Author: Mitchell Blatt (Page 1 of 29)

About the Black Hebrew Israelites

The Black Hebrew Israelites, a group of black activists who call themselves one of the lost tribes of Israel, has been in the news this week due to a banal confrontation they had with some Native American activists and Catholic school boys who were in Washington, DC for different protests.

Reportedly, the Black Hebrew Israelites were yelling vitriol at the Native Americans and Catholics, and then eventually one of the Native Americans approached the Catholic boys and started playing the “American Indian Movement” song.

It is not surprising to Washington DC residents to see the Black Hebrew Israelites engaging in unhinged rants, hate speech, and personal attacks. They are a cartoonish group that often sets up shop around the city–especially outside the Chinatown metro station during the summer–and shouts about their nutty beliefs, complete with attacks on individuals passing-by and those crazy enough to engage them, like an evangelical on a college campus. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled some of their sects hate groups.

Here is a video I briefly recorded of them yelling at a Hispanic man this past summer:

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White-on-white crime is a bigger problem than “immigrant crime”: Why doesn’t Trump care?

Donald Trump gave a television broadcast in support of his wall last night with his typical mix of anecdotes, exaggerations and outright lies all mixed into a demagogic gloop and served in a tiring Trump voice. It has been called “an insult to the nation’s intelligence” by Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and a “wet fart Oval Office address” by The Daily Beast‘s Rick Wilson, while Mark Thiessen called the speech “presidential” in The Washington Post.

His main message was, as usual, that illegal immigrants are responsible for a massive crime wave. The message is wrong on multiple levels. Illegal immigration has declined precipitously since Obama took office. Most research shows that immigrants (both legal and illegal) commit crimes at a lower rate than American-born citizens. That is why Trump and his fellow opponents of immigration (both legal and illegal) always have to cite anecdotes so viciously.

But they always ignore anecdotes about Americans murdering each other, especially if those Americans are white Americans. It’s the same old story. In the run-up to the 2016 election, Breitbart fear-mongered about refugee children having committed a crime against a white girl (and lied in order to trump up the details), but the outlet entirely ignored a murder that took place in the same city Breitbart sent its writers to report from. Because the logic is the same, I now present the article I wrote on it, originally published at Medium:

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Trump’s foreign policy views distorted by pro-Russian, pro-Saudi distortions

Donald Trump espoused inaccurate and incoherent claims about Russia and Iran at a January 2 cabinet meeting that call into question whether he should be making foreign policy decisions for the United States.

Trump defended the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and seemed to support Soviet domination of Eastern Europe:

Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.

Russia invaded Afghanistan to try to support a pro-Soviet government. But Trump either has no idea what the Soviet Union was or actually thinks the Soviet Union was justified in colonizing Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, and imposing its will on the satellite states. By saying, “Russia used to be the Soviet Union,” Trump is in fact making no distinction between Russia and the component states of the USSR. He’s saying that Ukraine was itself part of “Russia.”

Next, Trump blames Iran for the war in Yemen—even as the United States provided bombs for Saudi Arabia to drop on Yemen and logistical assistance for most of Trump’s two years in office.

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Conservative press whines about WaPo’s accurate coverage of Trump’s Iraq trip

The president visited Iraq…
…and the Washington Post reported that the president visited Iraq…
…and now the Wall Street Journal is outraged that the WaPo reported that the president visited Iraq.

Is there anything the “liberal media” can do that won’t cause the conservative media to cry “liberal bias”??? Perhaps if they lied, the right-wing grievance-mongers would like them more, since they don’t seem to like it when the press reports facts. In fact, 80 percent of the Republican Party does seem to prefer falsehoods over truth, evidenced by their continued support for a certain president.

Here is the WSJ editorial board’s frantic attempt to find something to be outraged about.

President Trump touched down Wednesday in Iraq in his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief, a week after announcing a victory over the Islamic State that his own Pentagon and State Department days earlier said remained incomplete.

The president’s visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, which was shrouded in secrecy, follows months of public pressure for him to spend time with troops deployed to conflicts in the Middle East and punctuates the biggest week of turmoil the Pentagon has faced during his presidency.

  • WaPo

[C]an anyone reading those opening two sentences wonder why millions of Americans believe Donald Trump when he tells them that he can’t get a fair shake from the press?

  • WSJ

Can the Wall Street Journal actually find anything untrue or unfair in those passages? Did Trump not visit Iraq? Did Trump not ignore professional advice and announce a withdrawal from Syria without planning? Did his announcement not leave the Pentagon blindsided and scrambling to come up with a half-workable process?

If Trump’s management of foreign and domestic policy is incompetent and chaotic, it’s not the fault of the press.

Conservative blogger Ann Althouse adds:

I can barely read the news these days (and I absolutely cannot watch it on TV). The negativity toward Trump is so relentless, cluttering up everything.

“Negativity.” If only the press just pretended everything were all right instead of reporting objectively.

Loser Trump feels self-pity about being president

Donald Trump whined this morning about having to be president and having to be in the White House.

“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,” he wrote on the social media site Twitter.

He provided no rationale for why “Border Security” is the most important issue, despite the fact that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. hasn’t increased since 2006. This, at a time when the stock market is crashing and his foreign policy is in chaos; there are many issues more pressing than border security.

He also pressed for “wall” funding. If border security and “the wall” was so important, why didn’t he do it during the two years Republicans had control of both houses of Congress?

He’s trying to blame the Democrats for the Trump shutdown, but Trump himself said on December 11 in a meeting with top Democrats that he wouldn’t blame them. And the Senate–including all Democrats–already unanimously passed a funding bill. Trump simply refused to sign it.

In fact, on December 19, Trump said he didn’t need border funding to sign a bill and that he would find money elsewhere. Trump is the one who is moving the goalposts and breaking his word.

In another Trumpian tweet, he said, “I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas. We are already building and renovating many miles of Wall, some complete.”

If the “wall” is going forward so well, then why does he need funding? Why not just keep doing it however he is pretending to do it?

Incoherent Trump compared Federal Reserve to golfer

Donald Trump has become predictable. He has no policies, just attacks. As usual, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashing by over 600 points today, Trump took to the offensive on Twitter, whining about the Federal Reserve.

“They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!” he said.

The Fed has nothing to do with tariff policy or immigration. And a strong dollar makes it more expensive for other countries to purchase American goods, so Trump calling “Strong Dollars” “necessary” is completely at odds with the purported goal of his trade war.

Trump’s trade war has hit the U.S. economy badly this year.

As I noted in my column in late November:

Agriculture has been particularly hard hit by retaliatory tariffs. Soybean exports to China since July have been close to nothing. The U.S. hasn’t come close to making it up in exports to the rest of the world. In October 2018, U.S. soybean exports globally were half of what they were in October 2017.

American manufacturers that use metal sourced from overseas to produce final goods are also paying a heavy price. While foreign-produced steel is more expensive due to tariffs, the price of domestic steel has also skyrocketed due to artificially increased demand for the stuff. In the first week after steel tariffs were announced in March, prices for steel made in the U.S. rose by 35 percent. The American Enterprise Institute published an analysis in October that said American steel prices are the most expensive in the world.

Caterpillar, a construction equipment company, and Ford have both seen their stock prices drop by over 20 percent over the past six months. Precor, a company that makes exercise equipment, says its material costs are rising.

The Dow has dropped by more than 2,000 in the last month and is about 2,300 points down since the start of the year.

It has to be hurting Trump’s pride. This is someone who bragged about “record” stock market highs multiple time a week his first year in office.

He can’t do anything to respond, because he’s a man of no policies. All he has is whining. The Federal Reserve is supposed to be free of political interference–for good reason; we wouldn’t want a self-interested president like Trump to abuse the process to try to prop up an economic bubble for political purposes.

But Trump has also consistently failed to execute his proclaimed policies on issues within a president’s legitimate scope of influence. Consider how he never got wall funding even with Republicans controlling Congress for two years or how Obamacare repeal failed in part because of Trump’s utter ignorance on the issue and inability to make a case.

Trump is whining today, and he’ll be whining tomorrow and the next day.

The myth of trigger warning culture?

As a consumer of mass media, it is easy to get the idea that universities are epicenters of political correctness full of ultra-sensitive students who can’t handle discussions of history or race relations. As a student, you run into “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” much less frequently than you do in the media.

A discussion between British social psychologist Jonathan Haidt over his book The Coddling of the American Mind caused American professors across the country to weigh in, with many stating that they had rarely–if ever–encountered demands for trigger warnings.

To which Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy and previously at the University of Wisconsin, said:

Some professors did, however, mention some of their students being “triggered.”

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Stop pretending collusion couldn’t have happened

The latest revelations about Roger Stone’s communications with Jerome Corsi create a direct line between Russian intel operations and Donald Trump.

We have known that Russia helped Trump’s effort for the presidency. We have known that members of the administration, George Papadopoulos and Donald Trump Jr. were the first to be exposed in the press. Now we know that Trump’s campaign strategists were successful in their attempts to reach out to Russian intel operations.

Stone officially joined the Trump campaign early on. He continued to stay in close contact with Trump and do ratfucking campaign activities for Trump throughout the campaign. He has admitted, for example, to talking with Trump by phone on August 3, 2016, one day after he received an email from Corsi about the upcoming Wikileaks operation.

Multiple Trump campaign officials may have been pursuing multiple lines of cooperation with the Russian government and pro-Russian entities. There is Stone. There is Carter Page, who was already under investigation by the FBI (FISA orders included) before he joined the Trump campaign, meeting in Russia. There’s Paul Manafort, offering to give private briefings on the Trump campaign to Russian oligarchs. There’s Jared Kuschner and Michael Flynn trying to set up a backchannel with the Russians. There’s Peter W. Smith, a Republican operate, who claimed to be working on behalf of Trump, trying to get hooked up with hackers on the dark web to find Clinton emails. There’s Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy Devos, meeting with Russian investors in Seychelles before Trump’s inauguration. Sources claim that meeting was linked to Trump advisors’ attempts to covertly communicate with the Russians.

Trump is not throwing most of those advisors under the bus, not even the ones who have already been convicted. Even as Manafort claimed he was cooperating with Mueller, Trump was still in contact with Manafort and making “joint defense” agreements with others facing charges.

If Corsi and Manafort were committing their crimes on their own, without Trump’s knowledge and support, it seems awfully weird that Trump would be so concerned about defending them. Awfully weird that Trump would write a statement defending Trump Jr. over the Russia meeting he supposedly didn’t know about and then lie about having written the statement.

At this point, we can say not only could collusion have happened in some form, it probably did.

Blatt: Election night analysis

Two years after Donald Trump surprised the world and won the United States presidential election, Trump and the Republicans lost control of Congress. Trump’s radical positions and vitriolic rhetoric turned suburbanites in highly-educated districts against the Republican Party.

The results of the election show that it is hard for Republicans to simultaneously appeal to the anti-immigrant, anti-politics base that got Trump elected while also maintaining the support of traditional upper-class economically fiscal conservatives. The electorates in places like Virginia’s 10th district in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Florida’s 27th, outside of Miami, Pennsylvania’s 18th in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and Kansas’s 3rd, outside of Kansas City, are too sophisticated to fall for Trump’s fear-mongering.

In the final days of the election, Trump dialed up the hate and smears. He grabbed onto the news about a “caravan” of migrants marching from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexican border, seeking asylum, and lied that it was full of terrorists and criminals. He released an ad that was deemed so racist that the news networks CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News refused to air it—not even for money.

Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out that Trump’s final campaign push might have energized his base in already conservative states. If that is the case, then it could have been one factor in helping the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, where they needed to win whole states.

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Conservative bloggers really hate California

Reliably, on many conservative blogs, you can find articles about how much California sucks.

The state with the 8th highest GDP per capita, which is the 25th best state for business and 31st best state to live in just really sucks. And, of course that is because it has Democratic politicians in office!

There’s about 13,000 articles about California at HotAir.com, but what’s funny about this one is that their narrative of GOP dominance in neighboring states just got crushed this week:

And where do these departing economic refugees go? To Arizona and Nevada, lower-tax places that have had — oh, look — Republican governments. And also Texas, another place stuck with GOP officeholders. California has exported more than 400,000 folks there this century.

“[Democrat] Sinema widens lead over McSally in Arizona Senate race”
“Democrats pick up Senate seat in Nevada with Rosen win”
“Longtime Texas Rep. [Republican] Pete Sessions loses to ex-NFL player”
“How the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke became the closest in Texas in 40 years”

Liz Mair has more to say at The Daily Beast: “Don’t Look Now, but the Mountain West Is Turning Blue”

And I will add that HotAir conspicuously left Colorado off its list of states that Californians are “fleeing” to; it is really one of the biggest sources and much higher on the quality of life lists than Arizona, Nevada or California.

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