Trump is a distraction - the view of Il Dottore and Noam Chomsky. The real problem is America and the neo-liberal project

Trump is a distraction. Such is Noam Chomsky’s dry assessment of the guy who now occupies the Oval office and whose criminality oozes from his every pore. Chomsky, on the other hand, is a serious man and his analysis is devoid of irony. To dominate the news cycle, Trump, with the stamina of a hamster in a wheel, continues to bombard the public sphere with poisonous acts and statements, while picking fights with whomever triggers his ire. As we all know, this is a task well entrusted to the fully automated serial lying machine that happens to be the president of the United States; a political Frankenbot that runs on a simple, utterly predictable script: attack, lie, deny, counter-attack, serve self-interest . “And while this show is going on in public”, says Chomsky, “in the background, the wrecking crew is working – Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell –, the guys in the cabinet who write his executive orders. What they’re doing is systematically dismantling every aspect of government that works for the benefit of the population. This goes from workers rights, to pollution – pollution of the environment, rules for protecting consumers. I mean anything you can think of is being dismantled. And all powers are being devoted, kind of almost with fanaticism, to enrich and empower their actual constituency, which is super wealth and corporate power.”

Quite a sobering perspective on what goes on in the control room of the neo-liberal project. Still, the question nags of how a man with such an overbearing impact on global politics can be a distraction. Ok, so just consider this. With all the told and untold crimes he has perpetrated, Trump has managed to operate with impunity and stay out of the hands of the criminal justice system for over fifty years. Quite an achievement, you’d almost say, requiring magical, Houdini-like extrication skills. But no, staying out of jail is not so hard if you have the dough to settle litigations, involving charges from fraud to sexual assault and more, that could lead to criminal exposure and even indictment. And so, because no effective filters and checks where in place, the world is now stuck with a 70-year-old, who has managed to wriggle his way into the White House and whose high-profile career as a conman spells it out: ‘Consequence has no hold on me, I operate with impunity.’

That said, let’s not forget that Trump is only a distraction. This is not about Trump. This is about America. The man is the quintessential product of a corporate and political culture in which white-collar criminality has become the mainstream modus operandi. In an extremely telling New York Times article, subtitled ‘It shouldn’t take a special counsel to uncover white-collar crimes, but it does’, Jesse Eisinger writes: “Oh, the audacity of dopes. The crimes of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are notable not just for how blatant they were but also for their lack of sophistication. The two men did little to hide their lying to banks and the Internal Revenue Service.” The author raises the question of how many more white-collar criminals are currently out there, unindicted. “We don’t know because the cops aren’t on the beat. Resources have been stripped from white-collar enforcement. The F.B.I. shifted agents to work on international terror in the wake of Sept. 11. White-collar cases made up about one-tenth of the Justice Department’s cases in recent years, compared with one-fifth in the early 1990s. The I.R.S.’s criminal enforcement capabilities have been decimated by years of budget cuts and attrition.” And what’s more, no top officer from any major bank went to prison for the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression – a crisis that happened 10 years ago and that is, arguably, the biggest white-collar criminal operation in world history. 

In November 2008, corporate fat cats flew into Washington on private jets, held up their hands and magically cashed in on goverment bail-outs. That day, neo-liberalism showed its naked face. Everyone could see what was at work here: socialism for multinationals, pure and unadulterated, at taxpayers’ expense. Two months later, in January 2009, the Obama administration took office, but did not hold to account those who perpetrated the financial crimes that triggered the subprime mortgage crisis, thus perpetuating and cementing the culture of white-collar impunity, fuelling justified public outrage and laying the groundwork for the ascent of Donald Trump.

This, however, is not about Trump. This is about America. Trump is a distraction. 

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The hamster escapes

Trump revokes old-age bus pass for CIA director John "O" Brennan. About time. Brennan was no saint - although he was an Irish Catholic.

Honestly, the bullshit that is spouted in the US these says. First Brennan, former CIA director and thug-around-town, disses the newly minted "smart, sane and not-orange" president as unfit to serve. Then Trump tweets that Brennan isn't a true patriot. Then Brennan calls Trump a buffoon. Trump responded to that by calling Brennan a "lying leprechaun" - and a "total lowlife." Indeed, things got so bad that Brennan tweeted that Trump had "paranoia", accused him of "constant misrepresentation of the facts", and described him as a "charlatan" (which had Trump reaching for his dictionary... "What's a Sharletten?")

Following the firing of senior FBI official Andrew McCabe, Brennan tweeted to Trump, "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but will not destroy America... America will triumph over you." And maybe that really was a step too far since Trump seems to find triumphing over America pretty easy so far. 

So what's a principled president like Trump to do in these circumstances ? Well, Trump, famous for his cool reserve and long periods of reflection invoked his power as inbred tyrant-emperor to revoke Brennan's old-age bus pass. Laughable. At least I laughed. Next, it got even better. The blind Trump-haters have been accusing Trump of dissing "an American hero" and failing to recognise Brennan's massive contribution to all things good and American...blah blah blah. Just weird.

Let's get this out of the way. Trump is a fuck-wit moron and scum-bag. Now let's move on. So is Brennan. As one of the comments on the New York Times article put it... - (and States of Mind couldn't say it better) ... ahem.."Trump is a dangerous, lying, fascistic buffoon. But the lionization of John Brennan is downright Orwellian."

"In 2014, the CIA Inspector General found that the agency, with Brennan at its helm, hacked into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which at the time was investigating the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Before the IG report was published, Brennan had publicly denied the hacking. In other words, he lied. (see NYT 7/21/14: "Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel")

At the time, many observers, including the digital opinions editor for the Washington Post, argued that Brennan should be fired for his mendacity about the Senate hacking. (See Washington Post 7/31/14: "Obama should fire John Brennan")

But this was not the first time Brennan publicly lied about a consequential government matter. CIA's own documents show that Brennan failed to tell the truth when he said in 2011 that there had been no civilian deaths in the previous year from the U.S. drone strike program, which he directed at the time. (See The Bureau of Investigative Journalism 11/4/13: "Secret US Documents Show Brennan’s ‘No Civilian Drone Deaths’ Claim Was False")". The guy is an effing liar.

Trump is an abomination, but our democracy is in even bigger trouble if we become a nation of amnesiacs who make heroes out of people who have abused the public trust just because they oppose the President."

Amen. Brennan was born in North Bergen, New Jersey attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary Elementary School and graduated from Saint Joseph of the Palisades High School in West New York, New Jersey. In other words, judging by the US Catholic church's recent record for child abuse - and the excuse that it was mere "wrestling and horse-play" -- he escaped as an Irish Catholic authoritarian bully, a law-breaker and anti-democrat who showed no respect for democracy or the truth when he was the head of the anti-democratic US Central Intelligence Agency.

And let's face it. Since he was fired, why would Brennan need a security clearance? Answer: to make a ridiculously good living out of giving wildly exaggerated, poor advice to know-nothing organisations who revere the confrontational thuggery of CIA methods and their fixation with talking up the "threat to US national security" (yawn)... Senator Rand Paul (another complete fuck-wit) accused Brennan of "monetizing his security clearance" and "making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks" on the president.

If you can, I recommend reading some of the comments on the article link below.

Moral of the story? Trump and Brennan deserve each other. And this story has legs...

Read more from New York Times

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Brennan does his Harrison Ford "angry" impression. But would you buy a second hand drone from this man?

US democracy is in deep crisis. In many important respects it is no longer a functioning democracy. Can it ever be saved?

This article from the Guardian's foreign affairs commentator, Simon Tisdale, begins...."Nineteen months into the Trump presidency, US democracy is running into serious trouble – but it is not all, or even mostly, Donald Trump’s fault. This crisis of governance has been building for decades. It is only now, as Trump’s iconoclastic assaults on established beliefs, laws, institutions and values test the system to destruction, that the true scale of pre-existing weaknesses and faultlines is becoming apparent."

It continues..."This deep crisis of confidence, bordering on national meltdown, comes as the US hurtles towards midterm elections in November..."

And there you have it. Elections, candidates, voters....the appearance of a democratic process that is functioning normally and under control - when in fact it's anything but. The fact is, as a democracy - and upholder of democratic values and process - the US is no longer fit for purpose. It's an embarrassment. A disgrace. Almost every aspect of the nation as a democracy is deeply flawed or compromised.. ...and that's before we even look at the way probably a majority of all voters have dumbed down and have been deliberately rejecting the truths and facts they find unpalatable. Truth is no longer an important value in itself - as Trump well knows.

The country's political system and national networks are also corrupt and have sold their soul to lobby groups, big business and bent donors. If you have an organisation or a business that wants real political influence, do you try to influence 200 million voters - or do you buy 51 Senators? It's a no-brainer. 

Previous articles in States of Mind have looked at the way Christian fundamentalists and billionaire conservatives are working the system to squeeze out marginal victories by promoting their issues in marginal states; the notorious Koch brothers are an example of this, as is the blindly pro-Israeli casino magnate and anti-democrat, Sheldon "konte" Adelson (see SoM passim). They spend billions on subverting the process to produce the outcomes they want. Much of this can be traced to the "new" thinking the Christian, Republican, Conservatives introduced in the 1990s under the former speaker (and arch-hypocrite) Newt Gingrich (what a name, what a guy!). This pillock (re)defined the issue very succinctly: "The purpose of democracy is to achieve a majority." Wow! Screw the values: it's all in the vote.... Except it isn't. That's not democracy, it's an electocracy.... and it's yet another form of tyranny - as that great liberal John Stuart Mill pointed out.

This is exactly what is wrong with the system as process. 50.01% beats 49.99% of the vote and Hurrah! you have a majority. But you also have a divided and polarised country. The next 4 years are spent agonising how to keep the other guy out rather than actually working for the key democratic values like pluralism, compromise, respect for "the other" and social justice. Indeed, anything that further polarises and demarcates is considered good - and the idea is to squeeze out the "swing" voter by radicalising your base.

The article looks briefly at the way the court appointments are also so politically partisan that they are guaranteed to be anything other than independent. The way the 2001 Conservative majority Supreme Court ruling was used to steal the election for George W Bush is a case in point. America has never recovered. Since then, the nation effectively militarised and started more wars in more unthreatening countries than any democracy ever has. Every day it is still murdering people with extra-judaical drone killings. The national mentality was driven by armchair warriors, op-ed pieces and lunatic "security experts" and commentators. And of course, politicians in the pay of the military industrial complex. Security completely dominated all other democratic values - and this is what the country is paying for today: it's fear. No other democracy has ever - EVER - behaved in this way, so today, "American Exceptionalism" really does mean something not very complimentary.

Tisdale argues that in relation to Trump...."Many were shocked to discover that a US president could issue diktats and fatwas like the worst kind of unelected despot or ayatollah." And this is yet another problem. In a democracy of more than 320 million people, with alleged checks and balances, how come a freaky moron like Trump has the power to unilaterally behave like an inbred Roman tyrant-emperor and unilaterally decide - without requiring any further approval - to push the nuclear button? Seriously, how is the world a safer place for the world's largest nuclear arsenal being in the hands of a patently unstable muppet? This is actually the rule of the infantile tyrant.

Just read the article... but the important thing is this. It just refers to - and deals with - the failure of democratic processes in the US. But the worst thing about the US right now is the mindset of the voters that enable Trump -- and who will probably see him re-elected. For too long the US has got off on  refusing to engage in any serious degree of self-examination, continually telling itself and the world "we are the best"... just like the new "master race" too many believe themselves to be.

If America is still a democracy, it is the worst kind of democracy. The only question now is, is it too late to save it?

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Says it all.

Cables reveal the extent of CIA director Gina Haspel's oversight role in water-boarding and torture. Another victory for anti-democratic values out of the US.

This article from the New York Times provides more detail on the activities of the dreadful Gina Haspel. For her confirmation hearings this spring, Haspel claimed (a) that CIA torture techniques revealed "valuable" information about threats to national security but that (b) nevertheless they should not have been used and (c) that, in any event, she was not personally involved. The cables in this report reveal that the use of torture did not in fact reveal either new or important sources of information. They also reveal that Haspel was directly involved. As the article states...."11 newly released top-secret cables from the time that Gina Haspel, now the C.I.A. director, oversaw the base provide at times graphic detail on the techniques the agency used to brutally interrogate Qaeda captives." As the chief of the base, Ms. Haspel would have written or authorized the cables, according to Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a research organization at George Washington University.

As she was trying to win Congressional confirmation as C.I.A. director this spring, Ms. Haspel claimed the torture techniques yielded valuable intelligence but disavowed them. During his campaign, President Trump flirted with the idea of reviving waterboarding — insisting that “torture works” — and has never denounced the harsh techniques used by the C.I.A.

The release of the top-secret cables details the case of an al Qaeda operative Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri being held at Guantanamo. He has still not been charged let alone convicted. Mr. Nashiri’s former lawyer, Richard Kammen, said that his client was brutally tortured by the C.I.A. and that he hopes the truth comes out before Mr. Nashiri goes on trial. “Ultimately, the public will be horrified by the level of brutality employed by the C.I.A.,” Mr. Kammen said.

The article continues..."In the late November session, after Mr. Nashiri was waterboarded several times, the interrogators said they were willing to deliver the same treatment for months until he cooperated. When they were finished, Mr. Nashiri crawled into “the small box” in which he was confined.

The interrogators continually told Mr. Nashiri they did not believe he was telling everything he knew, threatening him with worse treatment if he did not tell them more. The prisoner, already subjected to the whole array of C.I.A. torture techniques — loud noise, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, wall-slamming and waterboarding — insisted he was trying to remember and tell them everything.

But the interrogators appear to have ultimately concluded that Mr. Nashiri was not lying. Some of the cables back to headquarters, apparently written by Ms. Haspel, described him as “compliant and cooperative,” according to the 2014 report on the interrogation program by the Senate Intelligence Committee."

How does someone like Haspel, who is so blatantly compromised and obviously lying, win the trust of the US Congress? Unless, of course, Congress itself is utterly compromised and really couldn't give a damn. 

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The appointment of Haspel is the logical conclusion for an organisation that ignores democratic values wherever it goes.

Israel officially a theocracy. Orthodox Rabbi speaks out against ultra-Orthodox monopoly over Israeli life. Santa begins to look more credible.

This remarkable opinion piece in the New York Times is written by an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who considers himself to be at war with the Ultra-Orthodox lunatics who have been given a special role over Israeli political life - and now define in strict exclusive terms who can be called a Jew. You couldn't make it up. The reality is that those who oppose the strictures (i.e.: insanity) of the ultra-Orthodox rules can risk imprisonment. Seriously. Orthodox Jews have been arrested and imprisoned for breaking the religious law. In many important respects, Israel is now a theocracy every bit as controlled as Saudi Arabia or Iran. Democracy? My ass.

The Rabbi is arguing for a more inclusive concept of Judaism than the one proposed by the Ultra Orthodox rulers. This impacts on citizenship and who can reside in Israel, who can marry whom - and even whether they can be married - and how their children are treated by the state and the rights they can have. OK. His fantasies of god are not quite as extreme or utterly ridiculous as the Ultra Orthodox lunatics who run the show but he's still pretty flakey - and utterly misses the big picture point. Why not have a wholly secular Israeli state? Why does religion (adhered to by only a minority) have a say in constructing state laws at all? Why would Muslims and Christians living in Israel want to live under any of these laws - whether Ultra Orthodox or merely Orthodox?

Having said that, the entire concept of Israel - and its intimate relationship to the Jewish religion - is childish, irrational and bizarre. Secular or historical rights are one thing, but anyone who actually believes that "Man was created in God's image" (what infinite image would that be?) and that a piece of land on the planet was especially reserved by this "human" god for his "chosen people" (and that the "contract" made between god and Moses is incontrovertible "proof" that the deal is valid) is quite insane. There's no other word for it - yet that is what both the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews (and many Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists) profess to believe. If it hadn't been invented and institutionalised through 3,000 years of very turbulent and frequently neurotic history, and if someone came up with that fairy story today, they'd be locked up. "I have here in my hand a piece of paper, authored and signed by god which allocates and permits my wife and me... and some of our friends.......' Yeah, right.

Let's face it, it's much more rational to believe in the possibility that Santa Claus circumnavigates the world on a reindeer-driven sledge on one night every year to deliver presents to all children than it is to believe these infantile and absurd myths. The physics of Santa's task is extreme - to say the least -- but the metaphysics of the Torah or Old Testament is not only improbable, but impossible. As the great 17th century philosopher (and expert in Hebrew) Benedict Spinoza argued in his Theologico-Political Treatise, the Old Testament prophets were not only not very bright and frequently contradictory, but they had powerful "imaginations" i.e.: they were lying, manipulative, self-serving and making-it-up as they went along.

As for believing in the possibility of Santa's work, post Star-Trek and the invention of Warp-speed, it's doable - at a pinch. "According to one scientist, Santa will have 31 hours to deliver presents to around 378 million children due to the rotation of the earth. This means he will have to deliver gifts to over 822 houses per second, with his sleigh travelling at 650 miles per second to cope with the magnitude of the task – that’s 3000 times the speed of sound!

The weight of all the presents in Santa’s sleigh complicates matters. If each child in the world was allocated one present weighing less than 2lbs, the sleigh would still weigh around the same amount as the Empire State Building – which would need 214,200 reindeer to pull. But (and this is a big but) the weight and speed of the sleigh would cause the reindeer to burst into flames almost immediately.

"Another scientist adds that 9.3 million MegaWatts of energy would be needed to power Santa’s sleigh in order to get around the world in one evening while carrying presents. To have any hope of making this amount of energy, you would need 414 of the world’s biggest power stations.... and 30,000,000 litres of fuel."

Damn. Makes you think. Santa's science doesn't seem to add up......  perhaps he doesn't exist after all ? 

Read more from New York Times

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10 litres down: 29,999,990 to go.

"Project Blitz" - The Plot Against America: New Christian-right tactics designed to destroy the US constitution.

For those who take an interest in how American democracy has been slipping away for decades - and is now in serious trouble - this article from the New York Times on American Christian Nationalism shows how the forces of insane Christianity have evolved tactics to destroy the legitimacy of the constitution itself. And they can do it.

As the article says: "What Christian nationalists know — and many of us have yet to learn — is that you don’t need a majority to hijack a modern democracy. You just need a sizable minority, marinating in its grievances, willing to act as a bloc, and impervious to correction by fact or argument. Make this group feel good about itself by making other people feel bad about themselves, and dominion may well be in reach."

Read on

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Democrats are perceived to hold values that are incompatible with the values of the Christian-right

Israel reveals its true nature. Zionism is racism and democratic rights and values no longer apply equally to Arabs. It's official.

 

The Israeli government has just passed a fundamentally racist new law enshrining the exclusive right to self-determination to Jews only ("The Nation State Law"). The population is at least 20% Arab, so their rights are now officially inferior to those enjoyed by Jewish citizens - even though both are equally Israeli. Since the formation of Israel in 1948 the country has had two official languages - Hebrew and Arabic. From today forward, Arabic is no longer to be considered an official language. All of this comes on the back of increasing evidence for official Israeli racism against blacks who claim Jewish ancestry. Much of it is driven by the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox religious nut-jobs who are in the ascendency.

What is really happening is that Israel is preparing itself - and the world - for the obvious conclusion to its illegal behaviour as occupiers and settlers of Arab land over the decades, namely, that the "Two-State" solution is dead in the water (see States of Mind passim) and the inevitable One-State solution will be anything but democratic i.e; it will be an apartheid state with Jews lording it over Arabs. This new law is part of the process whereby the anachronistic notion of a Jewish Democracy (always an insult to the word democracy which necessarily includes pluralism as a core - and not an optional -value) morphs into an open racist Jewish State with full rights only for Jews. Significantly...."Unlike previous drafts of the nationality bill, the version that passed omits any mention of democracy or enunciation of the principle of equality in what critics called a betrayal of Israel’s foundational document, its Declaration of Independence." And there you have it. So we can expect more of the same to come.

As the New York Times said (in an article tucked away at the bottom of the screen) "The law, pushed through just before the Knesset, or Parliament, went into summer recess, has been advanced as a flagship legislation of the most right-wing and religious governing coalition in Israel’s 70-year history." Quite.

It goes on...“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the annals of the state of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said soon after the vote early Thursday. “We have determined in law the founding principle of our existence. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens.” This is a lie. From now on Arabs are clear second class citizens with fewer rights.

"Moments after the vote, Arab members of Parliament ripped up copies of the bill while crying out, “Apartheid!” Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, which holds 13 seats and is the third-largest bloc in Parliament, waved a black flag in protest. Members of the right-wing governing coalition applauded."

“The end of democracy,” declared Ahmad Tibi, a veteran Arab legislator, charging the government with demagogy. “The official beginning of fascism and apartheid. A black day (another black day),” he wrote on Twitter.

Adalah, a legal center that campaigns for Arab rights in Israel, said in a statement, “This law guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.”

Yael German, a lawmaker from the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, said before the vote that the law was “a poison pill for democracy.”

"Empowered by the ascendancy of a friendly American administration led by President Trump, and increasingly allying itself with illiberal democracies in Europe, Mr. Netanyahu’s government has sought to exercise more control over the news media, curtail the authority of the Supreme Court and undermine the police amid attempts to thwart or minimize the effect of multiple corruption investigations against the prime minister. The police have already recommended that Mr. Netanyahu be charged with bribery in two cases."

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Some Israelis protest against the Nation State Law - placards say: "This house belongs to all of us."

Spoof "Who is America?" TV show catches senior Republican politicians advocating for 4 year olds to be trained to kill and given guns and grenades at school.

Sacha Baron Cohen - pretending to be a militarised Israeli lunatic - goes to Washington to sell the idea that children as young as 3 and 4 years old should be trained to use guns in the classroom - if the school is attacked. He claims this is standard training in Israel. He creates a sales video with some perverted old creep who is head of a serious gun lobby and takes it to Congress. The sales video includes clips of them singing songs with fluffy toys teaching kids how to pull the trigger and here to aim..."head and shoulders.... not the toes...." Amazingly he finds a good reception. We find Republican congressmen and senator (Trent Lott, former majority leader for the Republicans) saying that with the "Kinder-Guardian" programme..."that after just one month, a first grader (4 years old) can become a first grenader..."

The clip showing an idiotic congressman attempting to read a spoof scientific justification ("pathways from the liver to the nervous system..") for the programme to arm 4 year olds based on their faster reaction times ("like owls.... they can see in slow motion") is mind-boggling. Funny how this old retard was suddenly able to use "science" to justify killing when he rejects science in every other sphere of life. The clips advocating the programme also include phrases about children not having properly developed consciences which might otherwise prevent them from firing quickly... without thinking. 

States of Mind was pretty much speechless after watching this 10 minute video clip.... The problem is that these old fuckers thought it was for real. What a stupid country. Beyond disgust.

VIEW BELOW

https://youtu.be/QkXeMoBPSDk

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No words can describe the sheer stupidity of many American politicians and the gun lobby,

Trump arrives in Helsinki blaming America (but EU is "biggest enemy") for poor relations with Russia. Reads from script passed to him by Putin.

Trump has arrived in Helsinki to have a secret (yes: private then) meeting with Putin about his private bank account, the hookers and the videos (don't ask). As Il Dottore points out in States of Mind (The Putin 2 puppet-on-a-string) is never - NEVER - critical of Putin. And this morning - in advance of the meeting - Putin 2 tweeted that the EU is "the biggest enemy". Astonishing. What an ass. He then went on to say: "Our relationship with Russia has never been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity...." Wonderful stuff. For once States of Mind agrees with him. Not to mention that the Russian Foreign Ministry has just issued a statement that they agree with Trump.

First reports say Putin arrived late and now Trump is making him wait...The Guardian reports that Putin's limousine is larger than Trump's.

One point is worth mentioning here. Many governments in the West - and the group-think of US foreign policy industry jerks and idiots - blame Russia for what happened in Crimea..."interfering in the affairs of another country..."  Basically annexing it. Well no surprise there since the Russian Black Sea fleet is based there. Not to mention that Crimea wants to be part of Russia. Would the US have done the same if it had been placed in the same situation? You betcha! And further, not to mention, that the US has treated the Pacific and South China Sea as it's own bathtub since WW2 and is now complaining that China wants to assert its own sovereignty. Get real.

States of Mind knows for a fact that the US was behind the so-called "Orange Campaign" in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected pro-Russian government. Putin has not forgotten. The US has been interfering in other countries democratically held elections - all over the world - for decades (the list is a long one) and then they don't like it when it happens to them. The hypocrisy emanating from the West in this regard is quite disgusting and pathetic. Putin's Russia is, of course, behaving badly, but make no mistake, it was "The West" - and in particular, the US - that started it with opportunistic and unnecessary advances in military and other kinds of encroachment on Russia's long term interests.

The Russians are now following "The Gerasimov Doctrine" named after a Russia General who has basically described a" new" form of warfare based much more on influence and "information" (nb: not knowledge) than military might. Looks like they can now get their way without having to go through the hassle, expense and risk of actually fighting a real war.......

So, expect Trump to emerge from the Putin meeting wearing the latest loose-fitting KGB uniform (unlike the tight-fitting one supplied for Melania (aka Rosa Klebb: see States of Mind passim).

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This wonderful image is taken from German TV.. Trump captured tweeting on arrival in Helsinki.....

From Slovenia with Love: Melania Trump - the inscrutable face of domestic bliss - grabs him by the wallet and falls back on her KGB training...

You've got to hand it to her. Things turned out unexpectedly bad for Melania Trump. On the face of it, she has been dealt a lousy hand in life. There she was: an apparently poor Slovenian girl who travelled to America full of hope and managed to catch the eye of a bigly smart and devastatingly handsome celebrity cartoon billionaire. And then she marries Ignoramus Rex. Yes. She's been dealt a lousy hand... and she's playing it badly. That inscrutable, imperious look, is really quite something. The back of her coat with the slogan.... "I really don't care, do you" ... while she visited children in cages...  It seems that she not only married Ignoramus Rex but somehow managed to get contaminated by his DNA.

She wasn't always like that of course - at least not before she was spotted by Putin (real name Ernst Blofeld) when they were both working in the KGB. Not many people know that Melania's real name is Colonel Rosa Klebb (aka Number 3) when, in the 1960s, she was a leading operative for SPECTRE (formerly SMERSH). Born in the Ukraine in 1899 (according to her Wiki page) she "died" for the first time in Venice in 1963 when Sean Connery killed her with a single shot after she attacked him with poisoned steel toe-caps in her shoes. Today, those steel caps are in her heels.

Following an extensive make-over, she has been groomed by Blofeld (Putin) for these last 50 years waiting for the moment she could be triggered from her sleeper cell and really go to work. What appears to the world to be simply a silly money-grabbing bimbo....is actually a key player in a decades long strategy to bring the West crashing down. For her, it was never about the money - it was always ideological. And that ideology is to use fashion to position herself as the "wife who is the real Manchurian Candidate". Trump is a sad decoy, an empty, harmless, highly intelligent and handsome vessel: and at the same time, an idiot who has no idea what is really going on.

Meanwhile Melania Knavs, aka Knauss, aka Trump, aka Rosa Klebb, aka "Number 3" is a much greater threat to the West than we could ever have imagined. Bond is on to her..... Wish him luck.

007

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The real Melania before the operation in a tight-fitting uniform (still her favourite). You only live twice.....

Brunetti Speaks Out ! The martyr in the making that is Theresa May. Unlike Trump & Johnson, the vicar's daughter has a sense of duty.

The Martyring of Mrs May

I am having an anger management problem. I cannot summon enough of it to impel my arse over to Regent Street and join the crowds demonstrating against that buffoon Donald Trump. He’s spending 36 hours insulting the Prime Minister and cadging a scone off the Queen, and 60 hours in Ayrshire playing golf. What more can be said about his drivelling style and dehumanised priorities than that they are consistent? I know I should be down there with the hoi polloi and the bien pensant, down by the river admiring the blimp overhead. But so foreign has this all become, so otherworldly and depressing, that ennui has paralysed my legs. Yet not my fingers…

As for that Boris, wot a buffoon. I laughed and clapped when he resigned. It was one less weight off this country’s shrinking, sinking reputation. So now he’s out there, lurking in the tangled undergrowth of Brexit, biding his time, judging his rush, waiting to leap upon the wounded Mrs May as she limps towards failure. But he himself is done, peaked, exposed, deflated, all the wind gone. Max Hastings, that old warhorse, took his skin off with a scalpel. “He is a man of remarkable gifts, flawed by an absence of conscience, principle or scruple.” To me he is merely an arse, left only with his own flatulence. 

Trump, Boris… these men are poltroons. I do not support our Prime Minister but nor will I insult her. For she defies conventional understanding. She is not hanging on for the fun of it. Christ on a cross!  I mean this not as expostulation but as analogy: she has chosen crucifixion. The vicar’s daughter is living her faith. 

Her virtues are duty, constancy, endurance, a preparedness to suffer. She did not support Brexit, she will have known that taking it on was a fool’s errand, but she decided anyway that she must support the people’s right to it - or at least the British Right’s asphyxiatingly narrow view of what is a democratic right is or what is meant by Brexit. 

However, as an article of faith, in the broader church of both the Tories, Labour, and the country at large, Brexit has become as tortuously disputed as transubstantiation, or worse, papal authority, and as catastrophically disastrous to party and national unity as anything in British history. Brussels is Rome and May Wolsey to the Tories’ Henry VIII. Now she martyrs herself on the cross of Tory disunity and this island’s schism.

She must be sustained by tremendous faith. For a full year, since her disastrous election, her job has been defined not by her ability to succeed but - according to inner convictions of Duty, Fate and what is ‘Ordained’ - by how heroically she could fail. She took on the nastiest job in our modern political history. Churchill’s might have been monumental but it not morally dire. Her premiership will have been, morally and existentially, exquisitely exacting. Such questions! What is Duty? For what must she most account to the British people or her God? What is the Higher Duty to the Nation? Let It shoot Itself because It has a death-wish? Or wrestle with It for the Gun? What a choice: to give up office knowing she fundamentally disagreed with the direction in which the referendum seemed set to drag the country; or allow herself to be lashed all the way to Golgotha in the hope that her sacrifice might buy enough time for common sense to reassert itself and reasonable solutions be found, while blocking the Via Dolorosa against the lunatic Corbyn. 

The latter course has been infinitely harder - an act of self-abnegation for which it is hard to find precedent in modern politics and is certainly nothing the glib Cameron or the opportunistic Gove or the ‘Hastings’ Boris would ever have contemplated. What it has done is to expose the brutal absurdity and “squared-circledness” of the Brexit proposition. 

Sisyphus was condemned for all eternity; at least May knows she can be crucified just once, then gratefully fall dead on the political ground. Imagine if you will, when that day comes, her feelings as she steps out of Number 10 for the last time. The exhaustion, the welcoming of death, the gratitude to her God that she has endured, until the moment she was dismissed from it, a task whose execution is doomed to failure any which way you look at it. 

When the time comes, lay her beside Becket and carry the others, dead or alive, to the block. 

Brunetti

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No matter her profound and numerous failings, Theresa May has one virtue - a strong sense of duty - unlike most of the scheming bastards that attack her.

Ignoramus Rex invades Britain as UK sovereignty collapses in the face of Yankee insults. Accuses himself of "fake news."

Trump has invaded the UK and swept aside the entire British government during a short newspaper interview with the fascist "Sun" (owner: Rupert Murdoch). He actually said: "I told Theresa May what to do and she didn't listen." And, in what has become normal US practice these says, the threats of punishment followed quickly. Britain will not get a trade deal with the US...blah, blah blah. Keep your fucking chlorinated chickens.

The irony of ironies is that the Brexiteers' alleged purpose in leaving the EU was to "take back control of sovereignty". OK. So Theresa May - the most incompetent UK Prime Minister ever - tries to thrash out a deal with her own fractured cabinet to begin serious Brexit negotiations and - after two years of trying - finally gets one. Then along comes lumbering Ignoramus Rex to threaten UK sovereignty AND to say that Boris Johnson would make a great leader of the UK.... in Trump's words.."a very talented man who has what it takes.." Presumably he has forgotten what Borat Johnson said about him in 2016 when he was Mayor of London..."Donald Trump's remarks betray a 'stupifying ignorance' that make him unfit for the office of President".

Trump now claims Sun write-up of his interview was “fake news” because it did not include his positive comments about May - even though the Sun report did include Trump’s pro-May comments. And after holding Theresa May's hand against last night at dinner, he claims he will now back whatever Brexit the UK decides to follow.

As for protests - they've already begun. The Trump baby is already flying over Parliament Square. And this reassuring quote from The Guardian: "Julie Bradford and her son Peter travelled from Morpeth in Northumberland to join the demonstration on Friday. She said:

"We were outside Winfield House [the US ambassador’s residence in London] last night with my old football rattle to make some noise when Trump’s helicopter landed, and we’re at the main protest today. It’s a historic moment. The Western alliance is being dismantled, human rights are being trampled upon, immigrants are being demonised, and racism and misogyny are being normalised. It feels like we are sleepwalking into this. My son and I want to scream! At least make a stand."

We can't wait until tomorrow to see what Ignoramus Rex says then. Nor to the guy who really has him by the balls in Helsinki.

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Ignoramus rex attacks, retracts, attacks again - then accuses himself of "fake news." A normal day on planet Trump, then.

Democracy dies in Daylight....as Trump nominates Supreme Court judge, US is tearing down barriers between Church and State.

These days, there's not much to distinguish the Trump administration's hoards of religious loonies from the Taliban or the Islamic State loonies. Today Trump has nominated a lifelong right wing (and Catholic) judge - Brett Kavanagh - who has deep ties to the conservative establishment - as his choice for Supreme Court... a decision, which if approved by the Senate, would provide him with a permanent majority to provide legal approval for all his shitty and devious decisions.

Of course, being America, there had to be a love-in first. Making the announcement on reality TV, Trump lied his way to the end...“In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions,” Trump - trying to keep a straight face - schmoozed in the East Room of the White House. “What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say that I have found, without doubt, such a person.” Baloney ! (at this point, viewer ratings soared and adults began to cry with gratitude.)

Kavanagh outdid Trump with his arslikkin response..."“No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said. “Mr. President, I am grateful to you, and I am humbled by your confidence in me.”  And there you have it. A stitch-up. As the article from the Washington Post stated...(Read more) ...."Republican leaders firmly believe that Kavanaugh could be instrumental in pitching the ideological makeup of the court to the right and leaving a conservative imprint on the law for a generation." And make no mistake, religion, family values and all the other hypocritical shit of the faux god-squad will come to haunt the free-thinking democratic values of the state.

While it is impossible to overstate the long-term importance of the next court appointment, Mr. Sessions (Attorney General) - and many of his fellow cabinet members - offer textbook examples of the everyday perils of entangling religion with politics. Mr. Sessions’s citation of the opening verse of Romans 13, which declares that every soul must be “subject to the governing authorities” and that there is “no authority except that which God has established,” inflamed an already bitter debate over immigration.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, followed up with a reminder that it was “very biblical” to enforce the law. (See also the Red Hen article in SoM.) Neither went on to quote the verse in the epistle that proclaims, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Many pro-immigration religious leaders, including Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, took umbrage at the biblical justification for a policy that could hardly be described as loving. Their objections, however, were based mainly on the idea that Mr. Sessions had picked the wrong verse."  And there you have it. Americans don't even know or understand anymore that they're not allowed to quote any religious texts as justification for their underhand political shenanigans. It so it was left to secular organizations to identify all religious rationalizations as the fundamental problem. “The separation of church and state means that we don’t base public policy on the Bible or any religious book.”

Scott Pruitt, who resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency in disgrace Thursday (fraudulent fucker.. no surprise there) exited with a letter that repeatedly used the word “blessed” to describe his service. As Trump's choice as head of the Environmental Protection Agency he asserted that ....."Americans who want stricter environmental standards are contradicting the Bible." As he went on to say: "God wants human to consume natural gas and oil and not keep it in the ground." Well said !! I love a man who knows what god wants.. since god seems to have no idea himself...

In another example, the genius that is former ("missing brain") surgeon Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development and a devout Seventh-day Adventist, has described commitment to the separation of church and state as “crap,” prompted by “political correctness.” Again, no surprise there. Ben Carson has a stained-glass window in his house depicting him seated with a small Christ in the background placing a hand on his shoulder in approval. Fuckin' nuts. And the list of rich, greedy, nasty, adulterous loony god-invokers goes on and on.

Bye-Bye Ms American Pie.. and welcome to the US Taliban..

Well, you can read more from the New York Times.. if you can stomach the idiocy of some Americans

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The separation of church and state in the US is now directly under threat by a concerted campaign to de-legitimise secular thinking

Trump flies in: Brunetti Speaks out ! Trump's upcoming visit to London is a reason to refresh our inner disgust.

BLIMPS ARE FOR WIMPS

Donald Trump is coming to London this week. I wish he wouldn’t but it seems I am unable to prevent it. I can only look forward to the sight of the Trump ‘angry orange baby’ blimp flying over the city - permission for which was granted this past week - and pray for a monsoon over Scotland when he goes there to play golf. 

How tepid is that? How insipid those emotions? What has happened to me? I fear my anger is dying and I want my disgust back, I want to drown my helplessness in vitriol. What is hateful cannot be hated less simply because hatred is so hard to hold on to.

Perhaps I have never been a thinking man; my emotional constitution has made me wobbly.  I have not honed my intellect into an ice-pick, nor shaped my nature to a passionate fury capable of plunging that instrument precisely and deeply into the disgusting eye of Trump’s bigoted narcissism. I’ve been too temperate, and because I have many failings, too inclined to forgive them in others.

Trump, however, demands insistent, constant, unremitting, relentless disgust - because only our disgust will rid us of him and people like him. They are destroying our democracy in front of our eyes and mock us by doing it in democracy’s name.  

Some months ago, the editorial board of the New York Times devoted an entire page to a list of Trump’s lies, evasions and offensiveness. The person who sent it to me said she had been unable to read it to the end because it had made her cry. Well, we’re all going to have to toughen up, love, and rediscover our disgust. Below are two links for your convenience. They predate his tariff war with China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union, his shaking of his swagger stick at NATO, and the isolation camps for the child prisoners of his border war. 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/25/opinion/editorials/Donald-Trumps-Guide-To-Presidential-Etiquette.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html 

The thing is, it’s just not good enough to become inured to the evils and follies of this man, they keep coming at us whether you’re looking or not. It’s not good enough to get tired, and decide there’s nothing to be done, detach, and kind of hope it will all blow through.

What Trump is doing to relations between ‘white’ and Afro-Caribbean or Hispanic Americans, between America and Europe, between America and Asia, does not blow through. It’s not a fart in the car, you can’t just all have a laugh and roll your eyes, and wind down the windows. This is damage to the political environment on the ecological scale of Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, the Gulf of Mexico. Clean-up and recovery will take decades; some important life-forms may never recover.

The problem with the Trump blimp is that it is mere mockery. If only he were just an angry baby. He is far more frightening. Jurassic Park (I would have said a zeppelin but that would suggest the Germans and sometimes, between them and the French, I feel they’re our best hope) would be much closer to the truth, more fearful and disgusting, a more prosaic evocation of the nature and scale of the disaster he and all the others - Putin, Orban, Salvati, Le Pen, the Brexiteers - represent to our Western democracies, our values of tolerance and openness, and our cohesion as societies.

 The problem with that blimp is that it’s not enough. On behalf of humankind, we need to rediscover our disgust of Donald Trump and feed it every day like a vicious bear.

I need to go and lie down.

Brunetti

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A giant inflatable baby Trump - complete with small hands - will fly over London for Trump's upcoming visit

Poland shows its true colours. It's not a pretty sight as Supreme Court judges are removed and intimidated. Demonstrators on the streets in 60 cities.

There are two countries in the EU - at present - whose leaders and governments stand out as imbecilic and racing towards totalitarianism: Hungary and Poland. Both should be ejected from the EU immediately.... but how?  It has to be said, their foul governing parties also enjoy majority support of their people - and of course this makes things worse. The phenomenon referred to in States of Mind vlogs could not be more apparent: how democratic process is being used to hijack and weaken core democratic values. Now, once the intolerant bastards are in power, the processes of democracy - in this latest case, an independent judiciary  - are being de-fanged and neutralised.

The problem the EU faces is that if Poland is not made to pay a high price for its actions, the forces unravelling democracy across a range of European countries will become further strengthened - and we think here especially of Italy, Austria.. ... and potentially Germany. To remove Poland's voting rights within the EU, the EU requires a unanimous vote of all 28 countries to approve it. This is never going to happen so long as Poland and Hungary support each other and vote against any such resolution (and Poland's governing party's leader, Kaczynski, traveled to Hungary last month to arrange just such a backroom deal wth Orban).

The Polish government (led by the dyed-in-the-wool conservative Catholicism of the (wait for it...) "Law and Justice Party")  has just forced the retirement of 27 of the 72 Supreme Counrt judges. As this article from the New York Times makes clear, for years, this right-wing Catholic party "has demonised judges as unreconstructed communists and obstructionists." Judges who are speaking out against the changes have reported being harassed and intimidated. They also say the new law is itself unconstitutional. Make no mistake, this is exactly how fascism takes hold; the judiciary's independence is simply abolished and the government controls the legal process. It is not democracy when the courts are subservient to politicians.

So far, the moves are being met with demonstrations - in this case in more than 60 cities around the country. The problem is - and again this is the issue raised on States of Mind vlogs - populists use the process of democracy in order to get into a position to break the most vulnerable value they can - "fraternity" - since it's not a legal concept and cannot be legally protected. What we are witnessing in Hungary and Poland is how they are weaponising fear for their "cultural purity" as a threat to their freedom and an exclusive, racist, nationalist and nativist form of fraternity. A majority of voters (or at least a sizeable minority) have become radicalised, fearful, small-minded and intolerant and elect the enemies of democracy. This is the "illiberal democracy" that Viktor Orban talks about. Just read the next few paragraphs taken from the NYT's article:

This is what the leader of the Law and Justice Party said.......“In a democracy, the sovereign is the people, their representative in Parliament and, in the Polish case, the elected president,”......  “If we are to have a democratic state of law, no state authority, including the Constitutional Tribunal, can disregard legislation.” Lacking the two-thirds majority needed in Parliament to change the Constitution, the party instead took control of the Constitutional Tribunal. After that, the tribunal approved laws, like those restructuring the courts, that critics have called unconstitutional. (We see here the pretence of respect for democracy when what they really mean is "Once we have an operating majority we can do whatever the fuck we want...).

"The party then gave the Minister of Justice the role of prosecutor general, which had previously been independent, and it took over the National Council of the Judiciary, which is responsible for appointing judges. Parliament also created a new disciplinary chamber that the opposition says would be used to attack judges who displeased the party.

"Waldemar Zurek, a former spokesman for the National Council of the Judiciary and a district court judge in the city of Krakow, has been openly critical of the changes. In response, he says, both he and his family have been subject to intense pressure and abuse, including death threats." We need no reminder here that Trump is seeking now to influence the US Supreme Court in exactly the same way, to ensure he gets the legal decisions he needs to become more intolerant.

"Judge Zurek said he was dismissed as a spokesman for the courts, threatened with disciplinary sanctions over fabricated allegations, and harassed by government agents, including at his home. His financial records were improperly disclosed, he has faced what he calls a trumped-up investigations about a long-ago real-estate transaction, and he has gotten scores of threatening emails and letters. “All those who stand in the way of the minister become public enemies,” he said. “They are spat on.”"

And this, says States of Mind, is why we must not compromise with these people.

As the NYTs article states.. "European officials also announced on Monday that a so-called infringement procedure had been started against Poland, which could result in the matter being referred to the European Court of Justice. The court could declare the judicial overhaul unconstitutional, but it cannot stop it." 

Let's see. The future of the EU depends on showing its democratic teeth... and pushing back on these retrograde bastards.

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The fight back against the Polish totalitarian impulse must be supported by the EU....

Israeli settlements' "systematic" land grab "shocked" Obama. Now estimated to control 60% of the West Bank: no chance of two-state solution.

This shocking article in The New Yorker reports on the extent of the strategic land-grab of Palestinian territory in the West Bank by illegal Israeli settlements. The programme has been thought through with great care to cause the maximum possible damage to a two-state solution. The plan reveals that the chances of a separate Palestinian "state" being able to establish any meaningful integrity on the map is now practically zero.

The story reveals how, when Obama was shown the map in 2015 (where the fuck had he been hiding for the previous 7 years when this was all going on??) by a senior State Department diplomat called Frank Lowenstein - a special envoy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations - (where the fuck had he been for the previous 7 years??) he was "shocked" by how systematically and strategically the settlements had been located.

The article makes clear that Lowenstein's office was full of maps of the West Bank... but........ "Typically, those maps made Jewish settlements and outposts look tiny compared to the areas where the Palestinians lived. The new map in the briefing book was different. It showed large swaths of territory that were off limits to Palestinian development and filled in space between the settlements and the outposts. At that moment, Lowenstein told me, he saw “the forest for the trees”—not only were Palestinian population centers cut off from one another but there was virtually no way to squeeze a viable Palestinian state into the areas that remained. Lowenstein’s team did the math. When the settlement zones, the illegal outposts, and the other areas off limits to Palestinian development were consolidated, they covered almost sixty per cent of the West Bank."

The article continues..."Lowenstein showed the small map to Secretary of State John Kerry and said, “Look what’s really going on here.” Kerry brought the map to his next meeting with President Obama. The map was too small for everyone in the Situation Room to see, so Lowenstein had a series of larger maps made. The information was then verified by U.S. intelligence agencies. Obama’s Presidency was winding down, but Lowenstein figured that he could use the time left to raise awareness about what the Israelis were doing. “One day, everyone’s going to wake up and go, ‘Wait a minute, we’ve got to stop this to at least have the possibility of a two-state solution,’ ” Lowenstein said." Duh !

Funny, isn't it, how the rest of the world has been saying this for more than decade? Either the US really was complicit in this deceit or the Israelis deliberately pulled the wool over the eyes of their best ally (not a difficult thing to do, really). It's hard to believe though that the hundreds - maybe thousands -  of US journalists and politicians who regularly visited Israeli could not have come back with some kind of report over the years that pre-empted this ridiculous "discovery". 

Well, States of Mind is a strong supporter of a democratic and secular One State Solution and finds the notion of a "Jewish democracy" a ridiculous anachronism today. In any event, the current manifestation of Israel is clearly not a fully functioning democracy since it eschews a range of core democratic values - including the basis of all democracy, pluralism.

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Doing god's work. Israel is breaking international and humanitarian law and core democratic values on a daily basis

The West is engaged in a full "trial-run" for fascism: test marketing, refining and experiments with cruelty are already underway.

The purpose of a trial-run (and the test-marketing of fascistic initiatives) is to normalise ideas and behaviours that people formerly might have recoiled from. Trial-runs also allow the prospective fascist regimes to test, refine and calibrate their ideas for maximum impact and the next critical steps. An article from the Irish writer and columnist Fintan O'Toole argues that this is exactly what is happening now in the US and across a range of European countries.

One element of this is the rigging of elections (see States of Mind (read here) on how the US Republicans are rigging elections  -- it was Stalin who said that it's not the votes that count, but who counts the votes that matters)). The privatisation of election-voting machines has eroded any transparency of this process in the US; gerrymandering of districts and the discriminatory control of voter registration are other insidious ways this is happening. But an altogether different kind of rigging was also evident in, for example, the external interference in the US presidential and "Brexit" referendum votes. No country is safe from this kind of interference. We can call these collectively the "processes" of democracy and they are being manipulated and abused in order to weaken democratic values.

The other main element of fascism is the direct destruction of democratic values and the reversion to tribal identities based on fear - and the demonisation of "the other." This is already in full flood in Europe and the US right now. O'Toole points out that fascism does not require a majority... and this is crucial to understanding where we are. He argues that it typically comes to power with around 40% approval and then uses its influence to control and intimidate - to consolidate and grow its power-base. The next step is that the people need to be "blooded" and accept forms of increasing social cruelty as an inevitable part of the shared purifying process. This is a kind of moral desensitisation since fascism always depends on popular compliance with increased levels of savagery. Already the Christian right in the US is extremely well organised to support everything shitty Trump can introduce and has not blinked whenever he has shown a blatant disregard for human rights - or social cohesion. The same story can be told about Poland, Hungary and would be popular amongst many populist parties in The Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany and the UK.

As O'Toole says..."It is this next step that is being test-marketed now. It is being done in Italy by the far-right leader and minister for the interior Matteo Salvino. How would it go down if we turn away boatloads of refugees? Let’s do a screening of the rough-cut of registering all the Roma and see what buttons the audience will press. And it has been trialled by Trump: let’s see how my fans feel about crying babies in cages. I wonder how it will go down with Rupert Murdoch." He goes on..."Trump’s claim last week that immigrants “infest” the US is a test-marketing of whether his fans are ready for the next step-up in language, which is of course “vermin”."

And let's keep American Muslim families separated from each other by banning visits from relatives across a range of Muslim countries. Trump does this to pretend Americans will feel safer when all the indicators and polls show that events like the travel ban actually drive up the mass psychology of fear. And when people are fearful they can be controlled like sheep - and demand more of the same. But lest we forget, Europe has some scum of its own in the shape of its rightwing populist movements who are just as capable as Trump of exercising the worst kinds of prejudice and cruelty.

What O'Toole doesn't mention is what States of Mind calls "bandwagoning" - the willing participation of populations in the secondary and later phases of the malevolent fascist folly. We have seen this directly in Bosnia, Beirut, Baghdad and Belfast - anywhere where polarisation and fear of "the other" is taking root - and one side is beginning to get the upper hand. We see it everyday in the US already where Trump's polling numbers have turned strongly upwards. It's already in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland  and Turkey. It's what happens when otherwise sensible - but fearful - people who are, for the most part, naturally opposed to fascism and extremist positions, recognise which way the wind is blowing and fall in behind it - all too easily. Fear stops people thinking and they begin to sniff the wind to find out where it's safest to stand. And under conditions of personal uncertainty people are naturally attracted towards the side they believe will prevail or be outright victorious. It is what Nietzsche called "the herd instinct" and "the herd" can be very wrong.

The popular forces that made Hitler's Germany, Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy possible cannot be explained without understanding the role that first anger, then fear and finally bandwagoning play in this phenomenon. And it's "bandwagoning" that creates real momentum and provides the final critical mass to fascist movements in democratic situations. Only fraternity - and a strong engaged sense of citizenship - can prevent it.

Fascism needs to be stopped before it takes root since, once it gets a grip, experience shows it will take over. Either the electorate grows a spine and engages to protect the democratic process and values...or.... it doesn't bear thinking about.

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When fascism begins to take hold "bandwagoning" means the voter can become a threat to democracy - and democratic values.

Now it all begins to make sense. Proof that "Il Douche" Trump is actively trying to dismantle the EU - against official US policy.

This article from the Washington Post reveals the astonishing fact that during their recent meeting In Washington, Il Douche (Trump) actually asked the French Presidents, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, why they wouldn't take France out of the EU - and as an incentive, Il Douche promised France a much improved (bilateral) trade deal with the US. What does the idiot think he's doing? He clearly doesn't understand the first thing about the EU or American foreign policy. Problem is that these views are more or less also being echoed by the idiot US Secretary of State Mike "Pompous" Pompeo - and spun as an exercise in "re-setting" structures and relationships in the US's interests. 

"Just this week, at a rally in North Dakota, Trump said: “The European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank.” He then complained about a $150 billion trade deficit with the E.U., inflating the figure."

Trump has been actively and consistently trashing NATO and the EU in public for some time but the Washington Post article reports that this is now becoming much more frequent than in the past. He wouldn't be doing this as part of a personal debt he owes to Putin now, would he? As the article states..." Of course, Trump’s opinions closely track those of Putin, including on the status of Crimea, aid to Ukraine and Russia's interference in the U.S. elections. Overall, Trump’s attack on the E.U. and the U.S.-Europe relationship is a huge strategic windfall for Russia."

Significantly, if we throw into the anti-EU mix, Il Douche's appointments as US ambassadors to the Netherlands (the moron Hoekstra) and Germany (the "unacceptable" Grenell) we can see them as part of a wider plot to insult and denigrate the EU (see States of Mind past on idiot ambassadors). What looked - at first sight - to be merely a pair of embarrassing toadies (which they are) can now also be viewed as forces for destabilisation within the EU - each echoing the equivalent of Alt-Right/Breitbart/Geen Stijl bullshit fake news. Hoekstra lied and invented stories about Muslim related violence in the Netherlands (which he then tried to deny) and Grenell talked about being in Europe to support the rise of the new far-right, describing them as "the future - whose time had come."

One thing is clear. The US under Il Douche is no friend to Europe. And as even the infamous US poodle Tony Blair admits, European countries will be forced to look elsewhere for alliances and this is "bad for America." Nice bark for a little fella.

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Trump is the enemy of a free liberal Europe.

In a disgraceful ruling, the weak, biased and supine US Supreme Court bends over backwards for Il Douche to normalise Islamophobia.

It's interesting that those who claim to be advocacy groups fighting for "religious liberty" in the US (normally a solid indicator of being really fucked-up, bitter and prejudiced - and having abused the terms "liberty" and "freedom" to mean the opposite of their real meaning) have remained silent in the face of Trump's travel ban against, for the most part, some selected Muslim countries. Even as these Christian groups rejoice about a recent ham-fisted court ruling permitting the freedom of religious believers not to have to serve gay couples (is this what "freedom" is being used for?) they claim that the highly selective ban on Muslims travelling to the US should be reviewed through the lens of "national security". Notwithstanding the fact that it is based on a Trump tweet justifying it with: "Muslims hate the US" and the fact that not one of the banned countries on the list has provided a terrorist who travelled to the US to commit an act of terrorism. Meanwhile, those countries who did provide terrorists who travelled to the US are not included in the ban (hint: oil and defence contracts..)

As an article in the Washington Post stated: "Many prominent legal and advocacy groups who describe themselves as focused on religious liberty put out no statements Tuesday about the travel-ban ruling, despite the arguments raised in the case about religious discrimination. In contrast, the groups, which were primarily of the conservative bent,  put out immediate statements Tuesday about another decision by the court — one saying anti-abortion crisis-pregnancy centers cannot be required to tell clients about the availability of other state-offered services, including abortion. The groups included Becket; the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the Alliance Defending Freedom."

Meanwhile, one of the Chief Justices on the Supreme Court (Sonia Sotomayer) spoke out against the judgement in an excoriating attack on Trump (read here) and the other po-faced conservative imbeciles who delivered the highly partisan 5:4 ruling. "Sotomayer remained resolute as she delivered an extraordinarily scorching dissent, skewering the court’s decision and condemning the ban as “harrowing” and “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith." As the Washington Post put it: "That was the crux of the Justice Sotomayor’s damning conclusion: The president’s ban is “inexplicable by anything but animus,” and to argue anything else is to divorce oneself from the facts."

The Washington Post continues: "Compared with other recent federal rulings about religious liberty, “I would have said we were in a period when the court was caring more about religion,” said Noah Feldman, a constitutional law scholar at Harvard University who focuses on law and religion. “But this makes it look like what the court cares about is the religion of evangelical Christians, not Muslims. It makes it look like the Supreme Court doesn’t have a general concern for religion. It looks badly motivated.”"

The decision is another nail in the coffin of American democracy (this bunch really do hate freedom and find every "national security" argument in the book to shred the values of the constitution). And, of course, it's simply normalising Trump's Islamophobia and it will certainly have the effect of making Americans more - not less - fearful of a terrorist attack....(and that's saying something). So, in the context of what States of Mind sees as the reality of a psychological war, Trump and his feeble-minded supporters - have just delivered another huge own-goal in terms of the mass psychology of the nation. Expect more fear now, more bans and more US attacks on Muslims and Muslim countries. 

This is also what the latest Vlog on States of Mind is talking about: The processes of democracy are being used to break the values of democracy.. and as ever, the US - the country that lived by the code of McCarthyism - is leading the way. No surprise there, then.

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And more....

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No checks and balances in sight. Trump uses democratic process to destroy values.

This is what a broken democracy sounds like... the insane voice of right-wing America attacking Obama. Coming soon to Europe !!

This short video from the Huffington Post illustrates the kind of insanity that right wing America is suffering from - and how it is actually breaking democracy in every way possible. The link shows a collection of brief clips from news programmes, interviews and discussions which were used to denigrate Obama during his administration. Obama was far from flawless and he made some huge errors (such as not punishing the Wall Street banks and bankers for the financial crash in 2008) but the hatred and lies spewing out against him are disgusting, racist, inane but most of all false and hysterical. No political discourse of any kind is possible in this kind of Alt-right, Fox News, Breitbart-esque environment.

View.. a white knuckle ride..

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Alex Jones - just one of the insane voices of the nut-jobs lying and hating their way to control.... Boy, do they detest democracy....