TBR News October 16, 2016

Oct 16 2016

The Voice of the White House


Washington, D.C.  October 16, 2016:”In the coming election, we have almost no choice whatever. It is a real pity that American politics has dropped to the level it is at now. There are no candidates for political offices in the US that have anything to offer of substance. Far right, far left, anti-business, pro-business, pro-Israel, anti-Israel platforms (though not the latter in public) and on and on. But none of the candidates ever address the more serious problems of unemployment, a shrinking economy or the critical problem of overpopulation, national food production or an educational system that is declining into the bottom of the elevator shaft. Any candidate that would address these issues or the ones of military adventurism with its huge bite of the taxpayers largess would be quickly brushed aside and forgotten. Much of this is the apathy of the voting public which has now resulted in the present slate of candidates. We get just exactly what we pay for.”

 ‘Lesser of two evils is still evil’: Voters, lawmakers on tough presidential choices of 2016

October 16. 2016


Many Americans long for a knight in shining armor-type candidate who bows to no party to represent them in the White House. But in a system dominated by two parties, voters find themselves in hell, choosing between two not-necessarily lesser evils.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are two of the most unpopular candidates for the White House in US history, according to multiple polls. Voters are less supporters than they are deciding who’s the least worst candidate.

Billionaire Charles Koch, famous for bankrolling conservative policies, likened the two candidates to deadly illnesses.

“If I had to vote for cancer or heart attack, why would I vote for either?” Koch told Fortune, adding when pressed, “Why do I have to? Are you going to put a gun to my head? I see two people that, as of this point, we’re not supporting,” he said, likely referring to Koch Industries’ political action committee.

When asked by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman which candidate he prefered, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had a more topical comparison, considering the various sexual issues that have come up in this election: “Well, you’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea? Personally, I would prefer neither,” Assange said.

“We are making the decision between the lesser of the two evils, in my opinion,” Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) told the Charleston Post and Courier. “I’m not suggesting they’re both evil. I’m suggesting they’re both bad.”

It’s a view that many voters share, with dire predictions on both sides of the aisle as to what will happen if the opposing party’s candidate wins the White House.

Some Trump voters don’t see the battle as one between two evils, but rather view Clinton as evil incarnate.

“It would be a grave moral evil not to do everything possible to defeat Clinton,” Major General Patrick Henry Brady, one of the United States’ most decorated living military veterans, told WND’s David Kupelian in mid-September. “What she would do is morally, physically and intellectually evil for our country.”

“In this case, I see no ‘lesser evil’,” Brady added. He will be voting for Trump.

Others, however, are only grudgingly voting for the GOP nominee solely because they see him as the lesser evil. In mid-September, a Quinnipiac poll found that a full half of Trump supporters say they are “picking the lesser of two evils.”

Being close to the sausage-making of politics doesn’t make the election any more palatable for some lawmakers, who ‒ like Scott ‒ are holding their noses and voting for Trump.

It’s a view held by their constituents and others around the country.

It’s not any different on the Democratic side of things: Clinton may be bad, but Trump is so much worse for those who are choosing to vote for the former secretary of state.

For Lisa Brouillette on Quora, Clinton is “of course” the lesser of two evils. “Whatever her faults, past mistakes and misdeeds, at least she’s sane,” Brouillette wrote. “Trump of the other hand, sounds like a nutcase, both in tone and in content. ‘Open-minded’ about nuclear war? And there are actually people in America who want this madman’s finger next to the red button?”

“When your choice is two reprehensible, corrupt, and immoral demagogues, you can always pick the ethical way out and choose none of the above. The Republic will survive an election cycle,” David Harsanyi wrote for the National Review. But, he added, “For those who are idealists about the Constitution — and there are probably far fewer than some of us like to imagine — there are a number of reasons to sabotage the Trump party, even if it ends with a Clinton presidency.”

Newspapers, including many that have broken with long-standing tradition, are endorsing Clinton at a rate of 110-0, with nine saying “not Trump” and six opting for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. One such paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in Texas, said Clinton “is not, as has been sold, a mere lesser of two evils.” Trump, on the other hand, “is only the intersection for fears and hatreds that already existed and that bring out the worst in the people privileged to live in the world’s greatest nation. Using hatred and fear isn’t what makes Trump smart. It’s what makes him an insult to voters’ intelligence.”

Unfortunately for both candidates, “the lesser of two evils is still evil” to many people. Yet they aren’t flocking to third-party candidates like Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein, either. At this point, who ends up as Lucifer versus who ends up as Beelzebub could hinge on voter turnout.

“The options given to the US voters are so dreadful in this election that the lesser-of-two-evils rationale is not that useful anymore,” Gilbert Mercier wrote for Counterpunch. “When democracy is dead, it is hard to decide which corpse is less putrid. The question in this diabolic equation should be: which of the two evils will be more resolutely insane to lead World War III?”

Kremlin: Russia faces unprecedented cyber-threats from the US

October 15, 2016


US aggressiveness is growing, and threats to carry out cyberattacks against Russia are unprecedented, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, adding that Russia will take “precautionary measures.”

“The fact is, US unpredictability and aggression keep growing, and such threats against Moscow and our country’s leadership are unprecedented, because the threat is being announced at the level of the US Vice President,” Peskov told RIA Novosti. “Of course, given such an aggressive, unpredictable line, we have to take measures to protect our interests, somehow hedge the risks,” he said, adding that “such unpredictability is dangerous for the whole world.”

US Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday that Washington is ready to respond to hack attacks allegedly conducted by Russia and designed to interfere with the upcoming US elections.

“Why haven’t we sent a message yet to Putin,” Chuck Todd, host of the “Meet the Press” show on NBC, asked Joe Biden.

“We are sending a message [to Putin]… We have a capacity to do it, and…”

“He’ll known it?” Todd interfered.

“He’ll know it. It will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact,” the US vice president replied.

His threats coincided with an NBC News report citing “current and former officials,” claiming that the CIA is planning a “clandestine” cyberattack on Russia in retaliation for its alleged efforts to influence the US elections against Hillary Clinton. The “wide-ranging operation” is meant to “embarrass” Russia’s leadership, NBC News reported.

The report claimed to have direct knowledge of the situation, saying the CIA had been tasked with providing options to the White House.

WikiLeaks, however, has expressed doubt over the seriousness of the report about the “clandestine” cyberwar on Russia.

“If the US ‘clandestine’ pending cyberwar on Russia was serious: 1) it would not have been announced 2) it would be the NSA [National Security Agency] and not the CIA,” WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.

Accusations against Russia have become louder in recent days with WikiLeaks releasing thousands of the so called “Podesta emails,” exposing Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wall Street and controversial views on Syria, among other things. Some mainstream media outlets were quick to accuse the Kremlin of teaming up with WikiLeaks, allegedly providing it with massive amounts of inside scoops to post. The evidence-free allegations have been denied both by Moscow and by WikiLeaks.

Responding to accusations last week, the Russian presidential press secretary mentioned that “tens of thousands of hackers” try to break into the sites of Russian officials on a daily basis, but this never prompted Moscow to point a finger at Washington.

Panel: No indication of Russian aggression in Arctic

October 14, 2016


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — While Russia has built up its military on its side of the Arctic, there is no evidence of Russian aggression in the region, a panel of national security experts said.

Julia Gourley, the senior Arctic official at the U.S. State Department, said Thursday that it appears that Russia is preparing to protect its economic interests. All countries would do the same, she said during a briefing for congressional staff in Washington, D.C.

Russia has built or refurbished bases in the Arctic, constructed new airfields and built-out ports, the Alaska Public Radio Network reported.

The country also has submitted to a United Nations commission a claim for more territory in the Arctic based on the reach of its continental shelf. While the documents surrounding the claim aren’t public, the State Department doesn’t consider the claim to be outlandish, Gourley said.

“In determining its outer limits of the continental shelf, so far there are no overlaps with the United States, from what we know of its submission,” she said.

The United States is mapping its continental shelf in the region.

Sherri Goodman, a former Pentagon official who is now a think-tank fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, said the United States should pay attention for any changes in the way Russia operates in the Arctic.

“I agreed that today we are not facing those challenges in the Arctic, with Russia,” she said. “But we’ve got to operate up there with eyes wide open.”

Freed From Gag Order, Google Reveals It Received Secret FBI Subpoena

October 14 2016

by Jenna McLaughlin

The Intercept

Google revealed Wednesday it had been released from an FBI gag order that came with a secret demand for its customers’ personal information.

The FBI secret subpoena, known as a national security letter, does not require a court approval. Investigators simply need to clear a low internal bar demonstrating that the information is “relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

The national security letter issued to Google was mentioned without fanfare in Google’s latest bi-annual transparency report, which includes information on government requests for data the company received from around the world in the first half of 2016.

Google received the secret subpoena in first half of 2015, according to the report.

An accompanying blog post titled “Building on Surveillance Reform,” also identified new countries that made requests — Algeria, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia among them — and reveals that Google saw an increase in requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Though the Department of Justice and FBI are required by law, following the passage of the USA Freedom Act, to “periodically review” national security letters to determine if a gag order is still necessary — lifting it either once an investigation has concluded or three years after it’s been put in place — only a handful of the hundreds of thousands of letters issued each year have been revealed.

That Google can now speak freely about the 2015 national security letter is a result of those changes.

Government watchdogs have criticized the FBI for abusing national security letters multiple times over the years — for restricting First Amendment protected speech, failing to provide enough evidence to make the requests, and targeting a massive number of Americans without notifying them or giving them the chance for redress. The provisions in the Freedom Act were meant to address some concerns — including what many have argued are unconstitutionally lengthy gag orders.

But Google in its short blog post did not publish the contents of the actual letter the way other companies, including Yahoo, have done in recent months.

Asked about plans to release the national security letter, a Google spokesperson told The Intercept it will release it, though it wouldn’t say when or in what form it will do so. Google hasn’t previously published any national security letters, though it’s possible gag orders for prior demands are still in place.

It’s also unclear why Google wouldn’t immediately publish the document — unless the gag is only partially lifted, or the company is involved in ongoing litigation to challenge the order, neither of which were cited as reasons for holding it back

“I think the question is really a great and important one for Google,” Brett Max Kaufman, a national security staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in an email to The Intercept. Kaufman recently worked with Open Whisper Systems, the creators of end-to-end encrypted messaging application Signal, to successfully challenge a gag order on a criminal subpoena — though the company had almost no information to turn over, based on the way the application is designed.

“If the gag is really gone in its entirety — maybe it’s not — it’s hard to imagine why they couldn’t publish a redacted version of it that would still protect the target’s privacy,” Kaufman continued. “From here it seems like a policy choice not to release it, and a strange one at that.”

Terror suspect’s brother: ‘My reaction as an Arab is revenge’

In an exclusive interview with DW, the brother of terror suspect Jaber Albakr threatened the Syrian refugees who turned in his brother. He also said he intends to sue the Saxony police over Jaber’s suicide.

October 15, 2016


The brother of deceased terror suspect Jaber Albakr issued a warning to the Syrian refugees who handed over his brother to the police in an exclusive interview with DW’s Jaafar Abdul-Karim on Saturday.

“My reaction as an Arab is revenge.”

When asked to clarify what he meant, Alaa Albakr said: “You understand. I have nothing more to say about it. I will come as a refugee.”

The 22-year-old Jaber was tied up and handed over to police in Leipzig on Monday by three other Syrian refugees, who have since been described as heroes. They reportedly invited the fugitive to stay in their apartment, only to realize shortly later that Albakr was being sought after by police.

In his first video interview after his brother Jaber was found dead in a Leipzig jail cell after committing suicide, Alaa told DW he was convinced of his brother’s innocence.

“I raised him. I know how he is. He is not a terrorist,” he said.

Jaber told his brother that some imams in Berlin mosques tried to radicalize him.

“In Germany, they tried to brainwash him for a while,” he said, adding that, “it is important to know that it was only for a short time and they didn’t manage it. If they had, he would have flown back to Syria and never come back.”

“I assure that Jabar was not a terrorist and is not a member of IS,” he insisted.

Alaa Albakr called for Germany to return his brother’s body and also announced he will take steps against Saxony’s police department.

“The German police killed him,” Alaa told DW. “I want to sue the police in Germany, in the state of Saxony.”

Alaa Albakr is 30 years old, married, and lives with his parents and seven siblings in Rif Dimashq near Damascus. According to Albakr, his brother Jaber is a martyr of whom the family is proud.

Thwarted attack

During a raid on Jaber Albakr’s Chemnitz apartment last Saturday – during which the suspect apparently escaped – police found 1.5 kilograms (3.31 pounds) of TATP. The homemade explosive was the same as that used in the deadly jihadist attacks in November in Paris and in Brussels last March.

After a two-day manhunt, he was handed over to police, but committed suicide in his cell on Wednesday.

Albakr arrived in Germany last year and had been granted asylum after passing security checks. Investigators say they believe he was motivated by the “Islamic State” and may have become radicalized while in Germany.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, said Albakr was preparing to carry out an attack on a Berlin airport within days before the raid on his apartment.

The thwarted plot has renewed focus on security after Germany took in 890,000 refugees last year, many from Syria.

U.S. Enters Yemen War Directly for the First Time With Attack on Houthis

October 13 2016

by Alex Emmons

The Intercept

The U.S. military directly attacked Houthi rebels in Yemen for the first time on Wednesday — firing Tomahawk cruise missiles at three rebel-held radar stations on the Red Sea coast. The attack, which was in retaliation for a failed missile attack on a U.S. Navy destroyer on Sunday, risks drawing the U.S. further into the 18-month war.

In March 2015, a coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia began a U.S.-backed bombing campaign against the Houthi forces, which four months earlier had seized Yemen’s capital and deposed the country’s U.S.- and Saudi-backed dictator. Since then, the U.S. has flown refueling missions for Saudi aircraft, supplied targeting intelligence, and resupplied the Saudi effort with tens of billions of dollars of weapons.

While the U.S. has previously conducted direct attacks in Yemen against al Qaeda — which controls vast territory in central and eastern Yemen — it had not directly engaged Houthi forces before.

The escalation began last week when the U.S. dispatched warships to the Bab al-Mandab Strait — which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden — after the Houthis fired on and nearly sank a ship from the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a part of the Saudi-led bombing coalition, which has maintained a strict naval blockade of the country since the war began.

When the Houthis fired on the U.S.S. Mason earlier this week, sailors were able to deploy countermeasures and the ship was not damaged.

The Department of Defense issued a statement describing the U.S. attack as a series of “limited self-defense strikes,” but promised to “respond to any further threat” to U.S. ships “as appropriate.”

“The intent of our strikes were to deter future attacks and to reduce the risk to U.S. and other vessels,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said Thursday. “We are prepared to respond if necessary to any future missile launches.”

The U.S. Navy tweeted a video of the destroyer U.S.S. Nitze launching cruise missiles, captioning it with the hashtag “#Yemen” — commonly used by activists to draw attention to the humanitarian catastrophe.

Schultz said the strike was approved by President Obama on the recommendation of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pentagon officials told NPR that they had “no sense of any civilians being killed,” but it is unclear how they know, and what type of review was undertaken.

Houthi forces denied having launched the missiles at a U.S. destroyer, and promised to respond to kind to the display of military force.

The attack came just after the first sign that the Obama administration might be having second thoughts about the massacres committed by the Saudi coalition with U.S. weapons.

Just four days ago, the Saudi coalition bombed the funeral of a rebel-appointed government minister’s father, killing 125 and wounding 525 in one of the worst massacres of the war.  Fragments of what appeared to be U.S.-made bombs were photographed at the scene.

The White House responded by promising to initiate a review of U.S. assistance to Saudi Arabia, and issued its first public threat to stop supporting the coalition. “U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” Ned Price, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement. Price added that the administration is “prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests.”

Trump the Arsonist

Evangelicals, Survivalists, the Alt-Right, and Hurricane Donald

by John Feffer

Tom Dispatch

The world according to Donald Trump is very dark indeed. The American economy has tanked. Mexico has sent a horde of criminals over the border to steal jobs and rape women. The Islamic State, cofounded by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is taking over the globe. “Our country’s going to hell,” he declared during the Republican primaries. It’s “like medieval times,” he suggested during the second presidential debate. “We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world.”

For Trump, it’s not morning in America, it’s just a few seconds before midnight on the doomsday clock. Although his campaign doggedly continues to promise a new beginning for the country, the candidate and his advisers are sending out a very different message: the end is nigh. These Cassandras all agree that, although Obama’s two terms were no walk in the park, the stakes in 2016 are world-destroyingly higher. If Clinton is elected, the future could be, as conservative political operatives Dick Morris and Eileen McGann titled their recent book, Armageddon.

Presidential challengers often paint a grim picture of the world of the incumbent, overstating the case for dramatic effect. Ever the showman, Trump has no compunction about repeatedly going way over the top, calling the U.S. military a “disaster” because it’s supposedly underfunded and the United States a “third-world country” thanks to its precipitous economic decline. Trump talks as if he were the hybrid offspring of Karl Marx and Ann Coulter.

Trumpworld, however, is a photographic negative of statistical reality. The U.S. economy has been on an upswing for the last several years (though its benefits have been anything but evenly distributed). Nationally, violent crime is on the decline (though murder rates are soaring in some cities like Chicago). The Obama administration averted war with Iran and negotiated a détente with Cuba (though it continues to wage war in other parts of the world and has maintained sky-high Pentagon spending). If the Obama years are hardly beyond criticism, they are hardly beneath contempt either.

In dispensing with what one of his senior aides called the “reality-based community,” George W. Bush’s administration attempted to create an alternative, on-the-ground reality, particularly through the direct exercise of American military power — and we know how well that turned out. Trump seems to have even less interest in the “reality-based community.” He’s evidently convinced that the sheer power of his own bluster, even without the firepower of that military, should be sufficient to alter our world. After all, didn’t it win him a loyal following on TV and — to the disbelief of politicians and media commentators everywhere — the Republican presidential nomination?

The reality-based community — which Trump labels the “elite” — wants nothing to do with him. The discrepancy between his rhetoric and what other people call facts explains in part why even conservative elites — prominent Republicans like Brent Scowcroft and John Warner, conservative columnists like George Will, and even neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, not to speak of right-leaning newspapers like The Arizona Republic and the Dallas Morning News — have made historic decisions to abandon their party’s presidential nominee.

But don’t kid yourself.  There is method to Trump’s particular version of madness.  He and his slyly smiling running mate Mike Pence are playing up their vision of scorched-earth America not just to win general political points but to appeal to a very specific set of voters by tapping into the apocalyptic strain in American politics. The evangelicals, anti-globalists, and white power constituencies that form the bedrock of his support hear in Trump’s blasts more than just a set of fun-house facts. When the Donald says that Hillary is “the devil” and America’s going to hell, this constituency — steeped in Biblical prophecy, survivalist ideology, and racist conspiracies — takes him literally. America is on the verge of (take your pick): the Rapture, an end-of-days contest between American patriots and U.N. invaders, or an all-out race war to the finish.

And here’s what makes Trump’s carnivalesque presidential campaign especially topsy-turvy.  He’s been slouching toward just about every kind of Armageddon imaginable, except the genuine planetary ones that are — or should be — almost unavoidable these days. He has, after all, dismissed climate change as a “hoax” and a Chinese scam.  He is so blasé about nuclear weapons that he’s been comfortable with the thought of American allies Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia developing their own. He has nothing whatsoever to say about potential global pandemics (but plenty to spout about the potentially malign effects of vaccinations).

To grasp the nature of such genuine dangers requires at least a minimal understanding of science. It also requires a genuine concern that the world as we know it could indeed end in our lifetimes or those of our children and grandchildren.

Of course, not everyone thinks the apocalypse is a bad thing.

The Rise of the Evangelical Right

It wasn’t particularly difficult to portray 1980 as a gloomy time for America. The spike in oil prices in 1979 had sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was propelling the two superpowers into another cycle of Cold War tensions. Iranian radicals were holding 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage in Tehran, which produced a daily (and, thanks to Ted Koppel’s Nightline reports, nightly) humiliation for President Jimmy Carter and his administration.

As the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan responded to these developments by continually playing up the image of an America in decline. His grim vision of that American future cemented his ties to an ascendant right wing within the evangelical community. As early as 1971, intellectual historian Paul Boyer pointed out, Reagan claimed that “the day of Armageddon isn’t far off.” He was referring then to turmoil in the Middle East and the pivotal role of Israel there. “Everything is falling into place,” he added. “It can’t be long now.”

Reagan was not exactly an easy sell to the Bible belt. Divorced and anything but a devoted churchgoer, he was closely associated in the public mind with that Sodom of the West Coast, Hollywood. In the 1980 election, he was also up against Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian who openly discussed his faith.

Admittedly, Reagan benefitted from the endorsement of the Moral Majority, founded by Reverend Jerry Falwell in 1979, and he began playing directly to the religious crowd by establishing a new tradition of inserting “God bless America” into his speeches. But it was those repeated references to Armageddon that cemented his relationship with the religious right. Apocalyptic thinking is central to the worldview of evangelicals. Indeed, it’s what principally distinguishes them from mainstream Christians. “The one thing that affects how they live their daily lives,” writes historian of religion Matthew Avery Sutton, “is that they believe we are moving towards the End Times, the rise of the Antichrist, towards a great tribulation and a horrific human holocaust.”

The mainstream media was shocked that Reagan then brought such doomsday rhetoric into the Oval Office. “It is hard to believe that the President actually allows Armageddon ideology to shape his policies toward the Soviet Union,” the New York Times editorialized just before the 1984 election. “Yet it was he who first portrayed the Russians as satanic and who keeps on talking about that final battle.” Reagan easily went on to win a second term. Later, George W. Bush would employ similar apocalyptic references to justify the invasion of Iraq and unqualified support for Israel, and it didn’t prevent him from winning a second term either.

When Barack Obama became president in 2008, however, evangelicals suffered a significant drop in political influence. They continued to cling to Congress and a few Supreme Court justices — along with their guns and religion — but they had little leverage over a president that a majority of Republicans believed to be a foreign-born Muslim. (You’re either with us or you’re born in Kenya.)

Eight years later, the evangelical community faced an embarrassment of riches in the Republican primaries: a couple of born-again candidates (Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz), several evangelical Catholics (Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush), and even an evangelical Seventh Day Adventist (Ben Carson). In comparison, Donald Trump came up way short on the faith front. Many evangelicals were skeptical of him because, like Reagan, he did not fit the mold of an upstanding Christian candidate. He’d been divorced, indulged in high-profile extramarital affairs, taken pro-choice positions, came from that East Coast Gomorrah, New York City, and even refused to ask God for forgiveness. Once he won the party’s nomination, however, Trump’s approval rating rose sharply among evangelicals who represent one-fifth of the voting public. Seventy-eight percent of them now support him, according to a recent Pew survey.

Trump has triumphed among evangelicals in part by changing his views. For instance, he now claims that he plans to repent before God (in some unspecified future) and swears that he will help restore the evangelical voice to politics. He has become firmly anti-abortion and traded in a more even-handed approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict for the hardline position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that finds favor in the evangelical community.  He has even convinced some evangelicals that his new relationship with Jesus has turned him into what James Dobson calls a “baby Christian.”

Trump also appeals to a certain pragmatic streak among evangelicals. They have become convinced that only he can tip the Supreme Court in the right direction, roll back the nuclear agreement with Iran, and hold back a potential tide of social protest. “Trump speaks to the profound fears animating so many white evangelicals today,” says R. Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University. “Above all, the fear that they and their values are being displaced by foreign, immigrant, and Muslim forces as well as by domestic movements such as Black Lives Matter, gay rights, women’s rights, and more.”

However, this focus on the pragmatic desire of evangelicals to regain the kind of political influence and power they’ve lost over the last seven years only goes so far in explaining Trump’s appeal. Far more important, on millenarian websites, Trump emerges as the mysterious weapon that God is now wielding to bring the righteous closer to the rapture. “God is preparing to shake the nations of the world,” an evangelical blogger writes in a typical endorsement of the candidate, “and I believe he is going to use Donald Trump to do it.” Another asserts, “I don’t know if God will use Trump to push back the coming of the anti-Christ. However, I know that without Trump, the tribulation cannot be far away. Therefore, I have to support Trump.”

Much millenarian support comes from a belief that God has anointed Trump the ultimate disrupter of the status quo, the human wrecking ball that will smite all the structures standing in the way of Christ’s second coming. No one (other than the Donald himself) would confuse the candidate with the Messiah, but some evangelicals imagine him in the role of a John the Baptist gone slightly berserk.

Certain evangelicals believe that their candidate will avert an apocalypse spurred on by godless Democrats; others that he will hasten that apocalypse and so the second coming. Given that Trump is a mass of contradictions — a bankrupt billionaire, the most elite of populists, a politician who has never held office — it’s no surprise that evangelicals can read into him almost anything they want, even if they then have a difficult time interpreting his “revelations.”

Against the Globalists

The film Amerigeddon, released this year and directed by the son of right-wing actor Chuck Norris, illuminates in graphic detail the paranoid worldview of what has come to be known as the alt-right: the tech-savvy, anti-globalist, anti-immigrant movement that hitherto lurked on the fringes of the Republican Party.

“The greatest threat to our freedom lies within our own government,” Amerigeddon proclaims in its trailer. In the film, traitors inside the Beltway have joined up with global terrorists and the United Nations to bring down America. It’s a movie with everything a survivalist could ever want: outsiders using an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) to disable the U.S. power grid, big government imposing martial law, gun owners saving the day. If you could take only one DVD to your reinforced concrete bunker, this would be it.

Given that it debuted on only a handful of screens and disappointed even those who might otherwise embrace its hyperbolic content, Amerigeddon would be too ridiculous to mention — if it weren’t for Alex Jones.

Jones is a talk-radio host who also runs the website Infowars. He believes that the U.S. government has covered up its involvement in everything from the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 to the faked moon landing and WikiLeaks. He’s a libertarian (hates government), paleoconservative (hates liberals), and survivalist (his Infowars store carries a full line of “preparedness products” for the moment when the grid collapses).

A hero of conspiracy theorists the world over, Jones appears in a cameo in Amerigeddon and has used his media empire to hype the film. For someone with such unorthodox views, he has quite a following. “Jones draws a bigger audience online than Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined — and his conspiracy-laced rants make the two hosts sound like tea-sipping NPR hosts on Zoloft,” wrote Alexander Zaitchek in Rolling Stone in 2011. His website attracts 40 million unique visitors a month.

Jones has made more than a cameo appearance in Donald Trump’s campaign. When the candidate appeared on his show last December, the radio host promised him that he had the support of 90% of his listeners. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump responded, “I will not let you down.” By refusing to become a more sensible mainstream presidential candidate and continuing to post bizarre early-morning tweets, he has indeed kept that promise.

If Trump has managed to lock down the evangelical vote with nary a quote from the Bible, with the alt-right crowd he has frequently cited chapter and verse from their prophets. So, for instance, he has peddled such conspiracy theories as the foreign birth of President Obama, the “thousands and thousands” of Muslims who celebrated the attacks on 9/11, and the government-engineered drought in California. Infowars promoted all of these “facts,” while also coming up with the “Hillary for Prison” meme that took the Republican convention in Cleveland by storm. Where other candidates have a brain trust, Trump has a mere meme trust.

Jones reserves much of his wrath for what he calls “globalists.” For the alt-right, “globalist” is a code word that, like “cosmopolitan,” conjures up a shadowy network of conspiratorial (and mostly Jewish) figures: George Soros, Henry Kissinger, the Rothschilds. Jones has his own version of end times. “The globalists are building a world, in their own words, where normal human life is over,” he rants. “It’s the devil. And the churches are not going to tell you. It’s an alien force, not of this world, attacking humanity, like the Bible and every other ancient text says.”

Trump has proven as unlikely a hero for anti-globalists as he has been for evangelicals. He is an international capitalist with investments in more than a dozen countries. His signature products are produced in China and Mexico. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and counts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a friend.

But Trump is an outsider where it counts, at least for those who live at the intersection of conspiracy and catastrophe. He rails against international organizations like the United Nations (should be downsized) and NATO (“obsolete”). Despite his global enterprises, he has opposed free trade and threatened to pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization. He supported Brexit, inveighs against immigrants, and insists on putting “America first.”

Not surprisingly, these messages also resonate with the white men who form the core of the alt-right, even though they are generally worried neither about the coming of the Antichrist nor the arrival of the U.N.’s “black helicopters.” These true “deplorables” obsess instead about a kind of slow-motion Armageddon in which the twin threats of demography and immigration will turn America into an unrecognizable (nonwhite) hell.  They welcome, of course, Trump’s broadsides against Muslims and undocumented immigrants.

At The Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi website, editor Andrew Anglin wrote during the Republican primary: “If The Donald gets the nomination, he will almost certainly beat Hillary, as White men such as you and I go out and vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.” Trump has retweeted a number of messages that originated with the alt-right, and his hiring of Stephen Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, as his campaign manager nailed down his connection to that community. “We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon told journalist Sarah Posner at the Republican convention, referring to Breitbart News.

Trump is not simply a hero of the alt-right, he’s the man around which the community has now come to identify itself, the nexus of an anti-feminist, anti-Semitic, racist, conspiratorial worldview. Unlike the evangelical and survivalist communities, there is no ambivalence on the alt-right. Trump is their champion, the only person who can prevent their particular apocalypse — the victory of multiculturalism — from taking place.

For all three overlapping constituencies — evangelicals, anti-globalists, and the alt-right — Trump has transformed the paranoid style that has long lurked beneath the surface of American politics into a genuine and open electoral force. These groups support Trump because he promises to upend the secular, reality-based, internationalist status quo. On top of that, Trump is fundamentally uninterested in the day-to-day compromises of the policy world. He even disdains politicking within the Republican Party, which appeals to the many Republicans disgusted with their own party elite. As Erick Erickson, one of his conservative opponents, puts it, “At some point, the base of the party just wants to burn the house down and start over.”

At heart, Trump is an arsonist. At some level, he’s ready to pour that gasoline and strike that match.  His apocalyptic approach to everyday politics is what puts fear into the hearts of liberals and conservatives alike — and what puts fire in the belly of the whitest of America’s insurgents.

The Real Dystopia

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voiced the fears of many Americans when she identified New Zealand as a possible refuge from a Trumpocalypse — as if the Republican candidate’s victory in November would be an extreme weather event that renders much of the globe other than a few remote islands uninhabitable.

And there’s no doubt that Hurricane Donald would wreck the world. His opposition to efforts to address climate change and desire for a Parexit — canceling the Paris climate accord — would guarantee that the mercury in Mother Earth’s thermometer soars ever higher. His contempt for the global economy would undoubtedly precipitate a worldwide recession. His support for the unraveling of the European Union would lend a hand to European alt-right groups campaigning for its demise. His pledge to go mano a mano with the Islamic State would surely give that organization a new lease on life.

In the United States, meanwhile, Trump’s economic plans would further widen the gulf between the haves and have-nots, making a mockery of the blue-collar support he has attracted. He would hand considerable power over to evangelicals when it comes to transforming social policy and, by way of his Supreme Court nominations, influence the future well beyond his own term in office. Inspired by his example, alt-right forces would unquestionably bring their battles onto the streets of American cities.

Nor is Trump alone. Some version of his populist extremism can be found in every corner of the globe, from Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Viktor Orban’s Hungary to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua — not to mention the countries of other politicians, like France’s Marine Le Pen, who hope to seize power someday. Such leaders may be divided by religion, ethnicity, and even putative political ideology, but they all believe in putting their nation — and their personal ambitions — above the common global good. Individually, they are intent on constructing illiberal orders in their countries. Collectively, they are bent on destroying that fragile entity known as the international community and, thanks to climate change, the planet that goes with it.

Next month’s election is important. But the core supporters of Donald Trump are not going to move to Canada — or Russia — if their candidate loses. Those who crave the simplistic, authoritarian solutions offered by dangerous populists around the world are not going to retreat into political apathy simply because of the scorn heaped upon them by the mainstream. The apocalyptic rhetoric of Trump and his followers is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The gale-force winds of this populist hurricane have been intensified by decades of polarizing economic and social policies. Whatever happens in November, the forecast is for more stormy weather ahead.

Life after Trump: Republicans brace for betrayal and civil war after 2016

At least three factions prepare to fight for the party, divided amid Donald Trump’s accusations of corruption and his appeals to fading demographics

October 15, 2016

by David Smith in Washington and Ben Jacobs in Cincinnati, Ohio

The Guardian

Accusations of betrayal. Demagoguery and hatred. The bunker in Berlin. Comparisons with Adolf Hitler have been tempting throughout Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for the presidency – never more so than at its mad, destructive climax.

The Republican’s presidential bid appears to have become the campaign equivalent of the last days of the Reich, when Germany’s leadership raged at bearers of bad news from the battlefield, ordered non-existent divisions to launch counteroffensives, and embraced a nihilistic plan to burn it all down and take everyone along.

The difference is, unlike then, there seems to be little awareness of impending defeat or understanding of how it came to be. Instead, attitudes are like those after the First World War when Germans on the far right coined a word for their myth of betrayal: Dolchstoßlegende.

Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton badly in national polls, sometimes by double digits. Jubilant Democrats are eyeing so-called “red states” such as Georgia and Utah and expanding their ambitions to take both the Senate and House. The Trump campaign has yanked advertising and staff out of Virginia, and major donors are pulling the plug. The writing seems to be on the wall of polling firms, campaign offices and newsrooms across the country.

“So is this presidential election over?” asked Michael Barone, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Almost certainly.”

In September, Trump appeared competitive. In October, he collapsed. A 2005 video in which he bragged about groping women was followed by a slew of allegations of sexual assault and more than 160 Republican leaders who abandoned Trump. He has declared war on members of his own party, attacking the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and turned to increasingly authoritarian claims, insisting that Clinton must be jailed.

Republicans have started to fear that 8 November will not be the end but rather the beginning of all-out civil war, asking whether Trumpism can survive Trump, and whether those who support him can survive his candidacy. Who can unify the party of Abraham Lincoln? Who can avoid a historic fourth consecutive defeat in the election of 2020?

Much depends on whether 2016 has an effect on the Senate, where Democrats stand a strong chance of taking control, and on the House, which may now be in play. The maverick businessman has already threatened to dispute the election’s result, claiming the election is rigged, and already lashed out at moderate Republicans for not backing him.

“No one knows what’s going to be left of the party on November 9,” said Charlie Sykes, an influential conservative radio talkshow host. “Republican officials I’ve talked to have gone beyond anger to a sense of anguish about the future of the party,” he said.

“The damage that Trump has done will not end on November 8. I don’t think any Republicans really know what a post-Trump party looks like. They’re hoping it’s a one-off event but I don’t see the civil war going away any time soon.”

Sykes, who has known Ryan since he was first elected to the House in 1998, regards the 46-year-old Wisconsin Catholic, a family man and devotee of Ayn Rand, as its intellectual leader. “If there’s anybody who ought to emerge as the titular leader of the party in the ruins, it will be Paul Ryan.”

After the defeat of Mitt Romney – a harsh critic of Trump and Ryan’s 2012 running mate – Republican officials produced an “autopsy report” concluding that to win back the White House, the party needed to appeal to young voters, women and minorities.

“They did the precise opposite,” Sykes said, noting how Trump had alienated those precise constituencies. “They’ve got to get grips with the fact that if you want to be a national party you cannot win elections if you do not appeal to women, African Americans and Hispanics and young people.”

Instead, Trump’s rallies are dominated by largely white crowds who have embraced his angry, anti-immigrant rhetoric. “The Trump campaign is premised on turning out a part of the American population that’s shrinking,” said Lanhee Chen, policy director for the Romney presidential campaign.

“For the party to succeed, it needs to focus on the part of the population that’s actually growing. I think that challenge is one that can be addressed post-election in very short order.”

But that shrinking population is not going quietly. The hard core of Trump’s support remains defiant and vociferous and now feels under siege. At a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, this week, his supporters were fuelled by disdain towards a party establishment that they saw as trying to drag their candidate down.

“They are scared because he is going to stop the bullshit,” said a man who declined to give his last name but said he was called Scott, and had traveled from Aurora, Indiana. He called Ryan “a spineless moron” and defended Trump. “Hillary’s pulling shit that people have been put in prison for years for,” he said. “Trump kisses some woman on the cheek 30 years ago and Paul Ryan says, ‘I’m not going to support him any more. I’m not going to defend him anymore.’ He didn’t want to defend him from day one.”

Anna Rigdon, wearing a shirt saying, “Trump Pence: fuck your feelings”, expressed similar thoughts. She thought politicians who had backed away from Trump “should be ashamed” and singled out Ryan and “the Bush family” in particular.

If Trump loses, Rigdon said, “I think it is Paul Ryan’s fault and the other Republicans who are not standing by Donald Trump.” She added that in Ohio’s contested Senate race, she would not vote for the incumbent Republican, Rob Portman, who recently withdrew his endorsement of Trump.

Invariably, Trump supporters rejected surveys that show the Republican nominee facing a catastrophic loss. Linda Hernandez, a middle-aged Hispanic woman wearing a “Deplorables for Trump” shirt, said: “I don’t believe the polls. I believe that the liberal media is controlling everyone’s minds.”

The danger for the Republicans is that, should Trump lose, voters who have not believed the polls and the media will conclude that the party itself betrayed them. Instead of learning lessons, party members fear, Trump’s supports will believe they were stabbed in the back, as Trump has insinuated at rallies.

At least three factions of the party will struggle for control: ideologues led by Ryan, an establishment embodied by former presidents George HW and George W Bush (neither of whom endorsed Trump), and a so-called “Breitbart wing”, led by Steve Bannon of the rightwing news network, now chief executive of the Trump campaign.

“It’ll be a war,” said Rick Tyler, a political analyst and former spokesperson for the primary runner-up, Ted Cruz. “The Breitbart wing is going to try to impose its will on the party and its brand of Republicanism, which is win at all costs without a guiding philosophy. The establishment is well funded but represents the status quo. The conservatives are underfunded and underrepresented and lack a leader to convince Americans why it’s a winning strategy and philosophy.”

Tyler cited Ryan, Mike Pence, the Indiana governor who is Trump’s running mate, and Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas, as potential leaders. But he noted: “Ronald Reagan was not obvious. They emerge. They’re not obvious, so I don’t know who they are. You won’t know who they are until they come forward. As we saw with Winston Churchill, great leaders emerge in times of great turmoil.”

He also struck a rare optimistic note. “It’s an exciting time to be a Republican. With turmoil there’s also opportunity. The party could work on a new brand and a new set of leaders.”

Others, however, saw no future in Trump’s destructive wake. Asked where the Republican Party should go from here, Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman from Colorado, replied: “To hell. At least I hope so. If they do go south, the demise of the Republican Party is the only good thing that can come of it. It has no relevance philosophically and so it deserves to go.”

Tancredo, the head of the Team America political action committee, likened the scenario to the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. “We have to think about the day after the election and what should we do as conservatives. The major problem trying to have a movement take hold in America is a lack of leader. You have to have someone who can articulate their concerns and inspire people.

“I haven’t the foggiest ideas who that may be. I guess they’re yet to be discovered because I can’t name one. I would have said Cruz but he self-destructed plus he’s not charismatic. You need a Reagan.”

For the conservative blogger Erick Erickson, the key is rediscovering the party’s moral compass after many defended the indefensible in Trump. “Most important, the Republican party must recommit to a basic principle – character counts,” he wrote in the New York Times on Friday.

There could be light at the end of the tunnel. Clinton, herself deeply unpopular, will be trying to defy political gravity if she runs for a fourth successive Democratic presidential term in 2020. Republicans could also learn from Democrats in 1992 who, after three losses, reinvented themselves and swept back into power with Bill Clinton.

The Republican pollster Frank Luntz saw another historical parallel. “I am expecting a Republican insurrection similar to what happened to the Democrats after George McGovern lost in 1972,” he said. “Every component of the GOP will be at war with each other. There will be an attempt to unseat Paul Ryan as Sspeaker. You’ll hear ‘I told you so’ from Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

“The House, which will still be controlled by Republicans, will be at war with the Senate – which is truly up for grabs. It will be nasty, ugly and very personal. Far more effort will be spent blaming each other than trying to pull together.”

Still, Luntz said that Republicans would survive just as Democrats did in the 1970s. “They always do.”

But part of the reckoning may have to be a realisation that Trump’s hostile takeover did not occur in a vacuum. Critics have argued that he merely said, in a crude and explicit way, what many rightwing Republicans have been saying for years in code resulting in racially charged anger, obstruction in Congress and cancer in the body politic.

Barack Obama, now at the end of his term, recently articulated the idea to New York Magazine. “I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee [in 2008] to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,” he said.

“Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.”

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister on Tisha B’Av: “We’re not ashamed. We Will Rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount.”

August 14, 2016

by Richard Silverstein

Today was Tisha B’Av, one of the most solemn days of the year for observant Jews.  It marks the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.  It is the day on which the Book of Lamentations, which commemorates the fall of Jerusalem, is recited in every synagogue in the world.

But in Israel, the firebrands of Israel’s most right-wing government ever aren’t in mourning.  They’re rejoicing at the prospect of rebuilding the Temple.  They have High Priests in training who are learning the ancient sacrificial rites at the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in occupied East Jerusalem.  The Temple Institute, which is masterminding much of the planning and preparation, is developing a social media strategy (“coming soon to your Facebook feed!”) which will popularize these incendiary ideas.

No matter that there already is a house of worship in the precise spot where the new Jewish temple would rise.  That would be the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa which constitute the Haram al Sharif.  Just as in India, when Hindu fanatics demolished a sacred Muslim shrine and provoked religious war between the two religious groups, building the Third Temple would mean destroying the Muslim holy sites.  That, in turn, would mean almost certain holy war not just in Israel, but throughout the Muslim world.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan exhorts Israel to rebuild the Temple regardless of the possible consequences

You’d be making a mistake if you think Israel’s political leadership is worried about such an eventuality.  On the contrary, many MKs and ministers believe that there must be a final reckoning with the Muslims of Palestine in which the Jews finally and ultimately vanquish them.  It’s an End Times-like scenario.  Except in this case, Israel has nuclear weapons which conceivably could become part of the Ultimate Solution to the “Arab problem.”

All this is by way of introducing you to Eli Dahan, Israel’s deputy defense minister and a leading settler rabbi/political leader.  He was the keynote speaker at a Women in Green rally held in occupied East Jerusalem today, in which settlers marched provocatively through the Arab quarters of the city flourishing Israeli flags and racist slogans as they went.

You may recall that the founder of this settler group, Nadia Matar, told an audience at a Manhattan synagogue that Mahmoud Abbas should be assassinated:

“…Don’t you understand that in order to bring peace to Europe, one has to first destroy the Nazi beast? Today we must destroy all the terrorist organizations. We must kill all the terrorist leaders, starting with Mahmoud Abbas and all others.”

The other co-founder of Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover, told her audience that the reason the 9th of Av is a tragic day in Jewish history is because at a crucial moment when the Israelites prepared to conquer the Land of Israel, they hesitated in fear that they would fail due to the resistance of the existing inhabitants.  Her message was that modern-day Israel too must be bold in its conviction that all of the land is theirs and that their will to conquer will carry the day.  She railed against Pres. Obama’s so-called pressure against Israel, calling him a “pygmy.”

Dahan exhorted his listeners to remember that the Temple Mount is the ‘heart of the Jewish people,’ and that ‘without this heart there can be no body.’  He added:

We are here to announce that we’ve returned to Jerusalem and that we’re preparing our hearts to return to the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple.  We’re not ashamed of this: we want to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.  The soldiers of Israel and its inhabitants know how to announce [to the world] that this is the heart and the essence [of the Jewish people].  Together, we will merit its rebuilding soon and in our day.”

There was a time decades ago when these ideas were anathema not just to secular Jews, but even Orthodox Jews.  To this day, many rabbis tell their followers they may not set foot on the Temple Mount because it is the site of the destroyed Temple.  But the caution and conservatism of the past is gone.  Taboos have been broken and Jewish zealotry unleashed on the world.  Meir Kahane played a critical role in this transformation.  He is the spiritual father of the most noxious, dangerous form of idolatry to strike the Jewish people in decades, if not centuries.

Leaders like Nadia Matar, Yehudit Katsover and Eli Dahan are Angels of Death of Israel and the Jewish people.  Their visions are poison.  Not just for Jews or Israel, but for the entire region as well.  If any of their dreams are ever realized they will be accompanied by rivers of blood.  God help us, I hope it doesn’t come to that.


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it’s “highly likely” that Scotland will secede from the United Kingdom in the near future.

She said preparations for a second independence referendum are already underway.

October 16, 2016


Sturgeon told members of her pro-independence Scottish National Party on Sunday that: “I have never doubted that Scotland will one day become an independent country and I believe it today more strongly than I ever have before.” She further pledged to “explore all options” to prevent Scotland being taken out of the European Union against its will following the UK’s decision to exit the bloc following this year’s referendum in which a majority of Scots cast ballots to remain.

The ruling SNP says it will present a bill for another referendum to the Scottish Parliament next week. It would be pursued if all other options to keep Scotland in the EU should fail. A referendum in 2014 over Scottish independence was rejected, but the SNP may be banking on fallout over the Brexit decision for a renewed push to sway Scottish voters to seek a future within the EU even if it means breaking up the United Kingdom.

“We will propose new powers to help keep Scotland in the single market even if the UK leaves,” Sturgeon said on Sunday, the final day of the SNP conference in Glasgow. “But if the Tory government rejects these efforts, if it insists on taking Scotland down a path that hurts our economy, costs jobs, lowers our living standards and damages our reputation as an open, welcoming, diverse country, then be in no doubt.”

Scottish independence movement’s ripple effect

Scotland would still need to convince EU member states who are wrestling with their own separatist movements to accept a unique Brexit solution for Scotland, or ultimately admit Scotland as a new member state if it votes for independence.

In France, Corsican separatist Francois Alfonsi, president of a coalition of regional groups called the European Free Alliance (EFA), told a meeting on the sidelines of the conference that attitudes towards Scottish independence are shifting in Europe. “It is historic, this vote for Brexit, because it is creating conditions very new for the independence of Scotland,” Alfonsi said. “EFA has to be unconditional supporters of the SNP, but there are other supporters now.”



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