Posts Tagged ‘Ted Cruz’

Trump and the Nazis’ 19th Century Precursors

March 27, 2016

I’ve blogged several times about Donald Trump and the very strong similarity between his rhetoric and racial politics and those of the Fascists, Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Trump is racist, and preaches a violent intolerance towards political opposition, as well as Mexicans and Muslims. However, reading Karl Dietrich Bracher’s The German Dictatorship: The Origin, Structure and Consequences of National Socialism (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1971) I was also struck by the extremely strong parallels between Trump, the American Republican party, and the 19th century precursors of Nazism in the various anti-Semitic movements in Germany.

In the first chapter ‘The Preconditions’, Bracher devotes an entire section to ‘The Role of Anti-Semitism’, pp. 52-64, in which he discusses the infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, anti-Semitic racial stereotyping, and the social and political origins of organised anti-Semitic parties and organisations, like Adolf Stoecker’s Christian Social Party and Wilhelm Marr’s League of Anti-Semites, as well as other, minor, anti-Semitic political parties such as the Social Reich Party and the German Reform Party. He notes that German political anti-Semitism had its origins in the social disruption caused by industrialisation, the development of capitalism, and urbanisation. They were also attempts to draw the masses away from Socialism and the SPD to give their support to the traditional, Conservative-authoritarian social order.

He also discusses how the rise in anti-Semitism in Germany was a response to the influx of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution during the spate of pogroms that erupted throughout the Russian Empire in the 1880s. On page 55, Bracher writes

But when the optimism of the Enlightenment began to give way to an irrational volkisch nationalism, the idea of the eternally ‘demoralizing’ role of the Jew began to take root. His assimilation seemed impossible; his character was unalterably negative. The religious difference became a moral one; the image of the secularized Jew was based on a mythical-deterministic concept, a combination of reaction and impotence, hatred and fear. The quintessence of this type of anti-Semitism was the fear of the dark world of the ghetto and of the conspiratorial workings of ‘international Jewry’ as told of in pamphlets and novels since the turn of the century, a fantastic mixture of falsified and misunderstood Jewish works and stereotyped invention. The influx of Jews from the ghettos of the East furnished daily proof and arguments for the fear and hatred of the unknown. At the same time, their presence was held responsible for the problems and difficulties which changing social and economic conditions wrought in the lives of a people in an industrial society brought up on pre-industrial social ideals. According to Wilhelm Marr, Bismarck’s Reich was practically a ‘New Palestine’, which in all vital respects was under Jewish alien domination. The right-wing, anti-Bismarck opposition was a mainstay of this early wave of the 1870s and 1880s, when conservative Protestant and anti-liberal Catholic forces forged a temporary alliance.

There are glaringly obvious parallels with today’s refugee crisis, and the rhetoric surrounding Muslims, in which they are considered to be unassimilable into modern democratic society. As for Marr’s description of the Bismarckian Reich as a ‘new Palestine’, this sounds very much like the anti-Semitic rhetoric from the American Nazi Right, which describes the contemporary liberal American government as ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government.

American Conservatives, like the Republicans, try to contrast Socialism with democracy. They pose as defenders of the latter against Socialism, which is always portrayed as totalitarian, and practically synonymous with Communism and Nazism/Fascism. Hence all the rhetoric claiming that Obama, who actually isn’t even particularly liberal, is really a Communist-Nazi-Muslim. One Trump supporter interviewed by Jordan Cheriton, stated that he wasn’t going to vote for Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as a ‘Democratic Socialist’. The young man stated that Sanders, as a Socialist, would govern totally, even telling Americans how they should lie in bed.

Apart from being a grotesque distortion of Socialism, it also ignores the fact that some of the anti-Semitic movements in 19th century Germany did have a quasi-democratic character. One of the leading anti-Semitic politicians in Germany at the time was Otto Boeckel, a folklorist and the author of a pamphlet Die Juden – die Koenige unserer Zeit (The Jews – Kings of Our Time). Boeckel also published a paper, Reichsherold, which Bracher states ‘had a pronouncedly progressive, anti-clerical, anti-capitalist tenor. It propounded near-radical democratic ideas’. Boeckel himself was political quite liberal, and broke with the League of Anti-Semites because he found them too conservative, founding his own Anti-Semitic People’s Party. Boeckel became the first independent anti-Semite to be elected to the Reichstag after he won an election in a Conservative stronghold near Marburg in 1887. Boeckel himself wanted the segregation of Jews and Gentile Germans.

The League of Anti-Semites also demanded laws to prevent further Jewish integration and assimilation into German society. It based these on similar measures elsewhere, such as contemporary American laws against Chinese immigration. (p. 60). And one of the other, most successful anti-Semitic politicians of this period was Hermann Ahlwardt. Ahlwardt, like Boeckel, won his seat an Conservative district, this time in a rural seat near Berlin. Bracher writes of him that

He had neither organization nor funds ,but he travelled tirelessly through the countryside to preach his anti-Semitic, anti-aristocratic gospel to the peasants. His campaign was directed against ‘Jews and Junkers’, against the racially marked ‘parasites’, the ‘predatory beasts’ and ‘contaminators’. He used socialist arguments to indict the economic ‘exploiters’ who were abusing notoriously blind ‘Germanic’ trustfulness. His contention that were it not for Jews, only half of all existing laws would be necessary held particular appeal. (P. 61.)

In 1895 the Anti-Semites, with the support of some conservatives, tried to introduce into the Reichstag a resolution by Ahlwardt to stop Jews being admitted into Germany. This was rejected by 167 votes to 51, and the anti-Semites consequently went into decline. In 1893 the Anti-Semitic parties, in total, had held 16 seats. In 1912, this had gone down to seven.

Unfortunately, their influence persisted as they became allied with the conservatives, who also adopted their anti-Semitic rhetoric.

(Y)et they remained an influential latent force when tactics dictated collaboration with the Conservatives, who furnished both funds and respectability. The radicals became demagogic auxiliaries, and the Conservatives themselves incorporated anti-Semitic slogans in their platforms, as in the so-called Tivoli Programme of the Berlin party congress of 1892. The agrarian interest groups (the Farmers’ League (Bund der Landwirte) and the German National League of Commercial Employees (Deutsch-nationaler Handlungsgehilfenverband), organized in 1893, became staunch backers of this course. The individual splinter groups now were replaced by the institutionalisation of anti-Semitism within the framework of an anti-Marxist, nationalistic, traditionalist ideology. The year 1893, the year of transition, also saw the founding of the Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband), which was conceived of as the vanguard in the fight against the continuing influx of ‘eastern Jews’, the electoral victories of the SPD in the Reichstag elections of 1893, and the policies of Bismarck’s successor, Caprivi. (p. 63).

The similarities between Ahlwardt then and Trump today seem close. Ahlwardt was an independent, who campaigned without the backing of a major political organisation. The Trumpenfuhrer is, of course, an extremely wealthy man, campaigning for the nomination for one of the two main American parties. He is, however, also claiming to be an outsider. His campaign is self-funded to a greater extent than his electoral rivals, as the big business donors he approached refused to finance him. He has turned this to his advantage by claiming to be some kind of underdog attacking the corporate control of politics. Despite the fact that he is part and parcel, if somewhat estranged, of that same corporate control.

Trump and his rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, want to end Muslim immigration to the US. They also want heavier surveillance of Muslim communities. Trump would like the remaining Muslims in America to be forced to carry identification documents, while Cruz wants heavier police patrols in Muslim areas. It’s also been suggested that what they really want is Muslims’ segregation into ghettos. There’s an obvious parallel there with Ahlwardt’s plan to halt Jewish immigration into Germany, and legislation to keep them separate from Gentiles.

There is some hope offered in these parallels, in that the fortunes of the Anti-Semites after the defeat of Ahlwardt’s immigration bill suggests that if Trump and Cruz’s demands for similar laws against Muslim immigration, those will also decline. It also shows that there is nevertheless a continuing danger of a resurgence of the racist extreme Right, if their policies and rhetoric are taken over by mainstream Conservatives.

Even if Trump isn’t Hitler, or even Mussolini, ready to pitch America into the nightmare of racial persecution and authoritarian, one-party dictatorship, his rise, like that of the organised anti-Semites in Wilhelmine Germany, may lay the groundwork for the emergence of just such a dictatorship at a later date. The German anti-Semites and Conservatives promised to save their people and their way of life, from the threat of big business, Socialism, and foreign – Jewish – immigration. Trump and Cruz need to be stopped, if not for us, then certainly for our grandchildren.

Republican Ted Cruz Wants Increased Police Patrols in Muslim Areas

March 26, 2016

It’s not just Trump who is promoting a very anti-Muslim line in America. It’s also Ted Cruz, another far-Right Republican. Over on The Young Turks they’ve actually been debating who would be worse for America – Trump or Cruz. While Trump’s been talking about banning Muslims from entering America, for example, Cruz has actually been doing it. He’s behind a law to prevent, or at least limit, further Muslim immigration.

After the terrible attacks in Belgium this week, Cruz got up to recommend that there should be increased police patrols in Muslim areas. The Young Turks naturally took a dim view about that. Cenk Uygur, one of the Turks’ anchors, who is himself of Muslim Turkish heritage, said that while they were at it, why not move Muslim communities somewhere else, and create a ghetto. He was, of course, being bitterly ironic, but his attack does voice fears that what Trump wants is internment camps for Muslims after the Trumpenfuhrer stated that Muslims should be forced to carry identification documents. And now it seems, Cruz holds similar views on policing Muslims.

Such a policy would be both nasty and counterproductive. Nasty, because it criminalises millions of ordinary people, who aren’t terrorists, don’t sympathise with terrorism and have nothing to do with terrorism, simply because of their faith.

It’s counterproductive because such heavy-handed methods will only increase radicalisation, and very definitely not catch the terrorists themselves. Older Brits may remember a series of riots that shook Britain in about 1981/2 against Maggie Thatcher. These broke out in poor communities throughout the country, and particularly in Black and ethnically mixed areas. Among those affected were Toxteth in Liverpool, Brixton in London and St. Paul’s in my hometown of Bristol. The people in those areas have said since that they weren’t race riots, though that was how they were perceived at the time. Racial discrimination, and a lack of jobs and opportunities for Black youngsters, was certainly one of the causes of the rioting, as is stated in the Scarman Report. One of the newspapers has also described the riots as ‘a series of insurrections against the police’. Certainly there was a very heavy police presence in St. Paul’s. It was and is a high crime area, and one resident interviewed in the local media stated that there was a feeling at the time that ‘the police were occupying St. Paul’s’.

This is what will happen in America if Ted Cruz has his way and starts introducing a heavier police presence in Muslim areas. It will turn Muslims away from co-operating with the authorities and the police, and make violence and disaffection more, not less likely. And it won’t stop the real terrorists.

Now it’s true that so far, many of the Islamic terrorists caught have come from a network of organisations and mosques. But police are worried about ‘lone wolf’ attacks, where individuals seeming come out of nowhere to run amok. Several of the terrorists caught have been self-radicalised, through material they’ve read or watched on the interwebs.

When the IRA began their bombing campaign in Britain in the early 1970s, they had a very clear strategy to avoid detection. They deliberately avoided moving in Irish expatriate communities, visiting Irish pubs or community centres. They kept a very low profile in order to merge with the general British population. And this is what ISIS wants to do with their ‘lone wolf’ policies. Mercifully, the police were able to catch some of the terrorists, but over the years the IRA was responsible for a series of horrific attacks in Britain which left hundreds maimed and killed. And the presence of the British army in Northern Ireland, who had originally been called in because the RUC was too sectarian and brutal in its treatment of Roman Catholics, became a symbol of the British occupation of Ulster, as it was seen by Irish Republicans and some of those on the wider British Left. Now I wasn’t a supporter of the ‘Troops Out’ campaign, because before the Good Friday peace agreement was concluded it just seemed to me that without the army, the paramilitaries in Ulster, whether Republican or Loyalist, would just increase the violence exponentially until it became far more of a bloodbath than it already was. But there’s no doubt that the presence of the army was resented by many, possibly most, Ulster Catholics.

Cruz recommendation of increasing police patrols in Muslim areas is likely to repeat all the mistakes Britain made in policing Black areas in Britain. They will become a focus of hatred for American Muslims, just like many Roman Catholics in Ulster resented the presence of the British army. And like the IRA, the real terrorists will find ways of avoiding them. Cruz’s policy is worse than useless. It should be dumped, along with Cruz himself. America’s a great country, which deserves better than these intolerant buffoons.

The Young Turks on Trump’s Supporters Pledge of Allegiance

March 8, 2016

In this piece from The Young Turks, John Iadarola, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss Trump making his supporters swear an oath with their raised right hands, to vote for him. For Uygur, this is a step too far, and Trump may well, in his mixed metaphor, ‘have jumped the shark in the dirty pool’.

John Iadarola begins by describing this weird ceremony, and the unease it has provoked amongst the journalists and media observers, who witnessed it. The clip includes footage of Trump getting the crowd to swear the oath to vote for him, ‘Come whatever’. He admits that he was inclined to dismiss the concerns as exaggerated, until you saw what it looked like from behind the crowd. Abe Foxman, the former director of the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish organisation which tackles anti-Semitism, and which has also spoken out against anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, pointedly described how disgusted he was as a holocaust survivor at seeing a supposedly mainstream politician, not a member of the far right or Neo-Nazi organisations, going through this ritual with its overtones of the Nazi salute.

Ana Kasparian, on the other hand, thought this was rather too harsh, and while it was strange, it didn’t have the Neo-Nazi connotations that the others considered it had. Trump’s organisation have also posted pictures of other political rallies where the crowd had also raised their right hands. The Turks joked that Sanders’ supporters did so, though in their case it wasn’t because they were swearing allegiance, but because they were also recording the event.

Uygur came to a compromise conclusion. He thought it may have started off as a kind of joke, and may not have originally had the Fascist connotations. But After the denunciation by Foxman and others, he was certainly now aware how it looked. And he had gone on to do the same at a rally in Concord, South Carolina. Uygur believed that the crowd was largely unaware how it looked, because to call Republican supporters ‘low information’ was an understatement. But Trump knew, and was deliberate using the gesture’s Nazi overtones to garner more media attention. It was like his flirtation with the far right in general. He courts it, to get voters from that direction, and then pulls back and denounces it. Then does it again. And it was disturbing to see this ritual at Orlando, with one of the people in the crowd wearing a suit decorated to resemble a wall and the slogan ‘Mexico will pay’. Trump was, Uygur said, dipping his toe in the dirty pool.

But he also felt that this time, Trump had gone too far, and ‘jumped the shark’. People were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the gesture, so much so that even Republicans were becoming concerned in case others thought that they were racist for supporting him. And there is indication that it is harming Trump. He was expected to win Maine. He didn’t. He lost. He managed to gain two other states, but won them with a much lower majority than was expected. Republicans were increasingly giving their vote to Ted Cruz instead.

Now I hope this is true, although in some areas there’s little difference between them. Both are right-wing Republicans with a very strong suspicion of Islam. And while Donald Trump has made noises about banning Muslims from the US, Cruz has actually been putting bills through Congress to cut down on Islamic immigration. So in some ways there isn’t much to choose between the two. But of the two, Cruz is probably the saner, safer alternative. He comes across at least as a little more restrained and rational than Trump, who has been denounced by Kyle Kulinski at Secular Talk as a ‘savage’ and a ‘demogogue’. I doubt very much that Trump would turn America into a full-blown Fascist state, but he’d certainly make it much more authoritarian and xenophobic. He should not be let anywhere near power, not least because of the precedent his antics are setting for the next right-wing demagogue.

Secular Talk: Donald Trump Makes Up Numbers on Medicare, Republicans Fail to Tackle Him on Real Issues

March 6, 2016

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski discusses how Trump was caught out making up the numbers for the amount the American government spends on drugs for the Medicare programme during the Republican presidential candidates’ debate. Trump claimed that because the Medicare administrators were forbidden to negotiate over the prices with the drug companies, the government was paying vastly exorbitant prices for the drugs. He claimed that once this restriction was lifted, about $300 billion could be cut from the budget. Chris Wallace, the debate moderator, pointed out that in fact the government only spent $78 billion on Medicare.

Kulinski points out that Wallace is correct to show how Trump is making up the figures, but states that this attack on Trump is misdirected. Trump is actually right. The American government is forbidden from negotiating with the drug companies over the costs of pharmaceuticals, with the result that the American tax-payer does pay too much for drugs. So the average voter will still be impressed with the general point Trump’s making. Just like they are when Trump says he’ll stop the corporations from going abroad, and keep jobs in America. Average American voters will support this, and they won’t be impressed with the policy’s dismissal by rival candidates like Ted Cruz, who sneer at it for not being serious. Just like they have a sneering attitude to spending money on Medicare on the pretext that the government must balance the budget, and so the poor must do without, and starve. He points out that it’s the same when Trump says he’ll spend more on American infrastructure. It’s a popular policy with ordinary voters, but not with the rest of the Republicans, so they lose to him here.

Trump’s rivals in the Republican party choose to attack him on the weakest points, because they secretly agree with his core policies, horrendous as they are. They like the idea of Torturing terrorist suspects, and deporting millions of immigrants. They like the idea of banning Muslims from the US. And so they mount only weak attacks on what are actually his strongest policies, like saving money by buying drugs cheaply. And the result is that Trump storms past them in the polls.

Secular Talk: Trump’s Rise Is the Product of a Broken Media

February 28, 2016

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski gives his reasons why he believes there’s an 80 per cent chance that Donald Trump will become president. It’s because the media does not do its job. It gives the Nazi chump airtime, and does not challenge his many factual assertions, most of which are outright lies, nor the outrageous policies he says he supports such as waterboarding, torture, the targeting of civilians in the war against terror. Instead, it concentrates on the details where he is ‘politically incorrect’, such as when he attacks journalists. he also states that the supposed neutrality of the media actually works to bias them in favour of the right, as they treat all statements as merely differences of opinion. So even though the Democrats are right more than the Republicans, especially on issues such as Climate Change, the media does not challenge the Republicans on their failings, and so in effect supports them. He also states that the media are so afraid of being accused, as they have for three decades now, of liberal bias, that they ask soft questions to conservatives and much harder questions to liberal and Democrats. For example, when Anderson Cooper interviewed Ted Cruz or whoever the other night, Cooper was asking him such easy softballs as whether he sings to his wife and what musicals he liked. Bernie Sanders, however, gets asked tough questions on how he differs from Latin American dictators and if healthcare would be rationed under his system. Even Hillary Clinton gets asked much tougher questions, like when she’ll release transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street. Now Kulinski certainly wants her to release them, but the broader point is that she’s asked harder questions than those lobbed to the Republicans.

It’s a massive failing of the media. He states that Trump is winning through confidence and repetition. He makes a point, they repeat it, but don’t try to apply the same criticisms to Trump that he makes of his opponents. For example, Trump will accuse Ted Cruz of being a liar. The media focus on that as a horrendous allegation. They repeat it. But they don’t do the same, and report how many times Trump has lied. Similarly, Trump states that he’s not taking money from the corporate donors. But the mainstream media is silent on the fact that the only reason Trump isn’t taking money from them, is because they turned him down. And it’s only the New Media that’s holding Trump to account for his monstrous policies, like advocating torture ‘even if it doesn’t work'(!) and targeting civilians – which are war crimes. He states that if the mainstream media pointed this out, and cited the international treaties Trump would be violating, showing that it makes America look bad, and took a day, or three days on these issues, then it would be all over for the Corporate Clown. But they don’t. They let him get away with it, and so he effectively frames the narrative, taking control of what’s being discussed.

Trump is also extremely vulnerable when it comes to his stance on international trade. He claims he’s against the outsourcing of American jobs, but his ties are made in China. So the question can be asked how he can challenge outsourcing, when he can’t stop himself from doing it.

Kulinski states that the Republican mainstream establishment will back some of the more moderate candidates. Their favourite at the moment is Marco Rubio, but he doesn’t give much for their chances. Several of the mainstream Republican favourites have the backing of talk radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh. They are not going to carry the popular vote, as increasingly very few are listening to right-wing talk radio. Most people probably have never heard of Limbaugh, at least not those voting for Trump. Besides which, Marco Rubio also has a very stilted, robotic delivery, which puts off voters.

And so it looks like, in Kulinski’s words, we may have to get used to saying ‘President Trump’. A chilling prospect.

And part of the blame for this lies in a media that’s paralysed by the fear of being accused of liberal bias, does not check facts or pull Republicans up on their falsehoods, and prefers to concentrate on the election as a kind of horserace, focussing on personalities, rather than policies. And so they’ve allowed American politics to be pulled so far to the right by the Republicans, that it borders on Fascism. And so Trump has an all-too-real possibility of entering the White House.

The Young Turks on People Seen in Klan Robes with Pro-Trump Placards

February 25, 2016

More Fascism from the Trump campaign. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian in this segment talk about the sightings in Nevada of a couple of men dressed in KKK outfits waving pro-Trump placards. The pair have naturally been condemned by several respectable politicians. They show a tweet from Senator Aaron Ford and another politico expressing their contempt for the pair. Uygur is careful to state that he’s unsure whether they really are Trump supporters, or are actually anti-Trump protestors trying to troll the tousled Nazi. In one of the photos it’s actually unclear whether or not they’re actually white. The hands of one of the men look Black, though this could simply be due to the lighting in photograph. It’s taken into the sun, so the men’s fronts are actually in shadow.

They also make the point that although these may be protestors, who are careful to hide their faces because they know they’ve probably taken a step too far, Trump’s supporters are still very extreme. They point to a poll which says that 70 per cent of Trumpistas would like the Confederate flag to be flying in South Carolina above the state legislature, and 38 per cent wish the South won the American Civil War. They naturally ask the question of how unpatriotic and un-American that is. They point out that the polling company inclines a little to the Democrats, but over all was the most accurate in predicting the results of the presidential election. And then there’s the Yougov poll which found that 20 per cent of Trump supporters, and 13 per cent of Americans generally, feel that Lincoln should not have given the executive freeing the South’s slaves during the War between the States. They also hedge this with one or two caveats, as they note that Republican voters hate presidential executive orders. The previous questions had been about how they felt about Obama’s orders, and so this could already have biased, or worked them up to condemn Lincoln’s historic orders. But even so, it’s an horrendous statistic, and the stats as a whole show how Trump’s campaign has deeply divided the nation.

Uygur goes on to say that he feels that the Klansmen in the photo aren’t really Trump supporters, because they’ve kept their faces covered. Trump supporters don’t do that. They’re open about their racism and their identities. He states that it’s because Trump is unashamed about the racist language he uses. Other Republican candidates are just as racist. Ted Cruz is actually trying to pass a law banning Muslims from the US. He’s not just talking about it, as Trump is. However, Trump doesn’t use the coded language that the others use to disguise their racism. He talks about it flatly, and is proud of the way he does so. Uygur makes the point that he’s the result of Fox News and the way the Right generally has legitimised racism and the demonization of foreigners and minorities. And Trump has turned this on the other Republicans. Marco Rubio was born in Florida, but Trump has even asked whether he was really born in America and should be running in the election.

They begin the show by being careful about whether or not Trump’s actually racist, noting that he’s distanced himself from the couple of Neo-Nazi messages he retweeted. Even so, the fact that he agreed with the message twice without looking at where it came from suggests that he’s too eager to accept information and support from this quarter.

The Young Turks on the Racist Street Artist Designing for Ted Cruz

February 22, 2016

Another bit of American politics from The Young Turks. As you might expect, Trump isn’t the only racist by any stretch of the imagination in the Republicans’ camp. Here the Turks discuss Sabo, the street artist behind the T-shirts supporting Ted Cruz’s campaign.

This comes after the Turk’s talk about some of the other T-Shirts, like that produced to support Bernie Sanders. They also have a line of their own political T-shirts. One of these shows Bernie as anti-establishment punk, while two others lampoon Donald Trump, caricaturing him as a Warholesque grotesque, and ‘Bitchy Rich’, based on the long-running American comic, Richie Rich.

Sabo’s shirt for Cruz depicts him as a tough, street dude, covered in tattoos, in a style some would possibly associate more with Afro-American rap culture. Sabo, however, definitely has no sympathy for Black Americans. Cenk Uygur, the show’s host, shows a series of tweets from him, in which the man’s racism and general offensiveness are clearly on display. He describes Blacks as ‘Niggers’, ‘monkeys’, ‘chimps’ who should be ‘put in cages’, and Barack Obama as a ‘shoeshine boy’. As for Hillary Clinton, he describes her husband as a rapist, but says it doesn’t include her, as ‘the jury’s still out on whether she’s a chick’. As an insult, this is old hat. Twenty years ago there were jokes about her, suggesting that she was really a man. All because she’s a powerful woman.

Politicians up to now have been forced to apologise and distance themselves from any racist comments they make, or individuals they support. I can remember one of the leading Republicans having to apologise and explain himself after eulogising Strom Thurmond, the pro-segregation Republican politico. It’ll be interesting to see if Cruz attempts to distance himself from this guy’s views. But don’t hold your breath.

Secular Talk on the Utter Barbarity of Henry Kissinger

February 14, 2016

Yesterday I put a piece from The Young Turks about the point in the PBS debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton where the two argued about the Henry Kissinger. Clinton had been flattered by Kissinger complimenting her on how well she ran the state department. Sanders was justifiably affronted, reminded the audience of how Kissinger’s bombing of Cambodia had paved the way for the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge and the massacres that followed. He stated very firmly that not only was Kissinger not his friend, he was proud Kissinger was not his friend.

From this Englishman, ‘Well said, Sir!’

The Turks’ video went on to describe some of the horrors for which Kissinger had been responsible. Not just in Laos, but mass death across continents, including the Fascist coup in Chile that brought General Pinochet to power. And what many people would find most chilling was Kissinger’s frank admission that he had no interest in stopping a holocaust of the Jews by the Soviets. It was not an American problem. Not even if they stuffed them into the gas chambers. ‘Perhaps a humanitarian [problem]’, he finally conceded. The West and its self-confidence has been profoundly shaken by the experience of the Holocaust, and the orchestrated massacre of the Jews, and other racial undesirables on an industrial scale with all the technical ingenuity of the Nazi military-industrial complex. Many Americans are deeply disgusted and scandalised by the fact that American industrialists continued to trade with and provide financial aid to Nazi Germany when they were implementing the ‘Final Solution’. Some of those industrialists were Jewish, and there have been several books by Jewish Americans exposing these industrialists, who chose profit over humanity and simple fellow feeling for the other members of their ethnicity and faith. I’ve got a feeling Kissinger’s Jewish. If so, he stands indicted by his own words of the same callous and monstrous attitude.

In the video below, Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk shows a bit more of the exchange between Sanders and Hillary. Hillary defends herself, saying that she’s taken advice from several sources. Kissinger was important for opening up trade with China, a trade that has benefited the US, and so she feels it was justified to take his advice, even if it came from what many people would feel was an unpleasant source. Bernie’s response was to state that Kissinger’s rationale for all the bombing and atrocities he committed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia was on the ground that it was all a house of cards. If one fell, they would all fall to the great enemy, China. And then he opened trade with China, a trade that has seen American jobs outsourced there, and Americans unemployed.

Again, absolutely right.

Kulinski adds a few more details to some of the atrocities which Kissinger assisted, or at best did nothing to stop. Kulinski quotes a Vox article on Kissinger’s carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, a bombing that indiscriminately hit civilian centres. Kissinger claimed it was to destroy Vietcong bases in those countries. It wasn’t. It was to strengthen the American position preparatory to a negotiated withdrawal. American bombs in Cambodia killed between 150,000 and half a million people. This created the instability that led to the rise of Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouge were swept to power in 1975 on a wave of public outrage against the bombings. They then proceeded to kill and massacre hundreds of thousands of people, starving the rest until ultimately a million people, 1/7th of Cambodia’s population were killed.

Kulinski points out the obvious parallels with ISIS today in Syria, and the threat that similar bombing of the country will drive their people to support the terrorists, who will then repeat the murderous horrors of Cambodia.

Kulinski also describes how in 1971, the President of Pakistan, Aga Mohammed Yahya Khan, launched a bombing campaign against Bangladesh when that nation, then simply ‘East Pakistan’, wanted independence. Not only did Kissinger not stop him, he actually sent him weapons, a policy that was illegal under US law. And it’s actually illegal under international law. When questioned about his supplying arms to the Pakistanis, Kissinger said, ‘Well, they’re anti-Communist’. He recalled the American consul in Bangladesh, Archer Blood, because he had questioned the policy, and quelled attempts to stop the slaughter. In the end the bloodshed was stopped when India intervened. God bless India! The death toll from this conflict ranges from 300,000 to 3 million.

In 2014 declassified documents suggested that Kissinger had informed the Argentinian government that they would not intervene if they too cracked down on dissidents. This was the 1976 ‘dirty war’ in which 30,000 people were rounded up and killed. Kulinski states that part of the strategy of the war involved ‘rape rooms’. He then challenges Hillary to explain how she supports women’s rights, when her friend was responsible for atrocities like that.

Kulinski states many times that Kissinger is a war criminal, who should be behind bars. His bombing of Cambodia is not something that suits anybody who fancies herself as a progressive. Rather, it’s an atrocity like those advocated by Ted Cruz. He describes Kissinger as a ‘savage’, who is exactly like ISIS.

It’s the horrors perpetrated around the globe by monsters like Kissinger, and his successors in the Reagan administration, like Oliver North, that have led to so much hatred of America around the globe. It was outrage at these barbarities that fuelled so much of Harold Pinter’s protests and criticisms of American foreign policy. And there are scattered around the world people with first hand experience of the horrors committed by Kissinger and his allies.

One of the lecturers at my old college, where I got my first degree, was Bangladeshi. He was in Bangladeshi during the war of independence, and witnessed first hand the Pakistani bombing. I can remember speaking to some of the professors, his friends, who were shocked at the horrors he must have seen.

As for the use of rape by the South American Fascist dictatorships, if you want to see a good, fictional treatment of the psychological trauma of such treatment, try the film Death and the Maiden, based on the play by Ariel Dorfman, and starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. This is about a woman (Weaver), who was imprisoned and raped repeatedly by a Fascist officer, (Kingsley). The film’s title comes from the fact that the woman was always blindfolded, but she recognised her captor because he used to put on Schubert’s piece, Death and the Maiden. Released to live her life with her husband after the eventual fall of the dictatorship, the plot of the movie follows the events of one evening when a man, who may be the same thug, turns up unexpectedly at her house after his car breaks down. Dorfman is, I believe, one of the great radical voices in contemporary South American literature, and it’s a powerful, moving piece, clearly based very much on very recent Latin American history. Also, it shows how versatile these two thesps are. Weaver’s best known from her role as Ripley in the Alien films, and Kingsley will forever be connected with his starring role in Gandhi. It’s particularly strange seeing Kingsley as a Fascist thug, the complete opposite from Gandhi and his doctrine of ahimsa.

Sanders has said he wants to end the American Empire. He has attacked the various coups and military interventions America launched across the globe, naming each one individually. To my mind, he deserves to be the next president of the US, rather than Clinton, and certainly much more than the Republicans. Clinton represents establishment corporate interests. She’d be better than the Republicans, but it would still be a continuation of the same old attitudes and much the same policies. Sanders represents the opportunity for a new, better America.

Donald Trump’s Horrendous Contempt for Family Values

February 8, 2016

The Republican party are very big on ‘family values’. They’ve been so ever since Ronald Reagan brought the Christian fundamentalists in from the political cold in the 1980s. Before then, many of what is now the Religious Right did not vote on the grounds that American society and politics were too decadent and fallen for good Christians to become involved with. Reagan and his party machine changed all that by explicitly appealing to them and campaigning on politically and morally Conservative Christian issues. These are now so much a feature of the Republican political landscape, that they’re practically stereotypical of the American Right-wing mindset – abortion, homosexuality, and the family.

Most Christians, and in fact probably most people, regardless of their religious beliefs or absence thereof, were alarmed by the massive growth in divorce and the apparent collapse of the traditional family in the ’70s and ’80s. I can remember the various grim children’s books and adult dramas on the TV dealing with the issue of family break up. In RE at school, one of the subjects covered was ‘relationships’. The textbook for this part of the curriculum included discussions of burgeoning teenage sexuality as well as divorce. This depressed me no end. Instead of the ‘happy ever after’ myth of traditional marriage, it presented a grim world of broken homes where confused children wondered why their mummies and daddies weren’t living together any more. It was a prospect almost calculated to put any romantic or vaguely idealistic young person off the idea of getting hitched altogether by showing them the terrifying prospect of the lifelong-relationship burning out after a few years into a domestic hell of hatred and despair.

Modern Britain has since come somewhat to terms with this. The divorce statistics still cause some concern, especially amongst Tories, but they’re much less in the news than they were. Most children in this country are born outside of marriage, but the ideal is still some kind of committed relationship. Where once neighbours dropped their voices when it came to mentioning ‘cohabiting’ couples, now hardly anyone takes any notice whatsoever. Instead of referring to them as ‘spouse’ or ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, those in a committed relationship not blessed by either the church or the Record Office are simply referred to as ‘partners’.

But family values remain very big in America. There’s a hilarious video by one of the current Republican candidates – I think it might be Ted Cruz- in which the politico steps forward to declare that he believes that the bedrock of American society is a solid family. It’s so stereotypical of Conservative rhetoric that it’s almost unintentionally hysterically funny. Trump, however, will probably not be pursuing that approach to appeal to Conservative American voters. I’ve no doubt that Trump would probably like to appeal on that point, but his own family values and relationships are horrendous.

Mike over on Vox Political has posted up an obituary by Thomas P. Trump, The Donald’s cousin. This Trump, who passed away aged 88, is described as a brilliant chemist and philanthropist. He also insisted that the obituary included a plea for people not to vote for his ‘mucus bag’ cousin. The older Trump was afraid that if The Donald became president, he’d be responsible for a ‘holocaust-level’ atrocity. See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/08/obituary-leaves-mucus-bag-donald-trumped-by-his-own-late-cousin/.

The Young Turks also reported on a feud in the Trump family over the in heritance left by Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump snr. When Trump pere died in the 1990s, he cut one of his sons, Fred Trump jnr, out of his will on the grounds that the man was an alcoholic. This was done at the instigation of his other son, yes, you guessed it, Donald. Fred junior’s children therefore took the issue to court to contest the will. At which point, the Tyrant of Trump tower really wigged out and decided he wasn’t going to play ball any more. One of his nephews was a small boy, who suffered from seizures. Trump had generously been paying for the child’s treatment. Once the lad’s parents and their siblings decided to defy him about the inheritance, he decided that he wouldn’t pay for the lad’s medical care any more.

In the video below, the Turks’ anchor, John Iadarola, discusses this family affair, and comes to the final judgement that Trump’s family values are horrible. Most people would probably agree that it is horrendous for him to withdrawal vital medical care from an innocent child, simply because he couldn’t get his own way with the parents.

And if you take the rhetoric about family values seriously – that a man’s private affairs are also a good indication of whether he’s morally suitable for the high office for which he’s campaigning, then Trump is manifestly unsuited for something as absolutely important as the presidency. Not that anybody needed to know the details of Trump’s family affairs to realise this. He could have had an absolutely model relationship of perfect harmony with his siblings, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that he’s a walking monster, who shouldn’t be let anywhere near high office. This just confirms what many people know, or have guessed already.

But if Trump has absolutely no scruples about so effectively screwing his own family over for money, including a terribly vulnerable little boy, it also shows that he will have absolutely no remorse about destroying the lives, families and children of others if he becomes president. And certainly not if they’re Hispanic, Muslim, or indeed, ordinary blue-collar American worker.

The Young Turks: Trump Wants Iowa Done Again, Because Cruz Cheated

February 4, 2016

Yesterday, Mike over at Vox Political put up a report from the Guardian about Trump’s claim that he lost the Iowa caucus because Ted Cruz spread the rumour that another candidate, Ben Carson, was retiring. In this clip, John Iadarola and Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks also discuss Trump’s allegations, and for cynics its unintentionally hilarious. The real picture is actually rather worse than Cruz just simply spreading rumours about Carson. He also sent out ‘Voter Violation’ warning to people, telling them that they had scored ‘F’ on their voting, and that they should immediately go out and vote for him. The Turks make the point that this is a dirty trick, and that no one grades anybody on how they vote, so people should have had the intelligence to throw these bogus notices away. But they also point out that this is widely done by the Republicans.

As for the rumour about Ben Carson, they don’t have much sympathy for The Donald about this one, as it is very, very common. Carson announced that he was going to Florida, instead of New Hampshire, where the next primary was going to be held. Cruz immediately tweeted about it, speculating that this indicated he was going to drop out. The Young Turks don’t actually blame Cruz for that, as although it’s a dirty trick, just about all of the Republicans would have done the same and it’s par for the course. They all spread dirty rumours about each other. Mike in his post on the Guardian report listed some. I mentioned a few others, going all the way back to Andrew Jackson in the 19th century and beyond. A few years ago, Karl Rove claimed that John McCain had father an illegitimate Black girl. In fact, McCain had adopted a south Asian girl. This also shows how useful the term ‘outnigger’ is to describe the competitive hatred of Blacks and exploitation of racial prejudice in American politics.

The Turks state that they had been pleasantly surprised by Trump’s behaviour up to this point. He had appeared to accept his defeat with good grace. Now it’s the opposite, and he’s throwing a temper tantrum, declaring that the election was stolen and demanding it to be done again. The Turks point out that this simply doesn’t happen, and in case, Trump lost by four points. This is far beyond what could be accounted for by the Carson supporter switching their allegiance. And even if they had, it’s their vote to give, so Trump can’t complain about not getting it.

John Iadarola does state that, at the risk of being called hypocritical, he has different standards when it comes to the Democrats, as it looks like Hillary did some trick in the Democrat elections to make a third candidate lead with a narrow majority over Bernie Sanders. This annoys him, because he expects higher from the Democrats. The Republicans, however, have always been clowns using such underhand methods against each other, and so you should expect it from them. Indeed, the Turks jokingly suggest that their supporters should embrace it and elect them because of the way they trick them.

All this just shows what a cesspool Republican politics are. In the case of the Republican party, H.L. Mencken was right when he said that the only way for a journalist to look on a politician is down.