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What if the GOP had to admit its lies?

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Big Tobacco, which along with the National Rifle Association is one of the most disreputable organizations in America, contributing to countless deaths over the years, is doing something surprising: “Starting as soon as next month, Altria [Marlboro]…R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris…will begin running court-mandated ads…on prime-time ABC, CBS and NBC television” admitting that they “intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

We’ve known for decades that Big Tobacco was deliberately churning out lethal products, but they lied about it as long as they could, until the U.S. Department of Justice, under President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit against them back in 1999. They fought it for nearly two decades, with their corrupt lawyers, but in the end, had to give up: the ads, which will run five days a week for one year, are the result. The cigarette companies also have to run full-page ads in dozens of newspapers.

It’s nice that an industry whose official policy was to addict people to killer toxins is finally being held to account, although it’s regrettable that no one went to jail for their crimes. But the cigarette companies themselves should get no credit for this mea culpa. They did not choose to come clean; they have to do it. When I read the article, the first thought that popped into my head was, What if the Republican Party had to do the same thing? Namely, admit that they repeatedly lied to the American people and deceived voters. Here’s how their confession might appear:

Dear Americans, the Republican Party intentionally lied to you about almost everything over the last forty years. We told you that lowering taxes on the richest Americans would benefit you through ‘trickle-down economics.’ That was total hokum. Actually, cutting taxes on the richest Americans did absolutely nothing for you and everything for them. We sold you this bill of goods because rich people, like the Koch, Scaife, Adelson, and DeVos families, are our base. They contribute the money that gets us re-elected, and they demand lower taxes on themselves, so we had to comply with their wishes.

We also lied to you about climate change and global warming. We—the Republican leadership—unlike you are smart enough to see the evidence presented by science; we realize the planet is heating up due to human activity, and that this climate change is imperiling us in dangerous and deadly ways. But the same billionaires that get us re-elected make their money from industries that cause global warming, and they don’t want their profits impacted. So we had to cater to them, and that, of course, meant lying to you.

And we lied to you about homosexuality. We pretended that it is a threat to the family and the institution of marriage. That’s not true. But a big part of our base is the Christian right, including Catholics, Mormons and evangelicals, and they hate gay people. So we had to cater to them, too. We feel really bad about that, because many senior Republican leaders are themselves gay. But we repeated the lie anyway.

We lied to you about gun control. It’s clear than America is overrun with guns. It’s clear, also, that we permit people, like Paddock, to have as many guns as they want, even if they’re mentally deranged. We Republicans know, in our hearts, that we should have stopped the proliferation of guns years ago. Tens and tens of thousands of Americans have died because of our inaction. But we’re indebted to the National Rifle Association and their leader, Wayne LaPierre, for supporting us and giving us huge amounts of money; and the N.R.A. strictly forbids us from doing anything at all to control the spread of weapons and ammunition. So we lied to you and told you that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” We apologize for that.

We lied to you about so much other stuff, like saying Barack Obama was a Kenyan terrorist and Hillary Clinton conspired with America’s enemies, that there’s not room enough in this newspaper to list all our fibs. But we’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to you. What we did was really awful: due to our lies, we’ve come close to wrecking America. We’ve destroyed the middle class. We’ve polluted our air, water and earth; we’ve allowed fossil fuel companies to run rampant and big corporations to rip you off; we’ve embarrassed our country before our international allies. We’ve caused endless suffering. We’re really, truly sorry.

But America, you know what? We’re only partly to blame. There’s another party that shares the blame: You. You were stupid enough to believe us. Even when our lies were patently obvious, even when there were mountains of evidence proving that we lied, even when our lies hurt you and your loved ones, you still chose to believe them! Why did you believe us? How could you have been so dumb? We’re just asking…

Anyhow, America, there you have it: We lied, and we’re sorry. Have a nice day!

 


White supremacist men and Auschwitz guards share the same mindset

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No one understood concentration camp guards at Auschwitz better than the camp’s commandant, Rudolph Höss, who wrote a memoir before he was hanged for his war crimes against humanity.

He described the guards as “malicious, nasty, basically evil, vulgar, vile [and] low-natured. They see the prisoner as an object upon whom they can unlease their perverted urges, their bad moods, and their inferiority complexes without restraint or fear of resistance…They take every opportunity to terrorize…those they can’t stand, or those they have a grudge against…[T]heir intelligence is somewhat limited. They are especially satisfied by the mental anguish of their victims. They spend their time thinking up new methods of mental and physical torture.”

You can take this description almost verbatim and apply it to the kind of people who express their hatred towards Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, liberals and people of color on radical rightwing outposts, like Breitbart. Consider the “Lock her up!” chants that followed Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign. The most egregious example of this occurred when Michael Flynn demanded that she quit the campaign, in July 2016. As the now-disgraced and probably soon-to-be-indicted Flynn shouted, “We do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law,” his screaming audience chanted, “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” in what, in another place and time, might have been “Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil!” (Flynn, by the way, deliberately emphasized the word “she” in his rant—you can listen to the video and it’s obvious—the suggestion being that misogyny played an outsized role in the hatred of these white men towards America’s only woman presidential nominee).

Hillary was subject to many other malicious, nasty, vulgar and vile attacks. So was Obama, and the attacker-in-chief was none other than the bloated, perverted white man with the inferiority complex, who held so many grudges, Donald J. Trump. The video of Flynn’s speech, by the way, appeared on the website of a white supremacist group, Right Side Broadcasting Network, a shadowy organization run by angry white men with ties to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s ousted campaign manager, and extreme rightwing Christian fanatics, including a pastor, Mark Burns, whom TIME called “Donald Trump’s Top Pastor.”

When you hear these rightwing neo-nazis declare that Hillary murdered people at Benghazi, or that Barack Obama was a terrorist born in Kenya, or that the Universe is 5,700 years old, or that climate change is a Chinese hoax, or that Paddock, the Las Vegas murderer, was a paid Democratic, pro-Hillary stooge, can you doubt that “Their intelligence is limited”? Every time there’s a new accusation against Hillary or Obama or any Democrat, can you doubt it’s because the haters “spen[t] their time thinking up new methods of mental torture”? Indeed, whole think tanks, funded by Koch, Mercer and DeVos money, employ legions of behavioral analysts and P.R. hacks, like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to concoct ways to ramp up the hate level on the right. So, too, do their pro-Trump allies in the Russian government. It’s a formidable opposition.

And these people who undermine our democracy do so “without restraint or fear of resistance.” In another era, they might have been more discrete in their attacks, fearing public censure. But the emergence of one of their own, Donald J. Trump, as president has empowered and emboldened them. They no longer fear being identified, or even criticized, for they live within bubbles of like-minded people, who will never restrain or resist them, no matter how vile and low-natured their comments, because all share the same psychopathy.

Thought experiment: Imagine that Republicans control everything in America. Every town council, every mayoralty, every police department, every Senator and representative, the President of the United States of America, the Supreme Court. Is it difficult to envision them exacting revenge upon “libtards” and “snowflakes”? Democratic leaders and liberal influencers would be rounded up. Someone would have to stand guard over the political prisoners in their places of confinement. Who would get hired? There’s no place better to recruit “vulgar, vile” sadists than through the comments section at Breitbart. These white men, and a few deranged white women, are the progeny of the guards who worked at Auschwitz. The mental type is the same. The base level of savagery is the same. The lack of education is the same. The bad mood is the same. Rudolph Höss would have read their comments, and smiled. He knew these people. He understood them. It would boost his racist, anti-semitic spirit to know that the mind behind concentration-camp Nazism is alive and well in the United States of America in 2017.


Las Vegas: Two days later

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Las Vegas was so upsetting to me, I had to take the day off yesterday. I wrote no new post: I allowed my post from Monday to stand, because it still characterized my feelings.

What were those feelings? Same as yours, I would imagine. Shock. Outrage and anger at, yes, the psychopath Paddock, but also towards his enablers: the Republican Party and all of its schemers, and the National Rifle Association, the most evil, reprobate organization in America.

I will admit upfront that I am not a lover of guns. I’ve fired a few weapons in my long lifetime, always under the supervision of a trainer. But I found no thrill in it. I do not understand people who are fascinated with guns. I can understand hunting; although I’ve never done it, I allow a place for legitimate hunters (and I exclude from that category rich, spoiled assholes like Trump’s sons, who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxurious African vacations where they slaughter innocent animals just for the hell of it).

I allow a place for people with a legitimate need to protect themselves from criminals. We have a Second Amendment that allows citizens to own guns. Fine. No problem.

But this Paddock had, what? Nearly 50 guns. Who in God’s name needs 50 guns? What country on God’s earth rationally allows someone to have 50 guns? I have watched this fight over gun control my entire life, from the time of JFK’s assassination and Reagan’s shooting through Columbine and Sandy Hook to the Orlando “Pulse” shootings and now, this awful disgusting Las Vegas Massacre, and every time something like this happens, and someone dares to mention even the mildest form of gun control, we get some paid hack telling the most evil lie of them all: “Now is not the time to talk about gun control.” The current hack, pimping for the National Rifle Association’s pro-murder policy, is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had the nerve, the effrontery, the lack of respect for the dead and wounded of Las Vegas, to stand in front of the cameras and tell the American people

Well, I was going to quote her exact words, but since everything she said was a lie, let me paraphrase what she meant: “We—President Trump, the N.R.A., and the white supremacist Christian conservatives who support the President–don’t give a f**k about the dead and wounded of Las Vegas. It’s true the President has to pretend he cares, but remember, he’s a T.V. celebrity who has spent the last thirty years acting. He actually studied videos that the White House Communications Office showed him on how past Presidents, including Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, behaved publicly after similar tragedies, and we had several acting coaches help the President perfect the body language of sadness that’s required of him when he visits Las Vegas. But privately, the President can’t wait to get back to Bedminster, play some golf and relax. Of course, he feels bad about the shootings, but since they don’t really affect him politically, his attitude is: The families will get over it. I’ll send them all nice autographed cards. Besides, even if the President were moved in favor of some increased kinds of gun control—which he isn’t, because fundamentally he doesn’t give a damn—he never would support it, because he owes the National Rifle Association and Wayne LaPierre bigtime for endorsing him. So he’ll never do anything against Mr. LaPierre’s wishes, even if that means many more innocent Americans will have to be slaughtered. And, yes, he’s aware of the fact that it does mean more Americans will die: there will be more Las Vegases, worse Las Vegases, the body count will pile up, the streets will be awash in blood, the wailing of the victims’ families will rise to High Heaven, but Donald J. Trump doesn’t care, because they’re not his family, they’re just unwashed idiots with no money he wouldn’t be caught dead with at Mar-a-Lago. He doesn’t care about any family besides his own, and Mr. LaPierre doesn’t care, because he makes millions of dollars a year leading his phony Second Amendment shtick in favor of legalized mass murder. Next question, please.”

That’s what Sarah Huckabee, the arch-propagandist and shill, was really saying when her lips moved.

You know, the Republicans used to say (and some still do), “Lock her up!” about Hillary Clinton, not because Hillary did anything wrong (she didn’t), but because they’re mentally unbalanced white supremacists who hate and fear strong women. Well, it’s time real Americans start saying “Lock them up!” for the likes of Donald J. Trump, Wayne LaPierre and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. If you’re not as upset as I am right now, look in the mirror and ask yourself why not. If you are, then redouble your efforts! Join The Resistance! Organize for the 2018 election cycle! Do not, repeat, do not tire or flag or grow weary. Do not give in to pessimism or let your grief rob your strength. The stakes are too high. This may be our last chance to save America from this dangerous, evil, morally corrupt cabal.


The Las Vegas shootings: Trump, NRA, Republicans share blame

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Did Trump say a word about gun control? About having fewer guns on the streets of America? About greater scrutiny of mentally ill people possessing guns? About limiting the number of guns anyone can have? About Nevada not even requiring gun licenses? About rolling back the open-carry and concealed-carry laws that are proliferating around the country? About limiting the capacity of magazines on automatic weapons? About smart guns? About silencers? About keeping guns away from kids? About reversing the fetishistic worship of guns, especially among white Christian males?

Nope. Not a single bloody word.

There’s one reason why: There is a sick, anti-American organization, the National Rifle Association, that controls the Republican Party. This organization, the N.R.A., is against any form of gun control. In fact, they want more guns in this country, more gun owners, deadlier guns, deadlier bullets. For the N.R.A., there’s no such thing as enough weaponry. N.R.A. members celebrate guns, and shooting, and slaughter, and bloodshed, and explosions. They may say they don’t, but their actions belie their words. The N.R.A. is a domestic terrorist organization, and one of these days, when we have Nuremberg-style trials to determine what the hell happened to America under Republicans, leaders of the N.R.A. will sit in the docket, starting with their ultimate fuhrer, Wayne Robert LaPierre.

Trump has a history of being in thrall to LaPierre and the N.R.A. Of course: gun owners were part of the resentful white male demographic he knew he needed to be elected president. Just last April, he bragged to an N.R.A. audience, “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.” That this is patently false should now be obvious: Las Vegas is bound to bring renewed, stronger calls for gun control—and Trump is going to be confronted with yet another crisis in addition to his growing list of crises, many of them self-created.

Of course, during the campaign, Trump also pandered to the N.R.A.’s death lobby when he suggested that “Second Amendment people” could kill Hillary Clinton, if she were elected, to prevent her from appointing a gun control advocate to the Supreme Court. Clinton—who has probably been the most threatened politician in American history, due largely to the N.R.A.’s vilification of her—castigated the N.R.A. following the Las Vegas massacre, declaring, “We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.” How could any normal, rational American object to that? But predictably, Trump does, and the N.R.A. does, and guess who else is exultant about Vegas? Breitbart. Here’s a sampling of comments to their Facebook page on the murders:

Sounds like the last Bernie Sanders supporter targeting Republicans at a baseball game, this guy knew Trump supporters would be at a country concert

Thanks to BLM and NFL you are sending a message of division in this country, and this is now what you get!

Hmmmm. A sudden burst of anti-American protests and kneeling in the NFL against ‘white oppression’. A gunman kills and injures hundreds of people at a country music concert. I knew it. You kneeling bastards, and those who support them, are all responsible.               

Crazy man or False flag? Set up? What are they trying to deviate attention from? This is not one man job – and one should always ask, “who benefits from this”??

I’m getting nauseous just reading this insane crap. The paranoid psychopaths who write this stuff ARE your Republican Party. There’s no way to avoid it: the party has become the loony bin of every murderous psychopathy, and they now have a president who also suffers from, and champions, that sickness. It is unconscionable. I am so angry, my hands are shaking as I type these words. I just want to live long enough to see this evil man, Trump, deposed and held accountable, along with his rabid followers. I want to see LaPierre, Steve Bannon, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Trump’s entire cabinet, all of Trump’s apologists and enablers and the people who write psychopathic things on Breitbart—I want to see all of them repudiated by their friends, their families, by History. I know this probably won’t happen. But really, Hillary Clinton is right. We have GOT to stand up to the N.R.A. and all that they stand for. We have got to overturn this dreadful, dangerous Republican Party. Register to vote. Vote. Tell everyone you know to vote. I’m just feeling so sad right now, and I know you are too.

 

 


To dox, or not to dox

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Dox, verb: to search for and publish private or identifying information about a particular individual on the Internet, typically with malicious intent

The term is from the slang word “docs,” for “documents.” It’s said to have been around since the 1990s and may be related to the doxc file extension from Microsoft. Doxing has been on the upswing in recent years. Since Charlottesville, the phenomenon (if not the word) has entered the public consciousness, as anti-fascists have posted photos of white supremacists who didn’t bother masking themselves—with the result that those racists were fired from their jobs, or otherwise shamed and ostracized, even by their own families.

Hackers and online vigilantes routinely dox both public and private figures,” says the website dictionary.com. The practice is, predictably, controversial: there have been cases where individuals were misidentified, leading to horrible consequences, but more commonly, white supremacists who are doxed find themselves forced to defend their actions. That was the case with Peter Cvjetanovic, who justified himself on Twitter with the awkward explanation, “White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”

Right. And Hitler wasn’t an anti-semite, he just wanted to preserve good old German culture!

As doxing increases in frequency, white supremacists “are terrified,” reports the feminist website, broadly.vice.com. Once a neo-nazi has been doxed, “It’s hard to get a job, hard to make a living, hard to have a normal social life when all your friends and family know you believe in ethnic cleansing,” says the Southern Poverty Law Center. Reports of doxed white nationalists being fired are rampant; the New York Post reported that “white supremacists who rallied…are beginning to see consequences…” including “losing jobs [and] web hosting platforms.” The latter is a reference to the arch-white nationalist and racist website, Daily Stormer, which was banned from GoDaddy, Cloudflare and Google after Charlottesville.

The argument that doxing is repression of free speech is related to the ongoing debate about so-called “free speech” rallies at U.S. campuses, especially the University of California at Berkeley. Should everyone have the right to express himself, no matter how hateful, incendiary or untrue the statements are? To me, the answer is a clear “No.” But even if you believe differently, and think that neo-nazis should be accorded the right to free speech, doxers also have the right to “out” neo-nazis in the most public ways possible. If a white supremacist shows up at a hate rally without covering her face, she has ceded any expectation of privacy. I suppose the neo-nazis might see being unmasked as courageous, but they should not complain when they find their faces smeared all over Twitter or Facebook, and then get a pink slip from their employer. On the other hand, nobody ever got fired for peacefully protesting white supremacy. There is a difference; the two are not equal. Neo-nazi speech should be discouraged, and those who engage in it must and will face the consequences of their actions. It’s not “malicious” to publicly out a white supremacist; it’s patriotic.


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