CHARLES DERBER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
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President Trump is a bully -- and anti-Trumpists denounce him for it. But their critique only endears Trump to his base because many of them love his bullying.
More surprising, though, is that hidden bullying norms pervade our society and ruling institutions. They explain why many of Trump's base embrace his bullying, but also illuminate the unrecognized bullying of millions of other voters, including prominent anti-Trumpists in the media and leaders of our society.
How do we know that Trump voters are bullish on his bullying? On January 17, 2018, The New York Times asked their readers who were Trump supporters why they still backed him. Here are typical responses:
Steven Landis from Hampton Bays, New York: "…it's better to be feared than loved. My hope is for our enemies to fear Donald Trump and for his domestic opponents to realize he's on their side." This reveals a cultural belief in success through intimidation rather than love, and a normalization of bullying values. This man likes Trump because he makes people afraid.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Move over Alt-Reichsters: A new "New Right" is looking to make headway among the disenchanted, embittered and disgruntled young right-wingers, and nerdy trollsters disillusioned with the alt-right. While Mike Cernovich's "Night For Freedom," was supposed to be light on offensiveness, and heavy on mainstreaming – which included adherence to a strict dress code -- when a gaggle of right-wing provocateurs and social media personalities show up, offensiveness remains the coin of the realm.
As People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch recently reported, "The self-described 'New Right' -- a Trump-loving, anti-feminist, anti-'social justice warrior' online movement that has branded itself as separate from the explicitly white supremacist alt-right -- held a party in Manhattan … in its latest attempt to move its efforts into the real world and to find an identity beyond its shared disgust for 'political correctness' and support for President Trump."
The event, which was attended by some 650-+ people paying between $139 to $999, depending on how close ticketholders might get to the headline speakers,was organized by Mike Cernovich, who is described by Right Wing Watch as "a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who has disavowed the alt-right and attempted to distance himself from his former support for the movement."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Puerto Rico achieved Commonwealth Status under President Harry Truman's administration in 1952, after being a territory since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898. However, the United States Congress and presidents over time have continued to treat Puerto Rico like a colony.
The relationship is riddled with contradictions. Residents of Puerto Rico are citizens of the US, but can only vote in federal elections if they move to and live in a state. The island is supposed to have an independent Commonwealth legislature, but its financial affairs are now being overseen by a seven-person Puerto Rico Fiscal Control Board appointed in 2016 by President Obama. The island had been on the brink of bankruptcy -- more than $70 billion in debt. Typical of the island's treatment as a colony, its governor is on the Control Board but cannot vote.
According to USA Today, the relationship of the US government to the island is generally not understood by people in the 50 US states:
The destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria on the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico resurfaced a disturbing fact – many Americans don't know the first thing about the Caribbean island.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted in March  found that fewer than half of Americans (47%) believe that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth.
JOHN SCHLOSSBERG FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan — a strategy conservation groups say appeases red state ranchers and falls flat in the face of science.Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a.k.a. "el lobo." The legal action comes on the heels of USFWS' November release of its long-anticipated
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), names Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. The complaint asserts the USFWS, an ancillary arm of the Interior Department, turned a deaf ear to its own scientists' recommendations for the minimum number of wolves and the amount of habitat needed for recovery and removal from the endangered species list.
"This recovery plan was designed by politicians and anti-wolf states, not by independent biologists," said Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. "It's an affront to the ESA and Congress' directive [is to] make decisions solely on the best available science."
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Michelle Bachelet signed a decree Monday to create five new national parks and expand three others, following a pledge made last year with Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the president and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, to dramatically expand national parkland in the South American country.Chilean President
More than 10 million acres of new national parklands will be created in Chile, approximately three times the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite combined, or about the size of Switzerland. Bachelet said that would increase national parklands in Chile by 38.5 percent.
The expansion includes 1 million acres of land donated by Tompkins Conservation, in what is believed to be the largest private donation of land ever from a private entity to a country.
The decree included the creation of Pumalín Park and Patagonia Park, the conservation organization's two flagship projects, while expanding others to help create the "Route of Parks," a 17-park route spanning more than 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn in the continent's southern tip.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Obamacare has been a singular obsession for Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress since its creation, signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. In the mouths of the GOP, the health insurance program has taken on a monstrous image, as though it were a monster preying upon Americans. It has been a tragically intractable attack on a healthcare insurance system that -- although far from ideal -- has assisted millions of people in the US.
Despite the ongoing attacks from the GOP, it is worth noting that Obamacare was no progressive innovation: Its structure is based on a system put into place and championed by Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts -- and implemented with the support of the George W. Bush administration, which helped fund it.
However, Trump and Congress recently took another swipe at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and according to Politifact, their action may destabilize the entire insurance market:
The Republicans' successful drive to pass a massive tax bill allowed President Donald Trump to take another slice off of the Affordable Care Act. Effective 2019, the sweeping tax package repeals the penalty on people who might be able to afford health insurance but choose not to buy it. The individual mandate affects a relatively narrow sliver of Americans, but it has been a pillar of Obamacare.
JIM HIGHTOWER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Last June, after Democratic candidates had lost four straight special Congressional elections (Rob Quist in Montana, James Thompson in Kansas, Archie Parnell in South Carolina, and Jon Ossoff in Georgia), the US's purveyors of conventional political wisdom simultaneously jumped to the conclusion that the policies and message of Democrats were just too progressive for our nation of moderate-right voters. The Washington cognoscenti expressed dismay that, despite Trump's dismal public approval ratings and the nationwide surge of "Resist!" campaigns, the hapless Democratic Party was still unable to score any electoral victories. "Why Do Democrats Keep Losing in 2017?" queried a June headline in The Atlantic. "Democrats just went 0-4. When will they win?" asked a cynical CNN reporter. "It is a bit surprising that Democrats haven't managed a single victory yet," declared a University of Wisconsin election expert. "Panic is setting in on the left," exclaimed a Vox headline.
No, not really. The professional political observers are like cats watching the wrong mouse hole. They are so fixated on the minutia of Washington-centric politics that they're missing the much bigger story of transformative political changes that have erupted in every region of the country. Far from panicking, America's political left is organizing, strategizing, mobilizing ... and WINNING. Coalitions of local progressive activists (newly energized by an infusion of dynamic, creative young people and people of color) came together after the 2016 election. They recruited and trained candidates from their own ranks; methodically knocked on doors, having thousands of front-porch conversations with voters on basic issues; mobilized supporters for intensive election-day turn-out drives; and elected scores of audaciously populist mayors, council members, legislators, and other officials.
KATHY KELLY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On January 23rd an overcrowded smuggling boat capsized off the coast of Aden in Southern Yemen. Smugglers packed 152 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia in the boat and then, while at sea, reportedly pulled guns on the migrants to extort additional money from them. The boat capsized, according to The Guardian, after the shooting prompted panic. The death toll, currently 30, is expected to rise. Dozens of children were on board.
The passengers had already risked the perilous journey from African shores to Yemen, a dangerous crossing that leaves people vulnerable to false promises, predatory captors, arbitrary detention and tortuous human rights violations. Sheer desperation for basic needs has driven hundreds of thousands of African migrants to Yemen. Many hope, upon arrival, they can eventually travel to prosperous Gulf countries further north where they might find work and some measure of security. But the desperation and fighting in southern Yemen were horrible enough to convince most migrants that boarded the smuggling boat on January 23rd to try and return to Africa.
Referring to those who drowned when the boat capsized, Amnesty International's Lynn Maalouf said: "This heart-breaking tragedy underscores, yet again, just how devastating Yemen's conflict continues to be for civilians. Amid ongoing hostilities and crushing restrictions imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, many people who came to Yemen to flee conflict and repression elsewhere are now being forced yet again to flee in search of safety. Some are dying in the process."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In her new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, author and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz fiercely debunks contemporary memes about the Second Amendment. She ties the clause to the US's militaristic culture, which was born of the war on the Indigenous people of North America and the brutal suppression of chattel slaves. Both of these violent endeavors involved militias, a point that Dunbar-Ortiz contends provided the impetus for putting the phrase "a well-regulated militia" into the Second Amendment.
In October 2017, I wrote a commentary entitled "Gun Violence Created the United States." Dunbar-Ortiz argues that the endlessly debated Second Amendment can only be understood in such a context. The colonies, such as Virginia, who put together the Bill of Rights knew exactly what the Second Amendment meant because militias of individually armed men were an accepted fact in many states. At the time of the founding of the nation, 1776, they were vital to the theft of land from the Indigenous population and the pursuit of escaped chattel slaves. The Second Amendment enshrined that state right.
After all, both endeavors were inextricably tied to the growth of the United States. The stealing of Indigenous land and the brutal pursuit of people who'd escaped from slavery were essential to the early formation of the US. Seizing Indigenous lands fulfilled the so-called "manifest destiny" of the United States, while the chattel slave economy was the primary means by which the agrarian infrastructure of the South operated. Meanwhile, the North benefited from inexpensive cotton for its textile mills and other agricultural products.
In a Truthout interview with Dunbar-Ortiz to be published soon, I asked her, "How does the Second Amendment contribute to the United States' culture of violence?"
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Franklin Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has for years hoped to inherit his father's mantle as "America's Pastor." Instead, as the years go by, and his disturbing comments mount up, he's creeping closer and closer to occupying the space left by the death of Fred Phelps, the anti-gay zealot from Topeka, Kansas.
Graham is a mean-spirited Christian nationalist, and one of the most consistent voices arguing that Christians in this country are being persecuted, victimized and "excluded from the public square." Over the past few years, he has carved out a well-deserved reputation as one of America's leading religious-based Islamophobes. These days, he is also one of those conservative evangelical Christian leaders that appears to be able twist themselves into a pretzel in their defense of the sexpisodes of President Donald Trump.
Last week, for example, they spent a fair amount of time bending over backwards in defense of Trump's pre-2016 election $130,000 payoff to keep secret the 2006 sexual encounter he had with adult-film star Stormy Daniels. The affair happened while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania, and just a few months after Melania gave birth to their son, Barron. Now, Graham has decided to warn America that there are forces in this country that are not above staging "a coup d'etat" against Trump.