Friday, June 29, 2018

Only We Can Stopping Hating

"The American election in 2016 was Putin's 'grandest campaign' of deceit, Snyder writes. He outlines the stages of Trump's ascent, beginning long before the presidential race: Russian money rescued him from financial collapse, thus enabling the reality television fantasy of Trump the successful businessman. That character became a spokesman of the birtherism fraud, propelling Trump's political career and presidential ambitions, which were in turn further supported by Russian propaganda. 'Fiction rested on fiction rested on fiction,' Snyder writes. 'From a Russian perspective, Trump was a failure who was rescued and an asset to be used to wreak havoc in American reality.'

Trump's victory and presidency have indeed served Putin's interests, precisely through the havoc they wreak. Though Washington still imposes sanctions against Russian individuals and organizations, long-standing Western alliances and trade relations are rapidly deteriorating under Trump, as are the reputation and global influence of American democracy. This helps Putin argue that the United States 'is not exceptional,' McFaul laments, 'that we have no moral authority to preach to other countries about their behavior.' The president also continues to minimize the Kremlin's role in the 2016 U.S. election and even lobbies for Russia's re-entry into the Group of Seven.

But none of this means that Putin is responsible for Trump's election, nor does it mean that Russia is masterminding some unwitting American transition to authoritarianism. 'Americans were not exposed to Russian propaganda randomly, but in accordance to their own susceptibilities,' Snyder emphasizes. 'People are led towards ever more intense outrage about what they already fear or hate."

The siloing of news consumption and the erosion of faith in common facts and truths, the demonization of opponents and the polarization of our politics, especially on the right - they were all underway long before Trump announced his candidacy.
Snyder also highlights the weakening of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, maintaining that 'when Russia acted against American democracy, the American system was already becoming less democratic.'

Whatever is happening here, we were ripe for it. The risk is not that Putin will turn us into a Russian facsimile; it's that we morph into something different all on our own." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, Books on the Russia scandal focus on the news. What they need is more history.

Don't Vote Hate (©

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A 'Hateful Spirit Envelopes Trump, Consumes Him and Animates Him', Don't Vote Hate (©

UPDATE:  "For three decades, Steve Schmidt has played at the highest levels of Republican politics, as a top strategist in presidential campaigns and as an adviser to other GOP candidates. He has also been one of the most vociferous critics of President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, he made that opposition even more emphatic, renouncing his party affiliation and urging Americans to vote for Democrats in the November elections.

'Trump's election did not spell doom for the Republican Party,' Schmidt said by telephone Wednesday while traveling. 'The reality is that our Founders always predicted that one day there would be a president like Trump, and that's why they designed the system of government the way they designed it. What they never imagined is the utter abdication of a co-equal branch of government, which we're seeing now. . . . The definition of conservatism now is the requirement of complete and utter obedience to the leader.' . .

He sees an abdication by the congressional wing of the Republican Party to remain independent of the president when necessary. 'There's a crisis of cowardice in the Republican Party that is profoundly un-American and, in my reading, unprecedented,' he said. 'No one is prepared to lay down their political career to do what's right to oppose the corruption, the assault on institutions, the nonstop lying, the assault on objective truth.' . .

[Schmidt believes the Republican Party] is populated by servile politicians unwilling to buck Trump's loyal following. He called the party 'utterly corrupted,' a force for 'incendiary politics and crackpottery and a real threat to small 'L' liberalism in the U.S.-led liberal global order.' . .

He decries the decision to welcome Trump into the 2012 Republican campaign despite his having pushed the false narrative that Obama was not born in the United States as a means to endear himself to a most extreme wing of the GOP. 'Trump was legitimized by birtherism, and he was abetted by a billion-dollar incitement industry,' he said."

Read the Washington Post, Longtime GOP strategist abandons his party, calls for the election of Democrats, which also notes that:

"Some analysts of American politics attach to Schmidt and McCain some blame for the rise of Trump. In their reading of the past decade, McCain's decision to tap Sarah Palin, then the governor of Alaska, as his vice-presidential running mate was the starting point for the rise of the kind of nationalistic, populistic politics Trump employed to win the election.

Schmidt was one of those who suggested McCain look to Palin as a possible choice, based on his and others' belief that McCain needed a dramatic selection to shake up the race and avoid certain defeat to Barack Obama. He wishes now that the choice had been different.

'My role in Palin is something that there's not a day that has gone by that I don't have regret about,' he said. 'She was manifestly unfit' - which he said became more and more obvious after she was selected - 'and she injected all manner of toxin into the political system. But she is not the cause of any of this.'"

Another MUST READ,  The New York Times, 'I Want to Hate . . .', which states in full:

“In Trump’s America people are understandably experiencing news fatigue. There are torrents of it on multiple streams. There is outrage after outrage. It is often overwhelming.

That’s the plan, I suspect. Trump is operating on the Doctrine of Inundation. He floods the airwaves until you simply give up because you feel like you’re drowning.

And unfortunately, it’s working. A Pew Research Center report released Tuesday found that nearly seven in 10 Americans “feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days.”

Fighting this fatigue is the real test of a person’s resolve, including mine.

When my enthusiasm for resisting this vile man and his corrupt administration starts to flag, I remember the episode that first revealed to me the darkness at Trump’s core, and I am renewed.

On an April night nearly 30 years ago, a young investment banker was beaten and raped when she went for a jog in Central Park. The attack left her in a coma. She happened to be white. Five teenagers arrested for the crime — four black and one of Hispanic descent — went to trial. As this newspaper reported at the time, they were “in what the police said was part of a marauding spree by as many as 30 youths in the northern end of the park” that night.

After being questioned for hours, the defendants gave false confessions that conflicted with one another, and those confessions were captured on video. As The New York Times pointed out in 2002: “The defendants in the jogger case were put on camera after they had been in custody, in some cases, for as long as 28 hours.”

As one of the five wrote in 2016 in The Washington Post: “When we were arrested, the police deprived us of food, drink or sleep for more than 24 hours. Under duress, we falsely confessed.”

A few days after the attack, long before the teenagers would go on trial, Donald Trump bought full-page ads in New York newspapers — you may think of this as a precursor to his present-day tweets to a mass audience — under a giant, all-caps headline that read: “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”

The boys would be convicted even though the physical evidence in the case was inconclusive. When one of the teenagers was led away in handcuffs, he yelled at the prosecutor: “You’re going to pay for this. Jesus is going to get you. You made this … up.”

After serving up to 13 years in prison, the boys were proven right: Another man confessed to the crime and his DNA matched that at the scene of the crime.

The boys, then men, had their convictions overturned, were freed, and eventually reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the city over their wrongful convictions.

How did Trump respond after having called for them to be put to death? In true Trump fashion, he refused to apologize or show any contrition whatsoever.

In a 2014 opinion essay in The Daily News, Trump wrote that the settlement was a “disgrace” and that “settling doesn’t mean innocence.” He continued his assertion that the men were guilty, urging his readers: “Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”

Some people will never admit that they are wrong, even when they are as wrong as sin.

But it is the language in the body of Trump’s 1989 death penalty ad that sticks with me. Trump wrote:

“Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.”

He continued:

“Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.”

That to me is the thing with this man: He wants to hate. When Trump feels what he believes is a righteous indignation, his default position is hatred. Anyone who draws his ire, anyone whom he feels attacked by or offended by, anyone who has the nerve to stand up for himself or herselfand tell him he’s wrong, he wants to hate, and does so.

This hateful spirit envelopes him, consumes him and animates him.

He hates women who dare to stand up to him and push back against him, so he attacks them, not just on the issues but on the validity of their very womanhood.

He hates black people who dare to stand up — or kneel — for their dignity and against oppressive authority, so he attacks protesting professional athletes, Black Lives Matter and President Barack Obama himself as dangerous and divisive, unpatriotic and un-American.

He hates immigrants so he has set a tone of intolerance, boasted of building his wall (that Mexico will never pay for), swollen the ranks of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and attacks some as criminals and animals.

He hates Muslims, so he moves to institute his travel ban and attacks their religion with the incendiary comment that “I think Islam hates us.”

He always disguises his hatred, often as a veneration and defense of his base, the flag, law enforcement or the military. He hijacks their valor to advance his personal hatred.

So I remember that. I center that. I hear “I want to hate” every time I hear him speak. And I draw strength from the fact that I’m not fighting for or against a political party; I’m fighting hatred itself, as personified by the man who occupies the presidency. That is my spine stiffener.”

Remember: Don't Vote Hate (©