Saturday, August 26, 2017

Want to know a bit more about Antifa?


CSPAN's Washington Journal had a segment on Antifa this morning. Mark Bray was the guest. He is publishing "The Anti-Fascist Handbook" in a couple of weeks. Mr. Bray is a "long-time activist and historian and was also involved in Occupy Wall Street." He is a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College. He does not belong to Antifa but is obviously sympathetic to its mission.

He decided that a book that explains Antifa in the modern day was necessary since Anti-Fascist activism goes back 100 years.

He defines the violence that happens as "collective self-defense" against "some of the most deadly people in our society," and that "we need to be ready to do that (defend ourselves)." He does add that Antifa believes in "preemptive self-defense". BTW, Nation States also endorse this idea. Israel used it in 1967 as I recall and perhaps also in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. But then states have a monopoly right on the use violence. If you don't like that notion, you too may be a candidate for one of the anarchist philosophies.

Another interesting factoid from the program is that Antifa is not one organization but people with a common desire to defend society against Fascists. He noted later that Antifa consists primarily of Anarchists (which explains why there is no formal organization), Communists and Socialists. My reaction is there's no lack of violence in those three political philosophies. An Anarchist assassinated Grand Duke Ferdinand, starting WWI, Communists are responsible for untold Millions upon Millions murdered and Socialism, well, we have a great contemporary example in Maduro of Venezuela.

Now, Mr. Bray apparently differentiates between Communism and Stalinism. He is anti-Stalin, that's cool, but Stalin came out of Communism, not Classical Liberalism. I'll note here that he did admit that Antifa is not only anti-fascist but also anti extreme right-wing or perhaps Alt Right would be the better descriptor. But I'm happy to say he specifically excluded  Right-wing Libertarianism. So, Libertarians can relax, you're safe. Until you're not.

I'm going to buy the book. Why you ask? Because if nobody buys it no one will know what it says. 

Here's the link,

https://www.amazon.com/Antifa-Antifascist-Handbook-Mark-Bray-ebook/dp/B0718VC8GV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503797976&sr=8-1&keywords=antifa+the+anti-fascist+handbook

Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook
In the wake of tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, and Donald Trump's initial refusal to denounce the white nationalists behind it all, the "antifa" opposition movement is suddenly appearing everywhere. But what is it, precisely? And where did it come…
AMAZON.COM

Monday, August 14, 2017

Removing Robert E. Lee Statues Denies Educational Opportunities

As the events of Saturday unfolded I wanted to know "why Charlottesville?" I learned about of the underlying fight to remove the Robert E Lee statue. The fight is currently in court according to the New York Times.
So, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of being allied with people I absolutely abhor. Richard Spencer, David Duke and their followers came to Charlottesville with the intent to do violence, Jason Kesslers, the organizer's protestations notwithstanding. He won an injunction in Federal Court "to peaceably assemble and speak ... free of intimidation." They came prepared for violence as did the anti-protester protesters.
I am also an anti-Trump person. Although I do find glimmers of hope in some of his positions, THIS ISN'T ONE OF THEM. I agree with many that he engaged in race-baiting campaign tactics and appeared to be continuing the practice with his tepid response to the violence. So, with that said, I hope you'll read the following. I don't recall discussing any of this personal history with anyone except my wife and immediate family but in light of the position I'm taking, I feel compelled to share it.
Removing Robert E. Lee Statues Denies Educational Opportunities
The left traditionally promotes education and free speech.
Removing Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park denies both.
In order to explain this, I need to tell you a very personal story. It’s the only way I know to establish the premise for my point.
I was born in 1951 in New Orleans and raised in the small city of Houma, Louisiana about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. This is Cajun country and it is therefore predominately Catholic. So, there was no KKK in South Louisiana. I left in 1969 so I can’t speak to what may have happened in the 70’s but I don’t recall hearing about a single Klan Rally there. But don’t think for a moment there was no racism. My extended family was racist to some degree, but not violently so. My mother was a moderating voice. But, I too was racist.
I joined the Navy before I graduated high school and left for boot camp in July of 1969. I never moved back. While stationed at the Naval Air Station near Memphis, TN I attended a mandatory race relations seminar. Like the rest of the nation, there was much racial tension in the NAVY. The facilitator was a pretty redhead 3rd Class Petty Officer named Jan Murphy, from Scranton, PA. A year later she became my wife and remains so today.
I grew up with Jim Crow. I remember black and white water fountains on the courthouse grounds. I remember that while there were three movie theatres in town, the blacks had only one available to them. And the balcony was the only place they could sit. They had a separate entrance to that balcony. We lived in a racist society.
After completing the race relations seminar we were encouraged to do some reflection. I became a self-hating southerner. I was happy that being from South Louisiana, I didn’t have a stereotypical southern accent, thanks to our French-Canadian heritage. I didn’t deny my Southern origins when asked but I didn’t go out of my way to show any pride, because there was none. People generally thought I was from New Jersey and I didn’t disabuse them of the notion unless directly asked. This went on for many years.
We were living in Va. Beach, Va. when I was discharged from the Navy and we lived there for 22 years before moving to Atlanta. While there I was re-introduced to Robert E. Lee, who was a Virginian. I read quite a bit about Lee in an attempt to find some redeeming value to the Southern Cause. It’s hard to make an argument in support of the South’s decision to leave the Union except that, in hindsight, it was necessary to begin the process of reversing our Constitution’s “Original Sin”, slavery. Lee was the consummate Southern Gentleman with a strict code of honor. It made his decision to fight for the South a very difficult one. It was the wrong decision on many levels. But loyalty to one’s State was very strong because the Union initially consisted of sovereign states. That sovereignty has diminished substantially since then, in large part due to the War between the States.
He was also a very religious man. He was a minor slave owner and had progressive views on slavery for the times. He was confident that eventually slavery would dissipate. He believed in an activist God who moved events in His own good time. How he didn’t make the connection between the coming war and slavery, I don’t understand. But, he didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. After his defeat at Gettysburg he began to believe that he was on the wrong side of God’s plan. He lost his best general Stonewall Jackson before Gettysburg on May 10, 1863 and J.E.B. Stuart nine months afterward on May 12, 1864. The loss of these two generals also reinforced this evolving realization. And the war ended with his surrender. He could have prolonged it but I suspect he was following a higher power at that point.
After the war there was an oft cited incident at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond. A well-dressed black man was in attendance for Sunday service. It was communion Sunday. When the priest called for the congregants to come forward to receive, this black man came forward and knelt at the communion rail. The congregation was stunned not knowing what to do. Robert E. Lee too was in attendance and knew what to do. He came forward and knelt at the rail “not too far” from the black congregant. The remaining attendees came forward for communion.
Every time I remember this story, I get a tad emotional. There are those who disparage Lee’s motives with this gesture and they may be right. I never assume that I have perfect knowledge and history is inexact. But from what I know of Lee the man, I believe he did it to help bring people together.
That white supremacists take Lee as their own should not be a surprise. But there are many normal, non-racist, enlightened Southerners and I expect Northerners who respect Lee. Therefore, the left does the country no favor by calling for the removal of Lee’s statue from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, VIRGINIA and elsewhere. As I wrote to a friend yesterday, the symbolism of Robert E. Lee in a renamed Emancipation Park is an opportunity to learn and teach. I’ll support the removal of a General Bedford Forrest statue, who was an active member of the KKK, and any other officer or official of the Confederacy who were not contrite after the war.
The events in Charlottesville on Saturday August 12 are a stain on the country. There can be no doubt that those white supremacists and neo nazis’ came there looking for a fight. That we gave them one is our mistake.
In 1977, neo nazis’ petitioned to march in Skokie, Illinois after being denied a permit in Chicago. They petitioned in Skokie because it was predominately Jewish, including about 5000 Holocaust survivors. That ploy got them noticed, which was the intent. After losing a suit brought by the ACLU, Skokie built a Holocaust Museum to educate the public. Having won, the nazi’ ended up doing their march in Chicago as originally planned.
“As Justice Louis Brandeis once explained, the Framers of our First Amendment knew “that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.””
Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park is an opportunity to “remedy evils counsels” with “good ones”
Sunday morning marked the official opening of the Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. This striking new institution is dedicated t...
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SO, WHAT TO DO ABOUT KOREA

Hopefully we can all agree on the following facts, I doubt it, but we have to start somewhere.

1.       Kim Jung Un is rational.  He may be weird but he’s rational.  Why?

2.       Kim Jung Un’s primary goal is his own survival and the survival of his regime.
a.       He will therefore not initiate hostilities because the response would be the end of him and his regime.

3.       Negotiation is not an option.  We’ve been down this road 4 or 8 times depending on who you believe and it’s obvious that all have failed based on where we find ourselves today.
a.        Clinton built light-water nuclear plants to replace their fission plants  to help them meet their energy needs and
b.       George Bush didn’t like the idea of continuing to give aid when they determined that North Korea was cheating on its commitments.  So we stopped and Korea continued and perhaps accelerated their nuclear weapons program.
Shortly after January 20, Trump got the Xi’s nose out of joint by taking a call from the President of Taiwan.  I thought this was great.  While I don’t like Trump’s personality, I thought the one positive aspect of it would be in dealing with foreign leaders, ok, with the possible exception of Putin who he can’t seem to bring himself to criticize.  He doesn’t seem to have a problem insulting our allies.  But I digress, no need to go down that rat hole.

For the last 40 years we’ve been diplomatic with a regime that has been anything but diplomatic.  They are rude, insulting, bellicose, liars, cheaters and untrustworthy.  These are Donald’s kind of people, you know, kinda like the New York real estate business and associated thugs.

To recap, North Korea isn’t going to strike first no matter what President Trump says, IMHO.  Let’s see if Donald’s approach works.  If it does, we will all be eating a lot of crow.  If not,  many of us will die.  What’s new? This is what governments have been best at for 4000 years.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Trouble with Reality

Ever wonder why you stick so firmly to your worldview? Why you are loath to change your mind? "The Trouble with Reality..." is a very short book that can provide some insight.
This book illuminates why "reality" is different for each of us. Now, I'll warn my pro Trump friends that this is written by a woman who in her own bubble of New York City was, with her friends, trying to understand the shock to their reality brought by Trump's election.
While this is written from an anti-Trump point of view, how we perceive reality applies to every human being, regardless of his or her politics.
Every week on the National Public Radio show On the Media, the award-winning journalist Brooke Gladstone analyzes the media and how it shapes our perceptions…
AMAZON.COM

Trump versus Sessions

Well, everything you need to know about Donald Trump can be surmised by looking at the timeline of his relationship with Jeff Sessions.
Jeff Sessions was the FIRST Senator to back Donald Trump. Shortly thereafter he was named Chairman of the National Security Advisory Committee for the campaign. He was one of precious few people to defend him after the 2005 tape was revealed in October where Trump discussed groping women.
Mr. Sessions was picked by Trump to be AG November 18, 2016 saying "Sessions “is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great attorney general and U.S. attorney in the state of Alabama.,” Trump said in a statement. ”Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.”
Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General on February 9, 2017. On March 1 there's concern that he may have "lied" to Al Franken during the confirmation hearings. On March 2 after conferring with senior Justice Department officials he decides to recuse himself. It only takes the appearance of a conflict or problem to prompt a recusal.  
The president says Sessions should have told him he was going to recuse himself because he would have picked someone else. When? Back in November of 2016? In January before the Inauguration? This is ridiculous. If Trump was concerned he should have asked him what would prompt a recusal,  There was an opportunity for Trump to change is mind.  Mr. Sessions was asked about this at his confirmation hearing.  He said he would confer with Justice Department experts on this and do whatever they suggested.  If Donald had been paying attention he could have pulled his nomination right then and there
The grave sin that Sessions has committed is not being available to do Trumps bidding regarding this Russian Investigation. Trump wanted a myrmidon at Justice. He doesn't have one now.
And to add insult to injury, instead of discussing his problems in private with Mr. Sessions, he's engaging in serial public humiliation. This is leadership? He should be praising the man for his rectitude. But then, that would only come from someone with integrity or at minimum simple human decency.
Loyalty with Trump is a one-way street, exactly what you would expect from a narcissist.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Media and Bias, but I repeat myself


On MTP daily,Chuck Todd interviewed Kathleen Clark Washington University Professor, an expert on legal ethics. At the beginning of the conversation she said Trump, Jr., may be in legal jeopardy. But in her answers to all of Chuck’s questions the ineluctable answer was essentially based on what we know so far nothing done by any of the parties to that meeting was illegal.
Taking a meeting is not illegal. However, if and when there is proof of the transfer of “anything of value” and not necessarily money, to the Trump campaign from a foreign entity, the game is on. Interestingly, she said the foreign source doesn’t have to be a government, a foreign citizen is sufficient.
Professor Clark also noted that there is NO treason here. But there could be treachery. This was an interesting exchange. She seemed to indicate that Treachery isn’t illegal. In this case the treachery would be “being beholden to a foreigner” for a favor received. This would be subject to political analysis and the judgement of the “body politic" but not to criminal prosecution.
So, let’s juxtapose the above with something that DID happen.
The following is the opening paragraph and conclusion of a staff report of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for the United States Senate, signed by the Committee Chairman Rob Portman and Ranking Member, Clair McCaskill.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
“On December 2, 2014, at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,the Israeli Knesset voted to schedule new national parliamentary elections for March 2015. Within weeks, an international organization known as the OneVoice Movement absorbed and funded an Israeli group named Victory15 or “V15” and launched a multimillion-dollar grassroots campaign in Israel. The campaign’s goal was to elect “anybody but Bibi [Netanyahu]” by mobilizing center-left voters.1 The Israeli and Palestinian arms of OneVoice, OneVoice Israel (OVI), and OneVoice Palestine (OVP), received more than $300,000 in grants from the U.S. State Department to support peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over a 14-month grant period ending in November 2014.2 In February 2015, the Subcommittee initiated an inquiry concerning the connection, if any, between OneVoice’s State Department grant funds and V15’s political activity. This report outlines the findings from that investigation.
CONCLUSION
OneVoice Israel’s conduct fully complied with the terms of its agreements with the State Department and governing grant guidelines. The experience under the OneVoice grants, however, reveals the ease with which recipient organizations can repurpose certain public-diplomacy resources for political activities. The State Department failed to foresee and guard against that risk from the outset. OneVoice was forthright with the Department about its political activity in 2013, and it was also clear that OneVoice would use grant funds to build or enhance resources that might be applied to political activities. OneVoice’s 2013 grant proposal called for using the funds for standard tools of a modern political campaign, including a voter/activist contact database, a trained grassroots network, and a large social media presence. Immediately after the grant period ended, OneVoice deployed those grant-funded resources as part of the V15 campaign to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2015. Despite the fact that influencing a foreign election is across a “red line” for U.S. grantees,175 all of this activity was permissible under Department guidelines and the terms of the grants."
I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember this being debated by the Mainstream Media much less a call for criminal prosecution. Perhaps there's no law against the U.S. government involving itself in the politics of another country.
Donald Trump, Jr., take note, this is how you get away with influence from a foreign entity.

Will Republicans get Trump to Resign?

There are only two ways to remove a president; Impeachment or Amendment 25 of the Constitution.
There is a third way; the president removes himself, resignation.
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment requires a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress. Ain't gonna happen.
Removal by Impeachment requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate to convict on the Articles of Impeachment as voted on by 50% plus one vote in the House. This probably won't happen. But, as the great philosopher Yogi Berra might have said, "It's dangerous to make predictions, especially about the future."
Resignation. This is what happened with Richard Nixon. He was visited by Republican Party leadership. They presented him with the fact that they had decided to vote for articles of impeachment. So, he resigned rather than be impeached.
It's safe to say that the biggest impediment to implementing the Republican Agenda is Donald Trump. It's not hard to visualize a conflation of negative events: a particularly noxious Donald Trump tweet coupled with an impossible piece of legislation, like say the American Health Care Act, leading to a meeting in the Oval Office where they ask for his resignation for the good of the country.
Were he to resign, there's a very positive personal victory for Donald Trump. Mika Brzezinski's assertion that Donald Trump is a narcissist would be proven false.
Mike Pence would become president. He's fully capable of fulfilling the Republican agenda. Although I'm not sure anyone can save the AHCA. And I think he's capable of turning this administration from an incompetent mess into, at minimum, a efficacious mess.
If Donald Trump doesn't resign (and he won't). At some point people will leave, one way or the other. The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a blow up recently in a meeting with Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgement.http://www.newsweek.com/why-were-white-house-staff-shouted-….
And who will take their place? The TJ Scott first rule of employment is, "don't work for assholes." I would not trust the judgement of anyone who would want to work for Donald Trump after watching this train wreck for the last few months.
On second thought, perhaps the inability to fill existing and future job openings will be the catalyst to that Oval Office visit.
The U.S. Secretary of State lost it over interference in hiring of staffers.
NEWSWEEK.COM