Nel's New Day

February 2, 2023

The 118th Congress: ‘Political Infighting, Political Retaliation’

Today 218 House Republicans voted to remove Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, and two Republicans were overheard in an elevator criticizing the vote although they were part of it. Ken Buck (CO) called it the “stupidest vote in the world,” and Mike Simpson (ID) agreed, adding that it would make Omar a “martyr.” They also agreed that the vote was revenge for Democrats removing Republicans from committees but asked others in the elevator not to tell leadership their thoughts.

Democrats previously removed Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for his threats of violence against Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and President Joe Biden along with Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for her racism, anti-Semitism, threats of violence, and conspiracy theories. While in office, she spoke at white supremacists’ conferences. Senate GOP White John Thune (SD) said that Omar’s removal was “turnabout” for the Democrats removing GOP lawmakers from their committees.

After McCarthy promised to strip Omar of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a coalition of primarily Jewish American and pro-Israel organizations condemned his threat “based on false accusations that she is antisemitic or anti-Israel.” The statement also called McCarthy’s claims hypocritical because he and some of his own deputies have spread anti-Semitic tropes. They cited McCarthy’s tweet “charging that George Soros and two other billionaires of Jewish descent were seeking to ‘buy’ an election.”

McCarthy’s newly-elected Whip Tom Emmer said the Jewish billionaires had “essentially bought control of Congress, and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik promoted the anti-Semitic “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), highly influential with McCarthy, said that the California wildfires were started by “Jewish space lasers” and posted approval of violence against Democratic leaders on social media. She uses her seat on the Oversight Committee to spread more lies

About criticism from the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Tom Massie (KY) wrote, “How is this not foreign interference in our elections,” referring to anti-Semitic dual-loyalty. Republicans also defended the virulently anti-Semitic Kanye West.

Omar brought a new perspective to the other 49 members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, according to Peter Beinart, a journalism and poli-sci professor at the City University of New York:

“In a hearing in May 2021, about Chinese atrocities against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, only Ms. Omar noted that the United States had itself imprisoned 22 Uyghurs at Guantánamo Bay and that China’s president had reportedly cited America’s ‘war on terror’ as a justification for his own crackdown.”

The 218-211 vote were along party lines. One GOP member, Dave Joyce (OH) who voted “present” instead of against Omar. “She was elected,” the excuse Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) uses to keep lying Rep. George Santos (R-NY) for his vote, doesn’t count for Democrats. McCarthy earlier removed California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee, accusing Schiff of lying, but that excuse is only for Democrats.

Three GOP representatives—Ken Buck (CO), Nancy Mace (SC), and Victoria Spartz (IN)—had said they would not support Omar’s removal, but McCarthy bought their votes with pledges that he would fix rules for removing members from committees. His promised language in the resolution carries no weight, however, because they are in the “whereas” section and not the “resolved” section.

When she was first in the House four years ago, Omar made a few comments about the Israeli apartheid with the Palestinians, Jewish people “buying political support” in AIPA, and allegiance to a foreign company. Even Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had called Israel “your country” when talking to an audience of Jewish people. After the Democratic leadership condemned Omar’s comments, she apologized

“Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Criticizing the GOP vote, Ocasio-Cortez referred to McCarthy appointing Gosar:

“I had a member of the Republican caucus threaten my life and you all, and the Republican caucus rewarded him with one of the most prestigious committee assignments in this congress… This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America.”

McCarthy had been highly critical of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for allowing votes after the time expired and set rules to stop it. Despite Democrats chanting “order” and “close it,” the new speaker permitted votes after the time expiration to get enough votes to keep Omar off the committee. 

Omar is a Black Muslim woman frequently attacked by DDT, the right-wing media, and GOP lawmakers who assailed her ethnicity, religion, and history as a Somalian refugee. In a 2019 rally, DDT led the chant, “Send her back.” Omar said,

“Who gets to be an American? What opinions do you have to have to be counted as American?”

Surprisingly, far-right, DDT-supporter Matt Gaetz (FL) defended Omar and said that Republicans want to punish her “because they don’t like what she has to say.” He still voted to take her off the committee because he didn’t like her “viewpoint.”

McCarthy also removed California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee but said Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY) may put anyone he wishes on the new House “weaponization” committee. The strong Democratic slate includes Del. Stacey Plaskett, representative of the Virgin Islands and part of the 2021 impeachment team, along with three members of the Oversight Committee—Stephen Lynch (MA), Gerry Connolly (VA), and Dan Goldman (NY), elected to Congress after he served as Democratic counsel during DDT’s first impeachment. Other members are Linda Sánchez (CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), John Garamendi (CA), Colin Allred (TX) and Sylvia Garcia (TX). Ranking member of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (NY), will lead the Democrat on the new subcommittee.

Jeffries selected Jim Hines (CN) as top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL) as Democratic leader on the new select subcommittee on strategic competition between the United States and China. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) will be the party’s top official on a Covid subcommittee.

The chaotic 118th Congress has a nickname, the Seinfeld Congress because it’s a show about nothing. After four long days in selecting a speaker, the House has focused on establishing new select committees designed to grind GOP axes and eliminating Democrats from committees. On Groundhog Day, the Judiciary Committee, run by Jim Jordan (OH), devolved into an hourlong debate about saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Gaetz’s amendment allows members to invite “inspirational constituents” to lead the pledge before each committee meeting. He objected, however, to David Cicilline’s (RI) amendment on the amendment to prevent “insurrectionists” from leading the pledge. During the ensuing shouts, the House GOP’s official Twitter account tweeted out the outdated 1892 version of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by New York socialist Francis Bellamy, without the reference to God added during the Cold War in 1954:  

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the committee’s ranking member, pointed out that representatives already said the pledge on the House floor every day. He said:

“I don’t know why we should pledge allegiance twice in the same day to show how patriotic we are.”

A long discussion about saying the pledge led to unanimous acceptance of the amendment.

In the Covid subcommittee hearing about fraud in Covid spending, Ocasio-Cortez asked why research in spending was in only three blue states—New York, California, and Pennsylvania. She asked Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general for the Government Accountability Office, about this “methodology” and how he would carry out the investigation. He explained a sample of “18 states” would be a good approach. Ocasio-Cortez said she plans to “dig into this report” and cited Arizona’s expenditures of “$1.6 billion to individuals to stolen identities to get unemployment insurance benefits” as well as fraud in Lousiana and Kentucky, home of the committee chair James Comer (R-KY). The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee didn’t investigate any of these states.

GOP members of the Covid subcommittee include anti-vaxers Greene, Debbie Lesko (AZ), Ronny Jackson (TX), Rich McCormick (GA), and Michael Cloud (TX). Other members—Brad Wenstrup (OH), John Joyce (PA), Marianette Miller-Meeks (IA), and Nicole Malliotakis (NY) received generous donations from pharmaceutical companies.

On the Senate side, the minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pulled Rick Scott (FL) off the Commerce Committee after Scott tried to beat McConnell out as leader and Mike Lee (R-UT) who supported Scott. McConnell said he didn’t take the challenge personally, but Scott accused him of retaliation after he got a text about the decision. Scott asked who decided to move him and was told that McConnell was solely responsible. Ron Johnson (WI) moved to the Finance Committee from Commerce. The loss of committee seats came from the election of an additional Democrat to the Senate in the 2022 midterms.

At least three House Republicans—George Santos (NY), Anna Paulina Luna (FL), and Andrew (R-GA)—wore pins shaped like assault weapons during National Gun Violence Survivors Week. Luna also opposed Democrats’ attempt to ban firearms inside the Natural Resources panel hearing room. Last week, Cory Mills (FL) distributed grenades to fellow members with a note stating they were “inert.” 

Michael Steele talked about the “boogeyman politics.” As he said, the U.S. doesn’t have socialism, as Republicans want to eradicate, but it does have fascism—settling a partisan score like dictators do.

October 27, 2022

Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Day 245

Russian President Vladimir Putin has one last chance to win his invasion of Ukraine—a GOP congressional takeover on November 8. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested that the House would pull funding for the war if he becomes speaker. They would destroy Ukraine’s courageous struggle to keep its democracy at the same time that its troops are retaking land Russia started to occupy since its attack on February 24, 2022. Putin’s conscription attempts are bad to terrible, and men dragged onto the battle field are poorly equipped and badly trained. While Russian propaganda proposes Ukrainian genocide, the Russian attacks on Ukrainian power stations removing electricity from a million people has only increased Ukrainian resolve.

In the past, Republicans have exhibited friendship with Putin and Russia, and recent votes against aid for Ukraine has shows that continued Russian support by far-right congressional members. In a New Yorker interview with Isaac Chotiner, columnist Christopher Coldwell gave reasons for this GOP fondness for the brutal country trying to annihilate Ukrainians. The GOP sees Putin as an ally in their culture wars and the shared contempt for international institutions. They also admire Putin’s “macho nativist authoritarianism” and have been swayed by his trolling propaganda to influence U.S. elections in the past eight years.   

Fortunately, for Ukraine, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-CA) opposes McCarthy’s position. McConnell called on President Joe Biden to expedite military aid to Ukraine and promised GOP senators will work to ensure “timely delivery of needed weapons.” There was no mention of McCarthy, but the difference was obvious.

Another reason for the far-right extremist attachment to Putin is his similarity to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and their similar goals. Maureen Dowd wrote:

“They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost. They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition. And while it should be easy to see through these lies, both cult-of-personality leaders are able to con and bully enough people to remain puissant.”

The strongmen who went into Ukrainian apartments with rifles and forced the occupants to vote in favor of the sham referenda annexing eastern Ukraine oblasts bear an alarming resemblance in dress and manner to the men stalking the Arizona ballot drop boxes.

Conservatives permiting Russia to overcome Ukraine and move across Europe will have the same danger as conservatives’ supporting Germany in the leadup to World War II. With other members of “America First,” Charles Lindbergh, the hero of many people in the U.S. for making the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, urged people to join Germany to preserve “our inheritance of European blood.” In 1940, editors of the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote that “our job today is not to stop Hitler [who had] already determined the broad lines of our national life at least for another generation.”

Famous U.S. manufacturers supported Germany’s efforts in his prewar preparations. In 1938, Henry Ford opened an assembly plant in Berlin to build “troop transport-style” vehicles for the German military, and both Ford and his chief executive received the Nazi Grand Cross of the German Eagle for “distinguished service.” GM built the “Blitz” truck in Berlin, used for German army blitzkreig attacks on Poland, France and the Soviet Union.   GM and Ford converted their Axis plant to production of military aircraft and trucks, building almost 90 percent of the armored “mule” 3-ton half-trucks and over 70 percent of the Reich’s medium and heavy-duty trucks which served as “the backbone of the German Army transportation system.” Ford provided access to huge quantities of raw materials, especially rubber, and GM gave Hitler the synthetic fuel technology. All the dealings were “extremely profitable.”

Eighty years later, blatant anti-Semitic attacks by leaders such as Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, and rapper Kanye West have resulted in the highest levels of harassment, vandalism, and violence toward Jews since the 1970s. Russians are donating millions of dollars to U.S. politicians—including DDT—through straw donors. Putin capitalized on U.S. political divisions with the statement that the West is divided into “traditional, mainly Christian values” and another—“aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as the weapon of the neoliberal elite.”

The UN objected to a Russian argument that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cannot report to the Security Council regarding allegations Moscow is using Iran-made drones in Ukraine, violating a 2015 resolution. Tehran denies it supplied the drones, but they have been filmed in attacks. Russia also accused the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany of trying to exert influence over Guterres to investigate this use of drones. In addition, Russia may be advising Iran on ways to suppressing open demonstrations after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for not following Iran’s dress code.

Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s power stations and other key infrastructure, according to the White House. Russians may need the Iranians to train them how to use their drones. Zelensky said that Russia had ordered 2,400 drones from Iran.

A senior Russian foreign ministry official threatened the U.S. and its allies with targeting their commercial satellites in return for their involvement in the Russian war against Ukraine. He may have been referring to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, used by Ukrainian soldiers for communications, and synthetic aperture radar satellites tracking Russian troop and tank movements. The official made the same threat last month but may not have followed through because taking this action is difficult. In addition, Russians threaten to blow up a hydroelectric power plant in the Kherson region.

Russia also calls for the “de-Satanization” of Ukraine, a lie one step lower than their earlier goal of “de-Nazification” and reminiscent of the QAnon conspiracy theories in the U.S. Russian soldiers’ strategy to defeat Ukrainian civilians is to capture, torture, and then kill them in organized brutality throughout Russian occupied territory.

Ukraine is advancing on occupying Russian forces in Kherson despite heavy fighting. A Russian military blogger wrote, “I don’t exclude the surrender of Kherson [by the Russians].”

A recent discussion about nuclear-laced “dirty bombs” has been exacerbated by Russia’s letter to the UN with the evidence-free accusation that Ukraine plans to use them. While he spreads these lies, his military had an exercise of tests capable carrying nuclear warheads involving land, sea, and air. Videos of launches were published along with the defense minister’s claim that the tests were successful.

Earlier this week, Ukraine pushed back Wagner Group mercenaries operated by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Bakhmut, Donetsk, and seized a key highway in Luhansk. Prigozhin admitted slow progress amid “fierce enemy resistance.” Sergei Surovikin (aka General Armageddon), Russia’s new commander of the invasion in Ukraine known for his brutality, used the word “tense” in trying to retake southern and eastern Ukrainian regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin had claimed to annex through his coercive faux referenda. Russian troops are in danger of being pinned against the western bank of the 1,367-long Dnipro River bisecting Ukraine from north to south.

About trying to keep Kherson, Surovikin said, “The situation in this area is difficult.” He blames Ukraine for shelling infrastructure and residential buildings which Ukraine said was done by Russian military. Russians struggle to obtain supplies from the east because Ukrainians bombed the main bridge across the Dnipro and decided to ferry materials and equipment from the west bank of the Dnipro River to the eastern bank toward Russia. 

Syrian war crimes investigators may join crime victims in Ukraine to put Russian President Vladimir Putin into prison because he has used the same people, weapons, and tactics in both countries’ atrocities. In the command hierarchy, Putin is responsible for the crimes and its prosecution. Russia never agreed to be called up in the International Criminal Court, but Ukrainan courts or those in third countries could prosecute him. The U.S. could also declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism or support calls from Baltic states for an international tribunal to hold Putin and Russia accountable for the separate international crime of aggression used to prosecute Nazi criminals at Nuremburg. Putin’s international crimes have no statute of limitations.

A new shadow government in Belarus is planning to form a coalition with Ukraine to reduce Russia’s expansion after concerns that Russia will also invade Belarus. Taking Belarus allows Putin to move onto attacking Western Europe. Russia is sending about 9,000 troops and hundreds of armored vehicles for possible deployment.

In his latest escalation to the invasion, Putin has declared martial law in the four Ukrainian areas he annexed although he doesn’t occupy all the territory. He also ordered an “economic mobilization” in eight regions adjoining Ukraine, including Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. In Russia, he gave additional powers to leaders of its 80+ regions to protect critical facilities, maintain public order and increase production in support of the war effort.

U.S. F-16 warplanes intercepted two Russian bombers within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. It is a perimeter where air traffic is monitored beyond the border of national airspace to provide additional reaction time in case of hostile actions. A Russian jet also crashed into an apartment in Yeysk, a port town about 25 miles from Ukraine, while it was on a training mission. The death toll is at least 14, including three children.  

May 20, 2022

Republicans Fight Democrats, Each Other

A week after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had his time in the sun by single-handedly blocking the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, the Senate passed the House bill by 86-11. Eleven Republicans, 22 percent of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Paul, and Tommy Tuberville (AL). All 57 dissenters to the bill in the House vote 368-57 are Republicans. 

About the serious shortage of baby formula, Republicans claim that President Joe Biden is doing nothing about the problem or women should breastfeed so they don’t need the formula.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), among the House leadership, called Biden and other Democrats “pedo grifters.” She blamed the shortage on Biden’s economic policies instead of mismanagement by one of the four monopolizing manufacturers with dirty conditions and massive expenditures on the company’s stock. Republicans ignore Biden’s actions solving the shortage:

  • Invoking the Defense Production to speed up the production.
  • Authorized the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to bring more imports for overseas.
  • Requiring suppliers to fulfill orders from baby-formula producers before other customers.
  • Making a deal with Abbott Nutrition for them to manufacture baby formula if they clean up the plant where it’s made.

His ideas seem much better this one from Republicans, introduced by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott: starve migrant infants so that white infants will have the formula. Or Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), allegedly accused of sex trafficking minors, who wants to deny fomula to infants in poor families and save it for “hard-working Americans.”

The House appropriated $28 million in emergency funds for the baby formula shortage, but only 12 Republicans supported the bill. Stefanik, a new mother who uses baby formula, was not one of them, but she did vote for the Access to Baby Formula Act, temporarily waiving exclusive contracts between states and baby formula manufactures for six million people enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children program. Nine other Republicans, however, voted against that bill: Andy Biggs (AZ), Laurie Boebert (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Clay Higgins (LA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX).  Stefanik’s own bill was for more foreign imports of the product. 

The Senate unanimously passed the Access to Baby Formula Act but didn’t take up the funding bill.  

The U.S. House also passed a bill 217-207 permitting Biden to issue an energy emergency declaration blocking gasoline and home fuel price gouging. Despite the huge hue and cry from the GOP about inflation, no Republicans voted for the bill, and it has little chance of getting the necessary 60 percent of votes in the Senate. Four House Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill: Reps. Jared Golden (ME), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Stephanie Murphy (FL), and Kathleen Rice (NY). 

The partisan vote in the House of 222-203 on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 shows how the GOP supports white supremacy.

Republicans hate globalization and want to bring home manufacturing, but Senate Republicans will likely drop a small program to train workers in new careers if they lose jobs from offshoring. GOP legislators say the U.S. is not working on new trade deals with other countries although old trade deals are still in effect. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated that Republicans care very little “about people getting laid off because of bad trade deals and tax policy that encourages jobs to go overseas.”

As frustrated as Democrats are with the GOP, Republican splits are causing dissension within the party. Hardline tactics of the highly conservative House Freedom Caucus have forced recorded votes instead of voice votes on what should be noncontroversial bills; legislators forced to stay for the voting can’t leave to do other business. A heated confrontation during a 2.5-hour voting on 13 measures led to raised voices from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and caucus members Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA), the current chair. Witnesses reported that Rogers promised consequences for the Freedom Caucus members if they continue delaying tactics. Beyond virtuous comments about the need to review all legislature, the Freedom Caucus bragged that they slow down the Democrats’ “agenda.” Suspension bills need a two-thirds’ vote to pass, and some are failing because of GOP opposition. One required the VA to provide contraceptives without co-pays. The bill later later passed after the normal rules process. In another bill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the only member of the House to oppose a resolution calling on leaders to condemn anti-Semitism.  

The House January 6 investigation committee is heating up the media with more information about who worked to overturn Biden’s presidential election. With evidence that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) led a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, the committee wrote him, asking for his testimony. GOP legislators had claimed that security footage shows “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” in the complex on the days before the insurrection. The committee wants to know about “individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.”

Both Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IA) denied any tour like that, stating “a constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’” They added, “The family never entered the Capitol building.” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused Republicans of leading tours to people using them to help interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. She didn’t provide any names, and Loudermilk called anyone in Congress who made these claims “morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution.” He asked the House Ethics Committee to “take quick and decisive action to ensure this never happens again.” The committee’s evidence contradicts these denials and raises questions about Loudermilk’s tour and its purpose. He is also among those texting former chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election.

Note that Loudermilk and Davis lied with their claim of “no tours” for the past 16 months.

New committee findings include official White House photos from January 6 showing Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) activites on the day. The probe is also targeting DDT’s 11:20 am phone call with then-VP Mike Pence in a final push for him to overturn the election and DDT’s 2:24 pm attack tweet, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” At that time, the Secret Service was rushing Pence into an underground Capitol loading dock for protection from the mob. The committee perceives this tweet as the driver of the mob’s fury and worst violence as well as DDT’s indifference to it.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder/chair of the Oracle software company and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call with Fox’s Sean Hannity, DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, True the Vote’s attorney James Bopp Jr., and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) focusing on strategies for overturning the election. Ellison’s part may have been to assess Sidney Powell’s false claims about voting machines. He has been an active participant in a number of DDT’s conspiracy theories.  

Powell, well-known for her evidence-free claims of election fraud in multiple court cases, is now providing financial support for high-profile insurrectionists through donations to her non-profit, Defending the Republic. One of them, Kelly Meggs, is an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges who has a new lawyer after her former one, Jonathan Moseley, was disbarred in Virginia for improper billing practices. In 2009, Virginia suspended his law license for frivolous discovery requests and false statements about the judge in the case. On January 6 he was in a restricted area at the Capitol but said he didn’t notice.

Known as the “Kraken,” Powell is also paying to defend Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another Oath Keeper, Kenneth Harrelson, from the network of militia-style groups created in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first presidential election. A few dozen face criminal charges for the January 6 insurrection, and 12 of them have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Powell was responsible for a far-reaching set of conspiracy theories about the non-existent election fraud from billionaire George Soros to the involvement of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who died in 2013. The committee subpoenaed Powell, and Dominion Voting Systems is suing her for $1.3 billion. She is also facing disbarment in Texas from allegations that she violated rules of professional conduct prohibiting attorneys from making false statements, using false evidence, bringing frivolous lawsuits, and taking a position that causes “unreasonabl[e] delays” or “burdens” and “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Another DDT shyster lawyer and architect to overturn Biden’s election, Rudy Giuliani, testified to the House committee for nine hours.

Emails show Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas pushing two Arizona state lawmakers to overturn Biden’s win in that state by picking their own electors contrary to the popular vote. The justice is also godfather to the son of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, married to one of the lawmakers, and the lawmaker, Shawnna Bolick, is a candidate for the secretary of state. Incestuous? Definitely a loss of democracy for Arizona’s voters if she’s elected.

December 15, 2019

‘Anti-Semitism’ Ban Doesn’t Protect Jewish People

At a White House Hanukkah reception, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) signed an executive order explicitly naming Jews as a protected class under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and cracking down on anti-Semitism by denying federal funds to any group exhibiting his definition of anti-Semitism. Title VI lists non-discrimination only for race, color, and national origin which means that Jewish people are protected as “national origin” and not religion.

The order punishes any First Amendment free speech criticism of Israel, blocks the BDS movement—Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions—which attempts to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians” by boycotting Israel for its illegal activities in the West Bank and Gaza, and eliminates any support for Palestinians. Curriculum that did not completely support Israel would also be banned under this order.

A hue and cry declaimed that DDT didn’t declare Judaism a “nationality,” that he just put it under “race” and “nationality.” That explanation seems to have the same meaning as “nationality”—it even uses the same word. The order raises questions such as whether Ivanka Trump, a Jewish convert, now has a new “race” or “nationality.” Most of the Jews in the U.S. describe their identity as cultural or religious—or perhaps heritage—while they are Americans. Being separate from Americans can deny them the nation’s rights. If the government determines a definition of nationality for Jewishness, this different category leaves them open to more discrimination.  

Several Jewish organizations raised objections to DDT’s order. Alissa Wise, an activist rabbi with Jewish Voice for Peace, said:

“Trump has never cared about stopping antisemitism — this executive order is about silencing Palestinians and the people who speak up with them.”

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, said:

“We feel it is misguided and harmful for the White House to unilaterally declare a broad range of nonviolent campus criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic, especially at a time when the prime driver of anti-Semitism in this country is the xenophobic, white nationalist far-right.”

In its petition to reject DDT’s executive order, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights states:

“Though touted as a means of protecting Jews and of supporting Israel, this planned Executive Order only threatens First Amendment rights, which include the right to criticize the actions of any country on earth, while confirming a centuries-old antisemitic trope — that the primary loyalty of Jews is not to the state in which they live. This supposition has resulted in horrific discrimination against Jews in countless countries. Take a stand against it today.”

Emily Mayer, political director of IfNotNow, wrote:

 “Trump’s executive order is not about keeping Jews safe. After a week in which he spewed classic anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money, this is just more anti-Semitism. The order’s move to define Judaism as a ‘nationality’ promotes the classically bigoted idea that American Jews are not American. This order is a dangerous move to silence the free speech of human rights advocates and, in particular, Palestinian and Muslim college students.”

Last weekend, DDT used anti-Jewish negative stereotypes of the wealthy Jew in real estate when he said to the Israeli American Council:

“A lot of you are in the real estate business… You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. You’re not gonna vote for the wealth tax.”

DDT continues his pattern of protecting anti-Semitic white supremacists, as he did after their racist protests in Charlotte (VA). Despite the nationalist protesters’ cries of “Jews will not replace us,” DDT continues to insist that they were “fine people on both sides.” 

The executive order is reminiscent of the 1870 Crémieux Decree that the French government enacted in Algeria with the white supremacist goal of giving Algerian Jews the rights and protection of French citizenship while leaving Muslim and Amazigh Algerians second-class citizens. Jewish Algerians lost their privileges when Nazis took over Europe and set up the Vichy regime in France.

By creating citizenship for Algerian Jews, the French government deflected Algerians’ anger of the violence of colonization onto this minority group. Separating the two oppressed groups, Jews and Muslims, meant that they could not successfully opposed the French colonial power. The rise of anti-Semitism drove Jews out of Algeria to France and the anti-colonial movement. By 1940, Muslims fought colonization in Algeria, and Jews faced genocide in France.

France suffers from both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, the direction that the United States is taking. White supremacist governments, including the United States, isolate religious and ethnic groups to pit them against each other to block solidarity. DDT separates Jews and Muslims to make them more ineffective in the fight against white supremacy. He strengthens his division of minority groups by ordering that Palestinian liberation work and fighting anti-Semitism are in opposition.

George W. Bush and President Obama used Title VI to oppose discrimination against people of different religions, not specifically Jewish, and did not declare them a nationality. Instead, discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. was covered by Title VI if the discrimination is based on “the group’s actual or perceived ancestry or ethnic characteristics” or “actual or perceived citizenship or residency in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity.”

DDT uses a pattern of stating that Jewish people in the United States aren’t really “Americans.” Speaking to Jewish groups, he calls Israel “your country” and Benjamin Netanyahu “your prime minister.” He uses perspectives about Israel, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and himself to define the Jewish community as “loyal” or “disloyal.” Prominent Jewish people, for example, Alexander Vindman who testified during the impeachment inquiry, suffer from questions about their patriotism and their loyalty to “America.” DDT’s executive order expands on the difference, insinuating that “Jewish” is separated from “America” and putting that idea into law. This follows DDT’s position that “Mexican Americans” aren’t really Americans.

The new executive order lumps together all anti-Israel conduct without considering whether it is anti-Jewish. The First Amendment protects anti-Semitic speech—at least until DDT was inaugurated. Although it may be repugnant, the term “I hate Jews” is as protected as “I hate carnivores.” The order bans free speech by requiring all government agencies consider the nonbinding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in enforcing anti-discrimination law. The criteria, developed for data-collection, are so vague and imprecise that a Palestinian rights group on campus could lose funding for a school.

To ban all criticism against Israel is to stop criticism of a country.  Israel is a political entity, and DDT’s order bans any criticism of an entire country and its government. Criticism of illegal West Bank settlements is a political discussion, not “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group,” a definition of anti-Semitism. Debates about Israeli policy is not necessarily anti-Jewish.

DDT’s goal with his executive order is to stop any criticism of Israel by calling it “anti-Semitic.” Israel is a political entity, and his order bans any criticism of a country and government. Criticism of illegal West Bank settlements is a political discussion, not “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group,” the definition of anti-Semitism. Debates about Israeli policy are not anti-Semitism.

Technically, DDT’s executive order against “anti-Semitism” should oppose discrimination against a wide range of communities. Although claims have been made that “anti-Semitism” is exclusively for Jewish people, the term Semite covers people in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta—all racially connected by the Semitic language. Therefore, bans against anti-Semitism should stop discrimination against Muslims, Palestinians, etc. DDT’s “anti-Semitism” order is actually anti-Zionism. Both left and right Zionists want the state of Israel, but DDT’s ideology, the rightwing Zionists, combine religion and politics while opposing peace with Palestinians in order to take over all their land. The Zionists want privileges for Jews over Arabs, Palestinians, and Christians.

As a person, DDT is pro-Zionist, trying to protect the state of Israel to keep the evangelical Christians happy, but he demonstrates anti-Jewish behavior which encourages his prejudiced base to behave violently toward Jewish people in their desire to rid the U.S. of Jewish people. Anti-Jewish episodes in the U.S. increased 60 percent in the first year after DDT’s inauguration and continued into a record number of attacks, for example the killing of four people at a Jersey City kosher supermarket this past week.  

Anti-Muslim evangelical Christian leader Robert Jeffress spoke at the Hanukkah event where DDT signed his order. Jeffress maintains that “you can’t be saved being a Jew” and called Mormonism “a heresy from the pit of hell.” According to anti-Jewish Jeffress, Hell is “filled with good religious people who have rejected the truth of Christ.” DDT supports Jeffress because “I like people that talk well about me.”

DDT is not a friend of the Jewish people in the United States.

August 31, 2019

DDT: Week 136 – His Outrageous Storms

DDT avoided an 80th-anniversary World War II commemoration in Poland this week: he’s watching Hurricane Dorian. Maybe collect white paper towels for survivors. He may have dodged a bullet; the storm turned from a direct aim at his resorts, including Mar-a-Lago, to moving long the East Coast. Aides hoped that the Poland trip would avoid criticism if DDT got out of the country to honor World War II veterans and recover from bad publicity about dropping ratings, inappropriate response to mass shootings, negative responses from world powers at the G7 summit, subservience to Russia, etc. No such luck. Even a visit to Poland could be problematic: it is the only EU country without legislature to deal with restitution of Nazi-confiscated private property.

Staying at the White House and then Camp David, DDT kept tweeting. He praised his trade war with China that increased taxes today, disparaged GM, and blasted former FBI Director James Comey. DDT says that he and his supporters should be “given our stolen time back.” The majority of people in the U.S. would probably also want their last 136 weeks back.

DDT’s campaign sent out millions of emails attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after she pointed out that DDT had claimed in 2012 “the electoral college is a disaster for democracy,” a “sham” and a “travesty.” In 2012, DDT called for a “revolution” with his lie that President Obama “lost the popular vote by a lot” to Mitt Romney. President Obama won the popular vote in that year by 65,915,795 to 60,933,504; DDT lost the popular vote by three million ballots in 2016. DDT’s campaign email stated, “This is our country, not theirs,” possibly referring to “Coastal Elites and Liberal Mega Donors” but also meaning Latinx, blacks, women, LGBTQ, Muslims, and Jewish Democrats, to name a few.

Every time DDT gets enough backlash for his outrageous plans, his officials say that he was joking. Are these jokes? 

DDT will kill more children outside detention after three died in his detention process and he won’t be vaccinating detainees against the flu. In a reversal of long-standing policy, he ordered seriously ill people, mostly children, granted special immigration status for medical treatment back to their countries. Families given 33 days to leave the U.S. have Illnesses that include cystic fibrosis, cancer, and muscular dystrophy. Earlier this month, a man with diabetes, brought to the U.S. at six months of age with his Christian parents seeking asylum from Iraq, died after his deportation. During his campaign DDT claimed he would get rid of only criminals. 

DDT declared that children born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizen government employees and military service members, like former presidential candidate John McCain, are no longer U.S. citizens even if they are born in U.S. military hospitals or diplomatic facilities. His new rule, which lacks public notice and comments. could disproportionately affect LGBTQ service members who adopt children and use surrogates, sperm or egg donors or IVF as well as born-abroad children of noncitizen service members naturalizing after they become parents.

DDT promised to pardon federal officials for illegal activities—seizing private land, flouting environmental rules, pushing billion-dollar contracts, etc.—if they build hundreds of miles of border wall before the 2020 election. Last year, he admitted that enforcement and deportation are better than the wall but that his supporters want a wall. DDT’s pardon offer may violate federal bribery laws. Past pardons have been at the whim of DDT with no judicial review, but this corrupt promise flagrantly encourages unlawful behavior.

DDT plans to pull $271 million from DHS—including FEMA’s $155 million and $115 million from the Coast Guard for aviation security—for immigrant detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum seekers despite lack of congressional approval. The TSA and cybersecurity also lost funds for detention.

DDT’s aides admitted that he lied about getting calls from China for trade war talks to boost the stock market. There were no calls.

DDT accused companies hurt by his trade war of being “badly run and weak” from “bad management.”  

DDT will open Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest—the planet’s largest intact temperate rainforest—to logging, mining, energy, and other corporate development projects.

DDT wants to stop hurricanes by dropping nuclear bombs on them. The idea is worse than other pieces from his vast knowledge of science—after all, his uncle was a scientist (a physicist born in 1907)—such as wind turbine noise causing cancer, climate change being a hoax, cold weather disproving climate warming, rivers not being diverted into the ocean, and raking forests stopping fires. After his frequent repetition of bombing hurricanes, NASA published an explanation about why it won’t work. DDT vigorously denied making the suggestion, but Axios reported that the information came from one of his staff members.

DDT urged his almost 64 million Twitter followers to “start looking for a new News Outlet” because of Fox “heavily promoting the Democrats.” Good idea! People who watch Fox have a less accurate knowledge of current events than those who don’t watch the news. 

DDT plans to move forward with his plan to index capital gains on stock to inflation as a gift to wealthy investors. Investors selling assets could use the inflation-adjusted value of the initial purchase for the sale to pay less tax by reducing taxable income from their sales.

DDT tweeted and praised a video from the anti-Semiitic and white nationalist hate group VDare that includes its lion logo that comes from a quote from Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini that DDT retweeted in February 2016:

“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

Before VDare adoped the lion logo, it was on a website and Twitter account from a group calling itself the Lion Guard, which vowed to protect DDT supporters and “forcefully protect” Trump from threats.

DDT’s included these words with the VDare video:  

 “Trump Pence Keep America Great. Thank you for the support as we MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The lion logo appeared the following month on a website and Twitter account launched by a group calling itself the Lion Guard, which vowed to protect Trump supporters and “forcefully protect” Trump from threats. The logo soon appeared on VDare’s Twitter account. Larry Kudlow, DDT’s economic adviser, recently invited Peter Brimelow, right-wing English immigrant and VDare founder who called leftists “stupid,” to his birthday party.

DDT had several negative tweets about how Comey “leaked Classified Documents” after the DOJ Inspector General’s findings Comey about giving a memo regarding seven of his conversations with DDT to a friend as security and keeping his personal memos. Benjamin Wittes summarized that the IG “has determined that it is misconduct for a law enforcement officer to publicly disclose an effort to shut down his investigation.” After two years, IG Michael Horowitz discovered that Comey was “straightforward concerning why he wrote the seven memos in question, what he did with them, whom he shared them with and what his motives were in doing so.”

 Horowitz finished his report with ten pages “about how Comey ‘violated applicable policies and his Employment Agreement,’ about his release of ‘official FBI information and records to third parties without authorization,’ and about his failure to ‘immediately alert the FBI’ when he learned that material he had given his lawyers ‘contained six words … that the FBI had determined were classified at the CONFIDENTIAL’ level.”

Comey considered his memos were to be personal, not FBI records; therefore he kept them. Horowitz acknowledges no classified material was ever publicly disclosed. The only new information was the FBI’s process for examining the memos. A court decision ruled that only one of Comey’s redacted words, the name of a country, was confidential. As FBI director, Comey had the authority to judge what was classified. When he left and the FBI changed the classification, Comey was to return the material—which he did. Horowitz’ conclusion is “that a witness to gross misconduct by the president of the United States has a duty to keep his mouth shut about what he saw.”

Regarding classified information, DDT brought Russians into the Oval Office without security, revealed classified information about Israel, and overruled FBI decision to not give a high-level security clearance to son-in-law Jared Kushner. DDT’s most recent classified information leak comes from his tweeted aerial image of an Iranian launchpad, a photo that was most likely highly classified and showed that the U.S. has violated Iran’s airspace by spying on its missile program. In June, DDT declared that a U.S. surveillance drone was in international airspace when Iran shot it down. He almost started a war over the event. A camera flash and a person’s shadow on the image caused speculation that someone took a picture of the image with a cellphone in a classified intelligence briefing where handheld electronics are forbidden. As DDT tweeted, he can release any information he wants, but past presidents have made these decisions after deliberations with U.S. intelligence agencies about potential damage. [visual

DDT monitored Hurricane Dorian while playing golf at his private Virginia club, traveling by helicopter from Camp David. He also tweeted about his endorsement for the North Carolina special congressional election, praise for Fox’s Sean Hannity, and current lawsuits against “various people for violating their confidentiality agreements.” Missing were any thoughts and prayers for the five people killed and the 21 people injured in today’s mass shooting in Texas. He just tweeted that he was being kept informed.

April 22, 2019

Judaism v. Zionism

One of the most sensitive topics in politics these days—other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—is Zionism. Despite his anti-Semitic ideology during his campaign, DDT now loves Israel, probably because the newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is perhaps farther right that DDT is. Republicans grab at any issue that they can use to criticize Democrats. Evangelicals want Israelis to control large swaths of land so that Jesus will have a big place to land during the rapture to save fundamentalist Christians. Some Democrats support Israel’s taking over Palestinian land in violation of international law.

Carolyn Karcher, author of Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation, tries to unravel the difference between a religion and a political interest group. She points out that “ethical precepts lie at the heart of Judaism: pursue justice, love the stranger, love your neighbor and repair the world.” Zionist policy violates all these teachings. The new Basic Law, passed by Israel, calls for the nation-state of only Jewish people in the country and gives the indigenous Palestinians no rights.

Zionism’s main founder Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, created a version of a settler colonial movement in the 19th century not as a religious group, but a separatist political society that excluded all non-Jews. Zionism has developed into a nationalist organization with the same approach as white nationalism, comparable to persecuted Puritans seeking a place where they could rule. Having left England for America in the 17th century, they dispossessed and killed the indigenous peoples with no ethical concerns. In both cases, one group of people elevated themselves over another and then tried to eradicate considered a sub-group.

Younger Jews are protesting this Israeli position of domination. Members of one group, “If Not Now,” were thrown out of Israel because of their difficult questions about birthrights in the Israeli-Palestinian region. Others in Jewish Voice for Peace started the “Return the Birthright” campaign with the claim that Palestinians as indigenous people have a birthright to the land.

Karcher states that questioning birthright and Israel can lead to “revitalizing Judaism and redefining Jewish identity that does not depend on identifying with a Jewish state, and that does not depend on claiming a right to a land that you were not born in and have no real connection to.” Like the philosophy of democracy, she espouses all people having the same rights and the same access to economic and political rights.

From another writer and Jewish voice, Michelle Goldberg, comes this column, “Zionists Deserve Free Speech”:

The Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was supposed to be on a speaking tour of the United States this week, with stops at N.Y.U.’s Washington campus and at Harvard. He was going to attend his daughter’s wedding in Texas. I had plans to interview him for “The Argument,” the debate podcast that I co-host, about B.D.S., the controversial campaign to make Israel pay an economic and cultural price for its treatment of the Palestinians.

Yet when Barghouti, a permanent resident of Israel, showed up for his flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport last week, he was informed that the United States was denying him entry. When I spoke to him on Sunday, he still didn’t know exactly why the country where he went to college and lived for many years wasn’t letting him in, but he assumed it was because of his political views. If that’s the case, Barghouti said, it was the first time someone has been barred from America for B.D.S. advocacy. He has proceeded with his public events, but he’s been appearing at them via Skype.

In recent years, the American right has presented itself as a champion of free expression. Conservatives are constantly bemoaning a censorious campus climate that stigmatizes their ideas; last month, Donald Trump signed an executive order on campus free speech, decrying those who would keep Americans from “challenging rigid far-left ideology.” The president said, “People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others.”

If that last line is true — and, uncharacteristically for Trump, I think it is — it says something about the insecurity of Israel’s defenders. There have indeed been illiberal attempts to silence conservative voices on college campuses, but they pale beside the assault on pro-Palestinian speech, particularly speech calling for an economic boycott of Israel. Around two dozen states have laws and regulations denouncing, and in many cases penalizing, B.D.S. activities, and the Senate recently passed a bill supporting such measures. According to the American Association of University Professors, some public universities in states with such laws require speakers and other contractors to “sign a statement pledging that they do not now, nor will they in the future, endorse B.D.S.” It’s hard to think of comparable speech restrictions on any other subject.

What are pro-Israel forces afraid of? The B.D.S. movement doesn’t engage in or promote violence. Its leaders make an effort to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism; the Palestinian B.D.S. National Committee recently demanded that a Moroccan group stop using the term “B.D.S.” in its name because it featured anti-Semitic cartoons on its Facebook page.

Barghouti couches his opposition to Zionism in the language of humanist universalism. The official position of the B.D.S. movement, he says, is that “any supremacist, exclusionary state in historic Palestine — be it a ‘Jewish state,’ an ‘Islamic state,’ or a ‘Christian state’ — would by definition conflict with international law and basic human rights principles.”

The movement is agnostic on a final dispensation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it calls for the right of Palestinian refugees — both those displaced by the creation of Israel and their descendants — to return to their familial homes, which would likely end Israel’s Jewish majority. Barghouti told me he personally believes in the creation of a single state in which Israeli Jews, as individuals, would have civil rights, but Jews as a people would not have national rights.

I’d planned to argue with him about this view, which is largely dismissive of Jewish claims on Israel, and would likely lead to oppression or worse for Israeli Jews. My guess is that many if not most Jews find such a position offensive, even frightening.

But for years now, the right has been lecturing us all about the need to listen to and debate ideas we might consider dangerous. Barghouti wants this sort of dialogue. “We’ve been dying to debate anyone on the other side,” he told me. “We would debate anyone except Israeli government officials and professional lobbyists.” A government that tries to prevent Americans from engaging with his views cannot claim a commitment to free speech.

You could argue, I suppose, that Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state should not be up for discussion. If you do, realize it’s the exact same sort of argument that certain campus leftists make when they refuse to debate people they see as racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted. Sometimes this refusal is justified, because certain ideas shouldn’t be dignified with discussion. But sometimes it just makes the people unwilling to test their ideas in public look scared.

Ultimately, Barghouti threatens Israel’s American defenders not because he’s hateful, but because he isn’t. Israel has aligned itself with the global far right. Recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to unilaterally annex the West Bank, which would create a single state where Jews rule over Arabs. That prospect makes it ever more difficult for Israel’s American defenders to make coherent arguments against the sort of one-state solution that Barghouti espouses. “Israel is winning the far right around the world,” Barghouti said at an N.Y.U. event last week, where the journalist Peter Beinart interviewed him remotely. But, he added, “it is losing its moral stature around the world.” American authorities may be able to quash this message on some college campuses, but it won’t stop being true.

The United States has freely sanctioned countries that violate human rights to pressure them for change. Boycott has long been an individual practice from people on both the right and left to express displeasure about positions. Yet Ilhan Omar, a U.S. representative, black woman, Muslim, and Somali refugee, has been pilloried, not only by Republicans but by her own party of Democrats, because she was brave enough to speak out against the Israeli control over the U.S. federal government.

Pressure from Israeli is causing even Democrats to punish corporations that use their constitutional right to use a boycott as a form of free speech. A bipartisan House bill opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or “BDS,” movement and gives states the legal right to punish companies choosing not to do business with Israel or Israeli-owned enterprises. In the 26 states already passing anti-BDS laws, courts in two of them, Kansas and Arizona, have declared the legislation unconstitutional. To take free speech from companies, Congress would have to remove their classification as “persons” or take away the right of real people to free speech. Meanwhile Republicans have another wedge device by equating Palestinian support and human rights with anti-Semitism.

March 8, 2019

Think Equal: International Women’s Day

On March 8, International Women’s Day, 28 members of the world champion United States women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit regarding the lack of pay equity and working conditions. According to the lawsuit, discrimination against the women athletes not only leaves them with much less than pay than men in the soccer field but also restricts their place of play, training, medical treatment, coaching, and even travel accommodations.

The women, stars for over a decade, head to France this summer to defend the Women’s World Cup that they won almost four years ago. Since their third win of the contest in summer of 2015, they have made some gain—doubled prize money pool for the upcoming tournament, the disappearance of artificial turf, and even a chartered flight. Female soccer teams in other countries such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Norway have made a few gains since protests by the U.S. women’s team.

FIFA, pro soccer teams’ employer, still favor the men by give a pool of $400 million to 32 men’s teams compared to $30 million for 24 women’s teams. According to pay schedules for players participating in 20 games a year, men get an average of $263,320 while women get a maximum of $99,000. That’s after the $17 million more in profit for 2016 that women made over the men. Although the male team lost the 2014 World Cup in Round 16, their bonuses were $5.375; after winning the Cup in 2015, women received $1.725 for bonuses.

Women suffer far worse inequities around the world than lack of pay. Poverty, lack of justice and rights, abuse, poorer health, discrimination in education—all these are just a few of the ways that women are wanting in gender equality. But sports is one area that symbolizes the subjection of women to male values. A recent example occurred in a cycling race in Switzerland. In the annual Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, men started two minutes before women—because women are faster. No matter—Nicole Hanselmann took a big lead over the men’s field, that is, before she was told to sit by the side of the road to “neutralise the women’s race in order to restore the gap between” the men and women’s groups. Maybe the men should have had a five-minute head start so that they could win.

Women ride the Tour de France through traffic and without media on the day before men get the attention, and the women’s Olympic race is half the length of the men’s race. Olympic cycling events for women didn’t exist until 1984, the same year that events included a women’s marathon but almost a century after the modern Olympic revivals in 1896 included these events for men.

Bobbi Gibbs entered the Boston Marathon in 1966 without an application after being told that was told that “women are not physiologically able to run a marathon.” She beat over half the field in 3 hours, 21 minutes. The next year, Kathrine Switzer entered the marathon under her initials and beat her boyfriend. Her time of 4 hours, 20 minutes might have been better if the race co-director had not physically attacked her during the race. Not until 1972 did the AAU allow women to run more than a mile and a half.

Other sports still have the  gender restrictions: women play two out of three sets in tennis, but men play three out of five. Men said that the rules are meant to protect women’s “reproductive organs” from undue endurance. In the beginning, women’s cycling threatened men because women gained independence with their own transportation. The lack of chaperones caused people to refer to bicycles as “prostitution on wheels.” The reason for gender inequality is to show women that we are inferior.

Other inequalities in sports:

In the U.S., 40 percent of sportspeople are women, but only six to eight percent of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. Women-only sports stories comprise just 3.5 percent of all sports stories in the four major US newspapers.

Each year, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships—50 percent more—than female athletes receive.

Colleges and universities spend only 24 percent of their athletic operating budgets on female sports and just 16 percent of recruiting budgets for women.

Coaches for college women’s team sports earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by head coaches of men’s teams.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup soccer final was the most watched soccer match—male or female—but its players were far less compensated than male soccer players. In professional soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League has a pay ceiling per player of just $37,800 compared to an average of more than $300,000 and a median of about $100,000 for men’s Major League Soccer. Each team in the NWSL has a salary cap of just $265,000—compared to more than $3 million for men.

Of total commercial investment, 0.4 percent goes into women’s sport.

People who discriminate against women in sports claim that they won’t receive any attention, that the public wants to watch only men play. This attitude, however, comes from the top. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes news with male championship sports teams, either being rebuffed by them or feeding them fast foods like hamburgers and pizza. Yet he has not invited one female championship team to the White House to honor them on a solo visit—not the 2018 women’s NCAA basketball champions Notre Dame, not the 2017 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, nor the 2018 WNBA champion Seattle Storm. The latest invitation, however, was a men’s lower-division NCAA football championship team, the first one invited since Bill Clinton’s time. Every other president going back to Ronald Reagan invited the women’s NCAA basketball champions. Here’s President Obama with the 2016 NCAA winners.

Politics this year has brought out the worst—thus far—in conservative misogyny. From the minute that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected a Democratic U.S. representative from New York, journalists stalked her, intent on photographing her from behind, questioning how much she pays for her clothes, why she took an Uber instead of the subway. A Texas city council member called her a “bimbo,” and one of her congressional colleagues yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!”  Conservative pundits call her a “little girl” and fantasize about dating her. On The View, Meghan McCain said she was “really surprised” that Ocasio-Cortez had asked an intelligent question at Michael Cohen’s House hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has the same political views, but it’s the conservatives who cried at CPAC that Ocasio-Cortez wants to “take your hamburgers” and replaced incessant smears of Hillary Clinton to those directed at Ocasio-Cortez.

The hatred and sexism directed toward Ocasio-Cortez moved to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after she criticized the control of Israel over U.S. policy. For decades, GOP congressional members and conservative media protected rampant racism from colleagues and now fail to call out their racist president while becoming livid about Omar’s suggestion that candidates receive millions of dollars to oppose Palestine and support Israel. The attacks didn’t start with her supposed anti-Semitic remarks used to revile her; threats against her began before she was sworn into the 116th Congress also because of her Islam religion. Every word she uses, even “hypnotize,” is classified as an “anti-Semitic trope” while DDT and other white male GOP congressional members escape any criticism. Yet 23 of them voted against all expressions of prejudice such as racism, Islamophobia, and anti-LGBTQ rights except for anti-Semitism. Omar is even being blamed for the spike in anti-Jewish hate crimes that began with DDT’s election.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, said that while anti-Semitism is a “hateful and dangerous ideology,” it must not be confused with criticism of Israel’s government under the right-wing leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Sanders in defending Omar because they, too, have suffered from the misogyny, especially since the women declared their candidacies for the 2020 presidential election. After condemning Hillary Clinton for being too “icy,” pundits slam Warren for being “aloof” and Harris for connecting with audiences “too much.” For weeks, opinionists agonized over whether the women presidential candidates were “authentic” and found stories to show that they are phonies. Warren’s oral history of Native American background from the 1980s appears again and again—and again. (The same people overlook DDT’s 9,000 lies.) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was attacked for talking about how to eat fried chicken, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar is “mean.” Authenticity for women is being a secretary or staff member.

The theme for the 2019 International Women’s Day is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” Almost half the Democrats running for president in 2020 are women, and a pro sports team is suing for equality. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are making changes in Congress along with the other 108 Democratic women plus their allies. These changes plus millions of others may bring women into the 21st century.

March 7, 2019

23 House Republican Votes Support Prejudice

A House anti-hate resolution passed today with a large majority; only 23 Republicans voted against it, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), stripped of his committee assignments after his most recent remarks, voted “present.” One Democratic representative was absent. From the initial rebuke of Rep. Olhan Omar (D-MN), the measure was widely broadened, even including a mention of prejudice against sexual minorities.

Republicans supporting prejudice: Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Ken Buck (CO), Ted Budd (NC), Michael Burgess (TX), Liz Cheney (WY), Doug Collins (NY), Mike Conaway (TX), Rick Crawford (AR), Duane Duncan (CA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Tom Graves (GA), Peter King (NY), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Steven Palazzo (MA), Mike Rogers (AL), Chip Roy (MD), Greg Steube (FL), Mark Walker (NC), Ted Yoho (FL), and Lee Zeldin (NY). Conservatives are slamming Democrats for supporting anti-Semitism while they protect their own racists and Islamophobes.

RESOLUTION

Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.

Whereas the first amendment to the Constitution established the United States as a country committed to the principles of tolerance and religious freedom, and the 14th amendment to the Constitution established equal protection of the laws as the heart of justice in the United States;

Whereas adherence to these principles is vital to the progress of the American people and the diverse communities and religious groups of the United States;

Whereas whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse;

Whereas white supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence;

Whereas the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., taught that persecution of any American is an assault on the rights and freedoms of all Americans;

Whereas on August 11 and 12, 2017, self-identified neo-Confederates, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klansmen held white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they marched on a synagogue under the Nazi swastika, engaged in racist and anti-Semitic demonstrations and committed brutal and deadly violence against peaceful Americans;

Whereas a white nationalist murdered nine African American worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on the evening of June 17, 2015, in the hopes of igniting a nationwide race war;

Whereas on October 27, 2018, the perpetrator of the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the history of the United States killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue building in Pittsburgh and reportedly stated that he ‘‘wanted all Jews to die’’;

Whereas anti-Semitism is the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews;

Whereas in 2017 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 37 percent increase in hate crimes against Jews or Jewish institutions and found that attacks against Jews or Jewish institutions made up 58.1 percent of all religious-based hate crimes;

Whereas there is an urgent need to ensure the safety and security of Jewish communities, including synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other institutions;

Whereas Jews are the targets of anti-Semitic violence at even higher rates in many other countries than they are in the United States;

Whereas it is a foreign policy priority of the United States to monitor and combat anti-Semitism abroad;

Whereas anti-Semitism includes blaming Jews as Jews when things go wrong; calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or extremist view of religion; or making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotyped allegations about Jews;

Whereas Jewish people are subject in the media and political campaigns to numerous other dangerous anti-Semitic myths as well, including that Jews control the United States Government or seek global, political, and financial domination and that Jews are obsessed with money;

Whereas scapegoating and targeting of Jews in the United States have persisted for many years, including by the Ku Klux Klan, the America First Committee, and by modern neo-Nazis;

Whereas accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism because it suggests that Jewish citizens cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jews have loyally served our Nation every day since its founding, whether in public or community life or military service;

Whereas accusations of dual loyalty generally have an insidious and pernicious history, including—

(1) the discriminatory incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II on their basis of race and alleged dual loyalty;

(2) the Dreyfus affair, when Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French artillery captain, was falsely convicted of

passing secrets to Germany based on his Jewish background;

(3) when the loyalty of President John F. Kennedy was questioned because of his Catholic faith; and

(4) the post-9/11 conditions faced by Muslim-Americans in the United States, including Islamophobia and false and vicious attacks on and threats to Muslim-Americans for alleged association with terrorism;

Whereas anti-Muslim bigotry entails prejudicial attitudes towards Muslims and people who are perceived to be Muslim, including the irrational belief that Muslims are inherently violent, disloyal, and foreign;

Whereas Muslims and people perceived to be Muslim are subjected to false and dangerous stereotypes and myths including unfair allegations that they sympathize with individuals who engage in violence or terror or support the oppression of women, Jews, and other vulnerable communities;

Whereas in 2017, mosques were bombed in Bloomington, Minnesota, and burned in Austin, Texas, Victoria, Texas, Bellevue, Washington, and Thonotosassa, Florida, and mass attacks on Muslim communities were planned against communities in Islamberg, New York, in 2019, Jacksonville, Florida, in 2017, and Garden City, Kansas, in 2016;

Whereas the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that hate crimes against Muslims or Muslim institutions in the United States increased by over 99 percent between 2014 and 2016;

Whereas attacks motivated by bigotry against those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim have substantially increased since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;

Whereas the violation of an individual’s civil rights based on his or her actual or perceived membership in a particular religious group clearly violates the Constitution and laws of the United States; and

Whereas all Americans, including Jews, Muslims, and Christians and people of all faiths and no faith, have a stake in fighting anti-Semitism, as all Americans have a stake in fighting every form of bigotry and hatred against people based on religion, race, or place of birth and origin:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance;

(2) condemns anti-Semitic acts and statements as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States;

(3) reaffirms its support for the mandate of the United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as part of the broader policy priority of fostering international religious freedom and protecting human rights all over the world;

(4) rejects attempts to justify hatred or violent attacks as an acceptable expression of disapproval or frustration over political events in the Middle East or elsewhere;

(5) acknowledges the harm suffered by Muslims and others from the harassment, discrimination, and violence that result from anti-Muslim bigotry;

(6) condemns anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against all minorities as contrary to the values of the United States;

(7) condemns the death threats received by Jewish and Muslim Members of Congress, including in recent weeks;

(8) encourages law enforcement and government officials to avoid conduct that raises the specter of unconstitutional profiling against anyone because of their race, religion, nationality, political, or particular social group, including the assignment of blame or targeting members of an entire religious group for increased suspicion, based on the conduct of a single individual or small group of individuals; and

(9) encourages all public officials to confront the reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry, as well as historical struggles against them, to ensure that the United States will live up to the transcendent principles of tolerance, religious freedom, and equal protection as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the first and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Now the House needs to determine whether policy discussions, such as the U.S.-Israel relationship, can be defined as anti-Semitism.

House Democrats: Get Back to Work

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A claim about Fox network is that it’s the far-right against everyone else. The same is true with the existing rank and file GOP, leaving lots of “everyone else” in the Democratic party, a diverse batch of people known in the past for many internal differences. One of these emerged when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that the strong support for Israel, despite its genocidal behavior, came from the dollars poured into paying politicians. In an initial knee jerk reaction, Democratic leadership talked about a resolution to condemn her. The Republicans were all for the idea, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) demanded that she be taken off the Foreign Policy Committee.

An assumption to silence any debate about Israel was the anti-Semitic accusation of any suggestion that U.S. fails to support equal rights for Palestinians with one-sided support for Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed the narrowness of the proposed resolution when she asked why “no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” on the floor).” Later she added, “Where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?’” Jeremy Cahill, editor of The Intercept, tweeted:

“If we lived in a sane society, those politicians who promote the Israeli government even as it slaughters Palestinians and cozy up to its lobbyists would be the focus of investigation and condemnation. Instead, they attack the woman, @IlhanMN, who bravely calls it out.”

When some representatives and the public protested a resolution rebuking Omar, it got softened to condemning anti-Semitism and then moved to including a condemnation of anti-Muslim positions. By now the resolution may have disappeared after many House Democrats want to go farther in condemning all religious hatred. In a caucus session, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said, “Why are we doing this?” After the meeting, she said:

“We’ve individually and collectively already responded to the fact that we oppose all ‘-isms’ that do not treat people in this country fairly and justly. To continue to engage in this discussion is simply an opportunity to give both the media and Republicans distractions from our agenda. We’ve got important work to do.”

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) demonstrates how biased some representatives are over the issue when he tweeted that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israeli relationship is unacceptable.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) advised her Democratic colleagues: “Everyone stop tweeting.” It’s a start. Thanks, ladies!

A sampling of the GOP representatives who stay in Congress but smeared Omar and/or threatened to take action against her:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA): Accused three Jewish billionaires of trying to “buy” the midterms the day before one of them got a pipe bomb at his New York home. McCarthy refused to apologize for the anti-Semitic tweet but deleted it. McCarthy also funded attack ads in which Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) called his Mexican-Palestinian opponent a “terrorist.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA): Attended and spoke at a white supremacist convention by a group founded by David Duke, Holocaust-denying former grand wizard of the KKK and described by the Anti-Defamation League as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.”

Louie Gohmert (TX): Attacked a Jewish billionaire on the Fox Business channel with this falsehood, “George Soros is supposed to be Jewish but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned.” Host Stuart Varney had to clarify that Gohmert’s views to represent those of Fox—and Fox’s views tend to be fairly far out.

Matt Gaetz (FL): Invited notorious Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to be his guest at the State of the Union, suggested that the George Soros funded the immigrant caravan to “storm the U.S. border,” and appeared on Alex Jones Infowars when Jones said that “it’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just they are the head of the Jewish mafia in the United States. They run Uber, they run the health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.” (DDT called Gaeta “one of the finest and most talented people in Congress.”)

Steve King (IA): Re-tweeted a neo-Nazi, sat on a panel with white supremacists, praised both German and Austrian neo-Nazis, and finished by defending white supremacy and many more racist statements. [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pointed out that Republicans didn’t notice King’s offensive remarks for 13 years.]

Paul Gosar (AZ): Claimed that the Charlottesville (VA) rally where marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” was “created by the left” and funded by Soros, repeating Gohmert’s lie about Soros.

DDT has used Jewish stereotypes since he began his presidential campaign. Most recently he labeled Adam Schiff, the Jewish Democrat from California who leads the House Intelligence Committee, “shifty”—a stereotypical remark for “crafty” Jewish people. DDT’s cozying up to white supremacists has also led to far more hate crimes against Jewish people than in the past. Anti-Semitic crimes rose 37 percent in 2017.

In his push to remove Ilhan from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, DDT cited a letter from organizations that he called “Jewish groups.” The coalition, also called “leading Jewish organizations” by conservative media included those who spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and one has ties to a longtime neo-Nazi. The anti-Muslim groups have ties to DDT’s administration and favor military intervention in the Muslim world, raising questions about why DDT wants Omar removed. One of the hate groups, ACT for America, calls State Secretary Mike Pompeo a “steadfast ally” in its publicity and presented him with its National Security Eagle Award in 2016. Frank Gaffney Jr., founder of another anti-Omar group called the Center for Security Policy, has called for U.S. war in the Middle East since 9/11 and makes Islamophobic and xenophobic comments, including those against Somalian immigrants. Omar is a Somali refugee. The group is now led by Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to DDT’s national security adviser John Bolton.

Omar made a statement about how her being Muslim automatically leads to accusation of anti-Semitism, a useful method of shutting down debate:

“What I’m fearful of—because Rashida [Tlaib] and I are Muslim—that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. And so to me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of—yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used, Ilhan, are resemblance [sic] of intolerance.’ And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that.

“But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement or advocacy about ending oppression or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something, and that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

If the House decides to propose any “anti” resolution about religious and ethnic bigotry should be inclusive, not an attack. In the meantime, Watson Coleman got it right: “Everybody stop tweeting.” And get back to work.

March 6, 2018

CPAC Represents Today’s Republican Leadership

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is past, but there is no doubt that it represents the Grand Old Party of Republicans. Embarrassed by the radical performance at this year’s annual conference, a National Review writer tried to justify CPAC’s racism and attempted to whitewash this statement from Ian Walters, the fundraiser’s communications director from the podium at the Ronald Reagan Dinner:

“We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do.”

The first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, Steele served from 2009 to 2011. Five years later, two percent of registered Republicans were black—the same percentage as in 1992 and down from 11 percent in 2012. DDT got eight percent of the black vote.

Last year, the GOP was good for white supremacists; they had a 20 percent increase of neo-Nazi groups over 2016. Anti-Semitic events increased almost 60 percent last year with much of the increase in schools. K-12 schools saw a 94 percent increase from 2016, and anti-Semitism on college campuses were up 90 percent. Because many students don’t report being bullied, the number could be double.

It’s impossible to cover up the flagrant racism at CPAC. It brought Marion Marechal Le Pen from France who wants to unite standard conservatives with “Identitarians,” including white supremacists and fascists. Matt Schlapp, the man who invited Le Pen to address CPAC members, pretended to not understand her politics.  Standard U.S. fringe conservatives Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity joined the lesser known Le Pen as did Nigel Farage, supporter of the economically disastrous Brexit.

The NRA had a strong message at CPAC.

  • Dana Loesch said that “many in the legacy media love mass shootings.”
  • Wayne LaPierre declared Democrats aim to “eradicate all individual freedoms.”
  • Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told his crowd that Democrats would repeal the 2nd Amendment and bizarrely asked the crowd if they preferred tax cuts or the 2nd Amendment.

Over four decades ago, 400 conservatives met during the crisis of Watergate and Richard Nixon, arguing whether to dump the president. Honored speaker in 1974 was Ronald Reagan, and an honored guest was POW John McCain, who DDT insulted at the 2018 CPAC. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich led the group farther right, and DDT brought the conspiracy theory surrounding President Obama’s place of birth to CPAC in 2011. Last year, Dan Schneider, executive director for the American Conservative Union, banned the “alt-right” from CPAC, and the RAISE act to eliminate almost all immigration was considered outside the mainstream. This year white supremacists were largely accepted, and the creator of the RAISE Act, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), has led the charge against DACA legislation. CPAC and the GOP require a superiority, even hatred, toward Muslims and almost all people of color.

CPAC members have given up pretending that the conference about “ideas” and the “conservative agenda.” Star Dinesh D-Souza explained their mission in his book Letters to a Young Conservative:

“One way to be effective as a conservative is to figure out what annoys and disturbs liberals the most, and then keep doing it.”

That statement epitomizes DDT’s rallies, and he used the CPAC audience for a rally. After trashing his prepared remarks, he admired his hair in the monitors and returned to lies about how much he has accomplished.

Speakers who wanted to address the importance of conservatism were booed.  Columnist and author Mona Charen decried the “sophomoric clownishness” of the movement when she appeared on Morning Joe. She said:

“But there’s this ethic, this mood of trolling the opposition, that if you can create liberal tears, then anything goes. And even to the point of inviting the granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Nazi, an anti-Semite from France. And what was the point of inviting her? It was again to create a response, to jab a needle in the eye of liberals. And they think this is a game, it’s not. It’s not a game.”

At her CPAC speech, the crowd jeered when she called out Republican “hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women.” Her criticism was directed at “sexual harassers and abusers of women, who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women — and because he happens to have an ‘R’ next to his name we look the other way.” Charen needed security to get her safely out of the room. Her impressions of the event are here.

CPAC used to be a big deal, but the media attention for this annual event has waned even more than its attendance. Missing this year were most elected officials including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and libertarian-when-it-serves-him Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Instead DDT’s appointees, including four Cabinet members, dominated as speakers. Front and center was VP Mike Pence, who tried to defend DDT’s agenda and rally activists for the 2018 elections. White House counsel Don McGahn told his audience that DDT picked judicial nominees who he “could relate to.” Other speakers included Mike Mulvaney with other high-level DDT officials such as Kellyanne Conway, three far-right governors, and a sprinkling of minor congressional members. Sebastian Gorka, the gone but not forgotten White House aide beloved by neo-Nazis, called DDT “only accidentally the GOP candidate” and claimed that the GOP is “riding his coattails.”

Conservative celebrity Ben Shapiro, who started writing his political blog as a teenager and now claims that the Florida teenagers advocating gun safety laws have no insight, did complain to CPAC about DDT’s lying, calling it “nonsense” and “immoral.” But he was an outlier and received little publicity. Radical anti-Muslim Pamela Geller canceled her panel after her sponsor, American Principles Project, told her to pull Jim Hoft, founder of the right-wing fringe website The Gateway Pundit, who spread false conspiracies about the Florida shooting survivors being paid “actors.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), headed for the 2020 presidential election, complained about how reporters’ questions are “never about substance,” after his inability to successfully answer questions about the shutdown and the easy accessibility to AR-15s. His speech comparing characters on the animated TV show The Simpsons was far from substance. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-simpsons-main-characters-137323  His argument that Homer, Bart, Marge, and Maggie are Republicans describe his party as greedy, stupid, juvenile, vandals, and—in the case of Marge—enabling these characteristics. Witty and over-achieving Lisa, defined by Cruz as the Democrat, looks out for others. She doesn’t compromise her values but doesn’t force them on others, and she refuses to be a corporate shill. (Okay, maybe then she isn’t a Republican.)

Also “substance” from Cruz’s speech, “We can stop [the shootings] by going after criminals,” and “freedom works.”

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote:

“Now CPAC encapsulates the GOP. Adherents of President Trump’s brand of Republican politics do not bother to disguise their extremism, conspiracy theories, paranoia or xenophobia. In a real sense, the party of CPAC and Trump — who is scheduled to speak on Friday, and will surely feel entirely at home with the hyperventilating rhetoric and contempt for facts on display — have displaced the rest of the party. The GOP used to contain, cool and generally outvote the extremists who showed up to CPAC each year for a ritual display of their ideological fervor. Now, the extremists — spitting venom and brandishing the Fox News view of the world (in which the FBI not Russia is the bad actor) — are the predominate voice in a party that has shed intellectual and moral integrity, as well as any pretense of concern for serious policy.”

Bill Kristol said:

“About CPAC, what needs to be said was said by Eric Hoffer: ‘Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.’”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremism, called this year’s gathering like “a carnival of conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and mainstream Republicans all uniting under President Trump.” HuffPo shows some of them. The SPLC continued:

“In many ways, CPAC has become an annual measure of how far the radical right has moved into the mainstream of the conservative right, especially in recent years as anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT groups have found political friends in the United States and Europe.”

Fifty-five years after George Wallace blocked a school door to keep black students from going in, CPAC celebrated its legacy of racism, led by DDT, who was supported by almost every Republican speaker. The group continued to ridicule Hillary Clinton, as if she were president, and brought out the cry, “Look her up!” The American Conservative Union gives a platform to the new “normal” of the Grand Old Party that spreads hatred and rejects anyone except white men as leaders of a multi-cultural country.

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