Saturday, May 20, 2017

Former FBI Counterintelligence Operative Naveed Jamali Explains How Russia Could Have Infiltrated Trump's White House

Counterintelligence expert Naveed Jamali, who is the author of the new book How to Catch a Russian Spy, is a guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He shares his experiences as a double agent who worked as a counter-espionage officer against the Russians, his insights on how the Russians and other countries go about "flipping" citizens to work against their own nation, concerns about the 2016 presidential election, and the ways that Trump's inner circle may have been manipulated (or not) by Putin's spies. 

In this week's episode, Chauncey does his best to make sense of the flood of information about how Donald Trump has obstructed justice and the many ways that the "deep state" has a traitorous president in their sights. Several days ago, Donald Trump also claimed that he is the victim of a "witch hunt" by his enemies. In response, Chauncey takes up this challenge and uses his vast knowledge of witchcraft and the occult to determine if Donald Trump is in fact a witch (or a warlock). 

This episode with Naveed Jamali can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

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

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on iHeartRadio.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reality Check: Even if He is Impeached Donald Trump Will Have Done Great Damage to American Society

Last week, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump did this in order to stop Comey’s investigation into Russia’s apparent interference with the 2016 presidential election. This is a symptom of brazen disregard for the U.S. Constitution and the foundational principle that the justice system should operate independent of the president. Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice are not conjecture. They are now documented facts.

For Trump, matters seem to get worse every day. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Comey kept careful notes about his meetings with Donald Trump, and in a series of internal memos detailed the president’s request that Comey drop the investigation against Trump’s now-disgraced former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Not content with “merely” obstructing justice, Trump then demonstrated his contempt for the First Amendment by suggesting that Comey consider arresting journalists who publish leaked classified information.

For these and many other reasons, Donald Trump should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, convicted and removed from office.

But, while many Americans (and the country’s news media) are aghast at these events and — as we are dragged from crisis to crisis — made numb by the spectacle, none of these happenings under Trump’s regime should be in any way surprising.

Why is this?

Donald Trump is a political thug. He telegraphed this behavior during the 2016 presidential campaign. Because he is a plutocratic authoritarian, as well as a racist, a nativist and a fascist, power is both an end onto itself and a means for accomplishing Trump’s personal project of self-aggrandizement, greed and political score-settling.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

White Male Privilege Hurts America: If Donald Trump was a Woman or a Person of Color He Would be Impeached by Now

I have written dozens if not hundreds of essays about Donald Trump from the 2016 presidential primaries through to his presidency. He is quite literally the gift that keeps giving. Unfortunately these are gifts that I (as well as a large majority of the American people) do not want.

In my chronicling of the threat to American democracy posed by Donald Trump, I have repeated several themes. As demonstrated by his words, deeds, and political agenda, Donald Trump is a plutocratic authoritarian and a fascist. Trump is also an ignorant buffoon, a racist, a nativist and a bigot. He is also a misogynist who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. (He denies having actually done so, but nobody believes him.) In addition, Donald Trump is a con artist and a habitual liar whose mental stability and emotional maturity are extremely suspect.

Trump was aided and abetted by a hostile foreign power that undermined the 2016 presidential election with the goal of installing him in the White House. By virtue of this fact, Donald Trump is a traitor. Any Republican Party officials who continue to support Donald Trump are traitors as well. This label also applies to his supporters among the American people. Collectively, the Republican Party and Trump’s voters have put power and party over country. They should be shamed and held accountable for such a despicable decision.

The last few days have witnessed a series of events that could not have been conceived of by the worst writer or filmmaker. A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas related to Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as part of an investigation into the latter’s inappropriate (and perhaps illegal) connections to Russia. In a textbook example of obstruction of justice, Trump has fired the director of the FBI in order to stop the investigation into his campaign’s possible involvement with Russian intelligence during the 2016 presidential election.

A day after firing James Comey, Trump then met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office, where he apparently divulged highly classified intelligence information to them. These events are part of a whirlwind of activity that also includes investigations by American law enforcement into Donald Trump’s businesses and rumored money-laundering operations with Russian banks and other entities. It has also been suggested that Trump summarily dismissed 46 federal prosecutors in order to sabotage any investigations into those matters.

If any (or all) of these events had occurred while either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton was president, the Republican Party, its propagandists and its supporters would literally be at the gates of the White House with pitchforks, torches and nooses in hand.

Yet somehow Donald Trump was elected president and continues to hold onto power. How is this happening?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Conversation with Anti-Racism Activist Rachel Dolezal About "Transracial Identity" and Her Journey From "Black" to "White"

Rachel Dolezal is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is an anti-racism and human rights activist who is most well-known for the controversy surrounding her decision to live as a "black" woman even though she was born "white". Rachel is also the author of the new book In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.  
During this week's show, Rachel and Chauncey discuss the concept of "transracial" identity, Rachel's childhood, how she discovered her affinity for black people, what it is like to be a target for public scorn, and her thinking about how race is just a social construct and that individuals should be free to perform whatever racial or other social identity they feel most comfortable with.

Counter-intelligence expert Naveed Jamali, who is the author of the new book How to Catch a Russian Spy, is also a guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He shares his thoughts about Donald Trump and how the Russian government likely recruited National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to work as their covert agent and what this means for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

In this week's episode, Chauncey offers an extended commentary about how Donald Trump is orchestrating a coup against American democracy, how his firing of Comey is a Constitutional crisis of the first order, and ponders if the American people are lions or sheep. 

This episode with Rachel Dolezal can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

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

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on iHeartRadio.

A Coup in Real Time: Trump's Firing of Comey is More Proof that He is in Collusion with Putin's Russia

Has the other shoe finally dropped? Is this the beginning of Donald Trump’s attempted coup?

Trump is a plutocratic authoritarian. As I have previously argued, it is fair to call him a fascist. He has repeatedly demonstrated this fact through his words and deeds both during the 2016 presidential election and now while serving as president.

Like the leader of a banana republic or a Mafia boss, Trump has surrounded himself with a small group of advisers and confidantes comprised mainly of his family members. He has contempt for journalists and the concept of a free press. He leads a cult of personality, marketing himself as an autocratic who will protect and defend his “forgotten Americans” against all threats foreign and domestic. Trump has no respect for the standing norms of American democracy. He and his supporters evidently believe that the rule of law does not apply to him.

Authoritarians are paranoid by definition. To that end, they ruthlessly consolidate power and eliminate any threats to their power. In keeping with this script, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, in a hastily written letter of dismissal delivered to FBI headquarters by Keith Schiller, the leader of the president’s personal Praetorian Guard. Comey’s firing was also endorsed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man who has no credibility after having been caught repeatedly lying about his own contacts with representatives of the Russian government.

Comey’s dismissal comes one day after Trump appeared to threaten former acting Attorney General Sally Yates before she gave testimony to the Senate about Vladimir Putin’s efforts to subvert American democracy and the dangers posed by likely Russian operative and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s dismissal of Comey came on the same day it was announced that a federal grand jury is investigating Flynn and his associates regarding their financial connections to Russian interests.

Trump’s claim that Comey acted inappropriately in his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email “scandal” is an obvious smoke screen. In fact, Trump repeatedly praised Comey’s controversial decision to release in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign a damning statement about Clinton’s emails, which clearly helped Trump defeat Clinton and win the White House.

The president’s decision to fire Comey is an enormous abuse of presidential authority. To all appearances, Trump is removing a threat posed by the person who is leading the investigation of his administration’s (and his campaign’s) possibly treasonous connections with Russia. Trump will now be able to appoint a political loyalist as Comey’s successor.

For a widely read interview posted last week on Salon, I spoke with historian Timothy Snyder about what Trump’s election means for America. (He is the author of the new book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.”) During that conversation, Snyder warned that the American people have less than a year to resist the creeping tide of authoritarianism embodied by Donald Trump’s regime.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Republican Party's Efforts to Take Healthcare Away From the American People is an Act of Political Terrorism

Last Thursday was “Star Wars” Day and the 40th anniversary of George Lucas’ groundbreaking film. It was also the day that the empire struck back when Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and by doing so, further imperiling the health and safety of 100 million Americans.

As the Republicans voted to steal away health insurance from the sick, children, pregnant women, the poor, elderly, babies and people with pre-existing medical conditions in order to give millionaires and billionaires like themselves more money, they reportedly played the theme song to the movie “Rocky” and found inspiration from George C. Scott’s Oscar-winning performance as Gen. George S. Patton. On one hand, these are just curious details that help to paint a picture of what happened that day in Congress. But they also tell us a great deal about how the Republicans who voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act see themselves in history.

“Rocky” is the fictional story of a pugnacious Italian-American club boxer from Philadelphia who in “the greatest exhibition of guts and stamina in the history of the ring,” according to the movie, battles to a draw the heavyweight champion of the world, an African-American named Apollo Creed, on Independence Day in 1976.

Perhaps the Republican millionaires in Congress believe that they are underdogs? Or maybe they have fantasies of running up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as Rocky does in that movie’s most iconic scene — although, based on their ages and physical appearance it is doubtful that most of the House Republicans could accomplish that feat without collapsing from exhaustion or a heart attack.

It seems much more likely that the Republicans and President Donald Trump think they are the Great White Hope who knocks out the “arrogant” and “uppity” black interloper, President Barack Obama — to the cheers of their racist public.

If their evocation of “Rocky” is pathetic and humorous, then Republicans’ need to draw inspiration from “Patton” is malicious and frightening.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Conversation with Writer Scott Snyder about Batman, Politics and "Diversity" in Comic Books

Scott Snyder is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is an award-winning writer of graphic novels such as All-Star Batman, Detective Comics, American Vampire, The Wake and Swamp Thing.

During this week's show, Scott and Chauncey discuss what it is like to write an iconic character such as Batman, questions of "diversity" and "inclusion" in comic books, the craft of storytelling and world-building, and how politics and the rise of Donald Trump should (or should not) be reflected in comic books and popular culture more generally.

Friend of the podcast Bill the Lizard also stops by The Chauncey DeVega Show as well. Bill offers his thoughts on the controversy about the new Marvel comics storyline where Captain America is an agent of Hydra (i.e. a Nazi). Bill and Chauncey also talk offer some thoughts on the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie trailer.

In this week's podcast, Chauncey is angry that his enemies gave him cooties, shares some thoughts on how the Republican Party wants to kill poor and sick people, and ponders what quotes from the movie "Patton" that the ghouls in the Republican Party used to motivate themselves prior to their vote to destroy the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

This episode with Scott Snyder can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

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

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on iHeartRadio.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Why do Republicans Hate Sick People and the Poor?

On Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives forced through a health care “reform” bill that will leave millions of Americans without health insurance, especially those who suffer from chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It has been estimated that if the Republican Party is successful in eliminating the Affordable Care Act that at least 43,000 Americans a year will die from lack of adequate health care.

The Republican Party is pursuing this policy in order to give millions of dollars in tax cuts to the very rich. President Trump, who is a billionaire, would financially benefit if Republicans succeed in repealing the ACA.

It is abundantly clear that Trump and his party possess a deep disdain for sick people, the poor and other vulnerable members of American society and wish to do them harm.

For example, several days ago Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said this during an interview on CNN:
My understanding is that [the new proposal] will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people — who’ve done things the right way — that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.
These comments are abominable. Brooks believes that babies and children with serious illnesses deserve their fate, or that those who have “done the things to keep their bodies healthy” and still develop chronic diseases like cancer have done things the “wrong way”. The Republican Party’s war on the American people and the common good should be condemned by all decent human beings. Any Republicans who vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act should be publicly shamed and voted out of office.

But an important set of questions still remain: Why do Republicans and conservatives have such disdain for the weak, the vulnerable and the sick? Why do they want to kill the “useless eaters?” What does this tell us about how Republicans and conservatives view the world, as well as their relationships and obligations to other human beings?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jordan Edwards: One More Body for America's Necropolis of Black Death

Last Saturday evening, 15-year-old Jordan Edwards had his head blown off by a Dallas-area police officer. Jordan Edwards was killed for the "crime" of attending a party at a friend's house. While leaving said party Jordan Edwards and his friends were apparently in a car that was driven in an "aggressive" manner. Of course, this turned out to not be true. The police killed Jordan Edwards while and he and his friends were in no way a threat to police or the public. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear this is the type of aggressive unrestrained "law and order" policing that he supports.

Trump's America isn't new. The black body is always a threat. This is America working exactly as designed. Randolph Hohle (who I have spoken with for the podcast) has a great essay over at Racism Review which sums this up perfectly. There he writes:
Racialized bodies anchor racist meanings into publics. The body is a form of communication at the visual and affective level that communicates political meanings, narratives, and myths, and in turn, connects audiences with distinct and otherwise unconnected publics. Audiences read publics as sympathetic, dangerous, or subversive; as sacred or profane; as good or bad. Rather than use history to break down or ‘deconstruct’ the origins of elite white power, I prefer the analytical framework of assemblages to explain how the white racial frame operates like a web of racist meanings that connect publics with economic policy, with geography, and with police brutality.
Alas, this is but one more body for the necropolis of black death. I have nothing left to say about our new old normal. Donald Trump will stand mute. Never forget that Barack Obama was derided while president for daring to show a tiny bit of empathy with black boys and men unjustly killed by America's police and street vigilantes. Where is the public rage? Where are the acts of civil disobedience and disorder? Where are the resistant acts of corporeal politics? How will White America and its news media portray Jordan Edwards as being responsible for his own murder?

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Conversation with Historian Timothy Snyder About Authoritarianism and How Best to Resist Donald Trump's Regime

Historian Timothy Snyder is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is an award-winning professor of history at Yale University and author of numerous books including Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin as well as Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. His newest book is On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

During this week's show, Professor Synder and Chauncey discuss how American Exceptionalism is a lie that helped to pave the way for Donald Trump's regime, how best to describe Trump's politics, and how the public discourse in the United States remains unable to properly grasp the threat to democracy posed by this crisis in democracy. Professor Snyder and Chauncey also talk about the allure of Antisemitism for Trump's White House, what resistance should look like in this moment, and how long American democracy has before it fully succumbs to authoritarianism.

In this week's podcast, Chauncey talks about going to C2E2 in Chicago and in the interest of public decency offers some fashion advice for cosplayers. Chauncey also shares a story about financial insecurity among older Americans and plays an audio recording from the legendary Studs Terkel about how African-Americans would try to help poor white people in the South during the Great Depression.

This episode with Timothy Snyder can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

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

The Chauncey DeVega Show
can now be found on iHeartRadio.