Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Long Read: A New World Record

Forty years ago this month, NASA sent Voyager I into the stars, with Voyager II following the month after, and probably the most famous passengers aboard each probe are a pair of golden record discs that contain sights and sounds of Earth.  Our Sunday Long Read is Timothy Ferris's New Yorker piece on the story of the creation of those records, and how they came to represent an entire planet.

I became friends with Carl Sagan, the astronomer who oversaw the creation of the Golden Record, in 1972. He’d sometimes stop by my place in New York, a high-ceilinged West Side apartment perched up amid Norway maples like a tree house, and we’d listen to records. Lots of great music was being released in those days, and there was something fascinating about LP technology itself. A diamond danced along the undulations of a groove, vibrating an attached crystal, which generated a flow of electricity that was amplified and sent to the speakers. At no point in this process was it possible to say with assurance just how much information the record contained or how accurately a given stereo had translated it. The open-endedness of the medium seemed akin to the process of scientific exploration: there was always more to learn.

In the winter of 1976, Carl was visiting with me and my fiancĂ©e at the time, Ann Druyan, and asked whether we’d help him create a plaque or something of the sort for Voyager. We immediately agreed. Soon, he and one of his colleagues at Cornell, Frank Drake, had decided on a record. By the time nasa approved the idea, we had less than six months to put it together, so we had to move fast. Ann began gathering material for a sonic description of Earth’s history. Linda Salzman Sagan, Carl’s wife at the time, went to work recording samples of human voices speaking in many different languages. The space artist Jon Lomberg rounded up photographs, a method having been found to encode them into the record’s grooves. I produced the record, which meant overseeing the technical side of things. We all worked on selecting the music.

I sought to recruit John Lennon, of the Beatles, for the project, but tax considerations obliged him to leave the country. Lennon did help us, though, in two ways. First, he recommended that we use his engineer, Jimmy Iovine, who brought energy and expertise to the studio. (Jimmy later became famous as a rock and hip-hop producer and record-company executive.) Second, Lennon’s trick of etching little messages into the blank spaces between the takeout grooves at the ends of his records inspired me to do the same on Voyager. I wrote a dedication: “To the makers of music—all worlds, all times.”

To our surprise, those nine words created a problem at nasa. An agency compliance officer, charged with making sure each of the probes’ sixty-five thousand parts were up to spec, reported that while everything else checked out—the records’ size, weight, composition, and magnetic properties—there was nothing in the blueprints about an inscription. The records were rejected, and nasa prepared to substitute blank discs in their place. Only after Carl appealed to the nasaadministrator, arguing that the inscription would be the sole example of human handwriting aboard, did we get a waiver permitting the records to fly.

In those days, we had to obtain physical copies of every recording we hoped to listen to or include. This wasn’t such a challenge for, say, mainstream American music, but we aimed to cast a wide net, incorporating selections from places as disparate as Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Congo, Japan, the Navajo Nation, Peru, and the Solomon Islands. Ann found an LP containing the Indian raga “Jaat Kahan Ho” in a carton under a card table in the back of an appliance store. At one point, the folklorist Alan Lomax pulled a Russian recording, said to be the sole copy of “Chakrulo” in North America, from a stack of lacquer demos and sailed it across the room to me like a Frisbee. We’d comb through all this music individually, then meet and go over our nominees in long discussions stretching into the night. It was exhausting, involving, utterly delightful work.

In selecting Western classical music, we sacrificed a measure of diversity to include three compositions by J. S. Bach and two by Ludwig van Beethoven. To understand why we did this, imagine that the record were being studied by extraterrestrials who lacked what we would call hearing, or whose hearing operated in a different frequency range than ours, or who hadn’t any musical tradition at all. Even they could learn from the music by applying mathematics, which really does seem to be the universal language that music is sometimes said to be. They’d look for symmetries—repetitions, inversions, mirror images, and other self-similarities—within or between compositions. We sought to facilitate the process by proffering Bach, whose works are full of symmetry, and Beethoven, who championed Bach’s music and borrowed from it.

I’m often asked whether we quarrelled over the selections. We didn’t, really; it was all quite civil. With a world full of music to choose from, there was little reason to protest if one wonderful track was replaced by another wonderful track. I recall championing Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night,” which, if memory serves, everyone liked from the outset. Ann stumped for Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” a somewhat harder sell, in that Carl, at first listening, called it “awful.” But Carl soon came around on that one, going so far as to politely remind Lomax, who derided Berry’s music as “adolescent,” that Earth is home to many adolescents. Rumors to the contrary, we did not strive to include the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” only to be disappointed when we couldn’t clear the rights. It’s not the Beatles’ strongest work, and the witticism of the title, if charming in the short run, seemed unlikely to remain funny for a billion years.

The Golden Anniversary edition of the Voyage Golden Record is out, by the way, to celebrate these songs.   Good listening anywhere in the universe.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Last Call For Beantown Roasters

So Donald Trump's "fine people" from Charlottesville showed up in Boston on Saturday and the result was about 150-200 white supremacists and about 40,000 annoyed Bostonians who decided to heckle them like a guy in a Yankees jersey at Fenway Park.

One week after violent protests rattled Charlottesville, Virginia, a scheduled free speech rally in Boston today was met with thousands of counterprotesters, but the day went off mostly smoothly, police said, with 33 arrests but few injuries.

The free speech rally was deemed "officially over" by police ahead of its official end time, but thousands of counterprotesters continued to spread out in the city throughout the afternoon, with some protesting peacefully but others confronting officers and people.

A total of 33 arrests were made today, mostly from disorderly conduct and a few assaults on police officers, the Boston Police Department announced. Police Commissioner William Evans said at a news conference this afternoon that some urine-filled bottles were thrown at officers, and police indicated on Twitter that some demonstrators were throwing rocks at police.

But for the most part, Evans said, the day of direct action went off smoothly as police planned, with very little injury and property damage.

"Overall I thought we got the First Amendment people in, we got them out, no one got hurt, no one got killed," he said.

Police did stop three people with ballistic vests and a gun, Evans said, "but we were lucky to get those three out of here and confiscate the vests."

Evans said roughly 40,000 people descended on Boston today, "standing tall against hatred and bigotry in our city, and that's a good feeling." He added that he wished the "trouble makers stayed away," who he said weren't there for either the free speech side or the counterprotesters' side, but "were here just to cause problems."

Evans said that "99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons -- that's to fight bigotry and hate."

Well done, Beantown.  Well done.

The Never Trump Illusion

Here's my problem with "Never Trump" conservative Republicans like the Daily Beast's Matt Lewis, who rips into his fellow GOP voters for supporting Trump:

Whether Trump is obfuscating about Russia, failing to specifically condemn racism and white nationalism in Charlottesville, Virginia, opining about the beauty of Confederate memorials, or attacking fellow Republicans (the list is long and includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Jeff Flake), his administration is an utter disaster for the GOP and the cause of conservatism.

This is especially amazing when you consider the GOP controls all levers of power (talk about missed opportunities!), the economy seems to be humming along, and (knock on wood) Trump’s foreign policy of peace through saber-rattling is, for now, working.

Now look, I realize that a lot of good Republicans voted for someone other than Trump in the GOP primary. Further, I realize that Trump lost the popular vote in the general election. So I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush when I say that you were warned about this man—and you ignored our warnings. We were right; you were wrong.

The masses, it turns out, sometimes are asses. Sometimes the people who actually pay close attention to politics know more than the disgruntled populists and nationalists who are willing to gamble on the future of this great republic—and on the reputation of a conservative philosophy that goes from Aristotle to Burke to Buckley—in order to boost a reality show host. You elected your guy, and look where it got us.

Congratulations, or something.

Somebody has told Lewis that 1) there is no way that any Republican will ever be able to divorce themselves from being the party of Trump right now and that 2) they're the side that's winning, right?

He has the same problem Ben Sasse has, as Steve M points out.  There's no "disengagement" from this monster.

What Sasse doesn't understand is that we're not going to have "an orderly debate." Defenders of these monuments aren't going to limit themselves to peaceful discussion of the question. If it's agreed that the monuments have to come down, they're not going to accept the outcome. And I'm not just referring to white nationalists -- in many cases, state law prevents cities from removing Confederate monuments or changing street names. What's the point of "orderly debate" if localities can't make their own decisions?

Sasse proceeds to defend Trump against liberals and members of the media who are presumed to hold extreme positions, although Sasse offers no evidence that they do.

This is what America is now in 2017.

Sasse is savvy and ambitious. He's going to run for president eventually, and he's very determined to make a name for himself now. I appreciate the fact that he expresses anti-racist sentiments, but over the years a lot of national Republicans have been overtly anti-racist while supporting vote suppression, brutal law enforcement policies, and scapegoating and stereotyping of non-whites as criminals and "takers" of public assistance. Moreover, the party has allowed its messaging to be disseminated primarily on Fox News and talk radio, which vacillate between racist dog whistles and more overt appeals to racial fear and anger. And, of course, the party -- with Sasse admittedly one of the few exceptions -- rallied behind a birther who's now president.

If Republicans reject all that -- or if Sasse and others reject the Republican Party because it won't -- then we can have a civilized discussion of race. But we can't have one before then. 

The bad guys are in charge.  Sasse, Lewis, and countless other "Never Trumpers" built this creation and it is currently destroying America.  I don't blame Trump for being Trump any more than I blame the nature of the scorpion to sting.  I blame the Republicans like Lewis and Sasse who take zero responsibility for their part in putting Trump in the White House by shifting the GOP fully to being the party of not just white resentment, but white power.

Until they start with that admission, nothing will change.  Republicans can't do anything about impeaching and removing Trump from office until they admit they are the guilty ones.

Trading Blows With The Dragon

Don't look now, but it looks like on top of everything else, the Trump regime just started a trade fight with China over intellectual property.

The US has initiated an investigationn into China's theft of US intellectual property (IP) using Section 301 US Trade Act of 1974. 
That may sound like a bunch of jargon, but what it boils down to is that the US just fired the first shot in a trade war with China. 
"On Monday, President Trump instructed me to look into Chinese laws, policies, and practices which may be harming American intellectual property rights, innovation, or technology development," said Ambassador Robert Lighthizer in a statement on the US Trade Representative website. 
"After consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation. I notified the President that today I am beginning an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974."

China sees the use of Section 301 as an act of aggression because it allows the president of the United States to act against the Chinese economy without consulting the World Trade Organization. China has been a member of the WTO since 2001. The use of Section 301 fell out of fashion around the same time. US leaders didn't see the point of using it anymore because the WTO's framework had more legitimacy, and even allies were complaining about its use.

China has been warning the Trump administration against bypassing the WTO since January. Earlier this week Chinese state media was alive with condemnation for even the thought of the US activating Section 301.

"We urge the US side to respect the facts and act prudently. If US ignores the facts and disrespects multilateral trade rules, thus jeopardizing the two nations’ trading ties, China will not sit on its hands and will take all appropriate measures to protect its own legitimate rights," said a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday.

So that'll be fun.  I don't know if it will result in a full-blown trade war, but it definitely looks like China will retaliate.  How hard and how costly it will be, we'll see.  In the Obama and even the Bush era, both sides went to the World Trade Organization, and both sides have won and lost over the years.

But dragging up Section 301 from the swamp seems like a bad idea, and it's going to cause a lot of problems, and I wouldn't bet on Trump to show retraint in this arena.  The GOP base has long wanted a trade fight with Beijing CAUSE THEY TOOK OUR JORBS and it looks like they will get it.

Oh, by the way, you know who's the happiest to see a China/US trade war that could potentially cause billions in damage to both countries?

You got it.  Our old friend Vlad.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Last Call For Grief Versus Cynicism

As Greg Sargent points out, the mother of Heather Hayer, who was killed last weekend in Charlottesville, absolutely destroyed Donald Trump in an inerview with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts today.

Speaking on “Good Morning America,” Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, said the White House had tried to reach her with “frantic” messages, presumably to set up a call with Trump, but added that she would refuse any communications, now that Trump has suggested a moral equivalence between the racists, Nazis, and white supremacists in Charlottesville and those protesting them.

QUESTION: Have you talked to him directly yet? 
SUSAN BRO: I have not. And now I will not. At first, I just missed his calls. The first call looked like it actually came during the funeral. I didn’t even see that message. There were three more frantic messages from press secretaries throughout the day. And I didn’t know why. That had been on Wednesday. And I was home recovering from the exhaustion of the funeral. So I thought, ‘well, I’ll get to him later.’ And then I had more meetings to establish her foundation. So I hadn’t really watched the news until last night. 
And I’m not talking to the president now. I’m sorry. After what he said about my child. It’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him. I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters, like Ms. Heyer, with the KKK and the white supremacists. …You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’

White supremacists like Steve Bannon believe that Republicans will continue to dominate out politics as long as Democrats talk about race and that more and more white voters, especially Millennials, will abandon the Dems because they think the Democrats see all white people as the problem in this country.

That's not true, as Heather Hayer proves.

But the perception of that continues to be our political reality heading into the 2018 midterms.

No Longer A Bannon Ship, But A-Bannon Ship!

It was nice to get our Friday News Trump Dump early this week, and it's a doozy: Steve Bannon is history.

Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled chief strategist who helped President Trump win the 2016 election but clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers, is leaving his post, a White House spokeswoman announced Friday. 
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” 
Earlier on Friday, the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. But a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted that the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week. But the move was delayed after the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

Not everyone is happy to see him go, of course.

The loss of Mr. Bannon, the right-wing nationalist who helped propel some of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises into policy reality, raises the potential for the president to face criticism from the conservative news media base that supported him over the past year. 
Mr. Bannon’s many critics bore down after the violence in Charlottesville. Outraged over Mr. Trump’s insistence that “both sides” were to blame for the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead, human rights activists demanded that the president fire so-called nationalists working in the West Wing. That group of hard-right populists in the White House is led by Mr. Bannon.

So as I said yesterday, Bannon either dared Trump to fire him (and lost!) or he wanted to get back to Breitbart to help Trump from the outside (which I think it is.)  Don't expect Bannon to go gently into that white supremacist night.

And he may not go alone, either.

Some White House officials also said Friday they expect some of Bannon’s allies inside the administration to exit with him. Bannon works closely with a number of White House officials, including national security aide Sebastian Gorka and assistant Julia Hahn. 

Regardless, he's going to be causing trouble for years.  We'll see who's left standing in this game of musical racists when the tune stops playing.
Continue reading the main story

The Battle Of Lexington, Con't

While Gov. Matt Bevin is doubling down on refusing to remove Jefferson Davis's statue from the State Capitol in Frankfort, the rest of the Bluegrass State is moving on without him.  Lexington's City Council has unanimously voted to follow through with Mayor Jim Gray's request to move two Confederate statues.

Government leaders in Kentucky's second-largest city took a decisive stand Thursday night in favor of moving two Confederate statues from their prominent places outside a former courthouse being converted into a visitors center.

The proposal to relocate statues honoring Confederate officers John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge won unanimous approval from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council after nearly three hours of public testimony that overwhelmingly supported the resolution.

The statues will not be moved immediately, CBS affiliate WKYT reports. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has 30 days to pick a new location. 
The action showed the city is "taking responsibility to do the right thing," Gray said.
"Confronting our history is often difficult ... and uncomfortable," Gray said. "We all know, in many ways, this war is unfinished. It did not put an end to the vicious and violent reach of unrepentant racism. An important step we can take toward finishing it means facing up to our history."

People in the packed council room stood and applauded after the vote. 
The council's action isn't the final word on the issue. The city still has to ask a state military heritage commission for permission.

The problem is 4 of the 5 members of the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission are state officials appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin, and serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

In 2002 the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission was created by an act of the General Assembly as an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Kentucky but attached to the Kentucky Heritage Council for administrative and support purposes. The commission consists of the Adjutant General, the State Historic Preservation Officer, the Director of the Kentucky Historical Society, the Director of the Commission on Military Affairs and the Commissioner of the Department of Veteran's Affairs. 
As a means of protection, the commission is charged with maintaining a registry of Kentucky military heritage sites and objects significant to the military history of the Commonwealth. The commission accepts requests from the public for designation of military heritage sites and objects – including buildings, monuments and community resources – that represent all eras of Kentucky’s military history. Most sites registered by the commission are military monuments and memorials, but the legislation gives the commission some latitude as to what may be considered for recognition.

Once accepted to the registry, these sites and objects by law cannot be damaged or destroyed, removed or significantly altered, other than for repair or renovation, without the written consent of the commission. Failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each subsequent offense.

All but the Director of the Kentucky Historical Society are appointed by Bevin and moving the statues will require at least three members, if not all five.

This same commission stopped the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue years ago, so who knows what will happen now.  The point is the commission was created to prevent cities in Kentucky from doing this in the first place.

We'll see, but I'm betting Bevin's office has already been on the phone to most of these members telling them what he expects.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Last Call For The Lowest Common Trumpnominator

If you want to know why Donald Trump turned his Charlottesville press conference into a stirring round of "what about the violent left?" it's because the vast majority of Republicans agree with him.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans consider the attack that led to loss of life in Charlottesville an act of "domestic terrorism," a view that spans partisan lines. But President Trump's response to Charlottesville finds more division. 

He gets majority disapproval overall for his response to the events, while most Republicans approve. Republicans interviewed following Tuesday's press conference also feel Mr. Trump is assigning blame accurately in the matter, while Democrats and Independents, and the country overall, disagree. 
Post-Tuesday afternoon, views on the president's description of events are tightly tied to overall views of his handling of the matter. Independents and Democrats, and the country overall, feel his description of blame in the events is inaccurate; Republicans feel it is accurate. 
Interviewing for this poll began the night before Tuesday's press conference and continued for two nights after it. Disapproval of the president's handling of events rose following the press conference. 
Republicans interviewed prior to Tuesday's press conference were at 68% approval of President Trump's overall handling of the response to Charlottesville and 66% following it — ending up at 67% approval. 
Democrats were at 12% approval prior to the Tuesday conference and ended up at 10% approval.

Trump doesn't care because the people who elected him don't care, and the party he controls refuses to do anything about him.

They never will.

All of them have to go.

Race Bannon And The Temple Of Boom

Either Steve Bannon is daring Donald Trump to fire him in order to put this fight with National Security Adviser HR McMaster and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to bed, or Bannon's getting out to go back to Breitbart to help Trump from the outside.  I'm not sure which one yet, but Bannon burned all his bridges in an interview with the American Prospect's Robert Kuttner published last night.

Needless to say, I was a little stunned to get an email from Bannon’s assistant midday Tuesday, just as all hell was breaking loose once again about Charlottesville, saying that Bannon wished to meet with me. I’d just published a column on how China was profiting from the U.S.-North Korea nuclear brinkmanship, and it included some choice words about Bannon’s boss. 
“In Kim, Trump has met his match,” I wrote. “The risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962.” Maybe Bannon wanted to scream at me? 
I told the assistant that I was on vacation, but I would be happy to speak by phone. Bannon promptly called. 
Far from dressing me down for comparing Trump to Kim, he began, “It’s a great honor to finally track you down. I’ve followed your writing for years and I think you and I are in the same boat when it comes to China. You absolutely nailed it.” 
“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.” 
Bannon said he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote. Given that China is not likely to do much more on North Korea, and that the logic of mutually assured destruction was its own source of restraint, Bannon saw no reason not to proceed with tough trade sanctions against China. 
Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim. 
To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we're five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we'll never be able to recover.” 
Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.” 
But what about his internal adversaries, at the departments of State and Defense, who think the United States can enlist Beijing’s aid on the North Korean standoff, and at Treasury and the National Economic Council who don’t want to mess with the trading system? 
“Oh, they’re wetting themselves,” he said, explaining that the Section 301 complaint, which was put on hold when the war of threats with North Korea broke out, was shelved only temporarily, and will be revived in three weeks. As for other cabinet departments, Bannon has big plans to marginalize their influence. 
I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

Trashing McMaster, Kelly, and the Pentagon while vowing that he runs Tillerson's China policy at state?  The boss isn't going to like this one bit and yet Trump was busy screaming at Arizona's senators (and Lindsey Graham) this morning ahead of Trump's planned rally in Phoenix on Tuesday.

Bannon knows what he's doing.  What he's trying to accomplish I'm not sure of yet, but he knew damn well what he was saying to a liberal reporter like Kuttner.

I asked Bannon about the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it. Bannon, after all, was the architect of the strategy of using Breitbart to heat up white nationalism and then rely on the radical right as Trump’s base. 
He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.” 
These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added. 
From his lips to Trump’s ear. 
The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Like I said, Bannon knows full well what he's saying here.  The question is why.

Or hey, maybe Bannon is just crashing and burning.

Trump's Race To The Bottom

Donald Trump's inner circle isn't even bothering to hide its open support for white supremacists anymore.  They simply don't care because they know Republicans won't lift a finger to stop him. Anyone who does won't have a political career.

President Trump’s personal lawyer on Wednesday forwarded an email to conservative journalists, government officials and friends that echoed secessionist Civil War propaganda and declared that the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”

The email forwarded by John Dowd, who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England. Its subject line — “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville” — was a reference to comments Mr. Trump made earlier this week in the aftermath of protests in the Virginia college town.

“You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”

The contents of the email are at the heart of a roiling controversy over race and history that turned deadly last weekend in Charlottesville, where white nationalist groups clashed with protesters over the planned removal of a statue of Lee. An Ohio man with ties to white nationalist groups drove his car through a crowd, killing one woman and injuring many others, authorities say.

In a fiery news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Trump blamed “both sides” for that violence. He said many of those who opposed the statue’s removal were good people protesting the loss of their culture, and he questioned whether taking down statues of Lee could lead to monuments of Washington also being r

His words were widely criticized in Washington but were praised by white supremacists, including a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Mr. Dowd received the email on Tuesday night and forwarded it on Wednesday morning to more than two dozen recipients, including a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, The Wall Street Journal editorial page and journalists at Fox News and The Washington Times. There is no evidence that any of the journalists used the contents of the email in their coverage. One of the recipients provided a copy to The New York Times.

You’re sticking your nose in my personal email?” Mr. Dowd told The Times in a brief telephone interview. “People send me things. I forward them.” He then hung up.

The email’s author, Jerome Almon, runs several websites alleging government conspiracies and arguing that the F.B.I. has been infiltrated by Islamic terrorists. He once unsuccessfully sued the State Department for $900 million over claims of discrimination.

Mr. Almon’s email said that Black Lives Matter, a group that formed to protest the use of force by police against African-Americans, is being directed by terrorists. Mr. Almon blamed the group for deadly violence against police last year in Texas and Louisiana.

The email’s comparison of secessionists to the nation’s Founding Fathers echoes an early Confederate rallying cry, said Judith Giesberg, a Villanova University historian and editor of The Journal of the Civil War Era. Washington’s face appeared on Confederate money, she said, and secessionists were eager to place their rebellion in the context of the American Revolution.

“The first states to secede drew a straight line back to the Revolution,” she said in a telephone interview. “They said they were the inheritors of this revolutionary tradition that traces back to Washington.”

Mr. Almon listed several reasons Lee is no different from Washington. “Both rebelled against the ruling government,” the email reads, adding, “Both saved America.”

Mr. Almon, who is black, said in his email to Mr. Dowd that the protesters should “go back to the ghettos and do raise their children and rebuild places like Detroit.”

Jerome Almon has been in the Sunken Place for a while now.   But notice that "Black Lives Matter are terrorists" is a standing theme with this regime.  It really won't be long before Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions act on that.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Confederate Commonwealth Of Bevinstan

Trump needs to resign.  KY GOP Gov. Matt Bevin needs to join him.

Gov. Matt Bevin appeared to change his position Tuesday on moving the statue of Jefferson Davis — the president of the Confederate States of America — from the rotunda of the state capitol building in Frankfort. 
While campaigning for governor in 2015 he said the Davis statue should be removed, and that “parts of our history are more appropriately displayed in museums, not on government property.” However, in a radio interview Tuesday morning he said that he absolutely disagrees with attempts to remove confederate statues, calling it the “sanitization of history.” 
In a press conferencelater that day, Bevin denied that statement, saying, “I said ‘revisionist history.’ Again, ‘sanitize’ is your word.” The governor also said that he never supported removing confederate monuments from government property, comparing this “dangerous precedent” to that of genocidal movements of the past. 
When you look at what people like a Pol Pot did, or a Stalin did, or a Hitler did, one of the first things you do is you remove any semblance of culture and of history, you try to be revisionist,” said Bevin. “You look what people are doing with ISIS, with the destruction of any kind of history of a different culture when they move into a new territory. I think it is a very dangerous precedent to pretend that your history is not your history.” 
Sen. McConnell had also come out in support of moving the Davis statue in 2015, but unlike Bevin, his spokesman Robert Steurer told IL that the senator still stands by his statement. 
Brad Bowman, the spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, issued a statement expressing support for moving the confederate statues in Frankfort and Lexington: “We are not sanitizing history. We are standing against racism, hate and bigotry. This issue rises above politics. We owe that to every Kentuckian.” 
In the same press conference on Tuesday, Bevin also said that it was important to call out any bigotry, whether it comes from a white nationalist or “if it comes from a Black Lives Matter person.” 
There should be no tolerance of people that are intolerant of other people as it relates to their race — in this case is what we’re talking about, supremacy of either side of the equation,” said Bevin. “The people can pretend there’s not two sides. There’s people that are as hateful of people based on their color on all sides of the color spectrum. It’s unacceptable, unacceptable.”

Bevin's twin false equivalence arguments, that 1) removing Confederate monuments is "erasure of history" that only tyrants and terrorists do, and that 2) Black Lives Matter and other groups standing up to white supremacists are just as violent somehow, are both part and parcel of the white supremacist playbook.  The goal is to normalize these views and it's yet another example of Republicans moving to demonize their political opponents for daring to oppose them.

Why Gov. Bevin would make these demonstrably false arguments especially given Donald Trump's awful behavior is beyond my comprehension other than to lead one to believe that Bevin too sympathizes with white supremacist traitors who lost a civil war 150 years ago over the continuation of slavery.

As such, I expect his swift resignation from his office in Frankfort.

This won't happen of course, but this is another direct effect of Trump's garbage: other Republicans are copying his racist nonsense.

How many will continue to get away with it?  The worse the Kentucky Democrats are saying is that we need to "rise above politics".

That's not going to cut it, guys.

Hope And No Change With Trump

After the disaster that was Hurricane Scaramucci blew through the White House last month, it looks like long-time Trump loyalist Hope Hicks will be named as the Trump regime's new Minister of Propaganda.

President Donald Trump has struggled to find staff that will work with him. Famously, he blew through a communications director Anthony Scaramucci in less than two weeks. Perhaps that is why he’s decided to name longtime loyalist Hope Hicks to the post.

The Daily Caller cites a White House insider that revealed 28-year-old Hicks has accepted the position. The former model has stayed close to Trump’s side, though largely out of the spotlight. She has been doing “strategic communications” for Trump since entering the White House, according to her Twitter biography.

Hicks drew criticism in July after it was disclosed that her salary is equal to the senior-most aides in the White House, despite having little experience.

Hicks previously worked for Trump and was named among the top 30 under 30 by Forbes.

GQ's Olivia Nuzzi profiled Hicks last year, Trump's personal press secretary, who had zero political experience (like her boss!) and found herself thrust into the role, is extremely reclusive and has remained so while the professionals all have fallen by the wayside for not being sufficiently loyal to Dear Leader.

Hicks's big job in politics started—not that long ago—with a comparatively tiny gig in Trump Tower. In 2012, two years after she'd graduated from Southern Methodist, Hicks was working for a New York PR shop when she was dispatched to help one of the firm's major clients: Ivanka Trump.

At the time, Trump's daughter was expanding her fashion line, and Hicks was enlisted to pitch in—and even do a bit of modeling, appearing online in a practical mint-colored dress, black clutch, and heels, all from the Ivanka Trump collection.

Hicks grew close to Ivanka and began dressing like the heiress, who seemed worthy of the emulation. Ivanka was that rare female corporate leader who is also kind to other women, and she affected an air of competence that seemed to temper the boorishness of the Trump brand. Conveniently, as Hicks ingratiated herself to Ivanka, she won over The Donald as well—helped by the eager-to-please disposition she'd displayed since childhood.

In Greenwich, Connecticut, as a kid, she was an athlete and a model who—after appearing in a Ralph Lauren ad—told a local magazine she intended to be an actress. By high school she was swimming, rowing, and captaining the lacrosse team. (She'd go on to play on SMU's club team.) Kylie Burchell, Hicks's lacrosse coach, recalled her as one of the only players to abide by a no-alcohol policy. “I think the girls were annoyed at her a little bit,” she said. “She was trying to be a leader. She was showing by example what to do.” She wasn’t always so earnest, however. In her senior yearbook, she mistakenly attributed the words of Eleanor Roosevelt—“The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams”—to Jimmy Buffett.

That Hicks, a pretty young lady from a tony town, would gravitate toward PR after college might have seemed obvious. Warranted or not, the PR Girl has become a kind of stereotype—the land-bound stewardess of the aughts. A profession thought to require little more than the ability to walk in a pair of Louboutins and harass people via e-mail. But the sorority-girl caricature wasn't what Hicks had in mind, or in her pedigree. In addition to her father, Paul, who directed PR at the NFL and now works for the D.C. power firm Glover Park Group, both of Hicks's grandfathers worked in public relations.

After meeting Matthew Hiltzik, a New York PR shark, in 2011, Hicks landed a job at his firm. It was here that she began working with Ivanka, putting her in the orbit of The Donald, who was quickly impressed. “I thought Hope was outstanding,” Trump told me, recalling his decision to tell Hiltzik that he was poaching Hicks to work for him. In Trump's telling, Hiltzik was powerless to deny him what he wanted. “I wouldn't say he was thrilled,” Trump told me, “but, you know, we give him a lot of business.” (Hiltzik says the parting was amicable all around.)

So Hicks joined the team at Trump Tower in October 2014, without any idea her new boss intended to become president. Or that she had just signed on to his campaign.

Now the "PR girl from Connecticut" is more than happy to manage Trump's messaging machine just a day after Trump sided with neo-Nazi white supremacists in Virginia.  And she's more than happy to still work for the man.

It tells you everything I need to know about her and the rest of Trump's employees.


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