"When we told you our boats were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, we were lying. When we told you Iraqis were throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, we were lying. When we blew up a medicine factory and told you it was bin Laden's headquarters, we were lying. When we told you Iraq had WMD, we were lying. When we told you Gadafy was feeding his troops Viagra so they could rape protestors, we were lying. But we swear to God we are telling the absolute truth this time. Why would we lie?"Add a comment
Well, I reckon our bipartisan, war-loving political-media establishment won't let any Russkie connections bring Trump down now! He has suddenly become "presidential": the NYT story on the Syria strike was full of respectful, anonymous insider hagiography the like of which we haven't seen since the paper's reverent 2012 account of Obama's weekly "kill list" meetings, which evoked St Thomas Aquinas to describe a group of men checking off names of "suspects" to be assassinated in a secret, arbitrary, unaccountable "extrajudicial" process.
Of course, in his first days in office, Trump has already killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria and Yemen -- including an 8-year-old American girl shot dead through the neck by US Special Forces for the crime of being the child of an "enemy of the people." (Obama had earlier killed her brother for the same crime; neither child was involved with terrorism.) But these early Trump kills were just continuations of ongoing campaigns of human slaughter that no one noticed anymore. Now Trump has drawn new blood, striking directly at Syrian forces. (A country the U.S. is not actually at war with, but who bothers with that fusty old constitutional stuff in our go-go modern age?)
If Trump keeps it up, drawing the U.S. deeper into an intractable conflict (guaranteeing boffo box office for the war profiteering community), there's no way our betters will dump him. Groin-groping, nepotistic corruption, even Kremlin canoodling will be forgotten as, like Hillary and McCain, we rally round the great War Chief.
Below are a few quick Twitter takes on the dawning of our glorious new era of bipartisan comity sealed, as always, in the blood of faceless foreigners:
* Boy, I hope Trump didn't order the Syria strike just to divert attention from Bill O'Reilly's troubles!
* Liberal pundits are angry that US told Russian forces to stay out of harm's way. Guess they were hoping the raid would spark nuclear Armageddon.
* Trump, whose troops shot and killed an 8-yr-old girl in a civilian-killing raid in Yemen, now praised for 'emotion' over Syrian children.
* Assad shouldn't kill children with chemical weapons; he should shoot them in the neck, like an 'exceptional' nation did in Yemen.
* Assad shouldn't use chemical weapons to kill civilians; he should use depleted uranium to slaughter civilians, like moral nations do!Add a comment
So Donald Trump has finally found a way to make liberals like him: make noises about "doing something" in Syria. (“Something” aside from the past few years of US intervention: bombs, drones, troops on the ground, billions in arms and funds to the rebels, etc.)
After Trump said atrocity pictures “changed his mind” about Syria and he and his crew started talking tough, leading liberal blogger Digby said: "Somebody seems to have temporarily talked some sense into the administration." Maybe it was General McMasters. You know, the NatSec honcho (accused of war crimes in Iraq) praised on Wednesday for removing Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. After that, he's bound to join the new liberal pantheon, along with the CIA, George W. Bush and Louise Mensch.
Meanwhile, the same liberals now starting to toot Trump's war-horn ignored the horrific pictures of slaughtered children in Yemen for the last two years. Children ripped to shreds by US bombs dropped by US and UK planes on behalf of the radical Islamic extremists of Saudi Arabia. Also pictures of Yemeni children & babies starving to death from the ruin of war, and from a US-assisted blockade that has put millions at risk of starvation, says the UN. While these children were being killed by the US-Saudi-UK alliance, Digby and other liberals were posting cute pics of the Obamas' dogs.
Of course, the corporate media ignored the atrocities; and it goes without saying the Right didn't care about their bribe-spreading, terrorist-backing Saudi buddies killing a bunch of other Ay-rabs. That staunch bastion of moral scourgedom, Samantha Power, didn't appear before the UN with the shocking documentation of these sickening war crimes. Liberals didn't call for “something to be done" about the evil regimes who were committing these atrocities: Riyadh, Washington and London. No one called for "partitioning" the United States or breaking up Saudi Arabia or putting UN troops in Washington to stop the criminal regime.
Now, I'm so old that I remember when the US government told outrageous lies about WMD to push the nation into a war that murdered multitudes and destabilized the entire world for the sake of a few ideological cranks and cynical war profiteers. So I tend to be a bit skeptical when the same bloodstained con artists start peddling the same line again. But it may well be true that Assad is so stupid that he did the one thing that might save ISIS and al Qaeda from their impending defeat: launch a chemical weapons attack that would bring in (more) Western forces. After all, world leaders are, as a rule, capable of vast stupidity.
But even if this is true, and Assad is guilty as charged for this evil act, it sticks in the craw to see governments who've literally been murdering small children in Yemen for two years now preen with righteousness and moral outrage, as if their own hands weren't sodden and caked with innocent blood. And then to see our fine, moral Digbian liberals likewise quivering with righteous rage when the kinds of crimes they've been ignoring or excusing for years are committed by someone else.
Is it a crime for states to slaughter innocent, defenseless people with savage weaponry, or is it not? Then condemn it, no matter who does it. Or is it only a crime if one of our “designated enemies” does it? Are the murdered children in Yemen less precious -- or less dead -- than the children in Syria? Where are the calls to "do something" to stop the criminal states killing children in Yemen? Instead we see liberal praise for Trump for "finally talking sense" when he threatens to escalate a war that the US and other nations have been cynically stoking for years.
I was writing in condemnation of Assad years ago, back when he was torturing 'rendered' captives for Ellen’s good-time laff-riot buddy George W. Bush. Like Saddam & Gadafy, Assad’s depredations were overlooked when they served Washington's agenda. (As Bush Senior did with Saddam's chemical weapons attacks. Heck, I can even remember when Putin’s murderous atrocities in Chechnya were happily overlooked by the US media-political establishment, back when we were “looking into his soul” and he was still cutting sweetheart deals with Western investors.) This is not a matter of defending odious regimes. But the entire bipartisan, media-backed, liberal-approved militarized foreign policy system of the US is also an odious regime, and also requires condemnation, and also needs to have "something done" to stop it.
First it colludes with dictators and tyrants and terrorists, then it fights them, then it colludes with their corrupt successors and fights the forces that rise in the ruins made by these morally depraved policies. But none of this is known or noticed in the West, especially the murder wrought by our own governments. Instead, when some atrocity or terrorist attack appears "out of nowhere," there is a mad rush to "do something,” which always – always – turns out to be the same "something" that led to the atrocity and terrorism in the first place.
And it seems there is nothing that can stop this cycle. Driven by cranks and war profiteers on one side, and cheered on by liberals on the other side, the cycle goes on and on. Where will it end? In the apocalyptic war with Russia that our neocons and new McCarthyite liberals long for? Or just more of the same, more of our "new normality": more dead children (who are utterly ignored if WE kill them), more intractable conflict, more war profits, more lies, more hate, more fear, more terror, more violence, more ruin, more meaningless, pointless agonizing death.Add a comment
Even if they unearth videotape of Trump in bed with Putin – or with Putin's dog – and remove him from power, the vicious, nasty, little racist cretin Jeff Sessions will still be in office, doing untold damage. He is now leading an aggressive crusade to “untie the hands” of militarized, brutalizing police forces across the country — especially the ones who have been slapped with federal restrictions for their confirmed, egregious, endemic, systematic racism. Sessions wants to set them loose on the uppity darkies who stir up the ancestral ghosts in his slavers’ blood and trouble his dreams with quaking fears and forbidden desires.
Trump’s removal — as desirable as it is — will do nothing to rectify the damage he’s already done or stop the further wreckage that his regime will do for the next four years, whether he’s in the White House or not. It’s inconceivable that the genuinely weird and hateful Mike Pence would remove soulmates like Sessions from office should he take over from Trump. Pence could conceivably be even worse, as a relieved nation — and media/political establishment — give him a free ride (“The grown-ups are back in charge!”) while he accelerates the destructive policies of Trump and the radical extremists in Congress (and in state houses all over the country).
But the ascension of sinister little goobers like Session was always going to be the end result of the boundless free publicity the media gave Trump during the campaign, with even our lib-lauded "rock star" dissidents at SNL yukking it up with the Donald, normalizing him. As it happens, my first intimation of this involved Sessions.
I was in an airport on a visit to the US, with the ubiquitous TV screens hanging down everywhere, blaring the news, and the commercials. (God forbid anyone should be able to sit in a public place and think their own thoughts without constant bombardment by commercialized inanity.) During my long lay-over, I saw CNN showing an entire Trump rally -- the whole thing, unedited, uninterrupted, all the poison lies pouring out of his mouth and the nutball surrogates who preceded him on the stage. Then Trump introduced Sessions, who became the first US senator to endorse him. I kept thinking: What the hell is going on? I’d been following US politics since the LBJ-Goldwater race, and I’d never seen ANY political rally by ANY candidate given that kind of wall-to-wall coverage. I could understand cutting to the rally for a few minutes of the Sessions endorsement as breaking news, but that's not what was happening. I was in the waiting area for more than two hours, and the entire time was given over to Trump and his sick crew. Why? Even incumbent presidents running for re-election never got airplay like that. None of other GOP candidates were getting anything near that kind of coverage. Hillary Clinton got only a bit more than they did. It goes without saying that Sanders and his mass rallies of thousands of supporters where ignored almost entirely. But the cameras kept running for Trump.
We now know the president of CBS, Leslie Moonves, bragged about how good Trump was for the corporation's bottom line, even if he was "bad for the country." We also now know that the Clinton campaign itself had a deliberate, extensive strategy to push Trump to its many media contacts as a "serious" candidate, in order to undercut what they believed to be more credible threats to her chances. The media and political establishments — now so horrified by Trump that they’re begging the blood-soaked spies and covert operators of the “intelligence community” to save them from the big bad monster — were the chief engineers of his political rise.
They pushed him and promoted him, knowing full what he was — a dangerous ignorant demagogue with an openly authoritarian bent. They knew —CNN knew, CBS knew, Clinton knew — the risk such a figure posed to the nation should he get elected. They knew he was “bad for the country.” But their profits — and their personal ambitions — were more important to them. It was more important to Clinton to help elevate an existential threat to American society because she thought it would help her. It was more important to the networks to boost Trump because of the big bounce to their bottom line. (And if he won, his rapacious, pro-corporate economic policies would help them as well. With two eager pro-corporate candidates in play, the election was always going to be a win-win for them). They knew the risk — but they took it anyway. And why not? Neither the multimillionaire Clinton nor the multibillion-dollar corporations would suffer the consequences of a Trump presidency.
Now here we are, and here we will be for the next four years – or even eight years, given the current state of the Democratic Party, and inability of that gaggle of corporate sellouts, war-profiteering pimps and neo-McCarthyite nutcases to offer any genuine, hopeful alternative to Republican extremism, beyond more of the same callous, soulless neoliberalism that has decimated the party in the first place. The wall-to-wall coverage — and Clinton’s secret promotion — of Trump are not the sole factors in his disastrous victory, of course; but without them, we almost certainly not be in the ever-deepening hell where we are today.Add a comment
To mark the anniversary of the onset of the launching of the horrific war crime against Iraq, I’m reprinting a piece I wrote a month after the invasion. The question examined here is still being asked of our leaders; and regardless of party or ideology – or even Nobel Peace Prizes – they all keep giving the same answer.
The Karamazov Question
Variation on a theme by Dostoevsky
“They have put too high a price on harmony; we can’t afford to pay so much for admission. And therefore I return my ticket.”
Ivan Karamazov, The Brothers Karamazov, Book Five, Chapter Four: “Rebellion.”
A man appeared in the doorway of the Oval Office. He wasn't noticed at first in the bustle around the desk of the president, where George W. Bush was preparing to announce to the world that the "decapitation raid" he had launched on Baghdad a few hours before was in fact the beginning of his long-planned, much-anticipated invasion of Iraq.
A woman fussed with the president's hair, which had been freshly cut for the television appearance. A make-up artist dabbed delicate touches of rouge on the president's cheeks. Another attendant fluttered in briefly to adjust the president's tie, which, like the $6,000 suit the president was wearing, had arrived that morning from a Chicago couturier. As for the president's $900 designer shoes – which, as a recent news story had pointed out playfully, were not only made by the same Italian craftsman who supplied Saddam Hussein with footwear, but were also the same size and make as those ordered by the Iraqi dictator – they had been carefully polished earlier by yet another aide, even though they would of course be out of sight during the broadcast.
In addition to all of this activity, the president's political advisors and speechwriters were also making last-minute adjustments to the brief speech, while giving the president pointers about his delivery: "Keep your gaze and your voice steady. Project firmness of purpose. Confidence, calmness, character. And short phrases, lightly punched. Don't worry, the breaks and stresses will be marked on the teleprompter."
It's little wonder that no one saw the man as he advanced slowly to the center of the room. He stood there silently, until the sense of his presence crept up on the others. One by one, they turned to look at him, this unauthorized figure, this living breach of protocol. He was, in almost every sense, non-descript. He wore a plain suit of indeterminate color; his features and his skin betrayed no particular race. He had no badge, no papers; how had he come to be here, where nothing is allowed that is not licensed by power?
Then, more astonishing, they saw his companion: a two-year-old girl standing by his side. A mass of tousled hair framed her face; a plain red dress covered her thin body. She too was silent, but not as still as the man. Instead, she turned her head this way and that, her eyes wide with curiosity, drawn especially by the bright television lights that shone on the president.
A Marine guard reached for his holster, but the man raised his hand, gently, and the guard's movement was arrested. The aides and attendants stepped back, then stood rooted, as if stupefied, their ranks forming a path from the man at the room's center to the president's desk. The president, brilliant in the light, alone retained the freedom to move and speak. "Who are you?" he asked, rising from his chair. "What do you want?"
The man put his hand tenderly on the back of the girl's head and came forward with her. "I have a question for you, and an opportunity," the man replied. "I've heard it said that you are righteous, and wish to do good for the world."
"I am," said the president. "I wish only to do God's will, as He in His wisdom reveals it to me. In His will is the whole good of the world. What is your question, what is your opportunity? Be quick; I have mighty business at hand."
The man nodded. "If tonight you could guarantee the good of the world – peace and freedom, democracy and prosperity, now and forever; if tonight, you could relieve the suffering of all those who labor under tyranny and persecution, all those who groan in poverty and disease; if tonight, you could redeem the anguish of creation, past and future, now and forever; if tonight, you could guarantee such a universal reconciliation, by the simple expedient of taking this" – here the man suddenly produced a black pistol and held it out to the president – "and putting a bullet through the brain of this little one here, just her, no one else: would you do it? That is my question, this is your opportunity."
With firmness of purpose, the president grasped the pistol and walked around the desk. With confidence, calmness, and steady hand, he pressed the barrel to the girl's head and pulled the trigger. Her eyes, which had grown even wider with her smile at the approach of the nicely dressed man and his rosy cheeks, went black with blood in the instant shattering of her skull. Her body spun round from the force of the shot – once, twice, three times in all – then fell, her mutilated head flailing wildly, in a heap on the floor of the Oval Office.
At that moment, the man faded, like a dream, into nothingness. The aides and attendants, unfrozen, stepped back into their tasks. The room was again a whirl of activity, like a hive. The president – the dematerialized gun no longer in his hand – strode confidently back to his chair. He winked at a nearby aide and pumped his fist: "Feel good!" he exulted.
The speech went off without a hitch. The hair was perfect, the voice steady, the phrases short and lightly punched. No one saw the blood and bits of brain that clung to the president's $900 designer shoes; they were, of course, out of sight during the broadcast.
First published in The Moscow Times on April 20, 2003.Add a comment
The New York Times has a story about the consternation of a small town in rock-ribbed Trump country after one of its leading citizens, Mexican native Carlos Pacheo, was hauled off by armed immigration officers. The good townsfolk still “firmly believe” that “illegals” need to be deported, you understand, but it turns out that their long-time friend and public-spirited fellow citizen is one of the “good ones,” a special case for whom their hero in the White House should perhaps make a special exception.
(I’m not belittling their desire to save their friend from deportation — more power to them if they can keep him in the country with his wife and children. But seeing how this humane impulse exists simultaneously with their ardent desire to deport all the other “illegals,” I can’t help but be reminded of Josef Goebbel’s remark to Hitler about the difficulties he was encountering with the racist Nuremberg Laws. He said the policy itself was widely supported, but enforcement was hard because “every German has his favorite Jew” whom they think should be treated as an exception.)
Many Americans seem to believe that if you just got rid of Mexican restaurant owners and all the “illegals” who clean hotels and offices and do other grunt work for peanuts, then somehow, magically, a cornucopia of secure, high-paying jobs will suddenly appear. How this will happen is never made clear; undocumented immigrants aren’t holding such jobs, they never “took away” those jobs in the first place — and their absence won’t bring them back.
America’s working class (and middle class) communities have been devastated and undermined by the rapacious greed of rich white All-American elites, who’ve spent stripping the country’s assets — its land and its labor force — by sending away jobs to maximize their own profit, by hiding their own bloated profits in tax havens (or gaming the system like the mobbed-up casino boss in the White House), by gorging themselves on corporate welfare and “incentives” and tax cuts from the politicians they’ve bought, by draining the treasury with endless wars and military operations that destabilize the world, erode security but make huge profits for fat cats. They gutted thriving businesses and starved public bodies of funds, leading to a greatly diminished quality of life for millions of people. The “New Democrats” like Bill Clinton and his successors clearly aligned their party with these developments, meaning they could offer no real alternative, no good solutions when this inherently unstable, unjust system was hit by a reality bomb in 2008 and began to crumble.
And now a mobbed-up casino boss has stepped into the vacuum, promising to fix it but using hatred and chaos to distract from his real purpose: letting the same rich white All-American elites who created the situation to tear the remaining bits of meat from the American carcass to fill their own bellies while the country sinks further and world burns. But somehow, these Trump voters believe that sending armed goons into homes and restaurants — even hospitals — to drag immigrants away is going to solve all this. Meanwhile, those same New Democrats will tell you that it’s all Putin’s fault, and if only the good guys of the CIA will step in, we can get back to having leaders who make pretty speeches while drone-bombing weddings, bailing out Wall Street, overthrowing governments, raising military budgets and, er, deporting millions of people, and everything will be OK.
There is a kind of madness, and a kind of blindness, abroad in the land — and absolutely pervasive throughout both political parties — that I can’t recall seeing before, at least not at this level. It’s as if every political and institutional bulwark against authoritarianism and oligarchy has either been deliberately destroyed or has inexplicably disarmed itself. And here is Trump, whose administration embodies authoritarianism and oligarchy in their most naked, berserk forms. Yet Americans keep believing that “getting rid of illegals” — or, on the “left,” getting off some “really killer” satirical lines at the Oscars — will change things. And so the madness and the blindness go on.Add a comment
UPDATED BELOW: History teaches us that there is only one sure way to defeat fascism: put millions of fascists in the ground. Let us hope that today's "alt-righters" and "new nationalists" and all the seeping pustules of hatred -- from the White House down to the nastiest, cringing anonymous internet troll -- consider this historical lesson, so we don't have to go through it again. But let them also know that if we do have to go through it again, then by God, that's exactly where they're going: into the ground.
UPDATE: The reactions to this post — most of them coming elsewhere, not in the comments here — has been … instructive, let us say. Most of them have shown either an overwhelming historical ignorance or an astonishing lack of reading comprehension skills or just the usual hate-troll spinning to feed their own wounded sense of self-importance. There’s also the fact that some of the comments elsewhere were from self-declared “alt-righters” who also clearly stated that the war against Nazi Germany was “mass murder.” Make of that mindset what you will.
What caused the kerfuffle? A single paragraph stating a simple fact: that the last time fascism became a huge force in the world and began attacking people, it had to be put down through a massive world war, fought by millions of people of many nationalities, beliefs, ideologies. It required the defeat of the massive fascist army of Nazi Germany, which lost millions of men. This is a historical fact. In order to defeat armed and aggressive fascism back then, millions of fascists had to die. Of course, there were alternatives to this grim fate: they could have surrendered, or not become fascists at all or not attacked other countries and so on. But these were roads not taken.
Now, the second part of this single paragraph states another plain fact: that if the fascism which many alt-righters and “white nationalists” seem to be longing for rises again to the same degree, then there will again be millions of people of many nationalities, beliefs and ideologies who will rise up and fight to defeat them once more, just as in World War II.
How hard is that to understand? Is it even a controversial statement? We had to fight a war against an armed and aggressive fascism to defeat it once before; and if it happens again, we will fight it again in the same way. It’s a simple statement.
Again, there are plenty of alternatives to this terrible scenario. Here's one: don’t let your “alt-right” or racial prejudice or nationalist beliefs lead to armed and aggressive fascism. Don't take them to their extremes and then try to seize power to impose them by force. No one is REQUIRED to go out and become a full-blown Nazi and take over countries with ideologies of hate and exclusion and use your army to impose your beliefs on others at home and abroad. If that doesn’t happen — and pray god it doesn’t — then there will be no second war against armed and aggressive fascism. Would that really be so hard to do?Add a comment
In 2002, the CIA captured a man in Afghanistan who had been working at a “terrorist training camp” that had originally been founded by — the CIA. They accused him of being a member of al Qaeda. He wasn’t, but he had lots of information about the organization, which he willingly supplied under ordinary questioning. But factions in the CIA were convinced he knew more. So they ordered him to be tortured, horrifically, relentlessly. The agent in charge of the torture mocked the victim for only “acting” like he was losing his mind as the torture went on. The agent’s office made plans on how to dispose of the body if the torture went too far.
When they finally accepted that the prisoner wasn’t lying — that he wasn’t al Qaeda, that he knew nothing of any terror plots, that he had been working with jihadi groups organized by the US during the Afghan-Soviet war — the agent in charge sought to destroy the evidence of his torture. Eventually, she and another CIA bigwig illegally destroyed all the tapes. This led to a Senate investigation — which the CIA tried to subvert by hacking the computers of Senate staffers.
That CIA torturer, mocker and destroyer of evidence has just been named Deputy Director of the CIA. Her name is Gina Haspel. The whole story is told, in damning detail, by ProPublica here.
At any time in the previous eight years, she could have and should have been prosecuted. But we were told by Obama that we shouldn’t prosecute CIA torturers and lawbreakers; we should “look forward, not backward.” Well, here we are, in the “forward” time, and what do we see? Lawbreaking torturers formally enthroned in the top ranks of the intelligence “community.” What horrors await us now, with an avid, mocking torturer at the center of power under a president who says he loves torture even if it “doesn’t work,” because “they deserve it anyway”?
I certainly don’t want to cast any aspersions on the beloved former president, who was so cool and rational and reasonable and moral and good and all, but I do think we might possibly have been better off had he actually faithfully executed the laws of the United States as he swore to do, and rooted out the torturers and lawbreakers who have now, like fetid scum, risen back to the top.Add a comment
We all have our private madness
I'm no exception to the rule
I know those waves of inner torment
So all-consuming and so cruel
I have seen the world fading
All its fullness drained of hue
And the long wait for its returning
Never knowing when it's due
If there was a god to pray to
If I had a soul to heal
You would see me every evening
Go down to the church and kneel
©2017 by Chris FloydAdd a comment
WASHINGTON – President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order today overturning the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, saying former President Abraham Lincoln’s action had been “hugely unfair” to Southern property owners.
“Free enterprise more important than political correctness!” Mr. Trump tweeted immediately after signing the executive order. “Beanpole Abe should know better! Sad!”
After Mr. Trump’s phone was gently prised from his hand by recently named Chief Operating Officer and Grand Vizier of the United States of America and All Its Dominions (Present and Future), Steve Bannon, the President read a prepared statement announcing the formation of a new Reparations Committee to “deal with the gross injustices arising from the abuse of federal power during the War for States’ Rights.”
Mr. Trump named Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Andersonville Sessions as chairman of the committee. Mr. Sessions, present at the signing, told reporters that the Justice Department will create a new Civil Rights Restoration Division, with a staff of more than 5,000, to “locate each and every descendant of those honest, law-abiding American citizens who had their property confiscated from them by an overweening government in Washington, and give them fair recompense for their tragic loss.”
The Trump Administration has set aside an initial $350 billion for the Reparations Fund although Mr. Sessions said the ultimate cost of the program could run as high as “a trillion or more” once estimates of the “projected post-war losses” are factored in.
“We’re talking about families whose property could have multiplied many times over, down through the generations, providing immense economic value — all of which was taken from them,” said Mr. Sessions, his voice shaking slightly with anger. “We will now right this injustice whose pernicious effects have festered for far too long in American society.”
When asked how the reparation program would be funded, Mr. Trump suddenly shouted, “Mexicans!” But after a whispered word from Vizier Bannon, the President deferred to Attorney General Sessions. “This guy, him, the guy standing over there, white hair guy, he knows all about it,” said the president.
Mr. Sessions said the program would be funded by a special surtax on Americans of African descent. The Reparations Fund will be “a model of fairness and diversity,” Mr. Sessions added, due to a “weighted” gradation of the surtax.
“We recognize — indeed, we celebrate — the fact that, in the words of the Negro spiritual often sung by that great conservative leader, Martin Luther King, ‘we have overcome’ the racial barriers that once unjustly separated Americans,” said Mr. Sessions. “We know there’s been a whole bunch of race-mixing going on out there in the woodpile over the years. We certainly don’t want anyone to pay more than their fair share, especially those who may have ancestors unrelated to property and its confiscation.”
Thus the amount of the surtax will be adjusted according to “the ratio of Negro blood to non-Negro blood” in the person’s genealogy, Mr. Sessions said. “If you’re half-black, then you’ll only pay half the surtax. If you’re a quarter black, then only a fourth, and so on down the line. It’s very fair, and it won’t pose an undue burden on anyone. Why, your octoroons probably won’t pay more than a few dollars a year!”
“That’s enough, General Beauregard,” the president said, rising. “Hannity’s coming on. I just want to say that I’m very proud to fix this historic wrong by Mr. Lincoln, a great man to be sure but something of a loser nonetheless, who couldn’t even finish out his second term. I know people say he was the tallest president, but believe me, I’m actually much taller, even when he had that big hat on, OK? I have many African-American friends, many many African-American friends, who are black, and I’m a great friend to all the blacks, and I know they will join me in welcoming this amazing program that will do great things and is getting more and more recognition, I notice. Thank you.”
(Written as a satire, but probably a prophecy....)Add a comment
Lee Fang of The Intercept put up a tweet on Saturday that was so stunning in its historical ignorance and dangerous in its implications that I was driven to write a few brief replies. I’ve copied them below, cleaning up the format for easier reading, but not changing the wording. I’ve added a few further points afterward.
Lee Fang @lhfang
Lefty riots in 1968 gave us Nixon, LA riots gave us the 1994 Crime Bill, riots over a message board troll will help Trump win reelection
Chris Floyd @empireburlesque
@lhfang I lived thru the Wallace campaign in the South & I know EXACTLY why so many Dems deserted the party then. It wasn't 'lefty riots. The 60s 'lefty riots' were anti-war; HHH was pro-war, for god's sake. Wallace cost Dems the South & the election because of racism — just as LBJ said it would when he signed Civil Rights Act. Wallace appealed to bedrock racism & broke the “Solid South.” I saw it with my own eyes: neighbors abandoning century-old party allegiance because of busing, fair housing laws, etc. It had absolutely nothing to do with "lefty riots" against the war. I was there. I saw the racism in action, rising to the surface.
Yet even then, the election was whisker-close. It's just the height of ignorance or lazy thinking to say "lefty riots" gave us RN. And what "lefty riots' are you talking about? When police attacked protestors in Chicago & elsewhere? Kent State? Or are you confusing the inner city riots over those 'long hot summers' with some kind of "lefty" anti-war action? And how did lefty riots give us the Crime Bill? What are you even talking about? Some 'lefty riot' FORCED Clinton to sign that bill?
Now here you are joining Trump, FOX, Breitbart in the hysterical inflation of a minor incident into some 'Enabling Act' type threat. If this is the kind of thing we're going to see from "dissident" venues like The Intercept, then god have mercy on us all.
Just a brief follow-up. Wallace’s openly racist campaign won five states outright in the South, and drained enough Democratic votes in six other Southern states to give Nixon narrow victories there. This accounted for 98 electoral votes, which would have put Humphrey over the top.
It’s true that if Wallace hadn’t run, some of his voters might have gone to Nixon, although it’s scarcely credible that all of them would. Especially in the Deep South, where — as I know from experience — there was a deep, cultural, even visceral revulsion against Republicans. In my small, rural Tennessee town, with a population of 900 or so, there were only two families — two — who traditionally voted Republican. But in 1968, my family was one of the few in town who didn’t desert the Democrats for Wallace. And I never heard a single one of those switchers mention “lefty riots” or even anti-war protests as the reason for supporting Wallace.
But even in the absence of Wallace, the reason some of these voters might have gone to Nixon was that Nixon too was running a racist campaign, albeit with dog-whistles and code words instead of Wallace’s bluntness. Again, it wasn’t “lefty riots” that provoked them — it was the same “white panic” that we saw displayed in the 2016 campaign: the fear that “white supremacy” was slipping away, that minorities were getting “uppity,” that society was changing in ways they didn’t understand and certainly didn’t like.
But beyond the speciousness and shallowness of Fang’s comment lies something more pernicious: the adoption of the neo-fascists’ own narrative, blowing up a very minor incident into a huge symbolic event that can be used to justify an authoritarian crackdown — or, in Fang's word, lead to Trump’s re-election. Why Fang wants to leap into bed with Breitbart and Bannon on this narrative is a mystery, but it certainly gives far more aid and comfort to the enemy than any actual “lefty riot.” It also helps the ongoing right-wing effort to elevate a nasty, hateful, third-rate twerp like Yiannopoulos into some kind of national figure.
We know this nasty twerp was planning to name undocumented immigrants from the stage — putting their lives and liberty in grave danger. Just as he outed a transgender student from another college stage a few weeks earlier. Why should he be given platforms at publicly supported universities to carry out such nefarious activities? Why isn’t there more outrage among our billionaire-backed dissidents about these College Republicans or Fascism Forever clubs (or whatever the morally constipated young folks are calling themselves these days) who are enabling this kind of hatred, this kind of evil?
In any case, it’s ludicrous to turn this grubby episode into a somber, chin-rubbing “debate” about free speech. The nasty twerp has a $250,000 book contract from one of the biggest publishers in the world. He can snap his fingers and have his every noxious belch broadcast to millions of people via a vast network of neo-fascists like Breitbart, Limbaugh and the slimeballs who whore for Rupert Murdoch. His fascist mentor Bannon is running the White House. He has the bloated orange oligarch in the Oval Office defending him. Nobody is infringing the free speech of this nasty twerp. The only thing that happened was a minor ruckus caused university officials to cancel his paid appearance. Anyone who’s wringing their hands over a man with instant access to the world’s media being “deprived” of his free speech is a damn fool.
I don’t agree with “Black Bloc” tactics — not least because the “Bloc” is obviously riddled with informants and provocateurs. But I don’t think fascists should be treated with kid gloves either. We’re talking about people who, like Yiannopoulos, are openly, adamantly intent on causing real harm to actual human beings. It’s not an abstract debate. It’s not a game. It’s not reality TV. These ugly, hate-oozing fascists mean business; and by god, so should we.Add a comment