Between Bannon and Trump, press freedom looks dim

Stephen Bannon

Bannon stepped down from Breitbart to join Trump’s campaign, but the site remained a loyal propaganda arm.

We’ve now had time to digest a week’s worth of President-elect Donald J. Trump stories. Already the prospects for democracy, civil rights and the environment look very dim. Far from “draining the swamp,” Trump is staffing his entire administration with lobbyists, corporate executives, and a cadre of far-right operators. But among the most ominous developments are Trump’s continued assault on the press and his appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and senior counsel.

The appointment has become a lightning rod of criticism for the incoming Trump Administration due to Bannon’s operation of Breitbart News. With Breitbart, Bannon has been accused of – and admitted to – providing an online safe space for the alt-right, a loose assortment of far-right internet trolls, racists, porn addicts, and even white nationalists. As a clue to the audience Bannon attracts, American Nazi Party Chairman Rocky Suhayda and former KKK grand wizard David Duke applauded his hire. Continue reading

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Conciliation is not the right response to Donald Trump

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President Obama shaking the hand of a huckster who entered politics by promoting a racist conspiracy about his birthplace.

The 2016 presidential campaign was the most bitter in recent history. Donald Trump was so loathsome that Hillary Clinton’s attack ads consisted of little more than the bigotry and sexism that came out of his own mouth. Clinton was so corrupt that Trump threatened to jail her. And after it was over, everyone decided to play nice. The loser called the victor, the winner thanked his opponent, the current president wished Trump luck, and talking heads encouraged us all to give the president-elect a chance.

Tens of thousands of Americans weren’t having it. Protests erupted the day after Election Day in Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland, Austin and elsewhere. In New York, some 100,000 people demonstrated their opposition to the incoming president. In Austin, protesters chanted “Immigrants are welcome here.” Graffiti saying “Fuck Trump” and “Black Queer Trans Lives Matter” was found in Chicago. For such marginalized individuals, there is a palpable sense of worry about their rights and status. Continue reading

America Chooses Fascism

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Trump and Mussolini, soon to be on the same page of a history book.

Talk about days that will live in infamy. On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the United States of America – after years of corrupt, establishment, insider politicians enriching themselves at ordinary workers’ expense – decided it had enough. Voters pushed a self-destruct button called Donald Trump and now the entire world is at the mercy of the most reactionary, incompetent, dishonest person ever to run for the presidency. With a Republican-controlled Congress at his back and only a small cadre of committed progressives to block him, the damage Trump could do is impossible to guess at. Continue reading

Trump may be more dangerous than anyone can fathom

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Trump is America’s first serious flirtation with a racist, nationalistic strongman.

One of the most curious aspects of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is the way his supporters defend him. From televised surrogates to people on the street, there is a tendency to dismiss the most outlandish things Trump says as mere showmanship and to insist of his most bigoted and authoritarian proposals that he doesn’t really mean them. This is the opposite of most politicians. Usually it’s cause for concern that a candidate won’t meet his promises; in Trump’s case it’s supposed to be reassuring.

It isn’t. Nothing about the candidacy, policy proposals, personality, or tenor of the campaign of Donald J. Trump is reassuring. He is the only candidate in history to get the benefit of the doubt – that who he will be in office is better than who he is on the campaign trail. Far from expecting a toned-down Trump in the Oval Office, there is every reason to believe he will be much worse once elected. Continue reading

DAPL standoff is textbook little guy vs. big business/big government

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On one front, militarized police in riot gear; on the other, protesters with drums.

While the news cycle remains fixated on Washington politics, the biggest story in America is unfolding in a remote region of North Dakota. In the small town of Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian reservation, activists are defending sacred burial ground and their community’s water supply against construction of a major oil pipeline. Militarized police and private security forces are there to ensure the project is completed, arresting reporters and assaulting protesters.

In America’s hotly divided political and social climate, it’s rare to find a conflict in which one party is so clearly right and the other so clearly wrong. Continue reading