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This Lies Behind Our Economic Boom and Political Bust

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Last year the wealthiest nation in the history of the world generated $8.7 trillion in new wealth, more than the next 10 countries combined. That works out to over $65,000 per household. How much of that worker generated new wealth did you receive in your pay raise last year? If your family income was $60,000 last year, and if you were rewarded with just 5% of the new wealth that you helped create, plus a cost of living adjustment to keep up with inflation, your family income today should be over $63,500? Is that true for most of you? Probably not, because that second bar graph on right suggests personal household income is not growing much.

Some people looking at this will say:
“Yea, rich people will get richer, but low unemployment and new manufacturing jobs will add a lot of wealth where there was none before. Right”?
That hasn’t been the case overall for the past 40 years. The great wealth creation last year isn’t a one-off event. It happens nearly every year. And every year since the mid-1970s workers do not receive any (or very little) share in the rising hourly GDP (New Wealth).

Prior to 1974, we all receive productivity raises nearly every year on top of any cost of living adjustments (a COLA, as it was called). Since then we stopped receiving productivity raises and lost public sector health coverage, pension plans, and other benefits. We have received cost of living raises since then, but productivity raises have been minimal. Therefore, while our wages keep up with inflation, they aren’t keeping up with new personal wealth. Put another way, our collective wages are a smaller and smaller percentage of our National GDP.

If wages continued keeping up with hourly GDP since 1974, the median household income today (fam of 4) would be over $115,000/year instead of nearly half that. The national GDP is nearly three times greater today than it was in 1974, yet inflation-adjusted have barely risen. These are uncontested facts. Chronic wage suppression (and I do believe this is deliberate) accounts for most of our economic ills today.

Imagine how much easier it would be to raise money for our schools and local services if everyone in town had twice the income they make now. How much money would we save on government aid to the working poor (daycare, housing, medical care, etc.) if everyone had twice the income and didn’t need financial subsidies? Imagine how the economy would be buzzing if everyone had lots more discretionary income to buy things, thus boosting the demand for production. The only downside is that the wealth of the richest 1% wouldn’t be growing quite as fast. The decline of the middle-class, the lack of good paying jobs, the increase in public assistance, the rise in taxes and decline of other government services are all symptoms of income inequality. The cycle of wealth accumulation followed by catastrophic wars and social collapse is a very old story with a many-centuries-old history.

Are you still with me, because this next part is important.

There has not been a big partisan difference on the issues of a fair distribution of wages or wealth. Both political parties remained silent on the subject for decades, until the 2014 election. Both parties talked about job growth, but not wage growth. Both talked about growing the economy but not about our shrinking pensions and benefits packages and stagnant wages. They talked about bolstering the middle-class but didn’t mention our growing poverty class for almost three decades.

Republican legislators (not most rank and file members) have been far more pro-corporate in pursuing the interests of the wealthy elite over time. Republican party elites also shamelessly pandered to value voters and the far-right fringe to win elections but never delivered on their promises. Main Street Republicans were used and abuse to the elite of their party could pursue the corporate donor interests.

On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Party leadership (not every legislator) also pandered to big corporations, to the rich and to their more liberal base while being complicit in their silence on income inequality and many other matters important to their voters. No one in government was addressing the shrinking middle-class or their shrinking wages relative to the size of the ever-growing US economy. No one was listening to any of us!

Hence, we had a political revolt in both parties during the 2014 elections. Rank and file members of both parties weren’t listening to each other either as powerful special interest, foreign and domestic, made sure we didn’t get together to compare notes. Donald Trump rose up among conservatives to shake things up in the GOP. Bernie Sanders rose up among liberals to shake up the Democratic establishment.

So here we are today, like opposing armies glaring at each other across the battlefield in a war we never wanted. Both sides have been ignored by our leaders. Both sides have been told the other side is the cause of our decline. Both sides have been given false reasons for our growing dissatisfaction. And yet the real reasons for this sluggish Main Street economy, which is slowly squeezing us into poverty, are reasons that we all share in common.

It is the failure of our politics to address the unfair distribution of wages and wealth. It is hundreds of policies that favor the profitability of big businesses over the best interests of our people. It is the corruption of special interests representing the ultra-wealthy and buying elections. We would all do far better if we could just lower our guard, put our less consequential differences aside for now and join in common cause to take charge of our economic well-being.

Uranium One Hype a Big “Nothing Burger”

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

President Trump and some Republicans in Congress want the Department of Justice to investigate Trumps political opponent, Hillary Clinton. Specifically they want a Special Counsel appointed to investigate her ties to the sale of US uranium to Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions squirmed under pressure to act from a GOP congressmen at a hearing on November 14, 2017.

A President calling for criminal investigations of his political opponents is abhorrent in any modern democracy. In this particular case a second Special Counsel investigation would also give Trump political leverage to further obstruct the efforts of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. But I suspect the biggest reason Jeff Sessions squirmed when pressed to appoint a Special Counsel was because there is simply no basis to investigate anything connecting Hillary to Uranium One sales. Here are the essential facts in a timeline format.

2005 – Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining financier with an interest in the UrAsia Mining Company, visit Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is an independent country that was once under the control of the former Soviet Union. Not long after the Guistra visit, UrAsia Mining receives a lucrative mining contract in Kazakhstan.

2006 – Frank Giustra donates $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation.

2007 – UrAsia Mining Company merges with South Africa Mining Company to become the Uranium One Company. Frank Giustra sells his financial interests in the company.

2008-2010 – During this period several active investors with an interest in Uranium One Company and a former investor (Giustra ) donate more than $8 million to the Clinton Foundation. Donation from just the active investors totaled just over $4 million. The Clinton Foundation omitted these active donors’ names in a US Government filing document, later admitting that information was omitted by mistake.

2009 – Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State. Later that same year, Rosetom, a Russian mining company, begins buying a stake in Uranium One.

2009-2013 – During this time Rosetom completes three separate transactions to gain a controlling interest in Uranium One. Announcement of plans to take over Uranium One invokes the need for the Uranium One sale to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). (Note: This sale of Uranium One only involved product mined in the US and sold only to private nuclear power generation companies within the US. CFIUS is an advisory committee. Only the President of the United States can stop the sale of this company to a foreign business entity.)

2010 – The CFIUS committee, comprised of the Secretary of the US Treasury Department and department heads at the Justice Department, Homeland Security, Consumer Affairs, the Defense Department, The State Department, the Energy Department, The office of US Trade Representatives and the Science and Technology Policy group, approve the sale a controlling interest in the Uranium One Company to the Rosetom company. At the time of the approval, the State Department’s CFIUS representative was the Assistant Secretary of State, Jose Fernando (not Hillary Clinton). Had any one of these agency heads objected to the sale the matter would have gone to the President to decide. The purchase of a controlling interest in Uranium One by Rosetom did not involve or allow the export of uranium to Russia.

2017 – President Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress call for a criminal Investigation of Hillary Clinton’s connections to this uranium sale that took place seven years prior.

That’s it. If there was a quid pro quo arrangement between Hillary Clinton and Uranium One or Rosetom it isn’t apparent from the facts, as least not to me. There are other facts that advocates of a Hillary prosecution toss into the mix (speakers fees, etc.), but they have little apparent relationship to the essential accusation the Republicans are making. If Hillary Clinton could no, and did not, contribute anything of value to the parties involved in the sale of financial interests in Uranium One, then there was no quid pro quo, no bribery to investigate.

Even FoxNews’ Sheppard Smith called out his own company and the President on this one. https://youtu.be/f8wuFDs7xSA

 

 

Let’s Talk!

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

I don’t mean to offend anyone who enjoys sports, but professional sports have become a primary distraction keeping us from our due diligence to be well informed and actively engaged in the level of civil discourse our democracy requires.(This doesn’t apply to everyone who likes sports). So when folks are upset that politics is infringing on sports, they affirm the role of sport as a means to avoid uncomfortable conversations.

Most Americans have developed a superficial relationship to politics (Including many in the media who cover it like a sport). Politics as sport is all process and insider intrigue. It is devoid of real substance or depth behind the reported facts. We lose sight of the real world consequences that bad policy decisions have on our lives.

Current events are forcing us to confront politics as we haven’t done in years. It’s a good development, but it will take time to get use to talking about politics with our neighbors again. It will take time to gather the essential facts we should have, facts that have been missing or withheld from us for years. And it will test our patience and tolerance as we begin to bridge the gaps that have come to divided us. So let’s hang in there and keep talking.

Oct. 7, 2016 – The Day We Learned and Forget Russia Was Attacking Us

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

OneDaysNews

James Clapper of the CIA and U.S. intelligence agencies announce that Russia is taking active measures to interfere with our Presidential elections.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/64-hours-october-one-weekend-blew-rules-american-politics-2-162827162.html

 

It was Friday, October 7, 2016. There was a rapid series of news dump that day that changed to course of our Presidential Election and our country.

If corporate (for profit) news outlets based reporting on the gravity of events rather than a stories public appeal, the top news story on this one day during the campaign would have been that US intelligence agencies announced that Russia was actively messing with our election. Media manipulations by powerful people behind the scenes took place in the hours that followed the announcement, burying the biggest news story in a decade. Who was behind the release of that shocking Access Hollywood tape that stole our attention?

The video doesn’t say. It could have been Hillary friendly sources, neutral sources or even Russian cyber-ops. It doesn’t matter. The corporate media released the tapes and then fed the blaze of interest that followed.

Then, an hour later, the first of the Podesta emails were released These emails that had been stolen by Russian based hackers and the content was used to strategically selected emails for release that maximize damage to the Hillary campaign. The Podesta email release blunted the impact of the Access Hollywood tapes. Both stories dominated the news for days. The two stories combined completely eclipsed the Russia story. And so the biggest story in a decade, That our democracy was currently under attack by Russia, got buried and erased from our collective conscious until after the election.

The Hypocrisy Risk for Social Conservatives

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Whenever hypocrisy strikes a Republican politician, the immediate argument on the right is that Democratic politicians are not morally superior to Republicans. This is may be true, but it is also misleading. The most recent GOP hypocrisy scandal is an example.

Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania became the latest GOP social conservative to manifest hypocrisy. Murphy is married, has an adult child, is a staunch right-to-life proponent and a member of the Congressional House Pro-Life Caucus. This January he voted for the latest Pro-Life bill that passed in Congress. He proudly highlighted his support for the bill in a press release that reads in part:

“Passage of H.R. 7 in the wake of the President’s executive action yesterday gives me great hope that moving forward, we will once again be a nation committed to honoring life from the moment of conception onward and ensuring American taxpayer dollars are never spent to end a life before it even begins.” [Murphy, January 24, 2017]

The scandal is that he had just suggested to a woman who became pregnant as a result of their extra-marital affair that she should have an abortion. The woman, Shannon Edwards, was offended by the hypocrisy of Murphy’s public and private attitudes on abortion and told him so in a text message:

“And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.” [Edwards, January 2017]

Ms. Edward’s texts went public and Tim Murphy has since announced he will not run for re-election next year.  The very polarized social media debates are well underway.

From this brief account the hypocrisy is clear and the consequences are sad for those involved, especially his wife and child. Frustration on the right is also understandable as this keeps happening on the GOP side. It may seem like the media are selectively reporting on GOP moral gaffs, hence comes the counter-argument that Democratic politicians are just as likely to engage in immoral behaviors, but circumstances make this misleading.

On the Republican side, family values focuses on moral issues, such as this case in point. On the Democratic side family values focuses more on policy issues, such as universal health care, fair wages, school lunch programs, etc. It is less likely politicians will fall victim to hypocrisy if the family values they promote are policy related rather than morality based.

As long as Republicans exploit social conservative issues and insist on legislating morality, the GOP will continue to provide glaring examples that we all fall short of living perfect lives. Conceding that Democrats are just as likely to engage in immorality may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still less likely to sound like hypocrites when they do.

Should I Stand or Should I Kneel?

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Are the NFL players who kneeled in protest at the National Anthem to be reviled, or were they being courageous?

Did they insult our nation, or is their freedom to action what our flag stands for?

Were the protesting players disrespectful or patriotic?

These questions vexed the nation in recent days. People argued and took sides. Tempers sometimes flared. Angry posts or tweets were exchanged. And somewhere in a Russian troll farm cyber warriors were smiling.

This National Anthem flap is a perfect example of how we are being manipulated by higher powers in the media sphere every day. Some of the bad actors are foreign, such as the Russia operatives at the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, with its army of automated bots, who took to Twitter once again to polarize our public discourse over the NFL protest flap.

The truth is that Russia has been doing this type of thing for years; Using social media platforms on the internet to post extreme and inflammatory messages on opposite sides of every issue. This is just one of Russia’s many methods to sow discord and to splinter our national unity. Their goal: Polarize our politics, widen our political fault lines, pit us against one another and make America ungovernable. Russia is targeting other democracies this way in Europe as well.

But Russia isn’t the only player fomenting disunity and despair. They may even be minor players next to some of our own “stateless” oligarchs who benefit from governmental paralysis at every level. These billionaires don’t want to pay any taxes, support the public commons or be told what they can and can’t do. They are among a oligarchs from around the world who control more wealth and power than most countries. They see self-governing entities as obstacles to be overcome in pursuit of wealth, or as competition in their exercise of power, and some have been messing with our politics and social perceptions for years.

To borrow from a prior article:

… there is strong evidence that the rogue interests of certain Western billionaires and Russian oligarchs have converged. Breaking down the economic barriers that keep wealth and power in check under civilian controlled democracies, and the goal of undermining the strength and unity of Western democracies (strengthening Vladimir Putin’s global influence) are essential aligned.

This is the bigger picture. It is a picture so large it’s hard to take in and even harder to accept as true. Yet here we are, confronted by a clear case where a foreign power used Twitter to influence the personal conversations we are having with each other.

Mainstream media also has its part to play in this NFL protest story and countless others like it. It is the “for-profit” news outlets that select what we will be talking about tomorrow. NFL players protesting during the National Anthem is a real money topic. It attracts a much wider audience compared to another story about race relations. It’s important to remember here that we are the commodity the broadcast media delivers to advertisers. What they choose not to cover, we don’t talk much about. A simple internet search for “NFL protests” proves this point. Lost in the hoopla about the flag is any discussion of why there is a protest.

So what was the protest about?:

1. Police in this country kill too many civilians.

2. If your skin is black, you are twice as likely to be one of those killed.

NFL players were trying to bring attention to these issues, one superimposed on the other. On average, police kill about two people per day. For perspective, in all of Great Britain police kill about two people per year. If the rate of police homicides were that low in the US there wouldn’t be enough of them to reveal any sort of pattern. But a pattern does exist, and African-Americans are too often the victims.

These same racial patterns come up time and again in the American justice system because we have a pervasive and persistent problem with race. Whether we are looking at statistics about arrests, convictions, incarcerations, police stops, etc., the same pattern is superimposed on the data. Racial disparity, by far, is the more stubborn of the two problems listed above. We do need to address it. The other part of the problem, the high number of police killings, is a more solvable problem. We can all agree that the fewer number of civilians killed the better. That might mean better police training, better vetting of applicants and changes in police tactics or philosophy.

But here’s the thing. When we try to have that discussion, the social media platforms light up with extreme, emotionally charged messaging that polarizes our public discourse. Conversations quickly become adversarial. Efforts to separate one issue from another to make problem solving easier are sabotaged. Fake news stories begin popping up to further cloud the issues and crazy websites emerge to sustain the divisions thus created. These are often organized disinformation campaigns to reinforce political disunity. They can be so successful that we sometimes can’t even agree on the same set of facts. We get locked into an ideological battle and don’t how we got there. We can’t see the nefarious forces at work behind the scenes.

To understand how this is happening we have to consider the massive social media platforms though which we can broadly and anonymously communicate with millions of strangers. Never before have we had a cyber presence where everything we write or reveal about ourselves exists forever and is available to anyone. The whole internet is a gigantic, ever growing database that can be searched and analyzed. It’s a mercurial universe of ones and zeros. Yet, to an ever greater degree, our world view is molded by our social media experiences. Even as we become more enmeshed in the cyber world, this new medium is increasing falling under the influence of powerful people with weaponized information technologies and the motivation to alter our perceptions, our behavior and our culture. Our vulnerability to manipulation by bad actors has never been greater.

We need to educate ourselves about this new virtual world in which we find ourselves. We have lost control over our public discourse and need to win it back. We have to learn how to recognize when we are be targeted with propaganda messaging and how to resist falling victim to it. We mustn’t let our authentic narratives become hijacked by those who would alter our perceptions to serve their own ends? If democracy is to survive, if America is to survive, we have to overcome our differences and fight back against those who want to see our people’s Republic fail.

Charlottesville Battlefield – Follow the Money

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Charlottesville isn’t so much a turning point as a tipping point where a long standing social problem became a passionate social issue for the rest of us, as it should have been sooner. The media’s periodic stories of hate crimes and hate groups over the years just didn’t catch our attention.

Back when this latest iteration of white supremacy started growing again during the 1980’s, it was financed by bank robberies and break-in’s with the proceeds being shared around the country with various other hate group chapters.

Think about that for a moment.

The oxygen needed to organize and grow these hate groups is the same as for any other enterprise. It takes money… lots of it.

So how much money does it take to sustain and operate this huge national, in fact global, white supremacy movement today? Who provided the cash to pay for all those tiki torches,the military equipment and the uniforms worn by so many alt-right protesters? Who provides the money to support the targeted alt-right media campaigns required to convert, recruit and motivate so many young white men? Who coordinated and subsidized the transportation needed to get everyone there and back, and where did the money come from to pay for it all? Who would want to harm our country and paralyze our politics so much that they would provide tens of millions of dollars to sustain this sick movement?

I don’t have answers, but these are among the questions we should be asking. Since it is obvious the movement is being funded by bank robberies these days, and since it is a global movement with strong elements in Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy (to name a few), it is likely that funding for this movement is coming from wealthy sources that what to diminish or control Western democratic countries like ours.

I suspect foreign sources are ultimately behind the growth of hate groups here and abroad. You might think I’m crazy, but if I’m correct, this is just another aspect of the new type of warfare raging against us.Power and control are behind this movement. The haters themselves are only brainwashed pawns in a much larger game.

Frontlines in the Cyber War Against America

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Does it seem like supporters of Donald Trump are out of touch with reality? Why are they so dismissive of claims that Russia attacked us? Even in the face of truly damning information about how the Donald Trump Jr. colluded with Russian’s to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, the far right and their Representatives in Congress seem unmoved. Why?

Map of cyber activity by Right-wing websites during the 2016 election to counter mainstream media advantage.

Recognizing that computer algorithms currently use by social media keep me from viewing the conversations of those who don’t share my views, I began reading conservative websites such as Breitbart and Info Wars for clues. I forced myself to listened to broadcasts of the Alex Jones Radio Show on Info Wars. For those who don’t know him, Alex Jones is a popular right-wing talk show host. He has millions of listeners and claims those numbers are growing as Fox News numbers decline. He is also the manager or owner of a number of conservative media outlets.

You probably are familiar with Breitbart. It was initially financed by recluse billionaire, Robert Mercer. Steve Bannon was the man in charge there until after this past last election.

As I browsed through these websites, one particular radio show caught my attention. I listened in detail (took notes) to a radio broadcast of Alex Jones on July 12, 2017 (http://rss.infowars.com/20170712_Wed_Alex.mp3). Using this as a starting point, and having sampled other content on both Breitbart and Infor Wars, some patterns emerged that I want to share.

First, the verbiage of Alex Jones’ show can’t be easily unpacked. It is dense with disinformation, oblique references, inflammatory innuendos and repetitive conservative and nativist memes. The overall narrative establishes and affirms an alternative frame of reference for his conservative listeners. The broadcasts contain a blitz of buzz words and references to long debunked Obama era scandals, as I would characterize them, woven into a story line that alters the context of current events. The content is clearly intended to evoke elicit emotions in the listener.

But the biggest insight was that these conservative sites ring exactly the same alarm bells about democracy under attack and a pending authoritarian takeover that those on the left worry about. Info Wars also points to the same means and methods used to attack America as do the rest of us do, such as media disinformation and internet propaganda. But these conservative websites substitute Islamic jihadists for Russian oligarchs, and they substitute “Marxist” liberals for rightwing nationalists.

In effect, this counter narrative creates two American world views that are mirror images. It unites us in our worst fears for American democracy while irreconcilably dividing us politically. We agree that we are at war conducted through information warfare, but we have different enemies waging this war and different ideas on what are foreign enemies trying to accomplish. We can’t come to any mutual understanding because we have an entirely different framework and different sets of facts.

For factual confirmation of the conservative world view listeners are referred to other conservative websites, such as understandingthethreat.com. Here is what the site says about its founder:

John Guandolo is the Founder of UnderstandingtheThreat.com, an organization dedicated to providing strategic and operational threat-focused consultation, education, and training for federal, state and local leadership and agencies, and designing strategies at all levels of the community to defeat the enemy.

That enemy is radical Islam. Guandolo’s website promotes the view that the real threats to America originates from Middle East terrorist organizations. The site has been active since June of 2012 and appears to be hosted in Montreal, Canada, according to its domain registration data.

On the other side, Rachael Maddow had Michael Carpenter on her show recently. He was a U.S. Deputy Assistant Director of Defense before retirement. His take on our strategic threats places Russia at the center of the attacks on our democracy. From what he saw in the past, the cyber operations during the last election are consistent with what Russia has employed in places like the Ukraine. Typically, Russia seeks proxies and allies in the foreign countries they attack to help carry out their cyber operations. They try to penetrate the networks of insurgent political groups seeking power within a foreign county. They do this, and help support those groups, to have influence as those groups gain power. He has no doubt that this has included infiltrating far rightwing groups in America and, by extension, the GOP.

For Alex Jones, his constellation of media outlets continue to create and maintaining this alternative world view focused on terrorists as the existential to America democracy. Those how believe this are convinced the investigations of the Trump Administration are witch hunts and that the allegations of Russian interference are smokescreens by the “deep state” to conceal a leftist takeover of America. They point to their universe of alternate facts, theories and political conspiracies to prove there is an unholy alliance between the liberal elites and Islamist Jihadists seeking to impose Sharia Law on America. They deny the DNC was hacked by Russia, claiming there is no evidence. They see the accusation itself is proof of “deep state” preparations for a coup against Donald Trump. Even more moderate Republicans are held in suspicion. One commenter on Alex Jones’ show said, “The GOP establishment hates Trump more than MSNBC.” In other words, the Republican establishment is complicit with the liberal elites in working with Hamas and other Islamic groups to bring about an authoritarian state and Sharia Law in America. The CIA, NSA and FBI are all in on it and can’t be trusted.

The Goal of Islamic radicals, according to Alex Jones, is to create chaos in America; to destabilize us so that out of the chaos the jihadists can bring about a radical leftwing revolution, an authoritarian state and implementation of Sharia Law. Rodger Stone, a guest on his show, said, The elite have to assume there will be no elections in the future, but a global takeover. An authoritarian state in America.”

Alex Jones defines Sharia Law as total warfare against our culture, social institutions, political systems, military systems, our media and our American way of life. According to Jones, these jihadists are experts in political influence operations. Note that this is just what our Intelligence community is saying about Russia.

These are the alt-right media voices that conservative GOP members in the House and Senate are hearing . These are the sentiments reflected in their core constituents, their power base. Is it any wonder they hardly react to the US Intelligence community’s warning about Russia? The men and women of the GOP are just as patriotic as any of us, but they are straddling two very different world views. They have to know that both worlds can’t be true. Either the Russians are undermining our democracy in league with ultra conservatives oligarchs to divided America, or it is the Islamic extremists doing the same thing in league with liberal Democrats and the deep state (i.e., our Intelligence community).

Since even the most conservative GOP members aren’t ranting in the halls of Congress about jihadists destroying American democracy, I assume they know which scenario is more likely. They also know how to stay in power. Even if a Republican lawmaker doesn’t share their constituents world, they can’t challenge their base without losing their seat. The GOP is, in fact, compromised.

I said earlier that the content of Alex Jones’ show is densely packed with disinformation. In fairness, his listeners have no problem understanding his messages. If they were to watch Chris Hayes or Rachael Maddow, they would have the same critique as me of his show. We really do have two different perceptual realities. The forces creating this schism have to be well organized, well funded and very entrenched to pull this off. It’s time to uncover everyone involved in the media warfare that is tearing us apart. It’s time to fight back, reunite and restore civil democracy in America.

“Blood on their hands” – Trump attacks the Judiciary

by Brian T. Lynch

President Donald Trump is fomenting a constitutional crisis that he cannot be allowed to win. In an official White House press release today, Donald Trump’s Administration said elected officials in San Francisco “… have the blood of dead Americans on their hands” for opposing the Sanctuary Cities Executive Order that would strip away the city’s federal funding for not fully engaging in federal immigration enforcement efforts.  The press release said, “Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation.”

The press release was a response to a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and other county officials requesting an injunction against enforcement of financial sanctions against them. They argued that the Executive Order is unconstitutional.

After hearing both sides of oral arguments in federal court, Judge William H. Orrick granted the injunction against the Administration, barring it from withdrawing any federal funding to cities and counties until after the issue can be adjudicated in a trial. In the judges legal opinion, the merits of the case presented by the city and counties would likely prevail at trial.

Summary of Judge Orrick’s Ruling.

According to Judge Orrick’s ruling, the Trump Administrations Sanctuary Cities Executive Order:

  1. Violates the separation of powers because it improperly seeks to wield congressional spending powers
  1. Is overbroad and coercive, violates 10th Amendment prohibition against commandeering local jurisdictions
  1. Is so vague and standardless that it violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause
  1. Deprives local jurisdictions of Congress’allocated funds without notice or opportunity to be heard, violating the procedural due process requirements of the Fifth Amendment and because the Counties have not been named “sanctuary jurisdictions” pursuant to the Trump Administration Order

Judge Orrick’s goes on to detail the substance of this federal court hearing:

  • Trump’s lawyers said at oral argument the Sanctuary Order is merely an exercise of the President’s “bully pulpit” to highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement. Administration lawyers didn’t even respond to the constitutionality of the order itself, but instead argued that the Counties lack any standing in the court as the Executive Order didn’t change existing law
  • Under the Administration’s interpretation of the Order, as presented by Trump Administration’s lawyers in court, Section 9(a) applies only to three federal grants in the DOJ and DHS, and provisions to withhold federal funding under those three grants can already be enforce under existing law.
  • Trump’s own lawyers in court disavowed the Government’s right to affect most of the billions of dollars in federal funds that sanctuary cities receive every year
  • Yet other language the Executive Order tries to include all other federal grants, and all federal funding as subject to sanctions against municipalities that don’t comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts.
  • President Trump called his Order “a weapon” to use against these jurisdictions.
  • The Attorney General warned that jurisdictions that do not comply with Section 1373 would suffer “withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants,” and the “claw back” of any funds previously awarded
  • The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Sanctuary Cities Executive Order cannot place new conditions on federal funds
  • The Tenth Amendment requires that federal funds be unambiguous, must bear some relationship to the funds purposes and that the financial incentive cannot be coercive.
  • Federal funding that bears no relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened because a city has chosen an immigration enforcement plan which is at odds with the Administration’s plans
  • Judge Orrack therefore granted the County’s request for an injunction to prevent the Administration from withholding federal funding until after full hearing on the matter determines whether the Order is constitutional, saying “… this injunction does nothing more than implement the effect of the Government’s flawed interpretation of the Order.”

Read Judge Orrick’sInjunction against Trump’s Sanctuary Cities Executive Order in full:  http://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000015b-a6d5-de92-a17b-aed55e780001 …

Trump’s outrageousresponse to the Sanctuary Cities injunction sets up a serious constitution crisis.  His Administration is at war with another co-equal branch of government and the checks on his executive powers that were built into our constitution. We can’t allow him to win this fight in the courts or in the court of public opinion.

Here is the Administration’s outrageous press release printed in full:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate ReleaseApril 25, 2017

Statement on Sanctuary Cities Ruling

Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation. Federal law explicitly states that “a Federal, State or Local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”  8 U.S.C. 1373(a).  That means, according to Congress, a city that prohibits its officials from providing information to federal immigration authorities — a sanctuary city — is violating the law.   Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation.  These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.

Once again, a single district judge — this time in San Francisco — has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country.  This decision occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the 5-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father’s arms.  San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands.  This San Francisco judge’s erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk.

This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.  Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping.  But we are confident we will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court, just as we will prevail in our lawful efforts to impose immigration restrictions necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States.

In the meantime, we will pursue all legal remedies to the sanctuary city threat that imperils our citizens, and continue our efforts to ramp up enforcement to remove the criminal and gang element from our country.  Ultimately, this is a fight between sovereignty and open borders, between the rule of law and lawlessness, and between hardworking Americans and those who would undermine their safety and freedom.

My Guide to Recognize Fascism When I See It.

By Brian T. Lynch, MSW

In preparation for my last article, “It Has a Name: FASCISM,  I read different views on the nature of fascism. As I read I was struck by two facts:

1) There is a lack of scholarly consensus on the nature of facism, and

2) despite this shortcoming, the picture that emerges provide insight into the ultra-conservative political transformation we have experienced in the last few decades.

I recognized that while it takes root on the fringe of right-wing politics, elements of it have been integrated throughout our body politic.  Manifestation of it have surfaced in many of our institutions over time.  To see this more clearly, a coherent  description of fascism would help, one that accounts for its less obvious developmental stages over time.

I wanted to find the common denominators in the various descriptions using the Wikipedia’s, Definitions of fascism,  page. It includes contributions from political philosophers such as Umberto Eco, Georgi Dimitrov, Emilio Gentile,  Stanley G. Payne and many other.  I found the fascism entry from the Encyclopedia of Marxism particularly useful and a good format off which to work.  What follows is my own compilation of the words and ideas these original authors.. Some of what follows is verbatim, some paraphrases and some reworked to combine similar ideas by different authors.  It isn’t strictly my original work,  so please don’t credit me or accuse me of plagiarism because it isn’t properly attributed.  All references to original statements can be found by comparing the texts to the Wikileak’s Definitions of fascism site.

To quote myself from my last article, “Fascism may take different forms as it metastasizes, but it is always built on three legs: A ruthless authoritarian leader, an extremely nationalistic base and a loyal cadre of uber-wealthy crony capitalists. The goal of fascism is always the same, to optimize power and prosperity for the fittest members of society, as defined by those aligned with their leader.

I hope readers here finds the following “meta-description” of fascism helpful.

Mass Movement: Fascism derives public support by creating a mass movement with multi-class membership in which prevail, among its leaders and the militants, middle sectors members who are mostly new to political activism. The movement  organizes as a militant political body or political party whose identity is not based on existing social hierarchy or class origin, but on a sense of fellowship with other members of the movement. Movement identity is often cultivated through a campaign to raise fear of differences between the dominant social group and minority groups within the society. Fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate social division, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants. Members believe themselves to  be invested with a mission of national regeneration, consider themselves in a state of war against political adversaries aimed at conquering a monopoly of political power by use of all available means. In this way fascist movements are able to gain power and political control, even by electoral means, without broad public consensus. Ultimately, a mature fascist state usurps democratic rule and the rule of law.

Authoritarian Leadership:  Fascist states come into power through an authoritarian, charismatic leader whose thematic speeches and theatrical  rhetorical style evoke the strongest possible emotions among their loyal followers.  All fascist states have authoritarian leaders, but not all states with authoritarian leaders are fascist states. What most distinguishes fascist authoritarian leaders from other authoritarians are their methods and means to gain and hold on to power, political power for personal gain and self-aggrandizement being their primary interests.  Fascist leaders are obsessed with their adversaries, real or imagined, often resulting in the hyping-up of enemy threats. There is a ethic in fascist administrations that action for action sake is a sign of strength while deliberation and consultation are signs of weakness.   Once in power fascist administrations move to make structural changes in both social and government hierarchies to consolidate power and strengthen their control.  Fascist authoritarian leaders see themselves as dominant and superior people, qualities that entitle them to lead others by autocratic rule. They often exhibit narcissistic traits and usually inflate their own talents, accomplishments and moral authority.  Fascist leaders fundamentally distrusts democratic institutions and principles. The hold themselves self out as the ultimate interpreter of the popular will.

Loyalty: Fascism demands extreme loyalty to the national leader and his loyal followers. “Disagreement Is Treason” – Fascist movements devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action and threats to leadership. Fascists therefore delegitimize democratic institutions and accuse them of “no longer representing the Voice of the People.” Public discourse takes on a militancy. Bullying ,harassment or aggression is often directed at people or groups perceived as disloyal.

Nationalism: Fascism places a very strong emphasis on patriotism and nationalism. It is a xenophobic form of  Nationalism that is fearful  of disloyalty and sabotage from marginalized groups living within the country and especially distrustful of foreigners and immigrants.  Criticism of the nation’s main ideals, especially in matters of war and the military, is lambasted as unpatriotic at best, and treason at worst. Fascist propaganda messaging broadcasts threats of attack, while justifying preemptive war. It invariably seeks to instill in its people the warrior mentality: to always be vigilant, wary of strangers and suspicious of foreigners.

Right Wing: Fascists are fervently against: Marxism, Socialism, Anarchism, Communism, Environmentalism; etc – in essence, they are against the progressive left in total, including moderate lefts (social democrats, etc). Fascism is an extreme right wing ideology, though it can be opportunistic. It often embraces social conservatism and traditional values while rejecting or exploiting libertarian or core conservative principles when it is to their benefit.

Hierarchy: A fully developed fascist society is ruled by a righteous leader, who is supported by an elite secret vanguard of wealthy capitalists. Democratic institutions are restrained and mass media falls under state control and all forms of dissent is suppressed. Hierarchy is prevalent throughout all aspects of society – every street, every workplace, every school, will have its local demagogue monitoring and pressuring for loyalty to and conformity with the fascist regime. The absolute power of the social hierarchy prevails over everything, and thus a totalitarian society is formed. Representative government is acceptable only to the extent that it can be controlled and regulated. Any who oppose the social hierarchy of fascism can be imprisoned or executed.

Anti-equality: Fascism loathes the principles of economic equality and disdains equality between immigrant and citizen. Some forms of fascism extend the fight against equality into other areas: gender, sexual, minority or religious rights, for example.

Religious: Fascism contains a strong amount of reactionary religious beliefs, harking back to times when religion was strict, potent, and pure. Nearly all Fascist societies are Christian, and may be supported by Catholic and Protestant churches. In more recent times fascist ideology is often supported by the fundamentalist Christian right.

Capitalist: Fascism does not require revolution to exist in capitalist society: fascists can be elected into office (though their disdain for elections usually means manipulation of the electoral system). They view parliamentary and congressional systems of government to be inefficient and weak, and will do their best to minimize its power over their policy agenda. Fascism exhibits the worst kind of capitalism where corporate power is absolute, and all vestiges of workers’ rights are eliminated.  Fascist states develop a corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty, broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the ‘productive sectors’ under control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power, yet preserving private property and class divisions

War: Fascism is capitalism at the stage of impotent imperialism. War can create markets that would not otherwise exist by wreaking massive devastation on a society, which then requires reconstruction! Fascism can thus “liberate” the survivors, provide huge loans to that society so fascist corporations can begin the process of rebuilding.

Voluntarist Ideology: Fascism adopts a certain kind of “voluntarism;” they believe that an act of will, if sufficiently powerful, can make something true. Thus all sorts of ideas about racial inferiority, historical destiny, even physical science, are supported by means of intimidation or violence, in the belief that they can be made true. It is this sense that Fascism is subjectivist. Fascism also employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary – “newspeak” – in order to limit critical reasoning.

Anti-Modern: Fascism loathes all kinds of modernism, especially creativity in the arts, whether acting as a mirror for life (where it does not conform to the Fascist ideal), or expressing deviant or innovative points of view. Fascism invariably burns books and victimizes artists; artists who do not promote the fascists ideals are seen as “decadent.” Fascism is hostile to broad learning and interest in other cultures, since such pursuits threaten the dominance of fascist myths. The peddling of conspiracy theories is usually substituted for the objective study of history.