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TBR News August 26, 2018

Aug 26 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. August 26, 2018: “In July of 1940, at the Democratic convention held in Chicago, Joseph Kennedy Jr. was a delegate pledged to James Farley. During the course of the convention, Roosevelt’s men wished the nomination to be unanimous but young Kennedy refused to change his vote in spite of tremendous pressure put on him and his father by the Roosevelt camp.

The elder Kennedy had been an early Roosevelt supporter and had been given the Ambassadorship to England as a reward for his past contributions to the party. In this position, Kennedy enraged the British by his negative attitudes towards their government and his advices to Roosevelt not to support Britain militarily.

All of the State Department cables were intercepted and decoded by British intelligence and the American Embassy in London was bugged with the result that many anti-Roosevelt comments purporting to come from Kennedy were passed on to Roosevelt by Churchill.

The ambassador was eventually recalled and a number of post-war British writers have attempted to portray Kennedy as a German spy, without the smallest degree of proof.

On August 12, 1944, Joseph Kennedy Jr. was piloting a special bomber loaded with explosives. It was intended that he aim the plane at a German rocket site near the French coast and parachute out while the flying bomb continued to its target.

Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft exploded in mid-air, instantly killing Kennedy and his co-pilot. The fuzes on the aircraft intended to explode the explosive cargo were designed to be activated by an FM radio beam.

By coincidence, at the moment of the explosion, a British FM station, whose stated purpose was to send out false radio signals designed to disrupt incoming German V-1s, suddenly went on the air.

The British later apologized for their error, stating that they were “totally unaware” of the Kennedy mission.

Neither the German V-1, or “buzz bomb”, or the V-2, used any kind of radio control to direct them to their targets. By the time of the Kennedy mission, British experts had throughly inspected sufficient crashed V-1s to realize this fact and were also aware that the V-2 long range rocket was set on its course at launch time.

No radio interception on the part of the British or Americans would have had the slightest effect on the trajectory of either weapon and this was well known at the time.

In 1944, Joe Kennedy said to then-Senator Harry Truman at a Democratic strategy meeting in Boston, ‘Harry, what the hell are you doing campaigning for that crippled son-of-a-bitch that killed my son Joe?'”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 8
  • Impeach Trump: why Republicans, not Democrats are talking up the prospect
  • Trump’s tariffs could cripple American farmers
  • U.S. judge rejects Trump directives easing ability to fire federal workers
  • Warding off witchcraft? Pastor calls for prayers to protect Trump from occult
  • Why Evangelicals Support President Trump, Despite His Immorality
  • Let’s drop the euphemisms: Donald Trump is a racist president
  • Support for Israel increasingly seen as a liability as Democrats move to the left

 

Blessed Prozac Moments

Encyclopedia of American Loons

  • #1050: Jon Rappoport
  • Depopulation by vaccines?

Encyclopedia of American Loons

  • #197: Alex Jones
  • Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify ban Infowars’ Alex Jones

 

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 8

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Mar 7, 2017

“122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: According to a report from the U.S. government’s Directorate of National Intelligence, 113 of these 122 “re-engagers” were released from the Guantanamo Bay prison by the administration of George W. Bush, only nine by the Obama administration.

 

  • Mar 13, 2017

“We have four empty seats, which is a terrible thing, because the Senate Democrats are continuing to obstruct the confirmation of our nominees for the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, the Director of National Intelligence, and the United States Trade Representative, somebody I want very badly. We’re in the midst of getting going, Wilbur, and they won’t approve somebody who is highly qualified, and everybody understands that. The main victim of this very partisan obstruction is the American public.”

Source: Remarks at first Cabinet meeting

in fact: Democratic obstruction was not the reason for the holdup in confirming Trump’s final nominees. Trump’s first choice for labour secretary withdrew under criticism, and Republicans scheduled a hearing on his replacement for later in March. Trump was slow in selecting someone for agriculture secretary, and the process has been bogged down in background checks and ethics paperwork. Republicans did not schedule a hearing on the trade representative until March 14, the day after this cabinet meeting.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“First of all, (Obamacare) covers very few people.”

Source: Remarks at White House “listening session” on health care

in fact: By no objective measure does Obamacare cover “very few” people. Twenty million people have gained coverage under the law. One study estimated that 2.6 million people initially received notices that their coverage was being cancelled; the number that actually did was likely far lower. Even if it wasn’t, the coverage gains would far exceed the coverage loss

Speaking about the Republican health reform plan: “We’ll get that out — without penalties too, by the way. People don’t mention all of the facts.”

Source: Remarks at White House “listening session” on health care

in fact: The Republican plan does get rid of Obamacare’s penalties for failing to obtain health insurance. But it introduces a different kind of penalty: a surcharge, of 30 per cent, on people who have a break of two months or more in insurance coverage. So it is a punishment that is applied when the person gets insurance again, not when they are actually uninsured, but it is a punishment nonetheless.

 

  • Mar 15, 2017

“On the (F-35 fight plane), I saved $725 million, probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: Trump was not responsible for these savings: Lockheed Martin had been moving to cut the price well before Trump was elected, multiple aviation and defence experts say. Just a week after Trump’s election, the head of the F-35 program announced a reduction of 6 to 7 per cent — in the $600 million to $700 million range. “Trump’s claimed $600 million cut is right in the ballpark of what the price reduction was going to be all along,” wrote Popular Mechanics. “Bottom line: Trump appears to be taking credit for years of work by the Pentagon and Lockheed,” Aviation Week reported, per the Washington Post.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

Speaking about his source for his allegation that President Barack Obama had wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower: “Well, I’ve been reading about things. I read in, I think it was January 20, a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article, I think they used that exact term.” Added: “Well, because The New York Times wrote about it.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: This claim contains a kernel of truth, but it is so misleading that it is largely false. The Times article did use the word “wiretapped,” but it did not mention Obama, and it did not mention Trump Tower. Rather, it said only that U.S. authorities were examining intercepted communications related to Trump associates’ possible ties with Russian officials; it suggested that there had been wiretaps of foreign officials, not Americans

“And don’t forget, when I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson

in fact: Trump did use quotation marks in two of his four tweets accusing Barack Obama of improperly surveilling him. However, in the other two, he made the same accusation without quotation marks. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process,” he wrote in one; “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” he wrote in the other.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

I’ve already authorized the construction of the long-stalled and delayed Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. ”

Source: Campaign rally in Nashville, Tennessee

in fact: Trump’s executive order merely invited TransCanada Corp. to apply again to get the Keystone pipeline approved. He had not granted final approval.

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

I’ve already authorized the construction of the long-stalled and delayed Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. A lot of Jobs. I’ve also directed that new pipelines must be constructed with American steel. They want to build them here, they use our steel.”

Source: Campaign rally in Nashville, Tennessee

in fact: His executive order is significantly more ambiguous: it says the government should develop a plan to make pipelines use American steel “to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law.” That’s not a “must” — and the Keystone pipeline has already been granted an exemption by the administration, Politico reports, because it is not “new.”

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“Our budget calls for one of the single largest increases in defence spending history in this country.”

Source: Campaign rally in Nashville, Tennessee

in fact: Trump’s proposed increase in defence spending, of about 10 per cent, is not one of the biggest ever. “In just the past 40 years, there have been eight years with larger increases in percentage terms than the one he’s now proposing”; The Associated Press reported; “there have been 27 years since 1940 in which the military spending was as high or higher than the proposed increase,” the New York Times reported.

Trump has repeated this claim 10 times

“Today, that number (of automotive Jobs in Michigan) is roughly 165,000 — and would have been heading down big league if I didn’t get elected, I will tell you that right now. That I can tell you. Plenty of things were stopped in their tracks. They were stopped in their tracks. A lot of bad things were going to happen. A lot of places were going to get built that aren’t going to get built right now in other locations.”

Source: Speech at the American Center for Mobility in Detroit

in fact: There is no evidence that Trump’s election, or Trump’s efforts, have stopped numerous auto plants from being built outside America. Ford cancelled a major plant in Mexico, but its chief executive said the decision would have been made whether or not Trump was president. There are no other public examples of significant cancellations, and “auto industry experts we spoke to were hard-pressed to name any overseas plants that have been scrapped due to Trump’s influence,” FactCheck.org reported.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“Our trade deficit last year reached nearly $800 billion. Who’s making these deals?”

Source: Speech at the American Center for Mobility in Detroit

in fact: The 2016 trade deficit was $502 billion. Trump would have been correct enough if he had specified he was talking specifically about the deficit in trade of manufactured goods –$750 billion in 2016 — but he did not.

Trump has repeated this claim 30 times

“Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There was nothing fake about this report. The Trump administration issued a statement that confirmed the authenticity of the documents, and the reporter, David Cay Johnston, showed other reporters the plain envelope in which they had arrived in the mail; there is no indication whatsoever that he is lying, and another Trump tax return was simply mailed to the Times last year. Finally, though Johnston is not a household name, Trump overstates his obscurity. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001, he wrote the bestselling book The Making of Donald Trump, and Trump has known him for decades.

 

 

Impeach Trump: why Republicans, not Democrats are talking up the prospect

By one count the president has nine impeachable offenses to his name but the politics of removing him from office are complicated

August 26, 2018

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

Donald Trump and the Republicans want to talk about his impeachment and removal from office. Democrats would really rather not.

The political paradox was laid bare this week when the president warned on Fox News: “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor. You would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe.”

Empirical proof of this dire prophecy will have to wait, but Trump’s conjuring of his presidency reaching its ultimate reality TV denouement – the late-night showdown on Capitol Hill, the final defiant speech to tearful staff, the helicopter taking off from the White House lawn – came after his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, stood in court and directly implicated him in a federal crime.

Pleading guilty in New York to bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations, Cohen claimed Trump directed him to pay “hush money” to two women who allege extramarital affairs ahead of the 2016 election. The scandal, twinned with the financial crimes convictions of Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort in another court more than 200 miles away, revived demands for the president’s departure.

US internet searches about “impeachment” soared, according to Google Trends. The word was seemingly uttered every five minutes on cable TV. Bret Stephens, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, wrote that he had long been sceptical but “Michael Cohen’s guilty plea changes this. The constitution’s standard for impeachment is ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’ The standard is now met.”

By some experts’ reckoning, Trump has now committed nine impeachable offences. If Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton could be forced to face the music, the logic goes, why isn’t he? Around the world, observers are left asking: why are Democrats so cautious about this, so milquetoast?

LaTosha Brown, a civil rights activist in Atlanta, Georgia, said: “We’re past Watergate right now, we’re past Clinton. There’s more incriminating evidence. Why does the line keep getting pushed back?”

Yet for Democratic leaders, impeachment is the manoeuvre that dare not speak its name. While they have not issued formal instructions to the rank and file, this week Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, declared it was “not a priority” and published a letter urging members to “stay focused on delivering our strong economic message” and “cleaning up corruption to make Washington work”.

Their reasoning appears to be both principled and strategic.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign should be allowed to run its course, Democrats argue, especially in the current hyperpartisan environment. Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist, said: “The only way for it to have credibility politically and not tear the country apart is to let Mueller complete his investigation.”

Second, Democrats fear they could be accused of overreach, that pushing for impeachment now would backfire in November’s midterm elections, just when they seem poised to retake the House. It might turn out to be the magic elixir that fires up Republicans wary of an attempt to overturn the result of the 2016 presidential poll.

Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council and the man who chose Bill Clinton to lead the revival of the party, said: “If we keep our heads down and run on issues and let the news take care of itself, we don’t need to politicise the judicial system. Let the facts speak for themselves because they are clear.”

Bill Galston, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton, agreed. “Democrats would be well advised to wait for the Mueller report,” he said. “It will either provide a wealth of factual confirmation and a blueprint for what would be an indictment, or it will not. If it does, Democrats would have no choice but to proceed. If it does not, they would have no choice but to stand down.”

Then there is the pragmatic point. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank, continued: “At this stage there is an enthusiasm gap between the bases of the respective parties. The only chance the Republicans have to close this gap is to charge that the Democratic party is seeking to undo the result of the 2016 election through legal processes.”

Democrats are already fired up to vote in November, he added. “It’s Republicans who need to be ginned up. So the consequences would be asymmetrical and not in the Democrats’ favour.

“Up until now, the leaders of the Democratic party have quite intelligently downplayed the issue. They think they have a winning hand and they’re right about that. If you have a winning hand, why take the risk that the other player will draw a joker?”

‘A referendum on Trump’

By this logic, it is small wonder that Republicans are eager to turn the midterms, where Trump is not on the ballot, into a bareknuckle fight for his political life. His lawyer Rudy Giuliani said earlier this month: “This election is going to be about impeachment or no impeachment.” Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, told Politico this week: “This is a referendum on Trump, up-or-down vote on impeachment. This other side, they’re very motivated – and they’re motivated for one thing: they want to impeach Donald Trump.”

Desire for impeachment among many progressive activists is undeniable. The grassroots organisation MoveOn has called for it since May last year, when Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, widely seen as a crude attempt to obstruct justice. Ben Wikler, its Washington director, said Republicans’ failure to hold congressional hearings “makes a mockery” of the rule of law.

Motivation cuts both ways, he argued. “Maybe there are some Trump supporters who will be inspired by impeachment talk to turn out, but there might also be Democrats and independents who are not inspired to turn out if Democrats do not follow the facts to their conclusion.”

Critics argue that the party is out of touch with citizens who crowd into town halls across the country, urging an end to what they see as America’s nightmare. Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, has poured millions of dollars into Need to Impeach, which launched last October.

The campaign now has more than 5.6 million petition signers, of whom roughly 80% are Democratic voters; some 7,000 joined on Thursday alone. Kevin Mack, its lead strategist, said the organisation has worked with a group of constitutional scholars who had found eight impeachable offences even before this week, when Trump was identified in court as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal crime.

“A lot of people say we should wait for Robert Mueller but the question first off is, what if he gets fired?” Mack said. “What if he gets diminished in his role because of all the games the Trump people can play?”

He also rejected the strategic argument that impeachment could narrow the enthusiasm gap for the midterms. “There’s not a single data point to prove the theory that talking about impeachment is firing up Republicans more than it is firing up Democrats,” he said.

Instead he pointed to polling that found more than 70% of Democrats are motivated by impeachment whereas only around 20% of Republicans are, with the latter motivated more by issues such as immigration. Not a single Republican campaign ad has featured impeachment as far as he knows, Mack said.

“The Democratic leadership is making a mistake. They’re trying to be too clever, as if they don’t talk about it, it won’t be talked about. But people are talking about it. It’s going to be an issue in this campaign, whether Washington likes it or not.”

‘It varies based on the race’

Some Democrats have taken up the cause but they remain few and far between. Congressman Al Green of Texas forced two floor votes on impeachment over the past year, earning the support of only 58 and then 66 party members. Vocal backers include Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, a lightning rod for Trump’s racially charged attacks; Congressman Beto O’Rourke, challenging Ted Cruz for a Senate seat in Texas; rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is poised for victory in a deeply Democratic New York House district; and actor Cynthia Nixon, a longshot candidate for governor of New York state.

But the message is likely to go down less well in marginal seats where Democrats seek to woo independents and disaffected suburban Republicans, who have little appetite for a drawn-out political bloodbath in Washington.

Dave Handy, a political organiser who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, said: “It really varies based on the race. Like most things in the party, it’s probably not sensible to have a blanket strategy.”

There might come a moment when impeachment fails to rally Republicans, he suggested. “If things trend as they have, this could get worse for Republicans and there would be a tipping point where they will be demoralised. We’re quickly approaching a point where it will be difficult to say with a straight face that the president of the United States has not engaged in criminal behaviour.”

The US constitution stipulates that impeachment takes place in the House if a majority approves articles of impeachment previously approved by committee. The matter then goes to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority vote is required to convict the president. He is then removed from office.

Even if Democrats do win the House in a landslide, Republicans seem likely to retain control of the Senate, ensuring the Trump’s demise remains a remote prospect. Fox News and other conservative media would also be guaranteed to launch a fierce backlash, claiming the will of the people was being subverted. Some Democrats are also mindful to be careful what they wish for: President Mike Pence.

Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist and Trump critic, believes that a concerted push for impeachment would misjudge the national mood and “absolutely backfire” on Democrats.

“Clinton committed perjury and lost his law licence but people didn’t think it was enough to remove him from power,” he said. “Donald Trump paid off a porn star but again people don’t think it’s enough to remove him.”

He added: “Cohen strengthens the Democrats’ case for checks and balances. This president needs a check and balance and Americans are fine with that. They love a divided government; they give us divided government all the time. Trump is drunk on power and the people want to give him a strong shot of Democratic caffeine.”

 

Trump’s tariffs could cripple American farmers

August 23, 2018

by Trevor Kincaid

Reuters

As the United States imposes an additional round of tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports, global trade relationships are changing in ways that could eventually leave American farmers out in the cold.

Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan campaign fighting President Donald Trump’s tariffs, has surveyed farmers throughout the United States about the trade war’s impacts. The common refrain has been that this group is worried about the long-term consequences.

While American farmers may be able to sustain their businesses in the near term, they are scared that markets where they have worked tirelessly to build relationships are now being won over by Brazil, Canada, Argentina, or Russia – among other competitors. No aid package will bring back those markets. And even if the trade war ended tomorrow, the damage to important and lucrative relationships with buyers has been done.

Farmers, of course, aren’t the only group that will be affected by any trade war. But their plight is important to understand because they were early targets of punitive tariffs, and those impacts are now being felt in associated industries.

Trump too often oversimplifies the complexities of policy issues to the detriment of those who elected him. Today, global trade is about more than tariffs. It includes a complex, interconnected network of suppliers, regulators, inspectors, shipping routes, and value chains. It’s built on relationships, cost, and reliability. Most importantly, competition is fierce and growing. Additionally, while tariffs can be turned on and off quickly, building – or reclaiming – trade relationships can take decades. That is what’s at stake.

The turbulence and uncertainty caused by Trump’s trade war has created a geo-economic feeding frenzy. U.S. competitors from Argentina to Ukraine are aggressively working to eat into markets once dominated by American farmers.

Brazilian soy farmers have seen opportunity – and fortunes – in the pains of their American counterparts.  Farmers in Brazil’s countryside are swapping crops like sugar cane for soy, hoping to cash in and put Brazilian soy on Chinese dinner tables. And this bet is already paying big dividends. Brazilian soybean exports to China rose to nearly 36 million tons in the first half of 2018, up 6 percent from a year ago, according to Reuters. In July alone, they surged 46 percent from the same month a year earlier.

In just two years, farmland used to grow soy exploded by 5 million acres in Brazil. Trump’s trade war is literally changing the global trade landscape – a trend will only be exacerbated when new tariffs go into effect on Thursday.

And Brazilian farmers aren’t the only competitors reaping the rewards.

Tensions between the United States and Mexico are pushing Mexican wheat buyers to find new sourcing. Argentine, Russian, and Ukrainian wheat growers, who are able to offer cheaper prices, are stepping in to fill the void and are selling wheat to Mexico flour millers to be used in everything from bread to tortillas. Russia surpassed the United States as the world’s leading wheat exporter in 2016 and has only distanced itself from the competition since.

Meanwhile, U.S. wheat exports globally have plummeted by 21 percent in just the first half of 2018.

The anxiety stemming from Trump’s multifront trade war is weighing down exports as well as future business opportunities. The uncertainty has forced delegations from China, India, Italy and Spain to cancel meetings with American farmers that are organized annually to place orders and develop relationships.

American farmers are a tough bunch who are willing to sacrifice and know how to overcome challenges. They have persisted through climate change, market fluctuations, floods and droughts; the last thing they need is to contend with hardship and stress because of bad policy from their own government. But they aren’t the only ones starting to suffer as the result of Trump’s misguided trade policies.

Less demand for U.S. exports means soy, wheat, corn, and other crops sit in storage rather than being loaded on train cars, trucks, and eventually ships. The decrease in volume will transform supply chains that have been built and refined to maximize efficiency between the United States and Asian buyers.

Bulk shipping managers are already repositioning fleets to take advantage of emerging trade routes and expanding opportunities. The trend serves as further evidence that the trade landscape is evolving while the United States turns inward and doubles down on a protectionist strategy. It also demonstrates for trade opponents that global competition will not wait for the United States, and abdicating America’s leadership – as the Trump administration did when it withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership – only empowers adversaries and leaves American farmers and manufacturers at a disadvantage.

The decline in exports and squeeze on farm budgets will eventually make it difficult for farmers to cover bills, mortgages, loans, and planting costs for next year’s crop. That will extend the ripple effect to financial institutions, real estate, and future crop production.

Every week that passes closes more doors to U.S. farmers and unlocks new opportunities for their competitors. It’s unclear whether what has already been lost will ever return.

Trump would be wise to abandon his failed strategy and quickly reclaim the mantel of global trade leadership before the United States finds itself on the outside looking in.

Trevor Kincaid was the Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs in the Obama administration and is a member of the Washington International Trade Association. He previously served in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

                                                                          

U.S. judge rejects Trump directives easing ability to fire federal workers

August 25, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Saturday rejected key elements of President Donald Trump’s May executive orders that would make it easier to fire federal employees and reduce their ability to bargain collectively.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said in a court order that Trump’s orders, which also would reduce the amount of time low-performing employees had to improve their performance before being fired, “undermine federal employees’ right to bargain collectively.”

Trump signed three executive orders in May that administration officials said would give government agencies greater ability to remove employees with “poor” performance, obtain “better deals” in union contracts and require federal employees with union responsibilities to spend less time on union work.

The directives drew immediate criticism from the American Federation of Government Employees, which said the moves would hurt veterans, law enforcement officers and others.

Jackson ruled that while the president has the authority to issue executive orders relating to federal labor relations, the orders cannot “eviscerate the right to bargain collectively” as envisioned in a long-standing federal statute.

“The President must be deemed to have exceeded his authority in issuing (the orders),” Jackson ruled.

Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis

 

Warding off witchcraft? Pastor calls for prayers to protect Trump from occult

August 26, 2018

RT

An Alabama pastor has urged his congregation to pray for Donald Trump to ward off impending “witchcraft” which is allegedly threatening his presidency.

During his sermon at the Church of His Presence in Daphne, Alabama, Pastor John A. Kilpatrick told churchgoers that witchcraft is trying to take over the country, as he led his congregants in prayers to strengthen Trump against black magic’s onslaught.

“I don’t know if you’re going to believe me when I tell you this, but what’s happening right now in America is witchcraft is trying to take this country over,” Kilpatrick said. A 14-minute clip of his sermon has been viewed almost 800,000 times since it was shared on Facebook on August 20. The pastor insisted he’s “not being political” with his warning.

Kilpatrick said he doesn’t understand how Trump bears the current situation and went on to speak in tongues before leading his congregants in prayers for the president.

“Make him stronger than ever, Holy Spirit,” said Kilpatrick. “Lord, let no weapon be formed against him that will knock him out of power. Help him, Lord.”

The pastor also predicted an upcoming battle between Trump and “the deep state,” saying there’s “going to be a showdown like you can’t believe.”

“I’m coming to you as a prophet, as a man of God, and I’m telling you it’s time to pray for the president,” Kilpatrick warned his congregants.

It’s possible the pastor was inspired by the president’s repeated criticism of the Robert Mueller probe as a “witchhunt.” Trump has also previously referred to the “deep state” on Twitter, and posted messages claiming that some members of his own government are working against him.

Kilpatrick, a self-described Trump voter, later clarified his comments by saying he wasn’t referring to any particular witch, but rather a wider witchcraft movement.

“It’s not a witch after him, it’s a spirit of witchcraft trying to muzzle him,” Kilpatrick told AL.com.

 

Why Evangelicals Support President Trump, Despite His Immorality

February 16, 2018

by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Time

While the majority of Americans consistently report that they disapprove of President Trump, and millions rally to protest the Muslim Ban, attacks on the Affordable Care Act and anti-immigrant policies, one group has not wavered in its support of Trump: his faith advisors. Jerry Falwell, Jr. has celebrated Trump as a “dream president” and Franklin Graham said “God’s hand intervened” to elect him. At the 2018 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., several speakers said no President in American history has done as much as this one to promote “religious freedom.”

To many within and beyond the faith community, these preachers’ claims raise eyebrows. How do Christian ministers reconcile the Jesus who said “Love your enemy” with a President whose policy is to strike back at all critics? Why would people who claim to stand for family values so uncritically support a thrice-married man who according to Ronan Farrow’s reporting for the New Yorker set up complex legal arrangements to cover up multiple affairs throughout his current marriage?

Eighty percent of white evangelicals voted for and, by and large, continue to support President Trump. To almost everyone else in America, this seems like a fundamental contradiction. But to Trump’s faithful, it is Providence at work in human history. They believe God is making America great again through an imperfect human agent. And like any true believers, they will not be moved.

As a preacher who grew up in the South during the Moral Majority movement, I know where my sisters and brothers are coming from. They feel that the “liberal media” and “secular humanists” seek to embarrass their heroes for standing by this President and therefore only confirm their conviction that they are an embattled minority, up against great odds with none but God on their side.

Trump is far from the first person to feed us this lie. In the 19th century, when black and white people built a moral movement in America to abolish slavery, plantation owners paid preachers to write theological defenses of white supremacy. Human bondage wasn’t only allowable for slaveholder religion. It was reflective of God’s design — a righteous order in society to be preserved at all costs.

Slavery went away, but this peculiar American faith did not. Historians refer to the movement to end Reconstruction in the South as “the Redemption movement” because Southern preachers told their people that God was redeeming them from Northern aggression and “Negro rule” when President Rutherford B. Hayes removed federal troops from the South in 1877. By 1896, “separate but equal” was the law of the land. A celebrated preacher of the early 20th century, Thomas Dixon, wrote a bestselling novel glorifying the Ku Klux Klan as champions of morality; by 1915, it was a major motion picture, The Birth of a Nation.

In America’s Gilded Age, slaveholder religion went national, blessing an alliance between industrial capital and white nationalism. When corporate tycoons lost credibility after the Great Depression, members of the national Chamber of Commerce paid The Birth of a Nation director D.W. Griffith’s pastor, the Rev. James Fifield, to popularize a 20th-century version of slaveholder religion that blessed the market and cursed those who preached a Social Gospel. Like the Redemption movement of the previous century, this campaign for “One Nation Under God” promised to save America from the “immorality” of the New Deal, Communism and the Civil Rights movement.

America’s long history of slaveholder religion makes clear that the faith of Trump’s preachers is not new. But it is also not the only faith in this land. Writing in the 19th century, when slaveholder religion was still taking root in white Americans’ consciousness, Frederick Douglass said, “Between the Christianity of the slaveholder and the Christianity of Christ, I see the widest possible difference.”

The faith that drove Douglass and thousands of others to risk all in the fight for abolition has also been passed down, one generation to the next, in the American story. Preachers like Sojourner Truth and J.W. Hood rallied the faithful to fight for Reconstruction after the Civil War, just as Social Gospelers were motivated by a moral vision, and the Civil Rights movement was sustained by the preaching of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the freedom songs that flowed out of Southern churches into the streets and jails. This faith is with us still in churches that offer sanctuary to immigrant neighbors facing deportation and in the Moral Movement led by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II.

If slaveholder religion is still with us in the 21st century, the moral force of this other tradition is with us as well. To distinguish between the two is to make clear that people of faith have a choice to make. Faith that props up extremism isn’t the only religion in our public life, but our history makes clear that slaveholder religion will dominate unless people of faith are willing to put our bodies on the line to insist on a better way.

 

Why Evangelicals—Still!—Support Trump

If you leave out the part about him being a corrupt, immoral con man and bully, there’s lots for them to like.

March 22, 2018

by Katha Pollitt

the Nation

Say what you will about the terrible, terrifying Trump years, one good thing has already come out of them: the discrediting of evangelical Christianity. For decades, believers have boasted of their superior virtue, especially in matters of sex and marriage and parenting and social propriety. They’ve blasted premarital and extramarital sex, LGBTQ people, divorce, pornography, sex work, foul language, crude behavior, and not being a Christian—as they define “Christian”—blaming these things for everything from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. They never get tired of going after Bill Clinton for his infidelities and Hillary Clinton for “enabling” them. (How frustrating it must have been for them that Barack Obama, the Muslim Kenyan communist, spent eight years in the White House with nary a whiff of scandal!) Now they’ve sold their souls to Donald Trump, who has partaken freely of practically every vice and depravity known to man. Urged on by their leaders, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump—more than voted for George W. Bush, an actual evangelical—and now everyone is laughing at them. It’s about time.

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, Michael Gerson, a former Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist, mourns the loss of evangelical credibility in an angry, eloquent essay, “The Last Temptation.” As Gerson writes: “The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption.” An evangelical himself, Gerson excoriates those leaders who make outlandish excuses for Trump’s behavior (my personal favorite: James Dobson’s explanation that the president is a “baby Christian”). Evangelicals, he says, have been driven to a kind of paranoia by their loss of cultural hegemony: They fall into absurd and unnecessary battles over school prayer and creationism, and losing those battles has made them seem—or actually be—“negative, censorious, and oppositional.”

I suppose it’s natural for Gerson to look on the bright side when he can: The evangelicals are his tribe. Thus, he’s full of nostalgia for the 19th-century evangelicals who opposed slavery, but he never mentions that the largest evangelical denomination by far today, the Southern Baptist Convention, split from those northern abolitionist Baptists in order to defend slavery (and, after that, segregation). He wishes more people knew about the good works that evangelicals have done and still do, but on what contemporary issue are evangelicals on the right side of history these days? When you look more closely, even those pastors and programs that Gerson lauds can be a bit problematic. One global health organization that he mentions, Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, is tarred with a reputation for heavy-handed proselytizing and Graham’s own ravings against Islam as “an evil and very wicked religion” whose followers are going straight to hell. Gerson slides past evangelicals’ resistance to women’s basic equality as human beings, which goes way beyond opposition to their reproductive rights: Southern Baptists insist that wives submit to their husbands and ban women speaking from the pulpit or having religious authority over men. Gerson mentions the philanthropic work against AIDS done by the mega-preacher Rick Warren, but not that his church has promoted the idea that there is no biblical right to divorce for women abused by their husbands. Is it so surprising that many churchgoers who think women should obey even violent men have a soft spot for Donald Trump? At least he’s not gay—or a feminist like Hillary Clinton, who actually happens to be a devout Methodist.

The bottom line is racism. “I do not believe that most evangelicals are racist,” Gerson writes. “But every strong Trump supporter has decided that racism is not a moral disqualification in the president of the United States. And that is something more than a political compromise. It is a revelation of moral priorities.” I’m sorry, but being OK with a racist president is what racism is! Only 5 percent of black evangelicals identify as Republican, so it’s unlikely many of them voted for Trump; before the election, only 15 percent of nonwhite evangelicals planned to vote for him. And, as Gerson notes, we know that almost no black evangelicals voted for Roy Moore, the darling of godly whites. According to Pew, in December Trump’s approval rating among white evangelicals was 61 percent—down from 78 percent the previous February, but still almost twice the figure for voters overall (32 percent). They’re the only religious demographic where Trump has anything like majority support.

If you leave out the part about Trump being a corrupt, immoral con man and bully who might well plunge us into World War III—which to some evangelicals wouldn’t be so bad, given the sinfulness of humanity—there’s lots for them to like. He’s putting their guys on the federal bench—just one more Supreme Court justice and there go abortion, civil rights, gay rights, the separation of church and state, and much more. He’s installed agency heads who are right-wing Christians: Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, Nikki Haley, and, if he’s confirmed, Mike Pompeo, plus virtually anyone in his administration who has anything to do with women’s health. He’s promised to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which bars tax-exempt religious institutions from endorsing candidates, paving the way for a mammoth tide of political contributions to churches. White evangelicals distrust science, dismiss racial discrimination, believe that immigrants threaten American values, and worry about extremism among American Muslims? So does Trump.

Best of all, Trump is the one New Yorker who will never make them feel the least bit culturally inferior. After all, they are virtuous, and he is not.

 

Let’s drop the euphemisms: Donald Trump is a racist president

July 13, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

Trump is a walking contradiction – but his nativism is consistent. On his UK tour, he has threatened the safety of migrants worldwide

Watching this pinball president ricochet around Europe, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s no method to Donald Trump’s madness.

Nato is both a rip-off and very strong. Theresa May’s Brexit plan is both pathetic and terrific. Trump’s interview with the Sun was both fake news and generally fine. Trump has all the consistency of Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold, except when it comes to two things: immigrants and Vladimir Putin.

Immigration is where Trump’s journey begins and ends: the message running all the way through this stick of rock. Trump told the Sun that immigration in Europe was “a shame”. Why such concern? “I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.”

Don’t worry, Mr President. We didn’t think you meant it in a positive way. There was a time when politicians like you preferred to use a dog whistle, but those days seem quaint now. There’s something to be said for using a foghorn to blast your racism across the continents. At least we all know what kind of politics you represent.

But just in case anyone had any doubts, Trump took his explicit nativism several steps into more sinister territory on Friday while standing next to the British prime minister. When asked about his “fabric of Europe” comments, Trump began by talking about terrorism, before explaining his thinking.

“I just think it’s changing the culture. I think it’s a very negative thing for Europe. I think it’s very negative,” he said, as if we didn’t hear him the first time with the foghorn. “And I know it’s politically not necessarily correct to say that. But I’ll say it and I’ll say it loud. And I think they better watch themselves because you are changing the culture.”

They better watch themselves because you are changing the culture. There’s a polite way to say this, but the time for good manners has long gone. The president of the United States just threatened the safety and security of immigrants the world over.

Not just in Europe, he made clear, as he continued to talk about American immigration. “We have very bad immigration laws and we’re, I mean, we’re doing incredibly well considering the fact that we virtually don’t have immigration laws,” he explained.

So now we know. The reason Trump ordered the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents – some never to be reunited again – was because they better watch themselves. They are changing the culture and it better stop or else they’ll get hurt.

Trump has mused before about how good it would be to deport people without judges messing things up. He doesn’t consider his own country’s ample immigration laws to be actual laws that he respects. It’s one short step for a president – but one long step for democracy – to go from disrespecting the laws to ignoring them.

This is the language and mentality of so many extreme-right and neo-Nazi parties in Europe. So in the Trump spirit of saying it loud, it’s time to drop the euphemisms: Trump is today’s first major government to be led by the racist far right. It’s not some kind of new populist politics; it’s the old National Front.

It’s more than “not normal” – the media’s favorite phrase for expressing disapproval with the way Trump is blowing up the old norms. Trump personifies the kind of extremist policies that were the wet dreams of the John Birch Society and George Wallace.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. This is a president who started with racist conspiracies about the birthplace of America’s first black president, before launching his campaign with a racist rant about Mexican rapists. Once elected, after losing the popular vote, he rushed out his Muslim travel ban and has since unleashed his long-promised deportation force on anyone looking faintly Latino.

At this point, there are many previously respectable leaders – at home and overseas – as well as administration officials and journalists who have fooled themselves into thinking they are some kind of moderating influence. They have failed. They are a cheap veneer of respectability on an explicitly and punitively racist president.

The moral choices that Trump poses to anyone with a conscience or love of country are only made more clear by the ludicrous irony of his own story.

The grandson of a German immigrant, Trump has married not one but two immigrants. He knows full well how hard it is to be an immigrant: his family was so ashamed of its German roots through two world wars that Trump continued to pretend he had Swedish roots at the time he put his name to The Art of the Deal.

As any TV psychologist might observe, it was a continental-sized giveaway when Trump lied about his immigrant roots to the press after trashing Nato on Thursday. “I have great respect for Germany,” he said, after attacking the German government for months. “My father is from Germany.”

Fred Trump, father to Donald, was born in the Bronx.

If you make a herculean effort, you can just about understand what Trump means when he complains that the culture is changing. It’s true: the world is becoming more integrated and diverse right before his eyes.

That diversity is not just a source of talent for America and Europe, but has long been the core test of our decency: the standard by which we judge ourselves. America’s founding freedoms were in part to protect religious minorities persecuted elsewhere: the kind of people we’d call asylum seekers today.

Or, as Theresa May gamely put it on Friday: “The UK has a proud history of welcoming people who are fleeing persecution to our country. We have a proud history of welcoming people who want to come to our country to contribute to our economy and contribute to our society. And over the years, overall immigration has been good for the UK.”

Even the Brexit-leading prime minister, after an anti-immigrant Brexit campaign, has to admit the obvious. Another foreign leader might recognize those words as a rebuke. But not this president.

Trump is the kind of person who digs around the darkest corners of the extreme-right internet to come up with some England First nonsense. “You don’t hear the word England as much as you should,” he told the Sun, spouting the kind of drivel that gives skinheads a bad name. “I miss the name England,” he said.

If he read one of his many unexamined briefing papers, he might know that one of the likely conservative successors to Theresa May is the immigrant-sounding Sajid Javid, born Muslim in the north of England. His family shares a Pakistani heritage with the immigrant-sounding Sadiq Khan, the left-leaning London mayor Trump thinks is a terrorist sympathizer.

Perhaps next time Trump visits London, he’ll have to remember whether the bad guy is called Sajid or Sadiq. That’s the problem when the culture changes. You better watch yourself, Donald.

 

Support for Israel increasingly seen as a liability as Democrats move to the left

August 24, 2018

by Nada Elia

Mondoweiss

Like most organizers and activists for Palestinian rights, I have followed closely as candidates in this year’s primary elections, who had been outspoken about Israel’s crimes, won primaries in their states, in victories that could usher much-needed change in Congress next year.  First was New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a grassroots organizer of Puerto Rican descent who has accused Israel of engaging in massacres. Ocasio-Cortez ousted an established incumbent, Democratic caucus chair Joe Crowley, in what has been described as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 mid-term elections.  Then came Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American Muslim woman best known nationally for having been detained after disrupting a Trump presidential campaign speech. Tlaib’s mother proudly draped her in a Palestinian flag upon hearing of her victory. And then there were three, as Minnesota’s Ihlan Omar, the Somali immigrant who had tweeted about Israeli apartheid, and who, as early as 2012, spoke of Israel’s “evil deeds,” was also declared winner of her district’s Democratic primary.

Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib are both members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and Omar is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), making all three of them members of Democratic Party groups that are left of center of the mainstream party’s platform.  The DFL’s better known member is Representative Betty McCullom, who last year introduced HR 4391, the  “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children” act.

Yet the victorious Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez were immediately pressured by constituents and supporters to be even more forthcoming in their positions on Palestine. This is a clear indication that, even in today’s racist, anti-brown-immigrant, and Islamophobic climate, voters are interested in critical issues beyond identity politics.  Shortly after winning the nomination, Ocasio-Cortez found herself caught in a protracted tug-of-war over her strongly-worded tweet about Israel committing a “massacre” which she had later retracted, leading some Palestine-rights activists to criticize her harshly, while others expressed caution, patience, a call for education.

And even as a jubilant crowd was still cheering Tlaib’s victory, the Detroit-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants was being taken to task over the fact that she was a J Street “endorsee.”  Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah was accused of “raining on Tlaib’s parade” because he reminded us that identity alone is an insufficient qualification. Recalling how he had been criticized for pointing out former President Barack Obama’s dismal record on various progressive issues, despite his being the black son of an African immigrant, Abunimah wrote:  “Though I risk hearing the same thing now, I am no more willing to overlook the disturbing political views of a candidate just because she is Palestinian American.”

The “disturbing political views” Abunimah had in mind are encapsulated in the fact that Tlaib had been endorsed by J Street, the Zionist lobby nicknamed by Palestine rights activists a “AIPAC lite.”

There is nothing “light,” however, about a J Street endorsement, when it comes to support for Israel.  Specifically, the J Street site explains: “To be eligible for JStreetPAC endorsement, a political candidate must demonstrate that they support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, active US leadership to help end the conflict, the special relationship between the US and Israel, continued aid to the Palestinian Authority and opposition to the Boycott/Divestment/Sanction movement.” As well as:

“One of our core principles for our endorsements is that the candidates support aid to Israel.”

Nor are J Street’s endorsements given “lightly,” but rather, as the site explains, are the result of interviews over a couple of weeks with the candidate, and a subsequent vetting, based on their answers.  Which should make one think twice before applauding J Street endorsed “progressive” (except for Palestine) politicians such as WA Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who is not only a J Street endorsee, but actually went on a J Street sponsored trip to Israel.  That trip coincided with Israel’s assault on unarmed civilians during the Great Return March, and upon her return, Jayapal co-issued a statement calling upon Palestinians to “show restraint.” In an earlier OpEd, I pondered how exactly Jayapal expects Palestinians to exercise restraints, as they protest the violation of their human rights.  Should we bleed less profusely when shot at by snipers with high-powered rifles, I wondered, or maybe we should wait another seventy years before demanding justice?  And does Jayapal have any suggestions on how Palestinians can exercise more “restraint” in demanding their human rights than through the BDS call—a call for non-violent, civilian, grassroots, non-cooperation with the oppressor, the illegal occupier, a state that recently enshrined apartheid as one of its Basic Laws? Yet Jayapal has been described by House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi as “a rising star in the Democratic Caucus,”  in a sobering reminder of where the Democratic Party still stands.

When Tlaib’s J Street endorsement was publicized, the soon-to-be Congresswoman did not attempt any political maneuvering, seeking to fudge her stance for fear of alienating the powerful Zionist lobby.  Asked whether she supports one or two states, Tlaib insisted “One state.  It has to be one state.  Separate but equal doesn’t work,” and she elaborated on her political conviction that the only solution that would bring justice to Palestinians is the one-state solution. Asked about another fundamental Palestinian right, Tlaib continued: “I support right of return absolutely.” And, distancing herself even further from most politicians, she also explained that she supports BDS, and “If you don’t support freedom of speech, you’re in the wrong country.”  In doing so, Tlaib was taking a firm and uncompromising stance for justice, rather than hiding behind the formulaic statements that are the daily currency of American politicians. Her integrity cost her J Street’s endorsement, while her popularity grew by heaps and bounds amongst the progressive left, rather than the centrists.

And it is this outspokenness, this insistence on considering genuine solutions, rather than continuing the charade of politics as usual, while seeming concerned, that is endearing today’s rookie politicians to an otherwise utterly disillusioned American people.

Being anti-Trump is not enough, it has never been enough.  Today’s voters are no longer fooled by theatrics, the centrist opposition to Trump which nevertheless cozies up to apartheid, so long as it is overseas, and impacts a disenfranchised people.  Advocating the two-state solution is tantamount to advocating two apartheid states where now there is only one, from the river to the sea. And a commitment to continuing military aid to Israel is a commitment to funding war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.  As we buoy our new representatives who are pushing the Democratic party to the left, we must put pressure on last year’s “rising stars” of the corrupt establishment , asking them to either step up, and advocate justice for all oppressed people, including Palestinians, or make room for the real progressives.

And yes, since we are dealing with politicians, we must also be cautious.  In an OpEd in the Forward, advocacy professional Carly Pildis expressed “horror” at Tlaib’s and Omar’s views, even as she called upon Zionist Jews to congratulate Omar and Tlaib (misspelled three times as Tlabib in the essay, which suggests this was not a typo), and pounce on them early next year:  “If you want Omar to see that Israel is not an Apartheid state, go to her next town hall and make your case. If you are upset that Tlabib would vote against military aid to Israel, set up a lobby meeting with her staff and share stories of how the Iron Dome saves lives.”  Pildis concludes with: “Let’s send our congratulations to Ms. Tlabib and Ms. Omar, and let them know we look forward to meeting them as soon they unpack their offices. We have much to discuss with them, and the over 80 new Members of Congress who will be joining them for the 116th Congress.”

Similarly, we will need to meet with our representatives, not just Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar.  We can start with the list of JStreetPac endorsees, and ask them why they support a racist state that mirrors the worst of what they are opposing in the US.  We can explain to them that the tide has finally turned to the point where expressing support for Palestinian rights is no longer “politically suicidal,” and an endorsement from J Street is a liability, rather than an asset.

Blessed Prozac Moments

Encyclopedia of American Loons

#1050: Jon Rappoport

Jon Rappoport is a deliriously insane “independent researcher” and blogger. According to his bio, he “has lectured extensively all over the US on the question: Who runs the world and what can we do about it?” For the last decade, however, he has “operated largely away from the mainstream” because, as he puts it, “[m]y research was not friendly to the conventional media.” Indeed. His independent research encompasses “deep politics, conspiracies, alternative health, the potential of the human imagination, mind control, the medical cartel, symbology, and solutions to the takeover of the planet by hidden elites.”

He is, for instance, a germ theory denialist, and in his post “Germ theory and depopulation” (discussed below) he argues that “[i]n general, so-called contagious diseases are caused, not by germs, but by IMMUNE SYSTEMS THAT ARE TOO WEAK TO FIGHT OFF THOSE GERMS” (yes, the capitalization is in the original). Indeed, “GERMS ARE A COVER STORY. What do they cover up? The fact that immune systems are the more basic target for depopulation and debilitation of populations.” The main tool is of course vaccines, which are weapons the nefarious powers that be use to kill off, well, it is a bit hard to see, partially because Rappoport’s post is mostly all-caps from there. At least HIV is a cover story as well.

He has a similar screed on flu vaccines on whale.to if that’s the kind of stuff you fancy reading. It is barely grammatical, but at least he gets his enthusiastic anger across rather well.

Currently Rappoport seems to write on various topics for InfoWars. Recently, for instance, Rappoport and InfoWars dubbed Rep. Tim Murphy’s bill seeking to reform the way the government addresses mental health services a “diabolical legislative package,” since Rappoport thought the legislation would require almost all children to take “psychiatric meds,” and that the bill will ultimately give the federal government “a monopoly of the mind.” Yeah, that’s the way he rolls.

Diagnosis: Hysterically crazy; and his influence is probably not quite as limited as his level of crazy should suggest

 Depopulation by vaccines?

July 23, 2012

by Orac

After all the years that I’ve been writing about vaccines, the science behind vaccines, and how antivaccinationists twist that science to turn what are arguably the greatest medical achievement of medicine and have saved arguably more lives than any other medical intervention devised by human minds into toxic cesspits of horrific chemical corruption that cause autism and destroy children, I thought I had seen it all. And perhaps I have. Sadly, seldum does any new bit of pseudoscience or new fallacious argument trying to claim that vaccines are dangerous surprise me anymore. That didn’t used to the the case, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen anything truly new. That’s not to say that I haven’t seen a lot of new twists on old themes. Antivaccinationists are protean in their ability to run with the same idea down different pathways. Perhaps a better way of putting it is that antivaccinationists have a seemingly endless wardrobe they can use to dress of the same turds of misinformation and pseudoscience.

I was reminded of this when I came across a blog I hadn’t seen before (or at least that I can’t remember having seen before). The blogger is someone named Jon Rappoport. He calls himself an “investigative reporter,” and runs a website he calls No More Fake News. His bio is rather self-aggrandizing, in which he claims multiple publications but, more importantly:

Jon has lectured extensively all over the US on the question: Who runs the world and what can we do about it?

For the last ten years, Jon has operated largely away from the mainstream because, as he puts it, “My research was not friendly to the conventional media.”

Over the last 30 years, Jon’s independent research has encompassed such areas as: deep politics, conspiracies, alternative health, the potential of the human imagination, mind control, the medical cartel, symbology, and solutions to the takeover of the planet by hidden elites.

Perhaps this explains how he could write a post called Germ Theory and Depopulation. Remember how I referred to antivaccinationists being able to dress up turds in lots of different outfits? Consider Rappoport’s post to be yet another example. It’s useful to look at, however, because it explains something I hadn’t quite understood about why antivaccine conspiracy theorists seem to think that vaccines are a tool of depopulation. Ever since they started going after Bill Gates, willfully misinterpreting his remarks about how vaccines can contribute to healthier societies and healthier societies tend to have slower population growth as evidence that Gates somehow wants to use vaccines to depopulate the world, antivaccinationists have been making this argument more and more. Rappoport just does it in a way that I haven’t seen before, linking germ theory denialism (yes, there are germ theory denialists in this day and age, as hard as it is to believe) with a plot to depopulate the world with vaccines. Such are the investigative chops of this “investigative journalist.”

He begins with an expressed desire to “straighten out the thinking of many people who look at germs as the primary vehicle for reducing the global population.” These people (whoever they are) apparently believe that intentional pandemics of bioengineered viruses are being launched in order to kill massive numbers of people. Personally, as a scientists, I could never understand what anyone would get out of depopulating the world, and any sort of infectious agent seems to be a very blunt, unreliable, dangerous, and likely ineffective method to achieve such an end, but I’ll run with Rappoport for a minute. He believes that the H1N1 pandemic from three years ago was a “complete dud.” Personally, I”m thankful that the pandemic didn’t turn out to be nearly as severe as feared, but even at its level of severity it did cause a fair amount of havoc. Be that as it may, Rappoport claims he knows what’s really going on:

Swine flu was a PROPAGANDA OPERATION, plain and simple, aimed at scaring populations and driving them to get vaccines. That was the op. And it failed. In fact, the op was exposed (by yours truly and others) as a sham and a con. Millions of people online caught on. It was a devastating defeat for WHO, the CDC, and the medical cartel.

I’d hate to be in public health these days. You get the blame no matter what happens. If the H1N1 pandemic had been as serious as feared, public health authorities would have been blamed for not doing enough to prevent it. If, as happened, the pandemic was not as severe as predicted, you catch flak for “overreacting.” Public health authorities can’t win, and it doesn’t help that conspiracy theorizing “investigative journalists” like Rappoport pile on in such a monumentally paranoid fashion. I must admit, though, it is good for a bit of entertainment, as you will see.

What do I mean? According to Rappoport, these pandemics were a big cover, but a cover for what? Here’s where the germ theory denialism comes in. I realize that many of you have a hard time believing that anyone could be a germ theory denialist in this day and age, but believe me when I tell you that not only do such people exist, but they are common in the antivaccine movement, particularly among believers in various forms of quackery. Basically, the thought process (if you can call it “thought”) goes along these lines: Germs don’t cause disease; so vaccines are unnecessary. I kid you not. But if vaccines are unnecessary, what, then, is their purpose? Rappoport thinks he knows:

Let’s go deeper. In general, so-called contagious diseases are caused, not by germs, but by IMMUNE SYSTEMS THAT ARE TOO WEAK TO FIGHT OFF THOSE GERMS.

When we put the cart and the horse in proper alignment, things become clear. I fully realize this isn’t as sexy as talking about bio-engineered gene sequences in viruses, but the cart and horse must be understood.

GERMS ARE A COVER STORY.

What do they cover up?

The fact that immune systems are the more basic target for depopulation and debilitation of populations.

I do so love all caps, and Rappoport liberally peppers his posts with all caps. This post I’m discussing has quite a few sentences in all caps. In any case, yes, you read it right. According to Rappoport, there is some sort of massive conspiracy to depopulate the world. Only it’s not using bioengineered germs to accomplish this nefarious task. Rather, it’s using the threat of pandemics due to bioengineered germs in order to scare people into getting vaccines so that their immune systems will be devastated and they will…well, it’s not exactly clear. Die? Fail to reproduce because they become too sickly? I suppose it must be one or more of these.

It gets even “better.”

To Rappoport, the AIDS epidemic of 25 years ago was just a warmup. According to him, the “medical cartel” (whatever that is) lied about HIV causing AIDS because too many people were becoming aware that germs weren’t the real cause of disease, that the “germ-conquering immune system” was everything when it came to disease. So, as Rappoport put it, the medical cartel said that it had found a new germ that would crash the immune system:

IT SAID: ALL YOUR IDEAS ABOUT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM ARE USELESS. THE IMMUNE SYSTEM CAN’T “REPLACE DOCTORS AND DRUGS” BY WARDING OFF GERMS IF IT IS BEING DESTROYED BY HIV. YOU SEE? A SINGLE GERM IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE WHOLE IMMUNE SYSTEM. THE GERM IS THE REAL PROBLEM. WE WIN, YOU LOSE.

That was their play. That was their game. That was their LIE. Actually, HIV wasn’t destroying or harming a single immune system on the planet, lies work when you have a whole propaganda system at your disposal.

The cartel had to cut off other competing theories that could move to center stage. The most important of these theories would focus on the immune system and how to strengthen it NATURALLY. This is an area in which the medical cartel has zero answers.

It’s actually an area where the “natural health” movement has zero answers, but it really thinks it has all the answers. It’s a massive case of projection when people like Rapoport claim that the “medical cartel” doesn’t have any answers. Of course, one could also point out that Rappoport and people like him actually do have answers that are clear, simple—and completely wrong.

In this case, the answer is that some shadowy conspiracy is lying to you about whether microbes cause disease (as in HIV causing AIDS) and is using that “lie” to convince you to vaccinate, all in order to destroy your immune system. There, it gets a bit fuzzy?  Why would this “medical cartel” want to destroy your immune system? So that you believe it when it says that microbes cause disease? What’s not to believe, given the copious amount of evidence over the last 130 years, since the time of Louis Pasteur, that various microbes do cause disease? Is in order to make you sick so that you become dependent on the largesse of big pharma to supply you with drugs to keep you alive? That does seem to be the implication, but if you want to sell as many drugs to as many people as possible, depopulation hardly seems a winning strategy. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to kill off your customer base. Maybe these big pharma overlords are a short-sighted bunch, only interested in short term profits.

In the end, I’d argue that Rappoport’s conspiracy theory doesn’t make sense even within the context of the antivaccine movement. Most antivaccinationists accept the germ theory of disease; they simply claim that vaccines do more harm than good. They are, of course, completely in error when they make such claims, but Rappoport goes beyond just being in error straight to going off the rails on a crazy train.

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

#197: Alex Jones

Alex Jones is the guy who has yet to meet a conspiracy theory he doesn’t endorse, no matter how batshit insane it is (and, interestingly, no matter how much it conflicts with other conspiracy theories he already believes). For at least ten years he has predicted, in his rather popular radio program, the imminent roundup of Americans by the New World Order.

In addition to his radio program, he is also the director of several straight-to-video documentaries, and he runs the websites Infowars and PrisonPlanet (for those who wish to avoid the site itself, it is detailed here).

Some conspiracy theories endorsed by PrisonPlanet are:

  • The Bilderberg Group (or Skull and Bones, or the Freemasons – it depends on the day, it seems) controls some/most/all governments in the world as well as the economy.
  • The New World Order will kill almost everyone. Vaccine programs seem to be just one of their methods – of course Jones has endorsed Andrew Wakefield as a martyr. To get a feel for the level it is pitched at, you may want to check out this one – or then again, maybe not.
  • In fact, Hurricane Katrina was merely an opportunity to test out the FEMA concentration camps.
  • And the tsunami in south-east Asia in 2004 was man-made.
  • 9/11 was (of course) an inside job.

This is, of course, only a selection; in general it is hard to find a loon that Jones does not take seriously. He is basically a living embodiment of whale.to.

Other bizarre antics are chronicled on his wikipedia page. Apparently the ravingly mad and utterly dense (but British) Vicount Monckton views PrisonPlanet as a legitimate news outlet. That explains a lot.

The interesting thing about Alex Jones’ reasoning is that he does not seem to run with the common fallacy ‘authorities (e.g. scientific) say X; I don’t like X; hence there must be a conspiracy’, but rather with the inference rule ‘everything is part of a conspiracy; authorities say X; hence X is false’ (which is a fallacy as well, of course, but a somewhat more interesting one).

Now, some may think Alex Jones is batshit crazy, and he is. But surely he is beaten by Lorie Kramer, who believes that Alex Jones is a pawn created by the New World Order to divert attention. Seriously. And if that is not enough, this site, run by Gary & Lisa Ruby, claims that Jones is part of a scientologist conspiracy to take over the world and demolish Christianity. I guess this is what you risk when you start to gain notoriety in the hyper-paranoid and chaotic field of conspiracy theory.

Among Jones’s more notable collaborators is the equally insane Paul Joseph Watson, who may consider himself indicted by this entry as well (he does not deserve a separate one). Watson is, among other things, behind this, uh, illuminating screed.

Diagnosis: The ur-loon. Extremely famous and frighteningly influential, but one suspects that he would be able to convince anyone who were not already at least mildly unhinged. Jones may be partly in it for the money, but there is little question that he actually believes much of whatever falls out of his mouth.

Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify ban Infowars’ Alex Jones

Crackdown on US conspiracy theorist for promoting violence and hate speech

August 6, 2018

by Alex Hern

The Guardian

All but one of the major content platforms have banned the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as the companies raced to act in the wake of Apple’s decision to remove five podcasts by Jones and his Infowars website.

Facebook unpublished four pages run by Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday. YouTube terminated Jones’s account over him repeatedly appearing in videos despite being subject to a 90-day ban from the website, and Spotify removed the entirety of one of Jones’s podcasts for “hate content”.

Facebook’s removal of the pages – the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page – comes after the social network imposed a 30-day ban on Jones personally “for his role in posting violating content to these pages”.

Following that suspension, a Facebook spokesperson said: “More content from the same pages has been reported to us – upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanising language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

The spokesperson noted that, despite the focus on Jones’s role in spreading conspiracy theories around events such as the 9/11 attacks and Sandy Hook school shooting, “none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this”.

A few hours after Facebook announced its ban, YouTube also terminated Jones’s account on its platform. The company issued a statement that didn’t refer to Jones by name, saying only that: “All users agree to comply with our terms of service and community guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment, or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.”

The Guardian understands that the specific rationale for Jones’s ban was his habit of appearing in livestreams hosted on other channels on the site, despite being subject to a 90-day ban.

Facebook’s and YouTube’s enforcement action against Jones came hours after Apple removed Jones from its podcast directory. The timing of Facebook’s announcement was unusual, with the company confirming the ban at 3am local time.

Jones, who is being sued by the parents of children murdered in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting for claiming the attack was a hoax, is the host of the daily Alex Jones Show podcast, and his platform Infowars produces another five podcasts.

All of those shows were removed from Apple Podcasts save for one, Real News with David Knight, which at present is still on the platform.

Apple does not host podcasts, nor does it have any financial relationship with those it catalogues on its directory. Instead, Apple Podcasts is simply a list of links to podcasts hosted on independent servers around the world. But the service is still the most important single platform in the podcasting industry, driving a substantial amount of traffic to the podcasts it features on its homepage or in its charts.

Publishing platforms have faced strong pressure to take action against Jones and Infowars over the past few months, but Apple was the first major company to sanction the broadcaster in its entirety, narrowly beating Facebook to the punch.

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” an Apple spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, which first reported the removal. “Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory, making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Spotify also took action against Jones on Monday, removing every episode of his podcast The Alex Jones Show from its platform. The music streaming service had previously removed specific episodes of the show, but left the bulk of the archive up, before tightening its enforcement. Spotify has still left three other Infowars podcasts live on the service, however.

“We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community,” a Spotify spokesperson told the Guardian. “Due to repeated violations of Spotify’s prohibited content policies, The Alex Jones Show has lost access to the Spotify platform.”

Facebook suspended Jones’s personal profile from the site for 30 days in late July for what the company said was bullying and hate speech. But he continued to regularly appear on Facebook after the suspension, appearing in livestreams hosted by other accounts and even making first-person posts to his personal page by publishing them using the accounts of other administrators in Infowars.

The lone major social network to still allow Jones unfettered access is Twitter, where the broadcaster has a “verified” account. As the count of companies acting against Jones and Infowars grew, some Twitter users began campaigning for that site to follow suit, tweeting to Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and chief executive. Following the bans, Jones immediately turned to Twitter’s live-streaming platform Periscope to hit back at the tech platforms. “Everyone must turn to Infowars as a standard to be saved,” Jones said. “Tell folks, ‘Hey, it’s the most censored thing in the world for a reason. Jones is dialled in, Jones knows what’s going on.’”

Since founding Infowars in 1999, Jones has built a vast audience. Among the theories he has promoted is that the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington were staged by the government.

He has also promoted a theory that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked by left-wing forces to promote gun control. The shooting killed 26 children and adults at the elementary school in Connecticut.

Jones is being sued in Texas by two Sandy Hook parents, who are seeking at least $1m (£770,000), claiming they have been subjected to harassment driven by his shows.

Neither Jones nor a representative for Infowars was available for comment early on Monday.

 

 

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