Cafe News


July 17, 2018

Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States


Remote-access software and modems on election equipment ‘is the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.’


“The company’s machines were used statewide in a number of states, and at least 60 percent of ballots cast in the US in 2006 were tabulated on ES&S election-management systems. It’s not clear why ES&S would have only installed the software on the systems of “a small number of customers” and not all customers, unless other customers objected or had state laws preventing this.

Election-management systems are not the voting terminals that voters use to cast their ballots, but are just as critical: they sit in county election offices and contain software that in some counties is used to program all the voting machines used in the county; the systems also tabulate final results aggregated from voting machines.”

Full article by Kim Zetter:

Boston Globe, Feb. 19th, 2018

WASHINGTON — Hoping to counter waves of Russian Twitter bots, fake social media accounts, and hacking attacks aimed at undermining American democracy, state election officials around the country are seizing on an old-school strategy: paper ballots.

In Virginia, election officials have gone back to a paper ballot system, as a way to prevent any foreign interference. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe this month ordered county officials to ensure new election equipment produces a paper record. Georgia lawmakers are considering legislation to replace a touch-screen voting system with paper.

Top election officials around the country are growing increasingly alarmed about this fall’s midterm elections, with a drumbeat of dire warning signs that Russia is determined to influence them. And many are concerned that President Trump has not focused on the potential for more attacks on America’s election system like the one Russia launched in 2016.

With little leadership from the White House or Congress, they are acting locally, trying to outwit potential hackers by upgrading equipment and enhancing the cybersecurity of systems that contain sensitive voter registration rolls. Secretaries of state and other elections officials around the country in recent months also began applying for security clearances so that federal officials can start briefing them on classified information — and potential threats to election integrity.

Election officials are also turning away from fully electronic systems they fear can be hacked. They see paper as reassuring for voters: Physical ballots can be counted again if anything untoward happens to computerized tabulating systems.

About 30 states allow some form of electronic voting, most for overseas absentee voters. A handful prohibit full electronic voting, including Massachusetts, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“I’ve always been in favor of paper ballots, even when it was fashionable to use electronic systems,” said Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin. “You take the card, you mark your choices, you take it to the box. You ensure it’s counted. All the cards are retained. If there’s a question you can go in and count the cards.”

Over the past several weeks, the nation’s top intelligence officials have said that Russians are already at work trying to disrupt the midterm elections, building on their efforts in 2016. In some cases, they are attempting to spread misinformation using social media platforms, while in others they are targeting the American election infrastructure.

“Our democracy is under attack,” Jeh Johnson, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, said in an interview. “I believe that the cyber threat to our nation is going to get worse before it gets better. Those on offense, which include nation states, are increasingly tenacious. And those of us on defense struggle to keep up.

“I believe we have yet to learn the full extent of the Russian influence campaign in 2016,” he added. “And they’ve been given little disincentive to do anything different in 2018.”

The risks came into sharp relief on Friday with a detailed indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations that allegedly worked to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. They posed as Americans, stole identities, and sowed political discord by planning rallies, paying for political advertisements, and engaging in social media activity.

The indictment alleges that the conspiracy began in 2014 and had a monthly budget of $1.25 million, with the aim of conducting “information warfare against the United States.”

Jeanette Manfra, chief cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security, has also stated that Russian hackers targeted 21 states’ election systems before the 2016 presidential election, breaching a small number of them. She noted that there was no evidence any votes were changed.

While states have been trying to upgrade election infrastructure to prevent such problems as hacking, there is an ongoing debate over how to counter misinformation campaigns.

“We have to be careful about injecting the security apparatus of our government into regulating speech,” Johnson said. “Other governments do that. In this country we have to be careful about calling that a national security matter. Governments like ours do not regulate speech, particularly political speech.”

Instead, he said, it may be up to such service providers as Facebook and Twitter to do more to regulate access to their networks.

Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of state, says the misinformation is a problem for all election officials — but it’s also something a bit out of their control.

“Are people questioning? Yes. Is the questioning a concern of people like me? Yes. Because it makes it much more difficult for people like me to say, ‘Come out and vote, your vote will count,’” he said.

State officials say the last several months have involved a flurry of activity to prepare for threats.

“At the state level we’re doing everything we can. All the states, red states or blue states, are diligent and focused about trying to protect their systems,” said Vermont Secretary of State James Condos, a Democrat who is the incoming president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “But it goes back to the top. If the president is not willing to help us, then we’ve got to fend for ourselves.”

The concern, largely, is of the unknown: that foreign hackers are quicker to discover the holes in American cybersecurity than US officials are at plugging them.

“As I say to others, we’re only as good as today is,” Condos said. “The bad actors are constantly evolving, they’re constantly changing. They’re looking for different ways to get in. We’re trying to stay ahead of them, or at least even with them.”

Election experts say the aim of Russia or other foreign forces during the midterm elections is probably not to help one candidate win or to help Republicans maintain control of the House or Senate. Instead, they say, the effort seems driven more toward simply sowing doubt among Americans about the validity of our voting system.

“It is high risk and questionable reward to actually try and change an outcome of an election in the US,” said David Becker, founder and executive director the Center for Election Innovation and Research. “What you can do is a low-risk, high-reward proposition — which is what the Kremlin has been doing — which is be open about your intent to mess with our elections, be discovered, and then let the American people sow their own doubt about their system.

“This is really about whether the voters have trust in our method of choosing our leaders, which is essential for our democracy,’’ he said. “Russia has been absolutely essential in diminishing that trust.”

President Trump has downplayed Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Congress last year overwhelmingly passed a sanctions package to punish Russia for meddling, but the Trump administration announced last month that it would not implement those sanctions.

“It is a dereliction of duty that the president has not taken steps to punish Russia for its 2016 actions,” said Liz Kennedy, senior director of Democracy and Government Reform at the left-leaning Center for American Progress and the co-author of a recent report examining election security in all 50 states. “Clearly not imposing the sanctions that Congress ordered . . . is exactly the wrong signal to send to Russia.’’

While election experts have been generally pleased with the amount of work that state election officials have been doing to improve their systems, there is still a wide degree of concern that states are not getting enough help from Washington.

“I really see this as our current Sputnik moment,” Kennedy said. “If they have these tools they’ve developed, we need to outsmart them and develop better tools. . . . Time is short. It needs to be a real priority.”

Matt Viser can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mviser.


July 13, 2018

“If this government ever became a tyranny there would be no place to hide and no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government—no matter how privately it was done is within the reach of the government. We must see to it […] that we never cross over that abyss. That’s the abyss from which there is no return.”

Former Idaho Governor & Senator Frank Church

The Blood of Emmett Till

July 12, 2018

“I think that it’s a cynical political charade and utter hypocrisy for the Justice Department of Jeff Beauregard Sessions and Donald Trump to feign caring about a black child murdered in 1955 when they’re holding children of color in cages, when they can’t find a moral distinction between the Nazis and those who demonstrate against them, when Jeff Sessions has spent his whole career supporting restrictions on voting rights. And I think it is rich with irony.”

-Timothy Tyson, The Blood of Emmet Till

The Justice Department is reopening its investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Till was 14 when he was brutally murdered in Mississippi. Outrage over photographs of his body helped propel the civil rights movement.

NPR report with author Timothy Tyson:

“Mamie Bradley, Emmett’s mother, got his body back to Chicago and had an open-casket funeral. Somewhere between a hundred thousand and 250,000 people viewed the body in the course of several days. She then harnessed the power of black Chicago – the NAACP, The Chicago Defender, the Johnson Publishing Company, which was Jet and Ebony and half a dozen other magazines – all of these institutions with national reach. She inspires a movement that elevated Martin Luther King to world historical status, passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights – that national infrastructure was built by the Till case.”

“You tell these stories over and over until they seem true.”

-Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused Till of harassing her.

Till was buying candy in August 1955 when he whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, according to a cousin who witnessed the encounter. Bryant also claimed he grabbed her and made obscene comments, but author Timothy Tyson says she has since retracted that claim, saying, “That part’s not true.” […] Two white men were originally prosecuted on murder charges, but in a closely watched case, an all-white jury found them not guilty. The men later confessed to a journalist that they did, in fact, kill Till, because he refused to stay in his “place” as a black man in the South. They did not express regret.



July 10, 2018

It is astounding every summer people need to be reminded not to leave children in hot cars. Then I remember DT is president.

This story isn’t uncommon — around 37 children under the age of 14 die from being left in a hot car each year, with 13 already occurring in 2018, according to

Wade wins.

July 6, 2018

Suffragettes, June 14th, 1913. Women’s Right to Vote, The 19th Amendment, passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and was ratified on August 18, 1920.

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is a landmark decisionissued in 1973 by the US Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions. The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacyunder the Due Process Clause of th3 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state’s interests in regulating abortions: protecting women’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life.

Justice Kennedy resigns.

Roe v. Wade may not go away all at once. The law could get pieced out and depleted to the point that abortion will not survive on legal precedence but slowly overturned with a conservative leaning Supreme Court, and states determining abortion legality.

This is not about right-to-life at this juncture in our social and political environment, but a woman’s rights issue.

If the Supreme Court and/or states deem abortion illegal, than by equal measure women of all economic and diverse backgrounds should immediately have free access to birth control. Also, women who have children whether single or not, should have policies in place to afford them healthcare and social services for themselves and their child, including paid family leave. Seemingly, women are being denied at both ends of the civil and human rights spectrum.

Further, there’s the equal pay for equal work issue. Women make approximately 90 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man earns, and if a woman has a child, the earnings decrease drastically, even more for women of color.


Ever since women won the right to vote in 1920, women leaders and their allies have sought to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to drive total equality and justice for women into the U.S. Constitution. It did pass in 1972, but fell three states short of ratification. Today’s next wave of the women’s movement might finally make the ERA a reality. Why is Constitutional protection so crucial? Join leading advocates Joan Blades (MomsRising co-founder), attorney Kimberle Crenshaw and Jessica Neuwirth (ERA Coalition President) to learn the true story of what’s at stake and how life would be different and better for women and men.

As Americans, our focus now should be on equal rights for women, across the board, with an amendment that should have been passed decades ago. Now perhaps with so many women running for office, and winning, the change will finally come. Maybe it took this recent reality-TV election and dictorian-style governing to bend the arc of simple justice. As a young female politician shared after winning the local primary election in her New York district, “I believe in a modern, moral, and wealthy society no person in America should be too poor to live.’

The Guardian

Jessica Valentine:

If the Supreme Court overturns the decision, nearly half the states in the country will outlaw abortion-maybe more. Women will die from illegal abortions-as they did before-and most of those women will be the poorest, youngest, and most vulnerable among us.”

And, well, it serves the prison industry, too. “Women will be impirsoned for trying to end their pregnancies. Doctors and nurses will be, too. The tangible and troublng effects will be immediate.”

Suicide? In some countries the death by suicide is the highest among young pregnant women, ages 10-19.

And, this is why voting matters: 0.0006% of 137 million votes cast was the difference between a conservative-leaning Supreme Court and a liberal-leaning Supreme Court for decades to come.


A shift of fewer than 80,000 votes in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) – or 0.06% of 137 million cast-would not just have made Hillary Clinton president. Perhaps even more important for the long run, a young liberal Supreme Court might have ruled on American for a generation. That’s Axios’ reporting. I add that the court would not necessarily have been liberal, but moderate. A court that would consider precedent and law first, politics second.

e.g. Merrick Garland

The same Senate leadership now promoting a quick and decisive Supreme Court appointment is the same leadership who through political maneuvering blocked President Obama’s nominee for almost an entire year, for reasons let’s just say, were ‘lame.’ 

My personal argument for delaying an appointment to the Supreme Court is not based on ideology (the Senate holds a GOP majority), but for criminality. If DT is indeed found guiltily of collusion or persuasion by a foreign government in our 2016 presidential election, then he should be impeached, or at the very least, never lead a political party, or the possibility of being re-elected.

[More from Axios]

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump did the math about Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin back during the transition: “DT won those states by 0.2, or 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively-and by 10,704, 46,765 and 22,177 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 electoral votes; if Clinton had done one point better in each state, she’d have won the electoral vote, too. But for 79,646 votes cast in those three states, she’d be the next president of the United States.

CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Tobin:

Abortion will be illegal in a significant part of the United States in 18 months…Roe v. Wade is doomed.’ 

And the Dailey News? A little more blunt:

“We ARe F*#%D.”

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) smiles.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), to ABC’s Martha Raddatz on “This Week,” about her conversation with DT: “I told him that I was looking for a nominee that would demonstrate a respect for precedence. … I mentioned judicial temperament, integrity, intellect, experience, qualifications, fidelity to the rule of law and the constitution. But most important of all, a respect for precedence.”

In a former political context this statement would be formidable. In our current climate? It is weak and laughable. It means nothing. Any statement from his regarding his methods and madness toward Roe v. Wade should be dismissed and not believed.

Something to consider, getting back the voting issue. I ran into a former student recently. She was wearing a white t-shirt with a black, thick, equal sign emblazoned on the front. So, our conversation drifted toward politics and the social climate in our country. She shared that her young friends are political BUT DID NOT VOTE because they believe their vote doesn’t count. Can’t imagine how they thought that <sarcasm>.

Pew Research Center

For the fifth time in U.S. history, and the second time this century, a presidential candidate has won the White House while losing the popular vote.

In this week’s Electoral College balloting, DT won 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227, with five Democratic and two Republican “faithless electors” voting for other people. That result was despite the fact that Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more popular votes than Trump in November’s election, according to Pew Research Center’s tabulation of state election results. Our tally shows Clinton won 65.8 million votes (48.25%) to almost 63 million (46.15%) for Trump, with minor-party and independent candidates taking the rest.

This mismatch between the electoral and popular votes came about because DT won several large states (such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) by very narrow margins, gaining all their electoral votes in the process, even as Clinton claimed other large states (such as California, Illinois and New York) by much wider margins.

DT’s share of the popular vote, in fact, was the seventh-smallest winning percentage since 1828, when presidential campaigns began to resemble those of today.

Until we find a way to abolish the Electoral College, we must vote, and in large numbers to overcome voting restrictions and gerrymandering. McDonnell’s diabolic political maneuvering, although unethical, was apparently legal (Adam Liptak, NPR, 2018). It becomes increasingly apparent that the former administration and the democratic minority leadership should have played their own political game, instead of political naïveté malpractice. Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times wrote on January 1st, 2017 that,

President Obama will have one last chance to force Judge Merrick Garland onto the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday — but it’s a legal gamble and one that has so many pitfalls that even those who say he could get away with it believe it isn’t worth the fight.

Mr. Obama’s moment will come just before noon, in the five minutes that the Senate gavels the 114th Congress out of session and the time the 115th Congress begins.

In those few moments the Senate will go into what’s known as an “intersession recess,” creating one golden moment when the president could test his recess-appointment powers by sending Judge Garland to the high court.

A smattering of activists has asked him to give it a try, but Mr. Obama has given no indication that he’s thinking about it. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.


William G. Ross, a law professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, said Mr. Obama would have the power to elevate Judge Garland. But he said it would be “politically unwise and damaging to the prestige of the court.”

As a brilliant Constitutional Law scholar and professor, why didn’t Obama, knowing what this country was facing, the increasing age of the court, the political maneuverings, take this chance?

NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross spoke with NYTimes Supreme Court of the United States correspondent Adam Liptak about the increasingly polarized and right-leaning supreme court and how the next Supreme Court Justice will effect the balance of the court for at least the next generation.

“The Politics of the First Amendment have Completely Flipped.”

“She [Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan] said that the justices overruled the previous law because they wanted to. The First Amendment was meant for better things. It was meant not to undermine, but to protect democratic governments, including the role of public-sector unions. And she added – at every stop, black-robed rulers are overriding citizens’ choices. What struck me as especially interesting about that is that she’s really criticizing judges as a group. I don’t know whether she’s criticizing just the justices or judges in general for overruling things because they want to and for overriding citizens’ choices. Black-robed rulers, that’s a strong phrase when you’re talking about your fellow justices.

LIPTAK: Yes. And it’s coming from Justice Kagan, who is not a bomb-thrower, who is actually a very strategic thinker who doesn’t lightly make these accusations. So for her to get so worked up means that something very important is happening here. One way to shorthand what she’s saying is she’s accusing her conservative colleagues of what we used to call judicial activism, of using judicial power to strike down duly-enacted laws and saying that they’ve found now a tool which gives them that opportunity in many, many settings.

GROSS: The tool being the First Amendment?

LIPTAK: That’s right.

GROSS: So officially, judicial conservatives are supposed to be translating, you know, the Constitution to the letter of the law. And they’re supposed to be opposed to judicial activism.”


I mean, I really can’t overemphasize how different Justice Kennedy’s retirement is from just about anybody else’s. It’s the end of the world as we know it. It’s a transformative moment in American life. He has been so important, so central to the work of the court and to the meaning of the Constitution. And whoever succeeds him will cause the court to be a completely different place.

[Full interview approximately 42 minutes.]


One door too many.

July 5, 2018

‘Veteran MJ Hegar saw her long-shot congressional bid gain an astonishing amount of credibility mere hours after her campaign released a biographical campaign video that, as of press time, had drawn nearly two million views on YouTube.’

My whole life has been about opening, pushing, and sometimes kicking through every door in my way. Ready for a Congress that opens doors for Americans instead of slamming them in our faces? Then join our campaign by donating today:

‘Since she launched her campaign last summer, Hegar was on a quiet list of Democratic sleeper candidates – long shots running professional campaigns in heavily Republican districts that could become competitive in the event of a major Democratic wave this fall. Already, she managed to outraise Carter in the first quarter of this year – a major warning sign for any incumbent up for re-election.’

[link to full story from the Texas Tribune]


June 26, 2018

And the hits just keep on coming.

  • Travel Ban
  • $2 (B) in free advertising from network television during DT 2016 campaign.
  • 94 (M) registered voters DID NOT VOTE.
  • Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority) blocked Obama’s Supreme Court appointee.
  • Drilling on public land.
  • Family separation.
  • Lies. Deception.

We did this to ourselves.

Reality check.

June 23, 2018

All the World is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming. -Helen Keller

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. -Mark Nepo

As spiritual beings, we have within us the inherent power to rise above any circumstance. -Rev. Jane Beach


David Folkenflick

‘When the White House Can’t Be Believed’

This essay isn’t about spin, or splitting hairs, or differing opinions.

This involves a reality check about our expectations of the people who act in our name. About credibility at the highest levels of our government. About people whose words are heard abroad as speaking for our nation. About the public and the media that try, however imperfectly, to serve it.


You could call what she [Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen] said a deception, an evasion or a technical nicety. NPR will not call what Nielsen said a lie because it cannot gauge her intent.

I report about the media for NPR and in so doing, I periodically cover NPR and its policies. I don’t speak for the network. I would say the word “lie” fits here.


But what you call it almost doesn’t matter.

More important is that the media and the public register a fundamental fact: Top people speaking for the United States aren’t telling us the truth — starting with the president.

Columbia Journalism Review

Advocates are becoming journalists. Is that a good thing?

As the media landscape continues to fragment and many outlets struggle to afford more ambitious reporting projects, non-governmental organizations and advocacy groups like the ACLU and Human Rights Watch are increasingly taking on the role of reporter—breaking stories and in some cases even helping to change policy. But even those leading the new NGO-as-muckraker efforts acknowledge that they’re no replacement for traditional news organizations.

The line between advocacy groups and media organizations has been blurring for some time.

Journalism professor Dan Gillmor wrote a decade ago about the work the ACLU was doing around Guantanamo Bay, and the reporting Human Rights Watch did on issues such as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. A number of academics have also written about the increasing overlap between NGOs and journalism.

“As traditional journalism companies are firing reporters and editors right and left, the almost-journalist organizations have both the deep pockets and staffing to fill in some of the gaps,” Gillmor wrote. He also encouraged NGOs to concentrate on applying journalistic principles such as fact-checking and transparency.

Of course, traditional media organizations often get accused of distorting the news in similar ways—of selectively including certain facts or quoting certain individuals—because those facts or views fit a certain worldview. In some cases it’s done in order to generate traffic and advertising revenue, but there can also be ideological elements at work (Fox News, or at least the version of it that exists in primetime, springs to mind).

In the end, the world of journalism and the world as a whole are probably better off now that there are activist organizations that are trying to use the tools of modern media to tell stories. The more sources of information there are, especially from remote or developing nations, the better. In some ways, that’s one of the biggest benefits of a democratized media environment—anyone anywhere can become a news source, and that’s fundamentally a good thing, even if some take advantage of it for their own purposes.

d: At this moment in our democracy, we do indeed need moral thinkers serving as activists; both-sides journalism, and for-profit media prior and post the 2016 presidential primary, have delivered us to this point of massive deception and gaslit lies. Perhaps only journalists as activists, and ‘democratized media’ will deliver us from the deception and recurrent lies being generated from this nation’s highest offices.

The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. 
—Winston Churchill
Richard Nixon is a not good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he’d lie just to keep his hand in. 
—Harry Truman

Society of Professional Journalists

Minimize Harm

Journalists should:

  • Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work.
  • Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort.
  • Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage.

The Intercept

All mass crimes in history start with a justification, a necessity rationalization, a sick form of nationalism and racism.

Administration of Hate: The Snatching and Caging of Immigrant Children. It is Happening Here.

This week on Intercepted: The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux talks about his recent reporting in the border state of Arizona and paints a harrowing picture of the human toll of family separations by ICE. Alice Speri lays out her investigation of sexual abuse by ICE officers and contractors in immigration detention centers. Sohail Daulatzai discusses his new book, “With Stones in Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism, and Empire,” and explains why the film “The Battle of Algiers” is still relevant more than 50 years after its release. The legendary resistance singer Barbara Dane shares stories from her 91 years on earth fighting militarism, racism, and economic injustice. Plus, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen competes on Jeopardy! and we hear a cover of “The Partisan” from composers and musicians Leo Heiblum of Mexico and Tenzin Choegyal of Tibet.


James Doubek

White Civil Rights Rally Approved for D.C. in August

The National Park Service has approved an initial request for organizers to hold a second “Unite the Right” rally, this time across the street from the White House in August — one year after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va.

The park service has given initial approval to an application from Jason Kessler to hold a “white civil rights rally” on Aug. 11 and 12, as first reported by WUSA9. Kessler, along with white supremacist Richard Spencer and others, organized the 2017 rally, during which a woman was killed. The park service has not yet issued a permit for the event.

Think Progress

Meet the Favorite Philosophers of Young White Supremacists

A new book explores how philosophers like Nietzsche and Heidegger have inspired a new generation of fascists.

Casey Michel

As Donald Trump basked in his presidential election victory in 2016, white supremacist Richard Spencer unleashed a round of Nazi-inspired praise for Trump’s victory — sentiments echoed by Alexander Dugin, a Russian neo-fascist whose writings reached a broader-English-speaking audience thanks to Spencer and his wife, Nina Kouprianova.

These three, writes University of Toronto political science professor Ronald Beiner, all trace their fascistic views back to a pair of German philosophers: Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, both of whom played outsized roles in either inspiring

As Beiner writes in Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right, the recent resurgence of the far-right and white supremacy didn’t occur in any kind of philosophical vacuum. Rather, it’s rooted in a long lineage of fascists who have leaned on Nietzsche and Heidegger to excuse and expand their own racism, anti-Semitism, and personal quests for power.


Decades later, the two philosophers have gained newfound prominence thanks to the growing impact of neo-fascists and white supremacists on both sides of the Atlantic. ThinkProgress spoke with Beiner about the effect Nietzsche and Heidegger have had, and what may come next for the young white supremacists who have found their philosophical heroes in a pair of German thinkers.


Nietzsche and Heidegger despise the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution — they resolutely, deliberately, and bitterly reject that legacy, that inheritance of the modern West. I’d say they violently reject [them]. Why is that? Take the French Revolution. Really what it stands for is the idea that people should not be locked into pre-dictated roles in life, scripts they’re meant to live out. The idea is to give individuals space to map out their own ideas of life, to live freely. Well, Nietzsche totally rejects that.


The project is: destroy liberalism. Destroy the moral and political horizons of modernity. Destroy everything from the ground up. And if it takes a nuclear explosion and just starting all over again, they’re happy with it.

Meet the favorite philosophers of young white supremacists

d: Then, if we really want to sober up, we read this:

In Raven Rock, Garrett Graff sheds light on the inner workings of the 650-acre compound (called Raven Rock) just miles from Camp David, as well as dozens of other bunkers the government built its top leaders during the Cold War, from the White House lawn to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado to Palm Beach, Florida, and the secret plans that would have kicked in after a Cold War nuclear attack to round up foreigners and dissidents, and nationalize industries.

Equal parts a presidential, military, and political history, Raven Rock tracks the evolution of the government’s plans and the threats of global war from the dawn of the nuclear era through the present day. Relying upon thousands of pages of once-classified documents, as well as original interviews and visits to former and current COG facilities, Graff brings readers through the back channels of government to understand exactly what is at stake if our nation is attacked, and how we’re prepared to respond if it is. [Amazon]

—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Einstein:

Garrett Graff has given us a colorful and frightening account of the American government’s plans for doomsday, and the secret bunkers where official could go to save themselves. These early plans still have their counterparts today, and they reveal a lot about how warfighting doctrine evolved. Read it and be fascinated—and a little scared.”

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interviewed Graff in 2017, and re-aired her interview on Friday, June 22nd. The book was just released in paperback.

Graff is a former editor of Washingtonian magazine and Politico Magazine. He also is a contributing writer to Wired magazine. Terry interviewed him last year when his book was published. It’s now out in paperback.


Raven Rock is this massive, hollowed-out mountain. I mean, it’s a free-standing city inside, you know, with individual buildings – three-story buildings built inside of this mountain. And it has everything that a small city would. I mean, there’s a fire department there. There’s a police department, medical facilities, dining halls. The dining facility serves four meals a day. It’s a 24-hour facility. And it has been – it was sort of mothballed to a certain extent during the 1990s as the Cold War ended and then was restarted in a hurry after 9/11 and has been pretty dramatically expanded over the last 15 years and, you know, today could hold as many as 5,000 people in the event of an emergency.

GROSS: So you have these underground bunkers the size of cities in case of nuclear attack to protect members of government and keep the government going. You say that these places are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

GRAFF: Yes. They are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And it’s not just the bunkers. Right as we are sitting here talking today, there is a presidential doomsday plane, these converted 747s that are known as the Nightwatch planes. There are four of them. They’ve been in existence for the last quarter century. And one of them is sitting on a runway in Omaha, Neb., at Offutt Air Force Base right now. Its engines are on. It’s fully staffed with everyone that you would need to lead a nuclear war. And it’s ready to launch in a 15-minute alert in the event of an emergency and rendezvous with the president, wherever he may end up being, and evacuate him.

d: And then we remember who occupies the Oval Office.


Justice & Mercy

June 20, 2018

Center for Action 

Bryan Stevenson (b. 1959) is a lawyer, social justice activist, and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. [1] In his book Just Mercy, Stevenson describes how being in touch with our own humanity and need for mercy helps give us the compassion needed for restorative justice. He is a real contemporary hero for many of us at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

My years of struggling against inequality, abusive power, poverty, oppression, and injustice had finally revealed something to me about myself. Being close to suffering, death, executions, and cruel punishments didn’t just illuminate the brokenness of others; in moments of anguish and heartbreak, it also exposed my own brokenness. You can’t effectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression, or injustice and not be broken by it. . . .

I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.

We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity. . . .

So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak—not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken. I thought of the victims of violent crime and the survivors of murdered loved ones, and how we’ve pressured them to recycle their pain and anguish and give it back to the offenders we prosecute. I thought of the many ways we’ve legalized vengeful and cruel punishments, how we’ve allowed our victimization to justify the victimization of others. We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible.

But simply punishing the broken—walking away from them or hiding them from sight—only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity. 

Embracing our brokenness creates a need for mercy. I began thinking about what would happen if we all just acknowledged our brokenness, if we owned up to our weaknesses, our deficits, our biases, our fears. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t want to kill the broken among us who have killed others. Maybe we would look harder for solutions to caring for the disabled, the abused, the neglected, and the traumatized.  We could no longer take pride in mass incarceration, in executing people, in our deliberate indifference to the most vulnerable.


In response to requests for the text of Bruce’s remarks before he performed “The Ghost of Tom Joad” last night, here is a rough transcript:

I never believed that people come to my shows, or rock shows to be told anything.

But I do believe that they come to be reminded of things. To be reminded of who they are, at their most joyous, at their deepest, when life feels full. It’s a good place to get in touch with your heart and your spirit, to be amongst the crowd. And to be reminded of who we are and who we can be collectively. Music does those things pretty well sometimes, particularly these days when some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn’t such a bad thing.

That weekend of the March for our Lives, we saw those young people in Washington, and citizens all around the world, remind us of what faith in America and real faith in American democracy looks and feels like. It was just encouraging to see all those people out on the street and all that righteous passion in the service of something good. And to see that passion was alive and well and still there at the center of the beating heart of our country.

It was a good day, and a necessary day because we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging. And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls.

There’s the beautiful quote by Dr. King that says the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now, there have been many, many days of recent when you could certainly have an argument over that. But I’ve lived long enough to see that in action and to put some faith in it. But I’ve also lived long enough to know that arc doesn’t bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep, keep leaning.

I think it’s important to believe in those words, and to carry yourself, and to act accordingly. It’s the only way that we keep faith and keep our sanity.

I’ve played this show 146 nights with basically the same setlist, but tonight calls for something different…

– Bruce Springsteen


Jon Meacham, The Soul of America/The Battle For Our Better Angels
The March of 1965 injected something very special into the soul and the heart and the veins of America, ” (John) Lewis said. “It said, in effect, that we must humanize our social and political and economic structure. When people saw what happened on that bridge, there was a sense of revulsion all over America.”
For Lewis, the civil rights struggle always centered on whether the best of the American soul (the grace and the love, the godliness and generosity) could finally win out over the words (the racism and the hatred, the fear and the cruelty). In the end, after the marches and the beatings and the riots, the light has largely triumphed over the dark. “I always felt growing up that in the South there was evil but also good–so much good,” Lewis said. “We are still in the process of becoming.”
President Lyndon Johnson:
At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.
In our time we have come to live with moments of great crisis. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues; issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression. But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved Nation.
For with a country as with a person, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Martin Luther King, Jr.:
We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never by what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is make; this is the way it is structured.

Restorative justice.

June 12, 2018

The aim of restorative justice is to return the person to a useful position in the community. Thus, there can be healing on both sides. Such justice is a mystery that only makes sense to the soul. It is a direct corollary of our “economy of grace” and yet the term restorative justice only entered our vocabulary in the last few decades. How can we deny that there is an evolution of consciousness?

What humanity really needs is an honest exposure of the truth and accountability for what has happened. Only then can human beings move ahead with dignity. Hurt needs to be spoken and heard. It does not just go away on its own.

As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge. What you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control from within, festering and destroying you and those around you. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus teaches, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring it forth, it will destroy you”.

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct. Otherwise, history devolves into taking sides, bitterness, holding grudges, and the violence that inevitably follows. As others have said, “Forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different past.” Reality is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also both accountability and healing forgiveness.

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action

Vernon Jordan

June 8, 2018

“In so many ways, our challenge in our national life is to not let the exceptions become the rule,” Jordan told the crowd gathered in the Holton Memorial Quadrangle at DePauw University’s 179th commencement. “To not let fear and hatred become the rule. To not let a society that gets more divided become the rule. To not let falsehoods become the rule. To not let a lack of leadership, a lack of integrity, a lack of respect for others, become the rule.”

Vernon Jordan

DePauw University Commencement Speech

May 20, 2018

[Jordan is a 1957 graduate of DePauw University, civil rights legend, attorney and presidential adviser.]


June 6, 2018

I remember his white shirt. And his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was smiling. A big smile. I was looking up. My memory recalls a long platform, perhaps the back of a flatbed truck. And the people. So many people in the parking lot of the Chula Vista Public Library. I was 7. I was wearing a sundress and barefoot. And I remember that suddenly my mom seemed frightened. She didn’t think we were safe. She quickly picked me up and we were gone.

Days later I remember the television set on in our living room turned to a funeral, in black and white. I knew something very sad had happened. Our home was quiet, no one was talking. And my mom was very sad.

It wasn’t until older that I understood the funeral I watched on TV was for the same man I had seen in the parking lot of the our public library, days before he was murdered in Los Angeles, a nation trying to endure yet another assassination, urban violence, and the Viet Nam War. Sadness seemingly the new normal.


‘He is gone, yes — but nowhere near forgotten.’

Robert Kennedy wanted to know more about black America than briefings from the civil rights leadership could provide. So while he was attorney general and later, as a U.S. senator from New York, he made several trips to various parts of the country, urban and rural, to better understand race and poverty. Sometimes he took one of his older children with him.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still remembers one visit to Harlem: “At one point (we visited) a Puerto Rican mother in an apartment who kept cats in the apartment to keep rats from getting into the crib where they would bite her baby.”

The accompanying publicity moved the recalcitrant landlord to take care of the building’s vermin problem.

In his book American Values, Robert Kennedy Jr. noted his father also visited the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, because he wanted Americans to know hunger was not just something they saw in Life magazine photo essays on developing nations.

“There were people — mainly in the Senate and the Congress — who said ‘starvation does not exist in America.’ ” The senator’s eyewitness accounts showed that was wishful thinking. Despite being one of the wealthiest countries on earth, the United States had a hunger problem it didn’t want to see.

During the late ’60s, California farmworkers, most of them Mexican-American, were struggling to bring attention to their abysmal working conditions. Life-long labor activist Dolores Huerta says Robert Kennedy made several visits to the striking farm workers she and Cesar Chavez were organizing in the fields of Delano, Calif.

“When the Senator came to Delano, it definitely put us on the national scene,” Huerta remembers. He came more than once. And he established a lasting friendship with Cesar Chavez, and was with Chavez when he ended a grueling 25-day water-only hunger strike.

“Chavez understood that this was one of the only white politicians — maybe the onlyone — who truly and instantaneously got what was going on with the farm workers,” says biographer Larry Tye.

Dolores Huerta believes that empathy and advocacy created an affection for the Kennedys — especially Robert — that has lasted for generations.

Washington Post/Chris Matthews

His contemporaries noticed the same thing. What made this Kennedy so unique, Jack Newfield wrote, “was that he felt the same empathy for white workingmen and women that he felt for blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. He thought of cops, waitresses, construction workers and firefighters as his people.”

We need leaders like him today, people who can unite diverse people into governing majorities.

RFK got a lot of attention recently for the speech he gave on April 4, 1968, the evening the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.

Kennedy tried his best to hold it all together — if sometimes awkwardly.

“I have an association with those who are less well off, where perhaps we can accomplish something bringing the country back together,” he told a reporter just hours before he was killed. “If that division continues . . . we’re going to have nothing but chaos and havoc here in the United States.”

Late that summer, we saw what politics looked like with him gone. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago showed America at war with itself. It was the clash Bobby had wanted to prevent, between the police and the college kid, between the working guy and the better off, between father and son.

It’s been that way pretty much ever since.

As the country said goodbye to Bobby, on that grim June day when his funeral train rolled slowly from New York to Washington, thousands of African Americans gathered at 30th Street in Philadelphia and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

But also along the tracks, between the cities, small poor white families stood in affectionate, patriotic salute. So did fathers and sons, including at least one pair of uniformed police officers.

I should end with a final bit of wisdom picked up from my Capitol cop days. It came from a fellow officer who commuted from West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. A real country boy, Leroy Taylor was full of attitude and hardscrabble wisdom. One day he took me, the college kid back from the Peace Corps, aside.

“You know why the little man loves his country?” he said. “Because it’s all he’s got!”

These days our politicians speak as if the interests of the discarded factory worker and the ignored inner-city youth cannot be met at the same time. Bobby Kennedy would have called that brand of politics “unacceptable.”

He saw the “little man” within all who struggled in our country. People sensed that about him and loved him for it. You saw the patriotic affection in the faces of those along the tracks that day he was carried to join his brother at Arlington.


Our better angels.

May 6, 2018

“The youth of our land shall emulate thy virtues. Statesmen shall study thy record and learn lessons of wisdom. Mute though thy lips be, yet they still speak. Hushed is thy voice, but its echoes of liberty are ringing through the world.”

Eulogy given by Bishop Matthew Simpson, former and first president at DePauw University, at U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s Memorial.

’Our soul—and those that has room for Martin Luther King, but it also has room—from generation to generation—for the Ku Klux Klan and for hate and for fear.

From the very beginning, the presidency was a wager on human character because the framers in that long and difficult summer in 1787 spent far more time on the other parts of the Constitution. They were honestly confused about how powerful the president should be.

Our best moments have come when voices far from power—reformers, protesters, those who have been on the margins—have forced the powerful to take notice.

My own view of the presidency is from Lincoln to Lyndon Johnson, we have had deeply flawed, imperfect men so far in charge of our affairs. But the eras where we look back and the eras that we want to either emulate or celebrate are those when they come about when presidents choose to reach beyond their base, to reach beyond their core of support and speak for a national as opposed to a sectional or partisan interest.

[During the time of the second KKK uprising and the ‘existential crisis of democratic capitalism’,] the night Franklin Roosevelt became president, an aide came to him—an adviser came to him and said, ‘Mr. President, if you succeed in the present crisis, you will go down as our greatest president. But if you fail, you’ll go down as one of the worst. And FDR looked at him and said, if I fail, I’ll go down as the last.

He was formed by a deep belief in hope, in resilience, in the sturdiness of an American idea that we were stronger the wider we opened our arms.’

Presidential history and author Jon Meecham speaking with Dave Davies on NPR’s Fresh Air. Full interview:


The Boise Weekly/ProPublica Illinois

May 4, 2018

How Do You Identify Fake News?
Solid sources and some healthy skepticism can help.

By Vignesh Ramachandran, ProPublica

“Part of what we have to do ourselves is to create an internal speed bump, where we say, ‘Just wait a minute’ before you believe anything.”


‘Experts who study media and the rise of misinformation say you should approach all the news you read with a certain level of doubt, said Dan Gillmor, a professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. […] False news is also often twisted to present a story that triggers you emotionally, whether that’s anger or sadness, Silverman said. “If they can do that, then the chances of you reacting to it by liking it or retweeting it are much greater. So, you need what Silverman calls “emotional skepticism,” as well.’

Full article:


Wake Up To Politics

16-year-old Gabe Fleisher, St. Louis Missouri

“Politics doesn’t have to be confusing.”

“Join nearly 50,000 others from around the world and get Wake Up To Politics in your inbox every weekday morning. Wake Up To Politics offers a non-partisan, comprehensive yet understandable briefing on the latest news from the White House, Congress, the courts, elections, and more.”


To sign up for his newsletter, follow the link.

‘To learn more about Gabe, listen to Gabe on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, Princeton University’s “Politics and Polls” podcast, and on StoryCorps. Watch Gabe on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” NowThis News, MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki.” Read about Gabe in the New York Times, Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, Microsoft’s News Center, St. Louis Magazine, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.’

Follow Gabe on Twitter and like Gabe on Facebook.

Studio 1-A

Interview with Joshua Johnson from St. Louis.


“Gabe Fleisher is helping readers wake up on the right side of the news. The `6-year-old from St. Louis is the creator of “Wake Up To Politics,” a daily political newsletter that reaches nearly 50,000 people each morning. His first subscriber? His mom.”

Archived newsletter:


‘I try to live without doing harm to other people.’

May 3, 2018

WBUR / Here & Now

Two-time National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner’s new novel “The Mars Room” centers on a woman who’s sentenced to two life terms plus six years in a California prison.

Kushner joins Here & Now’s Mina Kim to talk about the book.

Book Excerpt: ‘The Mars Room’

by Rachel Kushner

When I was five or six years old I saw a paperback cover in the supermarket that was a drawing of a woman and her nude body had two knives coming out of it, blood pooling around her. The cover of the book said, “Killed Twice.” That was its title. I was away from my mother, who was shopping somewhere in the market. We were at Park and Shop on Irving and I felt I was not just a few aisles away but permanently sucked out to sea, to the engulfing world of Killed Twice. Coming home from the market, I was nauseous. I could not eat the dinner my mother prepared. She didn’t really cook. It was probably Top Ramen she prepared for me, and then attended to whichever of the men she was dating at the time.

For years, whenever I thought of that image on the cover of Killed Twice I felt sick. Now I can see that what I experienced was normal. You learn when you’re young that evil exists. You absorb the knowledge of it. When this happens for the first time, it does not go down easy. It goes down like a horse pill.

Excerpted from THE MARS ROOM by Rachel Kushner. Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Kushner. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Rachel Kushner recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly writer SEIJA RANKIN.

The Mars Room was definitely going to be about a prison. It might seem like a stark setting change for a novelist whose previous books covered the art scene in New York City, the leftist movement in 1970s Italy, and a pre-revolutionary Havana, among others, but Kushner is as passionate about the criminal justice system as she is informed. She used the term “prison abolitionist” when she recounted her writing experiences to EW, and it’s an apt descriptor. Around the same time the ideas started flowing, she decided that she wanted to learn everything she possibly could about the state prison system in California and got involved as a volunteer at the human-rights organization Justice Now — which, under the direction of a president who is himself on a life sentence, works to prevent violations inside women’s prisons.


Before Kushner sat down to write The Mars Room, she completed exhaustive research, if you can call it that.

(in the WBUR Internet, Kushner shared the research was really more about outreach for her and she visited, and began to know, the inmates.)

It began with tasks that she is quick to point out she wanted to do as a citizen: familiarizing herself with the California prison system, visiting the criminal courts near her house and watching arraignments. And then she spent 10 days going undercover visiting prisons throughout the state. The trip was organized by a criminology professor, and they kept her identity hidden — writers aren’t allowed into prisons, but the professor agreed to bring Kushner along in 2014 because he was retiring.

“I actually wasn’t surprised by anything the first time I went to a prison,” Kushner mused. “It was a very illuminating trip. To actually get inside and walk around is something: I could wander into people’s cells and talk to them, even be out on the maximum-security yard.”


“Most of my visiting with people in prison wasn’t about me getting information from them to put in the book,” she explained. “Usually it was about me paying attention to them and listening to what they wanted to tell me that day.”


I don’t think art can be message-y or political,” Kushner said. “Why not just write an op-ed? And I’m not the person to do that. I’m interested in trying to figure out how I should live my life, and I wake up in the morning and start with me. I try to live without doing harm to other people, and that’s pretty much where I end.”

Of course, if the book changes a few minds or allows a reader to think in a new way, that would be pretty great. And as any potential reader — both Kushner fans and newcomers alike — should be warned, it’s hard to pick up The Mars Room and not do just that. Romy Hall, the novel’s protagonist, says it best:

I had learned already not to cry. Two years earlier, when I was arrested, I cried uncontrollably. My life was over and I knew it was over. It was my first night in jail and I kept hoping the dreamlike state of my situation would break, that I would wake up from it. I kept on not waking up into anything different.

Anguish and suffering visualized in memoriam.

April 26, 2018

“The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama…”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In a plain brown building sits an office run by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, a place for people who have been held accountable for their crimes and duly expressed remorse.

Just a few yards up the street lies a different kind of rehabilitation center, for a country that has not been held to nearly the same standard.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opens Thursday on a six-acre site overlooking the Alabama State Capitol, is dedicated to the victims of American white supremacy. And it demands a reckoning with one of the nation’s least recognized atrocities: the lynching of thousands of black people in a decades-long campaign of racist terror.

At the center is a grim cloister, a walkway with 800 weathered steel columns, all hanging from a roof. Etched on each column is the name of an American county and the people who were lynched there, most listed by name, many simply as “unknown.” The columns meet you first at eye level, like the headstones that lynching victims were rarely given. But as you walk, the floor steadily descends; by the end, the columns are all dangling above, leaving you in the position of the callous spectators in old photographs of public lynchings. [NYTimes]


‘A Lynching Memorial in Montgomery; the country has never seen anything like it.’


In the century after the Civil War, more than 4,000 black Americans were lynched. Men, women and children were publicly tortured and killed in acts of mob violence meant to incite fear. (1A:NPR)

‘It’s time to end the silence.’

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

Founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer and best-selling author of Just Mercy, EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We work with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment, and we are committed to changing the narrative about race in America.

“Bryan Stevenson wants people to examine an era of American history that goes ignored — a chapter often left untold. It was a time, he says, of domestic terrorism.

Between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 black people died by lynching, according to statistics compiled by the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to inmates and works to alleviate racial and economic injustice.

You’ve got to first tell the truth about what happened and then you can begin to understand what is required to recover, to make repairs, to restore, to reconcile. And I don’t want to deny any county in America that has a history of lynching an opportunity to localize this project, this effort.

I really do believe that the great evil of American slavery was this narrative of racial difference. This ideology of white supremacy. Our 13th Amendment ended involuntary servitude and forced labor, but it did not end this narrative of racial difference. Because of that I don’t think slavery ended, I think it just evolved and that’s what created decades of terrorism and lynching.

More than 6 million people fled the American South during this period of time, and the demographic geography of our nation was shaped by this violence.” [LATimes]

It was a time, he says, of domestic terrorism.

In context of ‘domestic terrorism’ is the unfolding story of ‘white power’ in America.


“Kathleen Belew, who has spent more than 10 years studying America’s White Power movement, traces the movement’s rise to the end of the Vietnam War, and the feeling among some “white power” veterans that the country had betrayed them.

In her new book, Bring the War Home, Belew argues that as disparate racist groups came together, the movement’s goal shifted from one of “vigilante activism” to something more wide-reaching: “It’s aimed at unseating the federal government. … It’s aimed at undermining infrastructure and currency to foment race war.

So if you think about the Klan in the 1920s, which is the example that most people are familiar with, it’s very overtly and properly nationalist. … It was out in the mainstream. It was very social. It was very overt. It was purported to be “for America” and their slogan indeed was “100 percent Americanism.”

So fast forward to 1983, and we’re looking at something completely different. This is now a coalition of united racist groups that is openly anti-government, that is focused on a transnational white nation and that is using texts and ideologies that call for an apocalyptic confrontation with everybody else.

“The White Power movement in America wants a revolution.”

Bring the War Home is a tour de force. An utterly engrossing and piercingly argued history that tracks how the seismic aftershocks of the Vietnam War gave rise to a white power movement whose toxic admixture of violent bigotry, antigovernmental hostility, and racial terrorism helped set the stage for Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, and, yes, the presidency of Donald Trump.”―Junot Díaz

“Many people thought that they were living through a real progress moment of American history, and we had this idea, even as historians, of a “post-racial” moment, or a colorblind moment, or a multicultural moment. And I think what this story shows us is where overt racism went during the time that we thought of as peaceful and race-neutral. And that instead we were looking at this submerging and resurging story.” [Belew]

“Anyway, y’all need to come to Montgomery and see this memorial.”

John Legend

Incel: misogynist ideology

April 25, 2018


“Incel Rebellion.” This is not an organized militant group but rather an ideal developed by the so-called “incel” movement — an online community of men united by their inability to convince women to have sex with them. (“Incel” stands for “involuntarily celibate.”)

It’s a new kind of danger, a testament to the power of online communities to radicalize frustrated young men based on their most personal and painful grievances.

The Facebook post “situates the attack as extremist and terrorist,” says J.M. Berger, an expert at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism in the Hague. “Misogyny isn’t new, and ideological misogyny isn’t new. Having a distinct movement that is primarily defined by misogyny is [fairly] novel.”

Many of them are simply sad and lonely men, suffering from extreme social anxiety or deep depression. Some of these moderate incels actively police the extremists in their midst; in a sympathetic 2015 profile, the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey reported that some incel forums were set up to automatically delete any posts referencing the California shooter.

But many incels have a much more sinister, and specific, worldview — one that the Southern Poverty Law Center sees as part of a dangerous trend toward male radicalization online. These incels post obsessively about so-called “Chads,” meaning sexually successful and attractive men, and “Stacys,” attractive, promiscuous women who sleep with the Chads. Both are positioned as unattainable: The Chad is the masculine ideal, one incel men cannot emulate for reasons of poor genetics, while the Stacy is whom every incel man wants to sleep with but cannot because they aren’t a Chad.

This is how inceldom becomes a political doctrine: They see themselves as a class, oppressed by a social system that’s rigged in favor of other men. One post on an incel subreddit compared their worldview to Marxism, with incels playing the part of the proletariat and Chad the bourgeoisie. The natural corollary of this idea is clear: If the root of the problem is an unfair social system, then there needs to be a revolution to change it.

Does this mean we should just throw up our hands and say that the radicalization of some young men toward violent misogyny is inevitable? Of course not. Carvin suggests that social outreach programs, focusing on countering the sense of isolation that draws young men to these communities in the first place, might be a better idea than standing up a potential counter-incel task force at the FBI. (No such group is currently known to exist.)

But regardless of what the right solution is, we need to be clear-eyed about the type of challenge we’re facing. The internet makes it easier than ever for sad and angry people to find each other and develop communities with weird and dangerous ideologies. What we’re seeing right now is one of society’s oldest hatreds, misogyny, being reworked in real time to fit a specific group of men’s rage and pain.


By Zack Beauchamp


Full article:

Traditional, Inclusive & Creating with Integrity

April 17, 2018

…a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical,
Christo-centric, social justice-oriented, queer-inclusive,
incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient / future
church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination.

“And it started with eight people in my living room (seven) years ago.

And it’s such a freak show. OK, the thing is, is literally you walk in now and you will see a convicted felon serving communion to a statewide elected official next to a teenager with pink hair holding the baby of a soccer mom from the suburbs. And I thought the weirdness of my congregation was going to be diluted, right? It is only weirder now. You walk in, you go, “I am unclear what all these people have in common.”

‘But you were born for such a day as this.’ […] And my parents embraced me and they gave me a blessing and they prayed over me. And like it’s very scriptural that you need a blessing to go and do what you’re going to do and to be who God’s called you to be. And the fact that my blessing got to come from my Church of Christ parents is one of the most profound gifts in my lifetime.

And so if people feel that God has called them to something and you have trepidation, you need to get a blessing from someone. And if it can’t be your parents, find somebody else, because I cannot tell you how that released me and freed me to go and do the work I did. And I feel like it’s this thing in the Bible that we’ve forgotten about. And for me, it ended up being really critical and profound to go with a blessing.”

-Luther Pastor Nadia Bolz-Webber, House for All Sinners and Saints, Denver

[On giving the sermon at the funeral of a teenage boy who had committed suicide

When I heard about this kid, and I heard about all of these wonderful things about him, and how queer he was, and how he played piano, all this stuff about him — he struggled with just a tiny bit of heroin and mental health problems. When I heard about him, I thought, “That is exactly the kind of guy Jesus would hang out with.” We see the cast of characters Jesus surrounded himself with, people for whom life was hard, and who had some colorful things going on, and rank fishermen, and prostitutes, and tax collectors, and these are the kind of people Jesus chose to surround himself with, and I think that’s important. I have no idea how Christianity went from that to what it is now.]


‘For most of human history, the rules of power were clear: power was something to be seized and then jealously guarded. This “old power” was out of reach for the vast majority of people. But our ubiquitous connectivity makes possible a different kind of power. “New power” is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It works like a current, not a currency–and it is most forceful when it surges. The battle between old and new power is determining who governs us, how we work, and even how we think and feel.’


Just ‘playing through’ the apocalypse.

April 14, 2018

The Decemberists’ Shiny, Happy Protest Album
“There’s something therapeutic in looking at the apocalypse and laughing,” Colin Meloy says of the band’s I’ll Be Your Girl.

Spencer Kornhaber

[Excerpt from interview with The Decembrists’ Colin Meloy in The Atlantic]

Kornhaber: I saw you called the album an “apocalyptic dance party,” which feels like a term that could describe a lot of albums lately.

Meloy: We’re having a very shared experience. It’s almost galvanizing, people coming out of the woodwork and saying, “Shit is fucked up.” There’s something therapeutic in looking at the apocalypse and laughing.

I was hearing a story about that incident in Hawaii when a false missile alert came down. There were a couple guys on a golf course whose phones went off at the same time, and they went through how much time they had, where they could go, what they could actually accomplish. And they came to the conclusion that the best thing they could do is continue playing golf. There was nothing else they could do. That, in some ways, is a shared experience in this country right now.

Kornhaber: That story sounds like a future Decemberists song topic. But there’s a capitulation in it, right?

Meloy: Obviously the golfers in Hawaii is not analogous to our current predicament. It is a thought experiment: The apocalypse is 10 minutes away; what really can you do? If you want to talk literally, I don’t think we are in that dire circumstances. Responding to that intuition to shout out that things are broken is some way forward. We’re not leading the charge, but it feels good to lend our voices to that ever-growing chorus of people who are saying, This is not right.

Kornhaber: How much do you want this read as a Trump album?

Meloy: I don’t think I set out to make an overtly topical or political record. The songs just came from where we were and where my head was at in the last year and a half. I didn’t want to go too over-the-top. For one thing, I don’t know that I feel like the white straight-male voice is really the voice that needs to be amplified right now, or necessarily be the one singing protest music. There is powerful and topical music to be made by those communities who are oppressed. I don’t think it’s necessarily my place. That said, you can’t help but have some of that stuff just come through the cracks as you’re working.

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