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QAnon, Tampa and Trump: Not All Conspiracy Theories Are the Same

August 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Paul Rosenberg, Salon

Conspiracy theories motivate voters on both sides of the aisle — but with strikingly different results

On Aug. 3, two days after Trump’s Tampa rally served as a kind of “coming out” party for enthusiasts of the QAnon conspiracy (according to which Trump is totally in control, working secretly with Robert Mueller to put the entire Democratic Party leadership in prison — probably Guantánamo), political scientist Joe Uscinski, co-author of “American Conspiracy Theories,” along with Joseph Parent, tweeted:

It struck me as an odd tweet in a number of ways, not just because QAnon itself is so obviously newsworthy, particularly with this public display, but because the rise of conspiracies on the left is historically unsurprising, as Uscinski’s own book shows, and because the left-wing conspiracy theories cited in the stories he linked to seem far less coherently developed into a widely-shared alternative reality.  

The Vox story, for example, was a severe critique of Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy in Chains,” which, it should suffice to note, has had nowhere near the impact of classic conservative conspiracy texts such as “A Choice Not An Echo” or “None Dare Call It Treason” in the 1960s, or Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order” in the 1990s — all of which were far more removed from reality.

Indeed, another story — at the Atlantic — expressly denied any left-right equivalence: Before we go on, let me try to quiet the cries of “False equivalence!” before they begin: No, these personalities and publications do not yet wield the same influence in the Democratic Party that their counterparts do in the GOP. But ignoring them would be a mistake.

That sort of balanced perspective is what I would have expected from Uscinski, given the findings in his book, which as I mentioned here in March 2016, “looked at letters to the editor to the New York Times from 1890 to 2010, and found that the villains in conspiracy theories were more often on the left when a Democrat was president, and on …read more


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'Mini-Maduro': RNC Attacks Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — Compares Her to Venezuelan Dictator

August 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Rozsa, Salon

The New York congressional candidate has been criticized by conservatives like Tomi Lahren and Ben Shapiro

Even though she's running in a solidly blue district that has no chance of flipping to the GOP, it seems that Republican just can't quit Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The latest example of this phenomenon, which could be aptly dubbed Ocasio-Cortez Derangement Syndrome, was demonstrated by the Republican National Committee when it sent out an email that explicitly compared the aspiring congresswoman to a dictator. The letter wrote that “leading The Democrat Party To The Left With Nothing More Than An Unsubstantiated, Factually Incorrect Socialist Wish List” and was referred to her as the “Mini-Maduro Foreboding The Future Of Democrats.”

As CNN described Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan strongman being conflated with Ocasio-Cortez in that email:

Maduro is the successor to Hugo Chávez, who ruled from 1999 to 2013. His government is nominally socialist, but with Maduro's assorted power grabs and silencing of critics, Venezuela is not governed democratically. It is currently in the grips of a devastating economic and political collapse owing in large part to a drop in oil prices.

Conservative critics, especially online, routinely reference Venezuela's dire state of affairs when arguing against progressive left policies.

“The RNC knows that the American people support our policies by wide margins. They want universal health care. They want Wall Street to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to raise the minimum wage,” Corbin Trent, the communications director for Ocasio-Cortez's campaign, told CNN. “I guess if you can't beat our ideas, you have to lie about them. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is standing in lock step behind a President who abuses human rights and wants to crush the free press which, to me, sounds like a Mini Maduro in the making.”

It isn't just the official apparatus of the Republican Party which is taking this stand against Ocasio-Cortez.

“I think the Democrats are radicals,” Sam Nunberg, a former adviser for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, told Salon. “They are going so far to the left. Now the media doesn't understand that, or they don't accept it, or …read more


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The People on Trump’s List Aren’t Enemies, They Are Witnesses

August 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

The secrets they have aren’t secrets anymore. They’re evidence.

Have a gander at Trump’s enemies list:

John Brennan – 25 years in the CIA. Director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, 2003-2004. Director of Central Intelligence, 2013-2017.

James Clapper – 32 years in the Air Force, retired as a three-star general with three Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and two Air Medals. Flew 73 combat support missions over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, 1991-1995. Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, 2007-2010. Director of National Intelligence, 2010-2017.

Michael Hayden – 41 years in the Air Force, retired as a four-star general with three Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Superior Service Medals, one Legion of Merit, and one Bronze Star. Director National Security Agency, 1999-2005. Deputy Director National Intelligence, 2005-2006. Director of Central Intelligence Agency, 2006-2009.

READ MORE: Did left-wing Hillary hate put Trump in the White House? A toxic question with bad answers

Susan Rice – Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, 1997-2001. United States Ambassador to the United Nations, 2009-2013. White House National Security Adviser, 2013-2017.

James Comey – United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 2002-2003. Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005. Director Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013-2017.

Sally Yates – United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, 2010-2015. Deputy Attorney General, 2015-2017. Acting Attorney General, 2017.

Andrew McCabe – 22 years in the FBI. Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016-2018. Acting Director FBI, 2017.

Peter Strzok – 22 years in the FBI. Deputy Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Division. Section Chief, Counterespionage Section.

Lisa Page – FBI attorney serving under FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI Director James Comey.

Bruce G. Ohr – Former Associate Deputy Attorney General. Former Director Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

You want to know what these people have in common? With the sole exception of Bruce Ohr, they’ve all be questioned by either the House or Senate Intelligence committees, and most of them have testified before the grand jury in Washington D.C. empaneled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In other words, they are all witnesses in the investigation …read more


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A Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Wants to End the EPA’s Cruel Animal Testing

August 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Justin Goodman, Nathan Herschler, Independent Media Institute

Ending archaic, inhumane animal testing is something on which both parties—and most Americans—can agree.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress recently pressed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its “questionable” and “dubious” animal tests. The lawmakers’ demand for information on “horrific and inhumane” animal testing at the EPA comes on the heels of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found that high-tech computer models are more effective than animal tests.

But as scientists and elected officials are coming to the same conclusions about the inefficacy and unethical nature of animal testing, the US government is still wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and countless animals’ lives for archaic experiments opposed by most Americans. Now lawmakers have an opportunity to stop it, as Congress is currently debating federal agency budgets for 2019.

Recently, White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group committed to ending taxpayer-funded animal experiments, uncovered how a little-known EPA program abuses approximately 20,000 animals annually in outdated air pollution experiments. The tests at the EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory include making animals obese by feeding them lard and then forcing them to inhale diesel exhaust and smog to study the effects. In other tests, animals were blasted with loud noises and exposed to ozone, pregnant animals were stressed with light and noise and their babies were given electric shocks.

Following the exposé, our organizations, the White Coat Waste Project and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, along with more than 55,000 Americans, urged Congress to cut funding for these tests and support more productive EPA programs focused on alternatives to animal tests like robotic testing systems and organs-on-chips that the EPA has acknowledged can make testing more cost-effective, accurate and efficient. Yet, a lack of transparency and accountability about the EPA’s animal testing and efforts to curb it has prevented much-needed scrutiny, until now.

To their credit, several Republican and Democratic lawmakers quickly sprang into action to address this waste and abuse.

In a recent letter to the EPA, Congressmembers Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), Dan Donovan (R-New York), Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pennsylvania)—lawmakers who are often publicly at …read more


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'Drunk on Power': Former CIA Director John Brennan Comes Out Swinging Against Trump and the Republicans in Rachel Maddow Interview

August 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

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Brennan said he fears a “wag the dog” scenario with Trump.

Former CIA Director John Brennan appeared on MSNBC's “The Rachel Maddow Show” Friday night and fired back at President Donald Trump after a week of abuse from the White House.

The White House announced this week that it is revoking Brennan's security clearance, an unprecedented move that many believed was a transparent effort by the president to punish a critic. Brennan, along with many others, was appalled at the decision.

“The fact that he's using the security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn in his public relations strategy, I think, is just so reflective of somebody who, quite frankly — I don't want to use this term maybe — but he's drunk on power,” Brennan said. “He really is.” 

He continued: “I think he's abusing the powers of that office. I think right now this country is in a crisis in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is liable to do. Are the Republicans on the Hill who have given him a pass, are they going to wait for a disaster to happen before they actually find their backbones and spines to speak up against somebody who clearly, clearly is not carrying out his responsibilities with any sense of purpose and common sense from a standpoint of national security?”

When Maddow asked what Brennan feared Trump could do in his desperation, he suggested that the president might launch an overseas military adventure to distract the nation — a classic “wag the dog” scenario.

Watch the clip below:

…read more