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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DotardTrump's Chief of Staff preferred slavery to the Civil War!

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly weighed in on the question of the Civil War on Laura Ingraham’s new show on Fox News Monday night:
"I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand."
What kind of "compromise" did Kelly have in mind? Why does his statement that there were "men and women of good faith on both sides" of the fight over slavery remind me of Trump's statement that there were "good people" on both sides of the anti-fascist struggle in Charlottesville?

Just as Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge that NFL players are taking the knee to protest racist police killings, his Chief of Staff calls for "compromise" instead of Civil War while refusing to acknowledge that the Civil War was fought over slavery. Like the pro-slavery Southerners then and white supremacists now, he thinks the Civil War was fought over state's rights.

That is why he thinks Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, and some actually opposed slavery. Robert E Lee was a slave owner who never publically opposed slavery. He was a white supremacist who saw the financial advantages of slavery for the rich white planters.

At the same time Kelly disparages the thousands of generally unacknowledged southern whites that haven't had monuments erected to them because they showed true honor by opposing slavery and remaining loyal to the Union. According to Kelly, back in those days, loyalty to one's slavery state was more important than one's country, so General Lee wasn't a traitor when he used the civilian population of Fredericksburg as human shields while his rebel army guns mowed down his fellow United States Military Academy graduates and the Unionists, both Northerners and Southerns, under their command, in the name of his right to own other people and live comfortably off of their labor.

When Lee's father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis died in October of 1857, Lee became executor of his estate. Curtis had told his 300 slaves that they would be freed upon his death, but Lee freed no one, saying he had "determined that the slave labor was necessary to improve Arlington's financial status." Such an honorable man.

Even while Lee, and the other "honorable" white slavers Kelly prefers, were living "high on the hog" on the backs of black labor, Lee had the racist audacity to claim slavery was for the benefit of blacks, not whites! He wrote to his wife in 1856 that slavery was “a greater evil to the white man than to the black race” in the United States, and that the “painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction.”

Another report widely republished by Unionist newspapers in 1859, long before Robert E. Lee became famous in his own right, described his treatment of runaway slaves. It described the whipping of three slaves that had run away from Arlington:
"Mr. Lee was forthwith acquainted with their whereabouts," the story said, "when they were transported back, taken to a barn, stripped, and the men received thirty and nine lashes each, from the hands of the slave-whipper. When he refused to whip the girl, Mr. Lee himself administered the thirty and nine lashes to her."
Some would say Lee's slave-whipper showed more honor than his master, but Kelly doesn't mention slavery because he doesn't care about that. A compromise that would have left African Americans in chains wouldn't have been a problem for him.

James Karst recounts in a Times-Picayune piece:
A story published during the war describes a failed escape similar to the one described in 1859. It quotes a former slave named Wesley Norris.

"We were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away," Norris said. "We frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson which we never would forget."

When the overseer declined to whip Norris, his sister and his cousin, a constable named Williams was asked to administer the attack.

Lee "stood by and frequently enjoined Williams to 'lay it on well,'" Norris said, "an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done. After this, my cousin and myself were went to Hanover Courthouse jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired."
Kelly thinks Robert E Lee was an honorable man because, like Lee, he is a white supremacist. We saw that in his treatment of an African American Gold Star family of David Johnson and Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), the African American congresswomen who spoke up for them.

Dotard Trump has turned the White House into the house of white supremacists.

How about WWII Kelly? Could that been avoided by compromising with the Nazis?

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
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Monday, October 30, 2017

When Trump bragged on WikiLeaks he knew Russia stole the emails

When Donald Trump used the WikiLeaks dumps of DNC and Podesta emails to advance his presidential campaign, he had to have known that these emails had been stolen by the Russian government before they were given to WikiLeaks. It is impossible to reach any other conclusion given the facts revealed in the George Papadopoulos Stipulation and Plea Agreement. This document is the most important one released today because unlike the Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indictments, it deals directly with the Trump - Russia connection, and most importantly because unlike the charges alleged in the indictments, this stipulation is a statement of FACTS agreed to by both sides.

IMHO the most important fact revealed in document is the fact that the Trump campaign knew as of 26 April 2016, months before the first WikiLeaks DNC email dumps, that the Russian government claimed to have "thousands of emails" that contained "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
Case Document 19 Filed 10/05/17 Page 2 of 14

a. Defendant PAPADOPOULOS claimed that his interactions with an overseas professor, who defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials, occurred before defendant PAPADOPOULOS became a foreign policy adviser to the Campaign. Defendant PAPADOPOULOS acknowledged that the professor had told him about the Russians possessing "dirt" on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails," but stated multiple times that he learned that information prior to joining the Campaign. In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS learned he would be an advisor to the Campaign in early March, and met the professor on or about March 14, 2016; the professor only took interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS because of his status with the Campaign; and the professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS about the "thousands of emails" on or about April 26, 2016, when defendant PAPADOPOULOS had been a foreign policy adviser to the Campaign for over a month.

b. Defendant PAPADOPOULOS further told the investigating agents that the professor was "a nothing" and "just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something." In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood that the professor had substantial connections to Russian government officials (and had met with some of those officials in Moscow immediately prior to telling defendant PAPADOPOULOS about the "thousands of emails") and, over a period of months, defendant PAPADOPOULOS repeatedly sought to use the professor's Russian connections in an effort to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.
WikiLeaks didn't make the first DNC email dump until 22 July 2016 on the eve of the Democratic Convention. As I pointed out in Timing is everything - Why were WikiLeaks DNC emails released now?, published 31 July 2016, these emails appear to have been hacked around 25 May but withheld from publication while they could have helped Bernie Sanders in his primary struggle against Hillary Clinton. They were released only when they could help Donald Trump in his struggle against Clinton. They were released after Clinton had already snagged the nomination, but just in time to disrupted the Democratic Convention.

The Russians didn't really need to use WikiLeaks to release the emails they had hacked. They could have published them through RT America, Sputnik, or any number of compliant "anti-imperialist" Left outlets. Donald Trump needed WikiLeaks. He couldn't say "I just got this great load of chickenfeed from the boys in the Kremlin." He needed WikiLeaks as a cutout. WikiLeaks as a source is something he could just barely sell to his base, but given the facts revealed in the Papadopoulos Stipulation, there can now be no question that Donald Trump knew the true source of these emails were the Russian hacks when he sent the following tweets.

Trump had a quick line up pattern. He was tweeting about the Wikileaks dumps on the day after they started:
Leaked e-mails of DNC could have been very useful to Bernie Sanders if they had been leaked soon after they were hacked. This is what would have happened if the main motive was defeating Hillary Clinton. Instead someone, WikiLeaks or the Russians, sat on them for months while Clinton wrapped up the nomination.
This was also the position taken by Jill Stein, RT and Democracy Now because they knew this position was most helpful to Trump. Sanders took the more principled position. Once he was defeated in the primaries, he threw his lot in with Clinton to stop Trump.
Not crazy at all, we now know!

I call this collusion.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Vegas Shooter and President Trump

Weeks after the murder of 58 at a Las Vegas country music festival by Stephen Paddock, most news outlets are still saying they don't have a clue what the shooter's motive was. It's as if only he had shouted "Allah Akbar" or "Heil Hitler" at some point, we could package his motivation up in a neat box and be done with it. I think the killer's issue is hiding in plain sight, but we don't see it because so many Americans share the shooter's problem. He was obsessed with guns.

As the result of investigations since his shooting spree, a picture has emerged of a man who had millions of dollars, three homes, two air planes and a girlfriend. He sent her a hundred grand before he bought it, so presumably he wasn't going broke. The spent his time gambling in Las Vegas where he was known as a high roller who might gamble a million dollars in a single night.

And yet he must have been a very unhappy man because he took his own life. He was on a suicide mission. When he opened up on the crowd below, he had to know it would result in his own death. He brought 23 weapons to his Mandalay Bay suite. Only one was a handgun and he used that revolver to end his life. No doubt he included the one pistol in his arsenal for just that purpose. The other 22 were long rifles. He converted 12 of them with "bump stocks" to fire like machine guns so that he could take as many people with him as possible.

Some enthusiasts trick out their cars with speed accessories and chrome, others trick out their computers with over-clocked CPUs and expensive video cards. Paddock was this way about his guns. He didn't just own stock guns. Many were tricked out with custom sights, grips, triggers, magazines, barrel shrouds and more. The arsenal he brought to his hotel suite has been estimated to cost about $50,000. Most were tricked out AR-15 and AR-10 semi-automatic assault weapons. For example, to a FN-15 rifle he had added an EO 552 holographic scope, 100-round Sure­fire magazine, and a Slide Fire.  His "top gun," the one he probably did the most killing with, was a $3,000.00 next-generation AR-10 known as the DDV-V1.

Since he was a lone gunman, it's hard to imagine why he thought he needed to smuggle 23 guns into his hotel suite to do what he did. Leaving aside, for the moment, the complete irrationality of murdering so many civilians for no apparent reason, what rational plan required that many guns? I think the answer is that he had a fetish for guns, these were his babies. These assault weapons were designed for mass slaughter. He had spent thousands of dollars, and a lot of care and study, to make them the very best assault weapons he could legally own. Whatever target shooting or hunting he may have done with them as practice, mass slaughter is what they were designed for.  He probably wanted to do a little real killing with each of his "babes" before he put the only handgun in the suite, of the five he owned, into his mouth and pulled the trigger.

His plan was also painstakingly thought out. By firing on the crowd from his high perch, he made people lay flat, just as the first responders were recommending, making them lying ducks. He set up two shooting stations, with tripods for stability, from two windows he broke out in adjoining rooms with a hammer he had brought for that purpose, so that he put people in a crossfire. He even set up his own video surveillance in the hallway.

Of the 50 weapons he owned, 33 were purchased in the last year, and then many were customize. Its safe to conclude that in addition to gambling, planning operations like this mass murder became a major pastime for Paddock recently. Beyond the general vacancy that was his life, we may never know what put Stephen Paddock on the road to suicide. We do know that guns became a very big part of his life.

The country music festival had been going on for three days, and Paddock had been in that suite on the 32nd floor for four. What was he doing up there all those days? Planning his attack. Playing with his toys. The mysterious numbers he left on a notepad turned out to be sophisticated shooting calculations. Like all enthusiasts, the journey was the destination. His suicide was his arrival.

The weekend before he finally put his guns to purpose, he rented three rooms overlooking the three day "Life is Beautiful" Festival in Las Vegas. He rent the three rooms on different days but he held two rooms on the first day of the festival. As a high-roller in Vegas, he could have easily gotten a comp room at one of the casinos, and yet he went to AirBnB to rent a room in the 21-story Ogden condominiums overlooking concerts by Chance the Rapper, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182. He confirmed that he would be able to see the festival from his window when he made the reservation. It is not known what he did in the room, or what he had with him that weekend. Was he up there playing his massacre game? Nobody is saying that he attended the festival, so his extra effort to be close to it is curious.

If he was planning, and aborted, an attack on the "Life is Beautiful" Festival, it pretty much destroys any theory that tries to make a motive out of the country music festival as a target. The "Life is Beautiful" Festival had a different audience. Paddock also booked two rooms in the 21-story Blackstone Hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago's Grant Park, attended by 400,000 concert goers including Malia Obama, in August, but never checked in. Was that another aborted massacre? Police are also looking into a mention of Fenway Park in Boston. The picture that emerges is of someone who has been planning this for awhile, and with no particular target in mind, just thousand of people out in the open and below him. What a top gun would call "a target rich environment."

By what chance does a serial killer pick this person and not that as his next victim? Law enforcement officials said Paddock started preparing his attack soon after he checked in on Thursday. The attack came on Sunday night, the last night of the festival. Why did he wait till then? If the sheriff's latest timeline holds up, it started when a hotel security guard responded to an open door alarm and heard Paddock drilling a hole into an adjacent wall. He never finished. Seeing the guard in the hallway, he opened up on him, pouring more than 200 rounds into the hallway. Then he poured another thousand rounds down on the festival goers below.

It is thought that Paddock was drilling the hole to install another camera. If that is true, it means that Paddock was still in the "preparing for attack" mode even on the last night of the country music festival. The happen stance of the security guard outside his door, perhaps seeing that the drilling noise has already caught his attention, may have been just the thing that set him off. Except for that chance occurrence, might Paddock's weekend overlooking the "Route 91 Harvest" Festival pass with as little notice as his stay the weekend before overlooking the "Life is Beautiful" Festival? We probably can never know.

In a perverse way, Las Vegas was an appropriate venue for this drama because chance always plays such a big role in such tragedies. Still Paddock was on a road to Hell, he was going to unload on a crowd of people somewhere if he wasn't stopped first.

In another way the tragic drama is very timely because it contains important lessons and warnings for a world for which the most important immediate task is surviving the peril to the planet posed by United States President Donald Trump. Trump said Paddock "was a demented, sick individual" whose "wires were crossed pretty badly in his brain.”

While Stephen Paddock's obsession with guns resulted in the worst mass shootings in the US since the 1921 Tulsa race riot, Donald Trump's obsession is nuclear weapons, and this is infinitely more dangerous because he now controls them.

What Donald Trump calls "his concern for nuclear holocaust" goes back to at least 1969 when an uncle, Dr. John Trump, a nuclear physics and professor at MIT shared his concerns. He told that story in a 1984 New York Times piece William E. Grant did about the real estate mogul's "Expanding Empire." When asked what could possible go wrong, the 37 year old Trump took things in an unexpected direction with his surprising answer "What does it all mean when some wacko over in Syria can end the world with nuclear weapons?" The NY Times piece ended this unexpected segue into Trump's concerns about nuclear holocaust unprophetically:
The idea that he would ever be allowed to go into a room alone and negotiate for the United States, let alone be successful in disarming the world, seems the naive musing of an optimistic, deluded young man who has never lost at anything he has tried.
In 1987 Donald Trump told author Ron Rosenbaum that he was "dealing at a very high level” with people in the Reagan White House on what he called "The Subject," his cryptic label for nuclear weapons proliferation. Rosenbaum wrote that Trump was worried about a future in which "hair-trigger heads of state will have their hands on multiple nuclear triggers."

Trump was suppose to be using the interview to promote his newest project, but he kept drifting back to the dangers of nuclear holocaust. At one point he said "You know, a while ago you asked me to talk about the success of Trump Tower Atrium—it really does pale. It’s hard to get off this subject.” Even then, he really was obsessed with the issue, saying “Nothing matters as much to me now.” Rosenbaum wrote "He’s been “spending so much time on this other thing,” he says, meaning The Subject, that he’s hardly had time to think of conventional deals."

One small exchange calls out from this interview 30 years later as now President Trump threatens war with North Korea and Iran over the nuclear issue. Rosenbaum asks what he would do about a rogue nation's nuclear program:

Trump: “I guess the easy thing would be to say you go in and clean it out.”

Rosenbaum: “Like the Israelis did with the Iraqi plant?” In 1981 Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor.

Trump: “I don’t necessarily want to advocate that publicly because it comes off radical. And you know, without a lot of discussion prior to saying that, it sounds very foolish and this is why I get very concerned about discussing it at all.”

He said he would use heavy sanctions to make France give up her nukes, “They’ve got the bomb, but they don’t have it now with the delivery capability they will have in five years. If they didn’t give it up—and I don’t mean reduce it, and I don’t mean stop, because stopping doesn’t mean anything. I mean get it out. If they didn’t, I would bring sanctions against that country that would be so strong, so unbelievable... ”

Imagining how "D.C. people probably regarded Trump’s calls on The Subject," Rosenbaum makes reference to the Ancient Mariner's tale: "Remember the way Coleridge’s glittering-eyed stranger began buttonholing the guests at the feast to tell them of the vision of horror he’d beheld out there in the watery wasteland?" Thirty years ago this was already a man with an obsession.

Fast forward to the age of Twitter and we can see that his concerns about nuclear weapons are no longer the optimistic musings of a young man. His thoughts have turned darker. He felt the US needed more nukes, and he was especially concerned with keeping them out of the hands of the Iranians and North Koreans.

In September 2011 he tweeted about Iran "They laugh at us. We can't allow them to develop nuclear weapons." and "Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped – by any and all means necessary." In November 2011 he tweeted "American sanctions alone cannot stop Iran's nuclear drive."

In 2012 he kept up the drum beat against "the threat Israel faces from Iran's nuclear drive." with Tweets like "What's more dangerous for the country--the Iranian nuclear threat or @BarackObama as President?" while adding North Korea to his target list with such tweets as these: "Watching Pyongyang terrorize Asia today is just amazing!" and "We can’t even stop the Norks from blasting a missile. China is laughing at us. It is really sad."

One Tweet from 2013 has aged surprisingly well:

While other Tweets that year repeated the familiar themes: "Now China is helping Iran smuggle nuclear parts," suggesting "maybe we should knock the hell out of Iran and their nuclear capabilities?," predicting "Obama will someday attack Iran in order to show how tough he is," reassuring "@Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons." and complaining about the deal "We had all the leverage in our nuclear negotiations with Iran and our leaders foolishly decided to let them out of the trap. WHY?" As always, he was concerned about them laughing at us "Obama is now warning North Korea on the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. After Syria, our enemies are laughing!" and he wanted no nuke reductions for the US "Putin says Russia can’t allow a weakening of its nuclear deterrent—U.S. wants to reduce—are we crazy?"

In 2014 these themes continued with "they are building nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea and Pakistan already has them!!" He also starting finding uncanny ways to combine the two existential threats to human existence together in the same tweet with such gems as "The only global warming that people should be concerned with is the global warming caused by nuclear weapons because of our weak U.S. leader" and "The global warming we should be worried about is the global warming caused by NUCLEAR WEAPONS in the hands of crazy or incompetent leaders!"

This theme continued in 2015 with "The only global warming we should fear is that caused by nuclear weapons." He continued the complaints about Iran: "Iran is desperate to develop nukes. Congress must increase sanctions against Iran." He hated the deal from the beginning: "The Iran nuclear deal is a terrible one for the United States and the world. It does nothing but make Iran rich and will lead to catastrophe" , "Iran continues to delay the nuclear deal while doing many bad things behind our backs. Time to WALK and double the sanctions. Stop payments!" and "Obama’s nuclear deal with the Iranians will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It has to be stopped." and he goes on "Amateur hour with the Iran nuclear deal" Oh! The humiliation: "We look like we’re beggars’ in Iran nuclear talks"

During the December 15, 2015 Presidential Debate, Trump showed just how little he knew about the nuclear forces he had been obsessing about for thirty years, and was now trying to win control of, when he responded to a question about the nuclear triad in such a way as to reveal that he didn't have the first clue about what that means. As he rambled on to cover his ignorance: "That is so powerful and so important...Nuclear changes the whole ball game...the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive," his face just lit up and he became animated because he was talking about The Subject. Then he repeats the familiar refrain and again warned about the danger of unstable leaders in control of nukes:
The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he’s saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear – nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That’s in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.
In 2016, Trump as running for president and the Tweets reflected this, so now it was "@HillaryClinton’s Nuclear Agreement," and "Russia has more warheads than ever, N Korea is testing nukes, and Iran got a sweetheart deal to keep theirs."

Trump issued many provocative warnings about The Subject during the 2016 campaign, such as on March 30th when he asked Chris Matthews on MSNBC "Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn't fight back with a nuke?" and said he wouldn't rule out using nuclear weapons even in Europe. When Matthews said that nobody wanted to hear talk about using nuclear weapons, Trump responded "Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?"

The next day Trump doubled down on this in a Fox New interview. After promising "The last person to press that button would be me....The last person that wants to play the nuclear card believe me is me," he said "Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table. We have nuclear capability. " Then he repeated  "The last person to use nuclear would be Donald Trump. That’s the way I feel. I think it is a horrible thing. The thought of it is horrible."

Also in March he told Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post "I think we’re in tremendous peril. I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons. The biggest risk to the world, to me – I know President Obama thought it was climate change – to me the biggest risk is nuclear weapons...The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons." He repeated the chorus line to the New York Times: "When people talk global warming," Trump said. "I say the global warming that we have to be careful of is the nuclear global warming." He would always use this device to turn any attempt to query his views on climate changes into another discussion of The Subject.

In his March interview with Bloomberg, he talked about how he planned to use unpredictability on nukes to gain respect from the Muslim world.  “They have to respect us,” Trump said of Muslims, “The first thing you have to do is get them to respect the West and respect us. And if they're not going to respect us it's never going to work. This has been going on for a long time. I don't think you can do anything and I don't think you're going to be successful unless they respect you. They have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country right now.”

Trump was talking about all Muslims here and this question of respect that he so harped on did not seem to be a two-way street. The explosive combination the world is dealing with now is that Donald Trump is more than just a maniac with nuclear weapons, he is a white supremacist that allows those racist views to cloud his judgement.

In April 2016 he showed just how far he had drifted from his earlier opposition to any nuclear proliferation when he told the New York Times it would be okay if Japan had nukes, “If Japan had that nuclear threat, I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us.” Nor would it be bad, he said, if South Korea and Saudi Arabia had them too.

Joe Scarborough said on his show in August 2016 that a foreign policy expert advising Trump said "three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked, at one point, 'If we have them, why can’t we use them?'"

On December 22, after he was elected president, Trump Tweeted "I met some really great Air Force GENERALS and Navy ADMIRALS today, talking about airplane capability and pricing. Very impressive people!," What's with the all caps? That was followed by "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

He rang in the New Year by putting North Korea on notice again "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!" A month later he was officially president, and it was Iran's turn again "Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!" In March it was back to North Korea "North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been "playing" the United States for years."

In August he bragged "My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before...." Two days later he Tweeted "Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely."

Since then he has been demanding the development of smaller nukes that can be used more easily in a variety of situations. He has been demanding more nukes, as many as eight times what the US has in its current inventory, and everyday he is beating the war drums louder against North Korea and Iran, and even adding others to his list.

An August tweet warned "Kim Jong Un of North Korea" that not doing as Trump demanded "would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!" In September he started calling his North Korean counterpart "Rocket Man," allowing South Korea and Japan to buy more sophisticated weaponry, and flying nuclear capable bombers close to North Korea. When the threatening tweet "Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" cause North Korea to say Trump had declared war on them the White House Press Secretary said they hadn't and called the suggestion "absurd." It will give North Koreans cold comfort that the US hasn't declared war on anybody in the past 70 years.

He is also heating things up with Iran again by making moves to pull the US out of the Iran Deal. He is now in a position to act out his long-held animosities towards both these countries and the war clouds are building as a result.

On October 5th Trump took the unusual step of admonishing his generals in public to demand more military options quicker. Could he be looking for a place to use a nuke? He said "Moving forward, I also expect you to provide me with a broad range of military options, when needed, at a much faster pace." Trump dropped a MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal, in anger after he had been president only 82 days. How long before he tops that?

While taking pre-dinner photos  that same evening with military leaders and their spouses, the man with his finger on the nuclear trigger thought he'd have some fun with a nervous world. "You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm," Trump said. When asked later what he meant, Trump replied: "You'll find out."

Right now, all this is a game for Trump, just as it was for Paddock. Until it wasn't.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

50 years ago: March on the Pentagon | 21 October 1967

Me and a friend on the bus to DC
Fifty years ago today I was riding a bus from St. Louis to my first national anti-war demonstration. At the time I was a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, MO with a double-E major. The March on the Pentagon was a massive and militant protest against the American War in Vietnam and it took place on 21 October 1967. Protesters rallied at West Potomac Park near the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the Pentagon. Phil Ochs sang and David Dellinger and Dr. Spock spoke. A rally there was followed by civil disobedience on the steps of the Pentagon. I was among those that marched across the bridge to the Pentagon but I didn't get arrested.  

Che Guevara was murdered on 9 October 
1967 and we were still mourning our loss
as we marched across the bridge to the

This weekend I will be flying to Washington to commemorate the 50h anniversary of that historic protest. These events are being organized by the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee. It begins with a vigil at the Pentagon on Friday, 20 October, followed by dinner at Saigon Saigon, and an all day conference on Saturday, 21 October. You can read complete information on the event website.

I will be tweeting and blogging from the various events so look for my post over the weekend.

After this protest, anti-war activity became the focus of my life for the next few years. By the end of that school year I was president of the Washington University SDS chapter and a veteran of many protests.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Monday, October 9, 2017

From Santa Monica to Syria: It's a small world after all

The Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice had another very successful meeting Sunday evening. Although the house was packed, it wasn't the massive turnout we had last month. The Santa Monica PD only sent four horsemen this time and the Alt-Right groupies were a complete no-show. Word on the street is that they are saying we are no longer considered a "soft target."

From my six years of blogging in support of the struggle against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, @Partisangirl is a familiar adversary. She is one of Assad's best known propagandists. I first mentioned her in August 2012, a year before the massive sarin attack on East Ghouta, in a post titled Fears grow of WMD attack in Syria, which featured this tweet:
In retrospect, that tweet can be seen as part of the long propaganda campaign designed to prepare the way for chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime that would eventually kill thousands.

DIY Division: Neo-Nazi Fighting Club
In the past year or so, much of my energy has been diverted away from Syria, as regular readers of my blog know. First, in an unsuccessful campaign to keep Donald Trump out of the White House by strategically focusing on what proved to be an indispensable element of his victory - the Jill Stein candidacy, and since, in fighting the results of that victory. Most recently, I have been focused on a local struggle in a way I really haven't done since the halcyon days of Occupy LA in the Fall of 2011. Readers of this blog also know this recent struggle broke out when a number of Southern California Alt-Right groups decide to target SMCRJ. We now have identified the Proud Boys, Goyim Boys, DIY Division, Hammerskin Nation, Rise Above and the bloggers Red Elephant and Baked Alaska as among the attackers.

My struggle against Baked Alaska has been up close and personal, as well as over the Internet:

Baked Alaska [Tim Gionet] harassing Committee for Racial Justice in Santa Monica | 6 August 2017
Baked Alaska [ Tim Gionet] marching with racists in Charlottesville, VA | 11 August 2017
So, imagine my surprise at seeing this in @Partisangirl's latest twitter feed:

Worlds Collide - Like the title says "Its a small world after all!"

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
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Friday, October 6, 2017

Democracy Now: Where Marsha Gelen missed the white supremacy

On Thursday, 5 October 2017 Amy Goodman interviewed the Russian American journalist Masha Gessen on Democracy Now. Gessen made some very important points drawn from her study of totalitarianism in Russia, and what it says about the rise of Trump in America, but when the discussion turned to the main reason Trump won the election, her explanation fell fatally short because the adopted framework was designed to obscure the main problem. The problem I am pointing to is crucial, but easy to miss because it relates to what is assumed and not said when they speak of American voters as the single, undivided entity. In their discussion, it seemed like when they spoke of the American voter, they were thinking only about the white voter.

Given Democracy Now's support for Putin's objectives in the US presidential election, Amy Goodman was most interested in knocking down stories about Russian interference in the election, and any talk of collusion, so she points Gessen in that direction, but Gessen has limited interest in that. She see's it as a distraction. Her main point is that "Americans elected Trump," which leaves her a little short when it comes to explaining why:  
AMY GOODMAN: Masha, you are the author of The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. You’ve been fiercely critical of Russia. You’re fiercely critical of the Trump administration. But you’re also fiercely critical of the story that has predominated now of Russia’s interference with the U.S. election that ended in the victory of Trump. Why?

MASHA GESSEN: Well, because, you know, I just need more things to be fiercely critical of, obviously. But I think—and this is a word that also has almost lost its meaning, because we use it so much—in a way, it’s a distraction. Right? And this is a very difficult point to try to convey—right?—that I think that conspiracy thinking is really dangerous to culture and to political culture. And it’s very hard to stay away from conspiracy thinking when there may have been a conspiracy. Right? We don’t know if there was a conspiracy.

But more important, it creates this fantasy that we can find a reasonable explanation for the election of Trump that will somehow let us out of this national nightmare. And the national nightmare is that Americans elected Trump, and he’s president. Russians didn’t elect Trump. Even if there was collusion, even if every hypothesis that has—that is at play in the Russia investigation is proved, still, Americans elected Trump, and he is president.[my emphasis] 
It is a hopeless banality to point out that Americans elected Trump because the truth it hides is that white supremacists elected Trump. True enough, Russians didn't elect Trump, but neither did black Americans. They voted 88% for Hillary Clinton.  This is a very significant statistical difference given the role that racism has played as one of the foundation stones of American capitalism. Drowning, and then ignoring that difference with the banality "Americans elected Trump" may be par for the course on Democracy Now, but it is most unhelpful in understanding what has happened and why.

Most voters that didn't define themselves as white voted in opposition to Trump because they could see what Trump was peddling. What Trump was peddling, and now, thanks in part to the "don't vote for the lesser of 2 evils" politics of the likes of Democracy Now, is peddling from the White House, more than anything else, is a white supremacist vision of America, codenamed #MAGA. He was elected president because a majority of the white voters bought into it. According to the Pew Research Center:
White non-Hispanic voters preferred Trump over Clinton by 21 percentage points (58% to 37%), according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool.
Clinton held an 80-point advantage among blacks (88% to 8%)
It is not true that everyone who voted for Trump defines themselves as "white." Trump got 8% of the "black" vote. It is also not true that every "white" who voted for Trump was conscious of doing it for racist reasons, although they had to be willing to overlook his obvious racism, but this was also true of those that argued there was no meaningful difference between the two contenders. What is true is that from the moment Donald Trump came down the escalator to announce his candidacy by denouncing Mexicans as rapists, allegiance to the basic tenets of white supremacy have been the hallmark of his candidacy, and now his presidency. This was something all but overlooked by the white Left as it focused on defeating Trump's main adversary, and it is something they downplay today.

Sensing that it wasn't enough to leave it at "Americans elected Trump," Nermeen Shaikh tried to get Gessen to expand on her answer:
Can you say what you think some of the historical—although not that long ago—reasons are that Trump was elected?
Masha Gessen responds with this "distraction." She talked about how Hitler used the Reichstag fire as an excuse to seize power in Germany in 1934, and added:
Well, I think that that has all happened in this country, and it happened in the wake of September 11th. The state of emergency that went into effect three days after September 11th has never been lifted. It was renewed by President Obama every September for seven years of his presidency, the seven Septembers that he was president. We continue to be in the state of emergency. The War Powers Act passed with one dissenting vote three days after September 11th, continues to be in effect and has been used by President Obama and now by President Trump. And there’s also been a 16-year run of concentrating—increasing concentration of power in the executive branch—under George W. Bush, basically, in the interest of shoring up more military and surveillance power; under President Obama, for some of the same and some other reasons, having to do with a Congress that was intent on paralyzing him. But basically, I think that chain of events did a lot to create the possibility of Trump, to create the very possibility of a politician who could run for autocrat in this country and get elected.
Her answer is a distraction because it really doesn't even address the question, let alone provide a meaningful answer. We aren't suppose to notice because she gives us a history of the growth of presidential powers since 9/11/2001, and then tries to turn that into an answer by saying that created the possibility of someone running for autocrat and getting elected. But Trump won votes by promising to "Make America Great[white] Again", not because he promised to be an autocrat.  His dog whistles are all about racism, not autocracy.

True enough, the legal changes since 9/11 may now legitimize autocratic president powers, but that is a very different thing from exercising them, and Gessen puts forward a very dangerous proposition when she implies "our Reichstag fire" has already happened. It has not. Trump does not yet hold the kind of absolute power wielded by the post-Reichstag Hitler. There may already be laws on the books that would legitimize those powers, and Trump certainly wants them, so we must vigorously fight his attaining them, and it is most unhelpful to say it is a done deal already.

Although, I have learned to expect nothing less from Democracy Now.

The white nationalism of Trump supporters found its compliment in the white Left around such forces as the US Green Party and Jill Stein, Democracy Now and Amy Goodman. They both enjoyed the support of Vladimir Putin in Moscow, who fancies himself the leader of a worldwide white nationalist movement. This is the central problem of our time and these people that fancy themselves "the Left" had better get a grip on it if they are to be of any use to anyone.

What many on the Left don't seem to understand is that capitalism will run its course, sooner or later, given enough time. It is its byproduct, racism, that today poses the greatest threat to the future of humanity.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Put a pin in this: The Mandalay Bay shooter was obesessed witn guns

Few facts have so far emerged about the man who killed 59 concert goers before killing himself that give us a clue about his mentality or his motivation. One of those facts seems to be that he owned at least 42 guns and brought 23 to the hotel room for this operation. There could be a lot for reasons why he might own so many guns. He may have been a collector. He was a millionaire, so if he was into guns he could afford it.

The 23 guns he brought to the hotel room is key. It has been reported that only one was a handgun. I'm willing to wager that he committed suicide with that handgun and he brought it explicatively for that purpose. Clearly, at least one of those guns was a fully automatic machine gun, and it has been reported that he had set up two shooting platforms with tripod-mounted guns, if he had a backup gun for each shooting position, together with the handgun, we are up to five guns already. Given that each additional weapon brought up to the hotel room represented an operational risk, how could he have rationally justified the need for 23 guns for this suicidal lone-shooter operation? The only rational for 23 weapons in the room is that Stephen Paddock had a gun fetish and it played a big role in this shooting spree.

UPDATE: Tuesday 3 October 2017

According to USA Today, Marilou Danley, who is reported to be the shooter's girl friend has been out of the country and is no longer considered a "person of interest."

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday said Congress is focusing on “mental illness reform” to prevent mass shootings in the future

President Trump on Tuesday called Mr. Paddock “a sick man, a demented man,” adding that “we are dealing with a very, very sick individual.”

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
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