UN rightly pairs Trump with his bestie dictators pals

On Tuesday, American tin-pot Dictator Donald Trump gave his speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

The logistics of the lineup conspicuously put Trump in the middle of a long list of brutal dictators who also spoke.

Preceding Trump on the schedule was Jair Bolsonaro, the recently elected president of Brazil who is linked to paramilitary gangs and has claimed that the only problem with his country’s former military dictatorship was that it maybe should have killed even more dissidents.

Then after Trump finished, he was followed by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, whose regime has rolled back human rights reforms by executive fiat, imprisoned rivals, and conducted massacres, as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who routinely arrests people for making fun of him and who recently held a sham referendum to rewrite his nation’s constitution.

The initial speaking order at the world’s top diplomatic serves as a vivid reminder of democracy’s declining fortunes around the world. It’s also already drawing attention to Trump’s repeated encouragement, and occasional emulation, of authoritarian leaders.

Trump has bragged of his ‘love’ for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, praised Russia’s Vladimir Putin as ‘strong,’ downplayed Saudi Arabia’s killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, spoken warmly of China’s Xi Jinping and reportedly referred to Egypt’s Sisi as ‘my favorite dictator.’ (On Monday, ahead of their bilateral meeting in New York, Trump called Sisi ‘my friend’ and called him ‘a real leader’ who has ‘done some things that are absolutely amazing in a short period of time.’)”

Autocrat Trump gave a strikingly nationalist speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Dear leader Trump denounced globalism before the international organization and proclaimed the United States the most powerful nation in the world. “The future does not belong to globalists, it belongs to patriots,” Trump told the gathering.

“The free world must embrace its national foundations,” Trump said, and “must not attempt to erase them or replace them.” Trump then attacked his predecessors for pursuing a global agreement.

“Globalism exerted a religious fervor over past leaders,” he said. “As far as America is concerned, those days are over.”

info from Politico and Raw Story

The Trump Fanboy Groveling Tour meets with his bff’s, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong-un.

The hard-hitting Joy Reid of MSNBC opened her show on Saturday morning by calling out Donald Trump for turning his overseas trip — which included attending the G-20 conference — into a fanboy “groveling” tour to meet with his new best friends, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong-un.

In a commentary dripping with sarcasm, the MSNBC host pointed out the extraordinary fact that former President Jimmy Carter recently slammed Trump and claimed that his presidency is illegitimate.

Former President and real Christian Jimmy “Carter’s absolute rebuke came on the same day Donald Trump had his first face-to-face meeting since the end of the Russia investigation with Vladimir Putin,” Joy explained. “A meeting at which Trump once again publicly defended him and even joked about needing to warn Putin not to attack our election again.”

Joy Reid translated: “Message please, sir: please help me by attacking the election again,” she mocked Trump. “Right now  President (“Kleptocrat”) Trump is in South Korea for meetings with President Moon, who is not a dictator, so Trump will probably not grovel.”

“What Trump wants is a photo-op with murderous dictator Kim Jong-un; tweeting a plea to please come hang out at the DMZ. Please come spend time and take selfies, and Trump bragging about the possibility of such a meeting this morning,” the MSNBC host added.

Noting that Trump told reporters that the murderous North Korean dictator appears to follow him on Twitter, Reid ridiculed the leader of the free world for his giddy excitement, smirking, “Oh my god! He follows me on Twitter. Will there be friendship bracelets?”

Historian Christopher Browning warns that there are troubling parallels Hindenburg and McConnell

Historian of Nazism explains why GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell is the “gravedigger” of American Democracy

Historian Christopher Browning, a specialist in the areas of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and World War-era Europe, isn’t arguing that Donald Trump is a modern Adolf Hitler or that Trumpism is akin to Nazism. But he does argue that certain stress fractures in the society and the international order appear to be re-emerging and that these patterns portend troubling trends for the United States and the rest of the world.

And there is one figure in American politics that Browning does see as a relatively direct — and troubling — analog to a crucial world war-era figure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, is becoming “the gravedigger of American democracy,” Browning wrote, a role played for Germany beginning in the 1930s by President Paul von Hindenburg.

Hindenburg didn’t defend democracy in Germany. Instead, he unleashed emergency powers in 1930 to appoint chancellors to skirt over political divisions in parliament. Eventually, Hitler became chancellor, when Hindenburg erroneously thought he could be controlled.

Now, McConnell shows a similar disregard for democracy and likewise opens up the country to serious risk, Browning explained:

“He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations. Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him, in turn, to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the “steal” of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.”

As a result of McConnell’s strong-arm tactics, Browning argued, it will now be impossible for a president to make significant judicial appointments — including to the Supreme Court — unless the Senate is led by the same party. This dynamic will push the country toward greater dysfunction.

He continued:

“Whatever secret reservations McConnell and other traditional Republican leaders have about Trump’s character, governing style, and possible criminality, they openly rejoice in the payoff they have received from their alliance with him and his base: huge tax cuts for the wealthy, financial and environmental deregulation, the nominations of two conservative Supreme Court justices (so far) and a host of other conservative judicial appointments, and a significant reduction in government-sponsored health care (though not yet the total abolition of Obamacare they hope for). Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump. The combination of Trump’s abasement before Putin in Helsinki, the shameful separation of families at the border in complete disregard of US asylum law (to say nothing of basic humanitarian principles and the GOP’s relentless claim to be the defender of “family values”), and most recently Michael Cohen’s implication of Trump in criminal violations of campaign finance laws has not shaken the fealty of the Republican old guard, so there is little indication that even an explosive and incriminating report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller will rupture the alliance.”

Most ominously, Browning warns that the detrimental effects of figures like McConnell and Trump will last for a long time. However long they stay in power, they will eventually leave — but the damage done to democracy and American institutions may persist for generations.


Trump administration takes a page from China’s so-called “social credit system”

China’s Social Credit System

In the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive,” writers Rashida Jones and Michael Schur created a bleak world where everyone has a public rating system based on their social media ranking. The episode features Bryce Dallas Howard as a young woman who tries to improve her respectable 4.2 score to get better flight options and other perks. Things quickly spiral out of control.

Most viewers saw that episode as a dystopian horror story, China apparently thought it was a great idea. By 2020, the country plans to give all its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score, based on how they behave, according to CBS News. The government started working on its so-called social credit system back in 2014, which ranks citizens on their trustworthiness, including whether they jaywalk, buy Chinese-made products, what they post online, and whether they smoke in nonsmoking areas. Those deemed trustworthy can get discounts on energy bills and better interest rates at banks, while those considered untrustworthy can reportedly be stopped from buying property and even high-speed internet.

The system works a bit like credit scores, but instead of being based on good or bad financial decisions, Chinese citizens are being scored on things like whether they pay their taxes on time to how they cross the street to what they post online, per CBS. As 2020 approaches, some with low scores are already feeling the effects of a low social credit score–nearly 11 million Chinese can no longer fly and four million are barred from trains.

Next week, the program will start expanding nationwide, and more citizens will start to feel the watchful eyes of Big Brother as China’s network of surveillance cameras grows to an estimated 600 million cameras.

Now the Trump administration has proposed a new rule that would force every single person who needs a visa to enter the U.S. for tourism or immigration to provide five years of social media history.

That’s 14.7 million people per year — tourists, business travelers, students, academics, and potential immigrants — who will face bureaucrats hired by ICE scouring through everything they’ve posted online to qualify for a visa.2

It’s a proposal with extreme consequences for the tourist and travel industry and could lead to reciprocal rules in other countries for American travelers.

But most importantly, it would have a massive chilling effect on freedom of expression for everyone around the world. It sends a message that at any point, governments could change the rules to make anything anyone has ever tweeted or instagrammed a basis for making decisions about their ability to visit, work in, or move to another country.

This proposal is just another step towards ever more extreme monitoring of social media by the Trump administration. Just a few months ago, this rule was put in place for a small group of visa seekers who were selected for additional screening.

Now we are seeing it expanded to every single person who needs a visa to visit the U.S. If we don’t stop this proposal now, we could see even more extreme measures in the future.

Worryingly, there’s no indication of what sorts of posts would lead to an applicant being denied a visa, no guidance as to what counts as a social media handle, and no effective checks on the decisions made as a result of this screening.3

There is simply no doubt that the real effect of this rule on free speech is that people will be afraid to post opinions that are critical of the U.S. administration or policies online. Internet users everywhere are at risk of self-censorship. We need to stand up together to protect our privacy and freedom of expression.

from Openmedia and CBS news