Friday, February 17, 2017

A Conversation with Democratic Pollster Cornel Belcher About Trump's Victory and the Racist Backlash Against Barack Obama

Cornell Belcher is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He served as Pollster for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) under Chairman Howard Dean making him the first minority to lead in that role for either national party. He also served on the polling team for both Obama presidential campaigns. Over the years, Cornell has worked with both Senate and House Democrats as Senior Political Advisor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Cornell is the author of the new book, A Black Man in the White House: Barack Obama and the Triggering of America's Racial-Aversion Crisis.

During this week's show, Chauncey and Cornell discuss Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, what the polling data predicted (or not) about that outcome, the errors that the Democratic Party is making strategically in terms of outreach to young black and brown voters, the power of demographics, and how the white racial backlash against Barack Obama gave Donald Trump the White House.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey gloats offers some comments on the Michael Flynn "scandal" and what the real hustle is, reads from a great profile of Trump adviser and white supremacist Stephen Miller as a young man, and shares some hate mail from a Trumpthuglican.

This episode with Cornell Belcher can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

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

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Donald Trump's White Nationalist Brain Trust: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Michael “Decius” Anton and Sebastian Gorka

Donald Trump’s administration is built around a brain trust of white nationalists. To deny that fact is to ignore a crucial element of this national crisis: America’s “greatest generation” defeated Nazism during World War II, and 70 or so years later one of the country’s two leading political parties has injected a more polite version of that poison into its veins and rode to power in Washington on a wave of bigotry and racism.

Among the men who have President Trump’s ear, we find White House strategist Steve Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller, deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka and newly installed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Until recently Bannon ran the right-wing website Breitbart News, which has a well-known white nationalist tilt and loves to publish stories about “black crime” and “Muslim hordes” beating down the gates of “Western civilization.” As Bannon has said, Breitbart functions as a mouthpiece for the “alt-right,” which largely serves as a rebranding label for various white nationalists and white supremacists.

Miller, who made headlines over the weekend defending Trump’s false claims of “voter fraud,” is a fierce advocate of “ethno-nationalism,” meaning the racist belief that Europe and America must protect their culture and civilization (which are white by default) from outsiders who do not share their “Judeo-Christian values.” Miller echoed those talking points on Sunday talk shows, claiming that “millions” of “illegal aliens” voted against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

As a college student, Miller worked on political projects, according to news reports, alongside his classmate Richard Spencer, one of America’s most prominent white supremacists.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Traitor Mike Flynn Has Been Removed: What Will the Deep State Do Next?

Mike Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser has been removed from office for "violating the trust" of the American Il Duce. Flynn's error? His did not properly conceal likely illegal communications with Russia and how spymaster Putin is playing Trump like a flipped asset.

Is Trump's house of cards crumbling? Doubtful.

But, the Deep State does seem to be moving in silence with it is prone to do. 

Mike Lofgren explains the Deep State at Bill Moyer's website in the following way:
Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.
Lofgren continues:
The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.
What comes next?

Trump is still advancing his political agenda and the Republican leadership is supportive. They are winning. Trump's high jinks are laughable and embarrassing. But, what are they distracting the news media and the American people from?  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Donald Trump’s White Nationalist Fantasy: America is not “Made for You and Me”

Woody Guthrie was one of the United States’ greatest folk singers and activists. Most Americans can recite the following lyrics from memory:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
These beautiful words were both a slogan and a demand.

Donald Trump does not share such egalitarian values.

Last week, Trump was the featured guest at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. where he outlined a vision of Christian nationalism. A twice-divorced man, repeat adulterer, professed sexual predator who has said he grabs women by their genitals, liar and fraud, guest star in a pornographic video and a person who is neither pious nor modest speaking on matters of God and faith might be seen as comedy gold. Likewise, Trump’s promises to tear down the boundaries between church and state could also be mocked as boilerplate right-wing talking points that only resonate with the ignorant or the politically unhinged.

In this historical moment, these matters are too serious to be greeted with laughter, however. Trump’s comments at the prayer breakfast are part of a much larger and very dangerous pattern.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Conversation with John Kinder About World War One, Disabled Veterans, Technology and Historical Memory

John Kinder is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is the author of Paying with Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran.

During this week's show, Chauncey and John discuss "human waste" and the other language that was used to describe disabled veterans, America's worship of technology and human improvement, the lies and other propaganda that were used to glorify the harm (and supposed recovery) of American soldiers during war, and why World War One matters in the present.

Dr. Kinder and Chauncey also talk about historical memory and the color line in cities such as Tulsa and Birmingham while reminiscing about their childhoods and a time before subcultures such as skateboarding and DJ culture had fully "sold out". 

During this week's podcast, Chauncey gloats about the epic New England Patriots Superbowl victory, talks about seeing George Takei's show here in Chicago, loses at the casino, and also ponders "Bootycandy". Chauncey also delivers an acceptance speech for the "IntellNigentsia" award which was bestowed on him by a prominent white supremacist website.

This episode with John Kinder can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

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

The Chauncey DeVega Show
can now be found on Spotify as well.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Complexion for the Protection: Yes, White Terrorism is "Different"

As I have written about many times, whiteness is the complexion for the protection.

Last week Donald Trump’s administration decided to divert some federal counterterrorism resources away from the threat posed by white supremacists and focus exclusively on radical Islam. Then in an effort to generate fear and paranoia about the dangers to the American people posed by Islamic terrorism, Trump released a list of 78 terrorist attacks committed by Muslims that he believes the American news media is somehow conspiring to conceal.

This list omits incidents of domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists, committed against Muslims, or committed by other right-wing extremists. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., had a revealing response when asked about this, as well as about the fact that Trump has never discussed the recent attack against Muslims praying at a mosque in Quebec, in an already infamous interview with CNN’s Alysin Camerota:
I don’t know, but I would just tell you there’s a difference. You don’t have a group like ISIS or Al Qaeda that is inspiring [attacks] around the world. That was a one off, Alisyn.
When asked about terrorist incidents such as the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building by Timothy McVeigh — a white man who was affiliated with white supremacist and right-wing militia groups— or the Charleston massacre committed by Dylann Roof, Duffy responded:
“So you give me two examples, right. And in recent times, we’re going to talk about the one example. That’s different than the whole movement that has taken place through ISIS and inspired attacks.
Duffy’s comments are a useful lesson in the way political partisanship and white privilege affects a person’s understanding of reality.

Terrorism is violence directed against a civilian population or other vulnerable targets in order to advance a political goal. The race or ethnicity of the victims or perpetrators should have little, if anything, to do with the definition.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

His People Know They Got Him in Their Pocket: White Nationalists Are Ecstatic Over Trump’s Proposed Policy Change on Terrorism

President Donald Trump no longer has any need for “dog-whistle racism” or subtlety. He now acts with boldness and clarituy. Last week, Donald Trump’s administration indicated that the Countering Violent Extremism program would no longer track white supremacist organizations. This shift of federal resources is but one more sign that Trump’s administration does not view protecting the civil rights of African-Americans and other people of color as an important mission.

Trump’s base of white supremacists and white nationalists, on the other hand, is rejoicing. A signal has been sent, and such individuals have heard it loud and clear.

Think Progress has reported:
News of Trump’s plan to reverse that symbolic recognition of right-wing threats prompted a wave of celebration in white nationalist circles. 
“Donald Trump wants to remove us from undue federal scrutiny by removing ‘white supremacists’ from the definition of ‘extremism,’” the founder and editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer (which takes its name from a Nazi propaganda publication) wrote in a post on the site. “Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.”
And Think Progress further noted:
But in Trump’s move to take even some measure of scrutiny off of far-right extremism, The Daily Stormer sees a direct parroting of their own writing and a reward for the far-right’s role in getting Trump elected. 
“It’s fair to say that if the Trump team is not listening to us directly (I assume they are), they are thinking along very similar lines. We helped get Trump get [sic] elected, and the fact of the matter is, without Alt-Right meme magick, it simply wouldn’t have happened,” the post continues. “This is absolutely a signal of favor to us.” 
Another neo-Nazi site that associates itself with the so-called “alt-right,” Infostormer, celebrated the news and took it as a sign of support. “We may truly have underestimated President Trump’s covert support of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this proposal, I am fully ready to offer myself in service of this glorious regime” the post reads.
This policy change cannot be viewed in isolation. It is part of a larger pattern.

Two of Donald Trump’s senior advisers, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, have long histories of association with white nationalists and white supremacists.

The Ku Klux Klan’s official newspaper, The Crusader, endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign.

David Duke, the former imperial wizard of the Klan who last year tried to win a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, enthusiastically supports Trump.

White supremacist organizations have been effusive in their praise of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and now his presidency. They view him as their champion and at the very least a fellow traveler in sharing their hateful ideology.

Trump’s defenders would say that such “guilt by association” is unfair and no public figure can be held responsible for all his supporters or endorsements. At least in this instance, this is superficial thinking and a weak logic.

White supremacists and other hate groups are attracted to Donald Trump for good reason. Trump has done the following:

1. Banned Muslims from entering the United States.

2. Vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border and deny “illegal immigrants” access to social services and other assistance.

3. Refused to allow blacks and other people of color to lease property in his buildings.

4. Placed white-nationalist sympathizers such as Bannon and Miller in senior White House roles.

5. Nominated for attorney general Sen. Jeff Sessions, a man who has repeatedly shown his disdain for African-Americans and actively worked to suppress their voting rights.

6. Threatened, at least by implication, to declare martial law in black and brown communities such as Chicago.

Ultimately, these statements and policies are in full agreement with the policies advocated by white supremacists and white nationalists.

The president of the United States has many responsibilities and obligations. His formal obligations include serving as the chief executive, commander in chief of the armed forces, chief law enforcement officer and chief diplomat. The president’s informal responsibilities include being the protector of economic prosperity, head of state, national cheerleader and the country’s moral leader.

Trump has now added an additional job title and responsibility: He is the white nationalist in chief of the United States of America. Unfortunately, his affinity for overtly racist policies and beliefs is not in and of itself an impeachable offense.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Trump Administration's Payoff to Its White Supremacist Supporters

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “take care of our African-American people.” Given Trump’s embrace of overtly or implicitly racist “law and order” policies, his history of racial discrimination against African-Americans and other people of color at his properties and his vigilante threats to commit a public lynching against the “Central Park Five,” there was always an element of menace to that declaration.
The threat is now confirmed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported as follows (with italics added):
The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States. 
Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are two of Donald Trump’s closest advisers. They both admire and are affiliated with white nationalists and white supremacists. Is this policy change a quid pro quo directed at the overt racists and neo-Nazis who supported Trump with enthusiasm? The American public will likely never know the answer. Nevertheless, the implications should be frightening: When the federal government declines to use its counterterrorism resources to combat violent white supremacy, it amounts to the same thing.
This decision by the Trump administration is part of a bigger pattern in which (white) Republicans and conservatives — and their media offshoots — systematically try to suppress information and investigations about the threat posed by right-wing militias and hate groups.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Conversation with Agustin Fuentes About Human Society, Primates, and Evolution

Agustin Fuentes is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and is one of the leading experts on human social evolution, primate behavior, human and non-human interaction, and communication. Dr. Fuentes is also the author of many books including the forthcoming, "The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional". During this week's show, Chauncey and Agustin talk about the biological fiction that is race, how humans are not "naked apes", DNA testing and ancestry, debunk the "killer ape" hypothesis, and try to make sense of Donald Trump's voters. Professor Fuentes also breaks Chauncey's heart by explaining that "humanzees" such as Oliver the Chimp do not actually exist.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey shares some of the recent articles about Donald Trump's junta and subsequent coup and reads some angry email from a Trumpthuglican. Chauncey also makes his obligatory Superbowl 51 prediction. 

This episode with Agustin Fuentes can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at Stitcher

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What Donald Trump's Totalitarianism Looks Like

We are only in the second week of Trump's regime. It feels like two years have already gone by. Exhaustion and distraction are his key strategies; they weaken the public and encourage their sense of learned helplessness.

Writing over at the Boston Review, Christopher Lebron has a must read essay on Donald Trump and totalitarianism. Words have meanings. Definitions matter. While the so-called liberal news media was poo pooing if Trump was indeed a fascist authoritarian (you know where I have stood on that issue for more than a year) smart folks knew better. Trump's political ideology (if we can call it that) is readily apparent. Trump is the Fascist in Chief of the United States and a white nationalist.

Lebron writes:
It does not take a full-on, totally successful, or even intentional totalitarian coup to put a democracy’s integrity at risk. You just need to weaken or destabilize enough key institutions, such as the EPA, to clear the way for your preferred perception of reality; you only need to offer a few “alternative facts” to distract the public from the real ones; you only need a handful of powerful friends in powerful positions to project your worldview nationally and globally. And as all this goes on, the rule of law that differentiates a democracy from other regimes begins to twist, constantly justified by security threats real, slightly real, or completely fabricated. And the twisting and deformation is persistently justified in the name of the people who must live with the new forms of surveillance, such as registries or enhanced facial recognition. The press is told to silence itself unless willing to describe all public celebrations of the president as affecting and tremendous, while legitimate knowledge producers, such as scientists, are muzzled. Suddenly it begins to seem as if you can see Russia from your house, no matter where you live. 
In her alarmingly relevant book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), political philosopher Hannah Arendt writes, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exists.” This means it is up to each and every citizen to resist by refusing the power of deception and the allure of fabrication. If the first week of Trump’s presidency is any indication, in full light of his personal history, every American, even his supporters, should begin to ask what, exactly, does it take to make America not great. The answer, you will find, is on the news every hour of every day.
Where do we go from here? And what do We the People do next?