March for Science logo, Earth Day 2017

The Weekly Vent: #Resist

[This post first appeared on Bill Moyers & Company on April 17, 2017.] Editor’s Note Donald Trump may be a racist, misogynist, sexual predator, liar and bully, but he is still president of the United States, and we underestimate him at the nation’s peril. Viewed in isolation, his policies seem idiosyncratic and incoherent. Viewed in context, they […]

via 100 DAYS OF DECONSTRUCTION — PART ONE — The Belly of the Beast

This is no time to become discouraged, as the lunacy continues to unfold in this administration and White House. There is a March for Science this Saturday, April 22, in conjunction with Earth Day. There are hundreds of satellite marches around the US and even the world. I’ll be at one in my city! No, I’m not a scientist. This is not primarily a march by scientists. It is a march by and for all of us who know that facts matter. Words matter. Truth matters. Education and expertise matter. SCIENCE MATTERS.

I am sick and tired of ignoramuses insisting loudly that their half-baked prejudices are as valid as scientific research and data, and the kleptocrats who egg them on so they can continue to profit from polluting industries. We ignore this to our detriment. So get out there and march!

Donald Trump, angry; the 2016 GOP nominee.

The Gaslight Zone: How to Resist, II

The Guardian has published an excellent article on the dynamics of “gaslighting” and how to resist its manipulation of facts and reality: How To Survive Gaslighting: When Manipulation Erases Your Reality.

It is essential for all of us to understand that the constant lies and distortions emanating from the White House and GOP leadership are tactics of both authoritarian propaganda and psychological abuse. And the purpose of most psychological abuse, on an individual and group level, is CONTROL. Control without reason. Control without facts. Control without truth. Control without mercy. Kind of like an abusive spouse (I’m looking at you, Steve Bannon).

The Gaslight Zone: Undermining Reality. #Resist.

The Gaslight Zone: “Belly of the Beast” Connects the Dots of Trump and Russia

This Timeline was first published and updated at billmoyers.com. It will be updated periodically. Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applied for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declared, “We will be in Moscow at some point.” 2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and […]

via AN UPDATED TIMELINE: RUSSIA AND TRUMP — The Belly of the Beast

The Weekly Vent: Money Talks

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seated next to him, at dinner at Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 10, shortly before they had to scramble to react to a North Korean missile launch. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) With each of President Donald Trump’s trips to the Mar-a-Lago Club — and there have been four in…

via More than Mar-a-Lago: Members of all Trump clubs could have access to the president — OpenSecrets Blog

The Weekly Vent: Hypocrisy

Conservative Christians have crawled out of the church pew woodwork to rend their garments and beat their breasts, at word that Disney’s live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast will feature an openly gay character. They’ve loudly promised to boycott the film and Disney itself in spiritual protest. This news alone is of little……

via The Naked Hypocrisy of a Christian Disney Boycott — john pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz gets it right again. The cognitive dissonance these folks must experience takes my breath away. I keep hearing Godspell’s “Alas For You” echoing in my mind. Ugh.

The Weekly Vent: Grifters on Campus

Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has dominated news cycles with chaos. It was easy to miss his new task force charged with deregulating higher education. The leader is Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University. “The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” […]

via JERRY FALWELL’S NEW ASSIGNMENT — The Belly of the Beast

Is Russiagate About Oil and Gas?

As the Democratic National Convention continues its week-long stay in Philadelphia, accusations of Russian hacking continue to cloud the proceedings. At this point, it seems likely that Russia is responsible. What’s less clear is what that will mean going forward. — Wired **** Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, for a long time now, have aligned […]

via From Russia With #HateTrumpsLove — Is Putin’s Petrostate Attempting to Tilt US Election Toward Republicans? — robertscribbler

The Gaslight Zone: What if Trump IS the “Reichstag Fire”?

For some days, I have been reading articles that raise concern about the Trump administration staging its own version of a “Reichstag Fire”. This was an incident early in the rise of Hitler to absolute power, in 1933. Hitler’s Cabinet had issued “temporary” restrictions on the press and political marches, campaigning, etc., claiming a national security emergency. In other words, it basically suspended some of the rights we take for granted under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This happened on February 4, 1933. On February 27, 1933, arsonists set fire to the Reichstag, the German parliament building. Hitler’s coalition government, the Nazis and the German Nationalist People’s Party, blamed the fire on the Communists and used it as leverage to get President von Hindenburg to issue another, more far-reaching decree “for the protection of the People and the State.” According to the United States Holocaust Museum:

Popularly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, the regulations suspended the right to assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other constitutional protections, including all restraints on police investigations.

Justified on the false premise that the Communists were planning an uprising to overthrow the state, the Reichstag Fire Decree permitted the regime to arrest and incarcerate political opponents without specific charge, dissolve political organizations, and to suppress publications. It also gave the central government the authority to overrule state and local laws and overthrow state and local governments.

When people now refer to a modern “Reichstag Fire”, they mean some kind of staged national crisis, which is claimed to justify sweeping restrictions on the liberty rights of free private citizens and others, in the name of national security. An example that was NOT staged was the terrorist attack launched on 9/11. That was real, but it was seized upon by the Bush administration, especially Vice-President Dick Cheney, to justify the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq as well as Afghanistan. It was also used to quash any dissent or criticism of the Bush administration by labeling that as “unpatriotic” and insisting on the title of “wartime President” for George W. Bush.

9/11 was real and was not staged by the U.S. government. I am not a conspiracy theorist. However, I too have wondered if we are soon to witness a staged “crisis” that Bannon and others in the Trump White House will seize upon to justify sweeping restrictions on personal liberty. I am afraid many of our fellow Americans might fall for that.

And then it hit me. What if Trump HIMSELF is the “staged national crisis”? I have been bewildered at the acquiescence of Republicans in Congress as revelation after revelation of Trump aides’ dealings with Russia unfold, as detailed in the great Belly of the Beast blog. I am stunned that the recent resignation of Michael Flynn — the National Security Adviser — because of illicit communications with Russia, after and probably before the election, has not resulted in bipartisan cries for an independent investigation. Instead, we have Jason Chaffetz calling on the House Oversight Committee to investigate the leaks that brought out the truth, and we have Rand Paul shrugging and saying it would be a waste of time for Republicans to investigate other Republicans, and it would hamper their conservative legislative agenda.

Okay, I get that the Republicans want to rush that agenda through as quickly as possible. But I and many others see the last four weeks of chaos and conflict, confrontations with the federal courts, round-ups of immigrants, ridiculous interactions with other heads of state, rampant conflicts of interest, threatened mobilization of the National Guard, as a national crisis. Many concerned citizens are now clamoring for a full investigation; many others are clamoring for steps toward the impeachment of Donald Trump. But where does that leave us?

It leaves us with Mike Pence as President. And Mike Pence has a radical reactionary agenda. While Trump bloviates and makes a spectacle of himself and the White House, Pence is quietly racking up executive orders and legislative actions designed to undo not just what was achieved under President Obama, but also under President Clinton. The clear goal is to roll back two decades of progressive activity that has reined in the enormous corporate power that now seems to fuel the GOP together with fundamentalist religion.

I am starting to wonder if the real game in town is to get Democrats and others so distracted and riled up about Trump, that we 1) forget what’s happening in Congress; and 2) ultimately demand Trump’s impeachment, resulting in 3) a Pence Presidency. Think about it. The American people will have demanded the removal of Trump, to avert or resolve what are rightly seen as constitutional crises — and Pence steps in as the white knight, unsullied by the shenanigans of his running mate.

Think about it. It CAN happen here.

The Gaslight Zone: Undermining Reality

John Podesta has published an article called “Trump’s Dangerous Strategy to Undermine Reality.”

Trump is deploying a strategy, used by autocrats, designed to completely disorient public perception. He’s not just trying to spin the bad news of the day; all politicians do that. He seeks nothing less than to undermine the public’s belief that any news can be trusted, that any news is true, that there is any fixed reality.

Trump is attempting to build a hall of mirrors where even our most basic sensory perceptions are shrouded in confusion. He is emulating the successful strategy of Vladimir Putin.

There’s that name again: Putin. For the life of me, I cannot understand why and how the GOP has suddenly become so passive and acquiescent in a President’s cozying up to Russia and its leader, a former KGB agent with the dead eyes of a shark. This is such a radical about-face that it defies explanation.

Even a mere reader and private citizen like myself has read enough to see that there are many threads that seem to connect Trump to various Russian interests, from his advisers to his loans to his real estate. Now that his National Security Adviser has been forced to resign for LYING about his contacts with Russian diplomats before this Administration took over, we have every right to demand a full and independent investigation of what is starting to look like Russiagate, complete with a coverup by the GOP.

(Footnote: did we really want a National Security Adviser who didn’t realize any phone call to the Russian ambassador was certainly going to be recorded by our own intelligence agencies? Duh).

This won’t go away. No amount of gaslighting, no hall of mirrors, will make this disappear. It is the most serious potential White House scandal with the most potential for criminal convictions that I have seen in my lifetime — and I remember Watergate.

And it is really, really stupid for this President and this White House to go on the attack, repeatedly, against the American intelligence community. They number in the tens of thousands. They are smart. They work hard. They know their work is important. And they have ALL the records, all the tapes, all the wiretaps. If he pushes them too far, payback is going to be a bitch.

Staying Woke Without Losing Our Minds

Resistance is not futile, but it is exhausting. In the middle of the night following the election, as the sick reality was starting to set in, I began to get frantic texts, emails, and messages on social media from people who were trying to wrap their minds around the absolute worst-case scenario. They were processing what seemed like……

via Stay Woke, But Get Some Sleep (Self-Care in the Resistance) — john pavlovitz