I’m With Stupid: The Entire 2016 Election Has Been an Insult to Our Intelligence

Donald Trump isn’t the only one to lie with impunity. Logic, facts and intelligence are the losers in this election.

 Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Source: AlterNet

Author:Sophia A. McClennen / Salon

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/election-2016-insults-our-intelligence

8 Reasons White People Get Suckered by Racial Demagogues Like Donald Trump

Donald Trump has written a virtual textbook about the worst aspects of right-wing American politics.

Source:AlterNet

Author:Chauncey DeVega

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump is not a riddle, a monster or a mystery. Trump has many antecedents in American history, and his ascendance was the wholly predictable result of a broken political culture.

For progressives and those others worried about America’s deep political rot, “Trumpmania” represents a supreme and rare teachable moment, one that exposes the racism, authoritarianism, and socio-political anxieties of white movement conservatives in the post civil rights era and the age of Obama.

In many ways, Donald Trump has written a virtual textbook about the worst aspects of present-day, right-wing American politics. This book, if ever published, would include the following important concepts.

1. White identity politics. Donald Trump has been endorsed by prominent white supremacists and white nationalists as their chosen candidate.

(Political socialization begins in the home. According to recently discovered news reports from 1927, Trump’s father was likely at least a sympathizer with, if not a member, of the Ku Klux Klan.) From the end of the Civil Rights Movement onward, the Republican Party has used a strategy of white grievance mongering known as the Southern Strategy to mobilize its voters.

As a complement to the Southern Strategy, since the election of Barack Obama, the right-wing Fox News hate media has obsessively channeled racist narratives such as “birtherism,” “black crime,” and most recently the lie that the Black Lives Matter movement is an anti-white hate group.

The Republican base is almost entirely white, increasingly alienated and upset about the perceived decline in white people’s political and social power, and feeling under siege in a country that is becoming more racially diverse. Donald Trump has combined the old fashioned racism of overt white supremacists with the modern white racist “dog whistle” politics of the Republican Party. He is the new face of American white identity politics in the 21st century.

2. Right-wing producerism. Donald Trump has presented himself as an “everyman” who can speak for the “regular” people who feel alienated and frustrated by the Washington D.C. “insiders” who do not look out for the “little guy.” This is the crudest form of populist politics. Trump then aims his supporters’ anger towards an enemy: immigrants from Mexico who are coming to American to supposedly steal jobs while they rape and murder white women; or the Chinese he presents as a stereotypical devious and sneaky “yellow peril” Asian foe that only Trump can outmaneuver and conquer.

In this script, Donald Trump then promises to protect benefits like Social Security and health care, while creating a more fair tax code for “hardworking” (white) Americans who are under siege by “parasites”, i.e. the poor on one extreme, and the corporate monied classes on the other. Trump’s “makers and takers” language is then mated with hostility to some type of Other in order to excite and mobilize conservatives via right-wing populist zeal.

3. Herrenvolk politics (a system in which minorities are disenfranchised while the ethnic majority holds sway). Donald Trump is using white identity politics to win supporters. Combining overt and subtle racism, part of Trump’s appeal is that he promises to protect the resources and democratic rights of white Americans against their supposed exploitation and theft by non-whites. This is one of the foundations of right-wing producerism.

In the right-wing conservative imagination, real Americans are “hard working,” “Christian” and “white.” Their rights and privileges are to be protected at all costs against lazy black and brown people who are welfare queens, thugs or “illegal” immigrants. The social safety net—while torn at by the 1 percent and right-wing plutocrats—exists to serve white people and “real Americans” before any other group.  As was seen in Nazi Germany, South Africa, Israel, and other racist apartheid societies, the State exists to provide support and service to the “ingroup” or “master race” while the “outgroup” is denied the same benefits and rights. This is the core of Donald Trump’s herrenvolk appeal.

4. Social dominance behavior. Donald Trump’s supporters are drawn from the same core of aggrieved and angry white voters who comprise the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Research on this group shows that they are racially resentful, fearful of social change, hostile to people who are not like them, believe in natural hierarchies and order, seek out strong leaders, are deferent to authority, and exhibit a type of “bullying politics.” In many ways, Trumpmania is a frightening reflection of the authoritarian values that have infected American conservatives.

5. Know-Nothings. Donald Trump’s nativist, xenophobic and racist politics are the latest version of the 19th century American political movement known as the Know-Nothings. The Know-Nothings 1856 party platform included demands that “Americans must rule America; and to this end native-born citizens should be selected for all state, federal and municipal offices of government employment, in preference to all others…”

This is not unlike Trump’s ginning up of white anxiety and violence towards non-white immigrants.

6. The strong father and “manliness.” Donald Trump repeatedly talks about “strength” while slurring Barack Obama and other political enemies as “weak” or as “pansies.”

Trump is also not limited by what the right-wing sees as “weak” “liberal” notions of “political correctness” as he insults women and throws verbal bombs at any person who disagrees with him.

Right-wing ideologues and authoritarians idolize the strong father figure, one who often uses punitive means of discipline to maintain high levels of control over his wife and children. (The right-wing’s latest slur, “cuckservative,” also reflects their anxieties about white masculinity, race, and sexual potency.)

Donald Trump uses gendered language because America’s political class often defaults to a framework where the Democrats are framed as being weak, feminine or too intellectual. By comparison, the Republicans are depicted as strong, manly and decisive.

Donald Trump is playing the role of strongman for the right-wing ideologues and movement conservatives who are aroused by such a figure because the latter fulfills a psychological need for security and protection in a world they view as dangerous and changing too rapidly. His name-calling, bullying swagger, and indifference to norms of comportment and reasonable behavior are central to Trump’s popularity.

7. Performance art and spectacular politics. Donald Trump’s political success is a product of reality television show culture.

Reality television shows are scripted. The genre is wildly popular among American viewers because it is part of an “empire of illusion” that distracts and confuses the public while allowing them to live out their fantasies and wish fulfillment.

In keeping with that dynamic, Trump’s obsessions with “ratings” and public opinion polls that supposedly show his “popularity” are the result of a broken civic and moral culture that equates “likes” on Facebook or “votes” on American Idol with substantive measures of virtue or human value.

Ultimately, Donald Trump is using his background as a reality TV show host, business celebrity, and fan of professional wrestling to engage in a type of ridiculous and exaggerated performance art that mocks the notion of normal politics. Because Trump is not interested in normal politics—Trump is reality TV mixed with professional wrestling—he is relatively immune from derailment or substantive engagement by the news media or his political rivals in the Republican Party.

8. Conspiracy theories and the paranoid style. Donald Trump was one of the most prominent advocates of “Birtherism”—a belief that Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president, was somehow not eligible for the office because he is not a “real” citizen.

This is an absurdly racist claim; nevertheless it is one that is still believed by 66 percent of Trump supporters and 45 percent of Republicans. Birtherism was the first of many conspiracy theories that would be invented by the right-wing media in the age of Obama. Obsessions about Planned Parenthood, ACORN and Benghazi would follow. These delusions are part of a long pattern of right-wing paranoia that Richard Hofstadter detailed in his landmark 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”

The right-wing media and the Republican Party’s embrace of conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions contribute to a broken political system because too much time is spent on the absurd instead of doing the work of real governance. The conspiracy fantasies of Donald Trump and the American right-wing constitute an alternative reality that is immune from facts. Consequently, these beliefs function as a type of religious cult where faith—what is a belief that cannot be proven by ordinary means—is substituted for empirical reality.

Donald Trump’s “birtherism” alternate reality is compelling and exciting for those who believe in it. Such conspiranoid delusions are dangerous because they create extreme political polarization, a political system that cannot fulfill its basic functions, encourage violence, and tear at the common beliefs and values that create a sense of political legitimacy and community in the United States.

Informed citizens can create positive political change. An ignorant public can be easily swayed, manipulated, and duped to act against their self-interest and the Common Good.

Donald Trump is a charismatic figure who embodies the fears, hopes, and anxieties of an aggrieved and frustrated white America. He is the hero they are desperate for. He is a product of a particular coincidence of broken politics, an irresponsible Fox News echo chamber media, and a scared and racially resentful public.

Chauncey DeVega’s essays on race, politics and popular culture can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com/. He is a regular guest on Ring of Fire Radio and TV, and hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Follow him on Twitter.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/8-reasons-white-people-get-suckered-racial-demagogues-donald-trump

 

How Republicans Made Climate Change America’s Most Divisive Political Issue

GOP-led climate denial threatens the future of the entire world.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Reynard Loki

Emphasis Mine

“Human kind …cannot bear very much reality.” —T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

It’s been over a year since polling data found that climate change has emerged as America’s most polarizing political issue. The survey, conducted by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, found that the divisiveness characterizing the climate debate is so strong it has eclipsed such longstanding hot-button issues as gun control, evolution, the death penalty and even abortion. And with President Obama recently making an historic visit to Alaska to speak about the urgency of acting on climate change just as Republicans strive to derail his climate agenda, there is little sign that the climate gap separating the nation’s two major parties will be bridged any time soon.

In 2009, the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans’ views about the state of science and its impact on society. They concluded that “the strongest correlate of opinion on climate change is partisan affiliation.” Two-thirds of Republicans (67 percent) believe that global warming isn’t actually happening — or if it is, it’s not from man-made causes. By contrast, most Democrats (64 percent) say the planet is heating up mainly due to humans.

Climate change should not be this polarizing: Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate arm, reported that scientists are more than 95 percent certain that the primary cause of global warming is human activity.

American Pipe Dream

When it comes to the general election, the climate issue poses an electoral problem for the Republicans: A majority of Americans say they are more likely to support political candidates who promise to tackle climate change, according to a recent poll. Conducted by the New York Times, Stanford University and Resources for the Future, the poll found that two-thirds of Americans say they would support candidates who promised to take action to combat climate change. Almost half of Republicans (48 percent) say the same thing. The poll also found that a solid majority of U.S. voters, 83 percent, believe global warming poses a serious threat to the world.

While there are climate deniers across the globe, this anti-science stance is a particularly American phenomenon. In the U.S., elected GOP climate deniers are commonplace; several of them are seeking the presidency. It’s a different story in other industrualized nations. “In Europe, climate change denial is seen as the preserve of the crackpot,” writes London-based finance and economics writer Imogen Reed. “Few political figures or members of the news media would dream of mentioning it, as doing so often receives the same contempt from the European public as denying the Holocaust.”

Even citizens of emerging countries are more attuned to the realities of global warming. The 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project found that the majority of consumers in China (91 percent), India (73 percent) and South Korea (71 percent) are willing to pay higher prices to address climate change. Not so in America, where a mere 38 percent of consumers would do the same. “In this sentiment, people in the U.S. are out of step with the world,” the report’s authors write. “In most of the countries surveyed people are more likely than Americans to be willing to pay for efforts to slow global warming.”

“In this sentiment, people in the US are out of step with the world,” according to the Pew survey. “In most of the countries surveyed people are more likely than Americans to be willing to pay for efforts to slow global warming.”{4}  – See more at: http://www.justmeans.com/blogs/if-you-had-to-choose-solve-the-climate-cr…

The GOP’s climate denial, buoyed by a massive social, financial and political machine oiled by conservative think-tanks and activist groups, has created a potentially disastrous situation in which climate change — arguably the most pressing global issue of our time — has also become the most polarizing topic in the nation whose leadership is absolutely critical to finding a solution. While Obama committed to an 83 percent reduction in carbon emissions on 2005 levels by 2050, that goal faces a massive hurdle: a rich and powerful Republican machine that seeks to dismantle the president’s climate agenda. With the two major parties locked in a seemingly intractable adversarial stance on the topic, truly meaningful action seems almost like a pipe dream.

If it is a dream, it’s because the GOP refuses to accept reality. The Carsey poll found that party-line gaps on science-related questions “equal or surpass those of historically divisive social issues.” The division is primarily driven by the Republicans, 70 percent of whom don’t believe in global warming. This position stands in stark contrast to the world’s scientists, 97 percent of whom agree that global warming has occurred in the last century. Lawrence Hamilton, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire who conducted the Carsey poll, wrote that the findings represent “a changing political landscape in which scientific ideas and information that are accepted by most scientists are, nevertheless, highly controversial.”

Media Misinformation

The controversy is fueled in part by misinformation coming from the media. Last year, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released its analysis of 2013 climate coverage by the three major American cable news networks. The researchers confirmed what most environmentalists had already guessed: Fox News leads the pack in climate misinformation. The right-wing mouthpiece presented misleading statements in almost three out of every four (72 percent) of its climate-related segments. Bucking that trend is Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who has acknowledged anthropogenic, or human-caused, climate change, though he is one of very few voices at the network to do so.

See: http://www.alternet.org/environment/climate-change-more-divisive-abortion-blame-republicans?akid=13476.123424._E9pRg&rd=1&src=newsletter1042399&t=2

Myths And Facts On Hillary Clinton’s Email And Reports Of “Top Secret” Materials

Media are exploiting news that two emails Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department from her time as secretary of state may be retroactively classified as “top secret” to push myths about Clinton’s handling of government information and scandalize her email use. Here are the facts.

Source: MediaMatters

Authors: LIS POWER & KATIE SULLIVAN

Emphasis Mine

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clinton Were Labeled As “Classified” Or “Top Secret

FACT: Emails Originated In State Dept. System, And Questions About Retroactive Classification Would Have Occurred Regardless Of Clinton’s Server Use

FACT: Experts Have Debunked Any Comparison Between Clinton’s Email Use And David Petraeus’ Crimes

FACT: IG Referral To Justice Department Was Not Criminal, And FBI Isn’t Targeting Clinton Herself

Intelligence Community IG Says Two Emails From Clinton’s Server Should Be Marked “Top Secret”

Intelligence Community Inspector General Says Two Emails From Clinton’s Server Contain “Top Secret” Information. The inspector general for the Intelligence Community (ICIG), I. Charles McCullough, reportedly informed leaders of key congressional oversight committees that two classified emails previously discovered on Clinton’s server contain top secret information. As McClatchy reported:

The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.

The notice came as the State Department inspector general’s office acknowledged that it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress. [McClatchy DC, 8/11/15]

State Department: It Remains Unclear Whether Material In Two Emails Should Be Retroactively Classified. NBC noted that the State Department is still working with the intelligence community to determine whether the information in the two emails should in fact be labeled as classified:

Clinton aides have maintained that nothing on her server was classified at the time she saw it, suggesting that classified messages were given the label after the fact.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said that was the case with two emails, adding that it remained unclear “whether, in fact, this material is actually classified.”

“Department employees circulated these emails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011, and ultimately some were forwarded to Secretary Clinton,” Kirby said Tuesday. “They were not marked as classified.” [NBC News, 8/12/15]

MYTH: Clinton Received Emails Marked As “Top Secret”

Fox Anchor Bret Baier: “‘Top Secret’ Was Marked On The Emails” Sent To Clinton. During the August 11 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier claimed that “‘top secret’ was marked on the emails” that Clinton received during her time as secretary of state:

MIKE EMANUEL: The breaking news of the hour is that the intelligence inspector general has told top lawmakers on Capitol Hill that two of those four classified emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal server were top secret in nature. And they’re still studying the other two to figure out what the relevant classification should be. Bret?

BRET BAIER: ‘Top secret’ marked on the emails. FBI inquiry obviously already ongoing to classified information improperly stored, they said, on her private server. And also, Mike, a thumb drive held by her attorney?

EMANUEL: Well that’s absolutely correct. All of her emails have been stored by her personal attorney. And a lot of folks on Capitol Hill have been asking, why is that still out there? Why is that not controlled by the intelligence community or by the State department, this existing in the possession of a personal attorney. And so lots more questions on Capitol Hill and throughout the intelligence community this evening. [Fox News, Special Report8/11/15]

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: ICIG “Contradicted Clinton’s Repeated Claim That Nothing On Those Private Emails Was Classified.” On the August 12 edition of NBC’s Today, Andrea Mitchell argued that the ICIG’s statement “contradicted” Clinton’s “repeated past denials”:

ANDREA MITCHELL: More controversy for Hillary Clinton today indeed. Despite her repeated past denials, the intelligence community’s Inspector General now says two of her emails should have been classified ‘top secret,’ the highest level of U.S. intelligence, even as the FBI is finally getting control of that private server.

VOICEOVER OF MITCHELL: Hillary Clinton, in New Hampshire Tuesday, has aides confirm she has turned over her private server to the FBI. In addition, her attorney David Kendall gave the FBI two thumb drives containing her emails.  All of this, as the intelligence community’s watchdog contradicted Clinton’s repeated claim that nothing on those private emails was classified.

[CLIP OF HILLARY CLINTON: I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials.]

MITCHELL: Clinton has said there was no classified markings on any of her emails.

[CLIP OF CLINTON: I am confident that I have never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.]

MITCHELL: But the Inspector General has now told Congress two of Clinton’s emails should have been classified ‘top secret,’ with code words indicating electronic eavesdropping from satellites, so sensitive it could not be shared with foreign allies. [NBC, Today8/12/15]

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clinton Were Labeled As “Classified” Or “Top Secret”

Government Officials: None Of The Emails Were Marked As “Classified” When They Were Sent. The Washington Post reported that when the ICIG first “found information that should have been designated as classified” in four emails from Clinton’s server — two of which he now says contain “top secret” information — government officials acknowledged that the emails were not marked as classified when they were sent (emphasis added):

The Justice Department said Friday that it has been notified of a potential compromise of classified information in connection with the private e-mail account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used while serving as secretary of state.

A Justice official said the department had received a “referral” on the matter, which the inspector general of the intelligence agencies later acknowledged came from him.

The inspector general, I. Charles McCullough III, said in a separate statement that he had found information that should have been designated as classified in four e-mails out of a “limited sample” of 40 that his agency reviewed. As a result, he said, he made the “security referral,” acting under a federal law that requires alerting the FBI to any potential compromises of national security information.

[…]

Officials acknowledged that none of the e-mails reviewed so far contain information that was marked classified when they were sent. But a new inquiry would prolong the political controversy Clinton is facing over her un­or­tho­dox e-mail system. [The Washington Post7/24/15]

IG Memo On Classified Information In Emails: “None Of The Emails … Had Classification Or Dissemination Markings.” A memo from the ICIG clearly stated that “none of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings”:

Since the referenced 25 June 2015 notification, we were informed by State FOIA officials that there are potentially hundreds of classified emails within the approximately 30,000 provided by former Secretary Clinton.  We note that none of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network.  Further, my office’s limited sampling of 40 of the emails revealed four contained classified IC information which should have been marked and handled at a SECRET level. [Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, 7/23/15]

MYTH: Emails Weren’t Marked As “Classified” Because Clinton Used A Private Server Instead Of State Dept. Email

Fox & Friends‘ Steve Doocy: Emails “Were Never Classified” Because Clinton Used A Private Server Rather Than The State Department’s Email System. Throughout the August 12 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy repeatedly blamed the lack of classification on Clinton’s use of a private server instead of “the State Department email system,” arguing the emails “were never classified because she never submitted it” (emphasis added):

STEVE DOOCY: The problem here is the fact that she didn’t want her bosses at the White House to know what she was writing about, it is perceived.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: She also didn’t want her colleagues in the State Department to know.

DOOCY: Right. So she had her own server, which is, you know, against protocol. Her spokespeople, and she herself has said, you know, it wasn’t classified at the time. But that ignores how the process works. The reason you use the State Department email system is so that it is classif – it is vetted before you hit ‘send.’

NAPOLITANO: She is probably going to argue that because the phrase, boom, ‘top secret’ was not stamped on each document, it wasn’t top secret. That’s not what the law says. Before every person in the federal government, from the president to a file clerk, gets a national security clearance, they have a 30 minute in-person interview with an FBI agent who explains, if there’s doubt about whether it’s classified or not, it’s classified.

DOOCY: Let me just add this one thing. It was never classified because she never submitted it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends8/12/15]

FACT: Emails Originated In State Dept. System And Questions About Retroactive Classification Would Have Occurred Regardless Of Clinton’s Server Use

Emails Originated With State Department Employees And Were Forwarded To Clinton. The State Department’s statement on the retroactive “top secret” designation made clear that the emails at issue originated with State Department employees, not Clinton herself:

The following is attributable to Spokesperson John Kirby:

“The State Department takes seriously its obligations to protect sensitive information, holding its employees to a high standard of compliance with regulations and procedures.

“The Intelligence Community has recommended that portions of two of the four emails identified by the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General should be upgraded to the Top Secret level. Department employees circulated these emails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011 and ultimately some were forwarded to Secretary Clinton.  They were not marked as classified.

“These emails have not been released to the public. While we work with the Director of National Intelligence to resolve whether, in fact, this material is actually classified, we are taking steps to ensure the information is protected and stored appropriately.” [Twitter.com, 8/11/15]

Clinton Campaign: Emails Originated From “Unclassified .Gov Email System.” A fact sheet released by the presidential campaign for the former secretary of state explains that the emails at issue originated on “the unclassified .gov email system”:

Would this issue not have arisen if she used a state.gov email address?

Even if Clinton’s emails had been on a government email address and government device, these questions would be raised prior to public release.

While State Department’s review of her 55,000 emails brought the issue to the Inspectors Generals’ attentions, the four emails were on the unclassified .gov email system. They were not on the separate, closed system used by State Department for handling classified communications. [hillaryclinton.com, “Updated: The Facts About Hillary Clinton’s Emails,” accessed 8/12/15]

Vox: Whether Or Not Emails Should Have Been Marked Classified Is Part Of “Bureaucratic Turf War.” Vox pointed out how the intra-agency disagreement over whether the emails were appropriately categorized “is a bureaucratic fight about how the State Department has handled the emails, not about Hillary Clinton” (emphasis added):

The State Department has been ordered by a federal judge to make public the 55,000 pages of emails Clinton turned over to the agency. So the State Department has Freedom of Information Act experts sifting through the documents to make sure that no information will be released that is either classified or sensitive (meaning not technically classified but also not covering material that the government doesn’t want in the public domain).

This has caused a bureaucratic turf war between the department and the intelligence community, which believes at least one email that’s already been released contains classified information and that hundreds of others in the full set may also have material that’s not ready for public consumption. For a couple of months, the inspectors general of the State Department and the combined intelligence community agencies have been battling Patrick Kennedy, the lead State Department official, over who has access to the documents and the authority to release or withhold them.

Now, according to the Times and other publications, the IG team is asking the Justice Department to get involved in reviewing whether State has mishandled the emails. If Clinton was sending information that was, or should have been, classified — and knew that it was, or should have been, classified — that’s a problem. But no one has accused her of that so far. Given the anodyne nature of what she sent in the emails we’ve already seen, it’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that any sensitive information was sent to Clinton, not by her (though it’s not clear whether forwarding such emails would constitute a legal issue for her). [Vox, 7/28/15]

MYTH: Hillary Clinton’s Email Use Is Comparable To David Petraeus’ Crimes

Doocy: Clinton’s Email Use Is “The Same Thing That David Petraeus Pleaded Guilty To.” On the August 12 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Doocy hyped the debunked claim that Clinton’s email use was similar to Gen. David Petraeus’ illegal mishandling of confidential information:

DOOCY: Big question is — Will this Department of Justice go ahead and fully prosecute? Because, keep in mind, she had unauthorized, for a home server, top secret documents, which was a direct violation of the U.S. laws. It’s the same that David Petraeus pleaded guilty to. He had the same stuff at his house. She had at it at her house. He got, you know, they ran him up the flag pole, will they do the same for her? [Fox News, Fox & Friends,8/12/15]

Fox Judicial Analyst Implies Clinton’s Email Use Is Worse Than Petraeus’ Crimes. Appearing on the August 12 edition of Fox & Friends, senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed “it’s a grave situation” for Hillary Clinton, arguing that Gen. Petraeus only had “the lowest level materials in a desk drawer” while Clinton “had top secret materials in the server in her barn”:

NAPOLITANO: Here’s why it’s a grave situation. A federal judge ordered the State Department to reveal — to make public — emails she had given back to the State Department. The recipients of those e-mails was the inspectors general of State Department and  of the intelligence community. They randomly sampled 40 of them. Among the 40, they found four that were classified.

[…]

They then revealed that they then sent that to FBI to commence either a criminal or a national security investigation, and they sent it to the Senate and House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Last night they revealed that two of the four were top secret. What does top secret mean? The government has three classifications — the highest is top secret. Meaning if it’s revealed, it could cause grave harm to national security. The middle is secret, meaning if it’s revealed, it could cause serious harm to national security. The bottom is confidential, meaning if it’s revealed, it could cause some hard to national security. General Patreaus was indicted, prosecuted, and convicted for having confidential, the lowest level materials in a desk drawer in his house. Mrs. Clinton, it has now been revealed, had top secret materials in the server in her barn at Chappaqua. [Fox News, Fox & Friends8/12/15]

FACT: Experts Have Debunked The Comparison — Petraeus Knowingly Mishandled Classified Documents, Whereas Clinton Had Authorization To Use Private Email, And There’s No Evidence She Knowingly Emailed Classified Information

Petraeus Pled Guilty To Violating 18 U.S.C. § 1924, “Unlawfully And Knowingly” Moving Classified Materials “With Intent To Retain Such Documents … At Unauthorized Locations.” Petraeus pled guilty to one count of violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 1924:

Between in or about August 2011 and on or about April 5, 2013, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS, being an employee of the United States, and by virtue of his employment, became possessed of documents and materials containing classified information of the United States, and did unlawfully and knowingly remove such documents and materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents and materials at unauthorized locations, aware that these locations were unauthorized for the storage and retention of such classified documents and materials;

All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1924. [U.S. v. Petraeus, Bill of Information, 3/3/15]

NY Times: “There Has Never Been Any Legal Prohibition Against” Using Personal Email Accounts. Despite having previously scandalized Clinton’s use of private emails as “alarming,” the Times later clarified that “there has never been any legal prohibition” against the practice and that “[m]embers of President Obama’s cabinet” use a “wide variety of strategies” to handle their emails:

Members of President Obama’s cabinet have a wide variety of strategies, shortcuts and tricks for handling their email, and until three months ago there was no law setting out precisely what they had to do with it, and when. And while the majority of Obama administration officials use government email to conduct their business, there has never been any legal prohibition against using a personal account. [The New York Times3/13/15]

State Dept: Clinton Preserved And Provided Emails In Line With 2009 Regulation And How We Handled Records At The Time. At the March 3 daily press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf explained that Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of documents as part of the State Department’s “process of updating our records management” and emphasized that Clinton is the only former secretary of state to have done so. From Harf’s briefing:

HARF: When in the process of updating our records management – this is something that’s sort of ongoing given technology and the changes – we reached out to all of the former secretaries of state to ask them to provide any records they had. Secretary Clinton sent back 55,000 pages of documents to the State Department very shortly after we sent the letter to her. She was the only former Secretary of State who sent documents back in to this request. These 55,000 pages covered her time, the breadth of her time at the State Department. [State Department Daily Press Briefing,3/3/15]

Clinton: “I Am Confident That I Never Sent Or Received Any Information That Was Classified At The Time.” Clinton told reporters on July 26 that she never sent or received information that she knew was classified at the time:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said she never knowingly sent or received classified information using her private email server and did not know what messages were being cited by intelligence investigators as examples of emails containing classified information.

[…]

“I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. What I think you’re seeing here is a very typical kind of discussion, to some extent disagreement among various parts of the government, over what should or should not be publicly released,” she said. [Associated Press, 7/26/15]

Director Of Project On Government Secrecy: “There’s No Comparison Between The Clinton Email Issue And The Petraeus Case.” Steven Aftergood told The Washington Times that “[e]veryone agrees that there was no information in the Clinton emails that was marked as classified,” and therefore Clinton’s actions bear no resemblance to Petraeus’s:

While officials combing tens of thousands of emails that moved through Mrs. Clinton’s server have pointed to the presence of “hundreds” of pieces of classified information — apparently none of the messages had any official classification markings on them.

It’s a situation that has triggered heated debate over the extent to which such information wasn’t necessarily classified at the time Mrs. Clinton was emailing it.

“To the best of my understanding, there is no comparison between the Clinton email issue and the Petraeus case,” says Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “Everyone agrees that there was no information in the Clinton emails that was marked as classified. So it would be difficult or impossible to show that those who sent or received the emails knowingly or negligently mishandled classified information.” [The Washington Times8/2/15]

Government Secrecy Expert: “There’s No Case” Against Clinton If She Didn’t Knowingly Misuse Classified Information. William Jeffress, an attorney who has handled government secrecy cases, told Time:

Legally, the question is pretty clear-cut. If Clinton knowingly used her private server to handle classified information she could have a problem. But if she didn’t know the material was classified when she sent or received it she’s safe.

[…]

Clinton has explicitly and repeatedly said she didn’t knowingly send or receive any classified information. “The facts are pretty clear,” she said last weekend in Iowa, “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III, disagrees, saying some of the material was in fact classified at the time it was sent. But in his letter last week to Congressional intelligence committee leaders, McCullough reported that, “None of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings.” And there has been no indication Clinton knew she was sending and receiving anything classified.

The public doesn’t yet know the content of the classified emails, and the State Department and the inspectors general have tens of thousands still to review. If evidence emerges that Clinton knew she was handling secrets on her private server, “She could have a problem,” says William Jeffress, a leading criminal trial lawyer at Baker Botts who has represented government officials in secrecy cases. Barring that, says Jeffress, “there’s no way in the world [prosecutors] could ever make a case” against her. [Time7/29/15]

MYTH: Clinton Is The Subject Of A Federal Criminal Investigation

Fox’s Chris Stirewalt: Clinton Might Be “The Subject Of A Federal Criminal Investigation.” On the August 12 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, digital editor Chris Stirewalt claimed that Clinton might become “the first major party nominee that is the subject of a federal criminal investigation.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom8/12/15]

FACT: IG Referral To Justice Department Was Not Criminal, And FBI Isn’t Targeting Clinton Herself

Reuters: Inspector General Referral Is Not Criminal. Reuters reported on July 24 that there was “no criminal referral over [the] Clinton emails”:

The Justice Department said Friday it has received a request to examine the handling of classified information related to the private emails from Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, but it is not a criminal referral. [Reuters, 7/24/15]

AP: U.S. Official Said That Request Of DOJ “Doesn’t Suggest Wrongdoing By Clinton Herself.” The Associated Press quoted an anonymous U.S. official who noted that the referral did not implicate Clinton in any wrongdoing:

The New York Times first reported the referral. The Clinton campaign said Friday that she “followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials.” Spokesman Nick Merrill said emails deemed classified by the administration were done so after the fact, not when they were sent.

One U.S. official said it was unclear whether classified information was mishandled and the referral doesn’t suggest wrongdoing by Clinton herself. [Associated Press, 7/24/15]

Wash. Post: Officials Say Clinton “Is Not A Target” Of FBI Probe. The Washington Post reported that government officials said Clinton is “not a target” of the FBI’s investigation:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s attorney has agreed to provide the FBI with the private server that housed her e-mail during her four years as secretary of state, Clinton’s presidential campaign said Tuesday.

[…]

The inquiry by the FBI is considered preliminary and appears to be focused on ensuring the proper handling of classified material. Officials have said that Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, is not a target.

The FBI’s efforts have included contacting the Denver-based technology firm that helped manage the Clintons’ unusual private ­e-mail system. [The Washington Post8/11/15]

See: http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/08/12/myths-and-facts-on-hillary-clintons-email-and-r/204913

Fox News’ big welfare lie gets demolished: The shiftless moocher meme is one giant myth

Conservatives punish welfare recipients to force them to find work, but what about the millions who have jobs?

Source:Salon

Author: Simon Maloy

Emphasis Mine

You might recall a spate of stories from about a month ago involving state legislatures pushing measures intended to make life even more difficult for low-income recipients of government aid. Republicans in states like Kansas, Missouri, Maine, and others drug-tpushed aggressive restrictions on the ability to receive and spend welfare dollars – drug testing, banning the purchase of seafood, limiting cash withdrawals to $25 a day, and prohibiting the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards at movie theaters, tattoo parlors, strip clubs, and casinos. Taken together, these measures represent a sweeping campaign to use the power of the state to punish the poor simply for being poor.

Policies like these reflect the longstanding conservative assumption that government assistance for the needy ends up breeding dependence and complacency. People who would otherwise go out and support themselves by getting a job, the argument goes, instead kick back and live the easy life courtesy of the federal government, hanging out in strip clubs and casinos and ordering filet mignon. Thus, if you make the lives of welfare recipients sufficiently miserable or block their benefits altogether, then they’ll go find gainful employment and stop bilking the innocent, hardworking taxpayer. “The law is really about encouraging individuals to become employed,” one Kansas official said of the state’s welfare spending restrictions. “We believe that employment is the most effective path out of poverty.”

The caricature of the deadbeat welfare recipient is a powerful one on the right. Republican economic headman Paul Ryan once famously described the safety net as a “hammock that lulls able-bodied people into complacency and dependence.” A couple of years ago, Fox News put together a “special investigation” into SNAP benefits that focused on a lazy, benefit-abusing surfer as “the new face of food stamps.” That slipshod piece of journalism ended up playing a factor in efforts by congressional Republicans to cut funding for the program.

It’s a message that conservatives at all levels of government push aggressively when trying to make cuts to the safety net. But is it an accurate reflection of the typical recipient of government aid? According to new data from the Census Bureau: no.

As Politico’s Danny Vinik wrote this morning, a new Census report looked at which groups of people ended up on government assistance and for how long. It turns out that a good chunk of welfare recipients are people who work either full- or part-time jobs. As Vinik notes, the report “finds that an average of 6.7 percent of full-time workers were also collecting means-tested benefits in 2012, more than 7 million Americans. For part-time workers, the number was 17.6 percent.” Among full-time workers who’ve collected benefits, nearly a quarter (22.3 percent) collected them for “at least three years between 2009 and 2012.” So for a big portion of people on public assistance, the problem isn’t that they have no incentive to find work; they’re already working, but their jobs don’t pay enough to cover basic expenses. Data like these undercut the conservative assumption that receipt of government aid represents a moral failing, and that “dependency” can be cured through aggressive stigmatization and/or punitive restrictions on how benefits can be spent. Scolding someone on public assistance to “get a job” when they’re already working full time doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Restricting their benefits because you saw some dirtbag on Fox News order lobster with his EBT card makes even less sense – if the goal of these policies is to encourage people to find work, why punish the people who’ve already achieved that result?

Simon Maloy is Salon’s political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.  

see:

49 percent of Republicans do not believe in evolution

Tyrannosaurus_rex_p1050042

Source: Daily Kos

Author: Hunter

Emphasis Mine 

There’s a new Public Policy Polling poll out identifying Scott Walker as the top Republican pick among their presidential maybe-candidates. But some of the other poll results among self-identified Republicans are doozies. For example:

49 percent of Republicans say they do not believe in evolution. Only 37 percent say they do.

66 percent of Republicans say they do not believe in global warming. Mind you, even the most science-denying Republicans in Congress have said they “believe” in global warming, they just don’t think we should do anything about it. Their base has not yet reached this enlightened state.

57 percent of Republicans would support establishing Christianity as our “national religion.”

So it would seem that Scott Walker indeed has the conservative id pegged, and that Republican candidates seeking primary frontrunner status will indeed need to learn to embrace a base that at this point has become very conspicuously stupid. People for whom even the basic sciences are conspiracies if it goes against what they would rather believe to be true. People who love America very, very much, but have never cottoned to the religious freedom part that was so obsequiously drilled into them in grade school as the very reason the people with the belt-buckle hats chose to settle on this landmass to begin with. People who consider Bill O’Reilly to be an upstanding individual.

Welp, now I’m depressed.

There is hope, I suppose. Sixty-six percent of Republicans don’t actually know thing one about “global warming,” for example, they just know they’re supposed to be against it because the angry-sounding guy on the radio was pretty clear on that subject. There’s nothing inherently conservative or Republican about that position, it is just the reactionary fad-of-the-moment, and it will likely change back when another sufficiently belligerent shouter comes along to shout the opposite stance. Or not, if the loathing of “science” as an entity has simply overtaken all the other conservative neural pathways.  As for the others, yep, we’re likely doomed. The thinking of the Republican base goes that we need to establish religious law in this country because otherwise we’ll be taken over by people who somehow convert us all and make us live under their religious law, and wouldn’t that be bad. Then we’ll burn down all the natural history museums because they are offensive to Our Lord, by which I mean whoever grovels to the base enough to win these upcoming primaries.

see: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/02/25/1366834/-49-percent-of-Republicans-do-not-believe-in-evolution?detail=email

War On Christianity? FBI Hate Crime Statistics Utterly Destroy Fox News Lies

Source: Addicting Info

Author: Randa Morris

Emphasis Mine

The right wing insists that there’s a war on Christianity. FBI hate crimes statistics tell a very different story, however. Far from being the victims of religiously motivated attacks, hate crimes against protestants are almost non-existent, while crimes against Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths occur much more frequently, with more violent consequences.

According to the most recent FBI hate crimes statistics (2013), most hate crimes in the United States are not religiously motivated. Almost half of all hate crimes committed in the US are racially motivated. Out of those, more than 66 percent were directed at black people. Another 11 plus percent of hate crimes are motivated by an ethnic bias, such as a bias toward Arab Americans or toward Hispanic citizens. Altogether, attacks against minorities constitute more than 77 percent of all hate crimes in the US.

But we know that it’s white America that’s really under attack, right? At least that’s what they keep telling us on Fox News.

Anti-gay violence is the second most commonly occurring type of hate crime in the United States. Contrary to the right wing narrative that Christians are under attack by the gays, the list of violent crimes committed against the LGBT community speaks for itself. Where are the incidents of gays attacking Christians? They do not exist.

Image credit: fbi.gov

Finally, we get to the third most commonly occurring hate crime in the United States. Those are crimes committed because of a religious bias.

This is where we should see evidence of the war on Christianity.

As you can see from the chart above, about 17.4 percent of all hate crimes are religiously motivated.

Attacks against Jewish citizens are the most common religiously motivated attacks. Hate crimes against people of the Jewish faith constitute about 60 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the US. Anti-Semitism is promoted and disseminated by right wing extremist groups such as the American Nazi Party, the KKK, the Christian Identity church, and a growing number of leaders in the mainstream conservative Christian community. Anti-Semitism is pushed by right wing conspiracy theorists, who claim a link between the ‘secret society of the Illuminati’ and the Jews. There are conspiracy theories about everything from the Jews and abortion to the Jews and Hollywood, ideas which are peddled by the likes of Alex Jones and Glen Beck. Many of these same groups spread the misinformation about minorities and members of the LGBT community, as well.

The second group that is attacked most often because of their faith includes people who practice the Islamic faith. 13 percent of all religiously motivated attacks are committed against Islamic citizens. That number is 5 times higher today than it was before 9/11.

A study conducted by the Center For American Progress links a rise in Islamophobic attacks against Muslims with an increase in anti-Muslim propaganda, which is spread directly by the right wing ‘Christian’ community.

Since 2001, nearly $60 million has been spent by just six individuals, who disseminate the kind of anti-Muslim propaganda that incites violence and leads to religiously motivated attacks on the Muslim community. Daniel Pipes, David HorowitzDavid Yerushalmi, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer and Steven Emerson, have spent a huge amount of money in order to convince US Christians that they are the ones under attack. A network of organizations, politicians and media pundits help these six men disseminate anti-Islam rhetoric. This interactive website, based on Center For American Progress study titled ‘Fear Inc.‘ provides a good look at the politicians, pundits and organizations that are involved in the Islamophobic Network.

The third most common type of religiously motivated attacks in the US consists of attacks against people who practice a religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. The victims might be Buddhist, Hindu, or practice some other religion that doesn’t have enough followers in the US to warrant a category of its own. In spite of the fact that only about 2 percent of the population practices a faith other than the “big three,” attacks against these people make up about 11-and-a-half percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes.

There are dozens of right wing hate groups that are aggressively anti-Catholic, including the KKK.

To see a partial list of the “Christian” groups that openly persecute Catholics and spread anti-Catholic propaganda click here.

Attacks against people of the Catholic faith made up 6.1 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Anti-Catholic sentiments among protestants have been on-going since the reformation. The right wing upped the attacks against members of the Catholic faith, after Pope Francis was sworn in March of 2013. In November, the Washington Post reported that groups of protestant ‘Christians’ had descended on services at several Catholic churches, disrupting mass by storming inside the churches, shouting through bullhorns and handing out fundamentalist literature. Rev. Mike Jones of St. Pius Catholic told the Washington Post:

 “We don’t have to go to the other side of the world to experience religious extremists.

“We were assaulted by shouting and hatred being spewed by protesters standing at both our driveways. Armed with megaphones and brandishing signs, these ‘christians’ ranted for more than 30 minutes about everything they view as ‘evils’ of our Catholic faith. They attacked our dogmas, teachings, practices and leaders, including Pope Francis! Who are they? We don’t yet know.”

According to Pew Research, more than 78 percent of people in the US say they’re Christian. Of those, more than 50 percent are protestant and just under 24 percent are Catholic. Yet, attacks against Catholics occur almost twice as often as attacks against protestants, the group that consistently claims to be under attack in the United States.

Attacks against protestant Christians made up just 3.8 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. Yet, all we hear about is this supposed “war on Christianity.”

This chart from the Washington Post provides a visual reality check. If you were to stack the bars representing each group that is not protestant Christian on top of each other, and then compare that single bar to the small bar representing protestant Christians, then you’d have an even better representation of the non-existent war on Christianity.

Image credit: Washington Post

A closer look at the hate crime data shows that in far more cases than not, right wing Christians are the instigators or even the perpetrators of a very large majority of the hate crimes committed in the US.

The ‘war on Christianity’ is a propaganda war. It’s a war that is being waged in the minds of the people who listen to hate radio and watch Fox News. In 2013 there were 7,242 hate crimes committed in the US. In total, crimes against protestant Christians amounted to .0051 percent, a tiny fraction of a percentage point.

Right wing fear and hate-mongering makes people believe that they’re under attack, when it’s clear that they’re not. It makes them believe that others are threatening them, even when the facts tell a very different story. A large compilation of research released over the summer showed that conservatives have a much larger negativity bias than other people. The research also showed that conservatives also have a greater tendency to ‘perceive threats,’ whether real or imaginary.

The question of whether it is nature or nurture is hard to answer. Are conservatives naturally fearful, even paranoid? Do they gravitate toward right wing media because of some trait or traits that they were born with? Or does being exposed to right wing media on a regular basis actually cause increased feelings of fear, along with exaggerated perception of threats?

If you listen to right wing radio or expose your brain to Fox News on a regular basis, and if you believe that everything you’re told is the “God’s truth” you would quickly start to also believe that almost everyone in the world is out to get you – from liberals to atheists, to the illuminati, to lizard people and possibly even big foot. The world is a great big giant conspiracy, run by the corrupt, God-hating government. Education is a liberal plot to destroy America and reading or listening to anything that isn’t generated and endorsed by the right wing is equal to risking your immortal soul’s damnation.

A quick search of youtube will give you an idea just how often the right wing media pushes the “war on Christianity” narrative to their followers.

Since other studies have demonstrated that low intelligence adults tend to gravitate to conservative ideology, it makes sense that some people just don’t have the mental capacity to think critically about the things they see, hear, or read. That makes them victims of the right wing misinformation network. But the fact that they may be victims, doesn’t make them any less dangerous to society.

There’s no doubt that there are many people on the right who absolutely believe there is a war on Christianity. What the statistics show us, however, is that the attacks are being waged by the right, not against them. It’s a perpetual cycle. The more they believe that everyone else is out to get them, the more they will continue to attack others in what they perceive as “self-defense,” or “patriotism” or even service to God.

 *Featured image credit: video screen capture, Fox News via Mass Tea Party on youtube

 

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See: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/02/20/war-on-christianity-fbi-hate-crime-statistics-utterly-destroy-fox-news-lies/