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TBR News July 16, 2020

Jul 16 2020

The Voice of the White House
Comments, July 16, 2020: For some time, the American economy has been sliding slowly into serious trouble. Once, at her height, America was a producing nation but corporate policy of off-shoring America production to increase profits was creating long-term problems. The so-called Corona Virus rigged scare brought matters to a head and have wreaked havoc on American businesses. The blame has been leveled at the Chinese whom the Trump people blame for daring to produce that which American business has asked them to. Many, many small businesses have gone bankrupt thanks to this fatal and short-sighted police and millions of their employees are without work and have no income of any kind. Trump is a narcissist and such people have no interest in the problems of others so America is now becoming filled with armies of the new-poor with no sign of any governmental assistance evident. This situation can clearly lead to violence but since the US military has clearly advised Trump they will have no hand in domestic suppression, public fury will eventually force the Republicans out of office in toto.

 

The Table of Contents

  • Leaked documents show police knew far-right extremits were the real threat at protests, not ‘Antifa”
  • Violent Round Robin letter to right wing Trump American support groups
  • Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
  • Deepfake used to attack activist couple shows new disinformation frontier
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

Leaked documents show police knew far-right extremists were the real threat at protests, not ‘Antifa”
July 15, 2020
by Ryan Devereaux
The Intercept

As protests against police violence spread to every state in the U.S. and dramatic images flooded in from cities across the country, President Donald Trump and his attorney general spun an ominous story of opportunistic leftists exploiting a national trauma to sow chaos and disorder. They were the anti-fascists known as “antifa,” and according to the administration they were domestic terrorists who would be policed accordingly.

But while the White House beat the drum for a crackdown on a leaderless movement on the left, law enforcement offices across the country were sharing detailed reports of far-right extremists seeking to attack the protesters and police during the country’s historic demonstrations, a trove of newly leaked documents reveals.

Among the steady stream of threats from the far-right were repeated encounters between law enforcement and heavily armed adherents of the so-called boogaloo movement, which welcomes armed confrontation with cops as means to trigger civil war. With much of the U.S. policing apparatus on the hunt for antifa instigators, those violent aspirations appear to have materialized in a string of targeted attacks in California that left a federal protective services officer and a sheriff’s deputy dead and several other law enforcement officials wounded.

The cache of law enforcement materials was recently hacked and posted online under the title “BlueLeaks,” providing an unprecedented look at the communications between state, local, and federal law enforcement in the face of the nationwide protests. In an analysis of nearly 300 documents that reference “antifa,” The Intercept found repeated instances of antifa and left-wing protesting activities cast in cartoonishly grim terms alongside more substantive reports of lethal right-wing violence and threats that have received scant mention from top Trump administration officials.

“Throughout the documents you see counterterrorism agencies using extremism so broadly as to mean virtually anything that encompasses dissent,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told The Intercept. “There are instances in which people engaging in white supremacist violence get the benefit of the doubt as potential lone offenders, while people of color and those who dissent against government injustice are smeared as threats with guilt by association.”

Michael German, a former FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism and current fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the materials were rife with examples of law enforcement intelligence being politicized in ways that endangered both protesters and police alike. “Terrorism is distinguished from other violence by its political nature and, as a result, counterterrorism is often highly politicized as well,” German told The Intercept. “Here we’re seeing where this politicization of counterterrorism is being reflected in intelligence documents that are going out and are intended to inform state and local law enforcement on the ground.” He added: “Overall, what you see is a strange sensationalization of the antifa threats — and that doesn’t exist when looking at the boogaloo documents.”

German argued that the impulse to paint both sides of the political spectrum with the same brush, despite the fact that only the far right is actively killing people, is among the most dangerous features of modern American law enforcement. In his review of the documents produced in response to the recent protests, German said purported “threats” from antifa were routinely overblown, often framed vandalism as terrorism and were typically absent of concrete evidence of serious criminal activity.

“It’s chatter, it’s ‘intelligence reporting suggests,’” he said. On June 2, for example, the Department of Homeland Security circulated a tweet to law enforcement agencies across the country reporting that antifa was stashing bricks to “fuel protests.” The intelligence made its way to a law enforcement fusion center in Maine. Last week, Mainer magazine tracked down the original source of the tweet: a far-right, pro-Trump biker who goes by the name “the Wolfman,” who claimed that Facebook kept deleting his brick-planting evidence “because they are BLM supporters.”

Even if antifa were staging bricks, German said, “you have these heavily armed groups right there, who have a much more direct and lengthy history of violence than anything antifa or anarchist-involved does.” Unlike the information circulated about antifa, much of the intelligence reporting in the BlueLeaks documents regarding threats from the far right is tightly focused on specific events, German noted. “That’s the way it should be,” he said. Far-right extremists have been targeting and killing law enforcement, not to mention members of the general public, for generations, German explained, and in fact, the government’s own documents show that those ideas were percolating in extremist corners of the right at the same time that Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr were preparing to crack down on the left.

While antifa has been a right-wing boogeyman for years, the administration’s rhetoric ramped up in late May, with Trump tweeting that he would designate the movement as a terrorist organization. Barr followed the tweet with a Department of Justice statement reporting that federal investigators would work to “identify criminal organizers and instigators” who were “hijacking” the protests, and warning that “the violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

In the weeks since Barr’s statement was issued, The Intercept has published accounts of FBI agents in multiple states targeting individuals with a perceived relationship to antifa for interviews and potential informant work. Meanwhile, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, an official fundraising arm of the president, has been running campaign ads urging donors to send money to show support for the administration’s antifa enforcement campaign.

Yet the leaked materials show that on May 29, two days before Trump tweeted that antifa would be labeled a terrorist organization and Barr issued his DOJ statement, the president’s own DHS analysts issued an open source intelligence report detailing how a white supremacist channel on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, was encouraging followers to capitalize on the unrest by targeting the police with Molotov cocktails and firearms.

“The use of firearms greatly influences the scale and intensity of these events,” a source in the group, titled “National Accelerationist Revival,” wrote on May 27, advising followers to break police lines “with cocktails, chainsaws, and firearms.” At the time, DHS reported, the group included more than 3,400 subscribers. “Looting and shoplifting are both cool and whites should be doing it way more,” the source went on. “When the laws no longer benefit you, break them for personal gain. If you don’t feel like buying something, steal it. If you don’t feel like driving slow, drive fast. If you don’t like someone, hurt them.”

“We ought to revel in the destruction of the police state,” they wrote. “It is just as necessary to break down the police state and the system of control as it is to spread racial hatred.”

In a separate document disseminated the following day, DHS warned its workforce that the nation’s “period of darkness” would soon worsen, as “violent protest movements” grew. Domestic extremists would capitalize on the unrest to “take over government facilities and attack law enforcement,” DHS predicted, with protests following police killings of civilians “posing a high risk of escalating to both premeditated and random attacks targeting law enforcement officers nationwide.” The document went on to describe how “users of a white supremacist extremist Telegram channel attempted to incite followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo’ — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.”

Among the developments cited in the bulletin was the May 29 assassination of a federal court security guard in Oakland. The alleged perpetrator would later be identified as Steven Carrillo, a 32-year-old sergeant in an elite Air Force security unit. According to authorities, Carrillo would go on to ambush and kill a sheriff’s deputy and wound several others in a second targeted attack days later. In court filings last month, the FBI reported that the airman had a ballistics vest bearing a boogaloo patch. Following a shootout with police, Carrillo reportedly used his own blood to scrawl phrases associated with the movement on the hood of a vehicle he had carjacked.

In the run-up to the initial attack, federal authorities said Carrillo made several comments in a Facebook group with his accused accomplices arguing that the protests were an ideal opportunity to kill law enforcement — whom he referred to as “soup bois,” a reference to the “alphabet soup” of law enforcement titles — and kick off a broader nationwide conflagration. “Go to the riots and support our own cause,” Carrillo reportedly wrote on the morning of the attacks. “Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”

At approximately 9:44 p.m, Carrillo and his accused partner, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., rolled up in a white van outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. The side door of the vehicle slid open and Carrillo opened fire. Fifty-three-year-old David Patrick Underwood was shot dead. His partner was wounded. “Did you see how they fucking fell?” Justus would later recall Carrillo exclaiming, as the van took off into the night.

While Carrillo was on the run in California, the FBI’s Minneapolis office circulated uncorroborated “online discussions” between unidentified individuals indicating that “Antifa wanted to ‘massacre’ National Guard personnel at the Minnesota State Capitol” in an unprecedented vehicle-born explosive attack. In the June 1 report, the bureau’s Minneapolis office noted that the intelligence coming in was based on photos of National Guard vehicles that did not appear to come from Minnesota, that it was the product of an outside office, and that “given current circumstances in the Twin Cities, the FBI Minneapolis Field Office cautions that the source may have potentially provided intelligence to influence recipients.”

That same morning, Trump tweeted a quote from “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade: “I don’t see any indication that there were any white supremist [sic] groups mixing in. This is an ANTIFA Organization. It seems that the first time we saw it in a major way was Occupy Wall Street. It’s the same mindset.” The president endorsed Kilmeade’s assessment, writing in all caps, “TRUE!” Later in the day, Trump appeared in the Rose Garden of the White House to announce that he would mobilize military forces to quash “the violence and restore security and safety in America.” The president was quick to point out the role of “professional anarchists, violent mobs … arsonists, looters, criminals, rider rioters, Antifa, and others” in creating unrest. “A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero, was shot and killed,” he said, referring to Underwood and the targeted attack in Oakland.

Trump made no mention of groups on the far right. Behind the scenes, however, DHS was acknowledging “media reports” indicating “that neo-Nazi, and other paramilitary far-right groups, are calling for terror attacks during the ongoing unrest throughout the United States.”

“A series of Telegram accounts linked to a wider network of paramilitary far-right extremists have indicated that ongoing disturbances are spreading America’s police forces thin, making this the ideal time to strike with a strategic attack,” the agency reported in a round-up of intelligence reports coming in from around the country, published the following morning. “One account, with thousands of followers and links to several neo-Nazi terror groups like The Base and the Nordic Resistance Movement, called for attacks on critical infrastructure.” The agency noted that Twitter had recently removed a fake antifa account “created by a known white supremacist group” that had issued a call to violence.

“Although the account only had a few hundred followers, it is an example of white supremacists seeking to inflame tensions in the United States,” DHS reported.

According to a distribution list at the bottom of the report, the document was shared with the White House Situation Room, DHS headquarters, federal interagency operations centers, and state and local partners. The Intercept sent detailed lists of questions regarding documents in the BlueLeaks trove to the White House, the Department of Justice, and DHS. None responded. The FBI referred The Intercept to an interview director Christopher Wray gave to Fox News in a late June, in which he appeared to distance the bureau from the more strident antifa rhetoric of Barr and Trump. “Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” the bureau said in a statement. “We are not focused on peaceful protests.“

An Antifa Obsession

Despite the apparent stream of intelligence indicating that the far right was looking to use the protests as cover to attack law enforcement and create disorder, the FBI, by June 2, was still uncertain whether the attack in Oakland was linked to the demonstrations. “At this time, the FBI is unable to determine if this incident is related to the civil unrest in the Oakland area,” the bureau noted in a lengthy situation report. Carrillo’s arrest was still four days away.

On the heels of Barr’s antifa statement, the FBI noted that its field offices had been “encouraged to canvass sources for intelligence associated with violent or illegal extremist activity.” The bureau added that “any attempts by law enforcement to arrest individuals” openly carrying guns at protests, as well as increased use of the National Guard, was likely to draw more anti-government militias into the streets. The 16-page FBI report did not mention the boogaloo movement nor any of the many other domestic extremist groups of the American far right, by name. It did, however, highlight antifa and anarchists more than a half dozen times.

In Newark, New Jersey, police and FBI investigators had identified “a probable ‘Antifa’ related individual,” who was arrested for possessing a knife, a hatchet, and a jar of gasoline. Though the man’s charge was unclear, the FBI reported that it had “obtained one of his Facebook posts which contained a video of him at the riots inciting others to steal from the stores while he stood guard.” With the man having described himself as “anti-government and anti-authority,” the FBI reported that its Newark office “believes this profile is consistent with ‘Antifa.’” While agents were investigating the man in Newark, the FBI’s field office in Spokane, Washington, was looking into an “antifa group” reportedly headed through Idaho and on to Minneapolis. In Denver, meanwhile, the FBI was investigating the alleged transfer of “riot supplies” to “antifa members,” and in Philadelphia, authorities were “attempting to confirm if any of the individuals arrested by Philadelphia Police Department have ‘Antifa’ affiliations.”

The portrait the FBI painted of the country was chaotic, with nearly three dozen FBI SWAT teams in various stages of deployment nationwide. The report noted “multiple officer related shootings” in the 12 hours preceding its dissemination, including the killing of a police officer in Las Vegas and an “assailant” who allegedly fired on police officers and a National Guard patrol in Kentucky. Nearly 200 pistols and rifles had been stolen from locations in San Francisco and Albuquerque, New Mexico, the FBI reported; it was unclear by whom.

While a variety of groups had been linked to the unrest, the FBI noted that “much of the violence and vandalism is perpetrated by opportunistic, individual actors acting without specific direction.” Nonetheless, the bureau would “continue to aggressively … seek to corroborate whether or not there is in fact an organized effort to incite violence by either known criminal groups or domestic violent extremists,” which apparently included running down “uncorroborated intelligence about alleged participation of Venezuelan and Nicaraguan socialist groups.” According to the report, with more than 4,000 arrests across the country, the FBI had tagged nearly 200 incidents as “riot related threats” and was in the process of investigating 40 “cases associated with violent protests.”

With Trump hyping antifa hysteria in Washington, D.C., reports of lurking leftists began cropping around the country. In Colorado, a Denver resident reported that they had followed a “suspicious person” into their apartment complex who looked to be attempting to set the building on fire. “Fairly certain he was a member of an Antifa like group,” the resident wrote, adding that there were “two Antifa safe houses on our block.” “I know this because they have been walking past our house telling us they can offer shelter, food, supplies, etc. also they have been hiding on our stoop when Swat drives by and they keep discussing their plans and where they are going. They have a central phone # they are calling to get updates and where they need to go to,” the resident said. “Please nip this shit in the ass. This is the second time in two days we had someone attempt to burn down our apartment building/neighboring buildings. Get these terrorists out of our city please!”

The Colorado Information Analysis Center, a law enforcement fusion center, listed the type of activity described in the complaint as “terrorism.” CIAC did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

It wasn’t just residents worried about antifa. CIAC also received a request from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department seeking “information on ANTIFA, and possibility of acts targeting our AOR” — area of operations. In neighboring Nebraska, the FBI’s Omaha office was running down information indicating that an “unidentified individual who claimed to be a member of ANTIFA” had posted a Craigslist ad offering to “pay up to 1,000 individuals $25 per hour to ‘cause as much chaos and destruction as possible’” in “nightly violent protests.” In Virginia, the FBI warned that black lines spray-painted on federal buildings was a sign of antifa vandalism to come.

All over the country, from California to Texas to West Virginia, law enforcement was chasing antifa leads and looking to hunt down instigators. The BlueLeaks documents suggest a borderline obsession on the part of some law enforcement offices with painting antifa, anarchists, and left-wing dissent more broadly as a serious terrorist threat. In early June, New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) issued a two-page report detailing how legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive association of attorneys and legal advocates that has been around since the 1930s and sends representatives to public protests to monitor police activity, were in fact “an anarchist extremist subgroup.”

“‘Lawyers’ may be identified by their bright neon green hats or clothing; however, these individual [sic] may or may not be licensed lawyers,” the office warned. “Their role is to record information regarding the interactions Antifa members are having during an arrest. This individual will record the interaction with the aid of another member, while noting information. The ‘lawyer’ will also obtain booking information and are known to argue with police over arrests and interactions.”

Anti-fascists were bent on infiltrating protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police Officer Derek Chauvin “to further their violent ideology,” the New Jersey office reported, and “continue to attack government institutions; use violent counter-protest tactics against adversarial groups, including law enforcement; and target political figures representing disparate views.”

This was not the first time the New Jersey’s homeland security office had set its sights on leftists. In a 2018 report, the office compiled a color-coded chart of the biggest terror threats to New Jersey. Anarchist extremists were third, in the “moderate” section below Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but above the Islamic State. Anarchists made the list again in 2019, this time climbing to second, just below “Homegrown Violent Extremists.” They fell to third in 2020, however, with “White Supremacist Extremists” finally cracking New Jersey’s top three after several centuries of organized terror and killing.

The Intercept asked NJOHSP about its justification for considering anarchists a greater public safety threat than terror groups that have killed thousands of people, and whether the office has ever aided investigations into legal observers. The office said that it “does not disclose operational or investigative details and sources.”

The government fusion centers that produce the kind of “intelligence” found in the BlueLeaks breach have been a problem for years, said Freddy Martinez, a policy analyst at Open the Government, a nonpartisan, nonprofit collective that works to peel back post-9/11 government secrecy through research and open records collection. Martinez was a lead author on a report published earlier this year detailing how the government’s billion-dollar network of fusion centers “exhibit a persistent pattern of violating Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, producing unreliable and ineffective information, and resisting financial and other types of standard public accountability.”

The BlueLeaks documents show that the problems with fusion centers go beyond efficiency, Martinez argued. “It would be easy to say that the information is inaccurate, wrong, costly, which I think is true, but it also sort of describes what the priorities of the federal government are on counterterrorism,” he said. “The government is aware of what they’re doing. It’s a very intentional, ‘Well, we’re just going to criminalize dissent any way we can.’”

German, the former FBI agent, described how sensationalized, incomplete, or biased fusion center reporting can have a dangerous impact on the ground, particularly in complex, emotionally charged protest situations. “I always try to read these and put myself in the shoes of a young police officer that doesn’t know anything about this subject,” he said. “All this tells me to do is be very afraid of these people and imagine the worst of anything that they do.”

“You can kind of understand why their response is so aggressive and violent,” he said. “They’re scared to death, and they’re scared to death because there’s this echo chamber of right-wing media, White House statements and, unfortunately, law enforcement intelligence.”

Identifying the Enemy

As law enforcement worked to find cases that would support the attorney general’s portrait of a looming antifa menace, evidence mounted in late May and early June of right-wing extremists amassing weapons, plotting terror attacks, and killing law enforcement officials.

In Denver, CAIC reported a police seizure of “several military-style assault rifles from a vehicle occupied by a group of self-identified anti-government individuals who call themselves ‘Boogaloo Bois’” near a protest on May 29. The report, which began by noting that an anarchist blog had referred to police as “pigs” and included photos of anarchy “A’s” spray-painted on buildings, went on to list eight examples of far-right extremists across the country “vigorously threatening violence towards recent protests,” including sharing images of weapons stockpiles and tips on sabotaging police vehicles, neo-Nazis encouraging their brethren to “dress up as law enforcement and film themselves attacking black people” and calls to form small “crews” that would be “willing to shed blood.”

Similar reports were filtering in from law enforcement in Minneapolis and Austin, Texas, where intelligence analysts released a bulletin advising law enforcement to be on the lookout for three young men in tactical gear who were detained “in possession of two AR style rifles, one AK style rifle, two handguns, and several hundred rounds of ammunition, as well as gas masks.” The men gave “conflicting statements about where they had been and what they were doing in Austin,” the Austin Regional Intelligence Center reported. “Searches of social media show sympathetic views toward the Boogaloo Bois, an anti-government movement, as well as several other anti-police sentiments,” the report stated, adding that one of the subject’s Facebook pages included a post that said he did not “expect to be here next year” and other comments suggesting that “he may take action against” law enforcement.

On June 4, the U.S. military weighed in on the protests in the form of a report published by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which noted that federal prosecutors had “charged three men connected with the boogaloo movement with terrorism offenses” intended to “spark violence” at protests related to Floyd’s killing. Like Carrillo in California, all three of the men — Navy veteran Stephan Parshall, Army reservist Andrew Lynam, and Air Force veteran William Loomis — had ties to the U.S. military, NCIS noted, adding that it had published a “Threat Awareness Message” regarding the boogaloo movement earlier this year.

“Racially motivated violent extremist (RMVE) movements that subscribe to boogaloo have engaged in conceptual discussions about recruiting military or former military members for their perceived knowledge of combat training,” the naval investigative agency stated. “NCIS cannot discount the possibility of DoD affiliated individuals sympathetic to or engaged in the boogaloo movement.”

A number of the details surrounding the Nevada arrests track with a longer history of militant, far-right extremism in the United States, said Kathleen Belew, a history professor at the University of Chicago and author of the book “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.” Prosecutors in the case allege that before setting their sights on a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas, the three men discussed a potential attack targeting facilities at the Hoover Dam. According to Belew, the dam has been a target in the collective imagination of far-right extremists going back decades, including extremists linked to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. “This goes way back,” Belew told The Intercept. “It’s not just that there’s a social movement that is attempting to kill cops and damage infrastructure targets and attack protesters — it’s that it’s a movement that has been trying to do this for decades, if not generations, and has largely gone unopposed by our courts, by our law enforcement, by our military, by our executives.”

The leaked documents charting law enforcement’s treatment of antifa versus groups like the boogaloo bois reflect a dangerous American impulse to draw equivalencies, Belew argued. “Many reasonable people carry around with them as part of the way that we learn about how politics works this idea that there are two sides of everything,” she said. “This is a deeply ingrained belief in our culture, and there’s a historical set of reasons why we think about politics that way, but this is actually not a case where there are two sides of things that are the same.”

American impulse to draw equivalencies.

“This is a case where there is a long casualty list carried out by the white power movement, which has declared war against the country,” she said. “And there is, I think, a quite localized social movement of people who oppose it, but who have not attacked civilians, who have not attacked infrastructure, who have not attempted to overthrow the country.”

With a pandemic still raging, soaring unemployment, the most expansive civil rights protests in generations, and a coming presidential election, the nation is facing an interlocking set of problems that elevate the risk for far-right violence, Belew noted. “We’re off the map in a number of ways,” she said, and while historians are trained not to forecast the future, she added, “I will say that as somebody who has been studying this for more than a decade, I’ve never been so worried.” What’s particularly troubling, she argued, is that the historical archive shows a clear link between wars abroad and rising right-wing violence at home — Belew’s book charts that history from the Vietnam War through militia movements of the 1990s. With the country now having been at war for close to two decades, the question of blowback is not a matter of if, but when and how. “This set of conditions is very, very troubling for people who are concerned about white power violence,” Belew said.

On June 6, the FBI released another situation report detailing the state of protests across the country. Though Barr and Trump had pointed fingers at a shadowy network of leftist agitators pulling the protests’ strings, the bureau continued to assess that the “majority of the violence and vandalism” appeared “opportunistic” in nature. With more than 13,600 arrests nationwide, the FBI reported that the Department of Justice had charged 70 individuals with federal crimes, most involving property damage and illegal activities that involved crossing state lines. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had reported 81 burglaries involving the theft of guns, the FBI noted, leading to “an estimated loss of 1,116 firearms,” as well as “876 reported arsons” and “76 explosive incidents.”

While the FBI report did note that both “right wing and anarchist extremists” could be involved in efforts to “further ignite violence,” it was again only antifa that was singled out by name. At one point, the FBI suggested that videos of law enforcement officers flashing the “OK” hand signal often used by white nationalists and the far right might actually be part of a left-wing plot to make police look bad. “Some protestors and possible ‘ANTIFA’ members attempted to bait law enforcement into displaying the ‘OK’ hand sign,” the FBI reported. “These individuals plan to photograph the officers and use the photographs as propaganda to discredit the officers.”

With the election four months away, the Trump administration has pressed forward with a seemingly coordinated effort to link the nebulous antifa movement to acts of violence committed by the far right.

On June 26, Fox News published an op-ed by Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of DHS, noting that Patrick Underwood, the federal court security officer gunned down in Oakland, was also a Black man whose life mattered. Cuccinelli suggested that his killing had been ignored because he was a member of law enforcement. As close trackers of the agency were quick to point out, Cuccinelli failed to mention that the man accused of killing Underwood has been linked to the boogaloo movement, which DHS leadership and the administration have been publicly quiet about. Cuccinelli, for his part, has been clear about the actors he sees as responsible for unrest in the country, tweeting on June 5, while his own agency was raising internal alarms about the far right and Underwood’s family was still grieving, “Their silence is deafening. Cities across America burn at the hands of antifa and anarchists while many political leaders are refusing to call it what it is: domestic terrorism.”

The same day Cuccinelli’s op-ed was published, Barr sent a memo to top Justice Department officials announcing the creation of a new “Task Force on Violent Anti-Government Extremists.” In the memo, the attorney general argued that both antifa and the boogaloo movement “pose continuing threats to lawlessness.” Appearing at a law enforcement roundtable in Arkansas last week, Barr said that more than 150 people have been hit with federal charges in relation to the recent protests. Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which partner FBI agents with state and local authorities, are currently pursuing more than 500 investigations, Barr added, targeting “hardcore instigators.”

“We are building up our intelligence on these instigators,” Barr said, noting that the JTTFs, which were “previously used really for self-radicalized Jihadi” threats, are “now focusing on groups like antifa and boogaloo bois and others that are involved in this activity.”

Shamsi said the Trump administration was using antifa as “political bait.”

“It is a very dangerous thing when the top law enforcement official unleashes the massive weight of vague and overbroad terrorism labels and authorities for surveillance and investigation for political purposes,” she said. “Unsurprisingly, given what we’ve been warning about for years, those authorities are being used in deeply problematic ways. It’s law enforcement agencies engaging in unjustified discriminatory investigations and bias-based profiling, which in turn generates inaccurate or unreliable information, which is then used by other federal, state and local agencies in a variety of contexts. That’s the problem with JTTFs and fusion centers and the post-911 infrastructure at its core.”

For all of the government’s talk of antifa, Mark Bray, a historian and author of the book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” said he was less than impressed with the depth of the Trump administration’s research into the generations-old international struggle to combat fascism. “What stood out to me is, among their sources, they have zero books,” Bray told The Intercept, after reviewing fusion center documents from 2016 and 2017 aiming to explain antifa to law enforcement. “Most of the research seems like someone who spent a weekend on Google,” Bray said.

It’s not difficult to see why an administration like Trump’s might zero in on antifa as a law enforcement target, Bray said. “The fact that it’s this coalition politics of the radical left and that it does not have one specific united organization means that with some very rough reading of what antifa is, you can basically kind of paint the entire radical left as more or less antifa, and considering that there is a broad identification with the politics of anti-fascism beyond membership to a specific group, you can see how that could be useful,” he said. “I do think that that’s certainly part of the equation and was part of the motivation.”

While Trump’s threatened designation of antifa as a terror organization has not come about for important legal and logistical reasons, that was never really the point, German argued. “They know as well as anybody does, because they’re not stupid people, that there is no organization called antifa,” the former FBI agent said. “It’s an absurdity what they’re talking about, but they’re using it as this umbrella term to justify militant or vigilante violence against these groups, and also police violence against these groups. They’re identifying the enemy — and that’s what’s very dangerous.”

In a letter to the heads of the CIA and the FBI on Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Peter Welch of Vermont, both members of House Intelligence Committee, sought information on the spread of false information regarding antifa. In a statement to The Intercept Wednesday morning, Krishnamoorthi’s office said: “The prevalence of misinformation on falsely advertised Antifa gatherings and ‘invasions’ calls into question how our federal, state, and local law enforcement are combating, and determining the origins of these rumors. Our Congressional inquiry intends to further explore the involvement of fusion centers in possibly exacerbating these rumors, which appear intended to stoke fear and division in local communities across the country.”

The Trump administration has capitalized on the perceived threats that rattle around the conservative media echo chamber for political gain before, and the effects on public safety have been disastrous and tragic. During the 2018 midterm elections, the president seized on the supposed threat of migrant caravans making their way north from Central America as a sign that the out-of-control left was destroying the country. Far-right domestic terrorists cited the immigration invasion rhetoric to justify attacks targeting Mexicans and Jews in Texas and Pennsylvania that left dozens of people dead.

During a July 4 address from the White House honoring the U.S. military and affirming his commitment to protect monuments to the confederacy, Trump described the work his administration is engaged in as the 2020 election approaches and protests across the country continue. “We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said.

German, who recently testified before lawmakers in Oregon about the longstanding problem of white supremacist infiltration in policing agencies, said it is critical to understand how the president’s language will be interpreted in many corners of the law enforcement community.

“This rhetoric, reinforced by the attorney general, is not falling on unsympathetic ears — the law enforcement intelligence network has been demonizing anarchists and other police violence protesters as a more dangerous threat for a long time,” he said. “We’ve seen the way that the police responded to nonviolent civil disobedience at Standing Rock or in Ferguson versus the laissez-faire approach they’ve used in a number of these white supremacist riots. They clearly can regulate their behavior. Why they choose not to when it’s groups protesting police violence is what I think local government needs to understand.”

 

Violent Round Robin letter to right wing Trump American support groups

This is a copy of an email that has been circulating among far-right political action groups. It is worth the reading because it shows threats of violence against anti-Trump citizens and groups

The Nationalist Front, an umbrella organization for numerous groups, wants the establishment of a white “ethnostate” in the US and eradication of the Jews as well as other races. Its founder, the late William Pierce, has inspired dozens of domestic terror attacks with his book “The Turner Diaries.” Internal fighting has meant a frequent waxing and waning of neo-Nazi groups.

“The time has come when the American patriots must band together to overthrow the left-wing-Jewish control of the United States and return the nation to a white, Christian nation as God intended. We must honor Donald Trump and be certain that by one means or another he is reelected as President this November. And we also must be able to identify the left wing, the Jews, the radical negros, and the faggots so that in the next Trump administration we can round up these degenerates and put them in reeducation camps so that can cease and desist their attempts to turn America into a nation of multi-colored degenerates! Arm yourself, brothers and prepare for the Day of Wrath”

 

Copies of this call to arms are sent to the following activist organizations in the United States.

 

  • 3 Percenters
  • ACT for America
  • Adolf Hitler Free Corps
  • Advent Christian General Conference
  • All White America-Florida
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Alternative Right Alabama
  • Alternative Right Georgia
  • Alternative Right Illinois
  • AltRight Corporation Virginia
  • America First
  • America First Committee
  • America First Committee Illinois
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Camp Guards Society
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Freedom Party California
  • American Freedom Party Indiana
  • American Freedom Party Montana
  • American Freedom Party New York
  • American Freedom Party North Dakota
  • American Freedom Party Texas
  • American Freedom Union Pennsylvania
  • American Front
  • American Militia Alliance
  • American Nazi Party
  • American Nazi Party California
  • American Nazi Party Michigan
  • American Renaissance
  • American Renaissance/New Century Foundation Virginia
  • Anglican Mission in the Americas
  • Anti-Communist Action
  • Arizona Border Recon
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Guard
  • Aryan Nations
  • Aryan Nations
  • Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC Illinois
  • Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC Ohio
  • Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC Oklahoma
  • Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC Tennessee
  • Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC Wisconsin
  • Aryan Nations Sadistic Souls MC Missouri
  • Aryan Nations Worldwide Georgia
  • Aryan Renaissance Society New York
  • Aryan Renaissance Society Texas
  • Assemblies of God USA
  • Atomwaffen Division
  • Atomwaffen Division Alabama
  • Atomwaffen Division Arizona
  • Atomwaffen Division Arkansas
  • Atomwaffen Division California
  • Atomwaffen Division Colorado
  • Atomwaffen Division Florida
  • Atomwaffen Division Georgia
  • Atomwaffen Division Illinois
  • Atomwaffen Division Kentucky
  • Atomwaffen Division Maine
  • Atomwaffen Division Maryland
  • Atomwaffen Division Massachusetts
  • Atomwaffen Division Michigan
  • Atomwaffen Division Minnesota
  • Atomwaffen Division Mississippi
  • Atomwaffen Division Missouri
  • Atomwaffen Division Nevada
  • Atomwaffen Division New York
  • Atomwaffen Division North Carolina
  • Atomwaffen Division Ohio
  • Atomwaffen Division Oklahoma
  • Atomwaffen Division South Carolina
  • Atomwaffen Division Statewide,
  • Atomwaffen Division Texas
  • Atomwaffen Division Virginia
  • Back to Africa Movement
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brethren Church, The
  • Brethren in Christ Church
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Christian and Missionary Alliance
  • Christian Identity
  • Christian Reformed Church in North America
  • Christian Union
  • Church of God
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Church of the Nazarene
  • Confederate SS Movement
  • Conservative Citizens Foundation, Inc. Missouri
  • Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
  • Converge Worldwide
  • Council of Conservative Citizens Maryland
  • Council of Conservative Citizens Missouri
  • Fund-Pennsylvania
  • Counter-Currents Publishing California
  • Counter-Currents Publishing New York
  • Counter-Currents Publishing Washington
  • Creativity Movement Illinois
  • Creativity Movement Michigan
  • Creativity Movement South Dakota
  • Creativity Movement Ohio
  • ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
  • Elim Fellowship
  • Endangered Souls RC/Crew 519
  • Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches
  • Evangelical Church, The
  • Evangelical Congregational Church
  • Evangelical Free Church of America
  • Evangelical Friends Church International
  • Evangelical Presbyterian Church
  • Every Nation Churches
  • Faith and Heritage Texas
  • Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches
  • Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
  • Forza Nuova Arizona
  • Forza Nuova New Jersey
  • Foursquare Church, The
  • Free American-Arizona
  • Free Methodist Church of North America
  • Gays Must Die Association
  • Germania International
  • Golden Dawn-New York
  • Grace Communion International Worldwide Church of God
  • Great Commission Churches
  • Hammerskins
  • Idaho Light Foot Militia
  • Identity Evropa
  • Identity Evropa Georgia
  • Identity Evropa Arizona
  • Identity Evropa Colorado
  • Identity Evropa California
  • Identity Evropa Florida
  • Identity Evropa Maryland
  • Identity Evropa Michigan
  • Identity Evropa Minnesota
  • Identity Evropa New Jersey
  • Identity Evropa New York
  • Identity Evropa North Carolina
  • Identity Evropa Oregon
  • Identity Evropa Pennsylvania
  • Identity Evropa Tennessee
  • Identity Evropa Virginia
  • Immigants Out Texas
  • Immigrants Out Alabama
  • Immigrants Out Mississippi
  • Immigrants Out Wyoming
  • Imperial Klans of America
  • International Pentecostal Church of Christ
  • International Pentecostal Holiness Church
  • Keystone United
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • League of the South
  • Liberty University Lynchburg, Va
  • Lynwood Vikings
  • Michigan Militia
  • Militia of Montana
  • Missionary Church, Inc.
  • Missouri Citizens Militia
  • Missouri Militia
  • National Alliance
  • National Alliance Reform and Restoration Group Nevada
  • National Alliance Nevada
  • National Alliance New Hampshire
  • National Alliance Tennessee
  • National Alliance West Virginia
  • National Boarderguards
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Policy Institute Virginia
  • National Socialist German Workers Party Nebraska
  • National Socialist Kindred
  • National Socialist Movement (United States)
  • National Socialist Legion Tennessee
  • National Socialist Legion Texas
  • National Socialist Liberation Front
  • National Socialist Liberation Front New York
  • National Socialist Liberation Front Pennsylvania
  • National Socialist Liberation Front, Alabama
  • National Socialist Movement United States
  • National Socialist Movement Arizona
  • National Socialist Movement Florida
  • National Socialist Movement Illinois
  • National Socialist Movement Michigan
  • National Socialist Movement Pennsylvania
  • National Socialist Movement Tennessee
  • National Socialist Vanguard
  • National Vanguard
  • National Youth Alliance
  • Nationalist Front
  • Nationalist Initiative Ohio
  • Nationalist Women’s Front California
  • Nationalist Women’s Front-California
  • Natonal Association for the Deportion of Aliens
  • New Albion-Maine
  • New Order Wisconsin
  • New York Light Foot Militia
  • Noble Breed Kindred California
  • Northwest Front-Washington
  • NS Publications Michigan
  • NSDAP/AO
  • Oath Keepers
  • Occidental Dissent Alabama
  • Occidental Observer California
  • Odinia International
  • Ohio Defense Force
  • Open Bible Church
  • Operation Homeland Virginia
  • Patriot Front
  • Patriot Front Illinois
  • Patriot Front California
  • Patriot Front Texas
  • Patriot Front Washington
  • Patriotic Flags South Carolina
  • Pennsylvania Military Reserve
  • Pioneer Little Europe Kalispell Montana
  • Presbyterian Church in America
  • Primitive Methodist Church USA
  • PzG Inc. South Dakota
  • Racial Nationalist Party of America-New York
  • Radio Wehrwolf Wisconsin
  • Radix Journal-Montana
  • Real Republic of Florida-Florida
  • Renegade Tribune
  • Resistance Records
  • Rise Above Movement-California
  • RootBocks-Indiana
  • Royalhouse Chapel International
  • Sons of the South-Georgia
  • Stormfront-Florida
  • Texas Light Foot Militia
  • The Army of God
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade
  • The California Reich
  • The Concerned Christians
  • The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord
  • The Creativity Alliance Florida
  • The Creativity Alliance Illinois
  • The Creativity Alliance Pennsylvania
  • The Creativity Alliance Texas
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Creativity Movement Illinois
  • The Creativity Movement Michigan
  • The Creativity Movement Ohio
  • The Creativity Movement South Dakota
  • The Daily Stormer
  • The Daily Stormer Indiana
  • The Daily Stormer Louisiana
  • The Daily Stormer Maine
  • The Daily Stormer Michigan
  • The Daily Stormer Ohio
  • The Daily Stormer Connecticut
  • The Daily Stormer Minnesota
  • The Daily Stormer Nebraska
  • The Daily Stormer Nevada
  • The Daily Stormer New Hampshire
  • The Daily Stormer New Jersey
  • The Daily Stormer North Carolina
  • The Daily Stormer Oregon
  • The Daily Stormer Pennsylvania
  • The Daily Stormer South Carolina
  • The Daily Stormer Tennessee
  • The Daily Stormer Texas
  • The Daily Stormer Utah
  • The Daily Stormer Virginia
  • The Daily Stormer Washington
  • The Daily Stormer Alaska
  • The Daily Stormer California
  • The Daily Stormer Alabama
  • The Daily Stormer Alaska
  • The Daily Stormer Arizona
  • The Daily Stormer-California
  • The Daily Stormer-Colorado
  • The Daily Stormer-Florida
  • The Daily Stormer-Georgia
  • The Daily Stormer-Illinois
  • The Daily Stormer-Indiana
  • The Daily Stormer-Iowa
  • The Daily Stormer-Kansas
  • The Daily Stormer-Kentucky
  • The Daily Stormer-Massachusetts
  • The Daily Stormer-Michigan
  • The Daily Stormer-Minnesota
  • The Daily Stormer-Missouri
  • The Daily Stormer-Montana
  • The Daily Stormer-Nebraska
  • The Daily Stormer-Nevada
  • The Daily Stormer-New Jersey
  • The Daily Stormer-New York
  • The Daily Stormer-North Carolina
  • The Daily Stormer-Ohio
  • The Daily Stormer-Pennsylvania
  • The Daily Stormer-South Carolina
  • The Daily Stormer-Texas
  • The Daily Stormer-Utah
  • The Daily Stormer-Vermont
  • The Daily Stormer-Virginia
  • The Daily Stormer-Washington
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • The Family
  • The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation-Virginia
  • The Loyal White Knights
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South
  • The New Byzantium Project-Virginia
  • The Order
  • The Phineas Priesthood
  • The Political Cesspool-Tennessee
  • The Racial Purity Association of Texas
  • The Right Stuff
  • The Right Stuff- Minnesota
  • The Right Stuff-Arizona
  • The Right Stuff-California
  • The Right Stuff-District of Columbia
  • The Right Stuff-Florida
  • The Right Stuff-Georgia
  • The Right Stuff-Indiana
  • The Right Stuff-Maryland
  • The Right Stuff-Michigan
  • The Right Stuff-Nebraska
  • The Right Stuff-Nevada
  • The Right Stuff-New York
  • The Right Stuff-Oregon
  • The Right Stuff-Pennsylvania
  • The Right Stuff-Texas
  • The Right Stuff-Vermont
  • The Right Stuff-Virginia
  • The Right Stuff-Washington
  • The Social Contract Press-Michigan
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • Third Reich Books Nebraska
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Alabama
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Colorado
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Florida
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Georgia
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Indiana
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Kentucky
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Michigan
  • Traditionalist Worker Party North Carolina
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Ohio
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Tennessee
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Texas
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Virginia
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Indiana
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Rhode Island
  • Traditionalist Worker Party Tennessee
  • Traditionalist Youth Network Indiana
  • Transformation Ministries
  • True Cascadia Alaska
  • True Cascadia Idaho
  • True Cascadia Oregon
  • True Cascadia Washington
  • Tyr 1 Security Virginia
  • United Brethren in Christ
  • Universal Order
  • Vanguard America
  • Vanguard America Ohio
  • Vanguard America Oregon
  • Vanguard America Rhode Island
  • Vanguard America Tennessee
  • Vanguard America Texas
  • Vanguard America Women’s Division Indiana
  • Vanguard America Indiana
  • Vanguard America Pennsylvania
  • Vanguard America Connecticut
  • Vanguard America Florida
  • Vanguard America Georgia
  • Vanguard America Illinois
  • Vanguard America Indiana
  • Vanguard America Louisiana
  • Vanguard America Maryland
  • Vanguard America Massachusetts
  • Vanguard America Michigan
  • Vanguard America Nebraska
  • Vanguard America Nevada
  • Vanguard America New Hampshire
  • Vanguard America New Jersey
  • Vanguard America New York
  • Vanguard America North Carolina
  • Vanguard AmericaOklahoma
  • Vanguard America Pennsylvania
  • Vanguard America Rhode Island
  • Vanguard America Texas
  • Vanguard America-Virginia
  • Vanguard America Washington
  • Vanguard America West Virginia
  • Vanguard America Wyoming
  • Vanguard News Network, Missouri
  • VDARE Foundation Virginia
  • Vineyard USA, The
  • Vinlanders Social Club
  • White America District of Columbia
  • White Aryan Resistance
  • White Aryan Resistance California
  • White Aryan Resistance California
  • White Boy Society Illinois
  • White Devil Social Club Wisconsin
  • White Rabbit Radio Michigan
  • White Revolution
  • Women for Aryan Unity Wisconsin
  • Women for Aryan Unity Ohio
  • World Union of National Socialists

Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
July 13, 2020
by Jack Rasmus
Counterpunch

The reopening of the US economy in June—and some states as early as May—has produced a modest economic ‘rebound’. But rebound is not to be confused with economic recovery.

The current rebound is the natural result of the US economy collapsing 40% between March and June 2020. In the first quarter, January-March 2020, the US economy contracted 5%, virtually all of that in March. While the final data for the 2nd quarter is yet to be announced, the US Federal Reserve Bank’s forecasts of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) show a much greater collapse, ranging from -30.5% (NY Fed district) to -41.7% (Atlanta Fed district).  No economy can continue to collapse at that steep a rate quarter after quarter.

Economies experiencing deep and rapid contractions—which is typical of both great recessions and economic depressions—inevitably experience periods of leveling off for a time, or even a slight bounce back—i.e. a rebound. But that’s not a recovery. ‘Recovery’ means a sustained, quarter to subsequent quarter economic growth that a continues more or less unabated until the lost economic ground is ‘recovered’. But a rebound is typically temporary, followed by subsequent economic relapses in the form of stagnant growth or even second or third dip recessions.

Look at the Great Recession 1.0 that began in December 2007. The decline began that month subsequently declined more rapidly in the first quarter 2008, but then bounced back slightly in the 2ndquarter 2008. It then took a deep dive in the second half of 2008 through the first half of 2009, contracting every quarter for an entire year. A short, shallow recovery followed into 2010. But the economy relapsed again in 2011, contracting once more for two quarters in 2011. Another small rebound followed in early 2012 and was followed by stagnation in the second half of 2012.

The reported GDP numbers after 2008 were even weaker, and the relapses more pronounced, before the US Commerce Dept. changed the way it defined US GDP and boosted the totals by $500 billion a year after 2013, retroactive to 2008 and before.

All Great Recessions with an initial deep economic contraction, are typically followed by brief shallow recoveries, cut short by subsequent double dips or quarters of no growth stagnation.

That was true of the Great Recession of 2008-09, which didn’t really end in June 2009, but bounced along the bottom economically for several more years. A similar trajectory will almost certainly follow today’s 2020 Great Recession 2.0 now concluding its Phase One initial deep collapse.

The Phase One deep collapse is now giving way to its Phase Two and what will prove a brief and quite modest ‘rebound’. But that’s not a recovery.

Further economic relapses are inevitable after ‘short, shallow rebounds’ that characterize all Great Recessions. That trajectory—i.e. short, shallow rebounds followed by relapses also brief and moderate can go on for years.

What it means is there will be no V-shape and true recovery in the US economy in the second half of 2020. What there will be is an extended ‘W-shape’ period, the next two years 2020-2022 at minimum. And it may continue for perhaps even longer.

The 1929-30 Great Recession: Anteroom to 1930s Depression

A similar scenario occurs prior to bona fide economic depressions, like that which occurred in the 1930s.  The great depression began initially as a Great Recession. US policy makers failed to contain it and it slipped into the Great Depression of that decade as we know it. What precipitates Great Recessions collapsing into bona fide Depressions is the collapse of the financial and banking system.

The Great Depression of the 1930s did not begin with the stock market crash of October 1929, however. The real economy was already slipping into recession in manufacturing and construction sectors in 1929, well before the October 1929 stock market financial crash.  The economy contracted in 1930 by -8.5% and continued to contract every year thereafter through mid-1933 as the US economy experienced a series of four banking crashes, one each year from 1930 through 1933. The banking crashes drove the real, non-financial economy ever deeper every year, in a ratchet like effect.

Rebound and growth followed 1934-36. However, that weakened significantly in late 1937 as a conservative Republican Congress and Supreme Court together began dismantling Roosevelt’s 1935-37 New Deal social spending fiscal stimulus programs. As a result, in 1938 the US economy fell back into depression once again. A partial reversing of the dismantling in 1939 produced a return to positive GDP growth that year. But it wasn’t really until 1941-42 that the economy really exited the Great Depression, as US GDP rose 17.7% in 1941 and then 18.9% in 1942. Recovery—not rebound—was clearly underway after m id-1940—i.e. the result of government spending on both social programs and defense that amounted to more than 40% of GDP those years. That was fiscal stimulus. That was recovery.

In other words, the lesson of the Great Depression of the 1930s is in order to end a depression, or stop a Great Recession from becoming a Depression, the government must step in and spend at a rate of 40% GDP.

Prior to the onset of the current 2020 Great Recession 2.0, the US government’s spending and share of US GDP was about 20%.  It needs to double to 40% to engineer a true recovery from the current crisis.  5.5% is no stimulus in fact; just a partial ‘mitigation’ of the severe collapse that just occurred. That is, a temporary floor under the deep 30%-40% collapse that would have been even greater.

The 2008-09 Great Recession: The 5.5% Failed Stimulus

In January 2009 the incoming Obama administration proposed a fiscal stimulus recovery package amounting to roughly $787 billion and 5.5% of GDP. Economists advocated double that. Even Democrat party leaders in the US House proposed another $120 billion in consumer tax cuts. But Obama’s economic advisers, mostly former bankers and pro-banker academics like Larry Summers, argued the US could not spend that much. Obama listened to Summers and reduced the amount to the $787 billion.  It proved grossly insufficient. The real economy continued to lag and job losses continued to mount. Supplemental programs like ‘cash for clunkers’ and ‘first time homebuyers’ had to be added.

Even with these post-January program supplemental spending Obama’s fiscal stimulus proved insufficient to generate a robust recovery, as the historical record shows. The US recession under Obama ‘recovered’ at its weakest rate compared to all the prior ten US post-recession recoveries since 1947. The Obama recovery was only 60% of normal for recession recoveries.

The problem with the Obama 5.5% was not only the insufficient magnitude of the stimulus. Its composition was deficient as well. It called for almost $300 billion of the $787 billion in mostly business tax cuts, which were then hoarded by business and not invested to expand output, hire more workers, and generate thereby more income for consumption.  Nearly $300 more was in the form of grants given to the states to spend. They too hoarded most of it and failed to rehire the unemployed as was intended. The remainder of the $787 billion was composed mostly of long term infrastructure investment and spending that had little initial effect on the economy’s recovery. As a result of the insufficient magnitude and poor composition of the Obama 2009 stimulus, the US economy fell into a ‘stop-go, W-shape economic recovery for the next six years. US jobs lost in 2008-09 were not recovered until as late as 2015, and the average wages paid for the new jobs was significantly less than wages paid for the jobs that were lost.

The point is: if 5.5% was insufficient to generate sustained recovery in 2009, today in 2020 the effective 5.5% fiscal spending produced by the CARES ACT in March 2020 will prove even less successful. The US economy’s economic collapse today is five times deeper than in 2008-09 and has occurred in one-fifth the time of the 2008-09 event. If a second more aggressive government spending program does not follow in the second half of 2020, then the current tepid economic ‘rebound’ underway due to the reopening of the US economy will certainly fail at generating a sustained recovery. Here’s why the CARES ACT—the main and only stimulus program to date—is only 5.5% and will fail to generate a sustained recovery as the economy reopens with a modest ‘rebound’.

The March 2020 CARES ACT: Failed Stimulus Déjà vu

As of mid-year 2020 the US government spending to date is summed up in the various provisions of the CARES ACT passed by Congress in March 2020, plus several smaller measures passed before and after it as supplements. Its actual spending as of late June 2020 amounts to only approximately a 5.5% contribution to US GDP.

The CARES ACT on paper called for $1.45 trillion in loans and grants to small, medium and large businesses. $500 billion is allocated as loans to large corporations. Another $600 billion to medium sized plus some other measures. And $350 billion in loans, convertible to grants, to small businesses called the Payroll Protection Program, or PPP.

Another $310 billion was added to the PPP small business loan program as banks quickly misdirected hundreds of billions of dollars to many of their ineligible bigger business prime customers which scooped up much of the original $350 billion for small business.

The three business programs combined thus allocated $1.76 trillion in loans and grants.

Another $500 billion was allocated to workers and US households in the form of supplemental income checks of $1200 per adult plus an extra $600 in federal unemployment benefits available through July 31, 2020.

A couple hundred billion dollars more went to hospitals and health care providers in emergency reimbursements before and after the March CARES ACT passage.

That brought the total March CARES ACT fiscal stimulus to roughly $2.3 trillion. However, not discussed much in the media is another $650 billion CARES ACT provided business and investor tax cuts. The tax cuts include a temporary suspension of business payments to the payroll tax; more generous net operating loss (NOL) corporate tax averaging that allows business to use current losses to get tax refunds on prior year taxes paid; faster depreciation write-offs ( de facto tax cut); and more generous business expense deductions.  Less than 3% of the $650 billion tax cuts in the CARES ACT went to families earning less than $100,000 per year in annual income.

On paper, the roughly $2.3 trillion CARES ACT amounted to roughly 11% of GDP. But only half of that 11%–or just 5.5—has actually hit the US economy. This contrasts with Germany and other European and Asian countries that boosted fiscal spending stimulus by as much as 15%-20%.

Another 5.5% Stimulus Means Another Failed Sustained Recovery

The 5.5% to not enough to kick start the rebound into a sustained recovery. Much of the 5.5% is already spent to mitigate the 2nd quarter deep contraction and is no longer available as a stimulus in the upcoming 3rd quarter.

All the $1200 checks have been spent already and most of the $600 unemployment benefit boost has entered the economy. The latter expires on July 31. Furthermore, the majority of the $1.7 trillion allocated to businesses large and small has yet to get into the US economy as well.

Of the $660 billion in the small business PPP program, about $520 billion has been spent. Less than $100 billion of the $500 allocated to large businesses, like airlines and defense companies, has actually been ‘borrowed’ by big business. And as mid-June 2020, none of the $600 billion for medium size businesses had yet been ‘taken up’ by those businesses. The program was only fully launched late June, more than three months after it was first announced in March.

Thus far little interest appears on the part of medium and large businesses in the more than $1 trillion loans allocated to them.  And as far as the $650 billion in tax cuts is concerned, its effects can be delayed until December 31, 2020, if even then. Given the weak US economy and consumer demand, many businesses will take the tax cuts and hoard them.

In short, more than half the roughly $3 trillion total of government spending, loans, grants and tax cuts provided by the CARES ACT is yet to be committed to the US economy. The official 11% is really only half that at best.

This fact leads to the interesting question: Why have medium and large businesses not take up more of the $1.1 trillion business loans allocated to them?

The $3+ Trillion Uncommitted Business Cash Hoard

The answer is they haven’t because they are already bloated with cash and don’t need or want it. That cash hoard has resulted from several sources in recent months: Large corporations saw the writing on the wall with regard to the virus as early as January-February 2020. They quickly began loading up on cash by drawing down their generous loan credit lines with their banks. That produced a couple hundred billion dollars in cash by March. Then they issued record levels of new corporate bonds to raise still more cash. From March to end of May more than $1.3 trillion in new corporate investment grade bonds was raised by the Fortune 500 US businesses—i.e. more than in all 2019. A couple hundred billion dollars more was raised in junk grade corporate bonds.

Still another cash source was raised by businesses suspending dividend payments and stock buybacks to shareholders. In 2019 they distributed $1.3 trillion in buybacks and dividend payouts

($3.4 trillion total under Trump’s first three years in office). So buybacks and dividends suspensions saved at least another $500 billion in cash.  Companies also began selling off and cashing in their minority stock interests in other companies.  Furloughing workers to work from home also saved still more cash in reduced facilities, benefits and related costs for many corporations. Tech companies especially benefited from this.

Bloated with trillions of dollars of cash, large and medium sized corporations had little interest in borrowing from the CARES ACT, since the latter came with conditions like the provision that 70% of the loans be spent on keeping workers on their payrolls.  They preferred to lay off their workers, and borrow from the credit markets, issue new bonds, and otherwise conserve cash.

A good example was Boeing Corporation. Congress allocated more than $50 billion to Boeing as part of the $500 billion loan program earmarked for large corporations. Instead of borrowing that, Boeing raised $25 billion issuing new bonds and announced layoffs of 16,000 of its workers! Less than $100 billion has been used to date by large corporations under the CARES ACT big corporations’ $500 billion loan allocation. And virtually nothing of the $600 billion to date allocated under the medium size business loan program called the ‘Main St.’ lending facility.

7 More Reasons Why ‘Rebound’ Won’t Mean Recovery

Here are some seven other reasons—apart from the US current insufficient fiscal stimulus—why the US economy will not experience a sustained ‘recovery’ in the next six months, and why instead the US will follow a W-Shape trajectory of weak un-sustained growth followed by economic relapses through 2020-21 (and perhaps even longer):

2nd Covid-19 Wave Economic Impact:

It is inevitable a number of states will reinstate shutdowns—in significant part if not totally—as the infection, hospitalization, and death rates rise over the summer due to premature reopening of the economy and a growing breakdown of social discipline in adhering to basic precautions like social distancing and mask wearing.  The partial shutdowns will. To varying degrees, reduce consumer spending, business investment, and result in re-layoffs of workers. Second wave layoffs in services like leisure & hospitality, bars, restaurants, travel, public entertainment, and even education and health care services will emerge—all negatively impacting household consumption demand.  It is estimated that at least half of the states, 40% of the reopened economy, will reinstate some degree of re-closures of business activity in coming weeks and months as a resurgence of Covid 19 impacts the US economy in the second half of 2020 and beyond.

The official US June employment report on July 3, 2020 showed 4.8 million jobs were reinstated. But no less than 3 million of that 4.8 million were recalls in leisure & hospitality, hotels, bars, restaurants, and retail industries. These are the same industries that will be affected most by states reinstituting shutdowns. They are also industries where businesses that have been able to reopen only partially thus far in most cases operate on very thin margins. They are likely to fail in Phase Two of the crisis now beginning, and many closing completely in the second half of 2020 as a result of operating only at half capacity.

The scope of the possible closures is revealed by the recent Yelp survey of 175,000 of its customer business base. During the 2nd quarter, Yelp’s survey found that in May-June only 30,000 of its 175,000 had reopened. More important, its survey showed that 40,000 of its 145,000 that hadn’t yet opened had already closed permanently. The wave of permanent business closures in the second half of 2020—especially in the leisure & hospitality and retail industries—should not be underestimated. The permanent shutdowns will occur not only due to reduced consumer demand, but to a resurgence of Covid-19 and a second wave of layoffs.

Deeply Entrenched Business & Consumer Negative Expectations

The US economy has been deeply wounded by the deep contraction of the past four months. Both businesses and consumers have negative expectations as to the direction of the economy in the short to intermediate run. Businesses don’t see the conditions for returning to expanding investment, or even returning to prior levels of production and output. With consumer demand clearly in retreat, business expectations of future sales and profits are dampened. Reducing the cost of investing by lowering business taxes or interest rates have little effect on generating more investment, when expectations of profitability—which is what really drives investment—are so low. This is the fundamental reason why business across the board is hoarding its accumulated cash.  The same applies to consumers and households. They too are hoarding what cash they have available, spending mostly on necessities only.  The evidence is the sharp rise in the household savings rate and bank deposit rates. As much cash is saved and deposited as a precaution that economic conditions may worsen, instead of actually spent. The result is only minimal increase in spending occurs, just as minimal investment.  Until negative expectations are somehow reversed, both business investment and household consumption do not rise to levels that result in sustained ‘recovery’.

It will take a major event to again shift business and consumer negative expectations, like a vaccine for the virus or a major fiscal stimulus or a program of mass hiring of the unemployed by government. However, none of the above is on the immediate horizon. Therefore negative expectations will continue to dampen any sustained recovery and limit whatever insufficient government fiscal stimulus to generating a modest ‘rebound’ at best.

Business Cost Cutting & Permanent Layoffs

The deep and rapid rate of contraction of the economy over the past four months, and the business expectation of weak recovery, has convinced many businesses to make many of the cost cutting moves of recent months permanent. An example is how some industries and businesses moved their workforces to work from home. It has saved them significant costs of operation—on facilities, maintenance, and some employee benefits. In recessions businesses always find new ways to cut costs that often result in more layoffs and lower wages. Another phenomenon is rehiring and recalling workers back to work temporarily laid off does not occur en masse and all at once. The typical business practice is to recall only part of their workforce and to recall workers more on a part time basis. Not least, the cost cutting and the part time recalls typically results in businesses leaving part of their furloughed work force behind, whose unemployment then becomes permanent.

This second wave of jobless is already beginning to emerge, as businesses downsize in employment after the initial shock to the economy that has already occurred. Airlines are announcing tens of thousands of layoffs. Several other industries are experiencing growing defaults on debt payments and bankruptcies that will result in mass layoffs as well. For example, the oil & energy sector which was a major source of new job creation during the fracking boom of the past five years. More than 200 defaults of companies are in progress. Layoffs are beginning, of a permanent nature not just temporary furloughs or layoffs.

Cost cutting and layoffs translate into less household income for consumption and therefore for generating a sustained recovery.

Deeper Global Recession & Global Trade Crisis

The collapse of the US economy in the first half of 2020 has been accompanied by a synchronized contraction of the global economy.  Global economic contraction means US production for export does not recover much in the short run. Offshore demand for US goods & services remains weak. That in turn dampens domestic US investment, employment, and therefore business-consumer spending. Although the US economy is relatively less dependent on exports to stimulate economic growth, exports are not an insignificant contributing factor to US growth and recovery.

More than 90% of the world economy has also experienced deep recession in the first half of 2020. That compares with the first Great Recession of 2008-09 when a fewer 60% of countries were in recession along with the US. Foreign demand for US exports is thus even weaker this time around. Post 2009 China and emerging market economies boomed after 2010 and put a partial floor under US economic contraction by stimulating demand for US product exports; that China-Emerging Market economies stimulus effect on the US economy no longer exists in 2020.

Intensifying US Political Instability

One should not underestimate the potential growing political instability in the USA in the second half of 2020.  This instability will occur on two ‘fronts’. One is at the level of political institutions. It is likely the upcoming national elections on November 3, 2020 will be challenged and not accepted by either Trump or the Democratic Party nominee. The growing social instability in the USA and Covid 19 effects on voter turnout, combined with the already widespread voter suppression in various states, makes for ripe conditions for post-electoral crisis should the election be narrowly decided by voters in November.  Evidence is growing, moreover, that Trump is prepared to declare voting by mail as fraud and use that as an excuse to throw the election into the Supreme Court—as occurred in the US in 2000.  Today Trump, unlike George W. Bush in 2000, enjoys an even firmer majority in the US Supreme Court.

The instability at the level of political institutions in the USA today is accompanied by what appears as growing grass roots civilian conflicts. Street level confrontations between Trump supporters and rising popular movements and demonstrations are not beyond the realm of possibility, perhaps even likelihood.

The political instability has significant potential to negatively impact both consumer and business expectations and therefore dampen both business investment and household consumption even further in addition to causes already noted.

Wild Card #1: Financial Crisis 2021

Intermediate term, in 2021 likely more than in 2020, is the wild card of a financial system crisis emerging that would exacerbate the real economy’s faltering recovery still further. This channel by which a financial crisis might emerge is a growing wave of corporate and state & local government defaults. Massive excess debt has built up over the past decade in business sectors in the US.  More than $10 trillion in corporate bond debt exists at present. At least $5 trillion in corporate junk bonds and virtual junk like BBB investment grade. Still more for corporate ‘junk’ leveraged loans. A protracted period of recession and weak recovery will generate a major potential for corporate defaults and bankruptcies. If the magnitude and rate of defaults is too great, or comes too fast, the banking system could very well experience a major credit crash once again.

Industries highly unstable with high cost unaffordable debt, and with insufficient revenues with which to service that debt, include: oil fracking and coal, big box retail, smaller regional airlines, rental car and other travel related companies, hotels and resorts, malls, commercial property in general, and hundreds of thousands of small restaurants and regional restaurant chains. Defaults have already begun rising rapidly in many.  Household debt and state and local government debt finds itself in much of a similar situation—highly leveraged with debt amidst collapsing incomes to service the debt as unemployment and wage incomes continue to decline and as tax revenues remain depressed long term due to the weak economic recovery.

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, is in the midst of an historic experiment to pre-bail out non-bank corporations to forestall the defaults and to flood, at the same time, the US banking system with massive excess liquidity with which to manage the defaults should they come excessively and too rapidly.  It remains to be seen whether the Fed’s massive liquidity injections thus far ($3 trillion), and promised (unlimited), will prove sufficient to manage the defaults.  If not, the US banking system will freeze up as financial institutions begin to crash as well with the transfer of defaulted corporate debt on to their own bank balance sheets.

In 2008-09 it was the banking system that collapsed first and in turn precipitated a deeper and faster contraction of the real economy in the US. Today it is quite possible the reverse causation may occur in the Great Recession of 2020. But it matters not in a Great Recession which precipitates which first—i.e. the banking system the real economy or vice-versa. The key point is that both cycles—financial and real—feed back on the other in a Great Recession and amplify the downturn in both.

Wild Card #2: Artificial Intelligence Faster Rollout

Another wild card that may emerge with fuller force longer term is the penetration of Artificial Intelligence in business operations.  McKinsey Consultants estimated that by 2025 AI would accelerate in its penetration of business practices. By the latter half of the 2020s decade it would have deep and widespread impact on employment and wages, as AI led to deep cost cutting by business. As much as 30% of occupations would be seriously impacted. The essence of AI is to eliminate simple decision making jobs, in services as well as manufacturing.

But it is highly possible that AI will now penetrate even faster, accelerated by business cost cutting and productivity enhancing drives, as a consequence of the current deep economic crisis.  The deeper and more protracted the current recession, the more likely business will engage in multiple ways to reduce costs as a means to weather the crisis. AI offers businesses a prime opportunity to do just that. But AI also means a significant reduction in net jobs, especially simple low paid service and retail work. And with the net jobs and wage loss come reduced consumer household demand, consumption, and therefore sustainable economic recovery.

The Case for 40% Government Share of GDP

As previously noted, recoveries from great recessions and depressions require at least a 40% US government spending share of total GDP. Obama’s raised the US government share of GDP to barely 25%, not 40%. The economy accordingly struggled after 2009.

The current 2nd Great Recession 2020, the first phase of which has just concluded in June, is following the same rough trajectory and scenario as the 2008-09. There has been only token fiscal stimulus to the economy thus far from the CARES ACT. Indeed, Congress never considered, at least in the House of Representatives, the CARES ACT was a stimulus bill. It was called a ‘mitigation’ bill, designed to put a partial floor under the collapse of the economy going on at the time in the 2nd quarter 2020. A true stimulus bill was to follow. That’s the HEROES ACT now blocked in Congress by Republican Senate and Trump. What the latter want is to end the unemployment benefits and provide no further income supplement payments. They want to exchange further unemployment benefits for direct wage subsidies to businesses. They want even more tax cuts for business—permanent payroll tax cuts, more capital gains tax cuts, and more business expense deductions. And they are reluctant to provide funding support for state and local governments with accelerating deficits as a result of tax revenue collapse. Should support for state and local governments not occur soon, it is likely mass layoffs will emerge in states and local governments soon.

However, it does not appear so far that anything resembling a real stimulus will get passed with the HEROES Act. The unemployment benefits extension will likely be eliminated. More business tax cuts, should they be added to the $650 billion provided by the CARES ACT, will be hoarded in large part. As will corporate income that would have been otherwise used to pay wages, as the government pays the wages of their workers instead.

An insufficient fiscal stimulus from an eventual HEROES Act, should it occur, will ensure the current tepid ‘rebound’ of the US economy will fail to evolve into a sustained recovery of the US economy. The seven other, additional factors noted above will further prevent a sustained recovery—and indeed may precipitate a subsequent further serious economic contraction. The summer of 2020 is thus a critical juncture period for the US economy.

The US is currently experiencing what might be called a ‘triple crisis’. A health crisis that shows little sign of abating. A deep economic crisis that is still in its early phases. And a ripening political crisis. Never before in its history have three such major events converged. The one of the three that is potentially most manageable is the economic. Health crisis depends heavily on the development of a vaccine. Not much can be done to prevent a deepening political crisis. It will run its course, whatever that may be. But a government fiscal stimulus equivalent to about 40% of US GDP would very likely stabilize the economy and set it on a path to sustained recovery.  However, it is highly unlikely that in the current political climate of instability, deep splits within the US political elites, growing grass roots social confrontations, and failure to mount an effective strategy to address the Covid-19 health crisis that the capitalists and their political representatives will be capable of introducing the necessary 40% war time economic stimulus.

Deepfake used to attack activist couple shows new disinformation frontier
July 15, 2020
by Raphael Satter
Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Oliver Taylor, a student at England’s University of Birmingham, is a twenty-something with brown eyes, light stubble, and a slightly stiff smile.

Online profiles describe him as a coffee lover and politics junkie who was raised in a traditional Jewish home. His half dozen freelance editorials and blog posts reveal an active interest in anti-Semitism and Jewish affairs, with bylines in the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel.

The catch? Oliver Taylor seems to be an elaborate fiction.

His university says it has no record of him. He has no obvious online footprint beyond an account on the question-and-answer site Quora, where he was active for two days in March. Two newspapers that published his work say they have tried and failed to confirm his identity. And experts in deceptive imagery used state-of-the-art forensic analysis programs to determine that Taylor’s profile photo is a hyper-realistic forgery – a “deepfake.”

Who is behind Taylor isn’t known to Reuters. Calls to the U.K. phone number he supplied to editors drew an automated error message and he didn’t respond to messages left at the Gmail address he used for correspondence.

Reuters was alerted to Taylor by London academic Mazen Masri, who drew international attention in late 2018 when he helped launch an Israeli lawsuit against the surveillance company NSO on behalf of alleged Mexican victims of the company’s phone hacking technology.

In an article in U.S. Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner, Taylor had accused Masri and his wife, Palestinian rights campaigner Ryvka Barnard, of being “known terrorist sympathizers.”

Masri and Barnard were taken aback by the allegation, which they deny. But they were also baffled as to why a university student would single them out. Masri said he pulled up Taylor’s profile photo. He couldn’t put his finger on it, he said, but something about the young man’s face “seemed off.”

Six experts interviewed by Reuters say the image has the characteristics of a deepfake.

“The distortion and inconsistencies in the background are a tell-tale sign of a synthesized image, as are a few glitches around his neck and collar,” said digital image forensics pioneer Hany Farid, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

Artist Mario Klingemann, who regularly uses deepfakes in his work, said the photo “has all the hallmarks.”

“I’m 100 percent sure,” he said.

‘A VENTRILOQUIST’S DUMMY’

The Taylor persona is a rare in-the-wild example of a phenomenon that has emerged as a key anxiety of the digital age: The marriage of deepfakes and disinformation.

The threat is drawing increasing concern in Washington and Silicon Valley. Last year House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff warned that computer-generated video could “turn a world leader into a ventriloquist’s dummy.” Last month Facebook announced the conclusion of its Deepfake Detection Challenge – a competition intended to help researchers automatically identify falsified footage. Last week online publication The Daily Beast revealed a network of deepfake journalists – part of a larger group of bogus personas seeding propaganda online.

Deepfakes like Taylor are dangerous because they can help build “a totally untraceable identity,” said Dan Brahmy, whose Israel-based startup Cyabra specializes in detecting such images.

Brahmy said investigators chasing the origin of such photos are left “searching for a needle in a haystack – except the needle doesn’t exist.”

Taylor appears to have had no online presence until he started writing articles in late December. The University of Birmingham said in a statement it could not find “any record of this individual using these details.” Editors at the Jerusalem Post and The Algemeiner say they published Taylor after he pitched them stories cold over email. He didn’t ask for payment, they said, and they didn’t take aggressive steps to vet his identity.

“We’re not a counterintelligence operation,” Algemeiner Editor-in-chief Dovid Efune said, although he noted that the paper had introduced new safeguards since.

After Reuters began asking about Taylor, The Algemeiner and the Times of Israel deleted his work. Taylor emailed both papers protesting the removal, but Times of Israel Opinion Editor Miriam Herschlag said she rebuffed him after he failed to prove his identity. Efune said he didn’t respond to Taylor’s messages.

The Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva have kept Taylor’s articles online, although the latter removed the “terrorist sympathizers” reference following a complaint from Masri and Barnard. The Post’s editor-in-chief, Yaakov Katz, didn’t respond when asked whether Taylor’s work would stay up. Arutz Sheva editor Yoni Kempinski said only that “in many cases” news outlets “use pseudonyms to byline opinion articles.” Kempinski declined to elaborate or say whether he considered Taylor a pseudonym.

Oliver Taylor’s articles drew minimal engagement on social media, but the Times of Israel’s Herschlag said they were still dangerous – not only because they could distort the public discourse but also because they risked making people in her position less willing to take chances on unknown writers.

“Absolutely we need to screen out impostors and up our defenses,” she said. “But I don’t want to set up these barriers that prevent new voices from being heard.”

Reporting by Raphael Satter; editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin


Encyclopedia of American Loons

Richard Hoskins

The Phineas Priesthood, or Phineas Priests, is a title for self-selected vigilantes who commit violent acts in accordance with the ideas described in Richard Kelly Hoskins’s 1990 book, Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of the Phineas Priesthood. The Phineas Priesthood isn’t an organization, but the title chosen by certain terrorists acting on their own (like Larry Steven McQuilliams) The original Phineas Priesthood described in Hoskins’s book was a group of four guys who, in the 1990s, carried out bank robberies and a series of bombings in the Pacific Northwest before being sent to prison, and Hoskins’s fans have engaged in typical terrorist activities like abortion clinic bombings, the bombing in Spokane of The Spokesman-Review newspaper, bank robberies, and plans to blow up FBI building.

Hoskins, then, is a deranged promoter of white supremacism and Christian Identity, and is opposed to evils such as interracial relationships, race mixing, homosexuality, and abortion, and is involved in – you know the type – anti-Semitism, anti-multiculturalism, and sovereign citizen claptrap. His book gives approving descriptions of murderers of homosexuals and interracial couples, and praises Phineas credo followers like John Wilkes Booth, the Waffen SS, the Ku Klux Klan and the 1980s terrorist group The Order. He also devotes a section to “proving” that the Holocaust was a hoax perpetrated by the Jews to destroy the German nation. “Phineas” refers to the Israelite Phinehas, who executed an Israelite man and a Midianite woman while they were together in the man’s tent and thereby ending a plague sent by God to punish the Israelites for intermingling sexually and religiously with the Midianite Baal-worshipers.

Hoskins is also the author of Our Nordic Race (1958), a self-published attempt to prove the superiority of “pure Nordic” peoples and warn about the dangers of “race traitors”. Jewish people, on the other hand, are a “mixed breed” of Mongolian descent, unable to “blush red” and unrelated to the “Nordic” Israelites of antiquity (oh, goodies). Like in Germany in the 20s, “agitation Jews” have been working in concert with the Nordic “race traitors” to undermine Western civilization. These are, of course, central tenets of the Christian Identity movement: whites are God’s chosen race and descendants of the Bible’s Israelites, whereas Jews literally and figuratively descend from Satan. In 1985 he published War Cycles, Peace Cycles, which purported to be a Christian analysis of banking and economics denouncing predatory lending and banking practices, but was most notable for blaming everything on a conspiracy of Jewish banking concerns and corrupt political leaders, as well as its intermittent advocacy of racial purity.

He is still publishing his financial/racist newsletter The Hoskins Report, which has for instance laid out his research on the Holocaust (“Constant lies. Lies, lies, lies [repeating “lies” many times substitutes as evidence]. Forty years of lies … the anti-Christ Holohoax scam”), integration (“Better a blood-soaked Joseph Stalin than a smiling Ian Smith or congenial DeKlerk who opens the door to the barbarians. Compromise means death”) and politics (“A political candidate need take just 3 simple stands. 1) Abolish usury. 2) Root sodomists from the land. 3) Outlaw racial interbreeding.” Simple, really).

Hoskins has also written for Willis Carto’s neo-fascist Western Destiny.

Diagnosis: Downright charming, isn’t he?

Tom Horn & Cris Putnam

Tom Horn and Cris Putnam comprise a pair of delusional fundie conspiracy theorists who, it seems, run the website Exo-Vaticana. The main purpose of the website is to uncover Vatican-led conspiracies to cover up alien visitations, and “break the greatest story of our time and expose the elitists and intellectuals who are planning to assimilate mankind under a coming ‘savior,’ one whom the prophet Daniel foresaw as ‘an alien god’” (link here; it’s … fascinating). It offers things like:

– UNVEILED! THE VATICAN’S SECRET PLAN for the arrival of an alien god.

– DISCLOSED! SECRET FILES in the Vatican Library on the reality of the alien presence.

– FOUND! THE HIDDEN DOCUMENT detailing the Vatican’s position on the extraterrestrials.

– REVEALED! PROJECT LUCIFER and the quest for “Fallen Star.”

And so on. You have to look for the revelations yourself, or buy their book Exo-Vaticana: Petrus Romanus, PROJECT LUCIFER, and the Vatican’s astonishing exo-theological plan for the arrival of an alien savior (with a foreword by Chuck Missler – the guy behind the peanut butter argument against evolution – no less). Apparently, Horn and Putnam are Jack Chick-style fundies who has gone a step further in their Catholicism conspiracies and – somehow – ended up with UFOs and aliens, all of it tortured to fit wht they take to be a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Despite some deviations from mainstream theology, Horn and Putnam have nevertheless managed to draw some attention from rightwing fundies. Here, for instance, is Horn talking to Jim Bakker about “GIANTS – THEIR FIRST ARRIVAL … AND SOON, THEIR SECOND COMING” (they’re aliens, of course). And of course, the WND has never failed to offer credulous coverage of wild-eyed fundies ranting about conspiracies or pseudoscience, and at least they try to offer a minimally coherent representation of Horn’s and Putnam’s raging lunacy (their own websites are predictably undermined by dizzying color and font choices, as well as stream-of-consciousness random capslock rantings): Apparently, there is a conspiracy – going back all the way to Nimrod (of the Bible), who is also Osiris in Egypt and Apollo in Greece – involving pagan sun-worshippers, America’s Founding Fathers and Freemasons. And they have been planning the endtimes or at least the coming of the Antichrist or some sort of ancient, extraterrestrial Cthulhu-like, magic and evil being, which is the being whose eye is depicted on top of the pyramid on the $1 bill. Importantly, the date at the base of that pyramid is 1776, which is the beginning of a new Mayan “katun,” a time period of 19.7 years. If each of the 13 levels of the pyramid on the Great Seal represents one of these time periods, the top level would mark the year 2012 (oh, yes). So, because of the Mayan calendar, the end times will come in 2012. Moreover, the phrase “Novus ordo seclorum” is part of the American seal, and that proves that there is a “New World Order” coming. And if that wasn’t enough, remember that the famous painting in the Rotunda of the Capitol is titled “The Apotheosis of George Washington,” and since “apotheosis” means to deify or elevate to divine status, it depicts Washington as being resurrected and becoming divine (among Greek deities and devils), which means that George Washington was Cthulhu all along‼‼

Yeah, the WND synopsis (slightly paraphrased here) is not very coherent either, but it’s actually less derangedly confusing than Horn’s own writings. So yes, Horn and Putnam are grown-ups who don’t seem to realize that the Da Vinci code is not a documentary, and that Lovecraft’s stories are fiction. And they believe in trolls, too – it doesn’t matter if you call them “nephilim”; they’re trolls. Martian trolls.

Diagnosis: It is really tragic, but we can’t quite manage to look away either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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