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TBR News August 9, 2019

Aug 09 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. August 9, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for August 9: “If Trump does anything in public to further any kind of a ban on firearms, he will lose a good part of his support in America. On the other hand,if he does nothing at all but babble, he will lose an even larger part of the voting public. He brought all of this on himself but given his behavior pattern, he will blame others for his lack of governance. The monkey house is now in power so enjoy it while it lasts.”

 

 

The Table of Contents

  • El Paso attack upends white nationalist normalization plan El Paso attack upends white nationalist normalization plan
  • ‘Dying of whiteness’: why racism is at the heart of America’s gun inaction
  • Mandatory National Service: A Bad Idea That Won’t Die
  • Why Trump’s America is more divided than ever
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

El Paso attack upends white nationalist normalization plan El Paso attack upends white nationalist normalization plan

August 8, 2019

by Nick Brown

Reuters

Two years ago, America’s white nationalist movement stunned the country. Neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, had turned deadly when a far-right protester drove a car through a crowd, killing one and injuring dozens. Some movement leaders regrouped. Instead of stoking outrage, they set out to build support with another tack: Looking normal.

The larger goal was what many white nationalists call “Phase 2” — gaining mainstream acceptance for far-right ideas widely rejected as repugnant and getting white nationalists into positions of influence. The normalization effort included softened rhetoric and social gatherings that, for many groups, would increasingly replace confrontational rallies.

The strategy is internally focused now — having families get together,” said alt-right blogger Brad Griffin, a self-avowed white nationalist from Montgomery, Alabama. He fondly recalled a river-tubing trip he organized in 2018 for friends who had attended a local white nationalist conference. The goal of such low-key gatherings, he said, is to spread far-right ideology away from the public spectacle of a public protest. “It’s a lot more fun to do that than to go out and tangle with Antifa” — members of America’s far-left “anti-fascist” movement — “and get hit with piss balloons in the street.”

Griffin spoke in an interview before last weekend’s massacre in El Paso, Texas — an event that has scrambled the calculus for the movement’s aspiring normalizers.

On Saturday, authorities say, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius shot and killed 22 people and wounded two dozen more shortly after a manifesto appeared online explaining his motivation and decrying a “Hispanic invasion” of the United States.

The El Paso attack has also put new pressure on a man some white nationalists praise as helping advance their movement: Donald Trump. The U.S. president has come under sustained criticism for his racially incendiary rhetoric since launching his candidacy in 2015 — including his repeated use of the word “invasion” to describe immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Monday, Trump issued his most forceful disavowal of white supremacism to date. “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said in response to the weekend’s shootings. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”

After Charlottesville, the lie-low approach was seen as a necessity by some in the movement. Many white nationalist groups were sued and lost access to social media, which has caused them to avoid public confrontations, said Heidi Beirich, who studies far-right groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization that tracks extremists.

“We haven’t seen many rallies since Charlottesville,” she said. The combination of bad press, prosecutions and lost access to social media, has “depressed people in the movement” and created a sense that “maybe the softer approach is the way to go.”

The shootings, and Trump’s repudiation, leave the normalizers in a difficult, perhaps impossible spot. Their gambit was always a stretch.

A Reuters photojournalist has observed the approach up close — at a children’s nursery in a “church” run by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK); a restaurant-and-bar that caters to white supremacists in Georgia; a barbecue held in Arkansas by the ShieldWall Network, a self-avowed neo-Nazi group with dozens of members. Even as they described their hopes of mainstreaming, many members of these and other groups also voiced the violent tropes that animate the movement.

One is the so-called Great Replacement conspiracy theory, common in white nationalist circles, which holds that leftist elites are engineering the replacement of white majorities globally through policies that encourage mass migrations as white birth rates decline. The manifesto tied to the El Paso shooting referenced the replacement theory in explaining why the shooter chose to kill Hispanic people.

Asked in a May interview how whites could regain demographic dominance, ShieldWall’s leader, Billy Roper, told Reuters that promoting a higher birth rate among white people is helpful, but “bullets” would be faster. Roper said his organization doesn’t advocate anything illegal but that he “couldn’t disagree” with the goals of the mass shooter who murdered 51 people at two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March. That killer, too, had cited the replacement theory as a motive.

In a phone interview after the Texas massacre, Roper said he didn’t support the killings. But the victims, Roper said, “were just pawns in the Jewish game of demographic replacement of whites,” adding that such “cultural conflicts” are an “unfortunate fact of modern life” in an increasingly diverse nation moving closer to racial “balkanization.”

The strategy of trying to couch such extreme views in mainstream rhetoric is not new. One of the highest-profile examples of the normalization tack is that of David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard who traded the klan’s signature white robes and pointy hats for a business suit, adopted more mainstream conservative talking points, and made the runoff election for Louisiana governor in 1991. Duke lost by a wide margin but drew support from about half the state’s white voters.

The normalization effort is also not universal. Some far-right groups are still known for confrontation, including the Proud Boys, who last October fought with people protesting a Republican Club event in New York City.

In Draketown, Georgia, Pat Lanzo runs a restaurant-and-bar that white supremacists have claimed as their own. Lanzo insists the Georgia Peach Oyster Bar is merely a celebration of free speech

“We’re not racist,” he said. “We hate everyone equally.”

The decor inside his bar is filled with the kind of racist tropes that remain a hard sell with mainstream America. His menus feature a drawing of a Klan member relaxing on a hammock made of two lynched black corpses tied together at the feet. And Lanzo has rented his property to neo-Nazis and klan members for cross burnings, a traditional show of force by the KKK in the American South.

The image-scrubbing by today’s white nationalists belies a long history of violence by far-right ideologues. In the ten years ending in 2018, murderers motivated by far-right ideology took the lives of 124 people in 62 incidents, according to the U.S. Extremist Crime Database, a collaboration of criminal justice researchers from multiple universities. The statistics include white supremacists but also those with other far-right agendas that are not focused on race, such as anti-government militants.

Thomas Robb, the national director of The Knights Party, a group formerly named the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said the movement should think beyond confrontations and rallies.

“When the rally’s over, what do you do?” said Robb in an interview before the El Paso shootings. “Our goal isn’t so much to get membership, but influence. When people come to our website, they see responsible people who aren’t using the ‘N word’ in every sentence.” Instead, Robb said, the aim is to “speak like Corporate America” as a way to make far-right ideas more palatable to a broader audience.

White nationalists have always debated whether putting “reasonable clothing” on their movement would get them further than street clashes and violence, said Mike German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, a left-leaning policy institute. But the approach appears to have gained momentum under Trump in part because of the president’s racially divisive rhetoric, said German, who previously spent years undercover with white nationalists as an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“Before, white nationalists were trying to shove their way into the mainstream,” German said. “Now, they’re being invited in.”

It’s far from clear whether many true believers are ready for life in the mainstream.

This past April in Russellville, Arkansas, a lakeside college town, three members of the ShieldWall Network gathered to rent a houseboat and cruise around Lake Dardanelle. A Reuters photojournalist went with them.

Moods were light; they toasted one another with Fireball whiskey shots, laughed when one of them dropped his phone in the lake and cooed as another cuddled with his pregnant wife. Later that night, the group would initiate a new recruit, Nicholas Holloway, and burn wooden swastikas.

Two months later, in June, Holloway and two other ShieldWall members on the boat that day — Julian Calfy and John Carollo — were arrested for allegedly beating a gay man and holding a gun to his head after luring him to Calfy’s home with a false dating advertisement, according to police reports. Calfy remains in jail, while the other two members are free on bail, according to a spokesman for the Pope County, Arkansas, Sheriff’s Office. Each is charged with third-degree battery, first-degree terroristic threatening and first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the attack.

Neither the defendants nor their attorneys could be reached for comment.

Griffin, the alt-right blogger, condemned the El Paso shooting in stronger terms than other extremists who spoke to Reuters, calling it and other mass shootings by avowed white nationalists “insane tragedies.”

At the same time, Griffin said he supported resegregation of the races, echoing one of the core principles of the manifesto that authorities tied to the Texas shooter.

The continuing violence, he said, undermines any attempt by the movement to gain more mainstream acceptance. At this point, he said, most white nationalists would rather just “stay out of the debate.”

Writing by Nick Brown, Editing by Brian Thevenot

 

 

‘Dying of whiteness’: why racism is at the heart of America’s gun inaction

The country’s refusal to pass new gun control laws has everything to do with defending racial hierarchy, says author Jonathan Metzl

August 9, 2019

by Lois Beckett in San Francisco

The Guardian

Why does the United States refuse to pass new gun control laws? It’s the question that people around the world keep asking.

According to Dr Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist and sociologist at Vanderbilt University, white supremacy is the key to understanding America’s gun debate. In his new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, Metzl argues that the intensity and polarization of the US gun debate makes much more sense when understood in the context of whiteness and white privilege.

White Americans’ attempt to defend their status in the racial hierarchy by opposing issues like gun control, healthcare expansion or public school funding ends up injuring themselves, as well as hurting people of color, Metzl

White Americans are “dying for a cause”, he writes, even if their form of death is often “slow, excruciating, and invisible”.

Metzl spoke to the Guardian about his analysis this March, and again this week, following what appeared to be a white nationalist terror attack on Latino families doing back-to-school shopping at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead. The conversations have been condensed and edited.

You argue that America’s debate over gun control laws and gun violence makes a lot more sense if you actually understand it as a debate over race and whiteness in America. Why is that?

In my research I look at the history and the social meanings of how guns came to be these particularly charged social symbols. So many aspects of American gun culture are really entwined with whiteness and white privilege.

Carrying a gun in public has been coded as a white privilege. Advertisers have literally used words like “restoring your manly privilege” as a way of selling assault weapons to white men. In colonial America, landowners could carry guns, and they bestowed that right on to poor whites in order to quell uprisings from “Negroes” and Indians. John Brown’s raid was about weapons. Scholars have written about how the Ku Klux Klan was aimed at disarming African Americans. When African Americans started to carry guns in public – think about Malcolm X during the civil rights era – all of a sudden, the second amendment didn’t apply in many white Americans’ minds. When Huey Newton and the Black Panthers tried to arm themselves, everyone suddenly said, “We need gun control.”

When states like Missouri changed their laws to allow open carry of firearms, there were parades of white Americans who would carry big long guns through congested areas of downtown St Louis, who would go into places like Walmart and burrito restaurants carrying their guns, and they were coded as patriots. At the same time, there were all the stories about African American gun owners who would go to Walmart and get tackled and shot.What moments in the past few years have demonstrated to you most clearly that it’s impossible to understand America’s gun control debate without talking about whiteness?

Who gets to carry a gun in public? Who is coded as a patriot? Who is coded as a threat, or a terrorist or a gangster? What it means to carry a gun or own a gun or buy a gun – those questions are not neutral. We have 200 years of history, or more, defining that in very racial terms.

The period after a mass shooting is often very telling. When the shooter is white, the context is the individual narrative – this individual disordered white mind. When the shooter is black or brown, all of a sudden the disorder is culture. The narrative we tell then is about terrorism or gangs.

Then there’s the quiet everyday level. There’s nothing more painful than sitting in a room with family members who have lost loved ones to suicide. I’d talk to people who had lost husbands, wives, kids, parents to gun suicide, and they would come to the interview, often, bringing their guns. And I would ask them: did it change how you think about the gun? And they’d argue it’s never the gun’s fault and they’d need the gun in case an invader would attack them. This narrative about protection against the radicalized invader was so profound. They were almost nervous not bringing their guns.

And it was very much coded in racial terms. A number of people I talked to in my book basically said, I’m getting this gun because of Ferguson [the city where the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in 2015 sparked sustained public protests led by black residents]. These were people who lived 300 miles from Ferguson, in entirely white areas of rural America. When I tried to pin them down about it, they would say, “This could happen anywhere. I have to protect myself and my property.”

I talked to a number of people in African American communities, and for them, this meaning of guns being like a privilege was completely absent. They had very ambiguous or mixed feelings about weapons, because, for a lot of people I spoke with in St Louis they symbolized, “Carry a gun, get shot by the police.”

Given how important you think white privilege is to understanding gun policy, should people be talking or messaging about the gun control debate differently?

I’m not imagining that MSNBC talking more about “how guns are proof that you’re racist” is going to change this debate. The point I’m making is more a diagnostic one than a prescriptive one. I’m saying that until we understand the racial tensions that underlie the gun debate, we’re going to keep asking ourselves why this issue is so intractable.

When we talk about guns and people end up polarized, it’s not just because we disagree about gun politics, it’s because gun politics symbolizes a far greater series of tensions in this country. When we’re talking about guns, we’re also talking about race.

During a talk at a bookstore in Washington DC, a white nationalist group reportedly interrupted you in protest. What happened?What connection do you see between white Americans’ daily choices about gun politics and the violent attack we saw in El Paso?I think we run a risk of conflating all gun owners with mass shooters. I’ve gotten comments on Twitter about people being mentally ill just for wanting to own an AR-15. I don’t see those as productive. Many of the interventions that we’re suggesting, like background checks, are going to have an impact on gun owners. It’s better off if we have a conversation with them. I think that pathologizing all gun owners gets us further away from any kind of solution that might bring people together.

At the same time, part of what I’m tracking in my research is the politics of racial resentment, a particular form of anti-immigration, anti-government, pro-gun politics that’s been represented in America for a long time. These mass shooters, they’re not coming out of nowhere. They’re a very extreme amplification of the kinds of ideologies that are playing out in a much more quotidian way in middle America.

Did you come away from your research concluding that American gun culture is inherently toxic? Or are there other dimensions to gun ownership and gun culture?

I do think there are many positive things about gun culture. My argument is a lot more centrist than I think people realize.

It’s not just about supremacy and oppression. It’s also about history and tradition and generational meanings. I came away from this research very respectful of gun ownership traditions in many parts of the country, and things people were telling me about guns suggesting safety and protection, about the community networks that gun ownership lets people forge. For many people living in rural America, if anything happens to them, they are far away from support systems, police and other help. I think there are plenty of rational aspects to respecting the tradition of gun ownership.

I have a lot of colleagues and interview subjects and people I’m still having conversations with who are pro-second amendment, people who don’t want mass shootings, and don’t want death. There are a lot of people who are in the middle about this on both sides, but because there’s so many actors that benefit from polarization, everyone from Twitter to the NRA, there’s no benefit to compromising.

But I can list plenty of examples where I think gun policies are not about respecting gun traditions, they’re about really pushing the envelope on seeing how far we can get. I’m not saying that people’s guns should be taken away. I don’t agree that there should be guns in bars and college classrooms. I don’t think that people who are 18 should be carrying assault rifles.

My dad is a Holocaust survivor and he and my grandparents escaped Nazi Austria. It took them about 10 years to get into this country and they were only allowed because of the bravery of people who stood up and vouched for them. One of those people was in the audience, a man in his 80s who volunteered to be my father’s host. As I was saying this, I look up to the back of the store, and there are nine men and one woman coming in with bullhorns, and chanting. They were saying things like “This land is our land” and “invaders out”. They commandeered the talk for about five or 10 minutes. At first people thought it was a joke. And then they got scared. The bookstore is right next door to Comet Pizza, where the Pizzagate shooting happened. And then people, everyday people, stood up and shouted them down. Then they left. It was very well rehearsed. They had a videographer there.

 

 

Mandatory National Service: A Bad Idea That Won’t Die

Sorry Pete Buttigieg, but government conscription is unconstitutional and poorly thought through.

August 8, 2019

by Doug Bandow

The American Cnservative

Another presidential election, another proposal for mandatory national “service.” This time, two Democratic candidates hope to turbocharge their otherwise dubious electoral prospects by proposing to draft all young people to spend a year or two working for Washington’s political elite.

That’s not how they put it, of course. But that is what the national service movement is about.

Service, real service to real people, is baked into Americans’ DNA. Alexis de Tocqueville, the great French classical liberal, cited civic activism as one of the new republic’s distinguishing characteristics in his famous Democracy in America. He wrote: “I have seen Americans making great and sincere sacrifices for the key common good, and a hundred times I have noticed that, when needs be, they almost always gave each other faithful support.” The resulting vibrant civil society was very different from the enervating monarchies and aristocracies that still dominated Europe. This commitment to service permeated the nation—transforming people, creating institutions, and strengthening America.

But some commentators and politicians view private action as inadequate. Instead, they believe, “service” should be organized, planned, and managed by the state. The fount of modern thought on national service remains Looking Backward, the 1888 publication of lawyer and journalist Edward Bellamy, which envisioned compulsory employment for men and women between the ages of 21 and 45.

A couple decades later, philosopher William James issued an essay, “The Moral Equivalent of War.” In it, he argued that “the martial virtues, although originally gained by the race through war, are absolute and permanent human goods,” and that national service provided a method for instilling those values during peacetime. He wrote: “Our gilded youths would be drafted off to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas.”

Today his essay is almost entirely forgotten, except for the title. But a host of philosophers, policy analysts, and politicians proffer their own very different proposals for “the moral equivalent of war.” These plans rarely reflect a shared consensus of the national or public interest. More often, they involve blatant social engineering for ideological ends. For instance, sociologist Margaret Mead advocated a universal program that “would replace for girls, even more than for boys, marriage as the route away from the parental home.”

Compulsion was essential to such proposals. In 1979, the Committee for the Study of National Service declared:

International comparisons also fire some American imaginations. Millions of young people serve social needs in China as a routine part of growing up, many [are] commanded to leave the crowded cities and to assist in the countryside.  Castro fought illiteracy and mosquitoes in Cuba with units of youth. Interesting combinations of education, work, and service to society are a part of the experience of youth in Israel, Jamaica, Nigeria, Tanzania, and other nations.  The civic spirit being imbued in youth elsewhere in the world leaves some Americans wondering and worrying about Saturday-night-fever, unemployment, the new narcissism, and other afflictions of American youth.

Admittedly, seeing Mao’s Red Guards as a model for America appears dated at best. But current national service advocates similarly seek to transform society. They envision their program providing job training and employment, encouraging social equality, promoting tolerance and civic-mindedness, expanding access to college, engendering patriotism, and addressing ubiquitous “unmet social needs.” The idea sounds great. But in practice it is dangerous nonsense.

First to join the ranks of national service advocates was South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who complained about America’s lack of “social cohesion.” What to do? Why, force everyone to work together, of course! Voila, “social cohesion”! In his defense, Buttigieg was just ambiguous enough to allow himself to wriggle out of a political tight spot. He explained on MSNBC: “One thing we could do that would change that [inadequate social cohesion] would be to make it, if not legally obligatory, but certainly a social norm that anybody, after they’re 18, spends a year in national service.”

The problem is that a lack of compulsion ensures that Buttigieg’s plan will fail. There will always be 18-year-olds who will resist even a purported “social norm.” Yet for national service advocates, such resisters are precisely those most in need of civilizing “service,” meaning political projects mandated by the social engineers in Washington. Those suffering from “Saturday night fever, unemployment, the new narcissism, and other afflictions of American youth” don’t realize that they are sick and therefore must be forcibly cured.

John Delaney would unashamedly drop any ambiguity. Polling at less than 1 percent makes presidential candidates say the damnedest things. He tweeted: “It’s time to bring the country together, to restore our sense of shared purpose and rebuild a common and inclusive national destiny. That’s why we need mandatory national service.” Every 18-year-old would have to work for Uncle Sam for at least a year, “no exceptions.”

It is a remarkably dumb idea. First, there’s the constitutional problem—the 13th Amendment clearly proscribes “involuntary servitude,” the foundation of Delaney’s program. Moreover, as worthy as it might be to encourage others to “begin their adult lives serving their country and working alongside people from different backgrounds,” that is a bad reason for what amounts to enslavement. National service requires punishing people—presumably by arresting and jailing them—for resisting the state’s social engineering.

Under Delaney’s plan, conscripts, conveniently excluding people his or Buttigieg’s age, would choose between serving in the military, “a new expanded Community Service program,” “a new National infrastructure Apprenticeship program,” and “a newly created Climate Corps.” Conceptually, there’s nothing particularly new in his proposal. But subjugating people to provide cheap labor for politically inspired projects is bad both in principle and practice.

First, the military doesn’t want conscripts or short-termers. The armed services learned during the Vietnam War that those who don’t want to be there tend to develop discipline problems, have little interest in training and education, refuse to take greater responsibility, and won’t re-up and populate a career NCO corps. Moreover, one year of military service is a spectacular waste: just as someone gets trained, he or she leaves.

Second, “community service”—cleaning hospital bedpans, shelving library books, and whatever else moves interest groups and legislators—is valuable but not national, and moral but only if not coerced. There is no such thing as compulsory compassion. It is hard to think of a worse abuse of government power than to arrest and jail someone for not showing up to “tutor disadvantaged children,” one of Delaney’s approved projects.

Third, “infrastructure apprenticeship,” meaning cleaning up parks and improving federal buildings, is not “service” in any meaningful sense. The government can easily hire workers for such jobs. Coercing people to perform such tasks isn’t going to morally uplift anyone.

Fourth, the “Climate Corps” is more of the same, namely assisting “in clean energy projects, including solar installation, improving building efficiency, developing community gardens, and increasing awareness about sustainable practices.” Apparently running for president has left Delaney almost completely disconnected from American life. Companies send people door-to-door to sell products that cut energy use. Firms fiercely compete to install solar panels on private homes and in commercial operations. People freely create community gardens in their neighborhoods without the assistance of federal conscripts. And there’s plenty of lobbying for “sustainable practices.” You don’t need to threaten to arrest people to force them into the PR business.

Perhaps the biggest problem with national service is that neither Delaney nor Buttigieg nor anyone else seems to understand the opportunity costs. That is, drafting people to plant gardens, pick up trash, smile at hospital patients, manage food kitchens, and improve federal facilities costs whatever else the draftees would otherwise be doing: completing their education, helping family members in need, contributing to their communities in their own way, preparing for economically and socially valuable careers, and otherwise using their skills to better meet human needs. Having politicians assign people to an arbitrary mix of tasks, virtually none of which are vital in any sense, is guaranteed to be a grand waste of money, time, and talent.

Delaney wants to “restore our sense of shared purpose and a common and inclusive national destiny.” That’s a wonderful objective with which most people would agree. But corralling millions into his pet programs and jailing recalcitrant 18-year-olds who don’t share his vision is no answer to anything. Such a program—with older men and women safely beyond its reach, free to blame young people for America’s problems—would breed cynicism and hostility, not “service and patriotism.”

America faces serious challenges. But most of them have no political solution. “We need big transformational change to stop America from dividing any further,” argues Delaney. Then let him persuade his fellow citizens to voluntarily join him in making that transformational change. Americans need more service, not national “service.”

 

Why Trump’s America is more divided than ever

The sorting of Republicans and Democrats along racial, ethnic and religious lines fuels toxic partisanship in the US.

August 9, 2019

by Bob Abeshouse

Al Jazeera

Hyper-partisan politics in the United States were on display in July when former Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees to answer questions about his investigation of President Donald Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.Democrats questioned Mueller, the former FBI director, about detailed evidence presented in his final report that Trump attempted to obstruct the investigation. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, underscored that “knowingly accepting assistance from a foreign government” is disloyal and unethical, if not a crime

But at the hearings, Republicans repeatedly claimed that the Mueller report exonerated the president and that the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016 were corrupt. They assailed the value of the Mueller investigation, the money spent on it, and the motives of the people conducting it.

For many Democrats, there are strong grounds for impeaching Trump. But with Republicans remaining firmly in his corner, the sharp differences over impeachment are becoming symbolic of the deep partisan divide in the US.

John Dean, the former White House counsel whose 1973 testimony helped seal the fate of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate cover-up, believes that “history is repeating itself, the Trump administration is in fast competition with what happened in the Nixon administration.”

When Dean appeared before Congress in June, he warned that “there’s too much polarisation, you sense it in the questioning here and in the shots that get taken at witnesses.”

Traditionalist vs progressive: Clash over values

Trump exacerbates political polarisation. But the toxic partisanship in the US today is a result of a social sorting process that has given rise to Democratic and Republican parties made up of distinctive racial, ethnic and religious groups.

Lee Drutman, a senior fellow in the political reform programme at the think-tank New America, argues that the US is “at the conclusion of basically a 60-year political journey and it’s a disaster because right now the parties have divided over fundamental visions of the national character.”

“The Republican party basically sees the true national identity of America as in the past, a time when America was a white, Christian nation. It’s a traditionalist vision. And then we have another party, Democratic party, that has a very different vision of America. It’s a more secular place, it’s more progressive, and it celebrates diversity.”

This clash over values has led to the sorting of the parties along geographic lines. In the 2016 election, Trump won decisively in the 2,300 counties that make up small-town and rural US. But in cities, Hillary Clinton beat Trump in a landslide.

North Carolina, a microcosm of political division in the US, is a good place to go to learn about the social and economic causes of the urban-rural divide, and its relationship to partisanship and incivility in the US.

“In some areas of the state it’s very hard for a Democrat to get elected and now in the cities, it’s very hard for a Republican to get elected,” political author and reporter Rob Christensen points out. He covered politics in the state for 45 years at the Raleigh News and Observer.

“In the metropolitan areas is a group of people that tend to be highly educated, who are more moderate to liberal in their views. It’s white and black. The rural areas are becoming whiter and older and the metropolitan areas are becoming more diverse.”

287g and ‘Trump’s deportation force’

Eight percent of North Carolina’s population is foreign-born, 51 percent from Latin America.

Manolo Betancur, who owns a bakery in North Carolina’s largest city Charlotte, immigrated from Colombia 19 years ago.

Betancur got involved in mobilising the Latino vote for Democrats in the 2016 election. He says that since Trump was elected, things have changed a great deal for the Latino community in the city.

“They are destroying families, taking fathers and mothers away from their kids,” he says.

After Trump was elected, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) became more aggressive in deporting irregular immigrants. In North Carolina, 59 percent of the Latino population is US-born. But there are about 100,000 undocumented immigrants in Charlotte.

At the time, the local sheriff in Charlotte was working with ICE under a programme called 287g, so Betancur and a group of local activists got involved in an effort to elect a new sheriff.

“287g basically expands the reach of ICE,” said Stefania Arteaga, an organiser with the Charlotte immigrant advocacy group Comunidad Colectiva. “It deputises local sheriff’s deputies to place foreign nationals into removal proceedings.”

In the run-up to the county sheriff election in May 2018, members of Comunidad Colectiva and other progressive groups hit the streets with a scorecard highlighting the differences between the incumbent Sheriff Irwin Carmichael and his challengers.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also ran radio commercials advertising that Carmichael’s challengers “pledge to stop working with Trump’s deportation force.”

Garry McFadden, a homicide detective for 27 years, won, becoming the first African American sheriff ever in Mecklenburg County, which encompasses Charlotte. On his first day in office, he ended his department’s involvement in 287g.

“We already had communities with mistrust; no matter what happens in a community, the community says ‘you do not tell the police’, and 287g just compounds the problem because of fear that you will be deported or you’ll be targeted by ICE,” McFadden says.

McFadden says he also ended his department’s involvement in 287g because “a lot of people got caught up for small crimes. Driving with no license, seatbelt violations. As long as you got into the criminal justice system you were part of the deportation process.”

ICE responded to McFadden’s decision to end cooperation by mounting an aggressive enforcement effort in Charlotte, accusing him of being soft on crime.

Betancur says his bakery became a target for ICE action. People were stopped by ICE agents all around the bakery, discouraging people from coming to his establishment, he says.

McFadden and other African American sheriffs in North Carolina’s largest urban counties, who won elections in 2018 because of their opposition to 287g, are now battling legislation pushed by Republicans that would force them to cooperate with ICE or be removed from office.

Like Republicans in Washington, DC, Republicans in North Carolina representing rural districts have been accused of fuelling partisan tensions by pushing policies on immigration and other issues opposed by urban residents.

Trump’s stance and rhetoric on immigration helped elect him and are among the issues that really divide Democrats and Republicans, Christensen notes.

“There is a very sharp difference about whether it’s good for the country to have a lot of people coming from Latin American countries or it is somehow eroding America’s authenticity,” he says. “Some of it’s just tribal, these are not people that look like me or the kind of people I grew up with. In some cases, it is economic competition or at least the view that there’s economic competition.”

Economic decline and the urban-rural divide

Christensen believes that economics is at the root of the urban-rural divide in North Carolina and the US as a whole.

“We have one half of the state that’s dynamic and it’s growing fast,” he says. “And the other half, you have a dying North Carolina. The rural areas are really struggling with economic decline. And so, of course, you’re going to have a huge urban-rural divide if that’s the case.”

An area of North Carolina that has struggled economically in recent decades is in the western part of the state, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. For most of the 20th century, you could find textile mills and furniture factories in the region’s small towns rivalling industry in the American Midwest. But that began to change in the 1980s.

The town of Valdese in Burke County had some 7,000 people working there daily in the early 1980s. Today it is closer to 2,000, according to Chuck Moseley, who works to bring new jobs and businesses to the town as the head of the Valdese Economic Development Corporation.

The first big economic hit Valdese took came around 1982 when the main plant of the Alba-Waldensian textile company shut down. At one time, the company ranked fifth in the world in the hosiery business, according to Moseley.

Valdese and the neighbouring town of Lenoir in Caldwell County also lost thousands of jobs in the furniture industry due to imports from Asia and the outsourcing of production to the region after China was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.

We were so focused on furniture and on textiles, people weren’t trained to do anything else,” Moseley says.

The 2008 recession also hit the area hard. Unemployment has come down since then but the problem, according to Moseley, is that too many of the new jobs that are available are “barely above the minimum wage.”

Moseley says that people in his community blame trade deals – the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and China’s admittance to the WTO – for their economic problems. And he says there is resentment that the establishment and politicians let ordinary people down.

“At the coffee shop, that was the talk,” Moseley says. That the politicians and company executives “are more interested in the dollar from Wall Street than they are the people that are making the furniture and the families they’re raising in this country.”

Drutman points out that, in the US, “political polarisation and inequality have run together for the last 40 years, as the country has grown more unequal, the parties have grown further apart.”

The two trends have gone together, Drutman says, because “as polarisation increases, so does political gridlock, and it becomes harder for the political system to respond to growing inequality. Inequality also creates more resentments which then get channelled into partisan polarisation.”

In 2016, Trump targeted hard-hit small-town industrial areas in North Carolina, promising to stem the loss of jobs and bring them back. He received 67 percent of the vote in Burke County and 73 percent in Caldwell County, record levels of support for a Republican presidential candidate.

“When Donald Trump talks about American carnage as he did in his inaugural speech, he is talking about places like Caldwell County and Lenoir,” Christensen says.

“It resonates with those people because there’s been an emptying out of those manufacturing jobs. You’re seeing a decline in their whole civic culture that’s going on there. That’s why you have these really deep-seated problems like increases in suicide, and opioid use, and out of wedlock births. And it’s not just those areas but all rural North Carolina and a lot of rural America.”

Trump and the religious right

The appeal of right-wing populism in small-town and rural areas left behind by economic change plays a major role in America’s political divisions today.

But there is also a critical cultural dimension, according to Stephen Harris, a local newspaper columnist and resident of Elkin, a small town about an hour up the road from Valdese.

“In recent times we’ve had very stark choices between right and left and people here appreciate the traditional values that we see embodied in the right,” Harris says. “We don’t like some of the things that we hear from the big cities and we certainly appreciate and uphold the Bible and the morals that it teaches us. These things are still very important and we don’t want that to change.”

Harris says that evangelical Christianity is very strong in western North Carolina, along with support for Trump.

“President Trump supports or appears to support the traditional American values that are so important here,” Harris says. “We’re seeing things that our parents would never dream would happen in America such as abortion and same-sex marriage.”

White evangelical Christians represent 26 percent of the US electorate. They are Trump’s most loyal bloc of support, and he has advanced their agenda on relations with Israel, conservative judges, abortion, and LGBTQ rights.

Lilliana Mason, author of the recent book Uncivil Agreement, which examines the causes of polarisation in the US, says that “the divide between white Democrats and Republicans is really now between Christians and people who are not religious at all.”

Mason argues that the sorting of the parties along religious lines also fuels extreme partisanship in the US. “In the 80s and 90s we saw the religious right become involved in politics and they chose to unite with the Republican party which means that now we wrapped religion into partisanship as well,” she says. “And evangelical Christians hadn’t really been involved in politics before.”

Trump’s economic message also resonated in Elkin, which lost a textile mill that was the linchpin of the local economy.

Sara Carter, a friend of Harris’s who worked at the mill, says “they’re getting different things to come in, wineries and vineyards, and things are coming around now, that’s bringing some tourists in. But I don’t think it will ever completely recover.”

While rural America struggles, Trump has stoked partisan tensions with misleading claims about Democratic support for undocumented immigrants. At rallies, he has said that Democrats want to “sign them up for free healthcare, free welfare, free education, and for the right to vote.”

Louise Darnell, like other Elkin residents, agrees with the president on immigration policy. “They’re illegals, they should not take what is ours, what we have earned,” she says. “I think there should be very stringent laws and policies to keep them from taking our resources.”

Reverend Graham, the son of the Christian evangelist Billy Graham, participated in Trump’s inauguration and is a vocal critic of Democrats

He believes that Trump won the presidency because of divine intervention and that only God can bridge the political divide in the US. “I think if all of us, Democrats and Republicans would turn our faces back to God and ask for his help I think we can come through these problems very easily,” he says.

The morality of a woman’s right to choose, or someone’s right to marry whom they want, didn’t seem to carry much weight with Graham. When asked if he was saying that the “only morality that matters is the morality of the Bible,” he said, “yes.”

But Reverend William Barber II, who launched the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina, takes issue with Graham’s interpretation of the Bible. “The false moral narrative of religious nationalism and white evangelicalism seeks to make things ok as long as you’re against gay people, for praying in school, against women’s right to choose, for guns and for tax cuts,” he says.

‘It’s time to fight for the heart and soul of this democracy’

Barber is now spearheading a new effort, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “You got 62 million people working for less than $15 an hour and some have to get food stamps and live in cars because they don’t make a living wage,” he says.

“Our country cannot stand and continue to stand with that kind of gross inequality. So we’re saying it’s time for us to come together to fight for the heart and soul of this democracy.”

The extreme partisanship in the US has people in Charlotte worried that hosting the Republican Convention next year will be much different from when Democrats gathered here in 2012. “It’s going to bring something totally different. Totally different temperatures of America from 2012 to 2020,” Sheriff McFadden says.

Asked if he fears political divisions could lead to violence in the US, McFadden answers, “It will. I know it will.”

Christensen thinks that the US may have become so divided that it is no longer capable of safeguarding its democracy by impeaching a corrupt president as envisioned by the writers of the nation’s Constitution.

“I don’t think Richard Nixon would be impeached in today’s environment,” he says. “I think people would essentially rally around Nixon along partisan lines

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

August 9, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

 

Conversation No. 19

Date: Thursday, June 27, 1996

Commenced: 9:30 AM CST

Concluded: 9:45 AM CST

 

GD: Good morning, Robert.

RTC: And to you, Gregory.

GD: Do you have some time now or could I get back to you later?

RTC: Now is just fine. What’s on your mind?

GD: You had been speaking of the overall CIA organizational control in certain domestic areas. I’ve been making rough notes and I would like to get a bit more from you.

RTC: I don’t mind discussing these matters with you, Gregory, but I must ask you to be very, very careful about whom you discuss these things with. Do not, I beg you, ever tell Tom Kimmel about what you and I discuss. He would run to his superiors so fast he would make Jesse Owens look like a paraplegic.

GD: No, no, I wouldn’t even consider that. I know about him. My assurances on all of this. You see, sometime, I might like to upgrade the Müller books and since he worked for you in D.C., some detailed background might be in order. If I put in enough detail, it would shock the brass there into comparative silence. They wouldn’t have to get their paid rats to squeal about me being a fraud or worse.

RTC: OK. Just so we understand each other. These pissheads keep calling me to warn me about how horrible you are and I really don’t want to keep hanging up on them.

GD: Can they make trouble for you, Robert? If so…

RTC: No, retired old crock as I am, I could wipe them out with one phone call and they know it. While we’re on the subject, I have made it very clear that if they overtly go after you, they will have me to answer to.

GD: Thanks for the support. I must tell you that I always wear a bulletproof vest but on my back. That’s where I need it, believe me.

RTC: (Laughter) Ah, well, Gregory, welcome to the club. Now what were you interested in discussing?

GD: All right. Fine. Here we go. We have spoken…or rather you have…about the size and complexity of the CIA. From its humble beginnings as a sort of digest of foreign intelligence for the President. And now, it’s huge. And you discussed the press and business and so on. How great is the overall power or control and how obvious is is? Do you have agents in the local Post Office for instance?

RTC: No, not that finely tuned. As you said, we started out small and ended up big. That’s the way of bureaucracies. Expand or die. Old Hoover hated us and tried his best to take us over but he failed. There were more of us that there were of him and while initially we dealt only with foreign matters, as a matter of pure survival, we turned our eyes and attention to the domestic market. Hoover was in a constant attack mode, whispering, rumor spreading, attempts at internal spying on us, aggravated turf wars and so on.  We not only had to get around him, and did so by being more than useful to the President and also, note this Gregory, by expanding and getting more power. These things have a life of their own but with increasing power comes increasing omnipotence. Eventually, we did an end run on Hoover, although we continued to work with him but very gingerly, and then we moved with caution into the domestic business and political field. For both security and, I might add, profit. I was in charge of business contacts as it were and often a CEO would come to me complaining that this or that country was interfering with their business. Could I help? Of course I would try and if the interference was bad enough, we would try to help our friend by replacing the troublemaking government or president, or king, involved. We justified this by telling the President or his top people that the target country, or president or king was a current serious threat to the security of the United States. In order to support our thesis, we went to one of our wholly-owned think tanks like the RAND people and have them prepare a supportive paper on order. This I would look at and make suitable changes if needed and forward it to our man, or men as it were, on the staff of the New York Times followed by a personal call to the publisher or senior editor and hey presto, the very next day a wonderful story would be on the front page of that influential paper.

GD: Above the fold?

RTC: Yes, above the fold. On the upper right. And the president and his people would see this just before we paid him a solemn visit with our RAND evaluation added to our own. It never failed and pretty soon, the public would learn that the Shah of Iran was running away or that this or that tinhorn dictator like Trujillo got snuffed by what we liked to call ‘dissident internal elements.’

GD: I knew about Guatemala from my uncle. The family had connections with Grace and United Fruit…

RTC: Well, you know what I mean. You know, this usually works but in one case, it did not. We were asked by our mob friends to get rid of Battista in Cuba who was shaking them down more than usual so we were happy to oblige fellow workers in the vineyard of the Lord. Unfortunately, one of our people put Fidel Castro forward as a brilliant reformer and out went Battista and in went Fidel. Of course we do not talk about that.

GD: What happened to the careless agent?

RTC: We don’t talk about that, either.

GD: Robert, have you heard about the joys of finely ground glass? I mean ground in a pestle until it’s like face powder, not gravel.

RTC: Oh, yes, indeed I have. It destroys someone careless enough to eat something the stuff is mixed into. But it takes quite a bit of time before the arteries give way. I don’t recommend it for emergency situations. Still, shooting someone is so public. Better the heart attack, don’t you think?

GD: Yes. A French medical fellow originally developed the drug and Müller got it. Gave it to the CIA. He said it worked better than chucking inconvenient people out of the window. Heini was, all in all, a very considerate person. He used to be concerned, he once told me, about the people and vehicles that might be down below. Someone rapidly descending from ten floors up would do terrible damage to a casual pedestrian, not to mention the damage they could do to a parked car. No, once he got in with your people there, I notice defenestrating seemed to stop and the heart attack surged forward. Harry Dexter White is a case in point.

RTC: Ah, my yes, old Harry. Got him before he was up for sentencing and decided to talk. Although perhaps Stalin had a hand in that, don’t you think? Qui Bono, Gregory?

GD: A good point.

 

(Concluded at 10:01 AM CS

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Larry Vardiman

Larry Vardiman is a hardcore and almost legendary creationist “scientist” and signatory to The CMI list of scientists alive today who accept the biblical account of creation. He does have a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University, which is, I suppose, supposed to lend a sheen of legitimacy on his ventures in cargo cult science, but his career has mostly been entangled with the Institutefor Creation Research. Vardiman taught at the Christian Heritage College (run by the ICR) as a Professor of Natural Sciences from 1982 to 1989, served as Academic Dean from 1987 to 1989, and as chairman of the astro/geophysics department from 1989 to 2009. Apparently he retired in 2012, but there’s no evidence of any later affiliation with reality-based belief alignment.

He is the author of several books and a frequent contributor to Answers in Genesis’s house journal Answers. For vol. 3, for instance, he (and Wesley Brewer) gave us “Numerical Simulation of Precipitation in Yosemite National Park with a Warm Ocean: A Pineapple Express Case Study”, which took as point of departure a storm in 1996 and pretended it extrapolated to a massive Global flood, ignoring anything having to do with evidence or feasibility considerations in the process. The paper is most notable for Vardiman & Brewer’s discovery of the technique (used by mainstream hydrologists) of publishing multiple papers with the same basic idea and calling each one a case study, even though it is no different than the last paper. Their contributions to volume 4 and volume 5 were very much along the same lines, and here is a summary of Vardiman’s article “Did It Rain Before the Flood?” The methodology is what you’d expect: “The first step is always to examine Scripture carefully.” And his answer is “probably not”. This is supposed to be science, remember. As is, apparently, this one.

Vardiman is perhaps most notable, however, as director of ICR’s Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (R.A.T.E.) research project. R.A.T.E. is a joint project organized by the ICR and the Creation Research Society to produce experimental geochronological results that support a Young Earth creationist view of the age of the Earth. It is exactly as feeble as it sounds (you can find a report from one of their conferences here). Creationists affiliated with R.A.T.E. do indeed claim to have experiments that 1.5 billion years of nuclear decay took place over a short period of time to fit the Biblical account of creation (neglecting the obvious problem that the rate of nuclear decay they assume would have blasted all life from Earth in seconds). Of course, the morons carrying out said experiments had no training in geochronology (nor anything resembling any degree of competence whatsoever), and their experiments are methodologically crap (some criticisms here; some more here – most scientists don’t really bother with the crankery, but Old Earth Creationists are usually ardent critics so they get a link for once). As they themselves seem to admit their hypothesis requires positing miracles violating the laws of physics at several points, but insofar as the point is to prove the veracity of the Bible (and God) this … well, it does become a little circular.

The members of RATE include old friends of ours like Steve Austin, John Baumgardner, Don DeYoung, Russell Humphreys, as well as Vardiman, Australian superloon Andrew Snelling, and one Eugene Chaffin.

Diagnosis: They write papers, use technical jargon, go to conferences, perform experiments (sort of) and call each other experts … but it’s like kids playing with mudcakes in kindergarten: they’re not cakes, the rock is not a stove, and you’re not a cook. When the participants are grown up men (mostly), as is the case with RATE, the whole game becomes rather uncanny.

Doreen Virtue

Doreen Virtue is a Hay House guru and practitioner of Angel Therapy, and is as such one of only a few people that can “see” and “communicate” with angels, including the guardian angels that watch out over all of us – yes, it’s similar to the same kind of bullcrap pushed, famously, by princess Märtha of Norway, who appears to be a fan – but whereas Märtha tries to teach you how to get in contact with angels yourself Virtue talks to them on your behalf. For a reasonable fee, of course. And they really can help you. Once angels saved Virtue’s life when armed robbers tried to steal her car by telling her to scream, and she screamed. They also help find her a parking place when she is in a hurry.

According to her bio Virtue was a natural clairvoyant even as a child, “seeing and conversing with what many people call ‘invisible friends’ (which are really angels and deceased loved ones).” I am not completely sure that this needs further commentary, but the seemingly desperate attempt at rationalization evinced by the parenthesis is rather telling. Currently she usually refers to herself as “Doctor Virtue”, but her “PhD” is from California Coast University, an absolutely legendarily shoddy diploma mill, whose diplomas are worth precisely as much as your other regular spam.

Numerology

Virtue is also longtime student of numerology – very longtime, as she did, during a past life, study under Pythagoras himself. Numbers have special significance or vibrations or something, and numbers you see on clocks, license plates and the like are really messages from angels (“’Why do I always see the numbers 444 (or 111, 333, etc.) everywhere I go?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions that Doreen Virtue receives at her worldwide workshops”). Angels arrange for specific number sequences to appear around us or subtly “whisper in” our “ear” so we notice particular numbers, and if we keep noticing the same number sequences, it is because the angels are giving us a message through those numbers (not confirmation bias). But here is the clincher: We cannot interpret these messages unless Virtue shows us how, and she does this in the books you can buy (she’s written a stunning shitload of them) – she covered some numbers in Healing with Angels, but Angel Numbers provides an interpretation of more complex number sequences;” that “new book focuses on numbers such as 123, 337, 885, and so on.” She also has a special “Angel Number Calculator” for identifying your personal angel number. Dimly aware of potential conflicts between various forms of bullshit, she does have an FAQ showing how her nonsense is Christianity compatible.

According to Virtue, we’re all also alchemists, though it is not entirely clear what that is supposed to mean.

Healing

Apparently there is occasionally friction between the path that our guardian angel wants us to walk and the path we want to walk, and that manifests itself in a range of psychological and physical illnesses. And of course, Virtue can help “heal” the rift between you and your guardian angel, though the price is pretty steep. Fortunately, there are other “certified spiritual councilors” (CSC) and “angel therapy practitioners” (ATP) who have been certified by the American Board of Hypnotherapy – which is headed by Virtue. And yes, you can take courses and become a certified therapist, too. If you are really fortunate, perhaps you can get a session with Susan Stevenson, a hypnotherapist who practices past life regression therapy and sees angels absolutely everywhere.

Indigo children and their ken

We have mentioned indigo children and crystal children before, and Virtue is excited about them. So excited, in fact, that she has come up with her own designation, “rainbow children.” Since humans evolved from what Virtue calls “ape-like postures,” crystal children prove humanity can evolve further. “Evolution” here means not evolution, though, since it is God who is sending these various children as a gift to us. Like the indigos and crystals, the rainbows are highly sensitive and psychic, and often diagnosed as autistic, but they are really just communicating telepathically instead of using ordinary means. The spirit world told Virtue remarkable things about all these wonderful children while she was asleep, and she consequently published a lucrative, spiritually-informed book about them.

Her current husband, Steven Farmer, fancies himself a shaman of some sort and calls himself an expert in “power animals.” He also tends to refer to himself as “Doctor Farmer”, and his PhD is from Madison University, an unaccredited diploma mill located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Diagnosis: I tend to be wary of using it, but it is hard to avoid the word “fraud” given, in particular, how she pushes her fake credentials. Virtue is still a loon, and a particularly insidious one, a parasite feeding on people in trouble or those who have experienced various kinds of psychological or existential crises. A disgusting excuse for a human being.

Lowell Hubbs

A.k.a. “TruthStorm”

A.k.a. “TruthEducation”

A.k.a. “Anti Vax Warrior”

Small fish, but worth a mention. Lowell Hubbs is an online troll whose mission is to spread FUD about vaccines and vaccine safety. Hubbs has no education or experience in any relevant field, but tends to repeat standard antivaxx tropes and conspiracy theories, claiming for instance that all vaccines are unsafe and ineffective (that better sanitation and nutrition, not vaccines, account for the decline in vaccine-preventable diseases, which is almost as delusionally ridiculous as flat-out denying gravity); instead, vaccines apparently lead to autism, asthma and SIDS. To hold those views, you also need some serious conspiracy theories, and Hubbs is not afraid to go there (“I like whale.to, its a great site containing more real history than I know you can actually deal with,” says Hubbs; whale.to is a frequent source of his information, apparently): In 2011 Hubbs even concluded that his site, lowellsfacts.com, had been taken down by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. It wasn’t.

Of course, Hubbs thinks that his claims are backed up by science, but seems genuinely not to understand the difference between a scientific study and a blogpost on a conspiracy website. He does complain, though, that his critics seem not to bother to review his work. His ridiculous nine vaccine questions addressed to non-loons are addressed here. Many of his antics are covered here.

Diagnosis: Hubbs is really not anything but a trivial troll, but he is a rather active one and his impact on civilization, if not major, is certainly not beneficial

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