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'Their champion was no longer in office': Reporter reveals the darkness and despair at Trump's latest rally

June 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

On Saturday in Ohio, former President Donald Trump held his first major MAGA rally since leaving office on January 20. Politico reporter Meridith McGraw analyzes that Ohio event in an article published this week, stressing that it had a darker tone than the MAGA events that preceded the Biden era — and underscored the sense of “grievance” and bitterness that Trump’s supporters continue to feel five months into Joe Biden’s presidency.

McGraw, describing the Ohio rally as “a cross between a NASCAR tailgate and a traveling circus,” explains, “There was a familiarity to it all. The chants of ‘Four more years!’ and ‘Lock him Up!’ — this time, aimed at infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci instead of former campaign rival Hillary Clinton. The recitation of the sinister poem, ‘The Snake’….. And yet, there were signs this rally was different.”

The Politico reporter continues, “During past rallies, Trump’s supporters applauded Trump as he trashed immigrants, demonized the media, and echoed his calls to lock up his opponents. But they also felt hopeful the real estate magnate was giving them a voice. There was a sense that this charismatic outsider would empower them to change Washington, and a joyfulness that came with being part of a movement. Now, they felt cheated. ‘WE THE PEOPLE ARE PISSED OFF,’ one popular rally t-shirt read. Their champion was no longer in office.”

McGraw notes that some of Trump’s most controversial supporters were at the rally, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. And the Biden-era MAGA event, according to McGraw, had an overall “sense of desperation” that was expressed “even” by “Trump himself.”

“In all, Trump spoke for more than 95 minutes, and after the rally was over, supporters marched back to their cars,” McGraw recalls. “In the distance, the bright lights of the rally that read ‘SAVE AMERICA AGAIN” and a lit-up fairground french fries truck painted a dusky dreamscape redolent of Edward Hopper. ‘Gloria,’ the one-hit-wonder disco song about a woman driven to insanity because of a man, could be heard blaring from the speakers. ‘Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?’ People sang along.”

“Gloria,” the song heard at Trump’s Ohio rally, was a major hit for the late pop star Laura Branigan in 1982 and was an English-language remake of a tune that Italian singer Umberto Tozzi had …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Conservative slams far-right GOP congressman for holding a fundraiser with a 'vile racist and anti-Semite'

June 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona has been drawing intense criticism from liberals and progressives for deciding to hold a fundraiser with Nick Fuentes, a White nationalist and Holocaust denier. But not all of the criticism of Gosar is coming from the left. This week in the conservative National Review, journalist John McCormack offers a scathing takedown of Gosar’s association with a “vile racist and anti-Semite.”

McCormack explains, “A few hours after the flyer for the fundraiser — which Fuentes has reportedly confirmed he is hosting — began to circulate, Gosar responded on Twitter. ‘Not sure why anyone is freaking out,’ he wrote. ‘I’ll say this: there are millions of Gen Z, Y and X conservatives. They believe in America First. They will not agree 100% on every issue. No group does. We will not let the left dictate our strategy, alliances and efforts. Ignore the left.’”

The National Review journalist continues, “The implication of Gosar’s tweet was clear: He was treating Fuentes’ vicious anti-Semitism and racism as one might treat disagreements over tax policy, and dismissing anyone who would question their association.”

Earlier this year, McCormack writes, Gosar “made perfectly clear that he had no problem allying with — and thereby elevating — Fuentes despite the latter’s open racism and anti-Semitism.” McCormack adds that Gosar was “the only elected member of Congress to speak at a conference organized by Fuentes in February.”

“The media and the left frequently cry wolf about bigotry,” McCormack argues, “but there should be no doubt about Fuentes. He once called a writer a ‘race traitor’ because he ‘work[s] for Jews.’ He opposes interracial marriage and has praised segregation.”

McCormack goes on to note some past quotes from Fuentes — for example, Fuentes, in one of his videos, said, “Enough with the Jim Crow stuff. Who cares? Oh, they had to drink out of a different water fountain, big fucking deal. Oh no, they had to go to a different school. It’s better for them, it’s better for us.”

In one of his anti-Semitic rants, McCormack notes, Fuentes said, “I’m getting really sick of world Jewry — that’s what it is, what it is — running the show. And we can’t talk about it.”

McCormack wraps up his article by pointing out that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took action against former Rep. Steve King of Iowa in response to one …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The GOP has unified around Trump — but there's a price to be paid for this conformity

June 30, 2021 in Blogs

By The Conversation

by Robert B. Talisse, Vanderbilt University

Directly following the 2020 election, Republicans seemed to be through with Donald Trump. Party leaders stopped speaking to him and voters began abandoning the GOP, apparently in reaction to Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Recently, things have changed. Republicans are once again aligning with Trump, even to the point of alienating GOP members who criticize Trump for lying about the election.

The party’s reuniting with Trump may seem puzzling. A one-term and twice-impeached president with a consistently low approval rating ordinarily would be a liability. Yet the GOP’s return to Trump is not really a surprise, because of the psychological forces known as belief polarization and the black sheep effect.

Though these forces explain why the GOP is sticking with Trump, they also spell trouble.

To be politically successful, coalitions need to be unified. But unity can go only so far. As pressures to unify mount among group members, groups tend to factionalize, splinter and shrink.

And as a coalition shrinks, it becomes less effective in the political arena. This dynamic teaches an important lesson about democracy: To avoid splintering, partisans need to take steps to welcome dissent within their groups.

From unity to extremism

Belief polarization is a strikingly common phenomenon. When people interact only with like-minded others, they transform into more extreme versions of themselves: They come to adopt more radical versions of their beliefs and grow more confident of the truth of those beliefs.

In shifting toward more extreme beliefs, people also come to see those with whom they disagree as irrational, corrupt and depraved.

Yet, as I document in my forthcoming book, “Sustaining Democracy,” our more extreme selves are also more conformist. Belief polarization leads group members to become both more extreme and more alike. As members grow more uniform, they also become increasingly resolute in enforcing conformity. Thus, the group becomes less tolerant of dissension within its ranks and more prone to expel deviating members.

As pressure to conform intensifies, the group also comes to define itself more strictly in terms of its animosity toward other groups.

Eventually group membership expands into an entire lifestyle set in opposition to rivals. Belief-polarized groups thus insulate themselves from contact with outsiders.

This goes a long way toward …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — who oversaw the launch of Iraq and Afghanistan wars — dead at 88

June 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Donald Rumsfeld, who served as secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, has died at the age of 88, the New York Times reports.

Rumsfeld was among the neoconservatives who did the most to shape Bush’s foreign policy following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, greatly encouraging the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein — a move that many critics of Bush’s foreign policy have blamed, in part, for the rise of ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria) in that part of the world.

Rumsfeld’s family, in an official statement, said, “It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.”

Born on July 9, 1932, Rumsfeld was a fixture in GOP politics for decades — serving in President Richard Nixon’s administration in the early 1970s before serving as secretary of defense under President Gerald R. Ford in the mid-1970s. Rumsfeld returned to the private sector following Ford’s loss to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976′s presidential election, but he became secretary of defense for the second time when he joined Bush’s administration in 2001.

Rumsfeld, known for his hawkish foreign policy views, resigned as defense secretary following a giant blue wave in the 2006 midterms that found Democrats regaining control of both branches of Congress — a wave that many pundits attributed to the unpopularity of the Iraq War.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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MSNBC host mocks a Wisconsin Republican's 'groveling letter' after Trump brutally humiliated him

June 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Former President Donald Trump recently railed against Wisconsin Republicans for not doing enough to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that Upper Midwest state, inspiring some of them — including Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Wisconsin State Senate President Chris Kapenga — to jump through hoops to assure Trump that they were still loyal supporters. Vos and Kapenga were clearly shaken by Trump’s rant, and liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes described their efforts to smooth things over with the former president as “Stalinist groveling.”

Hayes, this week on his show, noted that Trump recently issued a statement lambasting Wisconsin Republicans for “working hard to cover up election corruption.” That accusation, Hayes pointed out, is the type of “nonsense” that is “expected” from Trump, who continues to make the false, totally debunked claim that Wisconsin was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud in 2020.

In his statement, Trump warned Wisconsin Republicans that if they don’t do more to challenge the 2020 election results, “I have little doubt that they will be primaried and quickly run out of office.”

Hayes went on to describe Kapenga’s “groveling” as both pathetic and disturbing.

The MSNBC host told viewers, “The president of the State Senate, Chris Kapenga, is an incredible example of Trump-era Republicans and generally democratic decline, not to mention absurd levels of humiliation. Chris Kapenga, this guy, just got chewed out by probably the most famous sociopath in the country and maybe the world — a guy who had a 29% approval rating upon leaving office, according to a Pew poll, lost the popular vote twice, got impeached twice, managed to lose both the House and the Senate for Republicans, and would be cast aside by any other party looking for a future leader. And yet, yet…. this is Chris Kapenga’s response.”

Hayes read parts of Kapenga’s response to Trump, noting how obsequious his “Stalinist groveling” sounded when he wrote, “Let me first say that very few people have the honor of being named publicly by a United States president. I never imagined mine would be mentioned, much less in this light, from a president I have publicly supported and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New reports reveal a much larger plot and conspiracy by Trump before the Jan. 6 coup attempt

June 29, 2021 in Blogs

By Chauncey DeVega

At the present moment, American democracy is like a tightrope walker attempting a crossing during a howling storm, and without a net. That democracy has thus far “survived” the Age of Trump and his regime’s and allies’ assaults — including an all-too-real attempted coup — is something like the luck enjoyed by fools and drunks. Joe Biden may now be president, but the perilous tightrope walk continues. Safety appears to be in sight, but that is a dangerous illusion: Most lethal falls during a tightrope walk happen during the last few feet when the performer believes they are safe.

The flood of “revelations” about the Trump regime’s attempts to overthrow American democracy continue.

Contrary to what the professional smart people with their “view from nowhere” and too many other members of the chattering classes have claimed, the dangers of a coup perpetrated by the Trump regime were not exaggerated or hysterical, and most certainly were not symptoms of “Trump derangement syndrome.” The danger was clear and obvious for those who were paying attention to reality as it is, and not as others wished it to be.

What do we now know? (And should have known already?) Donald Trump and members of his inner circle wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act in response to last summer’s protests that followed the police murder of George Floyd.

As reported by CNN, Trump longed for the U.S. military to “crack skulls” and “handle” the protesters with great force. He reportedly wanted the United States military to “beat the fuck out” of the protesters and even “shoot them.” When told that such violence was illegal and inappropriate, Trump then suggested that the military could shoot protesters in the legs instead.

It appears that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper were able to stop Trump from ordering U.S. troops to act out his violent, psychopathic fantasies.

ProPublica recently obtained emails revealing that the violence by Trump’s followers on Jan. 6 by Trump’s followers was predictable and in no sense unexpected. In their new reporting, Joshua Kaplan and Joaquin Sapien explain that they interviewed “more than 50 people involved in the events of Jan. 6″ and reviewed months’ …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The obscenely rich of the 21st century are exposed as wannabe aristocrats

June 29, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

Yesterday, I left you thinking about centibillionaire Warren Buffett’s contempt for democratic morality. The sixth-richest person in the world paid 0.10 percent in federal income taxes over the course of four years, according to an analysis by ProPublica. The nonprofit news group obtained 15 years’ world of tax returns for thousands of the country’s richest people, including the top 25, which includes the Sage of Omaha. He said it’s OK for him to pay virtually nothing, because he’s giving his fortune away.

That’s contempt. In saying philanthropy is better than paying a fair share for a national government of, by and for the American people, Warren Buffett is saying, though of course without saying it out loud, that he’s separate from and unequal to American citizenry—on account of normal people paying more than their fair share for a government serving him more than it does them. But there’s another layer of contempt I want to draw your attention to today. That’s the contempt for work.

The Republicans Party has for decades been successful at portraying the poor (read: nonwhite people) as those who do not work. Because they do not work, the poor look to the government for things they won’t provide for themselves. Republican-controlled states still use work as a requisite for the accessing of relief. This requisite amounts to proving one is a worthy enough American citizen. If you can work, you can get help. If you don’t work, you don’t get help, because only worthy Americans are deserving of help. Anyone who is not worthy of citizenship is someone who is worthy of contempt.

The thing about being poor, however, is that it’s work. Hard work. This is so plainly true, I’m not going to bother proving it. The poor are rarely idle, because to be idle is to flirt with death. (That’s how close to the bone a chronically impoverished existence is.) Obviously, the poor do not earn incomes with the nonstop labor that comes with being poor, but let’s not confuse earning an income with work. If we accept the Republican view that working is a requisite for being a worthy citizen, the poor are the worthiest of all. The poor are deserving of state relief by simple dint of being poor.

But we shouldn’t accept the Republican view, because it does not apply equitably or universally. The very obscenely rich are …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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WATCH: Arrested Florida man accused of threatening a Black family at gunpoint — just because of their race

June 29, 2021 in Blogs

By John Wright

A Florida man is facing hate crime charges after he allegedly threatened a Black family at gunpoint, in a racially motivated incident in Volusia County.

Nicholas J. Gordon, 21, pulled up alongside the victims at a DeLand-area intersection on Sunday afternoon, before pointing a handgun at them and stating, “I will kill you n*****,” according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The victims were a mother, a father and two children under 12.

After the victims drove away, Gordon and three passengers chased them in his yellow Chevrolet Spark, police said. When they caught up to the family at the next intersection, Gordon exited the vehicle and yelled more obscenities before driving off in the other direction. Gordon later told sheriff’s deputies he pulled a gun on the Black family because “he knew (the victims) were African American and he knew from past experiences African Americans can be violent.”

When “asked what the people did, other than being black, that would make him feel threatened enough to have a gun,” Gordon said “nothing,” the sheriff’s office said.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'So incredibly corrosive': GOP senators block election reform — while the real damage happens in the states

June 29, 2021 in Blogs

By Independent Media Institute

For now, the U.S. Senate Republicans have blocked sweeping election reform. They argued that America’s elections are not in crisis and are best run by rules set by states. Meanwhile, in capitals across battleground states, numerous Republican legislators have been claiming elections face numerous threats and have passed dozens of laws, the most aggressive of which curtail voting options, newly police the process, and empower party loyalists at post-Election Day counting stages.

“The Republican leader flatly stated that no matter what the states do to undermine our democracy—voter suppression laws, phony ‘audits,’ or partisan takeovers of local election boards—the Senate should not act,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and majority leader, referring to Kentucky’s Sen. Mitch McConnell and a Republican filibuster that blocked the election reform bill.

“Republican state legislatures across the country are engaged in the most sweeping voter suppression in 80 years,” Schumer said. “Capitalizing on, and catalyzed by, Donald Trump’s big lie [that he won in 2020], these state governments are making it harder for younger, poorer, urban and non-white Americans to vote.”

The deepening divide over voting in America is larger than the For the People Act, the Democrat-sponsored bill that addresses presidential ethics, campaign finance, partisan redistricting and voting rights. Both major parties are vying to change who votes in America and how they cast ballots. Republicans often are seeking a more limited franchise. Democrats are seeking the opposite.

In the Senate on June 22, the GOP argument often reverted to states’ rights, which had permitted a litany of voting rights abuses and violence for decades until the passage of strong federal civil and voting rights laws in the 1960s.

“You are imposing a federal mandate and a one-size-fits-all approach that just might not fit well,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, in a speech opposing the reform bill. “We don’t know everything best back here [in Washington].”

Voting rights battles are not new, but new ground is being broken in 2021. Seen nationally, Republicans, whose base is aging and shrinking, have been raising the bar for access to a ballot and seeking to segregate voters by party for much of the 21st century. This is especially true in increasingly purple states where the party …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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America's nearly $1.3 Trillion national security budget isn't making us safer

June 29, 2021 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

President Biden’s first Pentagon budget, released late last month, is staggering by any reasonable standard. At more than $750 billion for the Defense Department and related work on nuclear weapons at the Department of Energy, it represents one of the highest levels of spending since World War II — far higher than the peaks of the Korean or Vietnam wars or President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup of the 1980s, and roughly three times what China spends on its military.

Developments of the past year and a half — an ongoing pandemic, an intensifying mega-drought, white supremacy activities, and racial and economic injustice among them — should have underscored that the greatest threats to American lives are anything but military in nature. But no matter, the Biden administration has decided to double down on military spending as the primary pillar of what still passes for American security policy. And don’t be fooled by that striking Pentagon budget figure either. This year’s funding requests suggest that the total national security budget will come closer to a breathtaking $1.3 trillion.

That mind-boggling figure underscores just how misguided Washington’s current “security” — a word that should increasingly be put in quotation marks — policies really are. No less concerning was the new administration’s decision to go full-speed ahead on longstanding Pentagon plans to build a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines, and missiles, including, of course, new nuclear warheads to go with them, at a cost of at least $1.7 trillion over the next three decades.

The Trump administration added to that plan projects like a new submarine-launched, nuclear-armed cruise missile, all of which is fully funded in Biden’s first budget. It hardly matters that a far smaller arsenal would be more than adequate to dissuade any country from launching a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies. A rare glimmer of hope came in a recent internal memo from the Navy suggesting that it may ultimately scrap Trump’s sea-launched cruise missile in next year’s budget submission — but that proposal is already facing intense pushback from nuclear-weapons boosters in Congress.

In all, Biden’s first budget is a major win for key players in the nuclear-industrial complex like Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor on the …read more

Source: ALTERNET