Bill Maher grants professional alt-right troll a mainstream platform

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Among the people Yiannopoulos makes a career out of hating are poor immigrants.

A micro-controversy is bubbling in the world of liberal infotainment. Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart editor and self-described internet supervillain, was booked as a guest on Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher. In protest, Jeremy Scahill, a founding editor for The Intercept, canceled his own scheduled appearance on the show. Maher responded by saying, in part, “Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill.”

Maher further explained, “If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims – and he might be – nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.” But Maher is missing the point. Exposure is precisely what Yiannopoulos craves. It doesn’t matter if he’s revealed as a full-throated Nazi and booed out of the building; he has already won.

Yiannopoulos’s rap sheet is revealing. He was famously banned from Twitter for inciting a gaggle of alt-right trolls to harass black actress Leslie Jones over her starring role in the all-female Ghostbusters film. During a speech at the University of Wisconsin, Yiannopoulos pointed out and attempted to shame an innocent transgender student. A planned appearance at Berkeley, as part of Yiannopoulos’s “Dangerous Faggot” tour, had to be canceled after violent protests erupted.

What’s so striking about Yiannopoulos, apart from the awfulness that is his brand, is just how dim he actually is. Hateful supremacists have come and gone; many were total dunces while others have been sinisterly intellectual. Yiannopoulos is somewhere in between. He speaks quickly and charismatically, but filibusters a great deal and rarely contributes an original idea. When he does get around to making a point, his philosophy can often be boiled down to “No fat chicks.”

Presumably the Berkeley issue will come up on Real Time, as Maher and Yiannopoulos share a distaste for the politically correct climate on college campuses. But Yiannopoulos goes beyond political incorrectness. His truly is a brand of hate speech, often closely aligned with white supremacist and alt-right views. While pretending to oppose identity politics, he and his troll army’s constant use of the “white male” card has fostered perhaps the most toxic ideology in the US today.

Because Yiannopoulos does traffic almost exclusively in hate – hatred of feminists, Black Lives Matter, Muslims, immigrants, and even his fellow homosexuals – Scahill’s decision not to join a panel with him is understandable. Yiannopoulos is a professional troll, and quite open about it. For such people, victory doesn’t come from a persuasive argument; merely being heard is the goal. Landing a gig on a college campus or an appearance on HBO are huge wins for Yiannopoulos no matter what happens.

The right-wing troll culture, of which Breitbart and Yiannopoulos are proud leaders, has radicalized white men and even incubated terrorists. In the last few years, those terrorists have committed some of the deadliest attacks in North America. Among their worst attacks have been the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston and six Muslims in Quebec. Of course Yiannopoulos can’t be blamed directly, but his rhetoric is emboldening.

To allow Yiannopoulos airtime in the name of free speech is well within Maher’s right. But Yiannopoulos is no free speech champion. His troll army regularly attempts to silence women and ethnic minorities through vicious harassment and intimidation. If Maher wants to make anything of this opportunity, he will meaningfully challenge Yiannopoulos over his leadership position in the vicious, hate-filled climate of the far-right internet.

No, Donald, the ‘real story’ isn’t why there are leaks, it’s what they reveal

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During Trump rallies, Flynn, right, would lead the crowd in “Lock her up” chants. After 24 days in office Flynn has resigned over a likely violation of the Logan Act.

The biggest scandal this week in the Trump Administration is the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and hard-right conspiracy theorist who had no business in the position in the first place. Flynn was forced to resign when it became known that he communicated with his Russian counterpart prior to Trump’s inauguration and lied about what was discussed. After Flynn’s resignation Trump tweeted, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Continue reading

How conservatives were able to normalize Trump

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters through a bullhorn during a campaign stop at the Canfield County Fair in Canfield

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters through a bullhorn during a campaign stop at the Canfield County Fair in Canfield, Ohio, U.S., September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX

Even someone who doesn’t follow politics can see in Donald Trump a truly unusual president. Liberals are often astounded that conservatives don’t recognize Trump’s pathological lying and disregard for constitutional democracy as existential threats to civilization. But Republicans’ worldview has been shaped by relentless, far-right, corporate propaganda. In such a paranoid and disturbed bubble, Trump may be a bit unorthodox, but desperate times called him to office.

In many ways, the reality of Trump matches the caricature of President Obama in the conservative imagination. Conservative commentators hardly ever mentioned the former president without first rattling off a list of pejoratives. Consumers of conservative media spent years hearing Obama referred to as an arrogant, ego-driven, race-baiting, divisive, wannabe dictator. When someone like Trump came along who actually was all those things, and openly so, Republicans normalized him with relative ease. Continue reading

Donald Trump channels Noam Chomsky (sort of)

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In a pre-Superbowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, President Trump defended Vladimir Putin’s kills.

A statement President Donald Trump made to Bill O’Reilly during a pre-Superbowl interview landed Trump in more trouble than usual. In defending Russian dictator Vladimir Putin from O’Reilly’s allegation that he’s a killer, Trump said, “You think our country’s so innocent? Take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the War in Iraq from the beginning… a lot of people were killed, so, a lot of killers around, believe me.”

Establishment politicians and media fretted over Trump’s frank assessment of American foreign policy, but for once he’s not wrong. In fact, Trump went much further than most politicians usually do in his remarks, venturing into territory usually reserved for the likes of Noam Chomsky. His equation of the Iraq War with Putin’s murders suggests the Iraq War was not merely an honest mistake made with good intentions, but a crime. Continue reading

Watch Donald Trump do a complete 180 in mere seconds

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On one of his many Howard Stern appearances, Donald Trump got seriously rankled by a joke – a joke he earlier claimed to like.

Since he announced his candidacy for president, Donald Trump’s old interviews and media appearances have been dug out of every conceivable archive. Some of the clips caused him great embarrassment, if not political consequences – the most amazing thing about Trump’s boast of using his celebrity status to force himself on women is that it didn’t cost him the election, or even a majority of white female votes.

Interviews with Howard Stern have yielded a trove of Trump’s sub-ape sexual impulses, but one clip that went largely unnoticed is perhaps even more revealing of who Trump is. In 2005 Trump visited Stern and praised then-Stern sideman Artie Lange for his performance at Trump’s Friars Club roast, saying, “Artie did a great job at my roast. He was the single best person… I’m telling you… he was the funniest out of 50.”

When Stern asks to hear some of the material, Lange recalls one joke in which Trump takes daughter Ivanka for a drive through Atlantic City and tells her, “Someday, honey, your name will be at the top of all these buildings. That’s if you marry a guy named Borgata.” Continue reading

This is how it begins

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Arsonists set fire to a mosque in Victoria, Texas after President Trump announced a travel ban on select Muslim nations.

According to early reports from Reuters, President Trump plans to refocus a US program called Countering Violent Extremism. The CVE, which combats dangerous ideologies of all stripes, will be repurposed to solely target Islamic fascism and jihad. But as anyone who’s looked at crime data knows, the risk of Islamic terror in the US is infrequent. Trump’s decision to focus on it is not about protecting Americans, it’s about demonizing human beings based on religion and ethnicity. Continue reading

Steve Bannon, our shadow president, wants to watch the world burn

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Steve Bannon is Donald Trump’s Josef Goebbels, Dick Cheney, and Emperor Palpatine all rolled into one.

As chaos consumed American airports and headlines over the weekend, the Trump Administration quietly made a major reshuffle behind the scenes. The central figure in both stories was Steve Bannon, the former editor of the proto-fascist Breitbart News and President Trump’s chief advisor. Bannon told the Department of Homeland Security to ignore court orders, causing further confusion; then he assumed a top position on the National Security Council. Continue reading

Donald Trump’s ‘America Last’ energy policy

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Donald Trump displays an executive order reviving the Keystone XL pipeline.

With President Donald Trump’s revival of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the gauntlet has been thrown down between Americans who care for the environment and the crony capitalists who want to pillage it. Supporters who gravitated toward Trump’s economic message applauded his executive orders, but the pipelines have little to do with job creation. Far from following through on campaign rhetoric, Donald Trump’s energy policy can best be described as America Last.

Americans will suffer the consequences of these pipelines. When they break, as pipelines routinely do – 140,000 gallons of oil leaked in Iowa the day after Trump signed the executive orders – the spills will contaminate American land and American water. When the few remaining traces of our beloved public lands are given away  by the GOP and ravaged by corporate interests, Americans will live in an uglier world deprived of wilderness and natural beauty. Continue reading

Crony capitalism goes into overdrive as Trump resurrects pipelines

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Oil giant Bechtel lays a pipeline in Idaho.

Capitalists don’t come any cronier than America’s new president. The latest example, however, is particularly egregious, destructive, and obvious. Reversing some of the most hard-fought gains of environmental activists in the last several years, Donald Trump issued an executive order to push the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines forward. Continue reading

“Alternative facts” becomes part of American political discourse

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If you say there are more people on the right side than on the left, it isn’t a lie – it’s a provable falsehood, an untruth, or an alternative fact.

One of George Carlin’s best bits was about euphemisms and how they obscure meaning. A truly stunning example of this took place on NBC over the weekend when prominent Donald Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway went on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Continue reading