Notes and Comment Blog

Where past presidents have rarely tread

May 20th, 2018 1:11 pm | By

The Times tries to talk it down:

President Trump on Sunday demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the department or the F.B.I. “infiltrated or surveilled” his campaign at the behest of the Obama administration, following through on his frequent threats to use his own government to target his political opponents.

Mr. Trump made the order on Twitter during a day of public venting about the special counsel investigation, which he charged had turned up no evidence of collusion with Russia and was now casting a worldwide net so that it could harm Republicans’ chances in midterm congressional elections this fall.

But in ordering up a new inquiry, Mr. Trump went beyond his usual tactics of suggesting wrongdoing and political bias by those investigating him, and crossed over into applying overt presidential pressure on the Justice Department to do his bidding, an extraordinary realm where past presidents have rarely tread.

Rarely? Isn’t it more like never? Or never apart from Nixon? It’s kind of a third rail.

The president’s call came two weeks after he publicly expressed frustration with the Justice Department for failing to give Republican lawmakers documents they are seeking about the basis and findings of the special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to sway the 2016 election. The president said then that “at some point, I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”

But those powers aren’t granted to the presidency.

Legal experts said Mr. Trump’s promise of intervention had little precedent, and could force a clash between the sitting president and his Justice Department that is reminiscent of the one surrounding Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, when a string of top officials there resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s order to fire a special prosecutor investigating him.

“I can’t think of a prior example of a sitting president ordering the Justice Department to conduct an investigation like this one,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “That’s little more than a transparent effort to undermine an ongoing investigation.”

Into himself.

If Mr. Trump were to follow through with the demand, Mr. Vladek added, “it seems to me that the recipients of such an order should resign — and that we’re heading for another Saturday Night Massacre.”

But a confrontation between Mr. Trump and his Justice Department over the order was not a certainty. It was not clear whether Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, or Mr. Rosenstein could refer the president’s demand to the department’s inspector general, who is already investigating surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Such a step could defuse the current crisis and perhaps satisfy Mr. Trump.

We look forward to finding out.

Step one of the coup

May 20th, 2018 12:56 pm | By

Ok this is scary now.

The lunatic man du jour

May 20th, 2018 12:48 pm | By

More thoughts on Kermit Peterson and the Times article about him:

Gail Dines:

So decided Jordan Peterson is really a comedian. Subtitle of his latest book is: “An Antidote to Chaos.” The chaos. according to this joker is the feminine and order is the masculine. Question, What would the home look like without women cooking, cleaning, tidying and ordering the home? Question: What would the world look like without women tirelessly working to clean up the messes men make wherever they go? How much worse would poverty, violence, war, global destruction be if women were not at the forefront of bringing some order to the chaos men leave in their path of destruction?

Mad dog Peterson is of no interest to me as an individual. It is the way he has captured the imagination of millions of men that scares the hell out of me. Every so often, a lunatic man comes around that somehow perfectly captures the mood and turns the “chaos” of other lunatic men into a semi-coherent theory that legitimizes their madness, hate and violence.

Soraya Chemaly:

If the boys and men in your life are drinking this rapey koolaid please don’t look away. Jordan Peterson, Custodian of the Patriarchy He says there’s a crisis in masculinity. Why won’t women — all these wives and witches — just behave? Barely laundered misogyny. He packs rooms with disaffected boys and men clinging to toxic norms of masculinity.

Meghan Murphy:

This is one of the most effective take downs of this man’s nonsense. He makes statements he claims are obvious truths that are demonstrably untrue, is inconsistent and unclear in his analysis, but offers angry men self-helpy solutions to their anger, so becomes famous. He tells them what they want to hear: all women will be happy if they simply stop fighting back, and become the mothers and wives they are destined to be. He conveniently ignores the fact that patriarchy has not always existed everywhere, in every culture, and that simply because something currently exists, does not mean it is the most natural or best system. Men who say things that are either vague or simplistic are revered as genius philosophers time and time again.

Clean up your room.

It’s all because she said no

May 20th, 2018 9:34 am | By

The people in charge of news headlines and first paragraphs and the like really need to stop doing this:

Spurned advances provoked Texas school shooting, victim’s mother says

“She provoked me so I killed her and nine other people.”

Also? Simply saying no to a guy’s invitation or request is not “spurning” anything. It’s just not accepting an offer you don’t want. Women are allowed to do that. Women are allowed to say no. Women are allowed to say no without being killed or raped or beaten up or blamed for it. Women are not walking talking merchandise that is there for the use of other, more important people called “men” – women are themselves people, and they are allowed to determine for themselves whether they want to be friends or lovers with Mr X.

A teenaged boy who shot and killed eight students and two teachers in Texas had been spurned by one of his victims after making aggressive advances, her mother told the Los Angeles Times.

That’s not a thing. Being “spurned” is not a thing. Making it a thing just buys into the “incel” logic that women have no right to say no.

Sadie Rodriguez, the mother of Shana Fisher, 16, told the newspaper that her daughter rejected four months of aggressive advances from accused shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, at the Santa Fe high school.

Fisher finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, the newspaper quoted her mother as writing in a private message to the Times.

Reuters could have headlined and written this story as being about Pagourtzis’ four months of harassing Fisher, culminating in his murder of her and nine others after she (clearly in desperation) publicly told him to stop.

He’s a guy who shot up a school, yet Reuters presents it as culpable that Fisher said no to his aggressive demands. Isn’t it just barely possible that he has an unpleasantly belligerent and demanding personality? And that she had glaringly obvious reasons to say no to him? Quite apart from the fact that she gets to say no for any reason or none, because she is a person and not public property.

He learned it from Solzhenitsyn

May 19th, 2018 5:07 pm | By

Kermit says don’t be like some damn two-bit do-gooder.

H/t Leonie Hilliard

How can we move forward?

May 19th, 2018 3:02 pm | By

Oh good, now Playboy is telling us how to feminism. Thank god; we’ve been wondering all along how we could do it more Playboyishly.

These harpy women

May 19th, 2018 11:52 am | By

Jordan Peterson explains the tragedy of why men can’t control women: it’s because they’re not allowed to hit us so it’s all just hopeless, hopeless. It’s fatal for the culture, is what it is.

Power to change the world

May 19th, 2018 10:48 am | By

No I didn’t watch the RoYal WedDing, and I was pretty staggered last night to see CNN “covering” it (to the exclusion of anything else) at 5 a.m. London time when all there was to say was “Well the sun is coming up and the crowds aren’t here yet but THEY WILL BE by god”…but all the same I’m getting a kick out of the sermon the royal stiffs got to listen to.

The sermon-giver was Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the US version of the Anglican church, aka the Episcopalian. (I was dragged to Episcopalian church a few times as a kid. It didn’t take.) He’s the first African-American head of the church. His sermon was a stem-winder. Even a non-believer can appreciate it.

Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses. He went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said you shall love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.

This is the first and great commandment and the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. And then in Matthew’s version, he added, he said, on these two Love of God and Love of Neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world. Love God, love your neighbors, and while you’re at it, love yourself.

Now someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world. A movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself.

I’m talking about some power, real power. Power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity, it’s one that says there’s a balm in Gilead. A healing balm, something that can makes things right.

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. One of the stanzas actually explains why: they said, If you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all. Oh that’s the balm in Gilead. This way of love is the way of life. They got it, he died to save us all. He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for the good of the others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world. For us, that’s what love is.

Yep, I’m still not going to watch so much as a second of the wedding or the supra-wedding carry-on, but I do like that sermon and who gave it and who heard it.

Cultural exchange

May 19th, 2018 10:13 am | By

An exchange student from Pakistan was killed in the Santa Fe school shooting.

Sabika Sheikh, aged 18, had been on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Abroad programme (YES). The programme is run by the US state department, and was set up in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks to bring students from Muslim-majority nations to the US on a cultural exchange.

That’s something the US and Pakistan have in common: plenty of lethal violence.

Sabika Sheikh

Sabika Sheikh family

Her parents, Abdul Aziz and Farah Sheikh, told the BBC they heard about the shooting through television news.

They said they confirmed their daughter’s death within an hour by speaking to school administrators. Ms Sheikh’s body would be returned to her home in Karachi early next week, they said.

That’s an extra hardship for them if they’re observant Muslims, because burial is supposed to be the next day. Also, it’s Ramadan.

President Donald Trump, speaking at a prison reform event at the White House, described the attack as “absolutely horrific”.

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves, and to others,” he said.

That’s a shocking, offensive lie.

Handcuffed and shaking in the cold wind

May 18th, 2018 4:14 pm | By

Via G Felis, Sam Levin at the Guardian tells the appalling story of a guy brutally arrested and held for months as a suspected “Black Identity Extremist”:

Rakem Balogun thought he was dreaming when armed agents in tactical gear stormed his apartment. Startled awake by a large crash and officers screaming commands, he soon realized his nightmare was real, and he and his 15-year-old son were forced outside of their Dallas home, wearing only underwear.

Handcuffed and shaking in the cold wind, Balogun thought a misunderstanding must have led the FBI to his door on 12 December 2017. The father of three said he was shocked to later learn that agents investigating “domestic terrorism” had been monitoring him for years and were arresting him that day in part because of his Facebook posts criticizing police.

Arresting him with maximum fuss and terrorization, apparently in the middle of the night – and making him go outside in the cold in his underwear.

Balogun spoke to the Guardian this week in his first interview since he was released from prison after five months locked up and denied bail while US attorneys tried and failed to prosecute him, accusing him of being a threat to law enforcement and an illegal gun owner.

Balogun, who lost his home and more while incarcerated, is believed to be the first person targeted and prosecuted under a secretive US surveillance effort to track so-called “black identity extremists”. In a leaked August 2017 report from the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, officials claimed that there had been a “resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity” stemming from African Americans’ “perceptions of police brutality”.

The counter-terrorism assessment provided minimal data or evidence of threats against police, but discussed a few isolated incidents, notably the case of Micah Johnson who killed five officers in Texas. The report sparked backlash from civil rights groups and some Democrats, who feared the government would use the broad designation to prosecute activists and groups like Black Lives Matter.

A few isolated incidents don’t sound like enough reason to claim there is such a thing as “black identity extremism” let alone that it needs to be investigated let alone that it justifies sending people to jail for months while the FBI tries to come up with some shred of evidence.

Investigators began monitoring Balogun, whose legal name is Christopher Daniels, after he participated in an Austin, Texas, rally in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement, special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court.

The FBI, Keighley said, learned of the protest from a video on Infowars, a far-right site run by the commentator Alex Jones, known for spreading false news and conspiracy theories.

They have got to be kidding. INFOWARS?? They consider that a reliable source??!

Keighley made no mention of Balogun’s specific actions at the rally, but noted the marchers’ anti-police statements, such as “oink oink bang bang” and “the only good pig is a pig that’s dead”. The agent also mentioned Balogun’s Facebook posts calling a murder suspect in a police officer’s death a “hero” and expressing “solidarity” with the man who killed officers in Texas when he posted: “They deserve what they got.”

That’s interesting because when women report getting very explicit threats on social media – “I will rape you to death, I will cut your tits off, I will knock your teeth out with a brick” – the police say it’s just trolling and they can do nothing. Yet a guy says of the police, “They deserve what they got,” and wham he’s jailed for months and loses his job and his house.

Keighley, however, later admitted the FBI had no evidence of Balogun making any specific threats about harming police.

At the time of his Facebook posts, Balogun said he was angry and “venting” about the high-profile cases of police killing innocent black men and women in America, including Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He was particularly disgusted with the way the media and law enforcement officials portrayed the killings as justified and said that when he wrote those posts “I just mimicked their reactions to our killings.”

Read the whole thing. It’s horrifying.

Cargo cult intellectualism

May 18th, 2018 11:14 am | By

A representative of that strange creature, Woman, does a profile of Jordan Peterson in the Times.

Mr. Peterson, 55, a University of Toronto psychology professor turned YouTube philosopher turned mystical father figure, has emerged as an influential thought leader.

Not to be confused with an intellectual or scholar or thinker. He’s more like Jim Jones.

The messages he delivers range from hoary self-help empowerment talk (clean your room, stand up straight) to the more retrograde and political (a society run as a patriarchy makes sense and stems mostly from men’s competence; the notion of white privilege is a farce). He is the stately looking, pedigreed voice for a group of culture warriors who are working diligently to undermine mainstream and liberal efforts to promote equality.

Along with Sam Harris and Dave Rubin and so on – the brightly lit “Intellectual Dark Web.”

He lets the writer, Nellie Bowles, hang out with him for two days.

He does not smile. He has a weathered, gaunt face and big furrowed eyebrows. He has written about dogs being closest in behavior to humans, but there is something extremely feline about him. He always wears a suit. “I am a very serious person,” he often says.

He sounds unbearable already.

Wherever he goes, he speaks in sermons about the inevitability of who we must be. “You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”

Says the guy from the sex that is not represented as being chaos. It’s always fascinating to see people breezily explain why other people are consigned to inferior categories while they float above in the gilded empyrean.

[H]e was radicalized, he says, because the “radical left” wants to eliminate hierarchies, which he says are the natural order of the world. In his book he illustrates this idea with the social behavior of lobsters. He chose lobsters because they have hierarchies and are a very ancient species, and are also invertebrates with serotonin. This lobster hierarchy has become a rallying cry for his fans; they put images of the crustacean on T-shirts and mugs.

The left, he believes, refuses to admit that men might be in charge because they are better at it. “The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence,” he said.

In other words that men, all men, men as such, are better than women, all women, women as such. Yes, he’s right, we don’t want to “admit” that, partly because it’s obviously not true.

Rather than making an argument he babbles about myths.

“It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp. Yeah,” he says. “Why?”

It’s a hard one.

“Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level. Right. Yeah. And it makes sense that an old king lives in a desiccated tower.”

But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.

“Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”

Or from animated mice and rabbits and whatever Goofy is, too. Those stories and animations really exist. Therefore, patriarchy is best.

Bowles mentions Alek Minassian and the ten people he killed.

Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married.

“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.

But being forcibly married will make them all ecstatic, for sure.

“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”

I laugh, because it is absurd.

“You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”

Because he’s a Thought Leader, he didn’t call her a bitch. You know he was thinking it though.

But aside from interventions that would redistribute sex, Mr. Peterson is staunchly against what he calls “equality of outcomes,” or efforts to equalize society. He usually calls them pathological or evil.

He’s like the new Ayn Rand, but hotter.

Bowles sits in on a paid-for Skype conversation with one of Peterson’s acolytes.

At one point in the discussion, Mr. Peterson, who had been relatively quiet, becomes heated on the topic of women who find marriage oppressive.

“So I don’t know who these people think marriages are oppressing,” he says. “I read Betty Friedan’s book because I was very curious about it, and it’s so whiny, it’s just enough to drive a modern person mad to listen to these suburban housewives from the late ’50s ensconced in their comfortable secure lives complaining about the fact that they’re bored because they don’t have enough opportunity. It’s like, Jesus get a hobby. For Christ’s sake, you — you — ”

Worth every penny of the $200 for 45 minutes.

“Jordan’s exposed something that’s been festering for a long time,” says Justin Trottier, 35, the co-founder of the men’s rights organizations Equality Canada and Canadian Centre for Men and Families. “Jordan’s forced people to pay attention.”

Mr. Trottier made headlines when his group called the anti-manspreading subway initiatives sexist. Their musty space hosts events in which men discuss the prejudices they perceive against them. One of their group’s main goals is “waking the police up” to female-perpetrated domestic violence, Mr. Trottier says.

Now, “there’s more acceptance of what we’re trying to do,” he says.

Oh lord. I know him slightly. He used to be the Executive Director of CFI Canada, and he was at the Ottawa conference in 2012. Peterson is an older Justin Trottier.

There are now regular Jordan Peterson discussion groups. The one in Toronto meets once a week at a restaurant called Hemingway’s and is run by Chris Shepherd, who used to be a professional pickup artist who coached men on how to get laid fast at a club but is now a dating coach.

Mr. Shepherd first encountered Mr. Peterson in a viral video of the professor getting yelled at by campus activists. Watching the stoic professor take on righteous liberal anger touched Mr. Shepherd.

Of course it did. Rape-advisors (aka pickup artists) are such an embattled population these days.

A few comments on Twitter.

C’est normal

May 18th, 2018 9:46 am | By

More people killed in a school shooting in Texas.

Between eight and 10 people have been killed in a shooting at a Texas high school, say police.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters the majority of the dead at Santa Fe High School were students.

A student is in custody after the attack at the school, which is about 40 miles (65km) south of Houston.

The death toll makes this the deadliest school shooting since the one in February at Parkland, Florida.

We rank them now. They’re so regular and frequent and routine that we rank them by body count and don’t bother with the ones that kill only two or three. Shootings in schools are just a US thing now, like hot dogs and racism and corruption.

President Donald Trump, speaking at a prison reform event at the White House, described the attack as “absolutely horrific”.

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves, and to others,” he added.

But of course it’s not. He’s not. He just gave a speech at the NRA convention two weeks ago.

Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president.

“Your Second Amendment rights”=absolutely no gun control of any kind…except of course inside the White House and anywhere else Trump is. He’s protected but the rest of us just have to take our chances.

Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they’re releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets.

It’s not guns, it’s those dangerous foreign brown people.

The most beautiful lake country on the continent

May 17th, 2018 6:07 pm | By

More damage Trump is determined to do, this time to a wilderness area in northern Minnesota:

Today this region, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, looks almost exactly as it appeared 10,000 years ago when Paleo-Indians lived there. Sigurd Olson, the naturalist and writer who guided there for three decades, called it “the most beautiful lake country on the continent.” Few who see it would disagree. Today it is the most visited wilderness area in the United States.

But now this special place is at great risk.

Late last year the Interior Department concluded that the two expired leases held by a Chilean-owned company, Twin Metals Minnesota, should be reinstated for copper and nickel mining near the border of the Boundary Waters. This reversed a decision made at the end of the Obama administration, which rejected the leases after the Forest Service concluded that a mine there “posed an inherent potential risk” that threatened “serious and irreplaceable harm” to the wilderness.

To the Obama administration that was a bad thing, but the Trump people love to destroy wilderness. The Trump administration says those leases must be renewed.

These actions are another chapter in President Trump’s continuing assault on the nation’s most precious natural and cultural lands. They are of a piece with the shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah by 85 percent to carve out areas believed to contain oil and gas reserves and large uranium deposits. By giving the extractive industries virtually everything they want in Utah, Alaska, Minnesota and elsewhere, this administration has sent an unambiguous message: There is no place on our public lands — or waters — that is inviolable if there are resources to be exploited.

Condos in the Grand Canyon, casinos in Yosemite, steel mills in Yellowstone.

This is not the first threat to the Boundary Waters. In the early 1960s, there were battles over logging, timber roads and the use of motorboats and snowmobiles. Though the area was included in the 1964 Wilderness Act, some logging and motor use were allowed to continue. Finally in 1978 Congress passed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, which expanded its size, restricted motorboat use, ended logging and banned mining in the wilderness and some adjacent lands.

But there are ore deposits there, and Twin Metals Minnesota wants’em.

The danger is that mining these sulfide ores can result in contaminated water seeping and flowing into lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands and groundwater. Because of the interconnected waterways in the wilderness area, much of the area’s watershed could become polluted. Once that happens, there is no fixing it.

TMM says don’t worry! We’ll be super super careful! It will be fine!

Twin Metals argues that the risk for pollution from the sites will be minimal. But the idea that pollution can be prevented by mitigation measures has proved wrong time and again at other mines. Studies undertaken for opponents of mining have concluded that the highly toxic waste from a single mine in the wilderness area’s watershed could continuously pollute the Boundary Waters for hundreds of years.

Image result for boundary waters

Balance in all things

May 17th, 2018 1:08 pm | By

Huh. Speaking of absurd moral panics over “black identity politics,” here’s an item from Foreign Policy, also last October, that I saw not via the ravings of Sam Harris but via Trump’s “they’re not people, they’re animals.”

As white supremacists prepared to descend on Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, the FBI warned about a new movement that was violent, growing, and racially motivated. Only it wasn’t white supremacists; it was “black identity extremists.”

Amid a rancorous debate over whether the Trump administration has downplayed the threat posed by white supremacist groups, the FBI’s counterterrorism division has declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.

Oh no, it’s the black identity extremists coming to get you.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” reads the report, marked for official use only and obtained by Foreign Policy.

Are these “extremist” perceptions of police brutality against African Americans actually wrong? Factually wrong? Has that problem been entirely fixed already?

“The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement,” the report states.

Some 748 people have been shot and killed by police so far in 2017, including at least 168 African-Americans.

The report, dated Aug. 3 — just nine days before the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly — appears to be the first known reference to “black identity extremists” as a movement. But former government officials and legal experts said no such movement exists, and some expressed concern that the term is part of a politically motivated effort to find an equivalent threat to white supremacists.

Can we call the FBI White Identity Extremists now? Would that be fair?

A former senior counterterrorism and intelligence official from the Department of Homeland Security who reviewed the document at FP’s request expressed shock at the language.

Just in case we were inclined to think of the FBI as the anti-Trump, this is a useful corrective.

Some experts and former government officials said the FBI seemed to be trying to paint disparate groups and individuals as sharing a radical, defined ideology. And in the phrase “black identity extremist” they hear echoes of the FBI’s decades-long targeting of black activists as potential radicals, a legacy that only recently began to change.

The FBI is linking the people discussed in the report based only on them being black, rather than on any sort of larger ideological connection, the official said. “The race card is being played here deliberately.”

Michael German, a former FBI agent and now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program, said manufacturing this type of threat was not new. He has criticized earlier FBI reports on “black separatists,” arguing that they conflated radical groups operating in the 1970s with attacks in 2010 and later, even though there was no obvious connection.

The use of terms like “black identity extremists” is part of a long-standing FBI attempt to define a movement where none exists. “Basically, it’s black people who scare them,” German said.

Ta-Nahisi Coates! Black Identity Politics! Auggghhhh!

In 2009, Daryl Johnson, then a Department of Homeland Security intelligence analyst, warned of the rise of right-wing extremism, setting off a firestorm among congressional critics. Johnson, who left the department in 2010, said he could think of no reason why the FBI would create a new category for so-called black identity extremists. “I’m at a loss,” he replied, when asked about the term.

“I have no idea of why they would come up with a new term.”

There have been concerns about rising violence among black separatist groups in recent years, he said, but it does not approach the threat of right-wing extremism. “When talking about white supremacists versus black supremacists, there are way more white supremacists,” Johnson said.

For historians and academics who have looked at the history of FBI surveillance of black Americans, the report also smacks of the sort of blatant racism the bureau has worked hard to leave behind. From the time J. Edgar Hoover took over the anti-radical division in the FBI at the height of the first “red scare” in 1919, the bureau began systematically surveilling black activists.

It goes all the way back. You could argue it’s a product of the white guilty conscience translated to paranoia about a Likely Uprising.

Lately, that seemed to be changing. As FBI director, James Comey famously kept a copy of the Martin Luther King Jr. wiretap order on his desk as a reminder of the bureau’s past abuses and made new agents learn the history of the FBI’s pursuit of the civil rights leader.

The FBI also appeared to be focusing more attention on the threat of white supremacists. In May, the FBI warned that white supremacist violence was growing, according to a report obtained and published by FP. That same report noted that white supremacists were responsible for more attacks in the United States than any other extremist group, including Islamic extremists.

Little did we know they were trying to “balance” it with talk of Black Identity Extremists.

Sam says we have to get out of the identity politics game

May 17th, 2018 11:18 am | By

Updating to add: I forgot to point out that the tweet is from last October.

Sam Harris is unbearable.

I recommend listening to that one-minute clip, to get the full sense of how his flat cold affectless voice combines with his smugly confident words on a subject he knows NOTHING about to create a monster of I’m Not a Racistism.

Virtually everything that’s said, in the identity politics space, about what’s happening, is at best slanted. There are Trumpian levels of dishonesty on the left around these topics, and it’s harmful. And BLM is part of that problem, and if you’re going to argue that in the aftermath of having a two-term black president, that nothing has changed with respect to race – if you’re going to be like Ta-Nehisi Coates, and endlessly beat the drum of black identity politics, as though we’re living in the first years of Reconstruction, and not acknowledge any gains that we’ve made against racism in our society…you’re delusional, and insofar as people believe what you’re saying, what you’re saying is harmful. And BLM has some of that in it, so I just think we have to get out of the identity politics game.

Says the prosperous white man.

A textbook case of how dehumanizing rhetoric works

May 17th, 2018 10:09 am | By

Trump’s “They’re not people, they’re animals” is not being forgotten in the onslaught of news.

So I did read it; it’s outstanding. A few highlights:

Happy annivs Don

May 17th, 2018 9:42 am | By

Trump watches his morning Fox, flips out, composes wrathful tweet.

President Trump marked the first anniversary of the special counsel’s Russia investigation Thursday by repeating accusations that the FBI had a confidential informant inside his 2016 campaign and by calling the probe “disgusting, illegal and unwarranted.”

Trump tweeted: “Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.’ Andrew McCarthy says, ‘There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.’ If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”

I’m not sure Watergate is the analogy he’s looking for.

Giuliani told The Washington Post and other news organizations Wednesday that the special counsel’s team informed the president’s attorneys recently that prosecutors do not believe they can charge a sitting president with a crime under Justice Department guidelines, signaling they would leave it to Congress to address any possible findings of wrongdoing by Trump.

Giuliani is working for Trump. He’s not an impartial legal expert, he’s a Trump stooge. What he says about the investigation can’t be taken as expert information.

The top-secret intelligence source has been the subject of a showdown between key Trump allies in Congress and the Justice Department.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has sought classified documents from the Justice Department, saying he needs to review the records as part of his congressional oversight duties.

But, as The Post reported earlier this month, senior FBI and national intelligence officials notified Nunes that doing so could endanger a top-secret intelligence source and risk lives.

But of course Nunes couldn’t care less about that. His one purpose is to Protect the Boss.

How it starts

May 16th, 2018 3:43 pm | By

Leon Mugesera called Tutsis “cockroaches.”

In 1992, then an official in Rwanda’s ruling Hutu party, Mugesera told more than 1,000 party members that they should kill Tutsis and dump their bodies in the river.

Milošević called Bosnians “internal enemies.”

Hailed as “the new Tito”, Milošević propagated a message of extreme Serbian nationalism, calling for the expansion of the Serbian state into Bosnian territory.  In a 1988 Belgrade speech, Milosevic identified Bosniaks as the “internal enemy”, a gesture eerily similar to Hitler’s pre-WWII demonization of the Jews in Germany.

Trump said immigrants are not people, “they’re animals.”

Our own Wannsee conference

May 16th, 2018 3:10 pm | By

He says it. He says it.

Fingers crossed behind back ok sir?

May 16th, 2018 12:24 pm | By

Trump’s lawyer basically told Walter Shaub that Trump’s financial disclosure wasn’t true and asked if that would be ok, USNews reported a year ago:

President Donald Trump’s attorneys initially wanted him to submit an updated financial disclosure without certifying the information as true, according to correspondence with the Office of Government Ethics.

Attorney Sheri Dillon said she saw no need for Trump to sign his 2016 personal financial disclosure because he is filing voluntarily this year. But OGE director Walter Shaub said his office would only work with Dillon if she agreed to follow the typical process of having Trump make the certification.

He put it more strongly on Twitter just now.

Back to the story:

The documents indicate that after OGE pushed back, Trump now plans to certify the information by mid-June [2017]. But his attorney’s effort to sidestep certification of his personal financial disclosure marks another departure from the norm. Each year, the OGE processes thousands of those forms, all of which are certified.

“This is not at all typical; in fact I’ve never heard of anyone trying this,” said Marilyn Glynn, an OGE employee for 17 years before retiring in 2008. Her positions included acting director and general counsel. “It would be as unusual as not signing your taxes.”

It’s downright absurd. “Is it ok if we don’t include the bit that says ‘this is all true and accurate’?” Erm, no, that’s not ok, because the goal is disclosure, and you can’t call it disclosure if you don’t want to say it’s true.

The certification means that if a person knowingly included incorrect financial information, the OGE can seek a civil penalty such as a fine, or even make a referral to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

Glynn said OGE has indeed used those tools to enforce the integrity of certification.

The letters indicate Shaub and Dillon talked through the importance of Trump presenting true information and signing off on it as such. OGE typically works with federal employees and their representatives and also certifies the financial disclosures.

 Talked through it? Because what, she didn’t understand that before?

These people are just nuts.