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  • August 8, 2017
    Why "America First" Really Means America Last

    To say that the slogan "America First" has a checkered past in the United States is an understatement of epic proportions. Launched in the spring of 1940 on the eve of Hitler's conquest of France, Belgium and Holland, the America First Committee was an isolationist crusade which grew to 800,000 members who sought the keep the U.S. out of any war with Germany. But that's not all. After the trauma of the Great Depression, its leadership was rife with anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers like Olympic Committee Chairman Avery Brundage, auto magnate Henry Ford and the world-famous pilot Charles Lindbergh who saw European fascism--and not American democracy--as the wave of the future. In September 1941, just three months before Pearl Harbor and Adolf Hitler's declaration of war on the United States, Lindbergh proclaimed, "The British and the Jewish races for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war." The greatest of the dangers Jews posed to the United States, he warned, "lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government."

    At a time when the United States faced a monumental choice between good and evil, human rights and barbarous slaughter, freedom and enslavement, the America Firsters were on the wrong side of history. Ultimately and at great cost, the forces of light prevailed in Europe and the Pacific, but not before vanquishing the forces of darkness here at home.

    Now, as Americans confront a new crossroads in history, Donald Trump's 21st century incarnation of the America First movement threatens to once again take the nation down a dangerously mistaken--and irreversible--path. After 25 years, America's unipolar moment of unrivaled military dominance is coming to a close, as rising Chinese power around the world, resurgent Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe and a nuclear North Korea means the United States can no longer strike at the times and places of its choosing without painful consequences. Never again will the U.S. account for half of world GDP, as it did after the destruction of its economic competitors in World War II. Globalization, the seamless flow of capital (and capitalists) across national boundaries, the transformational impact of climate change, and, above all, China's ever-increasing role in the worldwide economy require Washington to think anew and act anew. And more and more, the United States will be less and less able to act alone.

    That's why the world Donald Trump and his die-hard followers scorn is not the one they, or any of us, actually inhabit. A year ago at the Republican National Convention, Trump declared "our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo." Nothing about the first six months of the Trump administration supports the May 30 op-ed penned by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council director Gary D. Cohn that "America First" is also "a commitment to protecting and advancing our vital interests while also fostering cooperation and strengthening relationships with our allies and partners." As Trump put it in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2017:

    From this moment on, it's going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

    As it turns out, not so much.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 3:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    July 31, 2017
    Lies, Damn Lies and Fake News

    In his 2007 book The Assault on Reason, former Vice President Al Gore warned about what he saw as a dire threat to American democracy. "The 'well-informed citizenry,'" Gore fretted, "is in danger of becoming the 'well-amused audience.'" In a presentation on Super Tuesday 2008 ("That's Entertainment: Politics as Theater in Campaign '08"), I elaborated on Gore's alert.

    When politics is entertainment, the first thing that suffers is the truth.

    More than nine years later, the American people have a professional entertainer in the Oval Office. And as recent headlines have shown, the truth is suffering indeed. Despite the unified assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Vladimir Putin's Russia interfered in the 2016 election, only one-third of Republicans polled believe it. Other surveys found that 72 percent of Trump voters said stories about Russia are "fake news," with 32 percent even rejecting the claim that Donald Jr. met with Russians in June 2016, a fact the president's son had already admitted. The self-delusion also applies to the 2016 popular vote, which half of Trump supporters believe he won despite falling 3 million ballots short of Hillary Clinton in yet another election free of vote fraud.

    And on Wednesday, a YouGov/Economist poll revealed that 55 percent of the #MAGA crowd "believe 'the courts' should be allowed to 'fine news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased or inaccurate' -- while 45 percent say that the judiciary should have the power to 'shut down' biased media organizations." Meanwhile, the Trump administration and some of its allies in the House responded to the GOP's latest humiliation at the hands of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office by seeking to slash its staffing or abolish the neutral scorekeeper altogether.

    As horrifying as these numbers are, they shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, with the Trump White House elevating "alternative facts" over supposed "fake news," slandering the press as an "enemy of the people," brushing off allegations of collusion and business conflicts with Russian interests as a "Democratic hoax," and so much more, the Trump faithful are getting their talking points straight from the elephant's mouth. But while the frequency and magnitude of Trump's lies far exceed any American major party politician, his strategic deceptions and tactical duplicity are nothing new under the Republican sun.

    On matters of war and peace, health care and taxes, the economy and the environment, the GOP has been a myth-making machine for years. And when the government's own experts and nonpartisan watchdogs debunked the Republicans' fact-free frauds, the GOP directed its fire at them.

    Just ask the people who work at the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)--or, more accurately, worked at the Office of Technology Assessment.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

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    Why "America First" Really Means America Last
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