Category Archives: USA

Philippines’ Duterte Says He Didn’t Really Mean ‘Separation’ From U.S.

Neil Jerome Morales reports for Reuters:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he was not severing ties with his country’s long-time ally the United States, but merely pursuing a more independent foreign policy by strengthening relations with China.

A day after he provoked fresh diplomatic alarm by announcing his “separation” from Washington, Duterte struck a more conciliatory tone as he arrived back in the Philippines after a four-day visit to Beijing.

“It is not severance of ties. When you say severance of ties, you cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that,” the Philippine leader told reporters at a midnight news conference in his southern home city of Davao.

“It’s in the best interest of my countrymen to maintain that relationship.”


Avoiding Groupthink on China

Greg Austin writes for The Diplomat:

Avoiding Groupthink on ChinaThe U.S. intelligence community and American scholars of international affairs have a remarkable and impressive record. Though scholars in countries that follow the “English School” of international relations (such as the UK, Canada, Australia) can be every bit as impressive, the best Americans stand out as world leaders and have inspired many around the world.

Long exposure to the analysts and product of the CIA, both its intelligence achievements and failures, teaches the astute student three analytical principles: empathy, curiosity and humility. These lessons have been reinforced over many decades by leading American scholars, like Raymond Garthoff, Doak Barnett, Jack Snyder, Barry Posen, John Steinbrunner, Jonathan Pollack, Michael Swaine, Richard Solomon, David Lampton, Ezra Vogel, Sam Huntington and Richard Betts, to name a few, regardless of their seemingly disparate political dispositions.

These qualities seem all too absent among the raucous commentariat that has come to dominate public discourse on China in the United States, including in some parts of the U.S. government, armed forces, the Congress and many non-specialist writings on China. Donald Trump’s charge from 2012 that climate change is a conspiracy dreamt up by China to bring down the United States is symptomatic of the gulf between some new political movements in the United States and the much wiser, better informed intelligence officials and scholars. It is also symptomatic of the lack of self-awareness of the loudest promoters of unscientific and highly propagandistic international relations analysis of China. Many less critical analysts have found undeserved prominence because of new opportunities created by the information age.


What the New York Times Left Out About Obama’s ‘Secret War’ in Somalia

Sharmini Peries speaks to Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report who recounts what was left out of a recent New York Times story on the U.S. role in Somalia, namely the more than two decades of American involvement there. (The Real News)

Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate

Craig Silverman, Lauren Strapagiel, Hamza Shaban, Ellie Hall and Jeremy Singer-Vine report for BuzzFeed:

Hyperpartisan political Facebook pages and websites are consistently feeding their millions of followers false or misleading information, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News. The review of more than 1,000 posts from six large hyperpartisan Facebook pages selected from the right and from the left also found that the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook — far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison.

Our analysis of three hyperpartisan right-wing Facebook pages found that 38% of all posts were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false, compared to 19% of posts from three hyperpartisan left-wing pages that were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false. The right-wing pages are among the forces — perhaps as potent as the cable news shows that have gotten far more attention — that helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump.

These pages, with names such as Eagle Rising on the right and Occupy Democrats on the left, represent a new and powerful force in American politics and society. Many have quickly grown to be as large as — and often much larger than — mainstream political news pages. A recent feature in the New York Times Magazine reported on the growth and influence of these pages, saying they “have begun to create and refine a new approach to political news: cherry-picking and reconstituting the most effective tactics and tropes from activism, advocacy and journalism into a potent new mixture.”


Why Trump TV Would Thrive

Michael Brendan Dougherty writes for The Week:

This week the Financial Times reported details of what many suspected already: Anticipating an electoral loss, Donald Trump and his crew may try to launch some kind of media network. And why not?

Trump himself is a creature of television and the campaign proved he could generate ratings like few other septuagenarians. He is now working closely with Steve Bannon, an executive of the right-wing Breitbart news site. And even if Trump TV doesn’t work as a home for a conspiratorial populist news network, it could be passed down to Ivanka Trump and her media scion husband and be transformed into an aspirational lifestyle property. There are lots of possibilities.

Of course there are the unique business challenges of launching a cable network, and these are complicated further by Trump’s determination to put in as little of his own capital up front as possible and to be the first one taking money out of the ventures that bear his name. But TrumpTV seems like a decent bet to me.


Half of Republicans Would Reject Election Result if Clinton Wins, Poll Finds

Reuters reports:

Image result for clinton trumpOnly half of Republicans would accept Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, as their president, according to a new poll. And if she wins, nearly 70% said it would be because of illegal voting or vote rigging, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Friday.

Conversely, seven out of 10 Democrats said they would accept a Donald Trump victory and less than 50% would attribute it to illegal voting or vote rigging, the poll showed.

The findings come after repeated statements by Trump that the media and the political establishment have rigged the election against him. He has also made a number of statements encouraging his supporters to fan out on election day to stop ineligible voters from casting ballots.


FLASHBACK: Florida ‘Recounts’ Make Gore Winner

Martin Kettle reported for The Guardian on 29th January 2001:

Image result for gore bush 2000Al Gore, not George Bush, should be sitting in the White House today as the newly elected president of the United States, two new independent probes of the disputed Florida election contest have confirmed.

The first survey, conducted on behalf of the Washington Post, shows that Mr Gore had a nearly three-to-one majority among 56,000 Florida voters whose November 7 ballot papers were discounted because they contained more than one punched hole.

The second and separate survey, conducted on behalf of the Palm Beach Post, shows that Mr Gore had a majority of 682 votes among the discounted “dimpled” ballots in Palm Beach county.

In each case, if the newly examined votes had been allowed to count in the November election, Mr Gore would have won Florida’s 21 electoral college votes by a narrow majority and he, not Mr Bush, would be the president. Instead, Mr Bush officially carried Florida by 537 votes after recounts were stopped.

In spite of the findings, no legal challenge to the Florida result is possible in the light of the US supreme court’s 5-4 ruling in December to hand the state to Mr Bush. But the revelations will continue to cast a cloud, to put it mildly, over the democratic legitimacy of Mr Bush’s election.


Hillary Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to a No-Fly Zone in Syria

Paul Jay speaks to Max Blumenthal and Medea Benjamin after the conclusion of the third presidential debate where host Chris Wallace challenged Clinton by saying a no-fly zone would lead to confrontation with Russia in Syria. (The Real News)

The Foreign-Policy Elite Are Extremely Ready for More War in Syria

Eric Levitz writes for New York Magazine:

In an election cycle that has pushed American politics to new heights of partisan acrimony, the Washington foreign-policy elite has represented a singular bastion of bipartisan comity. A large segment of the GOP’s neoconservative wing broke with Donald Trump in the early days of his general-election campaign. A significant number took shelter in Hillary Clinton’s coalition, where they’ve gotten along amiably with liberal interventionists who share their belief that Obama has betrayed America’s obligation to lead.

That point of agreement has now been ratified in a flurry of new reports — from an array of think tanks that span partisan divide — all calling for an escalation in U.S. military involvement in the Syrian civil war.

[…] The foreign-policy elite’s frustration with President Obama’s reluctance to engage in a large-scale military intervention in Syria is nothing new. And the desire to do something to ameliorate the suffering of the Syrian people is, of course, understandable.

But there are a few problems with the narrative advanced by the papers and foreign-policy thinkers quoted in the Washington Post


TiSA Agreement Leaks Show Corporations Pushing Privatization of Public Services

Sharmini Peries speaks to Deborah James, Director of International Programs at CEPR, who discusses TiSA. (The Real News)

Is the Disclosure of John Podesta’s Emails a Step Too Far? Glenn Greenwald In Conversation With Naomi Klein

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept recently spoke to author and activity Naomi Klein about the latest email hacks revolving around the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. (The Intercept)

Hacked Emails Prove Coordination Between Clinton Campaign and Super PACs

Lee Fang and Andrew Perez report for The Intercept:

Image result for Hacked Emails Prove Coordination Between Clinton Campaign and Super PACsThe fact that political candidates are closely coordinating with friendly Super PACs — making a mockery of a central tenet of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision — is one of the biggest open secrets in Washington.

Super PACs are only allowed to accept unlimited contributions on the condition that the money is spent independently of specific campaigns. The Federal Election Commission hasn’t reacted for a variety of reasons, including a lack of hard evidence, vague rules, and a partisan divide among the commissioners so bitter they can’t even agree to investigate obvious crimes.

But newly disclosed hacked campaign documents published by WikiLeaks and a hacker who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 reveal in stark terms how Hillary Clinton’s staffers made Super PACs an integral part of her presidential campaign.


Donald Trump Lashes Out at Foreign-Lobbyist Donations, Despite Accepting Them

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

Image result for Donald Trump Lashes Out at Foreign-Lobbyist Donations, Despite Accepting ThemDonald Trump suddenly lashed out at the influence of foreign lobbyists on Monday, calling to ban them from donating to U.S. candidates and accusing his rival of being corrupted by foreign interests. “The reasonHillary Clinton pushes for NAFTA, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and for completely open borders, is because her international donors control her every move,” Trump said, announcing what he called his ethics reform plan.

But newly filed campaign reports show several donations from foreign lobbyists to his own campaign. They are among a tide of other lobbyists, mainstream special-interest groups and consumer-facing companies that have begun to heavily fund Trump’s political campaign, which was previously fueled by small donors.


US Air Force Chief Sees Decades of More War Operations

Oriana Pawlyk reports for

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein speaks with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody during the Secretary of the Air Force Spouse and Family Forum at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Oct. 19, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)The U.S. Air Force’s top officer said he expects the high pace of war-related operations to continue for decades to come.

“We’ve been deploying now for 15 years,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. “We’ve probably got 15, 20 years to go.”

His comments came Wednesday at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, during a spouse and family forum hosted by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

While fewer airmen are deploying, the time they spend away is increasing — driven in part by missions related to the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a resurgent Russia and China’s increased military activity in the Pacific.


US Hacking Russia for Revenge Could Lead to Cyberwar

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for russia america cyberwarWhat’s the CIA’s brilliant plan for stopping Russian cyber-attacks on the US and their alleged interference with the US election? Apparently, some in the agency want to escalate tensions between the two superpowers even more and possibly do the same thing right back to them.

NBC News reported late last week that the CIA is working up blueprints for an “unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia”, and it sounds a lot like they’re planning on leaking documents on Vladimir Putin, just as the Russians are accused of doing to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

NBC reported that former intelligence officials said “the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin” and another former official said the US “should … expose the financial dealings of Putin and his associates”.


Extremist Militias Recruiting in Fear of Clinton Winning Clection, Activists Say

Jason Wilson reports for The Guardian:

Image result for extremists militias usaIn the past 12 months, Jessica Campbell has had her car’s fuel line cut and its wheel nuts loosened. Late last year, she had a GPS tracker surreptitiously attached to her vehicle. She is now accustomed to being tailed by unfamiliar vehicles on Interstate 5 near her home in Cottage Grove, just outside Eugene,Oregon. Strangers have regularly come uninvited onto her property; someone even stripped the barbed wire on her fence “just to send a message”. Online, she has repeatedly been threatened with rape and death.

And last week, when she showed up at the Canyon City community hall in Grant County, she told me that someone shot at her and her entourage. They misread their GPS, took a wrong turn and stopped to get their bearings when a crack rang out with what Campbell thought was a .22 bullet whizzing by their vehicle.

Such threats are part of the pushback her work has sparked in rural Oregon.

Campbell co-directs the Rural Organizing Project, a not-for-profit group that sets out to confront the rightwing insurgency that has been bubbling away in parts of rural Oregon and throughout the west. A political organizer since high school, she now coordinates groups attempting to respond to divisive tactics from rightwing activists on immigration, race and public land ownership.


The Real Vote Rigging: Republicans Make It Harder for Millions to Vote in 2016 Election

Amy Goodman speaks with Ari Berman of The Nation, who argues that the true danger to American democracy stems from Republican-led efforts to make it harder to vote. His latest article is ‘This Election Is Being Rigged—but Not by Democrats‘. (Democracy Now!)

WikiLeaks Reveals DNC Elevated Trump to Help Clinton

Michael Sainato writes for The Observer:

Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton arrive on the stage before they participate in the 2nd debate at Washington University in St. LouisIn June 2015, Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign.

According to an email from Marissa Astor, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook’s assistant, to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, the campaign knew Trump was going to run, and pushed his legitimacy as a candidate. WikiLeaks’ release shows that it was seen as in Clinton’s best interest to run against Trump in the general election. The memo, sent to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) also reveals the DNC and Clinton campaign were strategizing on behalf of their candidate at the very beginning of the primaries. “We think our goals mirror those of the DNC,” stated the memo, attached to the email under the title “muddying the waters.”

The memo named Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson as wanted candidates. “We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to them seriously,” the memo noted.


Hillary’s Hide-and-Seek

Jim Kavanagh writes for The Polemicist:

CC BY 2.0[…] It was Hillary Clinton who called Gennifer Flowers “trailer trash” and a ”failed cabaret singer who doesn’t even have much of a résumé,” and who got on national television with her husband to ridicule Flowers, who was telling the truth. It was Hillary who called Monica Lewinsky, who was telling the truth, a “narcissistic loony toon.” It was Hillary who described Bill’s mistresses as “bimbos.” Carl Bernstein also told how Hillary not only “thr[e]w herself into efforts to discredit Flowers,” she tried to “persuade horrified campaign aides to bring out rumors that Poppy Bush had not always been faithful to Barbara.”

Hillary could have stood by her man, and said nothing about the women Bill was screwing. Instead, she chose to publicly and aggressively slut-shame and ridicule those women in order to actively support her husband’s lies about them. Hillary Clinton did to those women what Clarence Thomas and Alan Simpson did to Anita Hill. To quote Henneberger and Lithwick again:If her biggest fans knew who she really blamed—other women—they might not still be fans.”

That’s what’s causing Hillary to “tread lightly” now, and that’s what you’d never know from reading this NYT article, even though it’s exactly what the article purports to explain. Furthermore, the NYT and the author know these facts and have deliberately chosen to hide them within vague terms like “imperfections” and, you know, “It’s complicated.” For the Times, what occurred between Hillary and these women has all been so “painful” and “haunting”—for Hillary. That’s a kind of rhetorical protection that the NYT would never offer one of its/the Democratic establishment’s political opponents.


Why Feminists Shouldn’t Trust Hillary Clinton

Kathleen Geier writes for New Republic:

If you searched for a single headline that distilled what has been so depressing about feminist commentary on the 2016 election, you could do worse than pick this one, from The Guardian’s Lindy West, a writer I usually admire: “Hating Trump isn’t enough—we need to talk about why Clinton rules.” On the one hand, there’s the fixation on Trump’s awfulness, which is hardly a secret. On the other, there is the relentless cheerleading for Clinton, which sounds suspiciously like the desperate overselling of an underwhelming product. The piece accompanying the headline shares the defects common to the feminist pro-Clinton op-ed genre. In one short article, there are two long paragraphs about the sexism Clinton has suffered, but no attempt to probe into the policies she is proposing, or to grapple honestly with her actual feminist record.

Of course, most feminists—albeit with some notable exceptions—support Clinton in the presidential race. But though you’d never guess it from West’s piece and others like it, there’s a viable alternative both to outright opposition to Hillary and the happy talk of her feminist fans—one that is at once more intellectually honest and more politically constructive. Political theorist Nancy Fraser has dubbed it “critical support”: a vote for Clinton, combined with “vociferous criticism of her policies and explicit campaigning for Sanders-type alternatives.” Critical support, says Fraser, is “a strategy that looks beyond November to the ongoing struggle to build a new American left.”


Donald Trump: The Dress Rehearsal for Fascism

Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig:

Americans are not offered major-party candidates who have opposing political ideologies or ideas. We are presented only with manufactured political personalities. We vote for the candidate who makes us “feel” good about him or her. Campaigns are entertainment and commercial vehicles to raise billions in advertising revenue for corporations. The candidate who can provide the best show gets the most coverage. The personal brand is paramount. It takes precedence over ideas, truth, integrity and the common good. This cult of the self, which defines our politics and our culture, contains the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity, self-importance, a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation, and incapacity for remorse or guilt. Donald Trump has these characteristics. So does Hillary Clinton.

Our system of inverted totalitarianism has within it the seeds of an overt or classical fascism. The more that political discourse becomes exclusively bombastic and a form of spectacle, the more that emotional euphoria is substituted for political thought and the more that violence is the primary form of social control, the more we move toward a Christianized fascism.

Last week’s presidential debate in St. Louis was only a few degrees removed from the Jerry Springer TV show—the angry row of women sexually abused or assaulted by Bill Clinton, the fuming Trump pacing the stage with a threatening posture, the sheeplike and carefully selected audience that provided the thin veneer of a democratic debate while four multimillionaires—Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, Clinton and Trump—squabbled like spoiled schoolchildren.

The Clinton campaign, aware that the policy differences between her and a candidate such as Jeb Bush were minuscule, plotted during the primaries to elevate the fringe Republican candidates—especially Trump. To the Democratic strategists, a match between Clinton and Trump seemed made in heaven. Trump, with his “brain trust” of Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, would make Clinton look like a savior.


A Peculiar Coincidence

Craig Murray writes:

Today, Swedish prosecutors were meant to question Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy, something for which the Assange legal team has been pressing for years. They believe that once this step has been taken, prosecutors will no longer be able to keep from the scrutiny of Swedish courts the fact that there is no viable evidence whatsoever to back up the ludicrous allegations which have been made.

Frustratingly, Swedish prosecutors cancelled the interview last week, with no explanation given. Anyone would think they do not wish the investigation to progress… Then this same day Assange’s internet access is cut, WikiLeaks say by a state actor. To add to this string of coincidence, at the same time Russia Today has its bank accounts frozen by the Royal Bank of Scotland, again without explanation

This series of events are all aimed at those who seek to counter the neo-con narrative pumped out by the state and corporate media. It could be coincidence, but it looks like co-ordinated clampdown to me.


Obama DOJ Drops Charges Against Alleged Broker of Libyan Weapons

Kenneth Vogel and Josh Gerstein report for Politico:

160410-clinton-obama-libya-1160The Obama administration is moving to dismiss charges against an arms dealer it had accused of selling weapons that were destined for Libyan rebels.

Lawyers for the Justice Department on Monday filed a motion in federal court in Phoenix to drop the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.

The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.

Government lawyers were facing a Wednesday deadline to produce documents to Turi’s legal team, and the trial was officially set to begin on Election Day, although it likely would have been delayed by protracted disputes about classified information in the case.

A Turi associate asserted that the government dropped the case because the proceedings could have embarrassed Clinton and President Barack Obama by calling attention to the reported role of their administration in supplying weapons that fell into the hands of Islamic extremist militants.


Hillary Clinton Warned U.S. Would ‘Ring China With Missile Defense’

David Brunnstrom reports for Reuters:

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Colorado State Fair Grounds in Pueblo, Colorado, U.S. October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonU.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a private speech to bankers three years ago that the United States had warned Beijing it would “ring China with missile defense” unless it did more to rein in North Korea’s missile program, according to hacked emails.

According to a purported Clinton campaign document attached to an email published by Wikileaks, Clinton said in a speech to Goldman Sachs on June 4, 2013, that the message to China had been, “You either control them, or we’re going to have to defend against them.”

It was not possible to confirm the authenticity of the leaked email. The Clinton campaign has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of hacked emails.

The State Department on Friday declined to comment on “alleged leaked documents.” When asked whether such a message had been delivered to China, an official said it was not department policy to comment publicly on diplomatic discussions.


Trump Son-In-Law Makes Approach on Post-Election TV Start-Up

Matthew Garrahan and James Fontanella-Khan report for the Financial Times:

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November.

Mr Kushner — an increasingly influential figure in the billionaire’s presidential campaign — contacted Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder and chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank, within the past couple of months, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

Their conversation was brief and has not progressed since, the people said. Mr Bourkoff and Mr Kushner both declined to comment.

However, the approach suggests Mr Kushner and the Republican candidate himself are thinking about how to capitalise on the populist movement that has sprung up around their campaign in the event of an election defeat to Democrat Hillary Clinton next month.


Life after Trump: Republicans Brace for Betrayal and Civil War After 2016

David Smith and Ben Jacobs report for The Guardian:

Image result for trump[…] Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton badly in national polls, sometimes by double digits. Jubilant Democrats are eyeing so-called “red states” such as Georgia and Utah and expanding their ambitions to take both the Senate and House. The Trump campaign has yanked advertising and staff out of Virginia, and major donors are pulling the plug. The writing seems to be on the wall of polling firms, campaign offices and newsrooms across the country.

“So is this presidential election over?” asked Michael Barone, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Almost certainly.”

In September, Trump appeared competitive. In October, he collapsed. A 2005 video in which he bragged about groping women was followed by a slew of allegations of sexual assault and more than 160 Republican leaders who abandoned Trump. He has declared war on members of his own party, attacking the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and turned to increasingly authoritarian claims, insisting that Clinton must be jailed.

Republicans have started to fear that 8 November will not be the end but rather the beginning of all-out civil war, asking whether Trumpism can survive Trump, and whether those who support him can survive his candidacy. Who can unify the party of Abraham Lincoln? Who can avoid a historic fourth consecutive defeat in the election of 2020?


Trump Says His Accusers Are Pawns in a Globalist Conspiracy to End U.S. Sovereignty

Eric Levitz writes for New York Magazine:

[…] “These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false,” Trump declared. “And the Clintons know it. And they know it very well. These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction, and they’re outright lies.”

The Republican nominee made the stakes of those lies perfectly clear, telling his supporters, “For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests … Our campaign represents a true existential threat like they haven’t seen before. This is not simply another four-year election. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not we, the people, reclaim control over our government.”

“It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” Trump continued. “We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends, and her donors.”


The Sad Attempt to Make Trumpism Cool

Hua Hsu reports for The New Yorker:

In the fall of 2008, as the election of Barack Obama started to seem inevitable, many Republicans began wondering about their party’s future. Obama had won in part by harnessing the enthusiasm of young people. How would the right respond? How could conservatism be made into something swaggering and cool?

One answer was the Hip-Hop Republicans, a group of young, stylish African-Americans who loved both rap music and conservative values. The Hip-Hop Republicans weren’t an actual organization but a loose community that revolved around a blog of the same name. “It’s just refreshing to know that there is this spectrum of opinion out there that exists,” Michael Steele, a high-profile black Republican and fan of the blog, told the Times in 2008. After Obama’s election, Steele was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The Hip-Hop Republicans didn’t catch on in the ways some people hoped. The original blog, started, in 2004, by Richard Ivory, still exists, but it’s not updated much. A despairing post published on September 1st begins, “How much will the Republican Party change after the Trumpocalypse? Zero. Nada. None at all.” The only thing a young, urbane conservative of color can do, it seems, is wait outDonald Trump and hope that the Democrats, down the line, self-destruct.

In the meantime, a very different group of young-ish people is attempting to make Trump’s brand of Republicanism cool.


Ex-Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf Deserves Jail – Not a Plush Retirement

Nomi Prins, author of All The President’s Bankers, writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Wells Fargo CEO John StumpfFor former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, this will be his first weekend as a wealthy retiree. So it goes in a world where big banks can screw over customers and the public, and the CEO who presided over these practices can slink off into the sunset unencumbered by the kind of real retribution that plagues small-time drug users and petty thieves. They go free. We pay the price.

Two days before the bank’s quarterly earnings announcement, Stumpf announced his immediate resignation. That decision came about a month after the firm was slapped with a $185m settlement for a fee-stealing scam that resulted in the axing of 5,300 low-level employees. He did not resign after settlements for any of the prior wrongdoing that took place under his purview for which the firm paid about $10bn in fines.

Make no mistake. Stumpf was the captain and commander of this $1.9tn empire. Its culture, as in all Wall Street culture, was defined from the top down, not the other way around. For his penance, all Stumpf had to do was forfeit $41m in restricted stock awards (stock he didn’t even fully own yet).


Pentagon Video Warns of “Unavoidable” Dystopian Future for World’s Biggest Cities

Nick Turse reports for The Intercept:

The year is 2030. Forget about the flying cars, robot maids, and moving sidewalks we were promised. They’re not happening. But that doesn’t mean the future is a total unknown.

According to a startling Pentagon video obtained by The Intercept, the future of global cities will be an amalgam of the settings of “Escape from New York” and “Robocop” — with dashes of the “Warriors” and “Divergent” thrown in. It will be a world of Robert Kaplan-esque urban hellscapes — brutal and anarchic supercities filled with gangs of youth-gone-wild, a restive underclass, criminal syndicates, and bands of malicious hackers.

At least that’s the scenario outlined in “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” a five-minute video that has been used at the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University. All that stands between the coming chaos and the good people of Lagos and Dhaka (or maybe even New York City) is the U.S. Army, according to the video, which The Intercept obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

The video is nothing if not an instant dystopian classic: melancholy music, an ominous voiceover, and cascading images of sprawling slums and urban conflict. “Megacities are complex systems where people and structures are compressed together in ways that defy both our understanding of city planning and military doctrine,” says a disembodied voice. “These are the future breeding grounds, incubators, and launching pads for adversaries and hybrid threats.”