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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: maga

What Patriotism Means -- And Doesn't Mean -- In America Today

Marking this year's Independence Day will feel different to most Americans because the yoke of an oppressive presidency has been lifted from the nation. Over the past four years we endured the rule of a man unfit for the responsibilities of his office, unwilling to honor the oath he had sworn to uphold the Constitution and unable to lead our diverse people as we seek a more perfect union. The end of that unwholesome episode is ample reason for celebration — and an occasion to reflect on what patriotism means to us.

No American president in memory has so starkly epitomized the distinction between patriotism and nationalism as former President Donald J. Trump. And what he has showed us, in his typically crude style, is that lurking behind the loudest manifestations of nationalism is usually a gross betrayal of American ideals. We have also learned important lessons, sometimes — but not always — uplifting, about the values held by our fellow Americans.

Trump's misuse of national symbols and slogans was embedded deeply in his presidential campaign and the authoritarian movement it spawned. Ignorant of the rules and protocols that surround our flag, he hugged it to himself as if it were his personal property. Contemptuous of our constitutional traditions, he told voters that only he could "make America great again." Oblivious to the historical meaning of a phrase used by Nazis to weaken our resolve against fascism, he proclaimed "America First" as the foundation of his foreign policy. Or perhaps he did know — as so many of his bloody-minded supporters surely do.

From the day that he opened his first presidential campaign with the utterance of racist tropes, to the day that he tried to hang onto the presidency by inciting an insurrection at the Capitol, Trump violated every principle that an American patriot should uphold. He sought the highest office with the assistance of a foreign adversary in a manner that his own campaign manager deemed "treasonous," and then compounded that offense. He repeatedly undermined confidence in our democratic system, an act he has vowed to continue until his final breath. He purposely damaged the alliances that have protected our security for 75 years. He spit on the principles of liberty that distinguished us and our allies from the regimes that aim to humble us and cultivated dictatorships because he adores that vile and alien form of government.

Unhappily we watched as Trump infected the Republican Party, which was founded by Abraham Lincoln, with the nationalistic bluster that is his political brand — and displaced its policies and principles with conspiratorial obsessions and a personality cult. The party that once prided itself on its support of national security, military valor and the rule of law has discarded those standards. Trump's nasty little minions disparage the U.S. Army, the FBI, flag officers and decorated heroes, merely to please their Dear Leader. Those debased displays have settled the question of whether conservatives are more patriotic than liberals, which I have sometimes contemplated in this space.

But we have also watched over the past four years as some lifelong Republicans confronted the truth about Trump and what his rise proved about their party. Forced to choose between party and country, many of them made the truly patriotic decision to fight against Trumpism, even if it meant turning their backs on longtime friends and joining with their former foes in the Democratic Party. With those courageous acts, they salvaged a measure of honor for traditional conservatism.

At the moment, Trump and his minions are once again brandishing "patriotism" and so-called "patriotic education" to demonize Americans who are willing to face the ugly facts about American history, from slavery and Jim Crow to the dispossession and genocide of native Americans to the bigotries that still deface our country. It's another big lie.

On this holiday, let's acknowledge that love of country need not be blind. Generations of Americans of all backgrounds — the Black soldiers who return home to communities that violated their dignity, the Nisei troops who defended a nation that interned their families, the Native code-talkers from impoverished reservations — have proved their loyalty over and over again, despite their own deep awareness of how distant we are from that more perfect union. My father was a soldier too, and I stand with them.

Know your country, love your country, and defend your country's ideals of liberty and equality against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Happy Fourth.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

‘Students For Trump’ Fraudster Sentenced To 13 Months In Prison

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

A little over two years ago, Tennessee's own John Lambert, 23 at the time, was charged with being a fraud and pretending he was a veteran lawyer. Like most modern day frauds, Lambert was working his darndest for the Republican cause, organizing "Students for Trump." Lambert started the group along with fellow Campbell University student Ryan Fournier, shortly after Trump's nomination in 2016.

On Tuesday Lambert, who "pretended to be Eric Pope, of the Manhattan-based firm Pope & Dunn," among other things, was sentenced to 13 months in prison. According to the Daily News, the judge called him a "cold blooded fraudster" before sentencing the MAGA-inspired liar. It seems that Lambert pulled in tens of thousands of dollars from people seeking legal advice by lying to them about who he was and the level of experience he had. "He falsely claimed to be a graduate of NYU Law School with a finance degree from University of Pennsylvania and 15 years of experience in corporate and patent law." Sounds like he would have fit right in to the last administration.

Lambert was living in North Carolina and had been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud by the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Southern District of New York. He pled guilty to the charges shortly after they were announced, and clearly hoped the plea deal would lead to a much shorter than the potential 20 years maximum in prison the charges he faced.

According to reports Lambert, who is now 25, ran his scam between 2016-2018, and took people's money while pretending he would help them with credit issues they were facing. Before sentencing, Lambert told the court, "I lost focus on who I was. My ignorance was a disrespect to the law and my country. My life will be forever marked by this poor choice at a young age." I wonder what his opinions on younger people of color making mistakes is. My guess is that his opinions are still 100 percent racist.

According to a 2019 profile in Politico, Lambert's bio back during his Students for Trump days included:

"At a young age his parents taught values of morality and deep fiscal responsibility to him," according to the bio that was originally posted on the Students for Trump website. "He comes from a family of multigenerational business owners who helped to build the infrastructure of America."

He also seems to have been a big fan of the lead character in The Wolf of Wall Street, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The character is a monumental fraudster. Remember Lambert's co-founder in his "Students for Trump" thing, Ryan Fournier? He was totally involved but made a deal with the feds before Lambert could. He has his own brand now and it's very Hitler Youth-seeming adjacent.

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attribution: Screengrab/Twitter

That Bible reference in his Twitter bio? Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Let's just say that The RFAngle Fournier is promoting there isn't filled with lots of stories of "forgiving each other," and Jesus and such. It's a lot of James O'Keefe and Parler news.

Uncovering The #MAGA Plot Against America

Investigations of the terrible crimes committed against the United States at the Capitol last week had scarcely begun when the usual suspects launched a right-wing cover-up. Rather than blame the motley swarm of #MAGA fanatics, white nationalists and habitual criminals whom we all witnessed storming into the citadel of democracy to stop certification of the 2020 election, they pointed the finger to the antifa and Black Lives Matter movements.

But such a preposterous political alibi, premised on nonexistent evidence, won't stand up to the kind of scrutiny that must now be brought to bear on these momentous events. Long after President Donald Trump's impeachment is over and done, and regardless of whether he is convicted or not, the myriad investigations and trials of the perpetrators of the Capitol insurrection will go on for years. Justice will be done; the truth will be revealed; and the breadth of the assault on our constitutional democracy will stun even the jaded and cynical.

Combining vanity and stupidity, the shock troops who carried out the assault recorded themselves in the process of the attack. Perhaps they believed that they would be pardoned by Donald Trump. Knock, knock. Now the FBI is sweeping them up across the country to face federal prosecution.

More than a few of these individuals have prior convictions for serious crimes. These predicate felons, who exemplify the extremist wing of Trump's movement, are likely to crack under prosecutorial pressure and disclose what they know. And no matter what they expected, Trump probably won't dare to pardon them. He is reported to be upset at the low class of his diehards apparently willing to kidnap and assassinate in his name.

While much of what occurred on Jan. 6 and the days and weeks leading up to the attack still remains somewhat murky, it is already clear that the insurrection was not a spontaneous uprising. The mob that assaulted the Capitol included highly trained fighters who came prepared with tactical gear of all kinds, often superior to the equipment of the police officers trying to hold them back, as well as a communications system. What they needed from the thousands of dupes whipped up by Trump and Rudy Giuliani was an overwhelming physical force to enable an unstoppable rush into the building.

We don't know the extent of coordination, if any, between the White House, various ultra-right members of Congress and fascist gangs like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers that came to Washington bent on bloodshed. The initial clues, however, raise deeply troubling questions. Why were members of Congress escorting groups of Trump supporters around the Capitol on Jan. 5, the day before the attack, when the building was supposed to be closed? Why did the attacking vanguard leave the Trump rally at the White House early and proceed to the Capitol? And why did the Pentagon fail to send National Guard reinforcements in time, despite desperate pleas from the Capitol Police?

The support structure for the demonstration that turned into an insurrection ranged across the Trumpist movement, encompassing figures like Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, and Charlie Kirk, who runs the far-right college outfit Turning Point USA and boasts close ties with Donald Trump Jr. Both of them have tried to erase evidence of their organizing efforts.

Equally intriguing is the role of Ali Alexander, who takes credit for staging the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, whose militant rhetoric set the event's tone and who now seems to have gone into hiding. He has a long history of connections with Trump confidant Roger Stone and Stone's proteges in the Proud Boys. He has also received funding in the recent past from the billionaire Mercer family, which lurks behind many of the nation's most toxic far-right elements. And Alexander says that he worked on the insurrection with at least three Republican members of Congress — Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Mo Brooks, R-Ala.

Here it is worth recalling that Stone oversaw the "Brooks Brothers riot" in Miami that stopped the vote counting in Miami-Dade County and swayed the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. Since last November, he has repeatedly called for Trump to impose martial law to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The events of Jan. 6 represented the worst threat to democracy and the rule of law that we have seen in our lifetimes. The violent authoritarian impulse within the Republican right has metastasized under Trump into a potent and very dangerous force. Uncovering the roots of that threat and isolating its sponsors will be a lengthy and complicated process that will involve the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, state and local law enforcement, the attorney general of the District of Columbia, many committees of the House and Senate, and almost certainly a national investigative commission on the order of the 9/11 commission. And there will be trials.

Nothing less will suffice to defend our democratic republic from its enemies, foreign and domestic.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

The Delusions Of #MAGA World Are Finally Crumbling

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

After weeks of refusing to acknowledge or accept the outcome of the 2020 election, President Donald Trump's "alternative facts" news networks are clearly struggling with how to proceed. But with the meeting of the Electoral College, the reality of President-elect Joe Biden's win is creeping in. Newsmax is finally reporting the truth about Biden becoming the next president of the United States, while One America News Network has a slightly different stance.

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Shooting In Olympia As Fascist Violence Spreads Across The Country

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The pattern has become clear: Wherever pro-Donald Trump "Stop the Steal" rallies are organized, the thugs who come out in large numbers to participate wreak violence on anyone who comes out to protest them. This weekend, even as Proud Boys and other Trump supporters were bringing violence to the streets of Washington, D.C., a similar but much smaller group of MAGA fanatics was doing the same thing across the country in the Washington state capital.

And for the second week in a row in Olympia, a Trump supporter fired a gun at counterprotesters for a "Stop the Steal" event—this time, hitting and injuring a man who was wounded and hospitalized at the culmination of a running series of brawls. Police arrested the man, along with three other people at the event.


Olympia pro-Trump 'Stop the Steal' rally devolves into brawls, shooting www.youtube.com

The shooter, identified as 26-year-old Trump supporter Forest Michael Machala of Seattle, was charged with first-degree assault, the state's equivalent of an attempted-murder charge. The victim, a Black man who has not been identified, was transported by street medics to a local hospital with a stomach wound.

One week before, a Proud Boy named Christopher Guenzler, 27, marching in a similar event, pointed a gun at counterprotesters and fired, but only inflicted a graze wound. He was also arrested and charged with first-degree assault.

Saturday's rally began at the state Capitol campus, where it was mostly peaceful. According to the Washington Post, several "Boogaloo" civil-war movement members dressed in Hawaiian shirts were among them. Many of them came armed with guns and knives.

But when the crowd there to protest Trump's defeat in the November election—estimated at 50 to 80 people—began to march into downtown Olympia, the much larger crowd of largely antifascist counterprotesters greeted them with jeers, insults, and hurled objects. Brawls broke out in short order.

Olympia and state police forces numbering around 100 attempted to keep the sides separate, and began making arrests. One Proud Boy was arrested for brandishing a gun to threaten protesters. Two counterprotesters were arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers, one with a baton and the other with a piece of concrete.

The shooting occurred as the pro-Trump crowd attempted to make its way back to their cars and were pursued by counterprotesters. Videographer Robert Zerfing, a Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys supporter, told the Seattle Times that "pretty much all of the 'Patriot' crowd came up here into the parking lot, they were running into their cars, trying to get out." As they were pursued by antifascists, "that's when I heard the shot."

Afterward, state police reported they found an undetonated improvised explosive device near the location of the shooting. "Device had been lit and thrown, but failed to detonate," they reported. "Had the device detonated, it could have caused significant injury."

WATCH: Trump Supporter Threatens Driver Unless She Votes For Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

At a grassroots roadside rally for President Donald Trump in Beverly Hills, supporters waved huge American flags, a QAnon conspiracy cult flag, banners that said "Trump 2020," and "Californians for Trump," and handmade and printed signs that read "Asians for Trump," "Latinos for Trump," and "Challenge your beliefs."

One social media user filmed the event from inside a car, capturing a man who threatened them to vote for President Trump.

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Surprise! Under Trump, Super-Rich Rake In Billions While You Get…A #MAGA Hat

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

If you are in the 99 percent here is how well you are faring under Trump policies compared to the 1 percent: for each dollar of increased income that you earned in 2018, each One-Percenter got $88 more income.

Huge as that ratio is, it's small change compared to the super-rich, the 0.01 percent of Americans with incomes of $10 million and up. That ratio is $1 for you and $2,215 for each super-rich American household. Let's call them the Platinum-Premiere-Point-Zero-One-Percenters.

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‘Appalling’: Ex-Trump Voters Explain Why They Turned Away

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although President Donald Trump still has his hardcore MAGA base, he is not universally loved on the right by any means. Never Trump conservatives believe that he has been detrimental to the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and some who voted for Trump in 2016 aren't planning to vote for him again this year. Voters who have changed their minds about Trump are the focus of a New York Times article published Wednesday by reporters Claire Cain Miller, Kevin Quealy and Nate Cohn.

In their article, the Times journalists aren't talking about Never Trumpers who opposed Trump from the beginning — and they note that most of the voters who supported Trump in 2016 are still supporting him now. But they delve into some reasons why onetime supporters have turned against Trump and can't bring themselves to vote for him again.

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