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TBR News July 30, 2020

Jul 30 2020

The Voice of the White House
Comments, July 30, 2020:. When an empire slips into decline, it does so in clearly identifiable stages. This is the case with the American empire at the present time.

Franklin Roosevelt pushed the US into what became the Second World War for personal reasons. (The Roosevelt family were Jewish on both sides and Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies enraged the president) and the result of this was that at its conclusion there were two dominant nations left in the rubble.

These were the United States and Russia and the struggle then began to see which would dominate.

Initially, the United States was successful, and through duplicity and threats, reduced Russia to a squabbling and disintegrating state.

But those in power in the United States also saw that Russia had enormous natural resources and so a frantic effort was made to not only subjugate Russia but also get physical control of her oil, gas and other assets.

America was initially a democracy, then a republic and finally, an oligarchy. The men who controlled the policies of this country are a handful of very rich and powerful people; bankers and the oil industry predominant.

And to secure America’s world leadership designs, small wars were fought to gain control of natural resources and establish American business interests and the American dollar as the world standards.

The British Empire had achieved this goal at one point but lost everything through arrogance and carelessness and now the American empire finds itself in the same position as Britain did in 1914.

Like the British, America has fought a series of wars against small and relatively defenseless countries to gain control of their resources. As an example of this, America attacked Iraq, not because we disliked Saddam Hussein (whom we captured and subsequently executed) but to gain control of the enormous but untapped Iraqi oil reserves.

Iraq slipped through American control because of religious infighting and with that defeat, the next goal was Russia and her Arctic and Black Sea  oil reserves.

The CIA, attempting to get control of Crimean offshore oil and the strategic naval base at Sevastopol, fomented riots in Kiev, shot a few people from a rooftop perch and got control of the Ukraine.

But Putin stirred up so much rebellion in the predominantly Russian Donetz Basin heavy industrial area that no one could get their hands on it and by quite legal means, got Russian control back over the very strategic Crimea.

If the CIA were only successful once, they could justify their enormous budget.

 

The Table of Contents

 

  • Federal officers to pull out of Portland in a major reversal for Trump administration
  • Federal agents renew calls to dismantle Homeland Security
  • Why Trump’s tough-on-crime message is not breaking through in suburban America
  • The Republicans Telling Their Voters to Ignore Trump
  • 6 months on, Trump hasn’t completed his physical. The White House won’t say why.
  • Top facial recognition tech is thrown off by masks, study says, but that could soon change
  • The Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • Charles Fox Parham, the creator of Pentecostalism

 

 

Federal officers to pull out of Portland in a major reversal for Trump administration

Oregon’s governor says local police will guard the courthouse as the president says the pullout will not begin until the city is secure

July 29, 2020

Chris McGreal in Portland, Oregon

The Guardian

The Trump administration is to pull federal paramilitaries out of Portland starting on Thursday in a major reversal after weeks of escalating protests and violence.

Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said she agreed to the pullout in talks with Vice-President Mike Pence.

Brown said state and city police officers will replace Department of Homeland Security agents in guarding the federal courthouse that has become the flashpoint for the protests.

“These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community,” the governor said. The head of the US homeland security department said agents would stay near the courthouse until they were sure the plan was working.

Donald Trump said the pullout will not begin until the courthouse is protected.

“We’re not leaving until they secure their city. We told the governor, we told the mayor: secure your city,” said the president.

But the announcement is a significant retreat by the administration after Trump sent federal forces to Portland at the beginning of July to end months of Black Lives Matter protests he described as having dragged the city into anarchy.

Instead of quelling the unrest, the arrival of paramilitaries fuelled some of the biggest demonstrations since daily protests following the killing of George Floyd, a Black American, by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May.

The situation escalated particularly after agents in camouflage were filmed snatching protesters from the streets in unmarked vans.

Far from imposing order, the federal force, drawn from the border patrol, immigration service and US Marshals, was largely trapped inside the federal courthouse they were ostensibly there to protect, emerging each night to fire waves of teargas, baton rounds and stun grenades in street battles with the protesters. But the demonstrators retained ultimate control of the streets.

Anger at the presence of the paramilitaries brought thousands of people out each night and acted as a lightning rod for broader discontent with Trump, including over his chaotic and divisive handling of the coronavirus epidemic which has killed nearly 150,000 Americans and shows no signs of abating.

Although the protesters will claim victory in achieving the demand of their nightly chant, “Feds go home”, the demonstrations are likely to continue with the focus shifting back toward the Portland city police with which there had been running battles before the arrival of the federal agents.

It is not immediately clear what impact the pullout will have on Trump’s threat to send federal forces to other cities, ostensibly to quell violent crimes.

The mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and 11 other cities accused the president of deploying federal law enforcement officers “for political purposes” amid suspicions that Trump is more interested in creating conflict than ending it in the run-up to the election.

In a letter to the White House, the mayors said they were disturbed at the actions of federal agents in Portland, calling their failure to wear proper identification and the snatching of protesters off the streets “chilling”.

“These are tactics we expect from an authoritarian regime – not our democracy,” the letter said.

Although the arrival of the federal forces reinvigorated the protests for racial justice in Portland, the nightly battles also distracted from them. Tensions have been building between the demonstrators focused on storming the courthouse and those leading more peaceful protests for reform after Floyd’s killing.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Portland warned that the Black Lives Matter movement was being co-opted by “privileged white people” pursuing other agendas, such as anti-capitalism. It said they were playing into Trump’s hands by provoking nightly confrontations with the federal forces.

On Tuesday night, Najee Gow, an African American organiser for Black Lives Matter, waded into the group of a few dozen young white people taunting the federal agents. He accused them of racism for being more invested in fighting at the courthouse than pushing for racial justice.

“What are you doing? This is the racist shit we’re talking about. You don’t push a black agenda and do this,” he shouted at the white protesters who pulled back, but later returned.

“They want to destroy property. They are tarnishing the Black Lives movement and they are making a mockery out of Portland on the fucking world stage,” a furious Gow told the Guardian.

 

Federal agents renew calls to dismantle Homeland Security

After months of protests demanding the defunding of police, the abduction of protesters turns the focus to Homeland Security.

July 30, 2020

by Alice Speri

The Intercept

 

In his formal proposal to create the Department of Homeland Security, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush wrote that “the changing nature of the threats facing America requires a new government structure to protect against invisible enemies that can strike with a wide variety of weapons.”

The Bush administration wanted a new agency to oversee everything from border security to emergency preparedness and response — “the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over a half-century,” the document noted.

Eighteen years later, the Department of Homeland Security has ballooned into the third largest agency in the U.S. government, employing 240,000 people, including more than 60,000 law enforcement agents — nearly half the total number of federal law enforcement agents. DHS oversees two dozen subagencies and offices and has an annual budget of $50 billion. Since its founding, in 2002, the department has run agencies as different in scope as the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while also largely replicating, through dozens of regional law enforcement hubs known as fusion centers, the counterterrorism mission that premised its founding but remains the primary responsibility of other agencies.

And yet the invisible enemy Bush feared arrived nonetheless. Every two to three days, the coronavirus is killing the number of Americans who died on September 11. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the virus has killed 50 times as many.

Criticism of DHS has accompanied the department through its existence, most recently when former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen became the face of the Trump administration’s brutal policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border. Calls to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — one of DHS’s most visible and abusive agencies — have echoed from street protests to the halls of Congress and the 2020 presidential primary. Then earlier this month, as President Donald Trump deployed DHS troops, primarily from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, against protesters rallying against police violence in Portland, Oregon, he once again trained the spotlight on the troubled department. The unidentified agents abducting people in unmarked rental cars raised questions about what the Border Patrol was doing on the streets of an American city and awareness about the impunity with which it operates elsewhere. And their presence stoked calls to not only abolish ICE or CBP, but also to dismantle their parent agency altogether.

“This current moment is bringing this opportunity for widening the frame and having people understand just how large this force has grown, and who are the people working there, and who do they listen to,” said Marisa Franco, director and co-founder of Mijente, one of the groups that popularized the call to abolish ICE. “Has dumping, dropping, flushing all this money down the toilet into these agencies made us any safer? Has it done any real good? Would we rather spend that money somewhere else? I think that’s a really critical conversation to have.”

Franco noted that after 9/11, some might have been hesitant to target DHS because of how closely it was associated with the attacks on New York and Washington. But the last two decades, and particularly the last several months, have radically transformed how many Americans understand what security means and what their government should do to keep them safe.

“I just think the veneer is off,” said Franco. “I think people are pretty shocked at what’s happening, and they are really thinking about how to stop it.”

From 9/11 to Abolition

Trump has been threatening to “send the feds” into American cities, mostly ones run by Democrats, for as long as he has been in office. By the time DHS deployed its federal agents, the nationwide protests that started with the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had mostly dwindled after raging for weeks. In Portland, before the agents’ presence set them off once again, they had shrunk in size to a few hundred protesters.

The deployment of federal law enforcement — particularly BORTAC, a tactical unit some have dubbed CBP’s “RoboCops” — came after weeks of growing calls to defund police departments across the country moved from protest chants to budget negotiation hearings. The deployment is widely understood to be political theater aimed at distracting from the administration’s disastrous response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But at a moment when criticism of law enforcement has reached an unprecedented number of people, Trump’s show of force is having the effect of elevating the local call to defund and abolish police to a sprawling federal law enforcement apparatus that remains largely nebulous to most Americans.

“There is more skepticism of law enforcement on every level of government than there has been in this country’s history, and it’s arguably a result of the overreach of law enforcement,” said Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. “Their unaccountability, the violence of the policies they are carrying out, and the violence with which they are doing it is more known and understood by more people than ever before.”

“The latest deployment of DHS, and especially CBP officers, going into American cities without the request of local political authorities is incredibly disturbing,” he added. “It’s like a novel written by a libertarian about the encroaching powers of federal law enforcement.”

CBP is not the only federal agency Trump has dispatched to fight his political battle: Last week, the Department of Justice launched what it called “Operation Legend” — a coordinated initiative “across all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight the sudden surge of violent crime,” according to the department’s announcement. As The Intercept has reported, federal-local partnerships of this sort, flooding cities with FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and other federal agents, along with local police, are nothing new. On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr was grilled by legislators about the Justice Department’s response to the protests; testimony from DHS officials is scheduled for later this week.

While it is hardly the only agency facing criticism, DHS embodies much of the unaccountable culture of policing that a growing number of Americans have come to reject. And in the middle of a public health and economic crisis of historic proportions, DHS’s massive, and costly, infrastructure has also become an emblem of government’s misplaced priorities. The Cato Institute, which has called for the abolition of DHS for nearly a decade, argued in a 2011 policy paper that the agency had already failed. “DHS has too many subdivisions in too many disparate fields to operate effectively,” David Rittgers, a former legal policy analyst at the institute, wrote at the time. “Americans are not safer because the head of DHS is simultaneously responsible for airport security and governmental efforts to counter potential flu epidemics.”

Today, the greatest threat to American safety in decades has come not in the form of a terrorist attack, but as a pandemic and the resulting economic disaster that have only been exacerbated by years of investment in the country’s sprawling security apparatus at the cost of everything else. “If this is not a clear failure of DHS, and this is not a clear failure of the billions of dollars that were poured in, then I don’t know what else would be a clearer example,” said Hamid Khan, an organizer with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a group that has called for an end to mass surveillance across levels of government. “Billions of dollars, and for what?”

Calls to dismantle, or at least rein in, DHS have surfaced repeatedly over the years, for instance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as well as at the height of the Trump administration’s family separation effort. Last year, following the exposure of a Facebook group for CBP agents filled with racist, violent, and misogynistic content, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocated the disbandment of DHS altogether, calling the department’s establishment “an egregious mistake.” Now, the scenes in Portland, against the backdrop of the health, economic, and policing crises the nation is facing, have given those calls new momentum.

“If the Trump years have shown anything, it is that the agencies within D.H.S., and especially ICE and C.B.P., are in desperate need of root-and-branch reform or some other fundamental change,” Jamelle Bouie wrote in the New York Times. “If and when we close the book on Trump, perhaps we should use the opportunity to close the book on Homeland Security too.

“I never thought that the Department of Homeland Security would be used against our own people,” former Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote earlier this month, calling her own vote in favor of the agency’s creation “myopic.” “Congress can act to both condemn this gross tyranny and then restructure the department so that no president, now or ever again, can have a private police force and menace the people he or she swears to protect.”

As the movement to defund police grew over recent months, a number of people have also called on legislators to withhold DHS funding until more robust checks can be imposed on an agency whose current oversight is the jurisdiction of more than 100 committees and subcommittees — a bureaucratic nightmare that’s effectively allowed parts of the department to go rogue.

“Given this state of affairs, there is no excuse for Congress to rush through another multi-billion-dollar appropriation for the department,” analysts with the national security forum Just Security wrote this week ahead of a DHS appropriations vote. “Before any funds are made available, Congress should conduct some of the oversight that’s been missing to date.”

The Just Security analysts also called on legislators to demand that Trump nominate a DHS secretary. Chad F. Wolf, a lobbyist, is currently running the department in an acting capacity, unconfirmed by the Senate, as are Ken Cuccinelli, his deputy, and dozens of other Trump administration officials. And the analysts called on legislators to push for greater transparency on part of DHS, including the publication of operational guidelines and assurances that the department’s law enforcement activities are conducted “with appropriate care for constitutional rights and clear channels of accountability.”

“This trend toward lawlessness is on full display in Portland,” they wrote. “The leverage afforded by the appropriations cycle presents the best and perhaps only opportunity for Congress to confront a department run amok.”

Tackling the Monster

DHS was founded on the belief that a lack of interagency communication had caused the government to miss cues about the 9/11 attacks. The department brought together agencies that had previously operated under several different departments, creating an unwieldy mess of clashing cultures and duplicative efforts, and setting up a massive bureaucracy whose scope, and cost, ballooned over the years.

DHS’s size and sprawling nature are part of the reason why a broader grassroots movement targeting the agency has not yet emerged. “It’s a department that has so many layers, and so many tentacles to it,” said Khan. “So it’s a matter of how do we pick it apart and look both at the larger infrastructure and at the points of this monstrosity that can be exposed and picked upon one by one?”

Questions about the efficiency of the consolidation of profoundly different agencies under DHS were raised from the beginning, across party lines, but the department’s creation was hastily approved anyway. Despite early promises that spending would be contained, the agency’s cost more than doubled in the first decade of the department’s existence, in part thanks to the funding of dozens of state, local, and regional information and intelligence-sharing centers, known as fusion centers. The centers were established ostensibly to improve collaboration among law enforcement agencies but in practice replicated the work of the FBI and FBI-run Joint Terrorism Task Forces. DHS had little to show for its price tag: A 2012 Senate Homeland Security report found that the department’s fusion centers “often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever.” In 2015, Sen. Tom Coburn issued a scathing report concluding that “despite spending nearly $61 billion annually and $544 billion since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security is not executing any of its five main missions.”

But DHS was not just a colossal waste of money: Its very existence, and the need to justify it, puts civil liberties at risk. Over the years, fusion centers that had been set up to counter terrorism dedicated much of their time and resources to sharing intelligence about crime, which was already the responsibility of local law enforcement. And increasingly, they started monitoring the constitutionally protected activities of activists and government critics. “There are not enough terrorists to go around; the police and the FBI already identify and prosecute potential terrorists whenever possible,” the Cato report noted in 2011. “So fusion centers seem to be treating mere political dissent as a threat without any indication of violent intent in order to justify their continued existence.”

A product of the war on terror, in more recent years DHS came to be defined by the work and human rights violations of two of its largest agencies, CBP and ICE, whose treatment of migrants, as well as immigration activists, has been a precursor to the abuses now on display in Portland.

CBP in particular operates far beyond the border, as its authority extends 100 miles into the interior to an area that encompasses nine of the country’s 10 largest cities and nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population. In recent months, hundreds of CBP agents were dispatched to respond to protests against police violence in Washington, D.C., and a CBP drone monitored the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. The move to police protests has been a disturbing development for an agency that for years has been accused of pushing the limits of its legal authority.

“This is an opportunity for the broader public to see and really ask themselves, if this is what DHS agents and this is what Border Patrol agents do to mostly white people in Portland, imagine what they are doing to women crossing alone in the middle of the night with children, to young people coming across the desert in the borderlands,” said Franco. “I think people asking themselves that question should really send a chill down their spine, imagining what might happen, and what is happening, and what has been happening.”

When immigration enforcement and border protection were moved away from the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice to the jurisdiction of the newly formed DHS, “there was an explicit reframing of immigration from being a labor issue to a national security issue,” noted Franco. “And what is happening now is that they’re trying to frame people exercising their freedom of speech and their right to protest and their right to organize as an issue of national security. And calling people who do those things terrorists.”

While critics of DHS and its war on terror ethos have been warning of those dangers since the agency’s early days, their concerns came into sharper focus under the Trump administration. CBP and ICE in particular, whose rank and file were among the first to endorse Trump’s presidential bid, have often contributed to the impression that they are more loyal to the president than to their legal mandate. “The DHS houses Trumpism’s true believers,” sociologist Stuart Schrader wrote in the New Republic earlier this month.

“I think there’s a good reason why it’s Customs and Border Protection that’s in Portland and not another law enforcement agency,” said Brendan McQuade, a professor at the University of Southern Maine who studies the Homeland Security apparatus. “And that is because Customs and Border Protection is, in liberal terms, one of the least professionalized agencies, and to name it more plainly, it’s been captured by white supremacists.”

Migrants and their communities have known that for years, and as Americans connect the dots between what is happening in Portland and what has been happening along the border and in immigration detention centers nationwide, scrutiny of DHS is bound to grow.

What is coming into focus is a more general rejection of the notion of “security” that the U.S. has long peddled, said McQuade.

“The unique circumstances of Covid, the Trump administration’s very poor handling of it, and the insecurity and uncertainty that has created have created textbook circumstances for political rupture and realignment,” he added. “Now is the time to push everything on the table and fight for the biggest demands.”

 

 

Why Trump’s tough-on-crime message is not breaking through in suburban America

July 30, 2020

by Tim Reid

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As President Donald Trump’s support in the U.S. suburbs erodes amid concerns about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, he has returned to a familiar campaign theme: trying to scare voters away from backing Democrat Joe Biden in November.

From deploying federal agents to confront protesters in cities such as Portland, Oregon, to releasing ads portraying a lawless and dangerous America under a Biden presidency, Trump has positioned himself as the candidate who will keep the country safe.

But Reuters/Ipsos polling this month shows white suburban Americans are far more worried about the economy and healthcare than crime, a sign that Trump’s strategy could be at odds with the priorities of the critical voting bloc he narrowly won in 2016 and must win back to secure a second term.

Asked what is “the most important problem facing the United States today,” 21% said the economy and 21% said healthcare. Only 6% said crime, according to the July 15-21 national opinion poll, which included 1,603 U.S. adults who identified as white and living in the suburbs.

But concern about COVID-19 and Trump’s management of it ran deep.

Among white Americans in the suburbs, 81% said they were personally concerned about the spread of the virus. Forty-one percent of those suburban white Americans approved of the way Trump has handled the coronavirus, down 12 points from a similar poll that ran in March.

While 42% of all Americans thought Biden would be better at dealing with COVID-19 compared with 33% who said Trump was better, white suburban Americans were more closely split over which candidate was better equipped to lead the nation out of the crisis, with 40% saying Trump and 38% saying Biden.

The data suggests Trump, who trails Biden in national polls, could shore up his support in the suburbs and improve his chances of winning the Nov. 3 election with stronger leadership on the health and economic crises rather than doubling down on assertions that the country would be less safe with Biden in the White House.

“His law-and-order message seems more geared towards resuscitating his base than winning over swing suburbanites,” said Dave Wasserman, a non-partisan analyst with the Cook Political Report. “There is no way Trump can win the election unless he turns around his numbers on the handling of COVID.”

‘EXTREMELY MOVING ISSUE’

The Republican president’s advisers insist his tough-on-crime message resonates with suburban voters after months of protests over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans and calls from progressives to “defund” the police.

“The violence, the lawlessness, is sickening. This is what Joe Biden and the Democrats stand for,” said

Rick Gorka, a senior member of the Republican National Committee and part of Trump’s re-election campaign. “Our data shows this is an extremely moving issue, especially with suburban voters and those that are undecided.”

Gorka, who declined to share the data, said the president had been involved in the messaging and ad strategy.

Biden does not support defunding police departments. Yet one Trump campaign television ad that portrays an older woman being attacked by burglars while she waits on hold trying to call emergency services ends with the slogan: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

“Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” Trump said in a tweet directed to “Suburban Housewives of America” last week. “I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

In his latest bid for suburban support, Trump said on Wednesday his administration was rescinding an Obama-era regulation aimed at combating discriminatory housing practices and segregation.

Critics attacked the move, with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren describing it as “racist fear-mongering.”

Trump’s focus on fear echoes his 2016 campaign, when he depicted immigrants from Mexico as criminals. This time around, he warns of “anarchists and agitators” whom he says Democratic-led cities have been unable to control.

Oregon’s governor said on Wednesday the federal government had agreed to withdraw agents from Portland, while the Justice Department said it would send law enforcement officials to Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit – all in crucial battleground states – in an expansion of a separate program aimed at curtailing a surge of violent crime in some cities.

Kyle Kondik, a non-partisan analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, believes Trump ordered federal police into Portland “to create scary images for suburban voters.”

“But it’s kind of beside the point. In order for the message to resonate, it needs to feel more relevant to more people,” Kondik added.

WINNING THE BASE, TOUGHER SELL IN SUBURBS

According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, Trump’s net approval in the suburbs declined by 17 percentage points from March to July as the coronavirus swept the country. Biden leads Trump by 11 points in the suburbs, up from a 6-point advantage four months ago.

Trump is “stoking confrontation and conflict” to divert Americans’ attention from his failed leadership on the pandemic, Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo said. “Clearly Americans aren’t buying it.”

Trump’s response to the anti-racism demonstrations was viewed favorably by Republicans in a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday, with 78% saying they approved, up from 67% in mid-June.

Suburban voters were more suspicious of his motives. Some 44% of suburban Americans said they thought the federal agents were being used for political purposes, while 37% thought they were mostly there to restore law and order.

Mary Aponte, 38, a mother in suburban Bucks County, Pennsylvania, said she was not a Trump supporter but agreed police need support and criminals should face consequences.

“I fear for what will happen in major cities if we get Biden in office when it comes to the police,” she said, adding she remained conflicted about her choice in November because she also has sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tricia Kalmar, a 45-year-old suburban mother in Delaware, Ohio, said she did not think Trump’s law-and-order messaging would work in her community.

“I don’t feel like any of the moms here feel threatened by the protests,” said Kalmar, who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 but has also regularly voted for Republicans. “Even those who don’t support the protests, they are not concerned about their safety here in the suburbs.”

Reporting by Tim Reid; Additional reporting by Chris Kahn, Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney

 

The Republicans Telling Their Voters to Ignore Trump

GOP leaders in swing states are huge fans of voting by mail, despite the president’s unrelenting attacks on the practice.

June 5, 2020′

by Russell Berman

The Atlantic

There’s a major complication in President Donald Trump’s recent crusade against voting by mail, which he has called “a scam” that will lead to “the greatest Rigged Election” in history: In states that Trump desperately needs to win this fall, Republicans love it.

Take Arizona, where polls show Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden after he carried the state narrowly in 2016. Republicans pioneered Arizona’s mail-in balloting system, which now accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s vote. “It’s been remarkably successful,” Chuck Coughlin, a longtime GOP operative and a onetime aide to the late Senator John McCain, told me. “There’s been minimal to no fraud for a long period of time.”

Republicans say the same in Florida, the quadrennial swing state where voting by mail has become more and more popular in recent years, especially with older GOP voters. (One of the older GOP voters who uses the system is Trump himself.) “Yes, Florida Republicans over the last two decades have dominated absentees,” Joe Gruters, the state’s party chairman, told me.

Trump’s unrelenting attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting are puzzling for a variety of reasons, not least because they are unfounded. But they’re particularly awkward for Republican leaders—especially those allied with the president—who need their voters to continue using a system Trump is trying to discredit. The president has, for example, gone after Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, for mailing absentee-ballot applications to every voter in the state as part of an effort to avoid depressed turnout due to the coronavirus pandemic. But GOP leaders in several other states have done the same thing.

In states such as Florida and Georgia, GOP officials have carefully tried to defend their own systems without directly confronting the president. The Florida Republican Party is fighting a lawsuit brought by Democrats to relax the state’s deadlines for returning ballots and its rules limiting who can collect them. But it is still encouraging GOP voters to cast their ballots by mail if they want. “I agree with the president 100 percent. I’ll begin by saying that,” Gruters replied when I asked him to respond to Trump’s critique of mail-in voting. But he then proceeded to explain why Florida’s absentee system shouldn’t be lumped in with the rest of the country’s. “We have certain laws in place that protect the integrity of elections,” he said. “Florida is somewhat unique and we’re sort of an outlier, but a lot of these states don’t have these protections, and I’m glad he’s fighting.”

Trump appears to have succeeded at least in changing the terms of the debate. Among his allies, vote-by-mail is fast becoming a forbidden phrase. Multiple Republicans I spoke with in recent days insisted on using the broader term “absentee ballots” even when, in states such as Florida, vote-by-mail is the system’s official name. In part, that’s because they are more comfortable siding with Trump against a mail-only election even as they distance themselves from the president’s blunter critique of the actual mechanism of mailing in a ballot.

Gruters told me he sent an email to “a couple hundred thousand” Republican voters last month urging them to request an absentee ballot “if they feel more comfortable.” (Trump also urged people to “mail in ballots” in a California election as recently as May 9.) “We will continue to use it as part of our overall strategy for the people who want to vote absentee,” he said. “But what we’re opposed to is any kind of forced vote-by-mail statewide.”

Other Republicans question Trump’s attacks on voting by mail as a matter of political strategy. “It’s tough to imagine you’d want to disenfranchise the 25 percent of Americans who voted [by mail] in the election you won. That’s a mindset I don’t understand,” Tom Ridge, the Republican former Pennsylvania governor and homeland-security secretary, told me. Ridge is now helping to lead a bipartisan group called VoteSafe that promotes mail-in balloting. He noted that Trump has the built-in advantages of incumbency and an enormous campaign war chest that he could use to mobilize his base with a mail-in-balloting drive. “Why he would be sowing, potentially, seeds of doubt for an outcome when he’s got all these assets perfectly aligned to maximize support from an absentee-ballot perspective is beyond belief,” Ridge said.

In a number of states, mail-in voting is particularly popular among older and rural voters, who tend to favor Republicans. “We did it principally to encourage seniors and winter visitors who re-registered [in Arizona] to vote,” Coughlin told me. “His base and Republicans are much better at returning ballots” by mail.

In Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac County, the local GOP chairman, Rohn Bishop, took the rare step of snapping back at the president on Twitter last week, replying to one of Trump’s all-caps diatribes about voting by mail with a rant of his own: “THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT MAIL IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE,” Bishop wrote. “IN FACT, WE MAY BE ABLE TO USE IT TO HELP OFFSET THE DEMOCRATS EARLY VOTING ADVANTAGES.”

“I kind of screamed at my computer,” Bishop told me when I reached him by phone. Mail-in voting works well in Wisconsin, he said, and helps Republicans in rural parts of the state compete with Democratic strongholds that have more resources to dedicate to in-person early voting. Because rural counties don’t open many early-voting locations, voting by mail is more important. “I just think we can use it to help [Trump] here,” Bishop said.

In rural America, there’s a bigger risk to Trump’s attacks on mail balloting than merely annoying Republican officials. “Trump’s rhetoric may inadvertently be suppressing Republican votes,” Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida, told me. A reluctance among GOP voters to use the system could lead to longer lines at polling sites, which in turn could discourage voter turnout in places where Trump is stronger, especially if the pandemic remains a factor in November, he explained.

The Postal Service could be another problem. Trump is opposed to efforts to shore up the beleaguered agency in preparation for a surge in mail-in ballots. But delays in mail service could disproportionately affect rural areas, especially if Republicans are simultaneously fighting changes that would relax deadlines requiring ballots to be received, and not merely postmarked, by Election Day. “More of the rural ballots are getting returned later,” McDonald said.

In Pennsylvania, more Democrats than Republicans requested absentee ballots in every county in the run-up to this week’s primary elections, and the surge of late requests prompted Governor Tom Wolf to extend the deadline for returning ballots by a week in several counties, including Philadelphia. That potential for a late surge is exactly what’s causing states—whether led by Republicans or Democrats—to prepare for the possibility of a huge demand for mail voting this fall.

And it means that GOP leaders in many of these states are telling their voters to support Trump—and also, implicitly, to ignore him. “We’re giving people the choice,” Gruters, the Florida GOP chairman, told me. “If you want to vote by mail, vote by mail.”

 

Comment: The reason Trump is getting hysterical about mail in ballots is that it is relatively easy to tamper with electronic voting machines but nearly impossible to tamper with mailed ballots. That Trump wants to stay in office at any cost is not surprising and that he is thoroughly dishonest and conniving is also no surprise, If he is against anything, we are for it and if he is for anything, we are against it.

 

6 months on, Trump hasn’t completed his physical. The White House won’t say why.

Six months after saying he started the process, Trump hasn’t completed his annual 2020 physical

May 22, 2020

by Geoff Bennett and Monica Alba

NBC News

WASHINGTON — It’s been more than six months since President Donald Trump claimed to have started his annual physical at Walter Reed hospital but the White House is declining to explain why he has yet to complete the yearly doctor’s examination.

Senior administration officials did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment about the delay — despite Trump announcing this week he was taking an unproven and potentially dangerous drug after being exposed to an aide who tested positive for coronavirus.

Asked in early March about when he would complete his physical, the president told reporters, “I’m going probably over the next 90 days. I’m so busy, I can’t do it.”

A month later, as the coronavirus pandemic hospitalized UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump said he would finish the exam “at the appropriate time” adding, “but I feel very good.”

A president’s annual physical typically occurs at the beginning of a new year. Trump’s 2019 exam was conducted in February, and his 2018 physical was conducted in January. It is uncommon for a president to complete a routine physical exam months apart and in multiple stages.

“As a part of granting a president as much power as we do, he has the obligation to demonstrate that he is well or, if he is not, to let us know exactly what is amiss,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

“From the time in the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower released unprecedented information about the heart attack, ileitis and stroke he suffered in office, most presidents have fulfilled that demand, including releasing the results of regular physicals,” Beschloss said. “Too often in history have presidents concealed secret illnesses and medicine routines that had the potential to undermine their leadership, and the wellbeing of all of us.”

In November 2019 — six months ago this week — Trump began what the White House described as “portions” of his third physical during a two-hour examination at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

That visit to Walter Reed was unannounced and remained shrouded in secrecy for two days as the president remained out of public view and as the White House declined to answer questions about it.

The president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, later wrote in a memo released by the White House that Trump’s “interim checkup” had been “routine.” Conley at the time said a “more comprehensive” examination would occur this year and that the president’s labs and exam results would be released in a corresponding report.

At 73, Trump is the oldest person to be sworn in for his first term as president.

Questions about Trump’s health are newly relevant, given his announcement this week that he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward against contracting the coronavirus. The president described it as a “two-week regimen,” which ends today. Trump has repeatedly promoted the anti-malarial drug as a coronavirus treatment despite multiple warnings about its dangers.

The Lancet medical journal on Friday published the results of a large observational study, which found that hydroxychloroquine use is linked to increased rates of mortality and heart arrhythmias among hospital patients with COVID-19.

Trump — in a previous physical conducted in 2018 — had been diagnosed with a form of heart disease common among men in his age group.

The president — whom the White House says is tested daily for the virus — said Conley “didn’t recommend” hydroxychloroquine but offered it to him.

Conley replaced Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who left the job in a failed nomination to serve as secretary of Veteran Affairs.

Two sources with direct knowledge tell NBC News that Jackson handpicked Conley as his successor and that Conley is viewed by many within the White House Medical Unit as having been unfairly promoted to the job of physician to the president without proper vetting.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere disputed that characterization, telling NBC News in a statement: “This type of reporting is grossly irresponsible because Dr. Conley is an imminently [sic] qualified talented physician with a wealth of experience well-suited to serve President Trump and ensure he remains very healthy to continue his work on behalf of the American people.”

When pressed on the findings of The Lancet study during a Friday White House press briefing, the administration’s coronavirus task force response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, dodged a specific question on what the new review may mean for the president’s health.

Birx cited ongoing, controlled trials for the drug, but made clear those results are “still pending” and urged Americans to focus on the comorbidities which would make hydroxychloroquine more dangerous, such as heart disease and obsesity.

“You can see dramatically the increased risk for that,” she said, without referencing Trump.

 

 

Top facial recognition tech is thrown off by masks, study says, but that could soon change

July 29, 2020

by Taylor Telford,

The Washington Post

Masks are confusing many commercial facial-recognition systems, a new study finds, leading to error rates as high as 50%.

A preliminary study published Monday by the National Institute for Standards and Technology found that facial-recognition algorithms could be tripped up by such variables as mask color and shape. But industry players already are working on software that adjusts for masks – a requirement in many public spaces to contain the spread of covid-19 – which the NIST also plans to study this summer.

“With respect to accuracy with face masks, we expect the technology to continue to improve,” said Mei Ngan, a NIST computer scientist and co-author of the report produced in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security.

Ngan and other researchers tested how 89 top facial-recognition algorithms performed “one to one matching,” which compares two photos of the same person – a common verification method for such tasks as unlocking a smartphone or checking a passport. They used more than 6 million pictures of a million individuals and added masks digitally, accounting for real-world variations by using a range of colors, shapes and nose coverage.

Without masks, the top-performing algorithms usually have error rates of about 0.3%. But when the most accurate algorithms were confronted with the highest-coverage masks, error rates jumped to about 5%, researchers found.

“This is noteworthy given that around 70% of the face area is occluded by the mask,” the report reads. “Some algorithms that are quite competitive with unmasked faces fail to authenticate between 20% and 50% of images.”

Companies are rushing to develop software that can make identifications based only on facial features that are still visible with a mask, such as eyebrows – a challenge, given that such algorithms depend on getting as many data points as possible. Researchers have been combing social media for masked selfies to create data sets to train facial-recognition algorithms, CNET reported in May.

Though controversial, the use of facial-recognition software by federal and local investigators has become routine, turning the technology into a ubiquitous presence in people’s lives, whether they are aware of it or not. Authorities harness it to scan hundreds of millions of Americans’ photos, often drawing on state driver’s license databases or booking photos. It’s deployed to unlock cellphones, monitor crowded public venues and guard entrances to schools, workplaces and housing complexes.

Even retailers have made tentative steps in the arena. This week, a Reuters investigation found that Rite Aid had been quietly adding facial-recognition systems to its stores for eight years. The technology was installed in 200 locations, mostly in lower-income urban areas, in what the report called one of the largest such rollout for an American retailer. The drugstore chain, after being presented with the findings, told the news organization the cameras had been turned off.

“This decision was in part based on a larger industry conversation,” the company told Reuters in a statement, adding that “other large technology companies seem to be scaling back or rethinking their efforts around facial recognition given increasing uncertainty around the technology’s utility.”

A growing chorus of lawmakers and privacy advocates say the technology threatens to erode American protections against government surveillance and unlawful searches, and that inaccuracies in the systems could undermine criminal prosecutions, unfairly target people of color and lead to false arrests. In a landmark 2019 study, NIST found that facial-recognition systems misidentified people of color more often than White people: Asian and African American people were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than White men, depending on the particular algorithm and type of search.

In January, a Michigan man was wrongfully arrested based on a faulty facial-recognition match in the first known case of its kind, the New York Times reported. The case was later dismissed, and the county prosecutor’s office said the man’s case and fingerprint data could be expunged.

Some facial-recognition software makers are rethinking their relationship to the technology. IBM discontinued its facial-recognition software in June on the grounds that it promoted racism. The following day, Microsoft said it would stop selling its software to law enforcement until the technology is federally regulated. Soon after, Amazon, the largest provider of facial-recognition systems to law enforcement, said it would place a one-year moratorium on police use of the technology. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Last month, Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would ban federal agencies from using facial recognition and encourage state and local law enforcement to follow suit by making bans a requirement for certain grants. Also in June, Boston joined San Francisco in banning the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and city agencies.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Sue McIntosh

Medical Voices is a pseudoscience & conspiracy webpage with a particular focus on promoting anti-vaccine material. It is not a good place for information, but notable for soliciting material from some of the most widely recognized quacks and crackpots on the Internet, such as Joe Mercola and Suzanne Humphries, and for really trying to make their posts look like serious studies, which they are not by any measure of imagination.

Sue McIntosh is an MD, but not one to trust for advice remotely medical (nor probably anything else). McIntosh is a rabid conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist, roughly on the lizard-people-are-eating-Arkansas trajectory, and as such a good match for Medical Voices. Her views are nicely laid out in her article “Stop All Vaccines!”, in which she complains that children are being protected from more and more dangerous diseases by vaccines she labels “toxic”, and laments how delusional conspiracy theories about vaccines are not taken seriously and are even ridiculed just because they are ridiculous. Ridiculing ridiculous conspiracy theories can, as McIntosh sees it, only be a result of – wait for it – corruption and conspiracy. Therefore, McIntosh concludes, doctors and scientists are motivated only by profit, to create illness rather than health … and the purpose, apparently, is population control (for which getting rid of vaccines altogether would of course be a far more effective means – perhaps we ought to speculate about McIntosh’s own motivations for trying to get people to stop getting them?).

Diagnosis: The word “toxic” is sort of a dog whistle – it clearly displays to informed readers that the author using it has no clue about basic chemistry and is the victim of a severe case of Dunning-Kruger. McIntosh is a moron and – despite her formal qualifications – obviously completely unfit to offer health advice.

 Stephen McDowell & Mark Beliles

You may not have heard of them, but Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles are two of the scariest people alive in the US today, and – at least arguably – vastly more influential than you’d ever expect unless you had intimate knowledge of the inner circles of those powerful, wealthy, tireless and frighteningly big American Dominionist groups that make the Taliban look like defenders of reason, freedom and tolerance – this, despite the fact that McDowell and Beliles so abjectly delusional that we wouldn’t trust them to add the numbers two and four together without injuring themselves.

McDowell and Beliles are, for instance, the authors of the (apparently) popular homeschooling textbook America’s Providential History, which outlines the Seven Mountains strategy, combines the legalistic fire-and-brimstone Biblical framework of the Reconstructionists with the zeal of the New Apostolic Reformation, and provides a list of “Christ Guidelines for Resistance to Tyranny” with the explicit warning that there “may come a time when we must resist lawful tyranny.” Basically, the book espouses the thoroughly paranoid, conspiracy-theory-fuelled anti-government sentiment familiar from today’s extreme wingnuttery, but fueled by religious, Satanic Panic-style fervor.

A recurring theme of the book (described in more detail here and here) is that the whole notion of scarcity of resources is a communist myth, and that any shortage is due simply to people not having sufficient faith: “A secular society will lack faith in God’s providence and consequently men will find fewer natural resources … The secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality […] In contrast, the Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God’s earth.  The resource are waiting to be tapped.” This is clearly borne out by the data, which demonstrates that the poverty of a region is inversely correlated with its inhabitants levels of faith; history is for instance clear about what happens to your crops when you neglect to make the proper sacrifices –just look at the Aztecs; they got the point. And “[w]hile many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large, with plenty of resources to accommodate all the people He knew would come into existence. […] All the five billion people on the earth could live in the state of Texas in single family homes with front and back yards and be fed by production in the rest of the United States. Present world agriculture areas, if developed by present technology, could feed 31 billion people.” And if you wonder on what data their conclusion is based, it just shows your lack of faith. The thing is, of course, that the data the rest of us are currently using are collected by secular, and therefore don’t correct for the inherent laziness of secularists: “Those with a secular world-view will lack a God-inspired strength and work ethic.” In fact, it’s not only a matter of effort: “In a Christian economy people will earn more with less work,” which means, for instance, that crime will disappear and people will start to respect the Ten Commandments. And the most important measure to take to reach this situation, is to abolish Government in favor of Christian control of the economy.

Their chapter on the Civil War and Reconstruction also gives a useful illustration of some contemporary wingnuts’ view of the Confederacy (more on that here). In fact, it is primarily concerned with the religious revival they think they can find among the Conferedate Army (“While the Confederate Army was enjoying revival (up to 150,000 Southern troops were saved during the war), it also enjoyed phenomenal success in almost every major battle”) and detailing the admirable religious faith of the Confederacy’s heroic generals. The Reconstruction era, meanwhile, is described as an unholy attack on Christianity: “After the war an ungodly radical Republican element gained control of the Congress. They wanted to centralize power and shape the nation according to their philosophy. […] They used their post-war control of Congress to reconstruct the South, pass the Fourteenth Amendment, and in many ways accomplish their goals.” Then McDowell and Beliles go on to criticize the evil of the 14th, 16th, and 17th Amendments and suggest that separation of church and state was a consequence of the more godly South being defeated. As for slavery, McDowell does elsewhere (on the Wallbuilders website, in fact) describes slavery as “America’s original sin,” but then states that “In light of the Scriptures we cannot say that slavery, in a broad and general sense, is sin.” Jesus means you can have it both ways.

Along the way, they also repeat plenty of religious fundamentalist myths about American history, such as the Aitken Bible myth.

Their chapter “The American Apostasy and Decline” claims that the decline of America is due to the abdication of authority by Christians to the “conspiracies of men,” which includes “the humanists, the ACLU, the big bankers, the Trilateral Commission, the New Age Movement, the World Council of Churches, the Homosexuals, the Feminists, the Communists, the Democrats, the Pope, etc.”

McDowell and Beliles are also the founders of the Providence Foundation, an organization seeking to “disciple the seven areas of culture.” The foundation’s “National Transformation Network” also offers courses by Paul Jehle and David Barton. McDowell and Beliles themselves have conducted training in dominion-style politics since the 1980s, including courses on “biblical economics”, which is basically Ayn Rand-style economic theory founded on judiciously selected quotes from the Old Testament. Much of their activities have taken place abroad, and they have accordingly also written an international textbook, Liberating the Nations. It’s pretty scary stuff.

Many of their strategies and ideas were apparently developed during their association with the militant fundamentalist group Maranatha Campus Ministries in the 1980s.

McDowell also appeared in the “documentary” “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty”, one the religious right’s many propaganda pieces promoting their persecution myth, and which was lauded by Rick Santorum and the Heritage Foundation.

Diagnosis: Deranged madmen, utterly and completely out of touch with anything resembling reality or accuracy, and as evil as they are delusional. But they’ve also enjoyed more than their share of influence. Dangerous.

 

 

Charles Fox Parham, the creator of Pentecostalism 

Modern Pentecostals trace their origins, not to the New Testament but rather, to the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where a certain Agnes Ozman began to speak in “tongues” in 1901 when hands were laid on her.

It was claimed (though certainly not credibly confirmed) that Ozman ‘spoke in Chinese for three days’, unable to speak English, and on the second day she ‘spoke in Bohemian.’ Soon, most of the others at the school were speaking and singing “in tongues.”

Parham claimed that language professors and other linguistically educated people confirmed that the tongues were languages, but this was not confirmed outside of the movement.

Newspaper reporters of the day described the phenomenon, with some acumen and certainly accuracy, as “gibberish.” In 1914, Charles Shumway diligently sought evidence to prove that early Pentecostal tongues were real languages.

He failed to find even one person to corroborate the claims which had been “In his 1919 Ph.D. dissertation, Shumway censured the local Houston Chronicle for credulous reporting and stated that ‘letters are on hand from several men who were government interpreters in or near Houston at the time [when Parham conducted a Bible school there], and they are unanimous in denying all knowledge of the alleged facts'” Parham’s Bible school students jotted down strange writings which they claimed were the product of the gift of tongues. They claimed these writings were foreign languages, such as Chinese, but when they were examined by linguists, they were found to be mere indecipherable scratchings The press called these writings “quaint and indistinguishable hieroglyphics”

Parham was so enthused that he said missionaries would go to the ends of the earth and would not have to learn the languages. In fact, most of the early Pentecostals believed this. It didn’t work that way, though. When A.G. Garr traveled to India and attempted to speak to the people in supernatural tongues, he quickly found that he could not communicate.

Parham, the founder of Pentecostalism, was riddled with doctrinal heresies. He believed in annihilation of the unsaved and denied the Bible doctrine of eternal torment. He believed in the unscriptural doctrine of anglo-Israelism. He taught that there were two separate creations, and that Adam and Eve were of a different race than people who allegedly lived outside of the Garden of Eden. The first race of men did not have souls, he claimed, and this race of unsouled people was destroyed in the flood. Parham believed that those who received the latter days ‘spirit baptism’and ‘spoke in tongues’ have a special place of authority at Christ’s hopeful return.

Parham believed that physical healing is the Christian’s birthright. In spite of his teaching that it was always God’s will to heal and that medicine and doctors must be shunned, one of Parham’s sons died at age 16 of a sickness which was not healed. His other son died at age 37. Most of those who attended Parham’s meetings were not healed, saving for those whose “illnesses” were psychosomatic in nature. In October 1904 a nine-year-old girl named Nettie Smith died. Her father was an avid follower of Parham and refused medical treatment for his daughter. Nettie’s death turned local public opinion against Parham because the little girl’s sickness was treatable and the community therefore considered her death unnecessary. Parham himself suffered various sicknesses throughout his life and at times was too sick to preach or travel. For example, he spent the entire winter of 1904-05 sick and bedridden (James Goff Jr, in spite of his own preaching that healing is guaranteed in the atonement . Parham was the first Pentecostal preacher to pray over handkerchiefs and mail them to those who desired his ministrations . Naturally, Parham charged money for these energized handkerchiefs.

In 1907 Parham encountered  legal difficulties that did terrible harm to his reputation. He was arrested and charged in Texas for sexual misconduct involving young boys.*

In 1908 Parham raised funds from among his deluded parishioners  to travel to the Holy Land on an “archaeological expedition to search for the lost ark of the covenant.” He claimed to the press that he had information about its location and that his finding the ark would fit into the end times biblical scheme. By December he announced that he had sufficient funds and he traveled to New York allegedly to begin his journey to Jerusalem. He never purchased a ticket to the Middle East and returned home dejectedly in January, claiming he was robbed after arriving in New York.

Parham attempted to influence or possibly even take over the strange ministry of Alexander Dowie, the man the Dictionary of Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements calls the father of modern healing evangelism, at his Zion City north of Chicago. Dowie had proclaimed himself Elijah the Restorer and the first apostle of the end times church.

In most Pentecostal histories Parham is listed as one of the chief founding fathers of Pentecostalism.

The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain systems of Christian eschatology (study of the end times) whereby all true Christians are taken from Earth by God into Heaven. Although almost all forms of Christianity believe that those who are “saved” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the term “rapture” is usually applied specifically to those theories saying that “Christians alive before the end of the world will be taken into heaven,” and there will be an intermediate time frame where non-Christians will be still left on earth before Christ arrives to set up his earthly kingdom.

The word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible. There is also no single word used by the numerous biblical authors to describe the prophetic factors which comprise the doctrine. Roman Catholics and nearly all of the main-line Protestants do not accept the concept of a rapture in which some are “taken up into Heaven” before the end of the world; this idea did not exist in the teachings of any Christians whatsoever until the late18th, and early 19th centuries, so it cannot be said to belong to Apostolic Tradition.

The legend of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, until after the year 1830. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned a syllable about it. Of course, those who feel the origin of the teaching is in the Bible would say that it only ceased being taught (for some unknown reason) at the close of the apostolic age only to reappear in 1830 But if the doctrine were so clearly stated in Scripture, it seems incredible that no one should have referred to it before the 19th  and early 20th century. This does not, in and of itself prove conclusively that the story is wrong, but it does mean that thousands of eminent scholars who lived over a span of seventeen centuries (including some of the most astute of the religious scholars of the early Christian and, later of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods) must be considered as grossly incompetent  for not having  either knowledge or understanding  of a teaching viewed by fringe religious groups as so central to their beliefs. This lapse of seventeen centuries when no one mentioned anything about it is certainly a serious obstacle to its reliability or its acceptance by the less credulous.

*Parham’s reputation was severely damaged by allegations of sexual misconduct in fall 1906 and his arrest in 1907 in San Antonio, Texas on charges of homosexuality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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