Trump and his propaganda machine at Fox News have so aggressively undermined the legitimacy of Robert Mueller’s inquiry – repeatedly conjuring a “witch hunt” and maintaining a drumbeat of “no collusion” – that Mueller’s report, whatever it shows, will almost surely be overwhelmed by a fog of alt-interpretation and epistemological confusion. What’s “collusion?” What’s illegal? What’s unethical? Has Trump been vindicated or not?
The real danger is that as attention inevitably turns to the 2020 campaign, controversy over the Mueller report will obscure the far more basic issues of Trump’s competence and character.
An American president is not just the chief executive of the United States, and the office he (eventually she) holds is not just a bully pulpit to advance policy ideas. He is also a moral leader, and the office is a moral pulpit invested with meaning about the common good.
Before completing his probe, Mueller helped secure guilty pleas from five people involved in Trump’s presidential campaign – including his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who became his first national security adviser – though none admitted to conspiring with Russian operatives. He also indicted more than two dozen Russian hackers and military intelligence officers.
While Mueller didn’t seek an indictment of Trump or members of his family, they’re not necessarily in the clear.
Beyond Russia’s election meddling – which US intelligence agencies found was aimed at hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton and ultimately at helping Trump win – Mueller investigated possible collusion in the operation and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in what the president has regularly denounced as a “witch hunt”.
Violent Far-Right Extremists Are Rarely Prosecuted as Terrorists
The Domestic Terrorism Law the Justice Department Forgot
How a Movement That Never Killed Anyone Became the FBI’s No. 1 Domestic Terrorism Threat
The Strange Tale of the FBI’s Fictional “Black Identity Extremism” Movement
How Individual States Have Criminalized Terrorism
The greater problem remains structural, far bigger than the fate of any individual sleaze monger. Educating those susceptible to their messaging as to why these voices are so toxic will be a harder struggle, given the sheer scale Big Tech offers. It will not be easy to do so without meaningful action by the tech industry, which only now seems to be somewhat recognizing that they have become to America today what sidewalk display cases were to Nazi Germany. Whether the U.S. political system is up to the challenge is highly dubious, but I am heartened by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s immediate and tenacious workto stop the spread of the Christchurch shooter’s video and extract answers from Facebook.
I see no contradiction between justice being served against the worst progenitors of right-wing extremism and empathy being exercised for the souls of those seduced. If far-right extremism is but a symptom of a national sickness, then the source of those issues is still upstream from the dead end of such violent hatred. And that’s our responsibility to combat—wherever and whenever we encounter it.
David Marr is right. In the wake of Christchurch, our PM is more concerned with going on prime time TV to deny something he is reported to have said than exercising leadership or taking any responsibility for the various ways that his government has directly and indirectly helped encourage a toxic subculture of Islamophobia; the ways his government has aided and abetted if not supported white supremacists.
The very least he could do is direct his party’s branches to put the racist, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, One Nation Party last on the Liberal how to vote card in the May Federal Election.
Lets face it Trump TV downunder SKY and in particular Andrew Bolt were already obediently reporting this yesterday (ODT)
Trump TV is already declaring the Mueller report exonerates Dear Leader before anyone even knows what’s in it.
How Trumpland works compared with Obama (ODT)
A newly-leaked audio recording reveals that oil and gas executives in a private meeting were “giddy” with laughter in the summer of 2017 as they rejoiced over the “unprecedented access” they were being given to the highest levels of the Trump administration, boasting about their ability to have closed-door meetings with top officials and the ascendance of their own industry colleagues to some of the most powerful seats of government.
Paris (AFP) – The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
When hate is wrong but all Right (ODT)
But this is also where things get complicated because the call has gained traction with a sizeable section of the population here, as it has in Europe. Not everyone receptive to the idea is a racist; they’re responding irrationally and simplistically to a rational fear of Islamist terrorism.
I want these calls to stop, but they’re unlikely to stop while Islamist attacks in the West continue. It’s why you can’t stare down and confront one toxic ideology without doing precisely the same to the other.
“I’m just telling the truth. One case is too much. forget about the Aussies that get off planes with comminicable diseases their not dangerous” (ODT)
That’s Dog Whistling
“Last year there were 56 cases of communicable disease from those who had arrived on illegal boats. These cases included everything from Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C to Chlamydia and Syphilis. These latest cases have now added typhoid to the list,” he said.
After Christchurch Women and Shooters are grinners in NSW (ODT)
In stark contrast, when counting finished last night, the Liberals were on track to hold all but one of their Sydney seats — it’s what saved them the election.
Despite NSW’s Coalition Government clinging to power, federal Liberals are also nervously eyeing off the results and wondering how much of a drag the Nationals will be on their vote when an election is called soon.
Trumpland’s Response to NZ Revealed (ODT)
Democrats celebrating New Zealand gun ban expose the Left’s authoritarian impulses
New Zealand’s decision to swiftly ban guns in the wake of Christchurch shooting has been drawing praise among Democrats — in the process revealing the Left’s chilling authoritarian impulses.
… it has been absolutely chilling to witness how many American liberals and prominent Democrats cheered the actions of the government of New Zealand. Even as liberals often insist that nobody is talking about taking away guns, many applauded the decision of a government to quickly confiscate weapons from law-abiding citizens without any debate or legal arguments.
Why they need Michelle (ODT)
“I did it. It has been done and it’s fine,” he said, referring to the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem, which also sent shock waves through the world at that time and sparked massive protests in the Middle East. He claimed that the Golan Heights “are the same thing.”
An EU spokeswoman said that the bloc does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. The French foreign ministry noted that Israel’s claims for sovereignty over the Golan have been “recognized as null and void” by several UN Security Council’s resolutions.
Berlin said it rejected any unilateral steps, adding that the Golan Heights are still universally recognized as an occupied territory of Syria. “This is still a status quo under the international law,” the German Foreign Ministry’s deputy spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer, sai
Trump maintained that it is supposedly all “about regional security” while denying that his call has anything to do with the forthcoming Israeli elections, which he claimed he “had no idea” about.
And while Trump’s “salad of scandals” offers the full range of muck on mistresses, lies, election campaigns and foreign plots, only time will tell whether Mueller produces hard evidence and if voters or legislators care enough to act on it, he added.
Here in the United States, where the Statue of Liberty has been a welcoming beacon for more than a century, the Trump administration’s response has not just been a fierce aversion to the return of such people, but the use of one of them to help redefine ever more narrowly the very idea of citizenship, of who belongs to this country. In the rejection of the citizenship of a former ISIS bride with child, the president and his advisors have, in an unprecedented way, refused to uphold the rights of U.S.-born citizens, let alone naturalized ones.
Israel is not interested in the Golan Heights for security. If it were interested in that, then it wouldn’t be settling its civilians there. It has 34 settlements, 20,000 settlers. To put civilians into a place that’s known as a military zone is, one, either to belie that there’s actually a military threat or, two, to be using Israeli citizens as human shields. In both instances, it’s incredibly problematic and discounts the fact that there is no military threat to Israel from that border. Syria last launched a military attack on Israel in October 1973. Egypt and Jordan have established permanent peace with Israel. Iraq and Libya, which might pose a threat rhetorically, have been completely gutted and destabilized. There has been no threat. Even Hezbollah from the south of Lebanon, where Israel withdrew its forces in 2000, have not launched war against Israel. In fact, it was Israel that launched war against Lebanon in 2006. This framework of security is a cover and a veneer for Israel as an aggressor. It is not the David, it is the Goliath in the region. And Israel’s continuing warfare is what’s destabilizing the region.
Yeah, welcome to Israel. Welcome to Palestinian lives, of being literally dehumanized, killed, ridiculed, accused and blamed for their own deaths, for the sake of domestic politics, for the sake of international politics, while the rest of the world watches. When Israel massacred 58 Palestinians on May 15th last year, when the embassy was moved and when Palestinians continued their Gaza Great March of Return, you know what U.S. headlines ran? They said, “How dare Hamas ruin and spoil Israeli celebrations!” The level of dehumanization that is at play is astounding, absolutely astounding.
Israeli leaders helped birth today’s most notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
That’s the conclusion from recent reports about the origins of a right-wing plot against liberal Jewish billionaire George Soros.
The demonization of Soros – often in overtly anti-Semitic terms – has become a leading theme of the international right in recent years.
And two of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s key advisers were responsible for it.
Israeli forces killed two protesters in the occupied Gaza Strip on Friday as the UN Human Rights Council condemned the “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against Great March of Return demonstrators.
Around 190 Palestinians were injured during Friday’s protests, more than half of them by live fire, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza. Two were critically injured, the health ministry said.
Four journalists were hit by tear gas canisters and live fire while covering the protests, according to Al Mezan.
Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed during the Great March of Return mobilizations, including 41 children, two women, two journalists, three paramedics and eight persons with a disability, Al Mezan said.
And when Aly finished the interview by asking what the government needs to do next to defuse the situation, Morrison’s response was simple: “exactly what I did do”. By the end of the interview, he had cemented himself as a man who cannot listen, cannot answer, and cannot see the value in any ideas except his own.
Sociopathy is a broad term that refers to various personality defects. In this instance, I am using the term in the popular sense to mean one who is devoid of empathy for their fellow humans. The resultant lack of empathy often leads to cruelty. This has largely been the approach of right wing governments over the decades. Instead of taking a compassionate and humanistic approach to the issues of the day, the right demands conformity. Indeed, conformity is the price for safety.
As examples of the ostracism principle, consider how Trump treats anyone who looks at him sideways. Alternatively, consider Morrison’s or Canavan’s response to the protesting climate kids. Even if brownshirts do not yet exist and our so-called leaders are not yet actual fascists, they are hardline ideologues who are about using fear to control the population. We will keep you safe from this thing over which we keep stoking fear. Don’t believe me? Let us take a look back.
Compassion is not weakness, and we need to stop viewing in this way. It is possible for humanity to do better than this. We need to stop seeing governmental sociopathy as strength. Rather, we need to see it for what it is: vindictive cruelty designed to maximise fear, breed conformity and maintain the current power structure.
Yes, leadership has its ups-and-downs, but I don’t think that I’ve ever seen someone who moves up and down as much as the human yo-yo, Scott Morrison. You know how the yo-yo works: it reaches the end of the string and it hurries back up to the top only to immediately sink again.
I guess the thing that struck me about Yo-yo Mo’s threat to sue Aly was the simple fact that Waleed was reporting something that had been widely reported in various sources years ago. When it was first reported, our PM told us that he didn’t comment on Cabinet discussions. Not so last night, where he assured us that he brought up concerns about Muslim immigration because he wanted to “address them”. He didn’t explain how he hoped to address them as Shadow Opposition Immigration minister. Maybe he planned to help promote unity by complaining about the taxpayer funding flights to the funeral services of asylum seekers who perished when the ship crashed on Christmas Island.
Or perhaps he was trying to help last night when he assured us that there were over fifty people on Manus and Nauru who had “character” concerns. When asked how many of them were actually “rapists, murderers and pedophiles”, he was less clear, but it was clearly “significantly more than one”…
Is three significantly more than one? It is 300% after all.
Still, I’m not sure what the point is. Is he suggesting that a non-convicted pedophile with a life-threatening condition which couldn’t be treated on Nauru would be allowed to die because we couldn’t keep them under control if they came to Australia? I mean, George Pell was taken to hospital because he’s got the flu and he’s an actual convicted sex offender.
Watching last night, I couldn’t help but think that this Waleed Aly interview will be called a “trainwreck” which – as I wrote a few weeks ago, trains actually have tracks which they go off; this mob in Canberra resemble a car where the fighting for the steering wheel has become so intense that the wheel itself has ended up in the boot.
Where is the collective culpability for encouraging an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust where raids on suspects’ houses are televised before they have even been charged with anything?
Where is the admission that collectively blaming all Muslims for the acts of a few has promoted fear and hatred?
Where is the acceptance that conflating asylum seekers with criminals is dogwhistling?
Wasn’t me, says Scott. They love me. I even went on a walk with some Muslim boys once.
Scott says he has led by example and that he has set the tone.
The tragedy is that he is right about that – and look at what has happened.
White Supremacy in Australia Set the Stage for the Christchurch Massacre
The mainstreaming of hate has become routine, in both the media and politics.
via The Nation
Ask Bolt if he recognises tribalism he’ll say no thenlook at his blogs. They ere consistent to a tee. (ODT)
Scott Morrison said he never told senior colleagues to exploit community concerns about Muslim migration
The Prime Minister accused Waleed Aly of being “very emotional” and “over the top”
Mr Morrison refused to say whether his party should preference One Nation and Fraser Anning last.
Fully armed soldiers enter the school in occupied Hebron, threaten teachers, and take away a child they likely exceeded their authority to arrest because of his age.
The business man’s boys club sharing the spoils, (ODT)
Lachlan Murdoch is allegedly wary of having his network seen as the president’s personal Soviet-style Pravda
Out-sized corporate power and wealth inequality were named as reasons for Americans’ chronic unhappiness in the UN’s annual report