Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist David Cay Johnston on Why Donald Trump's Presidency is Far Worse Than You Think

David Cay Johnston is the guest on this week's edition of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who has followed Donald Trump's life and career for 30 years. Johnston shared those insights in the New York Times bestselling book The Making of Donald Trump.

Johnston's new book is It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.

During this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, David and Chauncey discuss how Trump's family and upbringing created a man who is so comfortable with lying and being involved in illegal and other morally questionable activities, the failures in Hillary Clinton's and the Democratic Party's strategy and messaging, and how Robert Mueller will show that Donald Trump is a traitor who conspired with Russia to steal the White House, has likely committed financial crimes and obstructed justice. David Cay Johnston also offers a chilling warning--there will be violence from Trump's supporters if their Great Leader is impeached or otherwise removed from office.

In this week's episode Chauncey DeVega offers his thoughts on culture of cruelty and the Republican Party's and Donald Trump's war on the "useless eaters" through a cruel effort to take away food stamps from children, healthcare from the sick, and aid for the disabled. Chauncey also has fun discussing the self-hating Afrocentric conman Fox News favorite who is giving out African-American "slavery reparations" coupons for Starbucks. 

And at the end of this week's podcast Chauncey shares some hate mail and deconstructs a very dangerous example of some new age white supremacist propaganda.

This episode with David Cay Johnston can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show
is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

New Research (Again) Shows That It was Racism and Sexism--and Not "Working Class Anxiety"--That Elected Donald Trump

America appears caught in a maelstrom of what I have described as "malignant reality," sustained by lies, half-truths, misunderstandings, willful ignorance and confusion about many things. Most notably, how Donald Trump became president. There will be no return to normalcy until there is a full and proper accounting of how this crisis came into existence.

Here are some examples of those falsehoods and evasions.

Trump is a populist who represents a mass movement of "forgotten" Americans. In reality, he is an elitist whose policies serve the rich and hurt the vast majority of Americans. Donald Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes; the aggregate turnout in the 2016 election was not that dissimilar from the last three presidential elections.

Trump will at some point be restrained by the Republican Party and "mature" into the responsibilities of the office. Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party; his policy positions are supported by the vast majority of Republican voters, elected officials, media and interest groups. Donald Trump has repeatedly demonstrated hostility towards democracy and the basic standards of decency and dignity exemplified by his predecessors.

Donald Trump was elected because of "economic anxiety" among the "white working class."
In reality, those voters who were most concerned about the economy supported Clinton. Donald Trump won every category of white voters -- not just those who were poor or working-class.

At the center of these claims is a belief that racism was a peripheral variable which was not central to Trump's razor-thin victory over Clinton. This is one of the most egregious and toxic falsehoods to emerge from the 2016 election.

The new article "Understanding White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism," by political scientists Brian Schaffner, Matthew MacWilliams and Tatishe Nteta, demonstrates that racial animus and sexism were in fact the most powerful factors influencing Trump's voters.

Writing in the Spring 2018 edition of Political Science Quarterly, the authors explain that the 2016 election "witnessed the largest gap between the presidential vote preferences of college-educated and non-college-educated whites" since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980:
While Donald Trump enjoyed just a four-point margin over Hillary Clinton among whites with a college degree (10 points less than Mitt Romney’s margin over Barack Obama among that group in 2012), his advantage among non-college-educated whites was nearly 40 points. . . . While many election postmortems were quick to make note of the education gap among whites in terms of presidential vote choice in 2016 explanations for the origins of this gap were a subject of significant debate. . . . 
We find that while economic considerations were an important part of the story, racial attitudes and sexism were much more strongly related to support for Trump; these attitudes explain at least two-thirds of the education gap among white voters in the 2016 presidential election.
Schaffner and his fellow researchers conclude that the 2016 campaign "witnessed a dramatic polarization in the vote choices of whites based on education," and argue that "very little of this gap can be explained by the economic difficulties faced by less educated whites." Had college-educated and non-college-educated white voters split between the two candidates in roughly the same manner, Hillary Clinton would almost certainly be president today.

In a political environment where racism and conservative politics almost fully overlap, where authoritarianism intersects with racism and sexism and where political polarization is driven in anxiety about changing racial demographics, Donald Trump may be a prototype for a more refined, and even more dangerous, right-wing successor.

I recently spoke with Brian Schaffner, co-author of this paper, about the dangers to American civic life posed by the Republican Party's increasing reliance on sexism and racism to win elections, and about how these pernicious attitudes and values influenced Trump's voters.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Conversation with historian Ed Ayers on why Americans are still fighting about the Civil War

Historian Ed Ayers is the guest on this week's edition of The Chauncey DeVega Show. Ed Ayers has written and edited twelve books, including In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Beveridge Prize; and The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His new book is The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.

Ayers has been named National Professor of the Year, received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and been elected President of the Organization of American Historians. 

During this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Professor Ayers and Chauncey discuss popular myths about the American civil war and slavery, the Charlottesville white supremacist riot, public memory and monuments to the Confederacy, and why Donald Trump's presidency may ironically have helped to renew American democracy by spurring on a new progressive movement.  

In this week's episode Chauncey DeVega tries to make sense of an especially tumultuous week where Donald Trump raged, his "pee pee" sex video seems more likely to exist, and the Trump monster basically admitted that he obstructed justice to stop any investigation into his collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election.  And in this week's episode of the podcast Chauncey shares some letters written by African-American soldiers during the Civil War as well as newspaper ads where formerly enslaved black Americans desperately search for their families and friends after Emancipation.

Chauncey also offers a reflection upon and honors Art Bell, the radio legend and pioneer who passed away on Friday.

This episode with Ed Ayers can be 
downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on 
Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Donald Trump Again Shows That He is The Very Definition of a Fascist

Does any real doubt remain that Donald Trump is a fascist cut from an American mold?

To this point in the story that is the decline of American democracy under Donald Trump and the Republican Party, we have seen many things. Among them are threats of violence against political rivals, an upsurge in racism and nativism, militant nationalism and careless warmongering, efforts to limit the freedom of the press, assaults on the rule of law, blatant disregard for democratic traditions and norms, shameless apparent corruption and abuse of the public trust, idol worship of despots and dictators, and the creation of a malignant reality in which Trump's followers are wedded to him in a political cult based upon collective narcissism and shared authoritarian values.

On Monday, a new chapter in what feels like a never-ending American tragedy began.

Acting on a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, FBI agents under the direction of the U.S. attorney in New York raided the offices, home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, confidant and fixer. It has since been reported that agents seized electronic and other records connected to payments made by Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels, apparently on Trump's behalf. Given Cohen's long history as a Trump associate and employee, documents related to Russian real estate and other transactions were likely also among the targets.

In response to Monday's events, Trump lashed out with claims that the FBI's Cohen raid was a "disgraceful situation" and "an attack on our country." He lambasted both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for failing to stop the Russia investigation.

Trump also spoke openly about the possibility that he might fire Mueller -- an action that might well require firing Rosenstein first, and perhaps others in the Justice Department. Reportedly, Trump nearly did so last summer and was talked out of it by White House Counsel Don McGahn. He is clearly close to that fateful decision once again.

On Tuesday, Trump continued his temper tantrum via Twitter, claiming that "Attorney-client privilege is dead!" and that he is a victim of "A Total Witch Hunt," one of his favorite terms of art.

As they should be, the president's threats against an independent legal system -- one of the bedrocks of a democracy -- have (again) been met with much public criticism and concern.

But Trump also signaled toward something even more ominous and worrisome in his tirades this week.

When the president claimed that Mueller and the FBI's investigation into his affairs was "an attack on our country," he christened himself a fascist leader in all but name.

Trump believes that he is the state, as did the absolute monarchs of earlier centuries, and as did totalitarian despots like Hitler and Stalin. He believes that he is above the law and that all legal power and authority flows from him. For Trump, instead of being embraced as the hallmarks of a healthy and functioning democracy, checks and balances are a threat to his authoritarian agenda.

Trump's claims are dangerous in another way as well.

If Donald Trump was an ordinary citizen who happened to have a great deal of money, his anti-democratic impulses and pronouncements would be "merely" troublesome. But Trump is not just the drunk at the bar who happens to be rich. He is president of the United States and official leader of one of the country's two main political parties. He has his own propaganda machine and leads a movement comprised of tens of millions of desperate, angry people.

As such, Trump's followers and enablers perceive any attack on him as an attack on themselves. Trump knows this all too well. Late on Tuesday afternoon, his re-election campaign sent the following email to his supporters:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Conversation with Tim Wise about White Privilege,Toxic White Masculinity and the Parkland High School Massacre

Anti-racism activist, author, and scholar Tim Wise is the guest on this week's edition of The Chauncey DeVega Show. Tim Wise is the author of numerous books including his most recent Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America.

During this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Tim and Chauncey discuss toxic white masculinity and mass shootings in the context of the Parkland high school massacre, white racial fragility, and how white privilege and white racism continue to hurt white people in Donald Trump's America. And in a first for the podcast, Chauncey and Tim respond to a listener's email who is seeking advice for how best to deal with their racist Donald Trump Tea Party supporting father and what strategies that white folks who want to fight for justice along the color line can implement in their own lives and communities.

In this week's episode Chauncey DeVega continues to document how Trump's presidency is an exercise in corporate corruption and theft and also highlights the continued violence by Trump's human deplorables against the American people. And in this week's episode of the podcast Chauncey shares what may be an unpopular opinion about the NYPD's horrific and tragic killing of a mentally ill black man named Saheed Vassell.

This episode with Tim Wise can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Donald Trump and the right-wing Christian assault on American democracy

By the standards of any of the world's major religions Donald Trump is an ungodly person, an enthusiastic and unrepentant sinner who revels in his misdeeds. Trump is a serial liar and apparent narcissist. He is a greedy, crude and selfish person who does not pay his debts. He has repeatedly cheated on his wives and bragged about it. He has boasted about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it.

Yet white Christian evangelical voters were among his most enthusiastic supporters in the 2016 election. Despite Trump's many failings of character, temperament and policy as president, they remain loyal members of his political cult. Why is this?

A new article by social scientists Andrew Whitehead, Joseph Baker and Samuel Perry in the journal Sociology of Religion offers several possibilities. The researchers explained their findings in a recent article for the Washington Post, writing that "the more someone believed the United States is — and should be — a Christian nation, the more likely they were to vote for Trump."
The impact of "various measures of Christian nationalism" remained strong, they write, "even after controlling for other influences, such as political ideology, political party and other cultural factors proposed as possible explanations." 
... Even when holding constant a host of other explanations, a Democrat at the higher end of the index was three times more likely to vote for Trump than a Democrat at the lower end of Christian nationalist ideology.
For independents, the probability of voting for Trump increased moving across the range of the Christian nationalism scale. Likewise, Republicans scoring low in Christian nationalism were significantly less likely to vote for Trump than those scoring high on the index.

Much has been written about Donald Trump and the Republican Party's authoritarian efforts to subvert and destroy American democracy, and their alliances with right-wing gangster capitalists such as the Koch brothers. But the enormous role played by evangelicals in Trump's victory -- and in his enduring core of support -- has not received as much attention from the mainstream news media.

In all, it is increasingly clear that with Trump as the figurehead and Vice President Mike Pence as the puppet-master, Christian evangelicals have successfully completed a soft coup in America.

This right-wing Christian movement is fundamentally anti-democratic. Their "prayer warriors" do not believe that secular laws apply to them, thus making it acceptable, if not honorable, to deceive non-believers in order to do God's work. Many evangelicals in the Christian nationalist or "dominionist" wing of the movement want the United States to be a theocracy. In some ways, this subset of the evangelical population resembles an American-style Taliban or ISIS, restrained (so far) only by the Constitution.

I recently spoke with Andrew Whitehead, co-author of this new study about what he and his colleagues' research reveals about the relationship between right-wing Christians and the rise of Donald Trump -- and what that unholy marriage means for America's future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Why do so many conservatives hate the young people who survived the Parkland high school gun massacre?

The health of a society is measured in large part by how it treats its children.

Republicans and other members of the right wing have reacted with a wide range of emotions to the survivors of the Parkland school shooting and the millions of others who recently marched throughout the United States to protest gun violence. These sentiments have included rage, anger, antipathy, indifference and total silence.

Some examples.

David Hogg, Emma González and other Parkland survivors have received death threats.

Leading right-wing media personalities such as Laura Ingraham and Alex Jones have engaged in a concerted campaign of character assassination, slurring the Parkland survivors and other young people protesting gun violence as "Nazis," or suggesting they are "attention-seeking." At the outer edges, some have inevitably suggested that the Parkland students were "crisis actors" participating in an elaborate "false flag" operation to overturn the Second Amendment. (Jones is now the target of a $1 million defamation lawsuit for publishing photos that falsely identified a Massachusetts man named Marcel Fontaine as the Parkland shooter.)

Republican elected officials have, for the most part, remained silent. They depend heavily on NRA campaign donations, and even more on the NRA's cadre of pro-gun voters. Yet they also fear the optics of publicly attacking American children whose basic demand is that they not be murdered with guns.

Although the opinions of Republican voters overall are split on gun control laws, a passionate core continues to oppose them. Those same Republican core voters also passionately support the NRA and actively pressure elected officials to reject gun safety laws.

Almost all these reactions share a unifying theme, one that is as complex as it is simple: Authoritarianism.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Conversation with Elizabeth Mika About Collective Narcissism and the Threat to Public Safety Posed by Donald Trump and His Supporters

Elizabeth Mika is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is a  psychotherapist and contributor to The New York Times bestselling book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.

On this week's podcast Mika and Chauncey discuss the danger to democracy and public safety embodied by Donald Trump and his followers, how collective narcissism is a type of social pathology that leads to violence and why millions of people are attracted to Trump's evil. Mika also sounds the alarm about the combustible relationship that exists between collective narcissism, racism, and authoritarianism in America under Donald Trump's regime.

In this week's episode, Chauncey calls out the absurdity that is Andrew Sullivan again channeling racist pseudo science in a much-discussed recent essay at New York magazine. Chauncey also ponders the power of negrophobia and its role in the street executions of Alton Sterling, Stephon Clark, and Danny Ray Thomas by America's police. Could it be that black people are monsters, possess super powers, and can stop bullets like "negro cocaine fiends?"

And Chauncey has a horrible secret to share....he watched Tyler Perry's new movie Acrimony and loved it.

This episode with Elizabeth Mika can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Conversation with Historian Daina Ramey Berry About the Financial Value of Black People's Bodies During American Slavery

Daina Ramey Berry is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is an associate professor of history and African and African diaspora studies, and the George W. Littlefield Fellow in American History, at the University of Texas at Austin.

Professor Berry is the author of the new book The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation.
On this week's podcast Professor Berry and Chauncey discuss how the monetary value of black enslaved people in America was determined from the cradle to the grave, the selling of black people's bodies (both alive and dead) to medical schools, the barbaric practice known as "womb insurance", the saga of Nat Turner's skull, the many ways that black human property fought back and resisted their dehumanization by white society, and how chattel slavery ultimately built American empire. Professor Berry also shares what it was like to work as a historical consultant on the recent "Roots" TV series.

In this week's episode, Chauncey announces the launch of the official Patreon page for The Chauncey DeVega Show

Chauncey also ponders the musical stylings of the "raw dog" lothario Donald Trump and the new details about his affair with a Playboy bunny. Chauncey also explains how Cambridge Analytica helped to manipulate Trump's ignorant, gullible racist human deplorables by data mining and focus groups--and yes, by singling out the viewers of Duck Dynasty and The Walking Dead.

At the end of this week's podcast Chauncey shares a story about the African-American and white descendants of a white slave master who gathered together at his plantation to reflect on their "shared" "family" history.

This episode with
Daina Ramey Berry
can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Conversation with Dedrick Asante-Muhammad About How the Racial Wealth Gap is a Threat to American Prosperity and Democracy

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is Senior Fellow, Racial Wealth Divide at Prosperity Now and one of the principle authors of the much-discussed report, The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class.

Dedrick has also held senior leadership positions with the NAACP and the National Action Network.

On this week's podcast Dedrick and Chauncey share their personal reflections on race, family, and upward mobility, how class identity is incorrectly depicted in American popular culture as well as the perils and allure of TV programs such as Blackish and The Cosby Show. Dedrick also explains how the racial wealth gap is a threat to American prosperity (and democracy) for all people on both sides of the color line.

In this week's episode, Chauncey advises caution for all the Democrats who are celebrating a win in the Pennsylvania special election and warns the public to not buy into the silly narrative that Donald Trump is somehow weakened by all of the supposed "chaos" in the White House.

During this week's podcast Chauncey also reads a story about the working poor and a wonderful woman who worked for Disney World and could not afford a proper place to live--she was found dead in the car which served as her home.

At the end of this week's podcast Chauncey shares some fun and bizarre stories about a gang of little people who robbed homes in Boston and how a man tried to seduce a gorilla named "Big George" at a zoo. And of course, Chauncey laments the end of Toys R Us.

This episode with Dedrick Asante-Muhammad can be downloaded from Libsyn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes, Spotify and at Stitcher.