TBR News November 18, 2016

Nov 18 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  November 18, 2016: “The swinging pendulum always swings fully to the left and returns, fully to the right. It never stops part way. We are seeing a sharp national swing to the right in opposition to the ascendency of the left. None of this ought to be astonishing. Roosevelt swung the country sharply to the left in the post-Depressioin period. When he died, Truman sought the middle ground and Eisenhower moved toward the right. Roosevelt was successful in his leftward journey because the public supported him. When the public, the mass of voters, decided they have gone too far left for too long, the return of the pendulum can be unexpected and almost violent.

Hillary, an essentially weak candidate, was pushed forward by the DNC with blind arrogance and her loss, and the severe crippling of the Democrats, was inevitable.”


How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

February 24 2014

by Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes.

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption.”

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack,” while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience” and “compliance.”

We submitted numerous questions to GCHQ, including: (1) Does GCHQ in fact engage in “false flag operations” where material is posted to the Internet and falsely attributed to someone else?; (2) Does GCHQ engage in efforts to influence or manipulate political discourse online?; and (3) Does GCHQ’s mandate include targeting common criminals (such as boiler room operators), or only foreign threats?

As usual, they ignored those questions and opted instead to send their vague and nonresponsive boilerplate: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

Trump selects candidates for CIA, attorney general: transition

November 18, 2016

by Steve Holland


NEW YORK-U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has tapped three conservative loyalists and Army veterans to lead his national security and law enforcement teams, including Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director, a transition official said on Friday.

The official said retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn was chosen as the president-elect’s national security adviser, a position that does not require U.S. Senate confirmation.

All three men have accepted Trump’s offer, and the announcements will be made formally later on Friday, according to the transition team member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pompeo, 52, a third-term congressman from Kansas, was a surprise pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. He was on the House of Representatives intelligence and energy and commerce committees, as well as the committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Pompeo has echoed Trump’s criticism of the Iran nuclear deal. In a tweet on Thursday, Pompeo wrote: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

Pompeo graduated first in his class from West Point and was a cavalry officer in Europe, according to his official biography. He graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the law review, and later founded an aerospace company that provided parts for commercial and military aircraft.

Flynn, a retired U.S. Army three-star general and one of Trump’s closest advisers, was fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, a move he has attributed to his telling hard truths about the war on Islamist extremism. Other officials who worked with Flynn cited his lack of management skills and leadership style as reasons for his firing.

An Army intelligence veteran of three decades, Flynn was assistant director of national intelligence under Democratic President Barack Obama. He was director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007,

In choosing Sessions as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Trump awarded a loyalist whose hard-line and at times inflammatory statements on immigration were similar to his own. Sessions opposes any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and was an enthusiastic backer of Trump’s promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

The selection of Sessions, 69, a former Alabama attorney general and U.S. attorney, was first reported by CBS News.

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer, who is involved in the Trump presidential transition, would not confirm the reports on CNN. “Until Donald Trump says it, it’s not official,” Spicer said.

However, Trump’s transition team put out a statement on Thursday praising Sessions after their meeting a day earlier.

“While nothing has been finalized and he is still talking with others as he forms his Cabinet, the president-elect has been unbelievably impressed with Senator Sessions and his phenomenal record as Alabama’s attorney general and U.S. attorney,” the statement said.

An Army veteran, Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of its Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

Despite those qualifications, the 20-year congressional veteran could face resistance as he seeks Senate confirmation.

In 1986, Sessions became only the second nominee in 50 years to be denied confirmation as a federal judge after allegations that he had made racist remarks. Those included testimony that in 1986 he had called an African-American prosecutor “boy,” an allegation Sessions denied.

Sessions said he was not a racist, but said at his hearing that groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union could be considered “un-American.”

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

 The Stark Contrast Between GOP’s Self-Criticism in 2012 and Democrats’ Blame-Everyone-Else Posture Now

November 18 2016

by Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Democratic Party is in shambles as a political force. Not only did it just lose the White House to a wildly unpopular farce of a candidate despite a virtually unified establishment behind it, and not only is it the minority party in both the Senate and the House, but it is getting crushed at historical record rates on the state and local levels as well. Surveying this wreckage last week, party stalwart Matthew Yglesias of Vox minced no words: “the Obama years have created a Democratic Party that’s essentially a smoking pile of rubble.”

One would assume that the operatives and loyalists of such a weak, defeated and wrecked political party would be eager to engage in some introspection and self-critique, and to produce a frank accounting of what they did wrong so as to alter their plight. In the case of 2016 Democrats, one would be quite mistaken.

At least thus far, there is virtually no evidence of any such intention. Quite the contrary, Democrats have spent the last 10 days flailing around blaming everyone except for themselves, constructing a carousel of villains and scapegoats – from Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin, James Comey, the electoral college, “fake news,” and Facebook, to Susan Sarandon, Jill Stein, millennials, Bernie Sanders, Clinton-critical journalists and, most of all, insubordinate voters themselves – to blame them for failing to fulfill the responsibility that the Democratic Party, and it alone, bears: to elect Democratic candidates.

This Accept-No-Responsibility, Blame-Everyone-Else posture stands in stark contrast to how the Republican National Committee reacted in 2012, after it lost the popular vote for the fifth time in six presidential elections. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called Mitt Romney’s loss “a wake-up call,” and he was scathing about his party’s failures: “there’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement . . . So, there’s no one solution: There’s a long list of them.”

The RNC’s willingness to admit its own failures led to a comprehensive 1oo-page report, issued only a few months after its 2012 defeat, that was unflinching in its self-critique. One of the report’s co-chairs, GOP strategist Sally Bradshaw, warned upon issuance of the “autopsy” that her party was “continually marginalizing itself and unless changes are made it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.” She added that “public perception of our party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents and many minorities think Republicans don’t like them or don’t want them in our country.”

The report itself also took aim at the GOP’s chosen candidate, containing sections that were “pointed in its critique of Mitt Romney, specifically pointing to his ‘self deportation’ comment as turning off Hispanic voters.” The report began by warning that at the federal level, the GOP “is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.” Rather than maligning the voters who rejected his party, Preibus accepted responsibility for losing them: “To those who have left the party, let me say this, we want to earn your trust again, to those who have yet to trust us, we welcome you with open arms.”

One irony of 2016 is that the candidate who won the GOP nomination, and ultimately the presidency, not only ignored many of the autopsy’s core recommendations but embodied everything it warned against. Nonetheless, the reaction of Republican officials after 2012 was to accept responsibility for their loss, admit their own fundamental errors, and vow to fix what was wrong with themselves: the exact antithesis of the instinct Democrats have thus far displayed in the face of a much more sweeping and crushing defeat.

The self-exonerating mentality of Democrats is particularly remarkable in light of how comprehensive their failures have been. After the 2012 election, the GOP immersed itself in unflinching self-critique even though it still held a majority in both houses of Congress and dominated governorships and state houses. By rather stark contrast, the Democrats have now been crushed at all levels of electoral politics, yet appear more self-righteously impressed with themselves, more vindicated in their messaging and strategic choices, than ever before.

While Democrats point fingers at anyone they can find, the evidence mounts that all critical sectors of their party’s apparatus fundamentally failed. Their renowned strategic geniuses were blinded with arrogance and error: “David Plouffe, who ran Obama’s 2008 campaign, said that Clinton was a ‘one hundred per cent’ lock and advised nervous Democrats to stop ‘wetting the bed,’” reports The New Yorker’s David Remnick this week. The party’s operatives and pundits used bullying tactics to clear the field for an obviously weak and vulnerable candidate, and then insisted on nominating her despite those weaknesses, many of which were self-inflicted, and in the face of mountains of empirical evidence that her primary-race opponent was more likely to win; Remnick writes:

In a retrospective mood, staffers said that, as Obama told me, Clinton would have been an “excellent” President, but they also voiced some dismay with her campaign: dismay that she had seemed to stump so listlessly, if at all, in the Rust Belt; dismay that the Clinton family’s undeniable taste for money could not be erased by good works; dismay that she was such a middling retail politician.

Clinton’s campaign staff, drowning in a sense of inevitability and entitlement (again), ignored pleas from worried local officials for more resources to states that proved decisive. The Democratic Party’s last two chairs were compelled to resign in scandal (one from CNN, the other from the DNC itself). And the party is widely perceived to be devoted to elite Wall Street tycoons and war-making interests at the expense of pretty much everyone else, and chose a candidate who could not have been better designed to exacerbate those concerns if that had been the goal. As Steve Bannon put it: “Hillary Clinton was the perfect foil for Trump’s [anti-establishment] message.”

In sum, there is a large list of fundamental, systemic problems with virtually every aspect of the Democratic Party. Those are the deficiencies that explain its monumental electoral defeats. Acknowledging one’s own responsibility for failure is always difficult, which is why scapegoating and finger-pointing at others is so tempting.

The Democrats’ failures need not be permanent. The two parties’ fortunes are often cyclical; after 2004, many Republicans believed they had created a permanent majority, and then many Democrats believed the same after their own sweeping victories of 2006 and 2008. Democrats have won the popular vote in 6 out of the last 7 elections. Had Clinton won the electoral college as expected, and been able to control the next Supreme Court appointment(s), Democrats would have controlled two of the three branches of government, and one could have plausibly argued that they were the dominant political faction in the U.S., at least at the federal level. So none of this is irreversible.

But as is true of anyone who wants to reverse their own failures, Democrats need to accept their own responsibility and blame, and stop pretending that they were just the victims of other people’s failures and bad acts. They’re not divinely entitled to support from voters, nor to an unimpeded march to victory for their preferred candidate, nor to a press that in unison turns itself into Vox or a Saturday morning MSNBC show by suppressing reporting that reflects negatively on them and instead confines itself to hagiography. In fact, this entitlement syndrome that is leading them to blame everyone but themselves should be added very near the top of the list of self-critiques they need to begin working promptly to address.

Dear President Trump: Just Say No to the Neocons

Tell Eliot Cohen to get lost

November 18, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


The kudzu vine is one of the most invasive plants in existence: you cut it back, but that just emboldens it! You dig it up, but it keeps returning, stronger than ever. It is, in short, the horticultural equivalent of the neoconservatives, who have survived in spite of leading us over a cliff in Iraq, being roundly repudiated by the voters in the last three presidential elections, and even being called out by President-elect Donald Trump in his April 27 foreign policy speech, in which he said:

“My goal is to establish a foreign policy that will endure for several generations. That’s why I also look and have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war. We have to look to new people.

“We have to look to new people because many of the old people frankly don’t know what they’re doing, even though they may look awfully good writing in The New York Times or being watched on television.”

In that speech, and throughout the campaign, Trump took every opportunity to disdain the interventionist nation-building dogmas that had led the GOP and the nation to ruination, and lay out his own foreign policy vision of putting America first. “No country,” he averred, “has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first. Both our friends and our enemies put their countries above ours and we, while being fair to them, must start doing the same. We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism.”

From the neoconservative perspective, this was kryptonite. For the central canon of the neocon creed has been and always will be a militant intenationalism. When the Soviet Union fell, and the War Party had no more dragons to slay, neocon consigliare Bill Kristol and sidekick Robert Kagan penned a piece laying out the neoconservative design for the new era, which they summed up rather succinctly as “benevolent global hegemony.” Here was globalism beyond the dreams of Alexander – and this is what Trump was and is rejecting.

The neocons know who are their enemies, and they accurately saw Trump as their undoing: they led the “Never Trump” mini-movement, and did everything in their power to destroy him. They sponsored and promoted two open letters from the GOP “foreign policy community,” a.k.a. the League of Discredited Warmongers, viciously attacking Trump: a concerted campaign to declare him “unfit” for office was promoted by the neoconservative media, which charged him with all the familiar epithets: “racist,” “authoritarian,” “isolationist,” and even “fascist.”

One of the loudest and most unrelenting was Eliot Cohen, who opined:

“He is not only an ignoramus, but he’s a dangerous ignoramus who doesn’t know the first thing about foreign policy and doesn’t care and has some very dangerous instincts,” Cohen, who served in the George W. Bush administration, told The Washington Post in a recent interview. ‘Part of what is so dangerous about him is not just his ignorance and contempt for our alliances, but his failure to understand how important these have been to our security since 1945. And he has already done a lot of damage. Our allies are deeply shaken by this election.’”

Those “dangerous instincts” Cohen is so worried about include an instinct to abjure the counsel of people like Cohen, who have a long record of being dead wrong – with deadly consequences.

Cohen was one of the leading voices in favor of invading Iraq: the war would be a “cakewalk,” he told us, even easier than in the first Gulf war. The “liberation” of Iraqis, he pontificated, “will bring about a far, far better life than they have know for more than twenty years.” As Iraq disintegrates into warring tribes, and ISIS rampages across the decimated landscape, I wonder if Professor Cohen would be willing to tell that to the Iraqi people in person.

But the Eliot Cohens of this world never take responsibility for what their actions have wrought. This was brought home when, after the election, he reversed his earlier position in favor of boycotting Trump and all his works and suddenly declared that the out-of-work neocons who look to him for guidance should volunteer for jobs in the new administration if “they understand that they will be the horse and not the jockey” – an unfamiliar role for any neocon to play, to say the least. Slither back into the corridors of power, he advised them, but they must be sure to “keep an undated resignation letter in their desk” and “not recant a single word of what they have said” about the man they have relentlessly smeared and are going to on bended knee to ask for a job.

Neocons cannot resist the attraction to power: it’s their life’s blood, their ambrosia, the fix they need to keep doing what they do – which is, of course, making war. Without access to power, they are like any other parasite bereft of a host: only half alive.

So Cohen made inquiries: he reached out to “a friend” with connections to the transition team – and was soundly rebuffed:

Oh, there’s nothing worse than a neocon scorned! Cohen vented his spleen in an op-ed in the Washington Post, where he stated, “The tenor of the Trump team, from everything I see, read and hear, is such that, for a garden-variety Republican policy specialist, service in the early phase of the administration would carry a high risk of compromising one’s integrity and reputation.” As he told his Twitter followers:

“After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.”

Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. While Cohen and his fellow warmongers may be unable to bear the sight of an administration that doesn’t buy in to their plans for perpetual war and serial regime change, and rejects their entreaties for employment, to the rest of us the rare beauty of this scene is truly sublime.

There is every indication that the neocons will be locked out of the Trump administration, but that hasn’t prevented them and their fellow travelers – like John Bolton and Tom Cotton – from trying to sneak in through the back door. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen, but what’s encouraging is that Antiwar.com’s grassroots campaign to keep them out seems to be having some effect. The #NoBolton effort is taking off on Twitter: by this time, @transition2017 must have received thousands of tweets indicating that Trump’s most fervent supporters would feel betrayed if Bolton and/or any of his neoconservative buddies were given jobs.

At this point, everybody and his mother is being touted as a “possible” addition to the Trump administration: yes, even Mitt Romney, who called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud”! I would strongly advise everyone to chill out and take these reports with several very large grains of salt. Most of the time, the source of these stories is the person supposedly being considered.

But that doesn’t mean we should relax our vigilance – oh no, not by a long shot.

Germany on track for biggest number of deportations since 2003: report

November 17, 2016


Germany could deport as many as 26,500 migrants in 2016, more than in any year since 2003, a newspaper said on Thursday, citing federal police documents.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces a national election next year, has been criticized for her open door refugee policy after an influx of more than a million people over the past year. She has emphasized the need to accelerate the deportation of migrants who have been denied asylum.

The Rheinische Post newspaper reported that 19,914 people had been deported by the end of September, almost three-quarters of them to the western Balkans.

A total of 20,888 people were deported in all of 2015, the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

As fake news takes over Facebook feeds, many are taking satire as fact

A lie can spread on Facebook before the truth has even been posted, and even the most savvy news consumers can be tricked. What can we do about it?

November 17, 2016

by Nicky Woolf

The Guardian

San Francisco-Robert thought hard about the exact number of Syrian refugees he wanted to place in Native American reservations.

He originally had decided on 50,000 but thought that sounded too believable. It needed to be more ridiculous. So he wrote his headline:

US to House 250,000 Syrian Refugees at Navajo, Standing Rock Indian Reservations

Of course, that isn’t true in the slightest. But on Facebook, a lie can go around the world before the truth has even been posted.

Robert – who asked that his last name not be used – considers himself a satirist. A glance through his site, Real News Right Now, indeed shows a light, if perhaps too subtle, touch of humor.

Of course, that means not everyone got the joke. Fox News’s Sean Hannity was soon parroting the 250,000 refugees claim. Soon, so was Donald Trump.

Robert was shocked. “That was very unsettling,” he said. “I was, like, this is incredible.”

Robert is 34 and works in hospitality in Washington. “I make a little bit of money each month through ad revenue, but it all goes toward the site’s upkeep and promoting my articles through various social media platforms,” he said. “This is more of a labor of love for me than a profitable enterprise.”

He said he counts his site as satire, like the better-known the Onion.

But the boundary between satire and real news is a vast grey area. Distributed – largely on Facebook – alongside deliberately false stories and partisan coverage, whether pumped out to suck up advertising revenue or for ideological reasons, it might not be immediately obvious to some that Real News Right Now is satire.

The signs are subtle: the fictional journalist behind the site, R Hobbus, is listed as having won the 2011 Stephen Glass Distinction in Journalistic Integrity award – mocking a journalist who was revealed to have falsified sources and information for stories – for one thing. But there is no full disclaimer.

Nor would it necessarily stop people taking his stories seriously if there was; even a site as well-known as the Onion is often mistaken for real news.

Europe’s Top Cop Fears Blowback From ISIS ‘Squeeze’

November 17, 2016

by James Gordon Meek

abc news

As military pressure on ISIS ramps up, foreign fighters who travelled to Syria and Iraq in recent years could return home to Western Europe and pose a domestic threat, the continent’s top law enforcement official said in an interview on Wednesday.

Europol Director Rob Wainwright welcomed the progress made by the U.S.-led coalition against the terror group and predicted its eventual downfall, but told ABC News that Western European nations are challenged with the task of tracking returning foreign fighters and neutralizing any threat they may present.

Trained Abroad, Attacking at Home

“What we are particularly concerned about in the European security environment is the extent to which that [coalition military campaign] might squeeze the terrorist fighters that have flocked there in the last couple of years to come home — to come home and carry out the kind of atrocities that we have already seen in Paris and Brussels and other locations,” Wainwright said.

Europol, a continent-wide criminal intelligence agency, as well as intelligence agencies in individual European countries are monitoring for increases in the return of those fighters to Europe, he said in the interview with ABC News’ Brian Ross.

Several European countries from NATO, such as France and the United Kingdom, are part of the coalition pounding ISIS from the air, assisting in training moderate Syrian rebels or providing aid and shelter to war refugees.

Concerned about the threat posed by returning fighters, a major priority for intelligence agencies has been to identify all foreign fighters who’ve traveled to join the so-called “caliphate” declared in 2014 by the terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“By the time they’ve come back and carry out these attacks, they were more trained, better trained, more honed operatives. And that’s the threat,” Wainwright said.

Paris suffered a major attack just over a year ago by a cell of ISIS operatives who killed more than 135 civilians in gun and bomb attacks in the streets and at businesses such as the Bataclan Theater.

Remnants of that ISIS cell resurfaced months later in a shocking spree of attacks in the airport and public transit system of neighboring Brussels.

Wainwright said that there may be other ISIS cells that are poised to strike in Europe, which is easy to reach overland from Syria.

“ISIS is still active. They are still in the business of sending their terrorists to Europe, to plan and carry out these attacks — much harder for them now to do it, but the threat is still there,” he said.

This threat has led to new measures by European Union members to try to secure borders.

Terrorist-Criminal Nexus

Another growing concern voiced by the Europol chief, who leads a multi-national agency of 1,000 operatives including American law enforcement officers, is that ISIS fighters — who often have criminal backgrounds in Europe — will further leverage their contacts in the criminal underworld “to sneak back [through] the back door.”

“We have seen them operating that on the strategic level, making use of that to acquire firearms, to acquire false documents, to also operate and manipulate perhaps some of the illegal immigration networks that are also a security concern to Europe right now,” Wainwright said.

“We are not complacent about this and we are very much alert to any signs,” he said.

U.S. Concerns

While the United States is buffered from the threat to some extent by geography, the European chief’s comments come amid concerns by his counterparts in the United States that the holiday season could prove opportune for those bent on carrying out an attack.

As ABC News reported on Tuesday, a bulletin posted by the Department of Homeland Security warned that “public events and places where people congregate,” could be a target.

The agency was quick to note, however, that it was unaware of any “intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations.”

Racism in Action: The Neo-Confederate Movement in American Politics

November 18, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American….And that racism inclination still exists.  And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.” President Jimmy Carter and former Governor of Georgia.

The Neo-Confederate Movement

Robert Lewis Dabney, a 19th century theologian, is considered to be the most early advocate of a theological perspective of the Civil War.” Dabney served during the Civil War as the chaplain to General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.  After the war, Dabney argued in books and lectures, based on scripture, that slavery was justified by the Bible and that “slavery was a necessary good for what he called the ‘depraved’ classes.” Sebesta and Hague wrote, “Dabney believed that the Bible legitimated slavery, and thus opposition to slavery was tantamount to rejecting Christianity.

Dabney’s post-Civil War writings established the theological cornerstone from which future Christian Reconstructionists and neo-Confederate theologians and strategists would expand their theological ideology and programmatic endeavors.  Dabney’s writings contain such concepts as: “governments were legitimate only if they derived from the will of God;” “condemned human equality and women’s rights… [and] opposed public schooling…justifying all his positions by Biblical interpretation;” “that modern science and development of the theory of evolution were ‘anti-theological’ and that amongst future generations this would result in a ‘nascent contempt for their father’s Bibles and irreparably damage the South’s ‘Christian households.’”

Three key theologians and theoreticians trace their own intellectual lineage back to Dabney—the late Rousas J. Rushdoony, founder of Christian Reconstructionism at the Chalcedon Foundation; Steven Wilkins, co-founder (with history professor Michael Hill) of the racist, secessionist League of the South; and Douglas Wilson, who heads the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, Credenda/Agenda, Canon Press, and New Saint Andrews College—all of them located in Moscow, Idaho.

Neo-Confederates believe that with the Civil War, Lincoln was able to expand the power of the federal government beyond constitutional limits, and that with the defeat of the Confederacy the ideals of states’ rights were defeated.  They believe that the 14th Amendment was illegally adopted.  To them this has resulted in the growth of federal government into a Leviathan, a very large monstrous beast in the bible….In this historical view big government, integration and Brown vs. Brown, gay rights, civil rights, feminism, minorities, taxes, FDR, and other issues can be viewed as the result of the American Republic jumping the tracks during the Civil War and being out of control.

The neo-Confederate doctrine that Congressman Ron Paul is associated with believes in the re-establishment of the Confederacy as a Bible-based republic opposed to all laws, rights, or behaviors that cannot be justified according to the Bible.  Its leading theologians have written justifications of slavery as Biblically-based and have described it as a benign social institution.  On theological grounds, neo-Confederates believe the Civil War was a struggle between orthodox Christianity and a heretical Union.  In the mid-twentieth century, many Christian nationalists became politically involved because they opposed the desegregation of white schools and attempts by the federal government to remove their tax exempt status from white private school created to escape the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to desegregate white-only schools.  The subsequent development of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the moral pressure this movement exerted on federal, state and local governments, as well as the reign of terror unleashed by the Ku Klux Klan with the implicit support of Southern governors, legislatures, congressmen, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, juries, white clergy, and public opinion all played a role in the development of the neo-Confederate movement.

In September 1957, President Eisenhower ordered federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to protect nine black children attempting to desegregate a white public school.  In September 1962, President Kennedy ordered federal marshals, Army, and National Guard troops to protect James Meredith as he attempted to enroll in the University of Mississippi.

Indicative of the Southern rage underlying the reign of terror, in May 1964, Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi White Knights, declared: “‘The events which will occur in Mississippi this summer may well determine the fate of Christian civilization for centuries to come.’”  This Ku Klux Klan statement is no different than statements from the League of the South that was founded in 1994. Opposition to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s was not limited to Kirk and the neo-Confederate movement and the John Birch Society. William F. Buckley and the National Review defended the white supremacists

In 1980, right after the Republican Party’s national convention, Ronald Reagan spoke at the fairgrounds to an audience of over thirty thousand, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, “‘I believe in states’ rights.’” Reagan was following in the footsteps of Barry Goldwater in 1964 who carried only his home state of Arizona and five states in the Deep South. This became a strong indication of future white voting patterns.  One should also consider George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign as the American Independent Party candidate; former Klan leader David Duke’s multiple campaigns as a Democrat, Republican, and Populist; and, Patrick Buchanan’s presidential run in 1992 in the Republican primaries that expropriated Duke’s issues. Between 1954 and 2004 the Republican gains in the House of Representatives was a reversal of the dominance the Democrats had in 1954.  The Democrats had net gains outside the South, but more than all of the Democratic net loss to the Republicans came from the Southern switch.Basicially the racial issue became essential to the ability of conservatives to win elections in spite of economic policies that favored a minority over the majority. It is important to remember that the “New Right” movement that brought Reagan to victory had been deeply involved in opposition to civil rights.  Max Blumenthal reported that after the 1954 Supreme Court decision the late Jerry Falwell “posited segregation as a biblical mandate” and worked with the FBI to try and smear Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as a “communist subversive,” the same charge raised by the John Birch Society. King’s subsequent assassination has never been satisfactorily solved and the accepted stories that James Earl Ray was, like Oswald, the lone assassin does not stand up to objective analysis.  In 1966, Falwell started the Lynchburg Christian Academy, “‘a private school for white students.’”  And, as Michelle Goldberg noted, “what spurred them [the Christian Right] into action was the IRS’s attempt to revoke the tax-exempt status of whites-only Christian schools, schools that had been created specifically to evade desegregation.”

Steven Wilkins, co-founder of the racist, secessionist League of the South, is “arguably the most prominent member of the neo-Confederate clergy,” and a “resident instructor at the R.L. Dabney Center for Theological Studies” and “writes for almost all the religious publications and groups that advance neo-Confederate and Christian nationalist ideas. Another follower of Dabney is theologian Douglas Wilson.  For more than 30 years Wilson has run a mini-Christian Reconstructionist empire in Idaho that includes the New Saint Andrews College; Logos School, a private Christian academy; the Association of Classical and Christian Schools that certifies such private academies; Canon Press; the journal Credenda/Agenda; and, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals.  Both Wilkins and Wilson, writing separately or jointly, are major proponents of the theological war thesis and defend “slavery as Biblically justified.”

Writing in 2002, Sebesta and Hague reported that the “Sons of Confederate Veterans heritage organization, Christian Reconstructionist bodies such as the Chalcedon Foundation, and the League of the South now generally accept the theological war thesis….Collaboration between the Christian Reconstructionist movement and the League of the South has also increased, evidencing a growing overlap in the historical, political and theological perspectives of participants in both organizations.

The practical effect of this conflation of nationalisms is an opposition to the following, according to Michael Hill, co-founder of the League of the South: loss of American sovereignty to foreign institutions; “‘radical egalitarianism; feminism; sodomite rights; Third World immigration; gun control; hate crime legislation (almost meant to be used against whites); judicial tyranny; burdensome taxation; multiculturalism and diversity (code words for anti-white, anti-Christian bigotry); the universal rights of man; and other manifestations of a new brand of politically-correct totalitarianism.’”

The other major neo-Confederate organization of interest here is the radical libertarian Ludwig von Meises Institute headed by Lew Rockwell, a long-time friend and political-business partner of Ron Paul.  In 2003, the Institute and the associated LewRockwell.com spearheaded a protest against the erection of a President Abraham Lincoln statue in Richmond, Virginia, while holding a “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  LewRockwell.com also hosts a “King Lincoln” archive of articles by leading neo-Confederate writers. The Institute also serves as an adjunct home to neo-Confederate professors Thomas D. Lorenzo, Donald Livingston, and Clyde Wilson.  Lorenzo, a professor of economics, has written that the Civil War was fought to end the right of secession, not to end slavery.  He was the star of the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  Livingston, a professor of philosophy who specializes on David Hume, he was the first director of the League of the South’s Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History.  Livingston’s writings have strongly defended the right of the pre-Civil War South to  secede and has written that Lincoln started the Civil War in order to establish a centralized state. He also was present at the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  Lastly, Clyde Wilson is the “biggest intellectual heavyweight associated with the neo-Confederate scene.” Wilson specializes in the writings of John C. Calhoun, “the preeminent states’ rights theorists before the Civil War.” Wilson was also a founding member of the League of the South.

Libertarianism—Born Racist

To sort through these conflicting claims on the centrality of race to the Tea Party movement it is necessary to cover the following salient issues raised by some of the writers.  It is clearly evident that the conservative movements in the United Sates have never accepted integration in any of its manifestations and it is also true that the Tea Party movement is forcing the conservative movement in the United States towards the ultra-right and its strong racial sentiments. To what degree has Ron Paul adopted the Southern Strategy of abandoning the N-word racism and adopting the abstract and race-neutral code words and public policies that still amount to a defense of states’ rights and a defense of white supremacy or white nationalism?  To what degree is libertarian economic philosophy inherently racist?  And, finally, is this inherent racism the reason why libertarian writers such as but not limited to David Weigel and Glenn Greenwald still blandly refer to Ron Paul as a “libertarian” and a champion of “individual liberty” but prefer not to discuss his support for a white Christian nationalist and inherently anti-black agenda?

It is clearly evident that twentieth century libertarianism was born racist and is inherently racist.

That conclusion rests on the authority of none other than the late Murray N. Rothbard, co-founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute along with Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul.  The Institute is not only one of the main neo-Confederate think tanks—one of the key components of the Ron Paul network—but also the primary institution supporting Ron Paul and his Tea Party movement.  The Institute is also the home of the Christian Reconstruction economic libertarian Gary North, who is also the informal strategic adviser to Ron Paul.

According to Rothbard, this libertarian coalition was hard-core regressive: “A few libertarian extremists wanted to go all the way back to the Articles of Confederation, but the great bulk of the right was committed to the United States Constitution—but a Constitution construed so ‘strictly’ as to outlaw much twentieth-century legislation, certainly on the federal level” (emphasis in original).

Edward Sebesta, in an early article on “The Neo-Confederate Movement,” established that Russell Kirk, “perhaps the most prominent conservative of the 20th century,” “promoted the values of southern conservatism and ultimately the neo-Confederates.” Kirk was an early supporter of the Southern Partisan, a leading neo-Confederate journal that attracted conservative writers from across the country, not just the South.  Kirk’s considerable prestige, prodigious writings, and intellectual support ensured that “the values of southern conservatism and admiration for the Confederacy, became accepted and not peripheral, not sectional for conservatism.”

William Voegeli in article on “Civil Rights & the Conservative Movement” noted that Buckley in 1957 wrote an article “Why the South Must Prevail” in which Buckley asked “‘whether the White community in the South is entitled to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically?….The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.’”

Voegeli noted that Buckley “regularly” expressed “the asymmetry of his sympathies—genuine concern for Southern whites beset by integrationists, but more often than not, perfunctory concern for Southern blacks beset by bigots.” Buckley’s views resembled “that of the ‘Southern Manifesto’ signed in 1956 by nearly every senator and representative from the South” which accused the Brown v. Board decision of ‘destroying the amicable relations between white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races.  It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding.’”33

The Southern Manifesto was more than a manifesto.  Part of the white supremacist reaction was a reign of terror against civil rights workers and any African American who could be made an example of for disturbing the apartheid system.  The other reaction was the use of Tenth Amendment (states’ rights) to nullify the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling.  For example, the Florida and Georgia legislatures passed laws that with slightly different wording stated, “‘decisions and orders of the Supreme Court of the United States denying the individual sovereign States the power to enact laws relating to the separation of the races in public institutions of a state are null, void and of no force or effect.’”

Conservative opposition to all civil rights legislation continued with Goldwater’s argument derived from legal advice given by his legal advisers William Rehnquist and Robert Bork that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “‘a grave threat’ to a constitutional republic in which fifty sovereign states have reserved to themselves and to the people those powers not specifically granted to the central or Federal government.’” With all due respect to Rehnquist and Bork, the Ninth Amendment gave all unenumerated rights to the people and none of these unenumerated rights to the states.

Conservative and Republican opposition to all civil rights legislation and the defense of states’ rights continued under the GOP’s Southern Strategy—a strategy the Republicans have never repudiated and continue to follow.  According to the late Lee Atwater, the essence of the strategy was to conceptually shift the focus away from overt and explicit expressions of racism (the N-word) to “say[ing] stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”  When candidate Reagan went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and said “‘I believe in states’ rights’” that Reagan “was elbow deep in the same race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.”  As Bob Herbert noted, “When Democrats revolted against racism, the G.O.P. rallied to its banner.”

Like the Southern Manifesto which claimed that relations between the races during the Jim Crow era were “amicable” and based on “friendship and understanding,” the neo-Confederate movement sought to portrays racial relations under slavery as highly favorable to the slaves and a burden to the slave masters.  A book written in the 1950s claimed, “‘No, the Southern planter’s work was civilizing the poor, deluded Negro—the greatest missionary work known to history….The institution of slavery as it was in the South, so far from degrading the Negro was fast elevating him above his nature and his race.”

Steven Wilkins and Douglas Wilson co-authored a 1996 book, Southern Slavery: As It Was, which claimed that “‘Slavery as it existed in the South…was a relationship based upon mutual affection and harmony….There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.’”

In addition to the Ludwig von Mises Institute, other leading neo-Confederate organizations include the Council of Conservative Citizens, Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Rockford Institute in Illinois.  There are many others.

It is the core belief of the League of the South, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation that the Civil War “was a theological war over the future of American religiosity fought between devout Confederate and heretical Union states” and that the Confederate “battle flag and other Confederate icons are Christian symbols and the assertion that opposition to them equates to a rejection of Christianity

Central to the concept of “banal white nationalism” is the much larger concept of the neo-Confederacy which has as its basic principles, among others: states’ rights, local control of schooling, Christian traditions, Confederate symbols, Southerners are persecuted as racists, a natural social hierarchy, white men being dominant in a social hierarchy stratified by race and gender, a disdain for gays and lesbians, and an opposition to modern democracy.  Much of this is no longer unique to neo-Confederates, but extends to Christian nationalists, variants of libertarianism, and other white nationalists.  Moreover, there are institutional linkages across domains such as Christian nationalist and libertarian organizations and white nationalist organizations.

It should therefore come as no surprise that there are two main flags associated with the Tea Party movement—the Confederate flag symbolizing slavery and treason (the neo-Confederates would prefer secession) and the Gadsden flag symbolizing patriotic revolution

That no Republican or Tea Party movement leaderships vociferously opposed the presence of the Confederate flag, or Nazi symbols or references, is indicative of just how pervasive this neo-Confederate mindset, banal white nationalism, and anti-Semitism are in the larger conservative movement.

Also noted is the proliferation of Nazi symbolism and rhetoric associated with the Tea Party movement.

The Christian Reconstructionist Component of the Neo-Confederate Movement

Frederick Clarkson, in his 1997 book Eternal Hostility—The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy—identified the key theological ideas of Christian Reconstructionism developed by Rushdoony: “the Bible is to be the governing text for all areas of life—such as government, education and law;” “Reconstructionists have formulated a ‘Biblical worldview’ and ‘Biblical principles’ to govern and inform their lives and politics;” “Reconstructionists…set a course of world conquest or ‘dominion,’ claiming a biblically prophesied ‘inevitable victory;’”  “Epitomizing the Reconstructionist idea of biblical ‘warfare’ is the centrality of capital punishment…for apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, ‘sodomy or homosexuality,’ incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and in the case of women, ‘unchastity before marriage’…[and] women who have had abortions should be publicly executed.”  Clarkson noted that Christian Reconstructionism is “arguably the driving ideology of the Christian Right today.”

That is not to imply that Christian Reconstructionism did not have variants or that the Christian Right adopted wholesale the Christian Reconstructionist theology, or did not have other theological influences.  The Christian Right, for example, has conveniently ignored or softened its approach to the death penalty for the wide variety of “crimes” demanded for by Rushdoony.  But, it has largely adopted its agenda.  Clarkson noted that the Christian nationalist’s Council for National Policy’s secular and theological agendas range “from the dismantling of the public schools, to the criminalization of abortion and homosexuality, the radical deregulation of every major consumer and environmental protection initiative of the federal government, and the weakening, if not elimination of civil rights laws protecting the interests of women and minorities.”

A decade later Michelle Goldberg in her 2007 book, Kingdom Coming—The Rise of Christian Nationalism, observed its totalitarian “elements.”  Goldberg wrote that Christian nationalism was a “totalistic political ideology” based “on the conviction that true Christianity must govern every aspect of public and private life, and that all—government, science, history, culture, and relationships—must be understood according to the dictates of scripture.  There are biblically correct positions on every issue, from gay marriage to income tax rates, and only those with the right worldview can discern them.”

the historical revisionist interpretation of America being founded as a “Christian nation” is the “war on the courts.”  Goldberg noted that the “Christian nationalists view the courts as the last intolerable obstacle to their palingenetic dream.  Believing America to be a Christian nation, they see any ruling that contradicts their theology as de facto unconstitutional, and its enforcement tyrannical.  They’re convinced that they must destroy the judiciary’s power to liberate themselves.”  Moreover, the Christian nationalist effort to strip the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts from hearing cases related to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause “could let state governments criminalize abortion and gay sex [read vociferous advocacy of states’ rights under the Tenth Amendment].  It could sanction the reinstitution of school prayer and the teaching of creationism and permit the ever greater Christianization of the country’s social services…It could intrude into the most intimate corners of Americans’ private lives.”

Goldberg described one event (among several) in which Republican congressional staffers came together with neo-Confederates, Christian Reconstructionists, and others who had subconsciously absorbed Rushdoony’s dominionist message.

At a mid-2005 Confronting the Judicial War on Faith rally key speakers included Michael Peroutka, a prominent militia supporter, member of the League of the South, and former presidential candidate of the Constitution Party; Howard Phillips, founder and head of the Constitution Party; and, Herb Titus, the party’s former vice presidential candidate in 1996, and the founder and former dean of Oral Roberts’ Regent University Law School.  David Gibbs, a lawyer trained at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, subconsciously echoed the Christian revisionism of Rushdoony and David Barton, founder of the Texas-based Wallbuilders and leading pseudo-historian promoting the myth that America was founded as a “Christian nation.” Gibbs told the crowd, “‘How many here understand we were founded as one nation under God?…That’s why the Ten Commandments are so important.  They were the original source of American law.  The Bible was understood to be authoritative.  When the founding fathers said, ‘One Nation under God,’ they made the decision that they would submit to what God had put forward in his law.’”

The purpose of the Judicial War on Faith rally was to express support for the Constitution Restoration Act authored by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was impeached over his refusal to remove a nearly three-ton monument of the Ten Commandments from the capitol’s judicial building, and Herb Titus.  The Constitution Restoration Act was introduced in 2004 into the Senate by Senators Sam Brownback and Richard Shelby, and, the House by Representatives by James Sensenbrenner. Blumenthal reported that the Act “authorized Congress to impeach judges who failed to abide by ‘the standard of good behavior’ supposedly required by the Constitution.  Refusal to acknowledge ‘God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government,’ or reliance in any way on international law in their rulings would also trigger impeachment.”

Goldberg reported that the totalitarian elements and a desire for the physical destruction (death) to judges came from both religious and secular speakers.  Reverend Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America for “‘patriot pastors,’” prayed for the death of Judge George Greer who had decided the Schiavo case: “‘Father, we echo the words of the apostle Paul, because we know Judge Greer claims to be a Christian.  So the apostle Paul said in his First Corinthians 5…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may saved in the day of our Lord Jesus.’”  The constitutional lawyer Edwin Vieira in criticizing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the Lawrence v. Texas case (in a defeat for states’ rights, it struck down Texas’ sodomy law), admiringly borrowed a truncated phrase from Joseph Stalin as a solution to the “‘personnel problem,’” “‘No man, no problem.’”  Stalin’s full quote: “‘Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.’”.

Chris Hedges in his 2006 book, American Fascists—The Christian Right and the War on America—reported on the “racist and brutal intolerance of the intellectual godfathers of today’s Christian Reconstructionism.”  Based on his reading of Rushdoony’s The Institutes of Biblical Law, Hedges observed that “The Jews, who neglected to fulfill God’s commands in the Hebrew scriptures, have, in this belief system, forfeited their place as God’s chosen people and have been replaced by Christians….Rushdoony dismissed the widely accepted estimate of 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust as an inflated figure, and his theories on race often echo those found in Nazi eugenics, in which there are higher and lower forms of human beings.  Those considered by the Christian state to be immoral and incapable of reform are to be exterminated.”

The other key development in movement towards an American theocracy is the influence of the John Birch Society upon R.J. Rushdoony and the Christian nationalists’ Council for National Policy.

Rushdoony admired the cellular structure of the John Birch Society as having a ‘strong resemblance to the early church.’”  Furthermore, Christian “Reconstructionist literature can be found in JBS affiliated American Opinion bookstores.  Indeed, the conspiracist views of Reconstructionist writers (focusing on the United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations, among others) are consistent with those of the John Birch Society.”  While the Christian Reconstructionists placed their primary emphasis on orthodox Christianity rather than politics, As Welch who founded the John Birch Society in 1958 said, ‘This is a world-wide battle, between lightness and darkness; between freedom and slavery; between the spirit of Christianity and spirit of [sic] anti-Christ for the souls and bodies of men.’”

The Council for National Policy “‘was inspired by business and political leaders who were also leaders of the John Birch Society.’”16 Nelson Bunker Hunt, a member of the John Birch Society’s national council, assisted Tim LaHaye, a former JBS trainer and later co-author of the very successful Left Behind series of fictional ‘Rapture’ novels, in founding the Council for National Policy.

Ron Paul has made the following comment on the Patriot Network website: “If we stuck to the Constitution as written, we would have no federal meddling in our schools; no Federal Reserve; no U.S. membership in the UN; no gun control; and no foreign aid.  We would have no welfare for big corporations; or the ‘poor;’ …no arrogant federal judges usurping states’ rights; no attacks on private property; no income tax.  We could get rid of most of the cabinet departments, most of the agencies, and most of the budget.” This is a mixture of Christian Reconstructionism and Posse Comitatus ideology.  There should be no surprise that the founder of The Patriot Network is also the founder of the South Carolina Constitution Party and the state’s Libertarian Party.

2 responses so far

  1. great article as usual. it underscores how complicated and nuanced politics in america really is. i am.left despairing that there are really ANY answers to our inherant national problems which begin with the schizophrenia of a free republic proclaimed within an economic system that includes slavery. one cannot help but think that the south had every right to succeed and should have been allowed to. then the liberals would of had an option and the racists another. that way when the economy of the south collapsed the blacks could.have migrated to a better life and the bigots could have been left happy to live alone with themselves. lincoln fucked up america.

  2. American politics is and has been since the Roosevelt-era firmly in the hands of business oligarchs. Who are they? They fluctuate from year to year and if I posted names, very few would recognize them. Read Mills ‘Power Elite 1954 to understand this. The book is dated but the concepts are dead-on. They control elections and select candidates who will support their business aims. The wishes, and needs, of the general public mean nothing to them. The current election upset their plans and they and their media friends are not happy. It is a very stupid, and very dangerous, attitude to ignore the genuine wishes of the mass of the voters. The DNC did and the Democrats lost across the board.

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