Thursday, September 21, 2017

Same As It Ever Was: Hillary Clinton's Bedtime Stories

As Hillary Clinton's tour in promotion of her new book continues, Andrew Endymion has offered a corrective to some of the nonsense the former candidate is spewing all over her press appearances. "Despite the claims of Hillary's most brainwashed groupies," he writes, "the media was overwhelming in its support of her campaign," support, he documents, that has continued right through Clinton's current tour, where she's granting interviews to sympathetic press outlets that allow her to mouth outlandish comments about that campaign over and over again without any serious challenge. This blog covered the performance of the press throughout the Democratic primary campaign, work that buttresses Endymion's article.

Bernie Sanders, Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, began his campaign an almost complete unknown and much of the corporate press seemed determined to keep it that way, instituting what became known as the "Bernie Blackout."

When Sanders officially joined the race in April 2015, the evening newscasts of the three major networks virtually ignored the development. ABC’s World News Tonight disposed of it in less than 20 seconds, with half of that devoted to Clinton's reaction to it. The CBS Evening News gave it only a portion of a single sentence as an aside at the end of an unrelated report about the Clinton Foundation. The NBC Nightly News shoehorned a few seconds about it into a report about Hillary Clinton's political chameleonism over the years. Not a single newscast ran a full report on Sanders, despite all three having devoted full reports to the campaign launches of Clinton and every Republican who had, to that date, announced his candidacy.

In May 2015, Steve Hendricks wrote a pretty good Columbia Journalism Review piece on how the press was handling Sanders' candidacy:

"The [New York] Times, for example, buried his announcement on page A21, even though every other candidate who had declared before then had been put on the front page above the fold. Sanders's straight-news story didn't even crack 700 words, compared to the 1,100 to 1,500 that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton got. As for the content, the Times' reporters declared high in Sanders's piece that he was a long shot for the Democratic nomination and that Clinton was all but a lock. None of the Republican entrants got the long-shot treatment, even though Paul, Rubio, and Cruz were generally polling fifth, seventh, and eighth among Republicans before they announced."

The Tyndall Report, which tracks the network evening newscasts, reported that Bernie Sanders’ campaign received only 20 minutes of coverage in the entirety of 2015, compared to Clinton’s 121 minutes. Clinton's other Democratic rivals Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb managed very little public support and were given even less coverage. For comparison, even Jeb Bush and Ben Carson, whose campaigns were jokes, managed to draw 57 minutes in the same period.

When the corporate press wasn't trying to ignore Sanders to death, it was working to marginalize him, presenting him as a fringe candidate, an uber-longshot, a dealer in fairy-dust who advocated policies far too extreme to ever be taken seriously in American politics despite the fact that they commanded the support of very broad majorities of the public. When it was judged worthy of any mention, his campaign was analyzed primarily by how it would affect Clinton's candidacy, which supported Clinton's favored narrative of her own inevitability. After the first Democratic debate, which wasn't even held until October 2015, press pundits pretty much unanimously declared Clinton the winner by a blow-out, while every available metric suggested the viewing public thought Sanders had won.

As the primary contests proceeded and Sanders gathered steam and couldn't be so easily ignored, press attacks on his campaign increased and became increasingly vicious and even less grounded in reality. Endymion mentions some notorious incidents, such as the Washington Post's decision to run no less than 16 anti-Sanders stories in the 16 hours leading into the critical Michigan primary and the time the editors of the New York Times pulled from the paper's website a positive story examining Sanders' legislative record, rewrote it into an anti-Sanders hit-piece then republished it without ever indicating any change had been made. After Sanders completely destroyed Clinton in Wisconsin, the frustrated Clintonites launched a campaign to present Sanders as unqualified to be president. Sanders responded to this attack by turning it back on itself and the press corps, at the urging of the Clinton campaign issued a collective gasp and spent a week insisting Sanders had said Clinton was unqualified to be president and trashing him for it. Sanders was interviewed by editors of the New York Daily News, a paper that endorsed Clinton and characterized Sanders as "a fantasist who's at passionate war with reality," and a question was raised about how Sanders would break up the big banks, a key Sanders issue but one the Daily News editors didn't understand--they completely bungled the facts and made it sound as if Sanders didn't know what he was talking about. Much of the rest of the press spent the next few days (at the behest of the Clinton camp) pillorying Sanders as the candidate who can't explain how he'd break up the big banks. This, unlike most of the other examples of press malfeasance, did lead to a bit of a backlash, as people who did understand the matter began to come forward and point out Sanders had gotten it right but the damage had been done and that Sanders had made a mess of the issue is a bit of conventional wisdom repeated by Clintonites to this day.

ABC News' World News Tonight devoted only 4 minutes to coverage of Sanders in 2015, the lowest of any network (three of those minutes were in December). I wrote regularly about ABC News' horrible coverage of the Democratic race, which was almost entirely Clinton-centric, with Sanders only ever making brief cameo appearances as some odd outside force the heroine of the story had to overcome on her way to the presidency. Night after night, ABC's "reports" on the race couldn't have been more pro-Clinton if they'd been produced by the Clinton campaign itself. They, in fact, often looked like Clinton campaign ads. Clinton, for example, was notoriously incapable of drawing crowds. In what seemed a perfect metaphor for the campaign, she would routinely have to address audiences in which the reporters covering her outnumbered the spectators who had come to hear her, while Sanders was drawing the largest crowds of anyone on either side, a constant source of embarrassment for Clinton. In the final WNT report before the Iowa caucus, there was correspondent Cecilia Vega insisting, in an entirely gratuitous fashion, that a huge crowd had gathered to see Clinton and even showing footage of people allegedly waiting on line. "Look at how far back it stretches." I covered example after example of this sort of made-to-order pro-Clinton nonsense.

While Clinton's wins were trumpeted, Sanders' wins were regularly pooh-poohed, with some press outlets failing to mention them at all. In the aftermath of the Republican and Democratic contests of 5-6 March, correspondent Tom Llamas took to Good Morning America to report "a seismic weekend for the Republican field, Sen. Ted Cruz having a super Saturday, winning two states and taking the most delegates." Cruz had won 2 out of 5 contests. At the same time, Sanders took 3 of the weekend's 4 contests, including racking up much more impressive wins in the same states as Cruz plus Nebraska and also took the most delegates but while Cruz is covered as having had a "seismic weekend," Llamas doesn't even mention two of Sanders' three victories and dismisses the only one he opts to cover ("but Clinton [is] still way ahead when it comes to delegates."). On 26 March, Sanders completely destroyed Clinton in Hawaii, Washington and Alaska, the latest wins in a streak in which he'd taken 6 of the last 7 contests; instead of live election coverage, MSNBC and CNN opted to show, respectively, re-runs of a prison reality-show and a documentary about Jesus.

The Democratic superdelegates are party insiders who, though not elected by anyone, are each granted the same standing at the party nominating convention as thousands of actual voters. A super doesn't vote until the convention and he's free to change his mind at any point up to then but press outlets insisted on ubiquitously including those supers who had expressed a preference in the various delegate counts. Hillary Clinton sewed up a massive portion of this Establishment good ol' boys club before any real voters had spoken and the improper inclusion of the supers in these counts made Clinton look unbeatable. Even DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Clinton partisan who collaborated with the Clinton campaign to tilt the primary process in Clinton's favor, publicly noted that the press was misrepresenting the race by this practice. But it continued anyway until, the day before the 2nd-biggest round of contests on the Democratic calendar, the press used the supers to declare the Democratic race closed and Clinton the nominee, one of the more brazen and outrageous media interventions in an electoral contests in memory.

Clinton's only significant critical coverage throughout this process was over her private email server while she was Secretary of State but as Endymion notes, the reason this so persistently stayed in the news is because Clinton refused to be honest about it. Practically everything she said about the matter was a lie and with every new revelation proving the last lie, she'd simply introduce another that would then blow up in similar fashion.

On her current book tour, Clinton is correct in her assertion that Trump was boosted by the press. From his entrance into the race, Trump was getting many times the coverage of anyone else. But as Endymion notes, it's hardly proper to let Clinton go from show to show complaining about this given that it was the official policy of her campaign right from the beginning to pump up Trump's candidacy. The Clinton camp asked for this, the press, which had done everything to pump up her own weak, loser candidacy, was happy to oblige. And now, as the woman who is more responsible than anyone for inflicting Trump on the U.S., returns to the public eye to pimp a book of lies aimed at absolving herself of any real responsibility for anything that happened in the campaign, well, the press is happy to provide a friendly platform for that too.


Friday, July 7, 2017


This is a popular internet meme:

It's been around for years, one of these things that has become such a staple that no one even remembers where it started. If you've spent any time talking politics on Facebook, you've seen it a million times. A few years ago, I guess I saw it one too many times and opted to use it to turn the mirror on those who so ubiquitously posted it:

A truism: Tolerance necessarily involves a disdain for intolerant points of view. That's baked into its basic premise. On the internet, though, where everyone's favorite charge against those with whom they disagree is "hypocrisy," this basic liberal virtue tends to be portrayed by conservatives and rightists as, in itself, intolerant. Everywhere, we see expressions of mindless hatred of Muslims, LGBT folks, immigrants, etc. and anyone who speaks against this and stands up for the pluralistic liberal society is, for doing so, tagged as intolerant and thus a hypocrite. Hating Nazis is the same as being a Nazi.

The idea that standing against intolerance is, itself, intolerance is, of course, strictly Orwellian but it's a narrative the right-wing Rage Machine has peddled relentlessly. The Rage Machine--nearly every major rightist outlet in the U.S.--fosters a cult of aggrievement among its followers, relentlessly drilling into their heads that they're persecuted by the liberal society. The rise of Donald Trump, a protofascist who openly promotes hatred against Muslims, immigrants and other marginalized groups and who, as a presidential candidate, repeatedly encouraged violence against those who protested against him, didn't encourage any pause, any soul-searching; the Rage Machine simply doubled down on the doublethink. According to the Machine, it wasn't the orange clown on stage who was weaving vile hate-fantasies about thousands of American Muslims gleefully celebrating the 9/11 attacks or offering to pay the legal bills of his followers if they beat up anti-Trump demonstrators. He wasn't the one who was intolerant. Rather, it was those objecting to such things.

Riding the Trump train, alt-right shitbag Milo Yiannopoulos became, for about 15 minutes, a major rock-star on the right. Yiannopoulos was a troll in the truest sense, a cynical purveyor of hatred whose celebrity was based solely on saying vile, outrageous things he, himself, didn't even believe but that the right absolutely loved to hear. He barely even pretended to have any substantive message; he simply gamed the poisonous outrage culture on the right for fun and profit for as long as he could. He worked at alt-right sewer Breitbart, an outlet that loves to harp on "liberal intolerance" while acting as a sympathetic platform for white nationalists and other actual hatemongers. Breitbart had a great racket going with Yiannopoulos, a perfect feedback loop wherein it financed his "Dangerous Faggot" tour as it rolled through institutions of higher learning in 2016 and 2017 then used the outrage it provoked as examples of the "hate and intolerance" of liberals on college campuses, a theme that was then picked up across right-wing media.

In these appearances, Yiannopoulos was as content-free as ever--in the name of "free speech," he simply attacked rape victims, Muslims, black activists, immigrants, transgendered people and anyone who objected to Milo Yiannopoulos, including students on the campus. He'd come to command an army of admiring trolls and took great relish in unleashing them to harass and bully his targets (in the midst of this, he'd been kicked from Twitter after promoting the ugly, racist harassment of actress Leslie Jones). In January, anti-Milo demonstrations at UC Davis convinced the campus College Republicans to cancel their scheduled event. Yannopoulos took to Facebook to assert it had been cancelled "after violence from left-wing protestors," but there had been no violence of any kind (presenting any protest as "violence" is a standard feature of this particular narrative). Shortly after that, a man was shot outside another of Milo's appearances, this time at the University of Washington. Inside, Yiannopoulos implied it was one of his fans who'd gotten plugged. "If I stopped my event now," he told the assembled, "we are sending a clear message that they can stop our events by killing people. I am not prepared to do that." In reality, the victim was an anti-Milo protester; a pair of Yiannopoulos supporters took a gun to the event, bragging on social media about how they were looking for a fight, and shot the fellow in the stomach.

The incident went virtually unreported in the corporate press (and Breitbart, following Yiannopoulos' lead, left readers with the impression it was a Milo fan who had been shot) but it seems to have become the straw that broke the camel's back. When, shortly after this, Yiannopoulos brought his shit-show to the University of California, Berkeley, there were the usual protests but after most of the demonstrators had left, masked anti-fascists descended on the site, destroyed some property and succeeded in getting the event cancelled.

For much of right-wing media, this was manna from Heaven and the incident was quickly fashioned into a bloody shirt that continues to be waved about today, even long after Yiannopoulos' downfall--the symbol of violent, intolerant liberals shutting down conservative speech. That fantasy runs all over any sort of reasoned evaluation of the incident. There's the usual insistence on portraying everyone from center-right Democrats to communist radicals as "liberals," the misrepresentation of property-damage as "violence," the deliberate refusal to distinguish between the great mass of regular demonstrators, with whom there was no issue, and the handful of radical anti-fascists who broke stuff and, of course, none of the context offered here re: Yiannopoulos, his tour, the shooting, etc. It was all about how Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, now stood opposed to same. Donald Trump took to Twitter to threaten to cut off federal funding to the institution, one of the top research universities in the United States, over these incident, over which the university had no control at all. Yiannopoulos was elevated to the status of a free-speech martyr.[1]

Milo self-destructed shortly after this. A tape surfaced in which he made warm, jokey comments regarding pedophilia and he became instantly radioactive--fired from Breitbart, his six-figure book-contract cancelled and he's mercifully slunk back under whatever obscure rock from which he'd originally crawled out. The narrative he helped to build and feed, however, continues, aided by much of the regular corporate press, which followed the rightist media in taking the anti-fascist radicals to task for their alleged anti-free-speech attitudes.

The Trump regime has emboldened the white supremacist/Nazi/fascist subculture--what has now been rebranded the alt-right--to an extent that hasn't happened in the lifetime of most reading these words today. Radical anti-fascists--antifa--have long confronted such elements in the streets and the presence of this emboldened alt-right has led to greater antifa visibility. While the right-wing press has gleefully exploited this development to continue its ridiculous narrative about violent, intolerant liberals, much of the rest of the corporate press has, mostly through laziness, often aided that same narrative. When, in April, violence erupted at a pro-Trump "free speech" rally in Berkeley, for example, much of the press portrayed this as merely a clash between pro-Trump and anti-Trump demonstrators. An important article in Esquire took these outlets to task for failing to get at the real story: the rally had been organized by the alt-right, featured overt white nationalists as speakers and "explicitly racist groups and individuals were present in force." Some of those racists had, for weeks in advance, openly bragged about planning to instigate violence at the event. Antifa counter-demonstrators showed up to oppose these elements, not to brawl with a bunch of ordinary Donald Trump fans.

At the same time, liberals have, contrary to the Rage Machine's narrative, largely joined much of the corporate press in condemning antifa activists. Antifa forthrightly takes the position that hate isn't speech and seeks, through direct action, to deny it any platform, noting--correctly--that fascism is, by its very nature, a direct threat to marginalized communities and to the freedom and safety of all. For ordinary American liberals, this simply cuts too sharply against the grain of their traditions of free speech as a thing that must be upheld for even the most deplorable elements, and the kind of street-brawling in which antifa activists sometimes engage is seen as an unacceptable breakdown of civil society (whereas hate and fascism apparently are not). The notion that hate isn't entitled to free speech protection is rarely given any serious consideration in the U.S. but it's actually a mainstream view in most of the rest of the advanced industrialized world. It's a legitimate position and an arguable case but, for reasons good and bad, not one most American liberals are presently willing to entertain.

On the other hand, the Trumpanzee right's ubiquitous portrayal of antifa (and the "liberals" it ludicrously associates with same) as fascist brownshirts is a complete inversion of reality. Antifa battles--and, in fact, exists to battle--actual brownshirts, people who heil Hitler, wave swastikas and openly stand against every notion of freedom, democracy and basic human rights that civilized peoples hold dear, but for the Rage Machine, acknowledging this would mean sacrificing a narrative it has too successfully milked to simply abandon. It also runs counter to several other false but long-running Rage Machine narratives, like the notion that fascists are "leftists" and white supremacists "liberals." If antifa is acknowledged to battle such elements, it can no longer be made a stand-in for "liberals" in a tale in which violent liberals try to repress conservative speech and it would instead become necessary to explain why lefties are battling lefties and, by extension, how one of those groups, who are rightist Trump supporters, are still actually somehow "lefties" and... well, you get the picture. The Rage Machine's sole product is anti-rationality and hate designed to keep its audience worked up into a perpetual lather and after it has spent all these years explaining the world to its ill-informed followers by way of a series of fantasies, it becomes more and more difficult to ever tell the truth about anything.

Donald Trump's hate-speech, his encouragement of violence during the campaign, his protofascism energized a much broader movement of street protests against his candidacy then against his regime and the Rage Machine has also used this as part of its ongoing narrative. Protests, which are exercises of free speech, are presented as attacks on free speech, demonstrations equated with violence and the kind of scuffles that often break out around the edges of such demonstrations are magnified a millionfold by the rightist echo-chamber, held up as outrageous examples of liberaldom's intolerance. Trump's tale, mentioned earlier, about thousands of American Muslims celebrating in the streets of Jersey City on 9/11 is devoid of any content; it's just a lie aimed at fostering hatred of a politically powerless minority--a fraction of 1% of the population--and justifying repressive government measures against them. The same is true, to cite another example, of Trump's lie about millions of illegal immigrants voting in the last presidential election. While elements of the Machine have acknowledged these are false, no weight it given to them or to the very negative consequences they could have for those targeted by them. To maintain the narrative about intolerant liberals, the Machine has to take the position that these sorts of monstrous lies, deliberately aimed at fostering intolerance, justify no significant reaction by people of good conscience, because if the liberals protesting Trump for such things have a legitimate beef, the wind goes out of the sails of that narrative. Trump's encouragement of violence against demonstrations sparked by his own misbehavior elicited no real condemnation either. The ugly truth is that the Machine itself has spent years deploying similar lies aimed at demonizing Muslims, immigrants and the other groups targeted by Trump, including liberals. Trump is merely a reflection of this. In their condemnation of "liberal intolerance," the talking heads of the Machine appeal to a particular standard of civil behavior and attempt to apply it to counter-Trump liberals while refusing to apply it to either Trump or to themselves.

There's that hypocrisy thing again. Hmm...



Post Script - Anecdotal: This writer is all over Facebook in the last few years. I run or admin many groups, participate in many others, and by far the most persistent lament I've encountered from those who attempt to recruit people for political discussion is that it's almost impossible to find quality conservatives and rightists. Whether its a consequence of very bad luck or something about the personalities of righties drawn to discuss public affairs on the internet or on that particular platform or whatever, nearly all of them turn out to be angry reactionary demagogues who merely parrot whatever nonsense they get from the Rage Machine that day and who are as ill-informed as they are utterly hostile to the expression of any other point of view. And they tend to author a whole lot of posts about "liberal intolerance" too. It's relatively easy to find good liberals and leftists (and, to be fair, easy to find bad ones too); finding good righties is like finding unicorns.


[1] Though his legitimate free-speech rights were in no way violated. No one has a constitutional right to a platform; no provision of the Bill of Rights entitles one to speak at a school that doesn't want you. The Rage Machine's persistent misrepresentation on this point justifies more than just a footnote but that's where I'm putting it anyway, so there.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Media Complicit In Trump's Terror Tall-Tale

A major preoccupation of Donald Trump's protofascist project is to portray America as under siege by brown people from foreign shores, and among the many lies and misrepresentations offered by Trump in his February speech to congress, the "president" asserted,
"According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country."
The Associated Press partially checked this claim, concluding:
"It’s unclear what Justice Department data he’s citing, but the most recent government information that has come out doesn’t back up his claim. Just over half the people Trump talks about were actually born in the United States, according to Homeland Security Department research revealed last week. That report said of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to attempt or carry out an attack in the U.S., just over half were native-born citizens.

"Even the attacks Trump singled out weren’t entirely the work of foreigners. Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his Pakistani wife killed 14 people in the deadly 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California, was born in Chicago."
As fact-checks go, this falls significantly short of exposing the enormity of this particular Trump lie. Trump's claim was about "those convicted for terrorism-related offenses" in general, not just terrorist acts committed by those "inspired by a foreign terrorist group." Beyond the fact-check, the false impression Trump is perpetually trying to create with these sorts of claims is an even bigger lie. Most terrorism in the U.S. isn't committed by foreigners. It isn't even committed by American-born Jihadist rightists. It's committed by domestic non-Jihadist rightists, who, since 9/11, have launched more terrorist attacks, have killed more people and have been involved in more plots that were broken up by law enforcement before they could come to fruition. Numbers differ, as different sources use different methodologies and definitions of terrorism, but that's the conclusion of those who have studied the matter.

Earlier this month, a trio of academics released a new study of media coverage of terror attacks that puts some hard numbers to some obvious media trends. Monday, its authors published an accompanying article in the Washington Post. A few weeks ago, they write in the Post, Trump's administration "had provided a list of terrorist attacks it claimed were underreported by the news media. The list primarily included attacks by Muslim perpetrators." Trump furthering his false narrative. In their study, the academics explain, they examined coverage of terrorist attacks in the U.S. listed in the Global Terrorism Database over a five-year period and coverage of those attacks from American print sources in the LexisNexis database and 2,500 articles in all. Their findings:

--A whopping 87.6% of the terrorist attacks in the timeframe studied were carried out by non-Muslims (or by perpetrators unknown).

--Muslims, on the other hand, perpetrated only 12.4% of the attacks. Foreign-born Muslims committed only 5% of total attacks.

--Nevertheless, 32% of total news coverage was devoted to the 5% of attacks by foreign-born Muslims and overall, 44% of coverage was devoted to the 12.4% of attacks carried out by Muslims in general.

--"In real numbers, the average attack with a Muslim perpetrator is covered in 90.8 articles. Attacks with a Muslim, foreign-born perpetrator are covered in 192.8 articles on average. Compare this with other attacks [by non-Muslims], which received an average of 18.1 articles."

--27% of attacks received no coverage at all in the sources studied.

This puts some numbers behind some things this author has been pointing out for years. Media coverage significantly distorts Americans' perceptions of terrorism, with potentially very negative consequences. Just last month, Adam Johnson of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting noted how "corporate media paved the way for Trump's Muslim ban" by this very behavior. Trump makes a show of despising the press but he's able to perpetuate this particular fraud because of it.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fact-Checkers Likely Understate the Magnitude of Trump's Latest Lie

Another day, another slanderous lie from Donald Trump. It's hard to keep up. Today, while the press commentariat is still all achatter about Trump's utterly baseless claim that last year, President Obama was wiretapping his campaign, Trump took to his Twitter account--the official Twitter account of the President of the United States--to offer up his newest fiction:

Trump gave no source for his claim but he made it half an hour after Fox News' Fox & Friends account had passed along a Fox News segment in which the same assertion had been made. Fill in the standard appropriate disbelief/bemusement/horror at the President of the United States, with all the resources of the U.S. government at his command, getting his "information" instead from political fantasists like Fox News. Right-wing figures have made similar claims about former Guantanamo prisoners for years. The fact-checkers went to work on this one today but while they refuted part of Trump's claim, they uncritically employed extremely dubious information provided by the government, information past analysis suggests grossly inflates actual recidivism by Guantanamo detainees.

Rebecca Shahab at CBS News:
"The number [122] appears to stem from a report released last September from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, but the report clearly indicates that 122 of the 693 detainees, or about 18 percent, released under both George W. Bush and Obama administrations reengaged.

"A bulk of those detainees that returned to the battlefield, however, were released under the Bush administration, before the U.S. set up an interagency screening and hearing process for each prisoner. The report says that of the 532 detainees released from the detention facility under Bush, 113 returned to the battlefield, or about 21 percent.

"Under Obama, 161 detainees were transferred from Guantanamo Bay and only 9 have been confirmed to have reengaged and returned to the battlefield. That’s just under 6 percent of the total transferred since 2009.

"Of the combined total 122 that returned to the battlefield under both Bush and Obama, the report says that 30 are dead, 25 are in custody and 67 are not in custody."
Shahab's use of Trump's word "released" is potentially problematic, as those who are "released" are, in fact, transferred to the control of foreign governments, not, as that word implies, simply set free.

FactCheck.Org's Robert Farley used the same report (but also the same problematic wording), concluding that Trump's claim was "simply false"; the overwhelming majority of those 122 were released by the Bush administration.[1]

Politifact's Lauren Carroll uses the same figures: over 92% of those "the government believes have returned to some sort of terrorist activity" were transferred under Bush. On the terminology, Carroll, to her credit, is more careful and quotes DePaul University counterrorism professor Thomas Mockaitis pointing out that "many of those released are handed over to foreign states who assume responsibility for them." Carroll also references a 2014 report by the New America Foundation which investigated confirmed or suspected "militant activity" by former detainees and could only confirm 1/3 of the cases claimed by the government at the time.

Rather than spurring further investigation, that last bit of info is just left to lie there unexamined while Carroll rates Trump's claim "mostly false."

The government's claims with regard to recidivism by former Guantanamo detainees, which have been made in a periodically-issued report for many years, have long been called into serious question. The Center for Policy and Research at the Seton Hall University School of Law, which has released over 15 reports on issues related to the detainees, has tackled the recidivism claims repeatedly.[2] Among other things, the government can't document most of its claims of recidivism. It consistently makes sweeping assertions regarding this matter while refusing to name most of the alleged recidivists or provide any real information on their alleged recidivism. The material cited by the fact-checkers are just asserted numbers. Empty claims, and not consistent ones either--the number of asserted recidivists goes up and down over the years.[3] With regard to the much smaller group who have actually been named, the government's assertions are rife with problems. Contradictions abound. While "recidivist" clearly suggests someone who was guilty of some past offense returning to commit further offenses, most of the Guantanamo detainees--55%--were "not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies," which shouldn't be surprising given the fact that only 5% of them were captured by U.S. forces in the first place; the rest were, instead, turned over by third parties in exchange for U.S.-provided bounties on those who were supposed to be al Qaida or Taliban fighters. In so impoverished a country as Afghanistan, a get-rich-quick scheme. Some named were, in fact, never detained at Guantanamo at all. For years, the government conflated numbers on those whom it asserted had committed actual recidivist offenses and those merely suspected of doing so, admitting that some of the claims were based on unconfirmed, single-source reporting. Makes the number look bigger, see? For a long time, the government even identified as recidivists those who had merely written articles critical of their own detention or had publicly spoken out against same, a policy now discontinued but one that, like most of the rest of this, speaks to the bad faith of the government's claims. Remarkably, "the government admitted that its primary source of information was reporting by the press, not government intelligence," which makes the refusal to provide names to go with most of the claims even more suspect, as the names of everyone who had been detained at Guantanamo have been public information for years.[4]

To put the matter bluntly, the government's claims in this matter are bullshit. They've been bullshit for over a decade.

So while the fact-checkers have refuted part of Trump's claim, the dubious nature of the information on which those refutations rest--and which the fact-checkers mostly ignore--suggest the scale of his lie may be much larger than even those refutations suggest.



[1] Farley further notes that the Trump regime made a similar claim only a few weeks ago and was corrected by FactCheck then as well:
"On Feb. 22, we wrote, Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president, wrongly suggested that a released Guantanamo Bay detainee responsible for a recent suicide bombing in Iraq was released by Obama. He was transferred from Gitmo in 2004 under President Bush. Gorka also wrongly claimed that among detainees released by Obama, 'almost half the time, they returned to the battlefield.' According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, about 12.4 percent of those transferred from Gitmo under Obama are either confirmed or suspected of reengaging.

"As we noted then, most of the former Gitmo detainees who are now suspected or confirmed to have reengaged were transferred or released under President Bush. Bush transferred a higher number of detainees--532 compared to 161 under Obama--and they have been reengaging (or are suspected of reengaging) at a higher rate — 35 percent  compared to 12.4 percent under Obama. That may change over time, but those were the percentages as of last July."
[2] As those reports have been released over the years, they've been almost entirely ignored by the corporate press. Having the fact-checkers now ignore them is, unfortunately, nothing new.

[3] The Center's March 2012 report even makes a chart of these shifting claims over three years:

[4] Even if one takes the government's worst-case assertions at face value, most detainees who were transferred have never become "recidivists." The actual documented cases of subsequent offenses are a much smaller number. The focus on alleged recidivists, rather than the bulk of detainees who aren't known to have ever committed any offense, is political, aimed at justifying the continuing existence of the GTMO detention facility when the known facts actually show it's been used to lock up people for years on end who have never been any threat to anyone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Politico Targets Democratic "Lurch To The Left"

Much of the corporate press tends to worship at the altar of the political "center," which it always defines as well to the right of the public. Call it the alt-center. In the 2016 presidential cycle, Bernie Sanders found himself on the receiving end of the usual press treatment dished out to liberal or left political candidates who present themselves to the public; news media spent most of a year trying to ignore him to death then when he didn't die, tried to actively destroy his candidacy with relentless attacks. While Democratic politicans have been moving to the right for decades, one manifestations of this alt-center-ism is that mainstream pundits always portray them as too liberal and always counsel them to "move to the right." This has become a rather long-running joke. Liberal media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting has tracked the trend for decades.

The alt-center struck again this morning in a Politico story based on a new Politico/Morning Consult poll:

"Donald Trump begins his presidency facing unprecedented polling headwinds: Roughly a quarter of voters think Donald Trump is the worst president in the last century. Forty-three percent of voters are ready to vote for a nameless Democrat in 2020, while just over a third say they'll vote for Trump."

What possible point could there be, the reader may ask, in polling on a potential 2020 presidential race in February 2017? Well, in his next paragraph, Politico's Jake Sherman tells you:

"But, in the fourth week of Trump's presidency, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that Democrats could be in trouble--and Trump could triumph--if they continues their lurch to the left."

Readers not hobbled by alt-centerist assumptions--or who just pay any more than minimal attention to public affairs--will immediately ask, what "lurch to the left"? In the just-concluded presidential election, Democrats didn't go with the left candidate; they ran the far-too-conservative opportunist. The aftermath of Clinton's defeat hasn't, so far, resulted in any radical changes either. Senate Democrats chose Wall Street shill Chuck Schumer as their leader (to replace the retiring Harry Reid), while House Demos went with the same tired old line-up as before, including Nancy Pelosi at the top, a "leader" who, in the immediate aftermath of the election, went on nationwide television and said she didn't think people wanted a new direction for her party.

But while there is no "lurch to the left," there is a growing debate about the direction of the Democratic party--continue pursuing rightist economic policies in order to suck up to Big Money sources for donations or pursue a more liberal course more in line with the views of the overwhelming majority of the public?

That's the debate on which Politico just weighed in, in an article that is, on this point, editorializing in the guise of reportage. A poll on a potential 2020 presidential contest is meaningless but Politico's presentation of its results, while serving one side of that internal Democratic debate, is also fraudulent. Digging into the actual polling results, one finds that Morning Consult also asked respondents if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Elizabeth Warren; 34% had either never heard of her or had heard her name but as yet lacked sufficient knowledge to have any opinion of her.

In assessing a potential Trump/Warren presidential contest, the fact that over a third of respondents don't even know Warren would seem a rather relevant fact. Politico's Sherman, while attempting to use the result of the head-to-head question to pour cold water on any Democratic "lurch to the left," declines to mention this finding. It seems a much bigger political story that, even with Warren's severe name-recognition deficit, the actual head-to-head question still finds her within 6 points (margin of error 2%) of not only the sitting President of the United States but of a new president, with all the advantages that entails,[1] but that's apparently not an editorial Politico wants to write.



[1] Americans typically extend to new presidents a great deal of good will and this has proven the case with Trump as well--though it never put him above 50%, he started his administration with more people approving of his job performance than disapproving. Once he started doing his job, this changed.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trump & Fascism: Appendices

Appendix I: Speaking Their Language

In "Trump & Fascism: The Basics", I wrote, "Trump is the darling of the 'alt-right,' much of which is overtly fascist. This isn't coincidental or in any way unintentional--he all-but-openly courted these elements during the campaign, often in ways that would have been political suicide for any other modern presidential candidate." As I covered in that earlier piece, Trump speaks the language of fascism. "The ultranationalism, the anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism, the opportunistic political syncretism (during the presidential race, Trump freely ran to Hillary Clinton's left on many issues), the lack of any real program beyond Trump as the strongman who promises to cure the liberal democracy that ails the nation, the promise of authoritarian rule and of national renewal to be achieved by it ('Make America Great Again'), the machismo, the militarism, the exaltation of authority, the persistent demonization of his 'enemies,' including helpless minorities, often to justify repressive policies," and so on.

Donald Trump's protofascism has been a key to his success. When he entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he was widely despised within his party. That week in June 2015, RealClearPolitics, which aggregates polls from many sources, showed him with a pathetic 3.6% support among Republicans. But the protofascist rhetoric began with his first speech. He asserted that Mexican immigrants in the U.S. were rapists, drug-dealers, criminals and further, that the Mexican government was involved in a conspiracy to ship such elements to these shores. Challenged on such rot, he doubled down again and again, making it clear he wasn't just limiting his attack to people from one Latin American country but meant "people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they're coming into this country" across the Mexican border. He had a plan to deal with these evil brown people from south of the border too; he promised to "build a great wall" across that entire border, describing it in increasingly grandiose terms, and to establish a "deportation force" which would be assigned the task of removing every illegal immigrant from the U.S.. This sort of rhetoric made Trump's numbers explode; within a month, he went from a low-single-digit also-ran to the head of the Republican field, a position he continued to hold right through to the end of the primary season. Trump called for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. He described watching "thousands and thousands" of American Muslims celebrating in the streets of Jersey City, New Jersey on 9/11 as the World Trade Center Towers fell and said because of this, he wanted federal surveillance of mosques in the U.S. He insisted the millions of illegal immigrants were illegally voting in our elections. Such rhetoric has been and remains a cornerstone of Trump's stint in politics.

In reality, immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than the native born. Even if it was possible to deport over 11 million people--and it isn't--the result of doing so would be the complete and spectacular collapse of the U.S. economy. The notion that the Mexican government is involved in a conspiracy to send us their vile, their felonious is ludicrous and baseless and it can't be forced to pay for any wall. Muslims can't be banned from entering the U.S.; no mechanism either exists or could be created to act as a "religious police" in such a matter. Trump's tale of Jersey City Muslims celebrating 9/11 was just a lie he pulled out of an orifice on the spot. Ditto with the illegal immigrants voting.

But subjecting these comments to that sort of empirical analysis entirely misses their point. Trump's rhetoric isn't meant to be an honest, rational assessment of anything. His remarks of this genre are simply lies deployed for their emotional appeal, the standard fascist cult of aggrievement being nurtured. With them, Trump is directly echoing what the white supremacist community in the U.S. has been saying for decades. At one point, he even directly consulted a network of nativist hate-groups founded by a white nationalist, and  made extensive use of their fake "research" on the campaign trail. He tells Americans there are too many brown people with funny accents and strange habits running around and you're being harmed by this. Stoking racial and ethnic fears and, most importantly, resentments. Tearing at the fabric of civilized, liberal society. And that's all it is. When, on the campaign trail, his rhetoric began to attract protests--a healthy liberal society will always strongly react against this sort of thing--Trump spent months encouraging his supporters to carry out violence against those protesting. That's the fascist response to everything the fascist dislikes, to hit it, to kick it, to try to stomp it out. While there are important differences between Trump and real fascists (outlined in the earlier essay), all of this is why Trump is so incredibly popular within the white supremacist/Nazi/fascist subculture. He speaks their language. He parrots their rhetoric. This is one of the enduring cornerstones of both his campaign and now his presidency.

Appendix II: Nazis, Fascists, Racists

If one sticks around internet locales wherein politics are discussed, one quickly runs into an array of rightist trolls who launch thread after thread insisting, among other things, that today's Democratic party is the party of the Ku Klux Klan and that fascists are, in reality, leftists. These trolls deploy a standard litany of lies and misrepresentations in support of such Orwellian assertions; they've all pretty much been programmed from the same playbook. Seeing these endless threads spill over into the election cycle wherein the white supremacist/Nazi/"identitarian"/fascist subculture was absolutely enraptured by one of the presidential candidates,[*] I decided it would be helpful to create a thread that cut through the squid's ink and made clear who these elements were and who they were supporting. Some are separatists who don't take part in electoral politics. Some have their own small, right-wing parties, usually local. But those who participate in traditional two-party politics had made their political allegiance very clear and it wasn't to the party that elected that black fellow president. That thread was basically a series of links to various relevant items, by no means comprehensive but more than sufficient to make the point. They're reproduced here:

Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and self-proclaimed fascist, founded the Daily Stormer, which has recently overtaken Stormfront to become the major internet white supremacist site. Here's his endorsement for president:

Anglin doesn't have the rightist trolls' confusion about fascists. As he tells it, Trump "is absolutely the only candidate who is even talking about anything at all that matters," said things that matter being that Trump wants to get rid of those Mexicans, get rid of Obamacare and he's the only candidate "with any chance whatsoever of beating Hillary."

The Daily Stormer is jam-packed with articles promoting Trump and attacking his enemies:

--"Glorious Leader [Trump] Calls for Complete Ban on All Moslems"
--"Media Jews Try to Hoax Trump with Fake Attack on Lying Slut Reporter"
--"Krauthammer Says Trump Train Cannot be Derailed!" (the subheadline for this one: "You gave it a good shot, Jews.")
--"Soros Funds Hispanic Move Against Trump"
--"Vile African Leader of America [President Obama] Again Attacks Donald Trump"
--"Jew Noam Chomsky Says a Trump Presidency Would Destroy Earth"
--"Three Wetbacks Arrested for Pulling Gun on Trump Supporter in Georgia"

And so on.

David Duke, probably the single-most prominent white supremacist in the U.S., has issued a de facto endorsement of Trump. "I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do." Further, he told his followers that "voting for these people [Cruz and Rubio], voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage." He encouraged his listeners to "get active":

"Get off your duff. Get off your rear end that’s getting fatter and fatter for many of you everyday on your chairs. When this show’s over, go out, call the Republican Party, but call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer. They’re screaming for volunteers. Go in there, you’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have."

Kevin B. MacDonald is the editor of the Occidental Observer, devoted to "white identity, white interests, and the culture of the West"--a racist who with a particular focus on anti-Semitism who affects the pose of an intellectual. Early on, he saw much hope for white nationalists in the Trump campaign, praising "Trump’s statements on the criminal tendencies and generally low functioning of Mexican and Central American immigrants," which he wrote, "have struck a chord with White America." MacDonald praises Trump for attacking Jewish pundits--"prominent operatives of the Republican Party/Israel Lobby nexis"--and for bringing to the forefront the "issue" of "illegal alien criminality."

MacDonald has become more and more enthusiastic about Trump as the campaign has gone on:

"I certainly counted myself among the skeptics when it comes to Donald Trump’s candidacy. But it’s clear now that he is going full populist on the issues that matter, first with his statements on trade deals, but now—and more importantly—on immigration. Ann Coulter calls his immigration statement 'the greatest political document since the Magna Carta'... I agree--if it can actually end up influencing policy. While other candidates like Scott Walker and Rick Santorum have mumbled things about legal immigration, the immigration issue will now define Trump’s candidacy. White Americans can finally express themselves on what kind of country they want to live in. As Coulter also points out, immigration is the only important issue."

MacDonald has authored perhaps a dozen articles expressing glee that Trump pisses off prominent Jewish commentators.

"The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s... 'Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,' said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. 'He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.'... [White supremacist leaders] consistently say that Trump's rhetoric about minority groups has successfully tapped into simmering racial resentments long ignored by mainstream politicians and that he has brought more attention to their agenda than any American political figure in years. It is a development many of them see as a golden opportunity."

As Politico notes, Stormfront, the biggest white supremacist community on the internet (and before the Daily Stormer came along, the most visited site), is full of excitement over Trump. One can go there and, under the logo "We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!," see thread after thread of enthusiastic white supremacists expressing their delight at Trump.
And on into infinity.

Stormfront is a very effective antidote for the persistent nut-right trolling about fascism being a phenomenon of the left ("The Nazis have the word 'socialist' in their name!"). The Nazis, white nationalists, race separatists of the Stormfront gang has no such illusions about which side they're on or who their enemies are. Trump is god, George Soros is evil, Black Lives Matters are violent thugs, Bernie Sanders is the evil socialist Jew, Hillary Clinton is a felon, and on and on. Remove the overt racial references and much of the political commentary on the site would be indistinguishable from any other right-wing site that allows people to post. A small sample:

Poster Blueearth:

"The enemy is the left, it became clear to even the most moderate whites, with the well organized mob last night and, the bitter vitriol pouring out from Tim Wise the anti white jew. I did not hear Bernie Sanders condemn the violence either, even though today, they are identifying the vast majority as sanders supporters, no surprise really, since sanders has been active in agitation since the early 60's in this same city. This mob was evil and violent, they wanted the war to start last night, they may just get their wish if this continues... The enemy here is the organized institutional left, and every single GOP candidate and surrogate needs to start educating the voters on who they are. This is going to get worse. As I predicted in January:As the newest incarnation of the activist Left, Black Lives Matter will not back down or rest until it is either stopped by someone gutsy enough to call them out or until it gets what it wants: a bloody revolution leading to a socialist/anarchist America."

Volodyamyr states the matter plainly:

"The Left and Jewry are synonymous, because the Jews are the Left."


"...the only way around this is for Trump to take control of the country and explain the media bias to the masses in simple terms. So the best all of us can do right now is hope Trump wins through and is the genuine article, and for the American public get behind and help Trump. I'm not sure that the likes of Trump, The UKIP party in Britain, LePen in France, Vladimir Putin are the real thing, but my God they have to be better than Hillary Clinton and the worldwide libtard movement."


"Jews invented left wing ideology and they still set the agenda for all the leftists."


"Hillary is the problem and Trump is the solution."


"Look back at history. Who created the so called left? The Jew... If you are still on the fence about whether to support white pride groups, I would advise you to go to one of the leftist rallies. Listen to the hate and vitriol they spew at absolutely anyone who disagrees with them. Look around at the people at one of these dog and pony shows. These people have the unmitigated gall to call us haters? They talk about brotherly love and peace and love your fellow man. What that means is love thy spook. Fall down and worship thy Hebe. Never question the liberal agenda. If you fail to do any of these things they will attack you like a pack of rabid dogs."


"We’ve heard the liberal meme over and over that Donald Trump encourages violence among his supporters. Of course the liberals who make this accusation, always fail to note that the problems have always resulted from obnoxious leftists, who show up inside Trump rallies and then try to keep Trump from speaking, forcing Trump and his supporters to throw them out."


"Hungarian Jew billionaire George Soros has announced that he is putting $5 million into a new political action committee designed solely to mobilize Hispanics into a nonwhite anti-Trump voting bloc. The blatant racially-based political mobilization—which Soros would be among the first to call 'racist' if it were done by whites—will take the form of the “Immigrant Voters Win PAC,” and will help to coordinate the effects of a number of nonwhite political groups."

And so on.

Now get a shower.

The New Yorker ran a good piece about, among other things, Trump's extensive fan following among the white supremacist crowd:

The American Freedom Party, a neo-Nazi org, launched a super-PAC, American National, that has been financing robocalls in support of Trump's candidacy:

Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist American Renaissance and spokesman for the Council of Conservative Citizens, lent his voice to recording the robocall message:

"Jared Taylor, a leading white nationalist known for his academic-sounding deconstructions of multiculturalism, has been an ardent supporter of Donald Trump since the earliest days of the billionaire's presidential campaign."

"Jared Taylor is a believer in what he calls 'race realism,' a belief system that includes the idea that people are happier when they can live with only members of their race, and that people of color are endangering the majority that white Americans have held for centuries. He has questioned the ability of black people to live in civilized society, and his website, American Renaissance, says one 'of the most destructive myths of modern times is that people of all races have the same average intelligence.' Taylor, a white nationalist, is also an enthusiastic supporter of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

"'He is really the first candidate in many years whose policies are not going to kowtow,' Taylor said of Trump. 'He has taken a very straightforward position on keeping Muslims out, for example. Can you name a single good consequence of mass Muslim immigration to the United States? I sure can’t!'"

The Knights Party is one of several descendants of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organization formerly run by David Duke (it fractured over the years). Thomas Robb, the preacher who has run it since the '70s, knows who he's supporting for president: "As far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump is the pick of the litter."

"'The others say they can control the border … they’ve been talking about controlling the border for 50 years,' he said. 'The Knights Party started calling for a wall on our border back in the late '70s. It’s nice to see some other people catching up.'

"While he views Trump as the 'pick of the litter,' Robb said that he would back any Republican against Hillary Clinton in the general election."

Some quotes from Robb, courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"When the Negro was under the natural discipline of white authority, white people were safe from the abuse and violence of the Negro, but the Negro was also safe from himself."
–-Editorial in The Torch, April 1990

"Dats when A'hs does what A'hs want. Dat's also when A'hs kin have da white girls, and da free food stamps."
--The White Patriot, 1991

"My name’s not Paul Revere, but one of the things I’d be saying if I was on that stallion in 1775, but I’m not, so in 2009, the Mexicans are coming, the Mexicans are coming!"
--At White Christian Heritage Festival, Pulaski, Tenn., Oct. 24, 2009

Rachel Pendergraft, an organizer for the Knights Party, uses Trump as a recruting tool:

The Knights Party has a platform; with a few overt racial references (and one or two odd items) removed, it would pass muster with much of the American nationalist hard right.

Craig Cobb wants to turn the little town of Antler, North Dakota into a white supremacist enclave and rename it after his hero Donald Trump:

William Daniel Johnson of the white nationalist American Freedom Party once proposed a constitutional amendment revoking the citizenship of every non-white American. He thinks Trump is just hunky-dory:

"'I was not a supporter of the man until the positions made me a convert,' Johnson said, describing how he was swayed by Trump’s promises of a wall separating the United States and Mexico and a new plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country. For the quarter of a century during which Johnson was aware of Trump before these proposals, he wasn’t a huge fan. Now, he said, 'I admire what he’s doing very much.'


"The slight problem for Johnson, in his political capacity, is that the American Freedom Party has its own presidential candidate. The portly, blue-eyed Bob Whitaker is the party's man. He campaigns with the catchy slogan 'Diversity Is a Codeword for Genocide.' Yet as Johnson laughingly told The Daily Beast, Whitaker himself supports what Trump is doing, as do many members of the party.

"Indeed, interest in the American Freedom Party has surged along with Trump’s rise, Johnson said.

"'We have seen a dramatic uptick in support,' he crowed. 'In fact, sometimes I can hardly manage because of this Trump phenomenon.'

"...the American Freedom Party chairman describes his relationship with Trump as 'unrequited love.' He said he has contributed financially to the campaign, created a super PAC to support him, and tries to get the message out about Trump’s near sainthood on the party’s daily radio shows."

Whitaker eventually withdrew as the AFP's candidate and the party endorsed Trump.

Back in the 1960s, the Citizens Councils of America, better known as the White Citizens Councils (and known colloquially as "the uptown Klan"), battled civil rights and racial integration. Those behind it eventually changed its name to the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CCC has all the usual targets--it's anti-black, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-liberal, anti-"race-mixing" (in 2003, the group's website decreed that "Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God)." In 2007, the Citizen Informer, one of the group's publications, offered a "statement of principles" that included things like this:

"We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people... We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force and placing troops on our national borders; that illegal aliens must be returned to their own countries; and that legal immigration must be severely restricted or halted through appropriate changes in our laws and policies. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."

Dozens of politicians and political officials are tied up with the CCC and, of course, almost all of them are Republicans. Then-Republican leader Trent Lott--the fellow who, a few years ago, praised Strom Thurmond's 1948 "Segregation Forever" campaign--gave at least five speeches to the group and was reportedly a dues-paying member. Then-Mississsippi Governor and former Republican National Committee chief Haley Barbour has addressed the group, as has Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who ran for the Republican presidential nomination again this year. Alabama "Justice" Roy Moore, the reactionary demagogue who fought a long battle over trying to erect and maintain an unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument in the state Judicial Building, has addressed the org. The CCC was allowed to participate in the Conservative Political Action Conference year after year until their white supremacist views got a wider airing in the press, forcing CPAC to cut them out.

In 1999, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) introduced a resolution in congress condemning the CCC:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) condemns the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens;
(2) condemns all manifestations and expressions of racism, bigotry, and religious intolerance wherever they occur; and
(3) urges all Members of the House of Representatives not to support or endorse the Council of Conservative Citizens and its views.

All but 13 Republicans in the House lockstepped against the resolution and killed it. Over in the Senate, Lott himself stood opposed to it. Shocking, right?

A few years later, a little right-wing slug happened across the CCC's website. He was amazed by what he found there--as he described it, it really opened his eyes to the world. That slug was Dylann Roof and in 2015, inspired by what he'd found, he entered a black church in Charleston and murdered 9 people.

In the flurry of press coverage the followed the Roof killings, it was brought to light that the CCC's president Earl Holt III, a man who describes black people as "the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world," had given $65,000 to various Republican campaigns in the last few years, including large donations to Mitt Romney in 2012 and, prior to the rise of Trump in the current race, to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

A breakdown of Holt's donations over the years, which have gone to Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Steve King, Tom Cotton, Rick Santorum, Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, etc.--all the darlings of the nut right:

Holt switched to Donald Trump in the presidential race, helping finance those American Freedom Party robocalls.

White supremacist Kyle Rogers, the CCC's webmaster, has been a Republican activist in South Carolina for nearly a decade; you can visit ebay where he'll sell you a "Trump 2016" shirt:

Trump recently made a few waves in the press by approvingly retweeting a quote by Benito Mussolini. Getting much less attention is the fact that Trump routinely retweets white supremacists:

"Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections."

Fortune did an analysis of Trump's social media ties to white supremacists and found them depressingly significant:

"Last night, PBS NewsHour ran a story on the Tilly family of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Tillys do not have a history of being active in politics, but various members of the family—both old and young—are being motivated to vote or work for a campaign for the first time by Donald Trump.

"If you can put aside the fact that the Tillys are rallying behind Trump, this is a small but almost heartwarming story of a family choosing to engage with democracy. That’s also if you can put aside the fact that Grace, one of the central characters in the story, has large white power tattoos on each of her hands."

This became a bit of a controversy and Grace Tilly falsely denied they had any connection to white supremacy:

"A white supremacist radio show was given full press credentials by the Donald Trump campaign, and even managed to snag at interview with Donald Trump Jr... The Political Cesspool bills itself as 'unapologetically pro-White... Even though Whites represented the vast majority of the American population, we had no mainstream voice,' its website laments. 'That would soon change. The Political Cesspool enjoyed a modest launch on October 26, 2004.' [Host James] Edwards has a long history of making disparaging comments about racial minorities, even saying interracial sex was nothing but 'white genocide.'

"Needless to say, Edwards is a big Trump fan. 'Trump is the only candidate who gives us a chance at having a fighter who will put America first. He’s the only candidate who isn’t owned and operated by special interests,' he continued. 'With Trump, America has a chance to regain her identity.'"

When this received some press attention, Trump Jr. claimed he didn't know Edwards held such views and that if he had, he wouldn't have done the interview but a few weeks later, Edwards was given press credentials for the upcoming Republican National Convention and invited to cover it. While there, he interviewed several Trump surrogates, including at least four Republican congressmen, who "promoted Trump’s candidacy to The Political Cesspool audience."

Matt Forney is a virulent white supremacist--hates blacks, hates Jews, hates Muslims, immigrants, gays, Mormons, Latinos and seems to particularly hate women--he advocates regular domestic violence against them, argues against educating them, says "feminists want men to rape them." He endorsed Trump early:

"Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is the closest America will come to redemption, the last triumph of nationalism before the left swamps us with hordes of barely literate foreigners who will vote them into a permanent majority. I’m not going to sit back and pretend that both parties are identical when one of them is presenting a clear alternative to decay and decline."

Forney later covered the Republican National Convention for Red Ice Radio (there's plenty on Forney charming views here as well):

Red Ice Radio is a racist internet radio show where the Holocaust is denied, white supremacy is affirmed and an endless parade of white nationalists/Nazis/fascists find a welcome home. It's produced by Red Ice Creations:

"Their [Red Ice Creations] two primary programs are the podcasts Red Ice Radio hosted by Henrik [Palmgren] and Radio 3Fourteen hosted by Lana [Lokteff]. Here they focus on guests for interviews, which are quickly becoming the 'who’s who' of the broad white nationalist and racist communities. Guests like Richard Spencer, American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor, David Duke, Mike Enoch and Seventh Son from the Daily Shoah, various people from the Manosphere and Men’s Rights community, and just about everyone who remains relevant from this growing Alt Right scene."

Billy Snuffer, the Imperial Wizard of the Virginia-based Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, knows who he's backing:

"'You're paying attention to the presidential elections this time? In your own personal opinion, who is best for the job?' I asked the Imperial Wizard.

"'I think Donald Trump would be best for the job,' said the Imperial Wizard. 'The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe.'"

William Daniel Johnson of the American Freedom Party made another appearance in the Trump saga:

"On Monday evening, California's secretary of state published a list of delegates chosen by the Trump campaign for the upcoming Republican presidential primary in the state. Trump's slate includes William Johnson, one of the country's most prominent white nationalists."

When this became public, Johnson stepped down as a delegate.

White nationalist Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute is the fellow who coined the phrase "alt-right" as a rebranding of the white supremacist/Nazi/fascist subculture. When Johnson had the AFP conducting those elect-Trump calls, Spencer had warned him that the association could be hurting Trump's campaign but Spencer himself is a Trump supporter who has become increasingly enthusiastic as the campaign has continued. From Dec. 2015:

By Oct. 2016:

"Spencer has become more enthused as Trump has ramped up his claims about how his campaign represents an 'existential threat' to 'global special interests.' After Trump's widely criticized speech in West Palm Beach last week, during which the GOP nominee alleged a 'conspiracy' against the American people led by a 'global power structure,' Spencer tweeted, 'The shackles are off, and Trump is getting radical. We've never seen a major postwar politician talk like this.' He later amplified his appreciation of what he characterized as Trump 'demystifying "racism" and the financial power structure,' concluding, 'No matter what happens, I will be profoundly grateful to Donald Trump for the rest of my life.'... Spencer reflects on the significance of what he sees as Trump's affinity for white nationalism. 'It's not so much about policy – it's more about the emotions that he evokes,' he says. 'And emotions are more important than facts. Trump sincerely and genuinely cares about Americans, and white Americans in particular.'

"Spencer is ebullient over how Trump has legitimized his movement. 'It's not just about "deport illegals" or "stop illegal immigration,"' he says. 'It's about the sense – the existential sense – of, Are we a nation? He's brought an existential quality to politics.'

"Trump, Spencer believes, has exposed the Republican Party's id. 'The Trump phenomenon expresses a fundamental truth,' he says. 'It's an unspoken truth, and that is that the Republican Party has won elections on the basis of implicit nationalism and not on the basis of the Constitution, free-market economics, vague Christian values and so on. Even a leftist would agree with that statement. Like, Trump has shown the hand of the GOP. The GOP is a white person's populist party.' Unlike Trump, though, the party is 'embarrassed of itself.'"

In July, Trump again retweets virulent racists, this time trashing Hillary Clinton:

"Donald Trump's paid campaign staffers have declared on their personal social media accounts that Muslims are unfit to be U.S. citizens, ridiculed Mexican accents, called for Secretary of State John Kerry to be hanged and stated their readiness for a possible civil war, according to a review by The Associated Press of their postings."'s-online-posts

"The effort to plant the seeds of white nationalism in the political mainstream, where they might blossom into pro-white political coalitions that appeal to a broader swath of Caucasian voters, will not be easy, according to the chairman of the American Nazi Party.

"But Rocky Suhayda thinks there is one political figure who presents a 'real opportunity' to lessen the load.

"Who is it? Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.

"'Now, if Trump does win, okay, it’s going to be a real opportunity for people like white nationalists, acting intelligently to build upon that, and to go and start — you know how you have the black political caucus and what not in Congress and everything — to start building on something like that,' Suhayda declared on his radio program last month.

"'It doesn’t have to be anti-, like the movement’s been for decades, so much as it has to be pro-white,' he added.

"Audio from the radio program was posted Saturday by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, who noted that Suhayda has in the past avoided making statements about Trump out of concern that he might harm the businessman’s candidacy. Yet, Kaczynski reported, in an American Nazi Party report from September, the chairman argued that Trump’s rhetoric revealed the secret popularity of the party’s messages.

"'We have a wonderful OPPORTUNITY here folks, that may never come again, at the RIGHT time,' Suhayda wrote, according to BuzzFeed. 'Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have SHOWN that "our views" are NOT so "unpopular" as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!'

"Last week, when Donald Trump tapped the chairman of Breitbart Media to lead his campaign, he wasn't simply turning to a trusted ally and veteran propagandist. By bringing on Stephen Bannon, Trump was signaling a wholehearted embrace of the 'alt-right,' a once-motley assemblage of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, ethno-nationalistic provocateurs who have coalesced behind Trump and curried the GOP nominee's favor on social media. In short, Trump has embraced the core readership of Breitbart News.

"'We're the platform for the alt-right,' Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon's target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon's leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an 'eclectic mix of renegades,' accusing President Barack Obama of importing 'more hating Muslims,' and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of 'political correctness.'

"A Twitter analysis conducted by The Investigative Fund using Little Bird software found that these 'elements' are more deeply connected to Breitbart News than more traditional conservative outlets. While only 5 percent of key influencers using the supremacist hashtag #whitegenocide follow the National Review, and 10 percent follow the Daily Caller, 31 percent follow Breitbart. The disparities are even starker for the anti-Muslim hashtag #counterjihad: National Review, 26 percent; the Daily Caller, 37 percent; Breitbart News, 62 percent."

White nationalist/fascist leaders couldn't have been more pleased with Trump's choice of Bannon:

Trump's crazed, reactionary speech on immigration in August drew tweets of praise from the white supremacist crowd:

The editors of VDARE:
"In a sane country, everything Trump has proposed tonight so far would be regarded as so obviously true it wouldn't even be up for debate."

Jared Tayler of American Renaissance:
"Hell of a speech. Almost perfect. Logical, deeply felt, and powerfully delivered. Now watch how the media twists it."

David Duke:
"Excellent speech by Donald Trump tonight. Deport criminal aliens, end catch and release, enforce immigration laws & America First."

During Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Republicans displayed a tweet by white supremacist "Western_Triumph" on the big monitors around the arena. Earlier in the convention, they'd also displayed a tweet from VDARE:

The Twitter profile for "Western_Triump" makes it rather difficult to write that off as an honest mistake; he describes himself as "AltRight #Pro White #Southern #RaceRealist #Nationalist #SlayCulturalMarxism #Trump2016 #LoveYourRace."

"Originally established in 1999 by the Center for American Unity, a Virginia-based nonprofit foundation started by English immigrant Peter Brimelow, is an anti-immigration hate website 'dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.'

"Now run by the VDARE Foundation, the site is a place where relatively intellectually inclined leaders of the anti-immigrant movement share their opinions. also regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites."

"The extent to which the Trump campaign has legitimized and promoted white supremacism--the real unvarnished version--still boggles my mind. I sincerely can’t understand why people are just sitting back and letting this happen. The media now treat each new revelation of Trump’s outright connections with and sympathy for these racial extremists as a sort of 'ho-hum' routine thing, not very big news, let’s just move on and discuss Ivanka’s designer dress instead.

"But the GOP convention was absolutely lousy with white supremacists, and not just hanging around outside. They were given press passes and convention credentials, and in at least one case actually seated in the luxury box next to the VIP section."

That pic, from the above Little Green Footballs article, is Richard Spencer posing, at the convention, with Chuck Johnson, another white supremacist. During the primary season, after Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson had posed for a photo with Johnson, LGF ran an article outlining his deplorable views:

"Among the small number of American newspapers that have embraced Donald Trump’s campaign, there is one, in particular, that stands out.

"It is called the Crusader — and it is one of the most prominent newspapers of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Under the banner 'Make America Great Again,' the entire front page of the paper's current issue is devoted to a lengthy defense of Trump’s message — an embrace some have labeled a de facto endorsement."

Trump's election was greeted with orgiastic glee by the white nationalist/Nazi/fascist community:

"White Nationalists all over the world," wrote Brad Griffin of Occidental Dissent, "are celebrating like this on the way to work this morning!"

"An historic, quite possibly revolutionary victory," declared Kevin MacDonald at Occidental Observer:

"This is an amazing victory... Fundamentally, it is a victory of White Americans over the oligarchic, hostile elites what have run this country for decades... [Trump]understood the anger in White America far better than anyone else and he was willing to say what they wanted to hear--most of all the White working class (72-23!), but also White women (53-43), and his deficit among White educated women was only 51-45 (CBS exit polls). Looks like quite a few college-educated women ignored what they heard in their gender studies courses and those mandatory credits in Black Studies. While obviously a lot of work needs to be done, this is a glorious day."

"We Won," declared Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer. "All of our work. It has paid off. Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor... History has been made. Today, the world ended. A new world has been born... This has been the best year and a half of my life. We have won so much. And it has led to the ultimate win. The battle is far from over. Much, much, much work to be done. But the White race is back in the game. And if we’re playing, no one can beat us."

Thomas Robb, Knights Party:

"America’s white voting majority, men and women, have spoken by electing Donald J. Trump to the presidency. They have recognized that this was a last chance election. They are sick and tired of seeing our young men and women die in foreign wars protecting other borders, while leaving our own border unsecure. They have been appalled by the leftist attack upon law and order and the hardworking law enforcement officers who put their lives at risk everyday. They are alarmed by the increasing number of Muslims invading America; with a majority who hate America and are anti-women. And they recognize that the liberal agenda, free trade, and over regulation robs [sic] them of jobs and opportunities and harms all communities; white and nonwhite alike. They are beginning to feel like a stranger in their own country. They are beginning to feel like a stranger in their own country. They are saying to the establishment, “Keep your hands off our families, 2nd Amendment and Christian faith."

The North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan greeted news of the election by declaring a "Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade" to be held in Pelham, NC in celebration. "Trump’s Race United My People," its website declared.

Shorty after the election, Richard Spencer brought his National Policy Institute conference to the Ronald Reagan Building in the nation's capitol. Addressing the assembled, Spencer declared, ""Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!" At which point, attendees exploded in applause and Nazi salutes. Spencer made generous use of racist imagery and asserted, "America was, until this last generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation and our inheritance, and it belongs to us."


[*] Right in the midst of the general election, the deplorable Dinesh D'Souza put out one of his dreadful "documentaries"--HILLARY'S AMERICA: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY--that tied the Democratic party to the KKK.

Appendix III: Ku Klux Reflux

Ever hear the one about the Ku Klux Klan endorsing Hillary Clinton? Throughout the presidential campaign, rightist internet trolls took great delight in posting--and reposting and reposting--the alleged "endorsement" of Hillary Clinton by California KKK Grand Dragon Will Quigg.

Quigg had been a Trump supporter:

He flip-flopped and made his "endorsement" of Clinton in March 2016. The original Telegraph article on this development noted that:

"'Based on his past statements, it doesn’t appear highly credible that he has changed his effusive allegiance to Donald Trump,' Brian Levin, a former New York police officer who is director of the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, told the Telegraph. 'The timing seems suspect. I think this is a function of not wanting to undermine the Trump campaign.'"

While Clinton stood for everything Quigg and his org despise, Quigg said she has a "hidden agenda" that dovetails with his own, something that will only come out after she's elected. For now, she was just "telling everybody what they want to hear so she can get elected..." Quigg's reasoning for turning on Trump? "We don’t like his hair. We think it’s a toupee."

By April, the tale had grown; Quigg was then claiming to have made an anonymous $20,000 donation to the Clinton campaign. He said the donation was made anonymously. Those at Vocativ seem to have been alone in examining this claim but they did debunk it almost as soon as Quigg had made it:

"According to Schwerin, the campaign has 'not received anywhere close to $20,000 in anonymous donations in total, [so] it is impossible that they are telling the truth.' Vocativ independently verified this through FEC filings."

...which did nothing to slow the roll of the rightists trolls plastering the story of the "endorsement" all over the internet. Other than actually saying, from time to time, that his org endorsed Clinton, Quigg said nothing complimentary of his allegedly favored candidate. His Twitter feed, instead, was full of standard Trumpian far-right ranting. He wrote that Black Lives Matter had issues a statement saying "To kill all Whites esp. White Cops" (17 July). When Trump asserted President Obama was "the founder of ISIS," Quigg tweeted "Trump Does make a good point here" (11 Aug.). In response to a tweet by Obama himself, he wrote:

He tweeted an article about reactionary Arizona "sheriff" Joe Arpaio continuing to "investigate" Obama's birth certificate (25 Sept.). And so on.

Nevertheless, when, in August 2016, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine railed against Donald Trump's white supremacist support, Fox News aired footage of Quigg's "endorsement" of Clinton to rebut his comments. The video was widely circulated throughout the rightist internet.

When Trump won, Quigg finally dropped even the little effort he'd put into his ruse and came clean:

After he'd fessed up, Quigg was a bit irked that some were a little slow to catch on

As of this writing, rightist trolls are still occasionally posting the story about how the KKK endorsed Hillary Clinton. What can you do?