA scientist Sidd Bikkannavar being detained by U.S. Customs agents at a Houston airport and being forced to unlock his phone?)

Now I can't speak for everyone, but Ms. Garcia de Rayos' presence here in the U.S. doesn't strike me as threatening anything other than the Republican Party's narrow-minded vision for the cultural fabric of this nation.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos being deported 
Some critics immigrants rights advocates point out that this boost in the rapid deportation of illegal immigrants taking place across the U.S. is part of broader strategy by some Republican leaders to channel taxpayer dollars to the private prison contractors who will profit off of the sudden spike in arrests and detentions.

Miller also repeated 45's wildly-ridiculed claims that his proposed Mexican border wall "will pay for itself over and over".

Despite statistics from organizations like the Pew Research Center showing that net illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S. has declined steadily since the Great Recession in 2009, and estimates that construction costs could cost American taxpayers over $21 billion since the Mexican government is on record as saying there's no way they'll pay for it.

To top all that off, remarkably Miller also had the gall to repeat 45's outrageous unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud in the New Hampshire primaries; and like 45 himself, offered no actual proof.

Predictably, 45 Tweeted his congratulations to Miller for eloquently spreading even more fake news, unproven claims and shaky promises.

One of the disturbing aspects about people like Bannon and Miller advising the the man with no political experience who now occupies the Oval Office is that here in the 21st century, the influence of far right extremist thinkers and those who openly advocate white supremacist ideology have utilized fear, ignorance, lies and misinformation to allow hate and bigotry to infect the highest political office in the land like a virus.

After all the suffering, persecution, horror and death that devastated Europe as a result of the rise and eventual fall of the Third Reich in in Nazi Germany, that dark flame still burns inside the hearts of some here in the US.

Including those who whisper in the ears of the erratic man who was Tweeting his anger over retailer Nordstrom's decision to stop selling his daughter Ivanka's accessories as North Korea was test firing a ballistic missile.

Men who, as Jason Horowitz noted, believe "that progress and equality are poisonous illusions."