Category Archives: Intolerance

Trump: Press is “enemy of the American people”


And it’s making international headlines.

It came in the guise of a tweet:

blog-trump-tweet

International news media took note, as in the case of the Japan Times:

Donald Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the media Friday, describing the press as “the enemy of the American people!” in a tweet.

Shortly after landing at his holiday home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida — where he is spending a third consecutive weekend — the president lashed out in 140 characters.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote.

Trump had tweeted an earlier post which targeted the New York Times, CNN, NBC “and many more” media — and ended with the exclamation “SICK!” But he swiftly deleted that missive before reposting the definitive version — adding two more “enemies” to his blacklist.

Many U.S. presidents have criticized the press, but Trump’s language has more closely echoed criticism leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.

And BBC News:

At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.

Being branded an “enemy of the people” by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.

Now the chilling phrase – which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called “hostis publicus”, enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 – is making something of a comeback.

>snip<

“Charming that our uneducated President manages to channel the words of Stalin and fails to hear the historical resonance of this phrase,” tweeted Mitchell Orenstein, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: “The most dangerous ‘enemy of the people’ is presidential lying — always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon’s.”

Mr Trump is not the first US president to have an antagonistic relationship with the media — Nixon is known to have privately referred to the press as “the enemy” — but his latest broadside, with all its attendant historical echoes, is unprecedented.

As a journalist for more than decades, we find Trump’s declaration to be gravely ominous.

For the Fourth Estate, trouble lies ahead.

Quote of the day: Trump’s diabolical brilliance


From author Ron Rosenbaum, whose books include the superb Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil, writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Few took Hitler seriously, and before anyone knew it, he had gathered up the nations of Europe like playing cards.

Cut to the current election. We had heard allegations that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside, but somehow we normalized that. We didn’t take him seriously because of all the outrageous, clownish acts and gaffes we thought would cause him to drop out of the race. Except these gaffes were designed to distract. This was his secret strategy, the essence of his success — you can’t take a stand against Trump because you don’t know where Trump is standing. You can’t find him guilty of evil, you can’t find him at all. And the tactics worked. Trump was not taken seriously, which allowed him to slip by the normal standards for an American candidate. The mountebank won. Again.

Suddenly, after the inconceivable (and, we are now beginning to realize, suspicious) Trump victory, the nation was forced to contend with what it would mean, whether the “alt-right” was a true threat or a joke to be tolerated. Did it matter that Trump had opened up a sewer pipe of racial hatred? Once again, normalization was the buzzword.

And I remembered the Munich Post, defending Weimar Germany. I reflected on how fragile democratic institutions could be in the face of organized hatred. Hitler had been tricky about his plans until he got the position and the power to enact them. Trump had been tricky, neither accepting nor rejecting the endorsement of KKK leader David Duke. David Duke! The KKK! In this century! He claimed he didn’t know who he was. He couldn’t be disqualified because of someone he didn’t know. That’s where we all went wrong, thinking he was stupid and outrageous, not canny and savvy and able to play the media like Paganini. The election demonstrated the weakness of a weak democracy, where basic liberties could be abolished by demagoguery and voter suppression.

Chart of the day: Europeans say no more Muslims


Or, more precisely, no more immigrants from countries where Muslims are in the majority.

The sad news in graphic form from a new report from Britain’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, better known as Chatham House:

blog-euro

From the report:

[W]here do the public in European countries stand on the specific issue of Muslim immigration? There is evidence to suggest that both Trump and these radical right-wing parties reflect an underlying reservoir of public support.

Drawing on a unique, new Chatham House survey of more than 10,000 people from 10 European states, we can throw new light on what people think about migration from mainly Muslim countries. Our results are striking and sobering. They suggest that public opposition to any further migration from predominantly Muslim states is by no means confined to Trump’s electorate in the US but is fairly widespread.

In our survey, carried out before President Trump’s executive order was announced, respondents were given the following statement: ‘All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. They were then asked to what extent did they agree or disagree with this statement. Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed.

Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed, ranging from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain. In no country did the percentage that disagreed surpass 32%.

Immigration: A campaign, protests, TrumpWall™


Following up on our previous post, the latest news on resistance to Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria and the latest on Pussygrabber’s Erection alias The Wall.

A Mexican presidential candidate campaigns in U.S.

First, from teleSUR English, a Mexican presidential candidate takes the road in the U.S.:

Mexico’s left-wing presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched a U.S. tour Sunday beginning in Los Angeles aimed at promoting and defending the rights of Mexican immigrants north of the border.

Lopez Obrador has been an outspoken critic of U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies and proposals — which include promises of millions of deportations and plans to build a massive wall along the border with Mexico — and has vowed to raise awareness in Mexico and the U.S. about the state of immigrants’ rights under Trump and the harrowing realities underlying migration.

The politician has also called for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to file a complaint with the United Nations against the United States for violating human rights, particularly the rights of immigrants, Mexico’s La Jornada reported.

“Trump is inhumane and harms human rights,” Lopez Obrador said last month after announcing the U.S. tour, which he also said would be part of a growing movement against xenophobia.

Lopez Obrador, known in Mexico by his initials AMLO, launched his campaign in November for the 2018 elections in his third run for president — this time as a candidate for his left-wing Morena party and with a brand new platform focused on tackling inequality and corruption.

A mass protest in Mexico’s capital

Anger at Trump’s racist blather is growing South of the border, and the latest expression of TrumpRage™ came in a mass protest in Mexico City.

From the Associated Press:

About 20,000 people staged a march through Mexico’s capital Sunday demanding respect for their country and its migrants in the face of perceived hostility from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Many marchers carried Mexican flags and dressed in white as a sign of unity and to signal the non-political nature of the march. One of the banners read: “Gracias, Trump, for unifying Mexico!”

The marchers protested Trump’s plans for a border wall and increased deportations of migrants. Trump has also pressured U.S. corporations to provide jobs in the United States, not Mexico.

>snip<

The march also featured many signs supporting Mexican migrants living in the United States.

And Trump promises cheaper wall, billed to Uncle Sam

So much for that campaign promise to make foot the bill for The Donald’s wall.

From the Independent:

Donald Trump has said he will lower the cost of building a wall along the US-Mexico border by negotiating a bargain and using a cheap design.

Mr Trump said the price would drop “way down” once he became involved in the planning process, apparently suggesting the US would foot at least part of the bill.

The President has previously insisted Mexico will pay for work on the 2,000-mile-long “impassable physical barrier”. Mexico has refused to fund it.

Fact checkers and engineers have estimated the cost of building the wall will far exceed the $12bn (£9.6bn) estimate given by Mr Trump. According to a leaked Department of Homeland Security report, the barrier could cost as much as $21bn and take more than three years to construct.

Study: Immigration not linked to higher crime


To hear Donald Trump tell it, we’re all in peril from hordes of immigrants who want to rape, rob, and bomb us.

And while some undoubtedly do, a new study reveals that immigrants. the reality is that immigrant increases don’t lead to higher crime rates, debunking the lies leading to hysteria that characterized the recent election.

From the State University of New York at Buffalo:

Political discussions about immigrants often include the claim that there is a relationship between immigration patterns and increased crime. However, results of a University at Buffalo-led study find no links between the two. In fact, immigration actually appears to be linked to reductions in some types of crimes, according to the findings.

“Our research shows strong and stable evidence that, on average, across U.S. metropolitan areas crime and immigration are not linked,” said Robert Adelman, an associate professor of sociology at UB and the paper’s lead author. “The results show that immigration does not increase assaults and, in fact, robberies, burglaries, larceny, and murder are lower in places where immigration levels are higher.

“The results are very clear.”

Adelman’s study with Lesley Williams Reid, University of Alabama; Gail Markle, Kennesaw State University; Charles Jaret, Georgia State University; and Saskia Weiss, an independent scholar, is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice [a whopping $42 to read — esnl].

“Facts are critical in the current political environment,” said Adelman. “The empirical evidence in this study and other related research shows little support for the notion that more immigrants lead to more crime.”

Previous research, based on arrest and offense data, has shown that, overall, foreign-born individuals are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, according to Adelman.

For the current study, the authors stepped back from the study of individual immigrants and instead explored whether larger scale immigration patterns in communities could be tied to increases in crime due to changes in cities, such as fewer economic opportunities or the claim that immigrants displace domestic workers from jobs.

The authors drew a sample of 200 metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and used census data and uniform crime reporting data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a 40-year period from 1970 to 2010.

“This is a study across time and across place and the evidence is clear,” said Adelman. “We are not claiming that immigrants are never involved in crime. What we are explaining is that communities experiencing demographic change driven by immigration patterns do not experience significant increases in any of the kinds of crime we examined. And in many cases, crime was either stable or actually declined in communities that incorporated many immigrants.”

Adelman says the relationship between immigration and crime is complex and more research needs to be done, but this research supports other scholarly conclusions that immigrants, on the whole, have a positive effect on American social and economic life.

“It’s important to base our public policies on facts and evidence rather than ideologies and baseless claims that demonize particular segments of the U.S. population without any facts to back them up,” said Adelman.

Will Trump’s National Security Advisor depart?


Before he became National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn had been a controversial figure. Under Barack Obama he had served as the country’s top military spook, right up until he was canned for inflammatory Islamophobic prouncements.

But mere vulgar blatherings were no big deal to a man known for making a few himself. Indeed, they became valuable assets.

Back in November, after Trump’s win, CNN reported:

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been asked to serve as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, has, on his verified Twitter account, interacted with far right and anti-Semitic figures, maligned the Muslim faith, and shared unfounded news stories.

A CNN KFile review of Flynn’s Twitter account finds that the retired lieutenant general, who once served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, tweeted routinely with members of the so-called alt-right movement, going so far as to endorse a book by one controversial figure who regularly makes offensive comments.

Flynn faced criticism in July when he retweeted an anti-Semitic message. Flynn said the retweet was an accident and deleted the message.

Has Flynn crossed over a line in the sand?

Maybe, but it’s more likely Flynn is headed to the altar of Trumpism as a sacrificial lamb.

The reason?

Allegations of secret per-inauguration talks with the Kremlin.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances Sunday to publicly defend embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.

The uncertainty comes as Trump is dealing with North Korea’s apparent first missile launch of the year and his presidency, along with visits this week from the leaders of Israel and Canada.

Trump has yet to comment on the allegations against Flynn, and a top aide dispatched to represent the administration on the Sunday news shows skirted questions on the topic, saying it was not his place to weigh in on the “sensitive matter.”

Pressed repeatedly, top policy adviser Stephen Miller said it wasn’t up to him to say whether the president retains confidence in Flynn.

“It’s not for me to tell you what’s in the president’s mind,” he said on NBC. “That’s a question for the president.”

But wait, there’s some context to consider

Compared to Richard Nixon’s track record, pre-election talks with Russia amount to chump change.

Consider Tricky Dick and H.R. Haldeman, his soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff.

Nixon and his 1968 campaign allies conducted secret negotiations with a nation the U.S. were currently fighting on the battlefield, actively pushing the North Vietnamese government to hold off on peace talks until after the election.

Nixon then campaigned as the peace candidate against then-Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey, promising he had a secret plan to end what was proving to be an ever costlier and bloodier morass, with most of the rest of the world aligned against the U.S. government’s relentless pursuit of an unwinnable and morally reprehensible desire to impose its will and control over an Asian nation.

The secret talks with Hanoi were rumored but unreported during Nixon’s subsequent impeachment hearings.

Haldeman ended up doing time in federal prison for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, stemming from the coverup of a secret funding-and-bugging operation to ensure a Nixon reelection win four years later the Hanoi talks.

Talk about your interfering with a presidential.

So in that context, Flynn’s alleged talks with the Kremlin on behalf of an already openly Putin-friendly candidate, while illegal and possibly criminal, didn’t cost additional U.S. citizens their lives, as did Nixon’s push to delay peace talks.

Trump’s travel ban’s impact at the doctor’s office


While folks rightly invoke human rights and basic human decency to oppose the Trumpster’s travel ban, there are also purely pragmatic reasons for opposition.

On of those reasons is simple: An extreme travel ban could result in longer lines at the doctor’s office.

John Burkhardt and Mahshid Abir, two physician/academics from the University of Michigan medical school, explain in this essay from  The Conversation, an open source academic journal written for lay readers:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Feb. 9 upheld the restraining order on President Trump’s immigration ban. A key argument used by the States of Washington and Minnesota was the negative impact of the ban on higher education, but an important corollary is the impact on medical care in the U.S. While the world waits for a final decision on the matter, potentially from the Supreme Court, it’s critical to look at the potential ramifications of the ban.

Regardless of the ultimate ruling, the travel ban has already had significant consequences for people from the seven targeted majority Muslim countries and American citizens. Doctors are among those people directly affected – and that has big implications for health care delivery in U.S. hospitals, particularly those in rural America and inner-city safety net hospitals.

Physicians who are citizens of these nations who were traveling outside the country at the time of the ban have been detained or refused access to the U.S.

Larger-scale, lasting effects of a ban on the graduate medical education system are likely to be even more severe and may further strain an already overstretched health care system and affect the care of communities across the U.S. Indeed, the president of the American Medical Association already has written a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, explaining how the ban could affect those who are already underserved by limiting doctors from other countries.

As physicians involved with educating and training the next generation of doctors, we see dire consequences for health care delivery in our country if the travel ban is reinstated.

Even though the ban has been temporarily lifted, the timing could not be worse for international applicants hoping to train in the U.S. While new resident physicians typically begin on July 1, the match process that allots positions occurs much sooner. On Feb. 22, residency program directors must submit their rank list of which applicants they would like to have in their program.

Therefore, without clear signs that travel for foreign applicants will be possible by July, program directors who want to protect their training program from staffing shortages may decide against ranking these applicants. The loss of a single incoming class of international medical graduates will significantly decrease the number of residents in training and physician capacity in hospitals and health care systems across the U.S.

Graduates from outside the United States constitute 26 percent of the U.S. graduate medical training. These foreign medical graduates usually fill resident training positions that are left vacant after medical schools match U.S.-based students to residency programs.

Therefore, foreign graduates typically do not take spots away from graduates of American medical schools, but instead provide medical care in hospitals that will otherwise be understaffed. These include rural hospitals around the country, where it is especially hard to recruit physicians, and safety net hospitals serving the poor.

Even if all current residency positions could be filled with U.S. medical school graduates and eliminate the need for any additional resident physicians from outside the U.S., the projected demand for physicians in the near future will still not be met.

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