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TBR News August 4, 2020

Aug 04 2020

 

The Voice of the White House

Comments for August 4, 2020: Covid-19, contrary to a flood of idiot propaganda in the mainline media, is the equal of a bad cold for almost all of those infected. The media would have you believe otherwise but, as usual, the media is fuller of fecal mater than a Christmas turkey. Here are some highly intellectual headlines for your entertainment:

  • Survivors of Covid-19 show increased rate of psychiatric disorders, study finds. Straitjacket shortage blamed on antifa plot
  • Americans are planting mystery seeds the government has warned against: Chinese seeds might cause Covid-19 to spread in America!
  • Hair scavenged from Nairobi dump ends up in salon amid COVID-19 pandemic
  • The pandemic highlights the gruesome animal abuses at US factory farms
  • They Know What A Pandemic Is’: HIV Survivors See Similarities To AIDS Epidemic
  • Wave of terror grips Tonga as pandemic claims two lives
  • President Trump claims drinking orange juice can spread COVID-19
  • UK risks twice-as-big second COVID wave without better testing, study finds
  • UN study shows cats spread COVID
  • Three suicides in NYC blamed on fear of COVID
  • Clean underwear a possible solution to wave of virus deaths in Miami
  • American barbershops to be closed due to hair infections of pandemic
  • Antifa responsible for COVID-19 outbreak in East Orange, New Jersey, Trump aide claims
  • Children under six not allowed to drive cars on freeways to prevent spread of COVID
  • Elon Musk claims Mars colony he plans will be pandemic free
  • COVID a Bulgarian plot Trump claims; demands sanctions
  • Covid-19: does more testing always mean more cases?
  • Covid will force us to reimagine the office. Let’s get it right this time
  • Why Are So Many People on Capitol Hill Getting Infected? Russian plot suspected
  • New virus deaths in India soar to world’s highest: eight millions stricken in one day!
  • Australia is imposing strict on-the-spot fines for people who ignore orders to self-isolate: elderly women severely beaten in Melbourne
  • Tens of millions of people in the Philippines are back in lockdown after warnings of a surge, all imprisoned in one building on island
  • How has giving birth changed during the pandemic?
  • Three dead overnight in Chicago zoo, Covid-19 blamed
  • Trump to ban pregnancies to stop spread of COVID-19
  • Only Jesus can stop pandemic, Trump claims at press conference
  • Five COVID deaths terrify Portugal
  • San Francisco man charged with barbequing neighbor’s cat claims eating pussy acceptable during pandemic

The Table of Contents

  • Thou, God, seest me
  • As schools reopen, teachers ,parents and students are pushing back
  • How the Right Wing Convinces Itself That Liberals Are Evil
  • Donald Trump flounders in interview over US Covid-19 death toll
  • UN warns of ‘generational catastrophe’ over coronavirus school closures
  • Has Trump Finally Crossed the Line With Congressional Republicans?
  • Top Senate Democrat says COVID-19 relief talks ‘moving in the right direction’
  • US Cold War China Policy Will Isolate the US, Not China
  • Top Senate Democrat says COVID-19 relief talks ‘moving in the right direction’
  • The Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

Thou, God, seest me

July 4, 2020

by Christian Juers

The government intelligence agencies and their allied private contractors now regularly accesses all emails, chats, searches, events, locations, videos, photos, log-ins and any information people post online with a warrant, which the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court always  grants secretly and without being ever made public.

And the revelation of Prism, a secret government program for mining major Internet companies, states that the government now has direct access to Internet companies’ data without a warrant.

Every company impacted – Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype, PalTalk and AOL – publically deny knowing about the program or giving any direct access to their servers. These denials are intented to bolster public confidence in their services because in reality, all of these entities cooperate fully with requests for customer information.

Google is the supplier of the customized core search technology for Intellipedia, a highly-secure online system where 37,000 U.S. domestic and foreign area spies and related personnel share information and collaborate on investigative missions.

And there is absolutely nothing one can commit to the Internet that is private in any sense of the word

In addition, Google is linked to the U.S. spy and military systems through its Google Earth software venture. The technology behind this software was originally developed by Keyhole Inc., a company funded by Q-Tel http://www.iqt.org/ , a venture capital firm which is in turn openly funded and operated on behalf of the CIA.

Google acquired Keyhole Inc. in 2004. The same base technology is currently employed by U.S. military and intelligence systems in their quest, in their own words, for “full-spectrum dominance” of the American, and foreign, political, social and economic spheres.

However, Internet Service Providers and the entertainment industry are now taking Internet monitoring to a whole new level….

If someone download copyrighted software, videos or music, all Internet service providers (ISP)  have the ability to detect this downloading.

The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of data and traffic on the Internet. In the United States for example, under the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, all phone calls and broadband Internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by Federal law enforcement agencies., to include the FBI, NSA, the CIA and the DHS.

There is far too much data on the Internet for human investigators to manually search through all of it and so automated Internet surveillance computers sift through the vast amount of intercepted Internet traffic and identify and report to human investigators traffic considered interesting by using certain “trigger” words or phrases, visiting certain types of web sites, or communicating via email or chat with suspicious individuals or groups. Billions of dollars per year are spent, by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, NSA, and the FBI, to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore, NarusInsight, and ECHELON to intercept and analyze all of this data, and extract only the information which is useful to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. One flaw with NSA claims that the government needs to be able to suck up Internet data from services such as Skype and Gmail to fight terrorists: Studies show that would-be terrorists don’t use those services. The NSA has to collect the metadata from all of our phone calls because terrorists, right? And the spy agency absolutely must intercept Skypes you conduct with folks out-of-state, or else terrorism. It must sift through your iCloud data and Facebook status updates too, because Al Qaeda.Terrorists are everywhere, they are legion, they are dangerous, and, unfortunately, they don’t really do any of the stuff described above.

Even though the still-growing surveillance state that sprung up in the wake of 9/11 was enacted almost entirely to “fight terrorism,” reports show that the modes of communication that agencies like the NSA are targeting are scarcely used by terrorists at all.

 

As schools reopen, teachers ,parents and students are pushing back

On the National Day of Resistance, activists say “going back to normal” isn’t good enough.

August 3, 2020

by Rachel M. Cohen

The Intercept

On Monday, in more than 25 states, thousands of parents, educators, students, and community members are participating in the National Day of Resistance, staging in-person and virtual actions to call for safe, well-funded, and racially just school reopening plans. The actions come in response to pressure from state governments and the White House to resume in-person learning so that kids can get back to the classroom and their parents back to work, but are also being tied to the ongoing pushback against school privatization from the Trump administration.

In New York City, parents, students, and teachers will be marching from their union headquarters down to the Department of Education. In Los Angeles, activists are organizing a car caravan, first outside the LA Chamber of Commerce and then around the Los Angeles Unified School District building. “We’re kicking it off at the LA Chamber because even during Covid, this is a time when a lot of corporations and Wall Street are making record-breaking profits,” explained Sylvana Uribe, a spokesperson for Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a progressive group participating in the protest. In Philadelphia and Baltimore, teacher unions are calling on Comcast to improve the quality of its service and make it more affordable for families. In Phoenix, activists are planning to demonstrate outside their state capitol building, where educators can write letters to their elected officials about how they feel going back to school or, if they want, write their imagined obituaries.

“Monday is Arizona’s first day back to school, so that’s why we know we have to lead in organizing because people across the country will be watching us and learning what happens with reopenings,” said Rebecca Garelli, a parent and science educator participating in the Phoenix protest.

In Chicago, activists are rallying outside of City Hall and Illinois’s state government building. Among them will be Jitu Brown, the national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance, a network of 30 grassroots organizations that helped conceive of the Day of Resistance. “When we look at the fact that these same communities have shuttered public schools and opened up new jails, do we really think they will prioritize the health and safety of Black and brown children when it comes to reopening?” Brown asked. “We say no, or only if we make them do so.”

As part of their organizing, Journey for Justice and the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Center for Popular Democracy sent a letter Monday morning to President Donald Trump laying out 15 demands for a safe and equitable reopening, including fully functioning air conditioning and ventilation units, free laptops and internet access for every student, regular coronavirus testing, and an elimination of police in schools. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, members of Congress, and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were also copied on the letter.

Over the last month, the question of how and whether to reopen schools has become one of the most pressing and wrenching political questions. While Trump and DeVos both have sought to push schools to reopen in person, even threatening to withhold funding from those that don’t, majorities of educators, school administrators, and parents have expressed ambivalence about the safety of children and staff returning to school. One new estimate from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that more than 80 percent of Americans live in a county where at least one person with Covid-19 would be expected to show up at a school of 500 students and staff if school started today.

In late June, the Council of Chief State School Officers, a national nonprofit group comprised of heads of state departments of education, said as much as $245 billion in federal support will be needed in order to safely reopen schools, with the funding going primarily toward personal protective gear and cleaning supplies, as well as digital devices. Senate Republicans unveiled their latest Covid-19 relief proposal last week, which included $70 billion for K-12 school districts and private schools, but most of that money would be conditioned on schools reopening for in-person instruction.

Meanwhile, scientists and public health experts have been issuing conflicting advice, complicated by the fact that the public’s understanding of Covid-19 transmission among children has continued to evolve. While it was originally thought that the risk among children of catching or transmitting the virus was very low, especially among younger children, new research has recently challenged those assumptions. In late June, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued interim guidance on the importance of in-person schooling, but a few weeks later, the group released a new statement, in partnership with national teacher unions and the School Superintendents Association, urging against a “one-size-fits-all approach” to reopenings. “We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it,” the groups said.

Recently in Indiana, on the first day of school, administrators learned that a middle school student had tested positive for the virus. The student and others they came in contact with were ordered to quarantine for 14 days. A similar situation just happened with a high schooler in Mississippi.

“You can spend an entire year asking kids to walk in the hall, and yet we somehow expect them to wear masks for six hours?” asked Marilena Marchetti, a public school occupational therapist participating in New York City’s march. “It’s a joke.”

In addition to some of the more familiar safety demands around PPE, Covid-19 testing, and ventilation, parents and educators have also been circulating a petition with demands for direct cash assistance to those who cannot work or are unemployed and police-free schools, as well as moratoriums on “punitive” standardized testing, vouchers, charter schools, evictions, and foreclosures.

Garelli, the science educator from Arizona, said the logic around the charter, voucher, and testing moratoriums is that “everything that drains” or “siphons” money from public schools should be avoided. “Standardized testing alone costs millions of dollars, and we need that money for PPE, ventilation, and sanitation,” she said.

“Our point is we don’t want to just go back to normal because normal wasn’t good at all,” added Marchetti.

Dmitri Holtzman, director of Education Justice Campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy, said the hope is for the progressive movement to “double down” with “transformative” demands to help counter the fact that DeVos and Trump are also trying to use the pandemic to push school privatization.

The demand for police-free schools, though not new, has seen a recent surge in political momentum in the wake of protests around George Floyd’s killing. In June, Minneapolis Public Schools cut ties with its city police department and Milwaukee Public Schools followed shortly after. In LA, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted in July to cut its school police budget by $25 million and redirect those funds into hiring more counselors and social workers.

One of the grassroots groups participating in the Day of Resistance is Latinos Unidos Siempre, a youth-led organization in Salem, Oregon. “We’ve been focusing on the school-to-prison pipeline for a long time, but we’ve definitely seen a surge in new support this summer,” said Sandra Hernández-Lomelí, the group’s director. “We’re planning a rally outside of the Salem-Keizer School District building.”

While some teacher unions are participating in the Day of Resistance, including the United Teachers Los Angeles and the Chicago Teachers Union, not all the demands outlined in the letter to Trump and the circulating petition are what the unions are actually negotiating over. Last week, UTLA had to issue a statement pushing back on media reports that said LA educators were refusing to return to school until charter schools and the police were abolished. “This is incorrect and damaging,” the union stated. “Defunding police to redirect money to education and public health and a moratorium on allocating school classrooms to charter companies so that public schools have space for safe physical distancing are just two” ways the district could raise revenue to safely reopen schools.

Other news reports have tried to frame opposition to school reopening as driven primarily by teacher unions, despite polls showing clear opposition from other stakeholders like parents and school administrators. One Axios-Ipsos poll released in mid-July found that most parents, including a majority of Republican parents and 89 percent of Black parents, thought returning to school would be risky, and just one-third of principals expressed confidence in their school’s ability to keep adults and children safe, according to a poll conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Importantly, while one of the demands for the Day of Resistance is to have no reopening “until the scientific data supports it,” activists acknowledge that different communities will define those public health metrics differently. “We don’t have a singular firm position on this,” said Holtzman. “For some people, it’s not until there’s a vaccine, for others, it’s 14 days with no new cases, and others, it could be a certain amount of days with no new deaths.”

Marchetti, who is part of the social justice caucus within the United Federation of Teachers, said its demand in New York City is to not reopen until there are no new cases for 14 days. “We don’t have a demand to wait for a vaccine, but people shouldn’t be afraid to go to back to work,” she said. While teacher union strikes are illegal in New York, educators have broached the idea of calling in sick en masse to protest unsafe reopenings. “We’re still feeling betrayed by how slow it took [city officials] to close schools in March,” Marchetti added, pointing to a Columbia University study that found thousands of lives would have been saved had New York put its control measures in place just one week earlier.

In Los Angeles, activists are calling for at least 21 days of no new Covid-19 cases before reopening schools. In Arizona, protesters are asking for leaders to put out some kind of public health metric, which currently no one has. “Some educators want to wait for a vaccine, and others just really want to have some kind of standard, like how New York set a [reopening] threshold of the coronavirus positivity rate staying below 3 percent,” said Garelli.

The American Federation of Teachers recently passed a resolution saying that schools should only reopen in places where the average daily community infection rate among those tested is below 5 percent and transmission rate is below 1 percent. “Nothing is off the table when it comes to the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, including supporting local and/or state affiliate safety strikes on a case-by-case basis as a last resort,” the resolution stated.

Garelli rejected the argument that teachers returning to school should be viewed similarly to other essential workers who have had to return to their workplaces. “No other essential worker has to spend 7 hours a day in a small room with poor ventilation with 30 other kids,” she said. “There’s just no comparison.”

Brown, of Journey for Justice, said his affiliate groups plan to push over the next month for the funding and conditions to safely reopen school, because ultimately their goal is for students and educators to return. “We see the harm that our young people face not having access to school and the socialization that comes with it,” he said. “We understand the need for them to academically grow. But we also understand the need for them to live.”

 

How the Right Wing Convinces Itself That Liberals Are Evil

Since the 1950s, the conservative movement has justified bad behavior—including supporting Donald Trump—by persuading itself that the left is worse.

by David A. Walsh

Washington Monthly

If you spend any time consuming right-wing media in America, you quickly learn the following: Liberals are responsible for racism, slavery, and the Ku Klux Klan. They admire Mussolini and Hitler, and modern liberalism is little different from fascism or, even worse, communism. The mainstream media and academia cannot be trusted because of the pervasive, totalitarian nature of liberal culture.

This belief in a broad liberal conspiracy is standard in the highest echelons of the conservative establishment and right-wing media. The Russia investigation is dismissed, from the president on down, as a politicized witch hunt. George Soros supposedly paid $300 to each participant in the “March for Our Lives” in March. (Disclosure: I marched that day, and I’m still awaiting my check.) What is less well appreciated by liberals is that the language of conspiracy is often used to justify similar behavior on the right. The Russia investigation is not just a witch hunt, it’s the product of the real scandal, which is Hillary-Russia-Obama-FBI collusion, so we must investigate that. Soros funds paid campus protestors, so Turning Point USA needs millions of dollars from Republican donors to win university elections. The liberal academic establishment prevents conservative voices from getting plum faculty jobs, so the Koch Foundation needs to give millions of dollars to universities with strings very much attached.

This did not begin with Donald Trump. The modern Republican Party may be particularly apt to push conspiracy theories to rationalize its complicity with a staggeringly corrupt administration, but this is an extension of, not a break from, a much longer history. Since its very beginning, in the 1950s, members of the modern conservative movement have justified bad behavior by convincing themselves that the other side is worse. One of the binding agents holding the conservative coalition together over the course of the past half century has been an opposition to liberalism, socialism, and global communism built on the suspicion, sometimes made explicit, that there’s no real difference among them.

In 1961, the American Medical Association produced an LP in which an actor opened a broadside against the proposed Medicare program by attributing to Norman Thomas, a six-time Socialist Party candidate for president, a made-up quote that “under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.” Because these ideologies were so interchangeable in the imaginations of many conservatives—and were covertly collaborating to enact their nefarious agenda—this meant that it was both important and necessary to fight back through equally underhanded means.

The title of that LP? Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine. The American left is used to waiting for liberals to finally get ruthless. Through the eyes of the right, they always have been.

Long before Fox News, conservatives began forming their own explicitly right-wing media landscape. Supporters of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal dominated the “mainstream” press, which meant that conservative dissidents needed a home. The conservative magazine Human Events was launched in 1944 as an alternative to what its cofounder, Felix Morley, believed was a stifling conformity in the American press. The same was true of the American Mercury in 1950, when under the ownership of William Bradford Huie the formerly social-democratic magazine moved to the right. “There is now far too much ‘tolerance’ in America,” Huie declared in the first issue of the new Mercury. “We shall cry a new crusade of intolerance . . . the intolerance of bores, morons, world-savers, and damn fools.”

Both Morley and Huie felt victimized by a liberal press establishment that stifled alternative voices—and, after all, liberals had the New Republic and leftists the Nation as journals of opinion—but their charge of mainstream “bias” was more complicated. One of the largest newspapers in the United States, the Chicago Tribune, owned by conservative businessman Robert McCormick, had militantly opposed the New Deal and American entry into World War II. Fulton Lewis Jr., a Washington, D.C.–based political journalist who was, by 1950, one of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s biggest supporters, had one of the most listened-to radio programs in the country. And both Morley and Huie had had illustrious careers before launching their magazines. Morley won a Pulitzer Prize when he edited the Washington Post in the 1930s; Huie had a solid reputation as a freelance journalist. But they clung to the belief that dissenters from the liberal orthodoxy were being hounded out of media, which more than justified questionable acts, particularly on Huie’s part. Desperate to keep his magazine afloat, Huie sold the American Mercury in 1952 to far-right businessman Russell Maguire, who was closely tied to prominent anti-Semites and was one himself. Huie told a reporter at Time that he knew all about Maguire’s unsavory views, but believed his financial backing was necessary in order to ensure a conservative voice in American letters. “If I suddenly heard Adolf Hitler was alive in South America and wanted to give a million dollars to the American Mercury, I would go down and get it.”

Even more alarming to conservatives than the bias of the mainstream press was the number of liberals, radicals, and communists alleged to be in higher education. In a 1952 American Mercury article, a twenty-seven-year-old William F. Buckley accused liberal historians of a “conspiracy against giving the American people the facts” about Franklin Roosevelt, and claimed that they thus “betrayed the American people.” In his debut book, God and Man at Yale, published the year before, Buckley had dismissed academic freedom as a cynical shield wielded by left-wing faculty to protect themselves from the political consequences of their views; he advocated using the threat of withholding alumni donations as a weapon against the liberalism and leftism running amok in the academy. Buckley would soon become the gatekeeper of “respectable” conservatism by pushing back against the conspiratorial excesses of the John Birch Society. But he began his career by indulging in some of those rhetorical flourishes himself, along with a plan of action on how to fight back against the stranglehold of leftists on the academy.

Buckley was also one of McCarthy’s most vociferous defenders. Although popularly remembered today as a drunken punch line discredited by crusading journalists like Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s, McCarthy is actually an important figure in the development of American conservatism. Almost every major conservative journalist and politician in the 1950s defended him. Senator Barry Goldwater voted against McCarthy’s censure in 1954. Conservative radio pundit Fulton Lewis defended McCarthyism in his broadcasts even after the senator’s death. William F. Buckley was no exception: he went to the bat for McCarthy in the 1954 book McCarthy and His Enemies. Buckley applauded McCarthy for recognizing that “coercive measures” were necessary to enforce a new anticommunist “conformity.” While Buckley—unlike many of his peers—did distinguish between “the Liberals” and “the Communists,” he suggested that “atheistic, soft-headed, anti-anti-Communist liberals” were ultimately little better than communists, and by far a greater danger to American democracy than any supposed excesses of McCarthyism. And indeed, Buckley never abandoned his defense of McCarthy and repeatedly attempted to rehabilitate the senator in the eyes of the broader public. In 1999 he published a pro-McCarthy novel, The Redhunter, which incorporated large swaths of McCarthy and His Enemies almost verbatim.

Still, Buckley was comparatively moderate next to other conservatives, who suggested that the answer to the communist threat might be to adopt the communists’ own tactics. Fred Schwarz, an Australian-born doctor who founded the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade in 1953, wrote in his book You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists) that liberals were effectively “protectors and runners of interference for the Communist conspirators.” Why? Because liberals resisted efforts to purge communists and their sympathizers from schools and universities, and insisted on pesky legal technicalities like the Fifth Amendment. “[O]rganization is the genius of Communism,” Schwarz continued, and so “an anti-Communist program needs organization.” Just as communists “operate through a great number of front organizations, each of which is tuned to some specific motivating dynamic,” so must “every religious, professional, economic, and cultural group” adopt this model to “organize an anti-Communist program.”

A full-blown Leninist approach was tempting, Schwarz wrote, but he preferred a decentralized organization based on “voluntary choice and free will.” Not all on the anticommunist right were so circumspect. Robert Welch, a wealthy retired candy manufacturer and right-wing activist, organized the John Birch Society in 1958 explicitly along the lines of what he called “international communism.” Welch wrote in the society’s founding document, The Blue Book, that this was simply a savvy political decision: the communist conspiracy was, after all, “incredibly well organized,” and “so well financed that it has billions of dollars annually just to spend on propaganda.” The Birchers would, like the communists, organize themselves into cells (or, as Welch preferred to call them, “chapters”), set up front organizations, and distribute propaganda (by which Welch meant conservative magazines and journals, including National Review, Human Events, and his own American Opinion). The goal was not to become a mere “organization” like the Democratic or Republican Parties, but to become a movement, in the same sense as communism or its close ideological ally, organized labor. And indeed, at its peak in the early 1960s the John Birch Society claimed around 100,000 members, more than the Communist Party USA at its height in the 1940s, easily making it the largest and best-organized group on the right. The Birchers’ on-the-ground presence certainly dwarfed the reach of the National Review, which in 1961 counted only 29,000 weekly subscribers.

One of the Birchers’ most prominent campaigns was a drive to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, who had presided over a Court that made dramatic rulings in favor of civil rights, ranging from establishing a right to birth control to abolishing mandatory school prayer to the greatest sin of all, desegregating public schools. In August 1963, Welch accused the civil rights movement of being a communist plot to create a “Soviet Negro Republic” in the South, with Martin Luther King Jr. as president, and blamed Brown v. Board of Education for poisoning race relations in America. “What we want to do,” Welch wrote in the Birch Society’s bulletin, “is to concentrate the whole opposition to what is happening in the South, and resentment of it, into one course of action: The Movement to Impeach Earl Warren.”

The conflation of communism and the NAACP was not accidental. Of all of the supposedly communistic liberal front groups, none drew conservative scorn more fiercely than the civil rights movement. William F. Buckley, who opposed the impeachment as a tactic against the Warren Court, nonetheless infamously wrote in 1957 that the “advanced” white race in the South was justified in taking “such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally,” in areas where “it does not predominate numerically.” His magazine, National Review, repeatedly suggested that the civil rights movement was communist inspired, riddled by communist infiltration, or composed of communist front organizations. Martin Luther King himself was suspect—National Review called him the “source of violence in others” in 1965.

King was far more radical than his sanitized popular memory today—he spoke out against American imperialism in Vietnam, called for a guaranteed basic income, and was murdered while visiting Memphis to support a strike by public-sector sanitation workers—but he was no doctrinaire Marxist-Leninist. “Communism forgets that life is individual,” he said in a 1967 speech, while also condemning capitalism for forgetting “that life is social.” These distinctions were lost on the civil rights movement’s right-wing opponents. By painting civil rights activists as communists, or at the minimum dupes of an international communist conspiracy, segregationist southerners were making a bid for the support of conservative anticommunists elsewhere in the country.

They got it. Barry Goldwater, whose anti-liberal and anticommunist political bona fides were so secure he could get away with criticizing the John Birch Society without losing the support of its members, voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The vast majority of conservative publications opposed the bill’s passage, on the grounds both that it was an unacceptable expansion of federal power and that the “mobocratic” and “unruly” civil rights agitators were in effect advocating for socialism. George Wallace, the hyper-segregationist governor of Alabama, recognized the potency of this conspiratorial rhetoric during his third-party run for president in 1968. Shunned by Buckley and the conservative establishment on the basis of his sympathy for New Deal–style welfare programs, Wallace was embraced by the Birchers because of his unwavering opposition to the “communists,” “radicals,” and “agitators” in the civil rights movement.

The rise in prominence of the religious right in the 1970s and ’80s did little to tamp down paranoid political rhetoric. Evangelicals like Jerry Falwell and Francis Schaeffer—as well as Catholics like Paul Weyrich and Mormons like W. Cleon Skousen—conflated liberalism, socialism, and communism under the broader umbrella of “secularism” and built alliances with one another to combat this scourge. Often, this merely meant consolidating preexisting activism: Falwell had been an outspoken opponent of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and Skousen was a key propagandist for the John Birch Society in the 1960s and early ’70s before penning in 1981 The 5,000 Year Leap, a book that codified many of the shibboleths of the religious right to the present day. The evangelicals and their allies in other denominations were united in their opposition to abortion, gay rights, and feminism—the tangible realities of the nefarious left-liberal agenda.

Increasingly, the communist fingerprints to be found on these cultural changes were not to be found in an overarching conspiracy directed from Moscow—after all, the sexual politics of radical American feminists were hardly those of Leonid Brezhnev—but from a more nebulous grouping of student radicals, intellectuals, and activists. Although the term “cultural Marxism” would not be used to describe this new, somewhat murkier conspiracy until the 2000s, the outlines of the charge were already evident by the late 1970s. In 1980, televangelist James Robison declared in a speech that he was “sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals, and the perverts, and the liberals, and the leftists, and the communists coming out of the closet,” and called for “God’s people” to fight back.

The collapse of the Soviet Union accelerated these trends. It was no longer possible to accuse liberals and remnants of the left of being in Moscow’s pocket, but this did not stop conservatives from invoking the specter of left-wing radicalism to rally support and justify extremism. It just took more creativity. Pat Buchanan deftly shifted midsentence in his infamous 1992 speech at the Republican National Convention from the Cold War to the “cultural war,” the “religious war . . . for the soul of America,” suggesting that the fight against liberalism, feminism, and the “gay agenda” was not just the equivalent, but in fact the continuation, of the Cold War itself.

The “culture war” was the basis of the Clinton hatred phenomenon in the 1990s, which—as in 2016—was particularly focused on Hillary Clinton. She was the worst of all possible worlds: an elitist big-government liberal with degrees from Wellesley and Yale Law, a feminist who initially refused to change her name after marrying Bill, declined to embrace the image of a mother and housewife in the White House, and was rumored to be the real powerhouse next to her husband.

Bill Clinton had run in 1992 as a “different kind of Democrat,” and after losing Congress in 1994 tacked even more to the right. Clinton embraced financial deregulation, effectively abolished the existing welfare program, and even signaled his openness to partially privatizing Social Security and Medicare. Yet Clinton’s policy concessions to conservatives won him little goodwill from across the aisle. Congressional Republicans embraced scorched-earth legislative tactics under firebrand House Speaker Newt Gingrich, including the 1995 government shutdown, a preview of the right’s nihilistic resistance to Barack Obama over a decade later.Gingrich was a veteran partisan bruiser—as House minority whip he led the successful effort to oust Texas Democrat Jim Wright as speaker for minor ethics infractions in 1989, suggesting for good measure that Wright and other Democrats harbored socialist sympathies given their willingness to negotiate with the Sandinista government to end the Nicaraguan civil war.

But in another sense, the fervid anti-Clinton paranoia may have been a psychic and political necessity for Republicans who yearned to regain power. With Clinton offering real policy conciliations to conservatives, the easiest way to maintain energetic opposition was to construct a narrative of criminality and anti-American perfidy that must be countered at all costs. Right-wing attacks against the Clintons could and did backfire—the president’s approval ratings actually rose during his impeachment—and accusations against Bill Clinton for affairs, sexual harassment, and even rape were easier to dismiss as part of a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” as Hillary Clinton put it, when right-wing magazines were also accusing her of murder. Bill Clinton weathered the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but Clinton hatred never went away. It reappeared with a vengeance in 2016.

The bitter partisan battles of the 1990s intensified trends that had existed on the political right since World War II. Indeed, the creation of Fox News in 1996 was a supercharged throwback to the days of Human Events and the American Mercury. Fox News was necessary, the argument went, because conservative journalists and conservative perspectives were shut out of mainstream broadcasters. Never mind that even Bill O’Reilly had enjoyed a career at CBS and ABC before joining Fox News in its debut year. But while conservative media in the 1950s and ’60s either had a limited reach—the National Review in 1960 had less than a tenth as many subscribers as Time—or were counterbalanced by the FCC’s fairness doctrine, which was on the books between 1949 and 1987, Fox News presented an unchallenged right-wing worldview to millions of viewers twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Conservative pundits repackaged Cold War–era attacks equating liberals with communists during the Bush years. In 2003, Ann Coulter, a frequent Fox News talking head, published Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, which was a full-throated defense of Joseph McCarthy that accused liberals of being, well, traitors who hated America. The book sold 500,000 copies in its first three weeks. Even the racially charged birther myth—that Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen, and was a covert Muslim, to boot—was a riff on the old John Birch Society charge that liberals, including moderate Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower, were secret members of the international communist conspiracy. The cry that Obama was a Marxist, Maoist, Muslim Kenyan socialist was almost interchangeable with right-wing attacks directed against the civil rights movement in the 1960s. And the idea that a vast left-liberal conspiracy was both undermining the country and using dirty, underhanded tactics to do so rhetorically justified an anything-goes strategy on the part of the right. Shutting down government. Refusing confirmation votes. Supporting Donald Trump for president.

So-called Never Trump conservatives lament that the Republican Party and, indeed, the conservative movement have ceased to be about ideas beyond slavish devotion to Trump’s cult of personality. But this critique ignores the centrality of the idea of liberal nefariousness even in the self-consciously intellectual corners of the conservative movement. Jonah Goldberg, who has been affiliated with National Review for twenty years, has called for a revived conservative intellectual vigor to tackle the policy challenges of the twenty-first century. He was also the author, in 2008, of the book Liberal Fascism, which—until a last-minute change by Goldberg—bore the subtitle The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton.

Even the theory-heavy Chicago School movement that undergirded the post-Reagan shift to laissez-faire economic policy derived its momentum from the perceived need to rescue the “free enterprise system” from the clutches of liberalism, which would otherwise inevitably lead to communism. Robert Bork, the academic, judge, and Nixon administration official who was perhaps the preeminent ideological conduit between academia and government—and whose 1996 book Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline is exactly what it sounds like—described his antitrust theories as an antidote to the “reckless and primitive egalitarianism” of the Warren Court.

Trump is, in many ways, the ultimate embodiment of this long-standing tendency on the right. His transformation from New York Democrat to Republican Party celebrity began by embracing the birther conspiracy; he even took credit for Obama’s eventual decision to release his long-form birth certificate. As president, he has wondered aloud why Attorney General Jeff Sessions hasn’t personally defended him from the Russia investigation in the same way that, in Trump’s Fox News–fueled fantasies, Eric Holder once shielded Obama from “scandals” like “Fast and Furious.”

The idea that the left is depraved, corrupt, and ruthless has been an important strain of American conservatism since the movement began. But in the Trump era, it has metastasized. Right-wing policy ideas have been so thoroughly discredited—does anyone even argue anymore that trickle-down economics will ensure mass prosperity?—that the only apparent reason for conservatism’s existence is to fight back against evil liberals. This is, of course, not the sign of a healthy political movement. The right’s support for McCarthy has been a long-standing embarrassment for American conservatism. Its embrace of Trump may be history repeating itself.

 

Donald Trump flounders in interview over US Covid-19 death toll

President again says he is doing ‘incredible job’ fighting pandemic and casts doubt on Jeffrey Epstein’s cause of death

August 4, 2020

by Martin Belam in London and Joanna Walters in New York

The Guardian

Donald Trump visibly floundered in an interview when pressed on a range of issues, including the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the US, his claims that mail-in voting is fraudulent, and his inaction over the “Russian bounty” scandal.

The US president also repeatedly cast doubt on the cause of death of Jeffrey Epstein, and said of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite who has pleaded not guilty to participating in the sex-trafficking of girls by Epstein, that he wished her well.

In the interview, broadcast on HBO on Monday and conducted by Axios’s national political correspondent, Jonathan Swan, Trump again asserted that his administration was doing an “incredible job” responding to the coronavirus.

Claiming that the pandemic was unique, Trump said: “This has never happened before. Nineteen seventeen, but it was totally different, it was a flu in that case. If you watch the fake news on television, they don’t even talk about it, but there are 188 other countries right now that are suffering. Some, proportionately, far greater than we are.”

Trump has repeatedly referred to the 1917 flu pandemic, whereas the outbreak happened in 1918 and into 1919.

And when asked about the death toll from coronavirus so far in the US, of almost 155,000 killed, Trump appeared irritated and said: “It is what it is.”

His opponent in the upcoming presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden, tweeted on Tuesday morning: “Mr President, step up and do your job before even more American families feel the pain of losing a loved one.”

Biden also wrote: “On July 1st, Donald Trump predicted the coronavirus was going to ‘just disappear.’ He was wrong – and more than 25,000 Americans died due to the virus last month.”

 

UN warns of ‘generational catastrophe’ over coronavirus school closures

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the pandemic caused the largest disruption of education in history. Over 160 countries have closed schools, pushing more than 1 billion students out of the classroom.

August 4, 2020

DW

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday of a “generational catastrophe” following the largest disruption of education in history, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The closure of schools in more than 160 countries has affected more than 1 billion students, according to UN figures.

Additionally, at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education “in their critical pre-school year,” said Guterres

Inequality likely to grow

As a result, the world is facing a “generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress and exacerbate entrenched inequalities,” he said, as he launched the UN “Save our Future” campaign.

“Once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority,” he said. “Consultation with parents, carers, teachers and young people is fundamental.”

Weak education systems hit while down

On top of the new education figures, 250 million children were already out of school before the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school students in developing countries were leaving the education system with basic skills, Guterres added.

The UN leader said the present situation was a “defining moment” for the world’s young people. He also called for the reopening of schools once the virus is under control.

“The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people, and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come.”

The UN recommendations come amid a controversial push in the United States to reopen schools while the number of new infections in the country continues to surge. So far, nearly 694,000 have died worldwide, while over 18 million have been infected.

 

Has Trump Finally Crossed the Line With Congressional Republicans?

Even his biggest enablers aren’t willing to support his scheme to delay the election.

July 31, 2020

by Nancy LeTourneau

Washington Monthly

When it comes to the November election, Donald Trump is losing and he knows it. That’s why he’s swinging for the rafters—trying to find something that will change or delay the inevitable. As Tony Schwartz said, Trump treats “every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.” To avoid obliteration, the president will do or say anything.

That was made evident when he tweeted this on Thursday morning.

The president has already spread lies about how using mail-in ballots are an attempt to rig the election and refused to say that he will abide by the outcome. But this is the first time he’s publicly broached the idea of delaying the election.

Trump sent that tweet on the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department budget. Senator Kaine used some of his time to question Pompeo about the fact that the president just floated the idea of delaying the election.

The guy who graduated from Harvard Law School suggested that the Department of Justice would make a legal determination on the question of whether the president can delay the election. Surely he knows what the Constitution says about that.

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to determine the timing of the election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections, and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the president’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chair of the Administration Committee, which oversees elections.

Some Republicans responded to Trump’s tweet by saying it was a joke.

Others made it clear that a delay is not going to happen.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader…

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mr. McConnell said…

“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr. Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.

Mr. Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But, no, we should not delay the election.”

Whether or not the president got the message from his own party’s leaders remains to be seen. He seemed to double down on the idea of delaying the election by pinning his tweet to the top of his Twitter page. So keep an eye on this one. Either Trump and his minions back down, or we might have finally reached the point where the president’s enablers are willing to draw the line.

One additional note: the pushback is not just coming from the president’s congressional enablers. Take a look at what the founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabrisi, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.

I have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, including voting for Donald Trump in 2016. I wrote op-eds and a law review article protesting what I believe was an unconstitutional investigation by Robert Mueller. I also wrote an op-ed opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate…

President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again.

Better late than never, I guess.

 

US Cold War China Policy Will Isolate the US, Not China

August 4, 2020

by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies

TomDispatch

Tensions between the United States and China are rising as the U.S. election nears, with tit-for-tat consulate closures, new US sanctions and no less than three US aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the seas around China. But it is the United States that has initiated each new escalation in U.S.-China relations. China’s responses have been careful and proportionate, with Chinese officials such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly asking the US to step back from its brinkmanship to find common ground for diplomacy.

Most of the US complaints about China are long-standing, from the treatment of the Uighur minority and disputes over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea to accusations of unfair trade practices and support for protests in Hong Kong. But the answer to the “Why now?” question seems obvious: the approaching US election.

Danny Russel, who was Obama’s top East Asia expert in the National Security Council and then at the State Department, told the BBC that the new tensions with China are partly an effort to divert attention from Trump’s bungled response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his tanking poll numbers, and that this “has a wag the dog feel to it.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been going toe-to-toe with Trump and Secretary Pompeo in a potentially dangerous “tough on China” contest, which could prove difficult for the winner to walk back after the election.

Elections aside, there are two underlying forces at play in the current escalation of tensions, one economic and the other military. China’s economic miracle has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, and, until recently, Western corporations were glad to make the most of its huge pool of cheap labor, weak workplace and environmental protections, and growing consumer market. Western leaders welcomed China into their club of wealthy, powerful countries with little fuss about human and civil rights or China’s domestic politics.

So what has changed? U.S. high-tech companies like Apple, which were once only too glad to outsource American jobs and train Chinese contractors and engineers to manufacture their products, are finally confronting the reality that they have not just outsourced jobs, but also skills and technology. Chinese companies and highly skilled workers are now leading some of the world’s latest technological advances.

The global rollout of 5G cellular technology has become a flashpoint, not because the increase and higher frequency of EMF radiation it involves may be dangerous to human health, which is a real concern, but because Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE have developed and patented much of the critical infrastructure involved, leaving Silicon Valley in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up.

Also, if the U.S.’s 5G infrastructure is built by Huawei and ZTE instead of AT&T and Verizon, the US government will no longer be able to require “back doors” that the NSA can use to spy on us all, so it is instead stoking fears that China could insert its own back doors in Chinese equipment to spy on us instead. Left out of the discussion is the real solution: repeal the Patriot Act and make sure that all the technology we use in our daily lives is secure from the prying eyes of both the US and foreign governments.

China is investing in infrastructure all over the world. As of March 2020, a staggering 138 countries have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks. China’s international influence will only be enhanced by its success, and the US’s failure, in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the military front, the Obama and Trump administrations have both tried to “pivot to Asia” to confront China, even as the US military remains bogged down in the Middle East. With a war-weary public demanding an end to the endless wars that have served to justify record military spending for nearly 20 years, the US military-industrial complex has to find more substantial enemies to justify its continued existence and budget-busting costs. Lockheed Martin is not ready to switch from building billion-dollar warplanes on cost-plus contracts to making wind turbines and solar panels.

The only targets the US can find to justify a $740-billion military budget and 800 overseas military bases are its familiar old Cold War enemies: Russia and China. They both expanded their modest military budgets after 2011, when the US and its allies hijacked the Arab Spring to launch covert and proxy wars in Libya, where China had substantial oil interests, and Syria, a long-term Russian ally. But their increases in military spending were only relative. In 2019, China’s military budget was only $261 billion compared to the US’s $732 billion, according to SIPRI. The US still spends more on its military than the ten next largest military powers combined, including Russia and China.

Russian and Chinese military forces are almost entirely defensive, with an emphasis on advanced and effective anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems. Neither Russia nor China has invested in carrier strike groups to sail the seven seas or U.S.-style expeditionary forces to attack or invade countries on the other side of the planet. But they do have the forces and weapons they need to defend themselves and their people from any US attack and both are nuclear powers, making a major war against either of them a more serious prospect than the US military has faced anywhere since the Second World War.

China and Russia are both deadly serious about defending themselves, but we should not misinterpret that as enthusiasm for a new arms race or a sign of aggressive intentions on their part. It is US imperialism and militarism that are driving the escalating tensions. The sad truth is that 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War, the US military-industrial complex has failed to reimagine itself in anything but Cold War terms, and its “New” Cold War is just a revival of the old Cold War that it spent the last three decades telling us it already won.

“China Is Not an Enemy”

The US and China do not have to be enemies. Just a year ago, a hundred US business, political and military leaders signed a public letter to President Trump in the Washington Post entitled “China Is Not an Enemy.” They wrote that China is not “an economic enemy or an existential national security threat,” and US opposition “will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China’s role in world affairs.”

They concluded that, “US efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States’ international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations,” and that the US”could end up isolating itself rather than Beijing.”

That is precisely what is happening. Governments all over the world are collaborating with China to stop the spread of coronavirus and share the solutions with all who need them. The US must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet. Only by cooperating with other nations and international organizations can we stop the pandemic – and address the coronavirus-sparked economic meltdown gripping the world economy and the many challenges we must all face together if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

 

Top Senate Democrat says COVID-19 relief talks ‘moving in the right direction’

August 4, 2020

by Patricia Zengerle

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Negotiations between congressional Democrats and the White House on a new round of coronavirus relief have begun to move in the right direction, though the two sides remain far apart, the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat said on Tuesday.

After a week of almost daily negotiations, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have moved closer in several areas.

“We remain far apart on a number of issues. But we’re finally moving in the right direction,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “At the moment, the gap between our two parties in the negotiations is about priorities and about scale.”

As the four negotiators planned to meet again at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT) in the Capitol, differences remained on key issues, including unemployment benefits for workers made jobless by the epidemic, as well as liability protections for businesses and funding for schools, state and local governments and election security.

Mnuchin and Meadows were expected to meet first with Senate Republicans at a midday policy lunch.

Schumer blamed the lack of an agreement on Republican unwillingness to accept that the United States needs a robust response from Congress to meet the mounting health and economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 155,000 Americans.

Federal Reserve officials are urging Congress and the White House to help the struggling U.S. economy. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs during the crisis.

Congress passed more than $3 trillion in relief legislation early in the pandemic. But lawmakers missed a deadline last week to extend the $600 per week in enhanced unemployment payments that have played a key role in propping up the economy.

Democrats are pressing for another $3 trillion that would retain the $600 benefit and add nearly $1 trillion in assistance for state and local governments.

Senate Republicans, who have not taken part in the White House talks with Democrats, have proposed a $1 trillion package that would slash the unemployment payment to $200 a week and eventually move to 70% of wages.

Republicans say the $600 benefit – which is on top of state unemployment payments – discourages people from taking lower-paying jobs. A Fed official on Monday said there was little evidence to support that view.

Differences also remain on whether to extend a moratorium on housing evictions

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Writing by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone, Paul Simao and Dan Grebler

 

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Jill Stanek

Jill Stanek is a radical anti-abortion activist and nurse, national campaign chair of the anti-abortion organization the Susan B. Anthony List, and currently affiliated with Newsbusters and regular columnist for the WND. Yeah, “columnist for the WND” should really tell you all you need to know. As for her anti-abortion campaigning, Stanek is the kind of person who compares abortion to the Vietnam War, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the atrocities of the Taliban and says that she won’t be mourning the death of Nelson Mandela because, according to her, Mandela’s pro-choice record means he “engaged in mass genocide of his own innocent people” and “has the blood of preborn children on his hands.” But OK: we are willing to write those claims up as a matter of consistent application of some deranged moral principles.

What secures Stanek an entry in our Encyclopedia, however, is her relentless pushing of pseudoscience in the name of ideology. Stanek is for instance one of the main promoters of the utterly discredited idea that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. She does cite studies when she claims that there is a link, though from places like the pseudojournal JPANDS and with complete disregard for the quality of those studes or the fact that good studies on the link overwhelmingly show no link.

And just for the record: Stanek isn’t merely opposed to abortion; she also “opposes contraception, not only because some of its forms may cause abortions, but also – moreso – because the thinking behind contraception makes it the forerunner to abortion.” She bases her reasoning “on several Biblical concepts,” the foremost being “that God is always described in Scripture as the sole procreative decision-maker. To my knowledge, every incident in Scripture describing pregnancy or barrenness gives God complete credit. If that premise is true, who has the right to say no to God? Who can say they have a better grip on timing than God?” Just imagine where parallel reasoning would get you on virtually any other topic (she also fails to notice that if her premises were correct, contraception or not really shouldn’t matter either). She has also claimed that legalizing the purchase of Plan B emergency contraception over the counter would lead to more pedophilia because, well, she perceived the claim to be rhetorically effective, mostly. Stanek has, moreover, designated June 7 as “The Pill Kills Day” in honor of the Supreme Court’s Griswold v. Connecticut decision: According to Stanek, birth control pills can cause chemical abortions (another common myth from Stanek) but “radical pro-aborts don’t want you to know.” The information has been suppressed because “if women knew, some would feel morally obligated to refuse that contraceptive option. And that would mess up lucrative birth control pill sales, which nets pro-aborts hundreds of millions of dollars a year, as well as abortion sales from failed birth control pills.” This is, if nothing else, a good illustration of deranged conspiracy theorizing in action.

Stanek has also at least expressed sympathy with the anti-vaccine movement, having apparently bought into the “aborted fetal tissue” claim – it is nonsensical, of course, but Stanek predictably buys it: in her post “Vaccines made with fetal cells causing autism?” (Yes, Betteridge’s law at work, but Stanek isn’t really asking a question) she claims, based purely on meaningless speculation, that “aborted fetal tissue” in vaccines are a likely cause of autism and asserts that “[t]he conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the same sort of ideological culprits we see covering up the abortion-breast cancer link are also involved here.” The comparison is actually rather apt, but not in the way Stanek thinks, of course.

Diagnosis: Yes, this is the kind of mockery of reasoning that the term “wingnut science” is supposed to describe. Completely unable to distinguish facts and evidence from what she wishes were facts and evidence to support her agenda. And Stanek is a significant voice in certain wingnut circles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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