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- 20% of the Arrested Capitol Insurrectionists Have Military Backgrounds; Top Brass Need to Teach Enlistees What They Are Defending
- If We Treated Teachers Like Pro Athletes – Key & Peele
- The Meaning of the Mittens: Five Possibilities
- JOE MANCHIN WAS HIT WITH TOUGH AD BACK HOME AFTER GOING WOBBLY ON $2,000 CHECKS
- A MASSACHUSETTS DEMOCRAT PUSHED HIS PARTY ON ITS ALEX MORSE HANDLING. GETTING CALLED A “FAGGOT” WASN’T EVEN THE WORST RESPONSE.
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- YOU COUNTER TRUMPISM BY ENDING THE CONDITIONS WHICH CREATED IT, NOT WITH AUTHORITARIAN POLICIES
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- You Are Great: In Loving Memory of Don Bechler
- Bernie’s Mittens
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The Pentagon Could Use A Course In Basic Citizenship
By Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport Opinion Editor
January 23, 2021 (dcreport.org)
Terry H. Schwadron
The more we look at the Jan. 6 Insurrection at the Capitol, the more we see attackers with military experience.
A National Public Radio (NPR) analysis of the 140 arrested to date says one in five was a military veteran who clearly had sworn in the past to protect the Constitution and democracy. By comparison, veterans represent about 7% of Americans altogether.
That there are strains of political extremism in the military, outward expressions of support for white supremacy and racism is hardly new. But participation in a violent attack on our Capitol raises questions anew.
Participation in a violent attack on our Capitol raises questions anew.
Simply put, the military needs to teach basics to our volunteer army to ensure that the troops know what they are defending.
It’s a situation serious enough to prompt Defense Secretary-designate Lloyd Austen to start his testimony in Senate confirmation hearings by committing to investigating and uprooting extremism, racism and sexism in the military before he was asked a question.
Of course, others who should know better, including some Republican members of Congress and state officials, also find themselves targets for re-education about basic civics. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) had to be told, for example, that the inauguration date could not be postponed; it is mandated in the Constitution.
NPR reporters reviewed military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports of those arrested so far. They found that at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20%, served or are serving in the U.S. military. Several face charges of violent and disorderly conduct at the Capitol. The charges may be upgraded to felonies, including domestic terrorism and sedition.
We’ve seen the many videos showing people in military-style helmets carrying zip-tie restraints and makeshift weapons. Some rioters appear to have links to groups like the Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary group that includes many retired military and law enforcement personnel.
These reports came as prosecutors filed their first serious conspiracy charges, accusing three members of the Oath Keepers with plotting the riot in advance.
It’s Not New
A year ago, The Military Times polled military members. It said more than a third of active-duty troops and more than half of minority service members said they witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months. Those numbers were higher than in the previous year.
The military outlet said it was a “troubling snapshot of troops’ exposure to extremist views while serving despite efforts from military leaders to promote diversity and respect for all races.”
Troops said they saw “swastikas being drawn on service members’ cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals.”
By contrast, the military has imposed rules for gang members joining our volunteer army. As far back as 2008, according to the FBI, 1% to 2% of the U.S. military belonged to gangs, which is 50 to 100 times the rate in the general population. Upon joining, the military insists on removal of gang tattoos, for example.
The military, which over years has been a model for training and education efforts, is active in training officers to recognize foreign terrorism efforts. However,, it readily acknowledges lagging behind at examining its own ranks for such disturbing trends.
Indeed, the Pentagon had developed programs aimed at increasing understanding the roots of Islamist terrorism, only to find itself surprised by the emergence of lone-wolf outbreaks at home, as in the killings by a rogue Army officer at Fort Hood in Texas in 2013.
Still, that is a long way from seeking to root out affinity within its ranks or among its veterans for the kind of anti-democratic riot that hit the Capitol over a basic desire to declare election fraud and nullification.
Air Force veteran Larry Rendall Brock Jr. was photographed in his tactical gear in Senate chambers. According to court documents, he said on Facebook that he was preparing for a “Second Civil War,” and that “we are now under occupation by a hostile governing force.”
Jacob Fracker, 29, was an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps, deployed twice to Afghanistan and is a member of the Virginia National Guard and a police officer. He and Thomas Robertson, 47, an Army veteran, also face charges.
Right-wing militias and anti-government groups are targeting the military and veterans, federal officials say.
General Austin, who would be the nation’s first Black defense secretary, said he would fight hard “to rid our ranks of racists.” He added, “The Defense Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”
Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told NPR that the military’s efforts are largely “haphazard” and “it’s not like the military is just tolerating white supremacists.”
But efforts to address the problem need to be more systematic. “Not only does there need to be training,” Pitcavage said. “But there also need to be clear expectations coming down from on high about what you should do when you encounter an extremist in your unit, at your base or whatever the circumstances are, and that here are the procedures that need to be followed.”
After Jan. 6, the Defense Department said there were 68 notifications of investigations by the FBI last year of former and current military members pertaining to domestic extremism.
In his inaugural address, Joe Biden pledged to combat “a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism.”
It sounds as if teaching the basics of democracy and civics for the military ought to be high on that list.
Featured image: Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr., 53, was photographed in the Senate chamber on Jan. 6. Brock was wearing a combat helmet and carrying zip-tie restraints. (Federal criminal complaint)
Key & Peele Boyd Maxwell and Perry Schmidt report on the latest developments in the exciting world of pro teaching on “TeachingCenter.” About Key & Peele: Key & Peele showcases the fearless wit of stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as the duo takes on everything from “Gremlins 2” to systemic racism. With an array of sketches as wide-reaching as they are cringingly accurate, the pair has created a bevy of classic characters, including Wendell, the players of the East/West Bowl and President Obama’s Anger Translator. Subscribe to Key & Peele: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdN4… For more original comedy, check out @Comedy Central Originals: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNVB… Watch more Comedy Central: https://www.youtube.com/comedycentral Follow Key & Peele: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeyAndPeele/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/keyandpeele Watch full episodes of Key & Peele: http://www.cc.com/shows/key-and-peele Follow Comedy Central: Twitter: https://twitter.com/ComedyCentral Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ComedyCentral/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/comedycentral/
The symbolic power of Bernie’s old pair of mittens was the work of the “us” in “not me, us.”
January 21 2021 (theintercept.com)
Attendees including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listen during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2021. Photo: Caroline Brehman/Pool/AP
Pity the art directors, the stylists, and the stage managers. So much effort, taste, strategy, and money went into planning the semiotics of Joe Biden’s inauguration. The precise shade of Kamala Harris’s royal purple (screw you Vogue and your sloppy cover!). The selection of a smallish made-in-New-York brand to dress Jill Biden in ocean blue (way to support small businesses in a pandemic!). The sheer weight of Lady Gaga’s gold dove brooch (the “Hunger Games” fun of it!).
And yet it was all for naught. Because in a sea of exquisitely matching face masks, Bernie Sanders’s ratty old mittens upstaged them all, instantly becoming the most discussed, delighted-in, and deranged visual message of the historic occasion. What should we make of this? Why did so many millions connect to whatever language the mittens were speaking? Was it pandemic delirium — all of us projecting our social isolation onto the most isolated person in the crowd? Was it sexism and racism, the Bernie Bros once again failing to acknowledge the subversive messages expressed in the fashion choices of glass-ceiling shattering women? Was it, as a friend just texted as I typed these words, “the world’s secret wish that Bernie was our president”?
What is the meaning, the mittenology of it all?
As with so much else related to this new administration, it’s too soon to tell. What follows are five possibilities.
1. The Mittens as Reserved Judgment
Much of the media focus has been on the mittens themselves: their 1970s cross-country ski anti-style. Their handmade-ness in a world of mass manufacturing. Their haphazardness and the fact that Bernie clearly didn’t spare a single brain cell deciding to wear them beyond “It’s cold. These are warm.”
Just as important, however, is the posture of the mitten-wearer: the slouch, the crossed arms, the physical isolation from the crowd. The effect is not of a person left out at a party but rather, let’s be honest, of a person who has no interest in joining.
At an event that was, above all, a show of cross-partisan unity, Bernie’s mittens stood in for everyone who has never been included in that elite-manufactured consensus.
It wasn’t a boycott of the occasion itself; nobody wanted Trump out more than Bernie. But it expressed an unequivocal reservation of judgment about what was coming. Those crossed arms were the mittens saying, “Let’s see what you actually do and then we can talk about unity.”
2. The Mittens as Warning
But it was more than that. There was also, if you look closely, a woolen warning. The world went nuts for Bernie’s sullen inauguration posture because he was keeping alive the hope that there is still moral opposition to concentrated power and money in the United States — at a time when we need it more than ever.
In that moment, Bernie’s crossed arms and sartorial dissonance seemed to be saying, “Do not cross us.” If, after all the hoopla, the Biden-Harris administration doesn’t deliver transformational action for a nation and a planet in agony, there will be consequences. And unlike during the Obama years, those consequences won’t take years — because the revolutionary spirit is already on the inside, and it’s wearing mittens.
3. The Mittens as the Conscience of Liberals
Bernie’s mittens have not only been an obsession among the senator’s base, those of us who had dearly hoped to see that slab of scratchy wool placed over a Bible earlier this week. They have also been a surprising hit among liberals — many of the same liberals who spent the primaries publicly gagging over the prospect of a President Sanders (so shouty, so pointy, so angry). And yet here they are forwarding mitten memes and sharing delightful stories about how the gloves were handmade by a teacher (crafty!) or that time Bernie lent them to a chilly health care worker (a “hand-warming” tale!).
What’s up with that? Why is Bernie the dangerous socialist suddenly everyone’s lovable grandpa? On one level, it’s simple enough: Even as chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders is far less of a threat to them than he was as a presidential candidate running on a promise to redistribute wealth and take the profit motive out of health care. Put another way, for the elite of the Democratic Party, it’s easy to love Bernie when he’s redistributing handmade mittens — so long as he keeps his mitts off their donors’ billions.
In some ways, it’s even useful to tolerate a scruffy wing of the party precisely because the leadership is so cut off from its working class base. In that context, publicly embracing Bernie at this late date plays a role similar to the various pseudo-populist primary season stunts, like very publicly eating fried foods you hate or wearing regular people clothing.
Which brings us to a related mitten meaning:
4. The Mittens as Street Cred
In liberal media outlets, inauguration week marked a giddy return to the Obama era of covering the first family as Davos-class celebrities. Does Biden’s Peloton bike present a security risk? Who dressed Jill Biden? Have you seen Kamala’s sister’s badass feminist sweatshirts? This strand of politician-as-lifestyle coverage had been largely dormant during the Trump era. Sure, the White House was filled with rich and thin people wearing and consuming expensive and desirable things. But they were proto-fascists and shameless grifters, so dwelling too much on Melania’s capes and Ivanka’s jewelry was a bad look.
That’s all over now. And yet nagging PR concerns remain. We are, after all, in a global pandemic and hunger is soaring — even if the ultrarich have vastly increased their wealth during this period of mass death. Enter the mittens. It’s clear that some people in the upper reaches of the Democratic Party understand that if they are going to bask in a glamorous return to neoliberal “normal,” there needs to some nod to reality. The fact that Bernie was there, in his duffle coat and mittens and disposable mask, was quickly adopted as that nod.
But don’t be fooled. Because there is another, more powerful meaning of the mittens.
5. The Mittens as Movement Flex
There are the mittens qua mittens. But there are also the mittens qua meme, a supercharging of the mittens’ symbolism that seemed to occur within seconds of their arrival on the scene. Before Gaga had sung the national anthem and before Biden had said “unity” nine times and “uniting” an additional three times, Bernie’s mittens were flying around the internet. Within hours he had been superimposed onto thousands of iconic images, spliced into films, and was trending everywhere things can trend.
It is crucial to understand that this had nothing to do with anything Bernie did — other than be Bernie in the only way he knows how. Like so much of his historic 2020 primary campaign, the symbolic power of the mittens was the work of the “us” in “not me, us,” a decentralized movement of movements that represents thousands of grassroots organizations and tens of millions of voters, and that stands for policies supported by majorities of Democratic voters, according to many polls, but are still rejected by its elite. Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, student debt cancellation, free college, a wealth tax, and more.
On Biden’s big day, the movement that represents those policies and those values made global meaning out of a pair of old mittens. It did because it could. It was a friendly little flex with a not-so-friendly undercurrent. We’re still here, it said. Ignore us, and we won’t sit nearly so quietly next time.
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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wears a protective mask as he waits in line to vote for a Democratic caucus rules change at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 9, 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
In 2009, progressive organizations were warned by the White House not to pressure conservative Democrats. Biden doesn’t have that control this time.
January 21 2021 (theintercept.com)
EARLIER THIS MONTH, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, appeared to have taken an unequivocal stance against new $2,000 stimulus checks. He told the Washington Post that he was “absolutely” opposed to a new round of payments, which President Joe Biden promised while campaigning for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia. “Absolutely not. No,” Manchin said. “Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1.”
Under fire, he claimed that he meant that there were higher priorities, not that he was necessarily opposed. But he sounded quite down on them. “I don’t ever remember FDR recommending sending a damn penny to a human being. We gave ’em a job and gave ’em a paycheck. Yeah. Jesus criminy, can’t we start some infrastructure program to help people, get ’em back on their feet? Do we have to keep sending checks out?” Manchin told the Post.
Despite representing one of the poorest states in the nation, Manchin has resisted calls for direct payments, needlessly pitting stimulus checks against unemployment benefits. Last month, he reportedly fought Sen. Bernie Sanders’s attempt to include robust stimulus checks in pandemic relief negotiations.
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check,” he said.
Since then, Manchin has shifted rather markedly. Over the weekend, Manchin went on “Inside West Virginia Politics,” saying he would prefer that the checks are targeted to the people most impacted by the pandemic, but if there’s no way to target them, it’s more important to “get more money out.” Though he insisted infrastructure should be the priority, committing to spending as much as $4 trillion over 10 years, he did say that he would like to see bigger stimulus checks “done immediately to take care of the people that need help” and “make sure those people are getting it.”
It may be no coincidence that not long after Manchin’s initial comments to the Washington Post, he was getting pounded at home by a brutal radio ad. “Joe Manchin thinks he knows better than both our president and the Democrats,” says the ad. “I guess Joe just don’t know what it’s been like to live through the pandemic. We should call his office and let him know.”
The spot was narrated by Corbin Trent, the former spokesperson for New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Trent, Justice Democrats co-founder Zack Exley, and former Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti had put together a new political action committee — the No Excuses PAC — to pressure Manchin to back the $2,000 checks. The ad reached an estimated quarter million people each time it aired, according to Trent. It was precisely the kind of targeted ad that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in 2009 told progressive groups was “fucking retarded” and needed to come off the air. The progressive groups complied.
Now, with an evenly divided Senate, Democrats like Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are uniquely positioned to hold leverage over their party and block desperately needed relief. House Democrats also have little room for error in steering the nation out of a crisis, given their razor-thin margin. No Excuses PAC intends to push back against any Democratic lawmakers who try to hamper ambitious policy with similar rapid-response ad campaigns in the future, Trent told The Intercept.
“The only way we won’t do this is if Democrats just push through everything that needs to be done, keep all their promises, and do what’s right for the people who just gave them the House, the Senate, the White House,” Trent said. “But my guess is — not to be a jaded, cynical bastard — my guess is they’re going to need a little bit of encouragement, a little bit of cajoling from time to time.”
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Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse speaks with reporters after his loss to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District on Sept. 1, 2020, in Holyoke, Mass. Photo: Hoang “Leon” Nguyen/The Republican via AP
A meeting of the Cambridge Democratic City Committee is a microcosm of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
ON WEDNESDAY, January 13 — the same day that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst released the results of an investigation into the romantic life of Alex Morse, finding no wrongdoing — the Cambridge Democratic City Committee met to debate a resolution brought forward by a local ward condemning the party for its handling of the situation.
It did not go well.
Backers of the resolution were surprised that opponents were ready with a substitute amendment, which replaced the call for the Massachusetts Democratic Party chair’s resignation and broad criticism of the organization’s handling of the scandal with vague affirmation of the party’s commitment to LGBTQ people.
It got even worse.
When party member Dan Totten, one of the leading proponents of the resolution, voted against the amendment, a party board member, George Goverman, shot back: “You faggot.”
Audio of the meeting is included in this week’s Deconstructed podcast, along with an interview with Totten. Goverman spoke to Deconstructed but declined to do a recorded interview; he said he thought his mic was off during the meeting and that he had reached out to Totten. “I have reached out and as far as why I said it, I think it’s pure stupidity, and that’s about all I can say,” said Goverman. “I really didn’t know I was on an open mic.”Join Our NewsletterOriginal reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you.I’m in
The Alex Morse “scandal” exploded in August after students with the UMass College Democrats and the College Democrats of Massachusetts told the Holyoke mayor he was no longer allowed at their events in a letter which was leaked to the Massachusetts Daily Daily Collegian on August 7. Full of vague claims of inappropriate conduct, the letter threatened to derail the mayor’s congressional campaign against incumbent Rep. Richard Neal.
The Intercept subsequently revealed the charges were part of a scheme on the part of students to take down the progressive insurgent, done in collaboration with the state party. Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford, along with party Executive Director Veronica Martinez, had acted to connect students making the vague claims against Morse with party attorney Jim Roosevelt in July.
Asked if he planned to resign from the party board, Goverman said that he was leaning in that direction.
DURING THE Cambridge Democratic City Committee meeting, Totten was outspoken about his support for the resolution that would have called for the resignation of Bickford for “aiding and abetting an attack on a LGBTQ candidate,” in part because “such attacks may discourage more diverse and younger people from participating in the Party; thereby weakening the party’s ability to win elections.” The CDCC is one of many grassroots party organizations across the state whose leadership is elected at the ballot box.
Displeasure with Bickford’s handling of the scandal is not unique to Cambridge, though Bickford was recently reelected party chair by a landslide on the back of the state party’s entrenched old guard. Lifetime members — who are allowed to serve at will without running for their position — overwhelmingly backed Bickford, who beat out challengers Bob Massie and Mike Lake with 62 percent of the vote in the November 12 contest.
“93 percent of lifetime members who voted, voted for Gus,” Matt Walsh, a Massachusetts Democratic State Committee member, told The Flashpoint newsletter. “86 percent of people under 36 voted against him.”“We’re a party that proclaims to be pro-everyone but our leadership, membership, and many electeds lack any true understanding of what it means to be an anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist party.”
According to Donovan Birch, a member of the state committee who has been helping lead the push against Bickford for his actions, “frustration” with the chair is pervasive in Massachusetts Democratic town and ward committees.
“Many folks believe he should resign and are organizing their individual town and ward committees,” said Birch, who is gay. “Folks are taking these actions on their own in an effort to keep the pressure on.”
“We’re a party that proclaims to be pro-everyone but our leadership, membership, and many electeds lack any true understanding of what it means to be an anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist, etc. party,” Birch added.
The Cambridge meeting quickly turned contentious as other party members — including Roosevelt himself — instead worked toward the passage of a watered-down resolution that neither named Bickford nor called for concrete action. Rather, the new resolution offered suggestions on how the party could better address concerns of LGBTQ members.
One of the new resolution’s biggest boosters in the meeting was none other than Roosevelt himself, who repeatedly misrepresented the findings of a report prepared for the state party by attorney Cheryl Jacques.RelatedDemocratic Officials Lied About Role in Alex Morse Smear, Internal Report Finds
Roosevelt claimed “the Jacques report found that there was no homophobic intent or action in the actions by Gus Bickford,” while Jacques instead said that she did not make findings either way on the “motivations” for any actions taken — a clarification helpfully located at the top of the report on the first page. Roosevelt also said, “Mayor Morse responded and acknowledged there were no false allegations.” While Morse has acknowledged “concerns” and apologized for making anyone uncomfortable, he never made a statement on the nature of the allegations — since, in fact, no concrete allegations were made.
The Intercept asked Roosevelt what he made of the suggestion that while Goverman’s slur was the most explicit expression of bigotry at the meeting, the entire thrust of the opposition was touched with homophobia. Roosevelt pointed to the state party investigation which he claimed found no evidence of homophobic intent. Asked why so many people felt otherwise, he said, “I think they’re misinformed. I don’t think they understand the facts of what happened. Now, I’m not saying that there was no homophobic motivation by any of the students, but I don’t have any way of knowing that one way or the other. There’s some pretty good evidence there was some careerist motivation among some of the students. Whether there was any homophobic intent really there, I don’t have any way to know.”
The perceived undercurrent of homophobia in Roosevelt’s framing struck Democratic State Committee member Nancy Stenberg, whose district includes Morse’s home, as an indication that the state party doesn’t reflect its members.
“Jim Roosevelt’s words and actions during this meeting are a continuation of his pattern of lies about his role in the Morse matter,” Stenberg said. “He continues to parrot the old tropes, designed to re-enforce his hold on a Democratic Party model that will only be changed when we permanently remove these sadly misguided homophobic members.”
Chris Addis, a member of the Cambridge Democrats who was also on the call, told The Intercept that he saw the incident last Wednesday as “further evidence that homophobia and other forms of bigotry are alive and well in the Massachusetts Democratic Party and don’t simply age out.”
Addis told The Intercept that a restorative justice process was needed that would hold both Roosevelt and the party as a whole accountable for the ongoing issues with how Massachusetts Democrats treat their LGBTQ members.
“If he doesn’t agree to said process I think he should step down,” Addis said.
DURING A ROUTINE vote as the process stretched into its third hour, Goverman blurted out the slur after Totten voted. The slur was the subject of fallout later in the meeting, as members called for Goverman to resign from the city party.
Totten wrote about his experience in the local newspaper Cambridge Day and told The Intercept that he was in fact more bothered by the subtle homophobia on display in the meeting before the slur was uttered.
“At this point in the meeting, I knew we were going to lose the vote by five or six votes,” Totten said. “If this homophobic slur had come in a different context, I’d have been much more taken aback. But here I was like, you know, that’s kind of the natural extension of the argument that was just made.”
Totten noted Goverman’s defense, which he also offered to Totten, implies that the only problem was that the mic was on and that it’s not an isolated case.
“I don’t use that word except to myself and very rarely to myself,” Goverman told The Intercept. “It was not meant to go out to the meeting. I mutter things to myself and that’s one of them. One of the things I mutter to myself is ‘communist.’ Because I’m an old guy and back when I was growing up, anything I disagreed with would have to be communist. So it’s just a bad habit. Even when I agree with someone, I sometimes will say communist. … It’s a silly thing.”
Throughout much of the 20th century, homophobia and anti-communism were tightly linked. The hunt for gay civil servants being blackmailed by the Soviets was led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and known as the Lavender Scare.
Told that people at the meeting felt that while his blurting out of a slur was the most explicit expression of homophobia, the entire push against the resolution was as well, Goverman declined to comment. But, he said, he was disturbed when the party treasurer, a longtime activist, resigned in protest.
DSC member Walsh, who is also a member of the gay community, said the comments from Goverman are part of a larger problem: a partywide culture of permissiveness toward homophobia that needs to be addressed.
“Unfortunately, most members of the community, myself included, have been on the receiving end of that slur countless times,” he told The Intercept in a text message. “People use it to dehumanize, and to justify treating LGBTQ+ folks as less than human. After all — we’re not people, we’re just f*ggots.”
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Also, Indigenous and environmental justice activists are shutting down pipeline projects, and Joe Manchin is ready to back a big infrastructure bill
|Julia Rock Jan 23, 2021 (The Daily Poster)|
By Julia Rock
THINGS THAT YOU LOVE TO SEE:
- Biden To Issue Executive Order To Send Aid To Families (New York Times) — President Joe Biden is planning to issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal employees and make it easier for them to bargain collectively. Biden is also taking steps to ensure that people who have not yet received their stimulus checks will get them, and is pushing for new labor policies that would allow workers to collect unemployment benefits if they fear working in unsafe working conditions due to COVID-19.
- Biden Fires NLRB Director (Washington Post) — In a signal that his administration is willing to stand up for working people, Biden fired the National Labor Relations Board’s Trump-appointed general counsel and his deputy after they refused to resign from their posts.
- People Support Democracy Reform (Data For Progress/Equal Citizens poll) — Two thirds of likely voters, including a majority of Republicans, support H.R. 1, the For The People Act, legislation that would limit the influence of money in politics and end partisan gerrymandering.
- Even Joe Manchin Knows We Must Go Big — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has said he would support a $4 trillion infrastructure bill, which shows just how far the Democratic Party has come. For context, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s infrastructure proposal in 2018 was just $1 trillion.
- Dems Press IRS To Probe Dark Money Groups Behind Insurrection (CNBC) — Senate Democrats, including Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, are asking the IRS to review and look into revoking the nonprofit statuses of dark money groups involved in organizing the rally before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
- Youth Organizers Win a 100 Day Deportation Moratorium — Biden announced a 100 day moratorium on most deportations on his first day in office, something that immigrant youth organizers had first asked him to do in Iowa in 2019.
- Keystone XL Is Dead (DeSmog Blog) — “The cancelation of Keystone XL cements a legacy of climate activism, a movement that has grown into a powerful force in American politics. The end of the pipeline is also a major victory for the many Native American tribes who have consistently been at the forefront of battles against fossil fuel infrastructure.”
- Activists Shut Down New York Pipeline Projects (Grist) — “Years of coordinated grassroots opposition prevented the construction of 931 miles of interstate pipeline across the northeast, including 448 miles within New York. These victories impact the entire region — the Empire State is a hub of sorts for a pipeline network extending into New England and Canada.”
- Jobs With Justice wants you to demand that Biden and Congress strengthen the eviction moratorium and cancel rent.
- The Debt Collective wants you to demand that Biden cancel student debt.
- The Revolving Door Project wants you to demand that Biden fire Trump’s FBI director.
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JANUARY 22, 2021 (caitlinjohnstone.com)
The US political/media class have been pushing hard for more authoritarian policies to stave off the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the Capitol riot. President Biden, who was already working on rolling out new domestic terror policies well before January sixth, confirmed after the riot that he is making these new measures a priority. Political internet censorship is becoming increasingly normalized, anti-protest bills are being passed, and now we’re seeing liberals encouraged to form “digital armies” to spy on Trump supporters to report them to the authorities.
And an amazingly large percentage of the US population seems to have no problem with any of this, even in sectors of the political spectrum that should really know better by now.
“What else can we do?” they reason. “What other solution could there possibly be to the threat of dangerous fascists and conspiracy theorists continuing to gain power and influence?”
Well there’s a whole lot that can be done, and none of it includes consenting to sweeping new Patriot Act-like authoritarian measures or encouraging monopolistic Silicon Valley plutocrats to censor worldwide political speech. There’s just a whole lot of mass-scale narrative manipulation going on to keep it from being obvious to everyone.
The way to stem the tide of Trumpism (or fascism, or white supremacism, or Trump cultism, or whatever term you use for what you’re worried about here) is to eliminate the conditions which created it.
Trump was only able to launch his successful faux-populist campaign in the first place by exploiting the widespread pre-existing opinion that there was a swamp that needed draining, a corrupt political system whose leadership does not promote the interests of the people.
Conspiracy theories only exist because the government often does evil things and lies about them with the help of the mass media, forcing people to just guess what’s happening behind the opaque wall of government secrecy.
People only get it in their heads that they need a trustworthy strongman to overhaul the system if the system has failed them.
People who are actually interested in ending Trumpism would be promoting an end to the corruption in the political system, an end to the opacity of their government, an end to their uniquely awful electoral system, and an end to the neoliberal policies which have been making Americans poorer and poorer with less and less support from the government which purports to protect them.
But these changes are not being promoted by the US political/media class, because the US political/media class speaks for an empire that depends on these things.
Without corruption, the plutocratic class couldn’t use campaign donations and corporate lobbying to install and maintain politicians who will advance their interests.
Without government secrecy, the oligarchic empire could not conspire in secret to advance the military and economic agendas which form the glue that holds the empire together.
Without a lying mass media, people’s consent could not be manufactured for wars and a system which does not serve their interests.
Without widespread poverty and domestic austerity, people could not be kept too busy and politically impotent to challenge the massive political influence of the plutocrats.
So the option of stopping the rise of Trumpism by changing the system is taken off the table, which is why you never hear it discussed as a possibility in mainstream circles. The only option people are being offered to debate the pros and cons of is giving more powers to that same corrupt system which created Trump, powers which will be under the control of the next Trumpian figure who is elevated by that very system.
You’re not going to prevent fascism by creating a big authoritarian monster to stomp it into silence, and even if you could you would only be stopping the fascism by becoming the fascism. To stop the rise of fascism you need to actually change. Drastically. Believing you can just make it go away without changing your situation is like believing you can avert an oncoming train by putting your hands over your eyes.
There is no valid argument against what I am saying here. Saying the powerful won’t allow any positive change is just confirming everything I’m saying and confirming the need to remove the powerful from power. Saying that ending corruption, government secrecy and injustice would just be giving the terrorists what they want would be turning yourself into a bootlicker of such cartoonish obsequiousness there aren’t words in the English language adequate to mock you.
Yes, change is desperately needed. Yes, the powerful will resist that change with everything they have. But the alternative is letting them plunge the world into darkness and destruction. We’re going to have to find a way to win this thing.
(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd)
Russian opposition figure publishes an exposé of lavish palace, calling it ‘biggest bribe in history.’
January 20, 2021 4:04 am (politico.eu)
Alexei Navalny isn’t waiting for the West to come to his rescue.
As top EU officials noisily demanded his release but took no concrete action, Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was immediately arrested upon his return to Moscow after recovering in Germany from an assassination attempt, escalated his battle with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
With Navalny jailed for at least 30 days in the notorious Matrosskaya Tishina prison, he and his anti-corruption foundation released a searing exposé about a lavish palace on the Black Sea that they allege was built for Putin by his cronies using the proceeds of decades of corruption, in what they labeled “the biggest bribe in history.”
The stunning multimedia display simultaneously mocked Putin as a madman obsessed with wealth, disclosed the architectural plans of the heavily-guarded compound, and even revealed minute details about the ostentatious furnishings, including the cost of tables and sofas. Throughout the report, which was written in Navalny’s voice, there were dashes of his trademark acerbic humor.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich turned out to be a great lover of sofas,” the report stated. “According to our calculations, there are 47 of these pieces of furniture in his palace. I wonder if he sits on every one or only on the most expensive ones?”
Navalny’s brazen willingness to continue taking the fight directly to Putin emphasized his bravery (critics would say stupidity) in returning to Russia, where agents of the federal security service allegedly tried to kill him in August.
But it also illustrated the limited ability of Western powers to aid his crusade for democracy: German doctors could help save Navalny’s life after he was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, but the EU and the U.S. have been unable to pressure the Kremlin into ending its repression of political dissent.
During a debate in the European Parliament plenary on Tuesday, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, led the West’s condemnation cavalry. He denounced Navalny’s arrest as “unacceptable,” demanded his release, expressed relief that he survived the poisoning attack, and noted that in response, the EU in September imposed sanctions on six individuals and a state research institute.
“Any further decision on sanctions is for the Council to take,” Borrell said, a rather equivocal statement given he will lead a discussion of Navalny’s situation in the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday. EU ambassadors are due to discuss the case on Wednesday, but are also not expected to take any immediate concrete steps.
During the debate, some MEPs called for sanctioning Russian officials who participated in Navalny’s arrest or in the poisoning attack. Several were identified in an investigation by the Bellingcat news site, in which Navalny himself collaborated. Posing as a high-ranking security official, Navalny telephoned one of his alleged attackers, and elicited incriminating statements, in what amounted to a humiliating blow to the Federal Security Service, the FSB.
In testimony to the European Parliament in November, Navalny had urged the EU not to focus on mid-ranking officers of the special services, but rather on the super-wealthy oligarchs close to Putin, many of whom maintain assets in Europe. And on Tuesday one of Navalny’s close associates, Vladimir Ashurkov, published a list of eight names that he said Navalny hoped the West would penalize first. The list included Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovich, billionaires who own stakes in U.K. football clubs; as well as Denis Bortnikov, the son of the FSB director, Alexander Bortnikov; and Igor Shuvalov, a Putin ally who is chairman of Vnesheconombank.
In an interview with POLITICO, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent Russian opposition activist who suffered two near-fatal poisoning attacks, urged the EU to impose sanctions on those eight individuals. “Is there anything the West can do, yes there is,” Kara-Murza said. “There have been all these sanctions in recent years, but they were never targeted directly at the most important people.”
In November, Navalny and Kara-Murza told the Parliament that oligarchs close to Putin were getting rich in Russia, and then safeguarding their wealth in the West, buying real estate, yachts and other luxury items. “For years and years, the West turned a blind eye to this,” Kara-Murza said. “It’s high time to put a stop to this. This goes both for the incoming Biden administration and for the European Union.”
Navalny rose to prominence as an anti-corruption crusader, but his battle with Putin has been personal at least since 2014 when Navalny and his brother, Oleg, were convicted on trumped-up fraud charges. Navalny was freed on a suspended sentence, but his brother was sentenced to three and half years in prison, a decision that left the usually unflappable opposition leader in tears, shouting at the judge, “Aren’t you ashamed?”
Russian authorities said Navalny was arrested on Sunday for violating terms of that suspended sentence in 2014.
Kara-Murza said that despite the personal danger, Navalny had no choice but to return to Russia and continue their fight to turn it into “a normal European country.”
“He made the only possible call,” Kara-Murza said. “We know how Putin’s regime deals with opponents. We know what the stakes are.”
The Kremlin similarly seemed to have little choice but to arrest Navalny after taking numerous steps that seemed intended to dissuade him from returning home, including a raid of his offices in November, and warnings that he would be detained.
“The immediate offense that Alexei committed was not registering for his parole,” Kara-Murza said. “The reason he didn’t register is he was recovering from a state sponsored attack. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Adding to the absurdity, Putin, who avoids ever uttering Navalny’s name, had taken credit during his annual news conference for allowing Navalny to leave Russia for treatment. Referring to him as the “Berlin clinic patient,” Putin also denigrated Navalny for never holding a position of responsibility, an ironic criticism given the Kremlin has gone to great lengths at various times to disqualify Navalny from running for public office.
Navalny and his supporters are now focused on the September elections for the Russian Duma, in which they are hoping to carry out a concerted strategy, which they have branded “smart voting,” in which opposition groups agree to support any one candidate that isn’t allied with Putin.
In a statement issued from prison on Tuesday, Navalny compared his cell to his hospital room in Germany, noting that they were very similar but his bed in jail doesn’t have a remote control to adjust the supports for his legs and back. His humor appeared to be intact.
“Here they aren’t sticking needles with tubes in my body and aren’t connecting wires to me (at least not yet),” Navalny said. “And they also speak my native language. A big plus.”
Jacopo Barigazzi contributed reporting.
Healthcare NOW Don Bechler, 73, passed away on Oct 24th, 2020. He was an iconic national figure of the single payer movement. Born in Detroit, he attended Monticello High and Cal State University, Los Angeles. Don dedicated his life to social justice and was a tireless organizer and leader in the fight for universal health care. His energy, optimism, dedication, love and laughter will be long remembered. He was a great inspiration and will be dearly missed by the thousands of people whose lives he touched.
(Courtesy of Ben Gilberti)