Thursday Reads: Trump Continues to Threaten U.S. Democracy

Good Morning!!

I wish I could stop reading and writing about Donald Trump; but I can’t, because he continues to be a serious threat to U.S. Democracy. Yesterday was the six-month anniversary of the Capitol insurrection that Trump incited. Republicans are pretending it was no big deal, and Trump is moving toward celebrating it as a patriotic exercise. 

Over the weekend, Trump began demanding the name of the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt and defending her actions on January 6. From Philip Bump at The Washington Post:

The man who shot Babbitt has become a target of fury as Babbitt has increasingly been cast as something of a martyr for the day’s cause. Because that cause was Trumpism, Trump himself has spoken of Babbitt more and more often.

At a rally in Florida over the weekend, he demanded to make public the name of the person who had fired the bullet.

“People know the name. People know where he came from,” he said. “Now if that were on the other side” — meaning, not on Trump’s side — “the person who did the shooting would be strung up and hung.”

He reiterated the theme at a news conference on Wednesday.

“The person that shot Ashli Babbitt — boom, right through the head,” Trump said. “Just, boom. … They’ve already written it off. They said that case is closed. If that were the opposite, that case would be going on for years and years, and it would not be pretty.”

(Babbitt was not shot in the head. She was shot in the neck.)

Importantly, Trump also said that there was “no reason” for Babbitt’s having been shot. When protesters were outside the White House in May 2020, crossing the fence would have meant being mauled by dogs or otherwise being “really badly hurt, at least.” But a member of a huge, violent mob surging into a secure area of the Capitol that tried to press forward toward evacuating legislators? No reason for law enforcement to use deadly force.

This, at its heart, is Trump’s view of justice. Those on his side are exempt from accountability for their actions. Those on the other side, however, most be dealt with harshly — more harshly than the law allows.

Trump also demanded to know why people who participated in the insurrection are still in jail. It’s obvious that he is trying to recast the attack on the Capitol as a patriotic effort to save democracy, and many Republicans will follow his lead. It’s already happening in Florida. Raw Story: Florida GOP rally will call for release of ‘political prisoners’ charged in Capitol insurrection.

One week after former president Donald Trump visited Florida and questioned why so many accused Capitol rioters are still in jail, his supporters in the Sunshine State will gather on Saturday to call for the release of “political prisoners” charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Florida has more people charged in the insurrection than any other state, including the most defendants connected to right-wing groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Saturday’s “Free Our Patriots Rally in Tally” outside the state Capitol will call on Republican Gov. Ron Desantis “to demand immediate release of the incarcerated patriots and to use all the power and leverage at his disposal to make this happen.”

The event is being organized in part by Luis Miguel, a far-right candidate who is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary.

“Folks, The patriots who have been hunted down by the corrupt, communist FBI are suffering,” Miguel wrote on Twitter. “Many of them are veterans who fought for this nation. Let’s do our part to ensure they’re liberated. We can’t allow this in America. Be there at the Florida Capitol July 10.”

Another organizer of the rally is Angel Harrelson, the wife of former Army Sgt. Kenneth Troy Harrelson, an admitted member of the Oath Keepers who remains behind bars after being charged in the insurrection.

Angel Harrelson told a YouTube radio program this week that among other things, she plans to play a recording of her husband and other alleged insurrectionists singing the national anthem over the phone from jail.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: The Chilling Message of Trump’s Embrace of Ashli Babbitt Martyrdom.

Babbitt’s death, while tragic, occurred for a very good reason. The Air Force veteran, who had been fully converted into the most dangerous and fantastical pro-Trump conspiracy theories, had joined the aggressive vanguard of the January 6 insurrection. Babbitt died trying to squeeze through the smashed window of a barricaded door that led to the inner sanctum where members of Congress were hiding from the mob.

Talia Lavin’s profile of Babbitt, in the current issue of the magazine, notes her emergence as a martyr on the far right. As Lavin points out, Babbitt is not the only Trump supporter who lost her life during the insurrection. Rosanne Boyland also died, but the manner of her death — trampling by the mob — does not serve the same propagandistic purpose. The whole point of Babbitt’s centrality is that she was leading the mob violently forward toward its goal of threatening or killing officials who refused to cooperate with their objective of overturning the election result.

It is revealing that Trump has only taken up Babbitt’s cause now, six months after the insurrection. In the immediate aftermath of the riot, Republicans were briefly furious enough to contemplate writing Trump out of the party and even voting to impeach him. Then they decided not to expunge him, and to hope the ugly events simply faded from memory. A few months later, they decided to purge Liz Cheney, allegedly because she refused to let go of the insurrection. Shortly after that, the party voted to block a bipartisan investigation of the insurrection.

All the political momentum is on Trump’s side. He has slowly turned January 6 from a black mark that threatened to expunge him from Republican politics, to a regrettable episode that his allies preferred to leave behind, to a glorious uprising behind which he could rally his adherents….

By throwing himself behind this message, Trump is endorsing the most radical interpretation of his presidency. January 6 was not a minor misstep after a successful era, as fans like Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham now say. It was the heroic culmination of a righteous uprising.

Wajahat Ali at The Daily Beast: Why Trump Is Anointing Ashli Babbitt as MAGA’s First Martyr.

We’ve all heard the old adage that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

With Ashli BabbittDonald Trump and the GOP have found a perfect martyr to rationalize their perpetual victimhood and inspire future “freedom fighters” to assist in their full-scale assault on democracy.

Babbitt was one of thousands of Trump supporters who decided to join the violent insurrection on Jan. 6 and overrun the U.S. Capitol in hopes of canceling a free and fair election. She was shot by a Capitol police officer while climbing through a broken window on a door that led to the Speaker’s Lobby. She died while wearing a Trump flag as a cape.

The pointless death of the 35-year-old Air Force veteran came in the service of Trump’s Big Lie, but his party has shown no contrition. Rather, Republicans are cynically exploiting her death to fuel their dangerous quest for power at all costs.

In April, the police officer who fatally shot Babbitt was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. His identity has not been released due to death threats that inevitably increased after Trump released a one-line statement last week asking “Who Shot Ashli Babbit?” That echoed Rep. Paul Gosar, an ally of avowed white supremacists, who accused the police officer of supposedly “lying in wait” to “execute” Babbitt….

The pointless death of the 35-year-old Air Force veteran came in the service of Trump’s Big Lie, but his party has shown no contrition. Rather, Republicans are cynically exploiting her death to fuel their dangerous quest for power at all costs….

The goal is to keep enraging and confusing their base, convince them of a far-reaching “Deep State” conspiracy committed to depriving them of power and glory and “replacing” them, and deflect from the Jan. 6 investigations that will further document the extremist elements embedded within the GOP and conservative movement.

Ali argues that Babbitt is the perfect martyr for Trump’s and the GOP’s purposes.

Babbitt—a woman, a wife, an Air Force veteran, and a true believer for Trump who, according to them, was “assassinated” by the “Deep State”—is an ideal character to glorify in death for a conservative movement that has turned into a racket and cult, a “victim” who can no longer speak for herself and can thus embody whatever fiction and grievance they want to promote.

On right-wing social media platforms she is being called “the first victim of the second Civil War” and a “freedom fighter.” Until last week, Sears and Kmart were selling “Ashli Babbitt American Patriot” T-shirts on their websites. Even Vladimir Putin is getting in on the action to deflect from his own abuses of power. When asked by NBC News’ Keir Simmons if he ordered the assassination of political dissident Alexei Navalny, Putin hit back, “Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?”

How comforting to know that Putin shares the same script and talking points as Trump, Gosar, and right-wing media personalities.

Ultimately, the purpose of anointing Ashli Babbitt, and demonizing the officer who shot her in the process, is to justify the GOP’s goal of attacking our democratic institutions to ensure minority rule. If the base believes that they are being prosecuted, oppressed and even “assassinated” like Babbitt, then they will justify any and all means to reject Democratic rule and future elections that deprive them of power.

There’s no doubt that U.S. democracy is in danger as long as Republicans remain in thrall to Trump. I’ll end with this piece from NBC News: What’s keeping democracy experts up most at night? An overturned election.

There’s no legal avenue for Trump to reverse the 2020 results. But a half-dozen scholars who study democracy and election laws told NBC News they are increasingly worried that 2024 could be a repeat of 2020, only with a party further remade in the former president’s image and better equipped to sow disorder during the process and even potentially overturn the results.

“Obviously the insurrection was horrific in its violence and assault on democracy, but it didn’t disrupt the true winner of the election,” said Edward B. Foley, a professor at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University who researches election law. “What you don’t want is it to have been a rehearsal.”

Nightmare scenarios include local or state officials refusing to certify votes, governors and state legislatures submitting electoral votes that disagree with each other or overrule the apparent vote counts, fights over the legitimacy of judges overseeing the process and the House and Senate disagreeing on the winner. A chaotic transition could create an opening for further violence, either from extremists attempting to disrupt the process again or mass unrest if the winner is viewed as illegitimate.

“We should not pretend these dangers are fantastical or that these are absurd hypotheticals,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “Given what we saw Trump actually do in 2020, these things are now within the realm of possibility and need to be legislated against and organized against so we have a fair election process going forward.”

A bit more:

New and proposed laws in states like Georgia and Arizona have sought to wrest power from state and local election officials, some of whom played a role in resisting the former president’s demands last election.

Republicans face significant pressure from their base to make these types of systemic changes — and potentially go much further. Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the New America foundation, released survey data last month that found 46 percent of Republicans supported empowering state legislatures to overturn election results in states President Joe Biden won, as Trump demanded they do in 2020….

Some observers worry the party’s increased willingness to even entertain these scenarios could create perverse incentives in which state or local officials try to boost the odds of a poorly administered election that would give partisan leaders more flexibility to intervene….

In 2020, every governor and state legislature accepted the election results, but the midterms could reshuffle the landscape. Trump has sought to punish Republican incumbents like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with primary challenges. Trump has also lashed out at otherwise supportive Republican legislators in states like Wisconsin and Michigan who have affirmed the results.

“The fact that it held in 2020 doesn’t guarantee it will hold in 2024,” Omar Wasow, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University, said. “You need ethical people in these jobs, and we’re seeing a lot of ethical people leaving in part because they’ve been threatened or attacked by partisans or because the level of vitriol they’ve been subject to is not worth the effort.”

The whole article is well worth reading.

That’s it for me today. Please let me know what you think. As always, this is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.

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Good Afternoon!!

The images in today’s post are from Art Pro Cats at Tumblr.com.

I know I shouldn’t be distracted by Trump’s insistent bragging about his cognitive ability, but I just can’t help it. Humor is one of the only ways I can stay sane these days. In my last post, which I mistakenly titled “Tuesday Reads,” I posted a video of Trump describing how well he did on the “test” (it’s not really a test). I don’t know if you watched it, but it’s truly bizarre how messed up this man is and how hard the Fox News interviewer works to hide his incredulity. Here’s Sarah Cooper’s take on it:

Yes, this is a distraction from Trump’s attempt to install an authoritarian dictatorship in the U.S., and his failure to protect us from the coronavirus pandemic, but I think I’m still “cognitively there” enough to both question his mental health and keep up with his authoritarian activities and his bumbling on the virus response. And shouldn’t journalists also be dealing with all of these issues? Susan Glasser at The New Yorker:

The fact that Trump is so manifestly, obviously unfit for office may be one of the most striking aspects of his Presidency, but it is one of the hardest things for journalists to write about—or would be, except that he himself keeps bringing it up. That Trump even took the cognitive test suggests that he, or his doctor, was concerned about his mental decline, as the neurologist who created it, Dr. Ziad Nasreddine, told the Washington Post this week. It’s hard to imagine a candidate in full command of his faculties who would make a point of publicly inviting comment on his mental capacity to do the job. Trump, meanwhile, is doing so in the midst of a campaign that he is already losing, at a time when polls show that a majority of voters do not think he has the “mental sharpness” to be President, as a recent ABC News/Washington Post survey put it. (It is notable in and of itself that the pollsters are even asking this question, which is hardly a routine query. Can you imagine a survey asking voters this question about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? Or Bill Clinton or Al Gore or the George Bushes?)

Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, is out with a best-selling new book, which claims that, in addition to whatever age-related impairment he may be suffering from, the President has an undiagnosed learning disability that hampers his processing and absorption of information—another elephant in the room that is impossible to ignore when Trump visibly struggles to read written remarks, as he did several times this week. “I don’t think he’s fit for office,” Trump’s former national-security adviser, John Bolton, said while on book tour last month. “I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job.”

Beyond these ever-harder-to-ignore questions about Trump’s basic fitness to handle the complexities of the Presidency, there is an entire public debate over his mental health. A preening narcissist in the best of times, Trump’s lifelong self-absorption, lack of empathy, chronic untruthfulness, and apparent inability to distinguish right from wrong have led hundreds of psychiatrists to break with their profession’s rule against diagnosis without examination and call Trump mentally ill.

More about Trump’s obsession with proving he’s not cognitively impaired from Jonathan Lemire at the Associated Press: Cognitive Test. Trump. Biden. Campaign. Flashpoint.

It doesn’t quite have the ring of “Morning in America” and “I Like Ike.”

But the phrase “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” is getting an unlikely moment in the spotlight as President Donald Trump has taken a detour into the politics of dementia three months before the election.

Trump, 74, attempted to demonstrate his mental fitness by reciting five words — in order, importantly — over and over in a television interview broadcast Wednesday night. The president said that collection of nouns, or ones like them, was part of a cognitive test he had aced while declaring that his likely Democratic opponent, 77-year-old Joe Biden, could not do the same.

Lemire talked to an expert about the test that Trump supposedly “aced.”:

Painting by David Martiashvili

The MoCa “is a screening test,” Galvin said. “It’s not a diagnostic test. And more importantly, it’s not an IQ test. It doesn’t tell how smart someone is. It’s designed to be a relatively easy test because what you want to do is pick up people who have problems or possible problems.”

The last questions are not the hardest for most people, and they are usually naming the day of the week, date, month, year and where the person being tested is, Galvin said. The test does not get harder as it goes along but measures different parts of cognition, like memory, attention, spatial awareness and language. Additionally, the words the president cited would not be grouped together because they are all in some way related to one another, he said.

And the real concern would be if a subject did not do well on the test.

“I think he’s thinking of it like some sort of IQ test or SAT test, something along those lines. But it’s not anything like that. It’s just basic,” said Dr. Raymond Turner, professor of neurology and director of Georgetown University’s Memory Disorders Program. “It’s kind of a low bar to jump over. It’s not necessarily something to brag about unless you are worried about decline or something.”

I don’t know about you, but I think having a “president” who acts like a confused child is a serious issue and I’m glad journalists are finally writing about it. Anyway, on to other news.

Here’s the latest on the pandemic from Reuters: U.S. records 2,600 new coronavirus cases every hour as total surpasses 4 million.

U.S. coronavirus cases topped 4 million on Thursday, with over 2,600 new cases every hour on average, the highest rate in the world, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections in the United States have rapidly accelerated since the first case was detected on Jan. 21. It took the country 98 days to reach 1 million cases. It took another 43 days to reach 2 million and then 27 days to reach 3 million. It has only taken 16 days to reach 4 million at a rate of 43 new cases a minute….

Of the 20 countries with the biggest outbreak, the United States ranks second for cases per capita, at 120 infections per 10,000 people, only exceeded by Chile.

With over 143,000 deaths, or 4.4 fatalities per 10,000 people, the United States ranks sixth globally for the highest deaths per capita. It is exceeded by the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Chile and France.

Globally, the rate of new infections shows no sign of slowing, with the disease accelerating the fastest in the United States and South America, according to the Reuters tally, based on official reports.

It’s breathtaking, and Trump is responsible for all this sickness and death. It didn’t have to be this way.

Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer on the backs of sick and dying Americans. The New York Times: Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine.

On June 26, a small South San Francisco company called Vaxart made a surprise announcement: A coronavirus vaccine it was working on had been selected by the U.S. government to be part of Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19.

Vaxart’s shares soared. Company insiders, who weeks earlier had received stock options worth a few million dollars, saw the value of those awards increase sixfold. And a hedge fund that partly controlled the company walked away with more than $200 million in instant profits.

The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions — or even billions — of doses to a desperate public.

“Hello” Acrylic painting on Canvas by Victoria Coleman

Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are capitalizing on that dynamic.

They are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times by Equilar, a data provider.

In some cases, company insiders are profiting from regularly scheduled compensation or automatic stock trades. But in other situations, senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress.

Read more at the NYT link.

The battle between Federal agents and protesters continues in Portland. The New York Times: Federal Agents Push Into Portland Streets, Stretching Limits of Their Authority.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After flooding the streets around the federal courthouse in Portland with tear gas during Friday’s early morning hours, dozens of federal officers in camouflage and tactical gear stood in formation around the front of the building.

Then, as one protester blared a soundtrack of “The Imperial March,” the officers started advancing. Through the acrid haze, they continued to fire flash grenades and welt-inducing marble-size balls filled with caustic chemicals. They moved down Main Street and continued up the hill, where one of the agents announced over a loudspeaker: “This is an unlawful assembly.”

By the time the security forces halted their advance, the federal courthouse they had been sent to protect was out of sight — two blocks behind them.

The aggressive incursion of federal officers into Portland has been stretching the legal limits of federal law enforcement, as agents with batons and riot gear range deep into the streets of a city whose leadership has made it clear they are not welcome.

“I think it’s absolutely improper,” Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said in an interview on Friday. “It’s absolutely beyond their authority.”

The state lost its bid on Friday for a restraining order against four federal agencies on the grounds that the state attorney general lacked standing, but several other challenges are still making their way through the courts.

I’ll end with this sobering piece from opinion columnist Roger Cohen at The New York Times: American Catastrophe Through German Eyes.

PARIS — No people has found the American lurch toward authoritarianism under President Trump more alarming than the Germans. For postwar Germany, the United States was savior, protector and liberal democratic model. Now, Germans, in shock, speak of the “American catastrophe.”

A recent cover of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel portrays Trump in the Oval Office holding a lighted match, with a country ablaze visible through his window. The headline: “Der Feuerteufel,” or, literally, “the Fire Devil.”

Germans have a particular relationship to fire. The Reichstag fire of 1933 enabled Hitler and the Nazis to scrap the fragile Weimar democracy that had brought them to power. Hitler’s murderous fantasies could now become reality. War, Auschwitz and the German catastrophe followed….

Michael Steinberg, a professor of history at Brown University and the former president of the American Academy in Berlin, wrote to me this week:

“The American catastrophe seems to get worse every day, but the events in Portland have particularly alarmed me as a kind of strategic experiment for fascism. The playbook from the German fall of democracy in 1933 seems well in place, including rogue military factions, the destabilization of cities, etc.”

Steinberg continued, “The basic comparison involves racism as a political strategy: a racist imaginary of a pure homeland, with cities demonized as places of decadence.”

Trump provokes outrage in a cascade designed to blunt alarm. He deadens reactions through volume and repetition. But something about the recent use of unmarked cars and camouflage-clad federal agents without clear identifying insignia detaining protesters shattered any inclination to shrug.

From the deployment of those federal units in Portland, Oregon’s largest city, where protesters have been demanding racial justice and police accountability, it’s not a huge leap to the use of paramilitaries (like the German Freikorps in the 1920s) to buttress a “Law and Order” campaign. The Freikorps battled communists. Today, Trump claims to battle “anarchists,” “terrorists” and violent leftists. It’s the leitmotif of his quest for a second term.

Take care of yourselves Sky Dancers, and enjoy the weekend as best you can.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Dealing With Trump Stress

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Good Morning!!

I’m illustrating this post with baby animals and their mothers, because I’m just about to the point that I need to sleep with a teddy bear at night because of the stress of this presidential election. Donald Trump is holding most of the country hostage as he holes up with his misogynistic, racist, xenophobic white supremacist advisers planning for campaign rallies in which he addresses his shrinking band of loud and angry fans with paranoid, insane monologues about how the media, the Republican “establishment,” “the Clintons” and a supposed “global conspiracy” are trying to rob him of the presidency. It’s all getting to be too much, and we still have 23 days to go before election day.

It has gotten so bad that American Psychological Association is offering tips on how to deal with election stress. The Washington Post reports:

Weeks before The Washington Post made that 2005 video of Donald Trump public, before Trump supporters were interrupting Hillary Clinton rallies by screaming that Bill Clinton is a rapist, before Trump told Clinton to her face that she should be in jail, Americans were already seriously stressed out by this election.

In August, the American Psychological Association included a question in its annual Stress in America survey about this election. It released the results of that particular query on Thursday, and it found that more than half of U.S. adults, regardless of party, felt very or somewhat stressed by the election.

One can only imagine that what’s transpired over the past week has intensified the disgust, anxiety and disbelief felt by so many Americans.

The poll found that people older than 71 are the most stressed out and millennials are the next most “angst-ridden” group. They also found that people who use social media are among the most highly stressed groups.

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The suggestions for dealing with the situation are about what you’d expect: Turn off the TV and stop reading the news when it feels like too much and get some exercise or spend time with people you care about; avoid talking to others about politics; think about volunteering or joining a local political group; try not to catastrophize about possible results of the election; and be sure to vote.

Or you could start going to gym, get a professional trainer, do those popular workouts like the russian squat program. Stress-free and healthy at the same time.

Unfortunately, if I could tear myself away from the media coverage and social media, I wouldn’t feel like me anymore. But I’m trying to find ways to stay centered. Like Dakinikat, I’m having life worries too, so it’s all so difficult.

Was yesterday the worst day in the campaign so far? If not, it would have to be close. Trump gave two speeches in which he behaved like a madman, screaming about “the Clintons” and the women who have said he abused them, and even tearing apart his teleprompter on stage the second event. Sopan Deb at CBS News:

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — During Donald Trump’s second rally of the day, he announced dramatically to the crowd that his teleprompter – that he had uncharacteristically relied on for months – had stopped working.

“And I notice every time I look up, they’re trying. It’s trying. It’s straining. It’s straining. Hey, get this thing out of here, will you?” Trump explained.

He physically removed the device that had been telling him what to say and proceeded to speak for nearly an hour – veering from topic to topic, in a kind of stream-of-consciousness manner. It was a rally reminiscent of the barn-burning campaign he ran in the fall.

“You know what? I like it better without the teleprompters,” Trump declared.

Trump acknowledged earlier in the day that those around him did not want him to spend a bulk of his speeches responding to the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct that have risen in recent days and weeks.

“Folks, you know my people always say, ‘Oh, don’t talk about it. Talk about jobs. Talk about the economy,’”  Trump said in Greensboro, North Carolina earlier in the day. “But I feel I have to talk about it, because you have to dispute when somebody says something, and fortunately we have the microphone. We’re able to dispute. Some people can’t.”

Trump went on to rail against accuser Jessica Leeds, implying that he couldn’t possibly have sexually assaulted her because she was too unattractive. Read more about this disgusting speech at the link.

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Jonathan Martin ticked off the low points of Trump’s day at the New York Times: Donald Trump’s Barrage of Heated Rhetoric Has Little Precedent.

There is a long tradition of presidential candidates ratcheting up their language when they are trailing in the closing weeks of an election.

But in the same fashion Donald J. Trump has broken with other political traditions, he is taking a longstanding rite of fall to new heights — or perhaps new lows.

On Thursday and Friday alone, Mr. Trump unleashed a barrage of near-apocalyptic warnings about the potential destruction of the country, broad accusations about the illegitimacy of American democracy, and crude innuendo about his opponent that is almost without precedent in modern presidential history.

He warned that Hillary Clinton was conspiring with financiers to destroy American sovereignty, claimed the fate of civilization depended on his victory and ridiculed the appearance of the one of the women accusing him of sexual harassment, while also deriding Mrs. Clinton’s looks and saying she ought to be in prison. He also said the presidential election amounted to “a big ugly lie.”

While delighting his partisans, Mr. Trump’s rhetorical shooting spree has enraged Democrats and unnerved many Republicans, who believe he is acting out a political death wish.

Please go read the rest at the NYT.

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At Slate, William Saletan has going full Godwin: Let’s just say it: Trump sounds more and more like Hitler.

In Godwin’s honor, let’s stipulate: There will never be another psychopath quite like Hitler. The German dictator preached such overt hatred, murdered so many people, and earned such infamy that every demagogue since, from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to David Duke, has learned to draw at least tactical distinctions between himself and the Führer.

Then there’s Trump. He’s a salesman, not a fanatic. He doesn’t foist his hatreds on others. Instead, he reads and plays to the resentments of his crowds. He tells them that President Obama was born in Kenya, that Ted Cruz is a Canadian-born Cuban, and that Ben Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist. Trump will go after a Mexican American judge, a Muslim Gold Star family—whatever he thinks will work.

Jews aren’t on Trump’s target list. His son-in-law and grandkids are Jewish. His daughter, Ivanka, is a Jewish convert. But Trump’s habit of retweeting alt-right material—Hillary Clinton with a Star of David, for instance—has immersed him in the muck of anti-Semitism. And in the past few days, Trump has turned to an ideology of global conspiracy that resembles the speeches of a certain politician from a century ago.

For Trump, the principal enemy is Muslims. He blames Muslim Americans collectively for domestic terrorism—falsely claiming, for instance, that many of them saw but didn’t report the preparations for last year’s attack in San Bernardino, California—and says we should never have let their parents into the country. For Hitler, the interlopers were Jews. Speaking in Munich on July 28, 1922, he lamented that they had been given German citizenship. Jews “have always formed and will form a state within the state,” said Hitler. That’s uncomfortably close to Trump’s warnings about Sharia in the United States.

Jews may not be “on Trump’s target list,” but they are on Steve Bannon’s; and it’s obvious that he’s in charge of Trump’s speeches now. Let’s not forget that Bannon and other white supremacists have openly said that they think they can influence Trump to do their bidding. Saletan goes on to compare some of Trump’s speeches to Hitler’s. Read about it at Slate.

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Now, as an antidote to all this Trump hate, please read this article–also at Slate–by L.V. Anderson: Forget This “Hillary Is Unlikable” Stuff. Hillary Is Downright Inspiring.

Expectations for this election have become so warped that the primary conclusions media commentators took away from the second debate were that it had been an ugly, uninspiring affair and that Trump didn’t lose. Let’s set aside the absurdity that a man who brought up his own tax scandal unbidden, who threatened to jail his opponent, who betrayed his absolute ignorance of the nuances of the war in Syria, and whose best zinger amounted to recalling that Abraham Lincoln’s nickname was “Honest Abe” somehow fought to a draw with his opponent. Trump was as ugly and uninspiring as usual. But here’s what people haven’t been saying in the days since the debate: Hillary was inspiring as all get out….

Put yourself in Hillary’s shoes for a moment. You’re 68 years old. You have spent decades—decades—in the public eye, absorbing criticism from every possible angle. Your opponent is an impulsive, amoral ignoramus with a long history of humiliating women. He has made it his strategy during this debate to dredge up what are probably the darkest moments of your personal life—your husband’s affairs and alleged sexual assaults—as evidence of your failures as a wife and as a woman. He has brought three of these women to sit in the front row during the debate in an attempt to throw you off guard and cow you into submission. He literally tells you to your face that he will imprison you if he wins the election.

What would you do? If I were Hillary, I would blubber incomprehensibly through my rage-tears for the duration of the debate, if I lasted onstage that long. What did Hillary do? She stood tall and looked comfortable. She listened carefully to the voters who were asking her questions and offered them empathetic, intelligent, and articulate answers. She serenely and thoughtfully enumerated the character faults that make Trump unfit for office. She laughed it off when Trump insulted her in the most personal of terms. And at the end, she complimented him on his children. Never mind that his children don’t really deserve that compliment—Hillary responded to undeniably sexist personal attacks that are unprecedented in the history of modern American politics with an inspiring level of grace and poise.

Exactly. And when Hillary is POTUS Americans will again see her positively as they did when she was a Senator and then Secretary of State.

give-your-mom-a-hug-pony-wants-piggyback-ride-from-mom

Then check out this humorous column by Alexandra Petri at the WaPo: The hideous, diabolical truth about Hillary Clinton. It’s written in the form of a chronological bio based on the right-wing conspiracies about her. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Before Time, Before the Earth Was Made, Before Matter and Being and History: Hillary Clinton (Lucifer, Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies, Prince of Darkness, Satan, She Whose Many Names the Cats Scream in the Night) is cast out of heaven for overweening hubris. She is condemned to lie in eternal torment in a lake of fire surrounded by her fallen angels, or, alternatively, to run for a major office while female. For thousands of years she lies outside time, smelling of sulfur, before deciding to undertake the second option.

Oct. 26, 1947: Hillary Clinton, a robot, is constructed by Saul Alinsky, then slipped into a bassinet and delivered to the Rodham house, where it stores its Six Human, Relatable Memories of squeegeeing, family life and honest toil.

Fall 1965: The young Hillary Clinton is replaced by a new model, this one with glasses. It retains only one of the memories, the squeegeeing. It attends Wellesley, where it decorates itself with spectacles and what conservative commentators will later describe as ONE VAST AND HIDEOUS EYEBROW LIKE A CATERPILLAR IN WHICH MANY WELSH MINERS COULD BE TRAPPED AND LOST AS IN A HORRID, THORNY FOREST.

Spring 1969: Hillary Clinton graduates from Wellesley, although first she gets in touch with Alinsky and his mentor, Satan. She fails to mention at the first meeting that she, too, is Satan, and then once they know each other it seems too awkward to bring it up. As a consequence, the Devil mentors Herself for many decades, wasting everyone’s time and effort. She also founds the Islamic State. She will toil for many years in secret on this passion project, keeping it even from Bill, whom she is about to meet. Once, during his presidency, he will ask, “Is there anything I should know about, Hills?” and she will shrug and say, “Nah.” A bit confusingly, she also begins to fight the Islamic State, which she will spend her entire adult life doing.

Please read the rest at the link.

So . . . what stories are you following? And how are you dealing with election stress? Be sure to take some for yourself this weekend.

 


Tuesday Reads: Donald Trump is A Threat to National Security and to Democracy

Trump cartoon by Matt Bors, www.gocomics.com

Trump cartoon by Matt Bors, http://www.gocomics.com

Good Afternoon!!

It’s time to break through the Overton window and speak truthfully about Donald Trump. This awful man is a national emergency. The extreme language he has been using in his campaign for President is damaging our country both domestically and internationally.

Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS and other extremists, including right wing groups here in the U.S. His words have already inspired violence and could lead to more attacks on Muslims, African Americans, and Latino-Americans. He is an embarrassment that all Americans should reject–but many won’t.

Trump can no longer be viewed as just a clown or a blowhard jerk. He is dangerous.

What if Trump somehow wins the Republican nomination? What if he actually wins the general election and his fascist ideas become White House policy? He has to be stopped. But how?

Yesterday Trump called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. Here’s his campaign press release:

(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.

Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” – Donald J. Trump

donald-trump-caricature

The hatred being spewed by Donald Trump and his advisers is what is “beyond comprehension.” It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to look at the latest news for fear there will be more ugly hateful reports on the latest speeches and statements by this evil man.

Fortunately, some Republicans are finally speaking out against him, although not very forcefully. Republicans are probably the only people who can stop this man, but they are going to have to get organized very quickly if they really hope to do it. Two Republican reactions:

Time Magazine: Speaker Paul Ryan Condemns Donald Trump’s Ban on Muslims.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants to America “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Ryan, who has been Speaker of the House for less than six weeks, had previously eschewed weighing in on presidential politics. He did so Tuesday after an announcement late Monday that Trump would no longer be participating in a Republican National Committee fundraiser later this week.

“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said in the RNC lobby on Capitol Hill. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House working every day to uphold and defend the constitution. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast vast vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism and freedom, democracy and individual rights.”

donald-trumps-ex-wife-once-said-trump-kept-a-book-of-hitlers-speeches-by-his-bed

WMUR ABC9 (Manchester, NH): State GOP chairwoman says Trump’s call to ban Muslims from U.S. is ‘un-American.’

State Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn said Monday that Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States is “un-American.” ….

Horn, who has been a frequent critic of Trump in recent months, said:

“There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position (as party chairwoman) is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American.”

All well and good.

But two top Trump supporters in New Hampshire said the controversial Republican presidential frontrunner is right.

State Reps. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and Steve Stepanek of Amherst said Horn should resign her post for criticizing Trump because she is not being neutral in the presidential primary.

Mediaite reports: Several Papers Depict Donald Trump As ‘the New Furor’ With Hitler Comparisons.

Following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘scall for a ban on all Muslim immigrantson Monday, newspapers and digital media outlets around the world responded with tired Nazi comparisons. In particular, the Philadelphia Daily Newsand the Times of Israelpaired their stories with images depicting Trump giving what looks like the infamous Nazi salute.

The Times of Israel‘s image selection was especially noticeable for two reasons, the first being that it was taken fromTrump’s speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting last week. The New York real estate magnate, standing before the crowd of conservative Jewish voters, is seen giving what looks an awful lot like Adolf Hitler‘s trademark stance.

Trump hitler philly

Excuse me? “tired Hitler comparisons?” Who else should Trump be compared to based on his language and stated policies? The Philadelphia Daily News put a photo of Trump as Hitler on its front page. From Business Insider:

The Philadelphia Daily News had a hard-hitting reaction on Tuesday to Donald Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslim immigrants and tourists from entering the US.

The tabloid’s cover directly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, using a photo of the Republican presidential front-runner with his arm raised to look like a Nazi salute. The front-page headline further used a “furor” pun to compare Trump to the German führer.

And there’s this news from Philly.com: Severed pig’s head left at N. Phila. mosque.

Philadelphia police, the FBI, and the city’s Human Relations Commission launched investigations Monday after a worker at a North Philadelphia mosque found a severed pig’s head outside its door.

Surveillance video outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, on Germantown Avenue near Jefferson Street, showed a red pickup truck drove past the building twice just before 11 p.m. Sunday.

The first time it crept along slowly near the curb. On its second pass, the video shows, someone extended an arm from the passenger window and tossed something that rolled to a stop near the mosque’s front door.

An employee found the bloodied animal head there around 6 a.m. Monday. Pigs are considered insulting to Muslims who observe halal dietary laws.

Police and the FBI confirmed they were reviewing the incident, though they said it was too early to discuss potential charges.

“We’ve got to be involved,” said Officer Pete Berndlmaier of the 26th District, who gathered information at the scene. “If they get away doing something like that, they are going to up the ante.”

Trump_Hitler_Stache-1436824509296-banner

No kidding. Just as Donald Trump keeps “upping the ante.”

According to Politico, he is “not bothered by comparisons to Hitler.”

Donald Trump went on a series of rhetorical rants on Tuesday morning, saying he does not mind comparisons to Adolf Hitler and tussling with morning show anchors about his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, calling his approach more akin to what Hitler’s American contemporary did during World War II.

“You’re increasingly being compared to Hitler. Doesn’t that give you any pause at all?” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked the Republican poll leader on “Good Morning America,” displaying an image of the Philadelphia Daily News’ punning Tuesday front-page headline “The New Furo

In response, Trump said no, invoking what he termed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese many years ago” during World War II. “This was a president that was highly respected by all,” Trump said, remarking upon the Democratic president’s actions during the war. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”

Yes, and Ronald Reagan approved reparations for Japanese Americans. But apparently Trump thinks one terrible mistake justifies his own ghastly policies.

trump-is-hitler1

And get this: Trump wants to shut down the internet to stop jihadists from communicating with each other!

The Verge: Donald Trump thinks he can call Bill Gates to ‘close up’ the internet.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just said the US should consider “closing up” the internet to curb radical extremism. Trump, a man that routinely claims everyone in charge of the US is stupid, believes that as president he could just call up Bill Gates to help him shut off the internet. Trump floated the idea at a campaign rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina tonight as a way to stop ISIS “jihadists” from recruiting Americans to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The idea is so dumb it almost has us, too, at a loss for words.

“We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet,” Trump said. “We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”

Trump may be ignorant. He may even be stupid. He’s also very dangerous.

What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: Benghazi and Violence in Israel

 Benghazi2

Good Morning!!

Hillary Clinton will testify before Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi “special committee” today, beginning at 10AM. I’m going to watch as much of the testimony as I can. If you’re watching too, please post your reactions in the comment thread. Unfortunately for Gowdy and the other GOP mutants on the joke of a committee, even the corporate media isn’t taking them seriously anymore.

From US News and World Report: The Gowdy Doody Show. Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Benghazi Committee recalls less Watergate than Whitewater, by James Warren.

Yes, boy[s] and girls, it’s Gowdy Doody Time.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, on Thursday gavels to likely disorder the long awaited House select committee hearing on Benghazi, the latest in the rich tradition of congressional spectacles that often go nowhere.

Indeed, America had far more positive anticipation when “Buffalo Bob” Smith led a cheering throng of kids in the theme song of “Howdy Doody,” a 1950s mega-TV hit named after a puppet with 48 freckles (yes, civics mavens, this was before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union)….

The investigation started as a dissection of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks by Islamic militants on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.

We’ve paid for nine different congressional and internal probes and Gowdy’s has morphed into a look at Clinton’s emails and her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Its work alone has cost about $4.6 million – if only such GOP ardor was exhibited in pursuing President George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction claims against Saddam Hussein – even though it hasn’t even interviewed most of the defense, intelligence and White House officials it promised.

Instead, it is primed to take testimony from a small army that includes Clinton, speechwriters and the guy who oversaw the server.

Gowdy and his Hillary-suspicious Republicans are so sensitive to the claim of political pandering that they have strategized privately about their own decorum and presenting themselves as sober legislators. It’s like my 6-year-old prior to his first-grade class going to a suburban Chicago pumpkin patch Monday: Everybody promised to be on their best behavior on the bus.

More at US News.

House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Yesterday commenter Sara posted a link to an excellent Newsweek opinion piece by Kurt Eichenwald: Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.

Moussa Koussa.

That is the name of the “classified source” in an old email from Hillary Clinton released last week by Republicans purportedly investigating the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Under the instructions of the Benghazi committee’s chairman, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Koussa’s name was blacked-out on the publicly issued email, as Republicans proclaimed revealing his identity would compromise national security. The media ran with it, saying Clinton had sent classified information through her personal email account.

But the CIA never said the name was secret. Nor did the Defense Intelligence Agency or the FBI. No, Koussa’s role as an intelligence source is about as classified as this column. He is the former intelligence chief and foreign minister of Libya. In 2011, he fled that country for Great Britain, where he provided boodles of information to MI6 and the CIA. Documents released long ago show Koussa’s cooperation. Government officials have openly discussed it. His name appears in newspapers with casual discussions about his assistance. Sanctions by the British and the Americans against Koussa were lifted because of his help, and he moved to Qatar. All of that is publicly known.

But, as they have time and again, the Republicans on the Benghazi committee released deceitful information for what was undoubtedly part of a campaign—as Kevin McCarthy of the House Republican leadership has admitted—to drive down Clinton’s poll numbers. Republicans have implied—and some journalists have flatly stated—that Clinton was reckless and may have broken the law by sending an email that included thirdhand hearsay mentioning Koussa’s name. The reality is that the Republicans continue to be reckless with the truth.

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa

And why is this such an outrage?

The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own—they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus “scoops” ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.

The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections. The Republicans sent that same message after the Boston Marathon bombing, where they condemned Obama for failing to—illegally—send the American perpetrators to Guantánamo, among other things. They slammed the president because federal law enforcement agents read the failed underwear bomber his rights after they arrested him in 2009. Never mind that federal agents did the exact same thing under President George W. Bush when they arrested the failed shoe bomber years earlier. Republicans even lambasted Obama when he spoke about ISIS decapitating journalists, saying the president did not sound angry enough.

Please read the rest at Newsweek.

J.J. wanted me to call attention to another outrageous story that has been somewhat overshadowed by the political goings on in the U.S. this week.

1414097812uWashington Post: Netanyahu says a Palestinian gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust.

Jerusalem – In a speech here Tuesday evening, Netanyahu sought to explain the surge in violence in Israel and the West Bank by reaching for historical antecedents. He said that Jews living in what was then British Palestine faced many attacks in 1920, 1921 and 1929 — all instigated by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who allied himself with the Nazis during World War II.

Then Netanyahu dropped his bombshell. He said: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”

Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti played “a central role in fomenting the Final Solution,” as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews.

The remarks were made in a speech to the World Zionist Congress about “the 10 big lies” told by Palestinians and their backers.

As supporters of the Israeli leader wondered what he was doing, his critics said that his claims were outrageous enough to give cover to Holocaust deniers.

The speech came on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Germany. After Netanyahu’s outrageous claim, Angela Merkel chided him, saying that Germans know that the “final solution” was a German plan. Time Magazine reports:

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor, according to the Independent. “This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way.”

Merkel

From The Daily Beast: What Benjamin Netanyahu’s Insane Holocaust Claim Really Means.

It was factually wrong and morally outrageous for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that a Palestinian mufti gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. Almost the entire mainstream of historians, scholars, and politicians has now said so.

The question, though, is why he did it—and the answer is that it was an unintentional, Romney-47%-moment at which a commonplace partisan lie is suddenly revealed to the world. In Romney’s case, it was the Republican talking point that half of America depends on government welfare. In Netanyahu’s, it’s that the Israel/Palestine conflict is actually a result of Arab anti-Semitism.

Why did Netanyahu do it?

First, Netanyahu’s remarks were off the cuff. The transcript of his speech at the 37th Zionist Congress makes that clear. The entire speech was conversational in tone, with corrections and colloquialisms, and the particular reference to al-Husseini was an aside.

Its context was Netanyahu talking about the “big lie” that the Israeli government is seeking to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque—which is indeed a big lie spread widely on pro-Palestine social media. In that context, he mentioned that al-Husseini had told a similar lie in the 1920s, and by the way, al-Husseini supported the Holocaust too.

It was an aside within an aside. But precisely because it was off the cuff, it offers a valuable peek behind the curtain of Israeli nationalist ideology.

Like Romney’s comment about the 47%, comments like Netanyahu’s are made all the time on the Israeli Right. They’re meant for domestic consumption, to inspire the nationalist base. The Arabs hate us, anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism, and most importantly, the Intifada is about Jew-hatred, not resistance to the occupation.

Haptom Zerhom, shot by police and then lynched.

Haptom Zerhom, shot by police and then lynched.

Meanwhile, in Israel hatred of Palestinians is festering. From the World Socialist Website: Israel: Racist mob lynches migrant as violence intensifies.

An angry Jewish mob lynched an unarmed Eritrean migrant worker in the southern city of Beer Sheba after an Israeli security guard repeatedly shot him on Sunday. The crowd cursed and kicked him, chanting, “Death to Arabs!” “Arabs out!” and “Am Israel Hai!” (“The people of Israel still live”).

The murder underscores the noxious atmosphere of xenophobia, racism and fear that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has stoked up in a bid to deflect rising social discontent among Jewish Israelis, whose living conditions are in many cases only marginally better than those of the Palestinians. At the last elections, Netanyahu urged Jewish Israelis to vote, saying that “swarms of Arabs” were going to the polling stations.

Ultra-nationalist Jewish politicians have encouraged the mobilisation of vigilante groups and fascistic mobs that go on the rampage while the police stand and watch. Settler gangs that murder Palestinians and attack and destroy their property go unpunished. Now, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has openly encouraged Jewish Israelis to arm themselves and take vigilante action.

The Eritrean, 29-year-old Haptom Zerhom, had been working as a gardener in a plant nursery in a village near Beer Sheba for the last three years. He was on his way to collect his renewed work visa when 21-year-old Muhannad al-Okbi, a Bedouin Israeli, shot and killed an Israeli soldier and wounded 10 others, including four police officers, at Beer Sheba’s central bus station.

The police shot al-Okbi and then shot Zerhom, believing him to be al-Okbi’s accomplice. As Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline made clear, Zerhom was shot “Just because of his skin colour.”
As Zerhom came under attack from the mob, a bystander found his visa and held it up, shouting, “He’s Eritrean, he’s not a terrorist.”

No one heard him above the melee and Zerhom died of his injuries.

Shades of the Old South.

Finally, from Black Agenda Report: Black Lives Don’t Matter in Israel.

If you want to observe a racist lynch mob, go to Israel, the “world’s worst apartheid state.” After being shot by police, an innocent Eritrean immigrant was pursued by an Israeli mob that “kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted ‘son of a whore,’ ‘break his head’ and more to the point, ‘Kill him!’” But of course, no one will be punished, and the U.S. Black Misleadership Class will say nothing.

The United States does not have a monopoly on the lynch law murder of black people. Israel, both America’s client state and master, is awash in racist state-sponsored violence. Palestinians are usually the intended targets, but Africans are inevitably caught in this terrorism too. The mob murder of Mulu Habtom Zerhom reveals everything that the world needs to know about Israeli apartheid and the settler mentality which it exemplifies.

Zerhom was an Eritrean asylum seeker living in Israel, confined to one of the camps used to hold Africans. He was at a bus station where a Bedouin man shot an Israeli soldier. Zerhom was trying to flee but was himself shot by the police. Video footage shows him lying bleeding and incapacitated as a mob of Israelis kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted “son of a whore,” “break his head” and more to the point, “Kill him!”

Unbelievable! Will the U.S. corporate media follow up on this story? Stay tuned.

This is an open thread. Please feel free to comment on any topic or post your comments on the Benghazi hearings.