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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Are American voters actually just stupid? A new poll suggests the answer may be “yes”

Are tens of millions of Americans really this stupid? If the findings from a new ABC News poll are any indication, then the answer is yes:
There’s no honeymoon for Donald Trump in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll but also no regrets: He approaches his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating at this point of any other president in polls since 1945 — yet 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they’d do so again today. . . .
Among those who report having voted for [Trump] in November, 96 percent today say it was the right thing to do; a mere 2 percent regret it. And if a rerun of the election were held today, the poll indicates even the possibility of a Trump victory in the popular vote among 2016 voters.
This is despite all the lies Donald Trump has told and all the campaign promises he has betrayed: He has not “drained the swamp” of lobbyists and corporate fat cats, has not built his “huge” and “amazing” wall along the Mexican-American border, has not returned jobs to the United States and has not repealed the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, as of Day 100 of his presidency Trump has fulfilled few of his main campaign promises.
Moreover, the fact that 96 percent of Trump’s voters would make the same decision again despite overwhelming evidence that President Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of installing Trump as a puppet candidate raises many troubling questions about how tens of millions of American voters were “flipped” by a foreign power to act against their own country.
It is easy to mock Donald Trump’s voters and suggest that their loyalty reflects poorly on their intelligence and capacity for rational thinking. Before doing so, one should consider the following ABC News-Washington Post data about Hillary Clinton’s voters:
Among surveyed Americans who say they voted in the 2016 election, 46 percent say they voted for Hillary Clinton and 43 percent for Trump — very close to the 2-point margin in the popular vote. However, while Trump would retain almost all of his support if the election were held again today (96 percent), fewer of Clinton’s supporters say they’d stick with her (85 percent), producing a 40-43 percent Clinton-Trump result in a hypothetical redo among self-reported 2016 voters.
That’s not because former Clinton supporters would now back Trump; only 2 percent of them say they’d do so, similar to the 1 percent of Trump voters who say they’d switch to Clinton. Instead, they’re more apt to say they’d vote for a third-party candidate or wouldn’t vote.
President Donald Trump is the antithesis of what Hillary Clinton’s voters desired in a candidate. And in many ways Donald Trump’s incompetent, ignorant, reckless, racist, demagogic and cruel behavior in office is worse than even his most concerned and cynical critics had predicted. This outcome should motivate Clinton’s voters to become more engaged and more active, instead of making a hypothetical decision, in a hypothetical election, that might actually give Trump a victory in the popular vote.
The findings from this new poll are troubling. But they should not come as a surprise.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Welcome to the Terrordome: Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions ramp up their crusade against black and brown Americans

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “take care of our African-American people.” Trump also asked black Americans, “What the hell they [had] to lose” by voting for him.

Given his naked embrace of racism and bigotry, there was an undercurrent of menace and malice in Trump’s first statement all along. And the answer to the second question was always, “a hell of a lot.” Trump’s presidency is still in its infancy. But in that short amount of time he has repeatedly demonstrated his hostility toward African-Americans, Latinos, First Nations people and Muslims. Their sense of safety, security, happiness, health and freedom are of no concern to him.

Trump’s attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama, has taken up that crusade with enthusiasm. In an op ed published earlier this week in USA Today, Sessions wrote this:

Violent crime is surging in American cities. To combat this wave of violence and protect our communities, we need proactive policing. Yet in some cities, such policing is diminishing — with predictably dire results . . . 
Yet amid this plague of violence, too much focus has been placed on a small number of police who are bad actors rather than on criminals. And too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe. . . 
When proactive policing declines and violent crime rises, minority communities get hit the hardest. We will not sign consent decrees for political expediency that will cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of the criminals. Every neighborhood needs to be safe and peaceful.
Sessions’ claims are based on a combination of half-truths and outright lies. There is no crime wave or “plague of violence” in the United States. In fact, crime is at or near record lows in most places, including President Trump’s home city of New York. Sessions also, by implication, is continuing with the disproved claim that there’s a war on America’s police (in reality, being a police officer is one of the nation’s safest jobs) or are somehow unfairly restrained by being forced to show minimal respect for the civil liberties of the Americans they supposedly “protect and serve.”

But images of feral, criminal black people carry great weight in the political imaginations of white voters, especially those who supported Donald Trump. As such the truth is sacrificed for the twin purposes of political expediency and serving America’s longtime obsession with “black crime.”

There is a small kernel of truth, however, in Sessions’ recent article — one that points to systemic problems of policing and the color line.

Sessions suggested that “too much focus has been placed on a small number of police who are bad actors rather than on criminals.” In absolute terms, it is true that only a small number of America’s police are brutalizing, killing and otherwise violating the rights of citizens, especially African-Americans and other people of color. But this small number of police are far too often actively protected and encouraged in their behavior by a broader police culture and leadership.

For example, the city of Chicago has identified 124 police officers who are responsible for 30 percent of police misconduct lawsuits, out of a total force of 12,000 officers. Instead of dismissing those officers, the city has chosen to pay $34 million in court settlements. This pattern is common in other cities as well. Protecting abusive officers is a political choice. They are kept on the force because the police are agents of social control who target people of color, the poor, the mentally ill and the homeless for harassment and violence. Ultimately, if it were only a few “bad apples” who abused the public, they would be quickly jettisoned for fear of ruining the whole bunch. Alas, it is very hard to ask a person to cut off his (or her) own arm.

Sessions’ promise to further unleash America’s police on the “inner city” in order to make sure that “every neighborhood” is “safe and peaceful” reflects a larger set of values and political priorities.

The president’s inner circle of advisers includes an alarming number of apparent white supremacists and alleged neo-Nazi sympathizers, who view people of color as a threat to white, Christian American identity.

Trump’s efforts to destroy the social safety net by repealing the Affordable Care Act and gutting programs that help the poor, children and the elderly will disproportionately impact black and brown Americans. In addition, Trump and Sessions are committed to expanding the “prison-industrial complex” and rolling back the modest efforts made by former President Barack Obama to curb some of its worst abuses, for example, by ending the federal government’s use of private prisons.

One should not overlook how unrestrained police power can also do the work of ensuring Republican electoral victories. By targeting nonwhites and other groups who are most likely to vote for the Democratic Party, Trump and his fellow Republicans can use felon disenfranchisement laws and mass incarceration, in combination with gerrymandering and other voter-suppression tactics, to subvert democracy and maintain power.

In many ways, Trump’s presidency is an effort to once again make American “white by law.” Sessions — a product of the segregated white South who has actively opposed laws that protect the voting rights of African-Americans and other minority groups — shares that commitment.

Writing for The Nation in 1966, James Baldwin made the following observations about police and the color line in America:
Now, what I have said about Harlem is true of Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco — is true of every Northern city with a large Negro population. And the police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests, and they have no other function. They are, moreover — even in a country which makes the very grave error of equating ignorance with simplicity — quite stunningly ignorant; and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty. 
This is why those pious calls to “respect the law,” always to be heard from prominent citizens each time the ghetto explodes, are so obscene. The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer. To respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.
Baldwin continued in the same essay with this personal reflection, one to which many African-Americans and other people of color, from the nation’s founding through to the age of Black Lives Matter and now Donald Trump’s election, can certainly relate:
I have witnessed and endured the brutality of the police many more times than once — but, of course, I cannot prove it. I cannot prove it because the Police Department investigates itself, quite as though it were answerable only to itself. But it cannot be allowed to be answerable only to itself. It must be made to answer to the community which pays it, and which it is legally sworn to protect, and if American Negroes are not a part of the American community, then all of the American professions are a fraud. 
This arrogant autonomy, which is guaranteed the police, not only in New York, by the most powerful forces in American life — otherwise, they would not dare to claim it, would indeed be unable to claim it — creates a situation which is as close to anarchy as it already, visibly, is close to martial law.
Social scientists and pollsters have determined that white racism propelled Donald Trump to the White House. This dynamic has been politely described as a “racist backlash” against Obama specifically and against African-Americans and nonwhites, more generally. A more direct way of describing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is that millions of white voters wanted to put “uppity” and “arrogant” black people “back in their place” for committing the political equivalent of the Jim Crow-era crime known as “reckless eyeballing” by supporting Obama. It would seem that the psychological wages of whiteness are so intoxicating that they can even motivate many millions of white Republicans and independents to support a neofascist, racist, misogynist and incompetent boor if they believe such a decision will hurt people of color and Muslims.

For every action there is a reaction. In the courts, the streets and at the ballot box, black and brown folks and their allies will push back. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump, as well as their voters and supporters in Trumplandia, will learn the limits of their power.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Conversation with Philosopher Henry Giroux About How the "Culture of Cruelty" Helped to Elect Donald Trump

Philosopher Henry Giroux is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is one of the leading authorities on critical pedagogy and what he describes as the "culture of cruelty" in the United States. Dr. Giroux has written many books and articles including America at War with Itself and the forthcoming The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism.

During this week's show, Henry and Chauncey discuss neo-fascism in America and the election of Donald Trump, the culture of cruelty and its assault on the commons, neoliberalism, the surveillance society, and how loneliness and bigotry influenced Trump's voters. Henry and Chauncey also talk about their working class roots and how that has impacted their politics and writing. Of course, given his love of cinema, Dr. Giroux makes some suggestions about recent films that both inform and reflect the current political moment.

In this week's podcast, Chauncey shares some thoughts about Bill O'Reilly's departure from Fox News and reads the court transcript of his infamous "falafel" sexual harassment lawsuit. And Chauncey continues sharing a newspaper story from the Chicago Tribune about the "hilbilly" panic from the 1950s--this time with letters to the editor.

This episode with Henry Giroux 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, April 20, 2017

Andrew Sullivan unintentionally reminds us that racism is the force that gives conservatives meaning

Last Friday Andrew Sullivan published an essay in New York magazine titled “Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton?” The argument presented therein was not novel, nor was Sullivan’s essay particularly insightful. The article is highly useful in some ways, however.

It is a reminder that while it may be fashionable to blame Donald Trump’s “white working class” voters for electing a racist incompetent, the bigotry that propelled Trump to the presidency is endemic to the Republican Party and modern conservatism as a whole. This includes its “reasonable,” “serious” and supposedly “principled” voices like Sullivan as well.

After meandering from a blistering attack on Clinton to an observation about Dr. David Dao (the passenger assaulted by police on a United Airlines flight last week after he refused to surrender his seat), Sullivan arrives at his money shot:
It’s easy to mock this reductionism, I know, but it reflects something a little deeper. Asian-Americans, like Jews, are indeed a problem for the “social-justice” brigade. I mean, how on earth have both ethnic groups done so well in such a profoundly racist society? How have bigoted white people allowed these minorities to do so well — even to the point of earning more, on average, than whites? Asian-Americans, for example, have been subject to some of the most brutal oppression, racial hatred, and open discrimination over the years. In the late 19th century, as most worked in hard labor, they were subject to lynchings and violence across the American West and laws that prohibited their employment. 
They were banned from immigrating to the U.S. in 1924. Japanese-American citizens were forced into internment camps during the Second World War, and subjected to hideous, racist propaganda after Pearl Harbor. Yet, today, Asian-Americans are among the most prosperous, well-educated, and successful ethnic groups in America. What gives? It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it? It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?
Andrew Sullivan is engaged in a classic example of attention-seeking behavior in which right-wing pundits make piss-poor, specious and under-theorized claims about race in America. As such, and quite unintentionally, he has provided a much-needed teachable moment.

Sullivan’s errors are many. For one thing, his claims provide a textbook example of the way modern racism no longer leverages claims of inherent biological differences regarding intelligence to elevate whites and demean nonwhites (especially black people). Instead, the discourse of modern racism uses arguments about “bad culture” to do the work of white supremacy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Kremlin on the Potomac: Trump’s White House makes Americans into strangers in a strange land

Donald Trump’s administration is a black box of confusion, chaos and incompetence. Those on the outside looking in are left confused and bewildered, desperately seeking signs and portents of what the most powerful man in the world will do next. This is not normal. In a time of global crises and increasing tensions it is also very dangerous.

The United States is supposed to be the world’s leading democracy. The health of a democracy is highly dependent on transparency and accountability. Trump’s administration has repeatedly shown his disdain for both of those fundamental principles. This is a lubricant for America’s further descent into fascism. It also signals to a much bigger problem.

Much has been written about how Vladimir Putin apparently sought to manipulate the 2016 presidential election in order to install Donald Trump in the White House.

But much less has been written about the damage that Vladimir Putin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — and the subsequent victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton — has done to America’s political culture. In many ways, Putin has turned the American people and its news media into “Kremlinologists,” but instead of being turned outward with the goal of trying to figure out the inner workings of Russia’s leadership, the American people and news media are focused inward on Donald Trump and his presidential administration.

Writing at Medium, Fabrice Deprez explains the concept of Kremlinology as:
…methods that find their origins in soviet times, when censorship and the totalitarian nature of the soviet regime forced western analysts to deduce power plays in the Kremlin from hints like the seating plans of officials during a parade or the various nominations published in soviet newspapers. Kremlinology can nowadays be used simply to describe the study of Russian politics, but is more often understood as the analysis of those small events — speeches, appointments, travel plans, the date or the composition of a meeting — that seems to bear no significance when taken alone but, when put together, allows (in theory) to deduce the great movements happening behind the Kremlin’s closed doors.
Kremlinology is also the interpretation of what isn’t: the absence of an official at a crucial meeting or the silence of Vladimir Putin about some issue … can quickly be used to draw conclusions about what’s going on.

In an interview at the website Stratfor, Eurasia specialist Lauren Goodrich explains the goals of Kremlinology:
First, it shows you what is the ultimate power structure within the Kremlin and the stability of the ultimate leader within the Kremlin, be it the Soviet leader or the current Russian president. What is the distribution of assets and wealth within the Kremlin, and who holds and gets to make decisions within those assets of wealth. And third, what’s the overall stability of the Russian state itself, because of the stability of the Kremlin?
Under Donald Trump, the American people and news media are being forced to learn the same habits.

For example, is Steve Bannon — the so-called “shadow president” — in good or bad favor with Donald Trump? Is Ivanka Trump a presidential horse whisperer who has her father’s ear and gives him orders about whether the United States should attack foreign countries such as Syria or North Korea? Autocrats such as Donald Trump consolidate power among a small group of people — usually their family and senior generals. To that end, how is Trump’s personal ambassador and son-in-law Jared Kushner manipulating the nation’s foreign policy to line the personal coffers of the Trump family at the expense of the American people?

Is Donald Trump angry or sad? What are his moods and sleep schedule? Should Donald Trump’s tweets be viewed as his way of communicating his true feelings to the public? How are right-wing conspiracy sites such as InfoWars influencing Donald Trump? Are unofficial right-wing state media such as Fox News and talk radio controlling the president? Or is Trump using them for his own purposes?

Who is visiting the White House? And why are Donald Trump and his inner circle so obsessed with keeping their names secret? What machinations are taking place at Trump’s private estate at Mar-a-Lago?

Likewise, what of this obsession on the part of Trump and many Republicans with who is “leaking” information about the inner workings of the White House to the press? Sean Spicer’s daily White House press briefings are a spectacle of overt lies and shameless dissembling. How much of what is said there should be taken seriously? Moreover, how much of Spicer’s routine is theater and organized confusion — a tactic torn from Putin’s playbook?

Just as Trump birthed an American version of fascism, this new type of Kremlinology turned inward to the White House and Washington will also have a distinctly American flair. It will combine “junk politics” and “anti-politics” together with celebrity culture; a corporate news media that is cowardly and desperate to appear “fair” and “unbiased” will take every opportunity to normalize Donald Trump; the American people will be encouraged by their leaders to rally around the flag in support of the president’s “splendid little wars.”

In 1991, the United States stood triumphant over the Soviet Union. This was not to be the “end of history” and the ushering in of an American Pax Romana. Two and a half decades later, Russia’s leader and former spy Vladimir Putin helped to elect an American president. Donald Trump promised to “make America great again.” Little did his voters realize that Donald Trump, the liar and Russian puppet, would instead transform the White House into the American Kremlin on the Potomac. The American people are now truly strangers in a strange land.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Conversation with Psychologist Sheldon Solomon About How Existential Angst and Death Anxieties Helped to Elect Donald Trump

Psychologist Sheldon Solomon is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is a leading authority on social psychology and is one of the scholars who developed what is known as "terror management theory". Dr. Solomon has written numerous books and articles including In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror and The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life.

During this week's show Sheldon and Chauncey discuss how existential angst and death anxieties influenced Trump's voters, Trump and destruction, how emotion can overcome reason in political decision-making, can any headway be made in bringing Trump's deplorables and other supporters back to normal society and reason, if individuals and cultures truly change, as well as the lack of expert voices on the role of psychology and politics in the mass media.

On this week's show, Chauncey shares some thoughts about being an only child and product of the working class, explains how White House spokesperson Sean Spicer is an anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier, and offers some thoughts about the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer and also the amazing second season of the Hap and Leonard television show. Chauncey also reads a newspaper story from the Chicago Tribune about how "hillbillies" were overrunning the city during the 1950s.

This episode with Sheldon Solomon 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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sean Spicer’s Holocaust Comments were Not a Mistake: Donald Trump's White House is a Hive of Racism, Bigotry and Anti-Semitism

Sean Spicer’s massively inappropriate and historically inaccurate statements about the Holocaust may have shocked many people. But they should not be surprising.
During Tuesday’s daily briefing, the White House press secretary said this, while stumbling through remarks about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians last week: “You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
In an effort to clarify this problematic claim, Spicer made matters worse:
I think when you come to sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. . . . He brought them into, um, the Holocaust center  —  I understand that. But I’m saying in the way Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down into the middle of towns, it was brought  —  the use of it  —  and I appreciate the clarification.
Not content to skulk away and hide in the shadows, Spicer issued a formal statement later in the day which read:
In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. . . . I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.
Sean Spicer is no master of doublespeak. “Holocaust centers” is a grotesquely vague and benign way to talk about the death camps where at least 6 million Jews and many thousands of other people — including gays and lesbians, Gypsies, communists and other undesirables — were exterminated by Hitler’s regime.
Perhaps Spicer would also describe the genocide of First Nations people in the Americas as “a casino land development project” and call the enslavement, killing and rape of black Americans in the antebellum South a “successful jobs program.”
Spicer’s comments on Tuesday should not be understood as a gaffe or mistake. They are part of a broader pattern of behavior from the Trump administration. Channeling the wisdom of poet laureate Maya Angelou, when people show you who they are you had best pay attention because they know themselves better than anyone else ever could.
Donald Trump is a neofascist and bigot who in interviews and other forums has effortlessly channeled the ideas of the early 20th-century white supremacist “race scientist” Madison Grant. Trump’s policies have also been heavily influenced by white nationalism.
Spicer’s comments offer one more example of how the Holocaust denial narrative found in the white-supremacist “alt-right” movement — whereby the crimes against humanity committed by Hitler are diminished, if not wholly erased — has infiltrated mainstream American conservative discourse.
Trump’s closest advisers include white nationalists and men influenced by neo-Nazi ideology. For example, White House aide Sebastian Gorka has been photographed wearing a medal associated with Nazi collaborators in Hungary. He has also publicly stated his support for a violent far-right political group known as the Hungarian Guard. Steve Bannon, the semi-disgraced White House strategic adviser, formerly headed the right-wing propaganda site Breitbart News, which has frequently served as a platform for white-supremacist and “alt-right” viewpoints. Bannon has also publicly endorsed the themes found in “The Camp of the Saints,” a 1973 French book that calls for genocidal violence against Muslims and nonwhites in Europe. Stephen Miller and Michael Anton, two other members of Trump’s inner circle, are enamored with the lie that “white civilization” is “under siege” by nonwhites and non-Christians and that these “outsiders” must be controlled or expelled from America and Europe.
The Trump administration refused to mention the specific suffering of the Jewish people in its statement affirming International Holocaust Remembrance Day. By definition, this is an act of anti-Semitism. Trump also did not issue a proper public condemnation of the wave of hate crimes committed against Jews, Hispanics, African-Americans, other people of color and LGBT people that were apparently inspired by his rise to power. The Trump administration also declined comment on the recent killing of a black man by a confessed white supremacist in New York.
In total, Spicer’s comments help us identify the Trump White House is as a political brand. What are this brand’s qualities? Bigotry, racism, nativism, misogyny and ignorance.
If Spicer were to properly educate himself about the Holocaust and Hitler’s Germany he might immediately learn a few important facts. Hitler’s forces did not use chemical weapons on the battlefield because there were few strategic or tactical advantages to be gained by doing so.
Likewise, Hitler’s forces did not use chemical weapons on a massive scale against the Jews who lived in population centers because such an approach would not kill them fast enough. An infamous letter from senior Nazi official Hermann Göring to Reinhard Heydrich, head of the German secret police, signals to this infamous and vile logic:
In completion of the task which was entrusted to you [on] January 24, 1939, of solving the Jewish question . . .  in the most convenient way possible . . . I [now] charge you with making all necessary preparations . . . for an overall solution of the Jewish question. . . . I further charge you with submitting to me promptly an overall plan . . . for the execution of the intended final solution of the Jewish question.
How was this “final solution” to be implemented? Through the use of gas chambers.
History echoes from the past through to the present: Sarin, the poison agent apparently used by Assad’s forces in Syria last week, was invented by the Nazi scientist Gerhard Schrader.
Spicer now rightfully faces public shame for his comments about “Holocaust centers” and his claim that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.” In his role as a professional liar, sycophant and mouthpiece for Donald Trump, however, Spicer is likely incapable of feeling an appropriate level of shame.
The American news media and public need to stop being shocked or surprised by the daily acts of hateful buffoonery that typify Donald Trump’s presidency. Instead they should be asking other questions: How did this happen? Why did millions of Americans vote for such a man and his policies? How deep is the rot in America’s civic culture? And how can it be excised from the American body politic so that nothing akin to the national and global embarrassment that is Donald Trump’s presidency ever takes place again.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Child King Donald Trump Now Has His Own 'Splendid Little War' in Syria

Last Thursday President Donald Trump ordered the United States military to fire dozens of missiles against a Syrian airbase in retaliation for that country’s use of chemical weapons against civilians in rebel-held territory. A Reuters report described this attack as “the toughest direct U.S. action yet in Syria’s six-year-old civil war.”
On the other hand, because the Trump administration warned its Russian counterparts prior to launching the attack, the Syrian government had time to evacuate its forces and equipment from the area.
This military action has demonstrated once again that Trump is a flagrant and unapologetic hypocrite. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he repeatedly said he would not intervene militarily in Syria and criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to do so.
This military action has demonstrated once again Trump’s inconsistent public policy and unpredictable “leadership.” As one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump attempted to bar Syrian children and other refugees from entering the United States. In February 2016 he told his supporters during a rally that he could look Syrian children in the face and say, “You can’t come”:
Look, we don’t know where their parents come from. Their parents should always stay with them, that’s very important, but we don’t know where the parents come from, they have no documentation. They may be ISIL, they may be ISIL-related. It could be a Trojan horse. If 2 percent of those people are bad the trouble is unbelievable.
Trump’s son Donald Jr. even went so far as to compare Syrian refugees to poisoned candy: “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”
Now Trump is apparently so deeply shaken by images of dead and dying children that he has ordered an attack on the Syrian government, even though his “Muslim ban” sought to put those same innocent children in harm’s way. Such a fact appears lost on Trump and his enablers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Conversation with Psychologist Philip Zimbardo About Donald Trump, the Stanford Prison Experiment, and How to be a Hero

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is one of the world's leading authorities on social dominance behavior and group dynamics. Most famous for the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Zimbardo has written dozens of books and articles including the most recent "The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life" and "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil". His new work examines heroism and the ability of individuals to contribute to the Common Good by being socially conscious and present in their day-to-day decision-making.

During this week's show, Dr. Zimbardo and Chauncey discuss the rise of Donald Trump and his impact on America's culture, bullying behavior by children, what does it mean to be a "hero", how to do small things to improve the world, and his reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment. 

On this week's show, Chauncey shares some thoughts about last weekend's Wrestlemania event, offers some comments about his widely read essay about Bernie Sanders and liberal racism, reads some hate mail and also one of the greatest comments about the vileness of Donald Trump and his inner cabal ever to be found on the Internet.

This episode with Philip Zimbardo 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.