Monday, March 27, 2017

Why Do Paul Ryan and Other Republicans Hate Poor People?

Republican Paul Ryan, like most other members of the U.S. Congress, is a millionaire.
Christa Patton is 68 years old. She is frail and no longer able to leave her home. She lives on a fixed income. Patton told Van Jones on a recent episode of his CNN show “The Messy Truth” that she would not be able to eat without the Meals on Wheels program.
Paul Ryan is the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. By his own account, in college he used to hang out with his friends and drink beer while sharing his dreams of cutting Medicaid. When Ryan was 15 years old, his father died from an alcoholism related heart attack. Ryan and his family then received his father’s Social Security survivor’s benefits. Ryan used that money to attend college. This was not the only money that Paul Ryan received from the federal government. His family built its wealth from receiving government contracts.
Like his idol Ayn Rand (who argued against the very idea of government and the commons yet received Social Security and Medicare), Paul Ryan has combined meanness, cruelty and callousness toward the weak and the vulnerable with gross and unapologetic hypocrisy.
Republicans like Ryan — along with the millionaires and billionaires who comprise Donald Trump’s Cabinet and inner circle — literally want to take food, shelter and health care away from poor people like Christa Patton. Today’s Republicans view these Americans as useless eaters to be disposed of by means both passive and active.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Conversation with Anti-Racism Educator and Activist Jane Elliott About the Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed Teaching Exercise, Racism, and the Rise of Donald Trump

Jane Elliott is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. Elliot is an anti-racism educator and activist who is most famous for her Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed teaching exercise.

During this week's show, Jane and Chauncey discuss Donald Trump and his racist movement, the origins of the Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed teaching exercise and the problem with language such as "white privilege". Jane Elliott also shares a powerful story about overcoming fear and confronting death threats.

On this week's show, Chauncey also shares his thoughts about how the Republican Party, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan want to kill the "useless eaters", the flood of developments that further implicate the Trump administration as being pawns of Vladimir Putin, and reads a personal story about the Meals on Wheels food program. During this week's podcast, Chauncey also warns the public about a child con artist who looks like Gary Coleman that scammed him out of money.

This episode with Jane Elliott 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, March 22, 2017

Poor White Peope are Mighty Entertaining: Donald Trump and the Hillbilly Problem

While talking with Malcolm Nance last week, I joked about the new genre of anthropological writing which focuses on the "white working class" and "hillbillies" who support Donald Trump. As Elizabeth Catte points out in a new essay (she is cool folks and will be a guest on my podcast in the future) in many ways this is a narrative in search of the facts. White folks in Appalachia and other parts of rural America are caricatures--derided as toothless wonders and meth heads--and scapegoats for how white folks across lines of class elected the fascist Donald Trump. 

Nevertheless, there remains the question, "Why do white and working class voters consistently support Republican candidates who actually hurt their economic livelihoods?" The answer should not be a riddle. The psychological wages of whiteness are great. These voters are making a choice based on "cultural values". These voters like to hurt other Americans and convince themselves that they are noble while doing so. The money is in the riddle and making the known into the unknown. Consequently, you will rarely if ever see the mainstream American corporate news media state those facts plainly. 

Here are some examples of plain speaking about Donald Trump and his white "working class" and poor "rural" voters that you may find of interest. 

And Kevin Williamson's "classic" (meaning for its entertaining prose and scorn) pieces on the "white ghetto" that is parts of Appalachia.  

This excellent piece on how "white poverty" as been rediscovered by the mainstream news media and American policy makers. 

What to do when the granular details and sentiments expressed by a writer--as in the case of Frank Rich who wants Trump trash to stay on their highway to hell--are correct but the big picture they paint is not?

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Postmodern President Will Survive: Donald Trump vs. James Comey and the FBI

James Comey testified to Congress today about the FBI's investigations of Donald Trump. Apparently, Trump's treasonous cabal has been the subject of an active investigation since at least July of last year. Yet, Comey--a Republican--chose to publicly discuss the non-scandal involving Hillary Clinton's emails and thus influence the election in favor of Donald Trump.

Trump's Russia connection? Silence and an active effort to force the American news media to not discuss the matter.

Trump's smear of Barack Obama and the claim that our outgoing real president was spying on the clown prince usurper? Comey says Trump is wrong--but apparently not lying. Such strong and accurate language is never to be used to describe Donald Trump it seems. The Democrats are pressing the issue of Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Republicans are obsessed with "leaks" as opposed to how a foreign country now has assets in the White House. Fox News continues its brainwashing operation. That disinformation outlet's headlines? Yup. Hysteria about "leaks" and not about Putin.

Trump will survive. His cadre will continue their effort to destroy the United States government from within unabated. He is a post modern president. Truth no longer applies. The BBC had a great short video on this new reality and how a framework developed to speak back to and undermine Power has now been repurposed in service of it.

Thoughts or predictions about Comey, Trump, and what comes next?

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Conversation with Political Scientist Andrew Gelman About the 2016 Election, Mama DeVega Makes Her Return, and Jane Elliott Chimes In

This week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show features three great guests.

Political scientist and statistician Andrew Gelman is the first guest. He is a professor at Columbia University and the author of several books including Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. He recently wrote a great piece for Slate called "19 Lessons for Political Scientists from the 2016 Election". During this week's episode, Dr. Gelman does some great teaching and sharing about the 2016 presidential election and what the so-called "smart people" got right and wrong.

Civil rights activist and educator Jane Elliott chimed in for the second segment of this week's podcast. She is most famous for her much discussed and documented Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes teaching and learning exercise from the 1960s. In the five decades since, Sister Elliot has not stopped speaking speak truth to power about the color line, prejudice, and bigotry in America and around the world. This is a preview of next week's full episode with Jane Elliott.

Mama DeVega also makes her return to The Chauncy DeVega Show. She gives thanks for the kind birthday gifts that the friends of the podcast and Chauncey DeVega sent her way. Mama DeVega and Chauncey also debate the merits of attending one's own funeral while still alive and how best to fake a death. Mama DeVega also shares a story about her encounter--or so she believes--with one of the 9-11 hijackers.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey talks about Sean Spicer's press conference where he defended Donald Trump's lies about wiretapping, the evil Trump 2018 budget and its plans to kill the "useless eaters", and gives out a "you big dummy award" to Rachel Maddow.

This episode with Andrew Gelman, Jane Elliott, and Mama DeVega 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, March 15, 2017

Intelligence Expert Malcolm Nance Believes That Donald Trump Could be the Benedict Arnold of Our Times

On an almost daily basis there are new revelations about the questionable and perhaps illegal connections between President Donald Trump’s administration (and before that his campaign) and the Russian espionage apparatus under the control of Vladimir Putin. It is no longer appears to be a question of whether the Russian government actively worked to undermine or affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, but who aided it in doing so.
Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign because he did not disclose his contacts with Russia. In addition, Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general, met repeatedly with the Russian ambassador and known intelligence operative Sergey Kislyak. Trump campaign aides Roger Stone and Paul Manafort also had extensive contacts with the Russian government. Stone has even publicly admitted to communicating with WikiLeaks — a group known to act as a conduit for classified information — in an effort to smear Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton. And Trump and his inner circle have unknown but likely extensive financial connections to Russian banks, financiers, corporations and the Russian government.
How much damage has been caused to the American people by Trump’s Russian gambit? Most important, are Donald Trump and his advisers working in support of Russian interests and against those of the Unites States? Are they traitors? How did this all transpire?
In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with Malcolm Nance, a career intelligence and counterterrorism officer for the United States government. In his more than three decades working in that capacity, Nance served with U.S. Special Operations forces, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. He has worked in the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. A frequent guest contributor on MSNBC, Nance has authored several books, including “The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election.”
In trying to make sense of  the constant revelations about Trump’s connections to Russia, we are often hearing the truism that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But in this case, it seems that the public is just seeing the tip of the iceberg. 
You are absolutely correct. I think that the activities that have occurred and the thing that we’re seeing indicate a scandal on an order of magnitude greater than anything that’s occurred in the 20th century. What’s occurring now is as close to Benedict Arnold as I think we’re ever going to get in American history. It had better be because the only alternative to what we’re seeing with this information is, if it’s not espionage, then it will be the largest financial scandal in American history.
One would think that someone would have taken Trump’s associates aside and told them, about the ambassador and others, “These guys are Russian spies using diplomatic status as cover?” Did they not understand that or did they just ignore it?
You would think that the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael Flynn — who had his own coterie of spies, by the way — would know that. But what would override that? Only one of two things would override that. This incredible belief that you give me a boatload of money and I get a boatload of money. Then you get these incredible, unbelievable returns promised to you, and you bring in more people. That’s what we’re seeing here, in this whole crew . . . and I refer to them in my book as “the Kremlin crew” . . . in that they saw relationships with Russia and the extractive energy industries as an ATM that would make them madly wealthy beyond anything if they controlled the levers of government.
The only other way to explain it is that they ideologically bought into [the idea] that Vladimir Putin is the greatest man on Earth and that the Russian antidemocratic system and autocracy is their way of life. I can’t believe that. I think they wanted to win at all costs, and at the end of “win at all costs,” whether that meant cooperating with Russia or working with them, there was the promise of outrageous quantities of money.
Why was the mainstream American media so far behind on the story with Trump and Russia? Incompetence? Fear? Laziness?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Representative Steve King is a Virulent White Racist--Which Makes Him the Perfect Republican for the Era of Donald Trump

Rep. Steve King is who the Republican Party actually is in 2017. No additional reminder of its character should be necessary. Yet too many people rage at individuals, groups and a political party that are truly beneath condemnation.
On Sunday King — who has represented northwestern Iowa in Congress since 2003 — used Twitter to send out a message of support for right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders and his bid to become prime minister of the Netherlands.
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. 
On Monday morning King refused to back away from this statement in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.” Host Chris Cuomo tried to draw him out: “Either a Muslim American, an Italian-American, an Irish-Scotch-German-American — which is what your roots are — either those are all equal things or they are not. What is your answer?” King paused and then said, “They contribute differently to our culture and civilization.”
This is not the first time King has trafficked in white supremacy. His portfolio of bigotry and racism includes claims that white people have “contributed more to civilization” and that others constitute some type of racial “subgroup.” Not surprisingly, he has also defended the American swastika, that is the Confederate battle flag.
King’s racist comments are also part of a much larger chorus of white supremacy that has recently swept across Europe in the form of far- right-wing political parties such as the National Front in France, Jobbik in Hungary and Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. This racist nativism has now borne rotten fruit in the United States with the rise of the Donald Trump and the white nationalist and white supremacist movement known as the alt-right.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Conversation with Malcolm Nance About the 2016 Election, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and the Plot to Hack America

Malcolm Nance is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. Nance was a career counterterrorism and intelligence officer for the U.S. government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security, and Intelligence agencies, with over 33 years of experience in combating radical extremism. An honorably retired U.S. Navy Arabic-speaking intelligence collections operator, field interrogator, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialist and founder of the Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival School, he spent more than two decades on clandestine antiterrorism and counterterrorism intelligence operations in the Middle East North Africa, the Balkans, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa in direct support of the Special Operations and Intelligence Community.

He is a frequent contributor to MSNBC and other media outlets such as CNN, ABC News, FOX News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya. Malcolm Nance is also the author of numerous books including The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election.

During this week's show Malcolm and Chauncey discuss how Vladimir Putin hacked and manipulated the 2016 presidential election as well as the United States corporate news media and Right-wing voters, map out how Donald Trump has likely been compromised by Russian intelligence agencies, the role of white supremacists such as Stephen Bannon and Sebastian Gorka in Trump's White House, spy craft, and the ways that Vladimir Putin's efforts to undermine American democracy are part of a larger global gambit.

On this week's show, Chauncey also shares his thoughts on the the new movie Logan, last week's WWE pay-per-view Fastlane,  and digs up some little known history about the role of African-American spies and other covert agents during the Civil War.

This episode with Malcolm Nance 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.

Monday, March 6, 2017

New Research Shows How Breitbart and the Broader Right-wing Hate Media Circulated Disinformation to Help Trump Win the White House

The Right-wing media is a propaganda operation that would make Nazi mastermind Joseph Goebbels proud. It is without peer in its ability to shape the hearts and minds of conservatives by circulating disinformation. The result is extreme polarization and cult-like insularity and behavior by Republicans and movement conservatives. These dynamics installed Donald Trump in the White House. With the help of Fox News, Breitbart, and the white nationalist Stephen Bannon, Trump now has his own state controlled media that he can use to shape the public discourse and political imagination.

A new article in the Columbia Journalism Review uses sophisticated social network and other data analysis tools to map the connections within and dimensions of the Right-wing news disinformation machine. Some key excerpts:
The right-wing media was also able to bring the focus on immigration, Clinton emails, and scandals more generally to the broader media environment. A sentence-level analysis of stories throughout the media environment suggests that Donald Trump’s substantive agenda—heavily focused on immigration and direct attacks on Hillary Clinton—came to dominate public discussions.

Coverage of Clinton overwhelmingly focused on emails, followed by the Clinton Foundation and Benghazi. Coverage of Trump included some scandal, but the most prevalent topic of Trump-focused stories was his main substantive agenda item—immigration—and his arguments about jobs and trade also received more attention than his scandals.

While mainstream media coverage was often critical, it nonetheless revolved around the agenda that the right-wing media sphere set: immigration. Right-wing media, in turn, framed immigration in terms of terror, crime, and Islam, as a review of Breitbart and other right-wing media stories about immigration most widely shared on social media exhibits. Immigration is the key topic around which Trump and Breitbart found common cause; just as Trump made this a focal point for his campaign, Breitbart devoted disproportionate attention to the topic.

What we find in our data is a network of mutually-reinforcing hyper-partisan sites that revive what Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style in American politics,” combining decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world. “Fake news,” which implies made of whole cloth by politically disinterested parties out to make a buck of Facebook advertising dollars, rather than propaganda and disinformation, is not an adequate term. By repetition, variation, and circulation through many associated sites, the network of sites make their claims familiar to readers, and this fluency with the core narrative gives credence to the incredible.
The whole article can be read here. I suggest you do so. It is invaluable for those of us who want to understand how the American Il Duce Donald Trump stole the presidency.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Conversation with Colin Dickey About Ghosts, Hauntings and American Cultural Memory

Colin Dickey is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is the author of several books including Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. During this week's show Chauncey and Colin channel the Art Bell show as they discuss hauntings and collective memory, why skepticism is a requirement, the Winchester ghost sightings, the TV show American Horror Story, Native American burial grounds, as well as the color line, slavery and the spectral imagination. Colin and Chauncey also debate the merits of the recent Ghostbusters reboot and the very problematic gender politics of the original film. 

During this week's podcast, Chauncey talks about his trip home to see Mama DeVega, what it was like to shoot an AR-15 at the gun range, and offers an assessment of the recent revelations about the traitors in the Trump White House. Chauncey also does a little research and shares an audio recording of a former black American slave telling the WPA project the ghost stories he learned as a child.

This episode with Colin Dickey 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.