Sunday, August 4, 2019

Last Call For Our Global Domestic Terrorism Problem

The shooters in America this week wrote manifestos about a twisted white supremacist ideology that's been around for centuries, the "Great Replacement".  The Charlottesville neo-Nazis yelled "You will not replace us!" when they marched through the city, Donald Trump of course calling them "Very fine people".  And like all awful white supremacist fascist ideologies, it's making a blood-drenched comeback around the planet in the Era of Trumpism.

“I just had a house raid by the police,” Martin Sellner said last weekend from his apartment in Vienna, where he makes YouTube videos, sometimes in his kitchen, warning about the dangers of multiculturalism and how Muslim immigrants are replacing the white population across Europe.

This wasn’t the first time Austrian authorities have taken an interest in the articulate, engaging 30-year-old activist, known for the “actions” he plots as one of the leaders of an ethno-nationalist movement known as Generation Identity. Its members, believed to number about 10,000, are fighting back against what they consider Europe’s forced “Islamization” and a “dilution” of its original genetic stock.

But last week’s sweep of Sellner’s apartment wasn’t the result of Generation Identity’s usual stunts — like throwing a giant burqa over the head of a 65-foot-high statue of revered Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa with a sign saying “Islamization — No Thanks!” or chartering a boat to hinder rescue vessels from picking up drowning Africans whose dinghies capsized in the Mediterranean.

This raid concerned a donation — a gift of 1,500 euros (over $1,800), one of the biggest in Generation Identity’s seven-year existence. The donor was Brenton Tarrant, accused of opening fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, leaving 50 dead. This was the second time police raided Sellner’s apartment to investigate his connections with Tarrant, seizing his phones, cameras and computers. Sellner protests that there aren’t any links — Tarrant was just “a random Australian guy” whom he thanked via email in 2018 for his donation and invited to share a beer if he visited Vienna.

Even if they never met to share a pitcher, Sellner and Tarrant share a controversial belief, one that’s integral to Generation Identity and to scores of extremist groups worldwide: the Great Replacement of white Christians by dark-skinned “invaders,” an idea that is driving right-wing politics in many European countries — and has echoes in the United States, not just in politics, but in terror attacks against minorities and Jews.

Sellner views the Great Replacement as “a mathematical fact,” the result of cultural, political and economic decisions made over recent decades. “Since the ’60s and ’70s, Europe’s population [of indigenous white Europeans] has been shrinking,” he says, largely because white European women, like their American counterparts, were not bearing the 2.1 children considered necessary to maintain a stable population. But Europe’s population is rising — due to the influx of immigrants, or what he calls “replacement migration.”

That part, statistics show, is true at least in some countries: The numbers of incoming immigrants have offset deaths in European nations, such as Germany and Sweden, leading to overall population growth.

The problem is that it's all garbage.

But the Great Replacement theory goes entirely off the rails when proponents, such as Sellner’s group, assert, as they do on the Generation Identity website, that “Low birth rates of German and European people and simultaneous massive Muslim immigration will turn us into minorities in our own countries in a few decades,” leading to “the disappearance of Germans and Europeans in their own countries."

Even given the higher birthrate of immigrants, that’s an unlikely scenario
, according to demographer Landis Mackellar of the Population Council and editor of Population and Development Review. “The Great Replacement and statements attributed to Generation Identity distort the demographic and sociological evidence,” he says.

Hélène Ducros, human geographer at Columbia University's Council for European Studies, questions what data the group is using to make such projections. Some European countries, like France, don't ask about ethnicity or religion on their census forms, making statistics unreliable, and many "migrants" into European countries actually come from other European countries. "The reality is that Europe — in the largest sense, not just the EU — has always been a continent where people moved around a lot," she says. "I would say that mobility, and thus intermixing, is what characterizes Europeans across time, not ethnicity."

And it's being used to fuel a new generation of white supremacist violence, this time powered by the internet and real-time coverage of attacks all over the globe.

It's not just the US.

We're just on the side of the bad guys this time around.

Another Week In Gunmerica

Gilroy, California last Sunday, three dead, 12 wounded.

El Paso, Texas yesterday, 20 dead, 26 injured.

and now, Dayton, Ohio early this morning, 9 dead, 26 wounded.

Trump's stochastic terrorism is now producing dead bodies.

These killings are planned, the targets thought out.  A public festival.  A Wal-Mart full of back-to-school shoppers. A city's entertainment district.  The gunmen armed and armored, the El Paso shooter drove all the way from Dallas.  The shooters are radicalized, with the goal of killing as many of those people as they can to stop the invasion of Trump's America.

Meanwhile, the only people the Republican party are willing to lift a finger to do anything about are imaginary "terrorists" who are "armed" with milkshakes who happen to be critics of Trump.  Oh, and people who buy video games, because no other country on earth plays video games.

And of course since the gunmen were white, it's a "mental health issue" even though Republicans have gutted mental health programs across the country and are actively trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act by declaring the federal government has no possible Constitutional business being in health care.

Just another week in Gunmerica, I guess.

Sunday Long Read: The Devil And The Dersh

Criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz is in real trouble when it comes to the Jeffrey Epstein case, and as the New Yorker's Connie Brusk lays out, Dershowitz seems to end up at the nexus of a hell of a lot of criminal activity and the very profitable art of defending people against it.

"A lie is a lie is a lie,” Whoopi Goldberg said. It was May 2nd, and she was on the set of “The View,” the daytime talk show that she co-hosts. The subject was Attorney General William Barr, who had argued that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was not as alarming as it seemed—endorsing Donald Trump’s claim that there had been “no collusion, no obstruction” in the Russia case. Goldberg was incredulous. “Our parents taught us, if you lie, there are consequences,” she said. “When are consequences coming back?”

Her guest, the attorney Alan Dershowitz, offered an answer that combined legal analysis and political handicapping. “They come back in November of 2020, when we all go to the polls and we vote against people that we think lied,” he said. “But it would be a terrible thing”—he held up a finger for emphasis—“to criminalize lies.”

Dershowitz is a frequent guest on shows like “The View”; for decades, he has been a frequent guest just about everywhere. If you are a television producer putting together a segment about a celebrated criminal case, Dershowitz is an ideal booking. Intellectually nimble and supremely confident, he is an emeritus professor at Harvard Law School but also an occasional reader (and subject) of the tabloids. Over the years, he has written thousands of newspaper articles, magazine columns, and Web posts. With help from research assistants, he has published three dozen books—including “The Best Defense,” “Chutzpah,” and “Sexual McCarthyism”—that recount his cases and advance his opinions.

In recent years, as Dershowitz approached the age of eighty, his public presence faded a bit. But Trump’s Presidency has enabled a comeback. Dershowitz, a proponent of civil liberties, has made a specialty of defending people who do outrageous things, and Trump does outrageous things constantly. Media outlets looking for someone to argue Trump’s side have been happy to have Dershowitz on the air, explaining why the President’s critics are putting politics before the law. In May, an editionof the Mueller report, with an introduction by Dershowitz, made the Times best-seller list.

On “The View,” Goldberg promised the audience that she’d hand out copies of the book after the taping. But she remained skeptical of Dershowitz’s defense of Barr. He offered an explanation: lying to Congress or to the F.B.I. was illegal, but misleading the public was not. “The rule of law requires that we distinguish between sins and crimes,” he said. “There’s no federal crime that says that it’s illegal to lie to the media.”

After a commercial, the next segment began, with images of several controversial Dershowitz clients: Claus von Bülow, O. J. Simpson, Mike Tyson. The lineup included Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy money manager who had been accused of sexually abusing underage girls. Starting in 2005, investigators had traced a sex-trafficking operation that extended from mansions in New York and Palm Beach to a Caribbean island, Little St. James, that Epstein owned. As charges became public, press accounts enumerated his famous acquaintances—including Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and Kevin Spacey—and described trips to the island on his plane, the so-called Lolita Express. Despite sworn accounts from more than a dozen women, Dershowitz and his team secured a deal in which Epstein pleaded guilty to minor charges and served only a brief sentence. On “The View,” which was hosted by four women, Dershowitz described the experience as fraught: “It’s a case that was very, very difficult, and very, very painful for me, because I saw real victims out there. I’m a very strong supporter of the MeToo movement.” But, he said, an attorney is obligated to defend the rights of the accused: “I think of myself like a doctor or a priest. If they wheel Jeffrey Epstein into the emergency ward, the doctor is going to take care of him.” (Dershowitz put it differently to me, in one of a series of conversations this spring and summer: “Every honest criminal lawyer will tell you that he defends the guilty and the innocent.”)

One of the hosts, Abby Huntsman, pointed out, “It does get more complicated for you in your personal life.” In 2014, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, stated in a court filing that Epstein lent her out for sex to his friends—Dershowitz among them. Dershowitz has strenuously denied the allegations, and maintained that Giuffre is a near-pathological liar engineering an extortion plot. Giuffre’s claims about him have never been directly tested in court; instead, they have featured as side arguments in civil suits brought by others. Two weeks before the taping, though, Giuffre had sued Dershowitz directly, for defamation.

On the air, Dershowitz said that he welcomed Giuffre’s lawsuit. “I also welcome her coming on this show and accusing me face to face,” he said. “I have been falsely accused,” he went on, more intently. “So I am welcoming this trial.” He rubbed his hands together. “This is the first opportunity I have to conclusively prove my innocence.”

The more I read this piece, the angrier I got.  The man has been in the center of all kinds of messes as long as I can remember, but nothing ever stuck to him personally.

Now he's covered in filth in the era of #MeToo and Epstein.

We knew, we just didn't care.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim came face to face with impeachment fervor at a town hall in New Jersey. “Do your job!” shouted one voter.

Several states away, a woman held up a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and told freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a Michigan town hall she hoped she would “be the person that puts us over the top to start an impeachment inquiry.”

And in Virginia, newcomer Rep. Abigail Spanberger encountered voters with questions, if not resolve, about impeaching President Donald Trump.

“I don’t have blood dripping from my fangs for or against impeachment,” said David Sussan, 70, a retired postal inspector from Chesterfield, who favors starting an inquiry. “I just want the truth to come out.”

It’s these freshman lawmakers, and others like them, who will likely decide when, if ever, House Democrats start formal efforts to impeach the president.

Neither Kim, nor Slotkin, nor Spanberger supports impeachment. But with half the House Democrats now in favor of beginning an inquiry, the pressure will only mount on the holdouts to reach a tipping point. And with lawmakers returning home to voters during the August recess, what happens next may prove pivotal.

The pro-impeachment group Need to Impeach is running television ads. Along with activists from other groups, it’s also fanning out to congressional districts to push lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to move more swiftly toward impeachment proceedings.

The organization’s lead strategist, Kevin Mack, says his counsel to lawmakers, especially those new freshmen who took over formerly Republican-held seats, is to ignore the campaign consultants and party strategists, and “do what you think is right” about Trump.

“You can’t really make the argument he’s the most corrupt president in American history and not hold him accountable,” he said. “Either you think what he’s doing is OK or you hold him accountable.”

For lawmakers, though, the calculus is not so simple. Voters in many of these districts helped elect Trump in 2016, but flipped to give Democrats control of the House in last year’s election. Many of the first-term Democrats already face challengers for 2020 and are trying to balance the divergent views in their districts. While some voters want impeachment, others have different priorities.

It's not simple, but at some point you have to decide to take a stand.

And remember, the inquiry path is already underway.  It's time to get on board.
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