We welcome expressions, support, and collaboration from like-minded organizations

 

 

TRUMP RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONS

Get your latest Op Eds from US Resist News.

Latest US Resist Op Eds

ENSURING FAIR ELECTIONS HELPS ENSURE DEMOCRACY

USRENEW NEWS EDITORIAL
By Ron Israel

The United States of America was intended by our founders to be a democratic republic. Our Declaration of Independence enshrines our commitment to the core values of equality, freedom, and self-government. As Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address, we are a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people.”

read more

The Wisdom in Bipartisanship

USRENEW NEWS EDITORIAL
By Ron Israel

Many political observers question President Biden’s emphasis on bipartisanship. Why they ask should Biden put so much emphasis on bipartisanship when the other side of the aisle doesn’t seem interested.

read more

Democracy Now | The Lethal Nexus: Mass Shootings and Domestic Violence

Democracy Now! USRENEW NEWS OP ED
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
You know the United States is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic when the pace of mass shootings gets back to “normal.” As of June 2nd, there were 244 mass shootings in the U.S. this year. That’s one to two per day.

The place and time of the next of these horrific acts is unknown, but that one will happen is a certainty. Then another, and another. One consequence of the number of mass shootings in the U.S. is that we possess data related to the crimes, which show a correlation between mass shooters and domestic violence. A majority of the men who commit mass shootings (and men commit at least 97% of them) also have a history of domestic violence.

That knowledge, along with sensible, fully-enforced gun control measures, could help stem the epidemic of mass shootings that blights our society, and save the lives of women threatened by intimate partner violence.

read more

Show some courage! Defy your tribe!

Show Some Courage
By Robert Wright
Last week LeBron James, who has 50 million Twitter followers, tweeted a picture of a policeman in Columbus, Ohio who had shot a 16-year-old Black girl to death. The tweet said, “You’re next. #Accountability.”Coming right after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the tweet seemed to mean that this cop, like Chauvin, would be convicted of murder and imprisoned—though some took James’s message as more menacing: a threat of vigilante justice.On either interpretation, the tweet didn’t make sense. The cop’s body cam had captured the killing, and the video told this story:
A cop responding to a 911 call arrives on the scene and sees the 16-year-old, Ma’Khia Bryant, with a knife in her hand, approaching another girl. The other girl is backed up against a parked car, with no means of escape, as Bryant draws the knife back and seems poised to stab her.

read more

Who gets a second chance?

Opinion Editorial
By Anand Giridharadas
In theory, second chances are a good thing. I mean, we all need them. Many of the ancient religions counsel mercy, and second chances are the natural consequence of that. Situations are not identities. Your worst deed is merely a situation. You should have the chance to become more than that deed, to transcend it.
But as the Trump era fades and a new wave of second-chance-seeking gets under way, I have been wondering: Who gets second chances and who doesn’t, what must you do to get one, and how is that connected to all the people who don’t even get first chances in America?
After President Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, what we’ve known all along was confirmed once again, and flagrantly: that certain people, especially if they are rich and powerful and white and male, enjoy total impunity in American public life. There will be no consequences for Donald Trump. Maybe some prosecutor somewhere will find a spine, but I wouldn’t bet my coffee on it.

read more

The Rise of White Nationalism in America

Opinion Editorial
By Erika Shannon
The recent attack on America’s Capitol has certainly confirmed what many have worried for a long time – that white supremacy is on the rise here in the U.S. With recent events, it can be seen that this is a fast-growing problem. These far-right extremists are often disillusioned Trump supporters who want nothing more than to create chaos and for Trump to remain in office, even though he lost the election fair and square. One of the problems is that we live in a world of social media heresy, where people are able to get others worked up with a few keystrokes and the click of a button. In fact, Facebook in particular is often used by right-wing extremists as a way to recruit, and sometimes train, new members. While social media websites attempt to take down groups or pages with white supremacist or extremist views for fear that they may be used to incite violence, it is impossible to make sure that people with these views do not find their way onto social media and share their hate-filled opinions. There are people who feel that occurrences like this are indicative of a free speech violation; however, it is legally up to websites to create their terms of use and handle violations as such. One thing that’s clear is that when people are given a platform to express hate, other like-minded individuals will find them; because of this, something must be done to ensure that they are unable to recruit new members or incite violence.

read more

ENSURING FAIR ELECTIONS HELPS ENSURE DEMOCRACY

ENSURING FAIR ELECTIONS HELPS ENSURE DEMOCRACY

USRENEW NEWS EDITORIAL | By: Ron Israel, Managing Editor | July 26, 2021

Header photo taken from: Center for American Progress

Follow us on our social media platforms above

Browse more US Renew editorials here

Photo taken from: Fair and Just Prosecution

The United States of America was intended by our founders to be a democratic republic. Our Declaration of Independence enshrines our commitment to the core values of equality, freedom, and self-government. As Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address, we are a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Those who govern America are accountable to the citizens they serve. This accountability gets renewed on a regular basis through an election system that is intended to be fair and transparent, with all citizens being given the opportunity to vote.

Over the past decade our electoral system has come under attack, first by Supreme Court decisions that diminished the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and by a recent series of state level voting laws that are  targeted at placing restrictions on minority voting rights ; second by  the increasing use of state-level partisan gerrymandering to reapportion the way Congressional seats are chosen,  third   through a decision by the Supreme Court that allows corporations to make election contributions and allow  unlimited special amounts of money to be spent , thereby favoring candidates supported and tethered to  interests; and fourth by continued reliance on the outdated, undemocratic  use of an electoral college system for determining the outcome presidential elections.

The Biden administration urgently needs to take steps to address these threats to our election system that in turn threaten to weaken our democracy. USRENEW NEWS views the need to restore the equity and fairness of our voting system as more important than any other issue on President Biden’s agenda. We recommend that the administration put its utmost energies into passage of the following electoral reforms.

1.) Pass Federal voting rights legislation that ensures voting rights and easy access to the ballot box for all

First and foremost, this means passage of the For The People Voting Rights Bill (HR 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act now before Congress.  The For the People Bill would  expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, ban partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders. 

Photo taken from: Brennan Center for Justice

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement would restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act back to its original and full power which would prevent future discriminatory bills from being passed. The passage of these 2 bills will pre-empt ongoing Republican backed efforts to pass state level bills that severely restrict voting rights, especially for minorities, the disabled and young people.

Photo taken from: Center for American Progress

2) Support efforts to establish state level non-partisan independent commissions responsible for re-districting.

The success of such commissions is largely dependent on their structure and i internal system of checks and balances. Carefully designing a commission to promote core values like independence, inclusivity, good-faith negotiation, and transparency is critical to fair redistricting that guards against partisan and racial gerrymandering.

Currently, 21 U.S. states have some form of non-partisan or bipartisan redistricting commission. Of these 21 states, 13 use redistricting commissions to exclusively draw electoral district boundaries. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that redistricting commissions, whose redistricting commission process is independent of the state legislature, were constitutional.

Learn more at https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/better-way-draw-districts

3) Initiate a legal challenge to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

The idea is that a city or state can create a law cracking down on some of the big-money election tactics that have become commonplace, expecting that that law will then be challenged. Once challenged, the fight will advance through the court system and advocates hope, ultimately reach the Supreme Court.

At that point, the court will have the opportunity to reconsider the legal framework of the Citizens’ United case.

Photo taken from: Common Dreams

It also should be noted that a provision of the For the People Act-see # 1—above—calls for public financing of elections and support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Decision.

Learn more at www.defendourdemocracy.org.

4) Support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact aimed at deciding presidential elections by popular vote.

The Compact will guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538).

So far, The National Popular Vote Compact has been endorsed by 16 jurisdictions possessing 195 electoral votes, including 4 small states (DE, HI, RI, VT), 8 medium-sized states (CO, CT, MD, MA, NJ, NM, OR, WA), 3 big states (CA, IL, NY), and the District of Columbia. The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 75 more electoral votes.  

Learn more at www.nationalpopularvote.com

Learn more at www.defendourdemocracy.org.

Photo taken from: Fairvote

Implementing these electoral reform proposals pose a challenge for the Biden administration, given our current highly charged political atmosphere. But it is a challenge well worth taking on if we are to preserve the democratic values and principles upon which our country and government stand.

The Wisdom in Bipartisanship

The Wisdom in Bipartisanship

USRENEW NEWS EDITORIAL
By: Ron Israel | July 9, 2021

Header photo taken from: The University News

Follow us on our social media platforms above

Browse more US RENEW NEWS editorials here

Photo taken from: Bloomberg.com

Many political observers question President Biden’s emphasis on bipartisanship. Why they ask should Biden put so much emphasis on bipartisanship when the other side of the aisle doesn’t seem interested.

Indeed today’s Republican party presents itself  as a group of politicians aligned with former President Trump and his “big lie” that the election was stolen; who seem to want to see the Biden administration fail at all costs; who place power and party over country. The party’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has pledged a platform of non-cooperation with the Biden agenda.

So what gives with President Biden? Why does he seem to be so obsessed with bipartisanship? The answer I believe is that Biden sees  the main goal of his presidency to be the preservation of our democracy; to heal it from the wounds  of the Trump administration.  Biden sees bipartisan  legislative agreement is a means to help achieve his  goal.

And his approach may be beginning to work. Last month a bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic Senators agreed to a  $1.2 trillion “hard infrastructure” bill to repeal America’s broken, bridges ports, and roads. While the bill has many hurdles to cross before being signed into law, it is an important signal that, even in this polarizing time, bipartisanship may be possible. Biden is trying to be a President for all Americans and his infrastructure bill is intended for everyone and not just for Democrats at the exclusion of Republicans.

Historically bipartisanship  in most cases involves compromise. It means reaching an agreement on an issue that may disappoint those on both sides  on the  extreme ends of a political argument. But without compromise  our country for the past several decades has languished in political gridlock as our quality of life diminishes.

So Biden may be justified in his obsession with bipartisanship. Bipartisan political  agreement may be an important way of restoring Americans’  faith in our democratic system. It also might help drive a wedge between pro-Trump extreme right wingers and moderate Republicans who see the wisdom  in bipartisan legislation.

Should the Supreme Court Have Term Limits?

Should the Supreme Court Have Term Limits?

US Renew Op Ed |
By: Paul M. Collins & Artemis Ward | July 6, 2021

Header photo taken from: Progress Texas

Follow us on our social media platforms above

Browse more US Renew Op-Eds here

Reprinted from The Coversation (www.theconversation.com)

Pressure on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to step downwill likely grow now that the court’s session has ended. 

Breyer, 82, joined the court in 1994. His retirement would allow President Joe Biden to nominate his successor and give Democrats another liberal justice, if confirmed.

Supreme Court justices in the U.S. enjoy life tenure. Under Article 3 of the Constitution, justices cannot be forced out of office against their will, barring impeachment. This provision, which followed the precedent of Great Britain, is meant to ensure judicial independence, allowing judges to render decisions based on their best understandings of the law – free from political, social and electoral influences.

Our extensive research on the Supreme Court shows life tenure, while well-intended, has had unforeseen consequences. It skews how the confirmation process and judicial decision-makingwork, and causes justices who want to retire to behave like political operatives. 

Problems with lifetime tenure

Life tenure has motivated presidents to pick younger and younger justices. 

In the post-World War II era, presidents generally forgo appointing jurists in their 60s, who would bring a great deal of experience, and instead nominate judges in their 40s or 50s, who could serve on the court for many decades. 

And they do. Justice Clarence Thomas was appointed by President George H.W. Bush at age 43 in 1991 and famously said he would serve for 43 years. There’s another 13 years until his promise is met. 

The court’s newest member, Donald Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett, was 48 when she took her seat in late 2020 after the death of 87-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee who joined the court at age 60 in 1993, refused to retire. When liberals pressed her to step down during the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama to ensure a like-minded replacement, she protested: “So tell me who the president could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?” 

Partisanship problems

Justices change during their decades on the bench, research shows. 

Justices who at the time of their confirmation espoused views that reflected the general public, the Senate and the president who appointed them tend to move away from those preferencesover time. They become more ideological, focused on putting their own policy preferences into law. For example, Ginsburg grew more liberal over time, while Thomas has become more conservative. 

Other Americans’ political preferences tend to be stable throughout their lives. 

The consequence is that Supreme Court justices may no longer reflect the America they preside over. This can be problematic. If the court were to routinely stray too far from the public’s values, the public could reject its dictates. The Supreme Court relies on public confidence to maintain its legitimacy.

Life tenure has also turned staffing the Supreme Court into an increasingly partisan process, politicizing one of the nation’s most powerful institutions.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Supreme Court nominees could generally expect large, bipartisan support in the Senate. Today, judicial confirmation votes are almost strictly down party lines. Public support for judicial nominees also shows large differencesbetween Democrats and Republicans.

Life tenure can turn supposedly independent judges into political players who attempt to time their departures to secure their preferred successors, as Justice Anthony Kennedy did in 2018. Trump appointed Brett Kavanaugh, one of Kennedy’s former clerks, to replace him.

The proposed solution​

Many Supreme Court experts have coalesced around a solutionto these problems: staggered, 18-year terms with a vacancy automatically occurring every two years in nonelection years. 

This system would promote judicial legitimacy, they argue, by taking departure decisions out of the justices’ hands. It would help insulate the court from becoming a campaign issue because vacancies would no longer arise during election years. And it would preserve judicial independence by shielding the court from political calls to fundamentally alter the institution. 

Partisanship would still tinge the selection and confirmation of judges by the president and Senate, however, and ideological extremists could still reach the Supreme Court. But they would be limited to 18-year terms. 

The U.S. Supreme Court is one of the world’s few high courts to have life tenure. Almost all democratic nations have either fixed terms or mandatory retirement ages for their top judges. Foreign courts have encountered few problems with term limits. 

Even England – the country on which the U.S. model is based – no longer grants its Supreme Court justices life tenure. They must now retire at 70. 

Similarly, although many U.S. states initially granted their supreme court judges life tenure, this changed during the Jacksonian era of the 1810s to 1840s when states sought to increase the accountability of the judicial branch. Today, only supreme court judges in Rhode Island have life tenure. All other states either have mandatory retirement ages or let voters choose when judges leave the bench through judicial elections.

Polling consistently shows a large bipartisan majority of Americans support ending life tenure. This likely reflects eroding public confidence as the court routinely issues decisions down partisan lines on the day’s most controversial issues. Although ideology has long influenced Supreme Court decisions, today’s court is unusual because all the conservative justices are Republicans and all the liberal justices are Democrats.

In April 2021, President Biden formed a committee to examine reforming the Supreme Court, including term-limiting justices. To end the justices’ life tenure would likely mean a constitutional amendment requiring approval from two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of U.S. states. 

Ultimately, Congress, the states and the public they represent will decide whether the country’s centuries-old lifetime tenure system still serves the needs of the American people.

Democracy Now | The Lethal Nexus: Mass Shootings and Domestic Violence

The Lethal Nexus: Mass Shootings and Domestic Violence

Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan  

 

June 3, 2021

You know the United States is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic when the pace of mass shootings gets back to “normal.” As of June 2nd, there were 244 mass shootings in the U.S. this year. That’s one to two per day. The place and time of the next of these horrific acts is unknown, but that one will happen is a certainty. Then another, and another. One consequence of the number of mass shootings in the U.S. is that we possess data related to the crimes, which show a correlation between mass shooters and domestic violence. A majority of the men who commit mass shootings (and men commit at least 97% of them) also have a history of domestic violence. That knowledge, along with sensible, fully-enforced gun control measures, could help stem the epidemic of mass shootings that blights our society, and save the lives of women threatened by intimate partner violence.

Early in the morning of May 26th, as workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail hub prepared trains for the morning commute, employee Samuel Cassidy, 57, arrived and within an hour embarked on a shooting rampage, killing nine of his coworkers before taking his own life. He had three pistols with him, as many as 32 magazines, at least some of which were illegal in California, and dozens more guns at home. The guns he used were all registered and purchased legally.

Cecilia Nelms, Cassidy’s ex-wife, told the New York Times that he said of his coworkers several times, “I wish I could kill them.” Nelms and Cassidy divorced in 2004 after 10 years of marriage, during which time Cassidy became increasingly given to fits of rage and uncontrollable anger with her. In 2009, Samuel Cassidy sought a restraining order against an ex-girlfriend. In her court filing rebutting his accusations, the ex-girlfriend detailed occasions when Cassidy raped her and other times when he attempted to do so. She described episodes of his alcohol-fueled mood swings and violent rages.

“The nexus between firearms violence and domestic violence is a particularly lethal one,” Julia Weber of the Giffords Law Center and an expert on domestic violence policy, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “We have over a million women alive today in the United States who have been shot or shot at by male partners. We have 600 women a year, at least, who are killed by their intimate partners as a result of firearms violence. That’s one about every 14 hours or so.”

Giffords is the gun violence prevention organization co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson while meeting constituents in a shopping center parking lot on January 8th, 2011. She survived, with brain injuries that she continuously works to overcome. Six people were killed by the mass shooter that day, and twelve were injured.

Julia Weber described some of the actions that would help stop perpetrators of domestic violence from committing acts of mass violence: “Getting the firearms from someone who currently owns firearms and becomes prohibited. Ensuring that we have universal background checks, so that if someone who is prohibited attempts to purchase firearms or ammunition, they would be denied. We also need to do a much better job addressing misogyny and domestic violence from the start — recognizing that there’s real harm that occurs as a result of gender bias.”

A recent study from researchers at the University of Indianapolis found that “[m]ale abusers with guns who take the lives of their intimate partners are much more likely to take the lives of others at the same time.” The study also summarized earlier findings that “the presence of a firearm in the home has been shown to increase the risk of death in domestic violence situations as much as five-fold.”

In 2020, Bloomberg News published a study of 749 mass shootings, finding that 60% of those mass shootings were perpetrated during an act of domestic violence or by a man with a history of domestic violence. Bloomberg also found that mass shootings perpetrated by domestic abusers had a consistently higher body count.

The COVID-19 pandemic trapped countless women at home with their abusers, sparking increased calls to domestic abuse hotlines. There was also a surge in gun purchases. Small Arms Analytics reported that, in a country already awash with over 300 million guns, more than 26 million guns were sold in the U.S. in 2020.

Two necessary steps to stop mass shootings is to deny men who beat and abuse women at home the freedom they currently enjoy to buy and own guns, and to take violence against women seriously, strengthening the laws and institutions that protect them from their abusers.

——————-

Amy Goodman – Award-winning investigative journalist and syndicated columnist, author and host/executive producer of Democracy Now! www.democracynow.org

Denis Moynihan is a writer and radio producer who writes a weekly column with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman.

Show some courage! Defy your tribe!

Show some courage! Defy your tribe!
Someday the world, and maybe even your tribe, will thank you.

By Robert Wright from Robert Wright’s Nonzero Newsletter
(available on Substack)

April 26,2021

Last week LeBron James, who has 50 million Twitter followers, tweeted a picture of a policeman in Columbus, Ohio who had shot a 16-year-old Black girl to death. The tweet said, “You’re next. #Accountability.”

Coming right after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the tweet seemed to mean that this cop, like Chauvin, would be convicted of murder and imprisoned—though some took James’s message as more menacing: a threat of vigilante justice.

On either interpretation, the tweet didn’t make sense. The cop’s body cam had captured the killing, and the video told this story:
A cop responding to a 911 call arrives on the scene and sees the 16-year-old, Ma’Khia Bryant, with a knife in her hand, approaching another girl. The other girl is backed up against a parked car, with no means of escape, as Bryant draws the knife back and seems poised to stab her. The cop opens fire.

There are good questions you can ask about the cop’s conduct. Couldn’t he have fired one shot, not four? Or, instead of shooting Bryant, could he have rushed her, hoping any stabbing attempt would be ineffective and he could wrestle her to the ground before she did real damage? But if I were the girl the knife was pointed at, I probably wouldn’t be complaining about the decisions he made. In any event, he acted within standard policing guidelines, which say you can use your gun to end a lethal threat to yourself or anyone else.
During the first couple of days after the shooting, my Twitter feed, which tilts to the left, featured a number of tweets that, like James’s, condemned the cop. And it contained almost no tweets making the point I just made—that, though this was a white cop shooting a Black person, it was also a white cop shooting someone who seemed to be trying to stab a Black person.

I sensed a need for someone—like me, for example—to push against the prevailing narrative, to tweet something that might help clarify things. So what did I tweet? Nothing. Why? Because I lacked courage. I just didn’t feel up to dealing with blowback from people on Twitter who, forced to choose between evaluating your argument and attacking you, reliably opt for thermonuclear war.

I’m more and more convinced that there are lots of people like me out there. No, I don’t mean cowards. And I don’t just mean people who think there are too many misleading and inflammatory social media posts by influential people. Obviously, lots of people in red America think there are too many of those posts coming from blue America and lots of people in blue America think there are too many of those posts coming from red America.

What I mean is that there are lots of people who think there are too many of those posts coming from their own tribe—whether red or blue or some other tribe—but are afraid to speak up about it.

I say we start speaking up! Here are some reasons that, at least from my own tribal perspective, speaking up seems like a good idea.
1) If my tribe doesn’t seize the moment, the other tribe will. Ben Shapiro, formerly an editor at Breitbart and currently a right-wing troll, got tons of mileage out of a tweetcomplaining that liberals were resisting the truth about the Columbus shooting. He’d have gotten at least somewhat less mileage if liberals hadn’t in fact seemed to be resisting the truth about the Columbus shooting. When your tribe is denying something that’s obviously true because it doesn’t fit into your tribe’s standard menu of talking points, that’s often a gift to the other tribe. And it can add to the power of people in the other tribe who seize the moment. I personally don’t want to add to Ben Shapiro’s power.

2) If my tribe doesn’t seize the moment, the world will be more likely to enter a spiral of doom. You knew this was coming, right? After all, if I couldn’t connect the theme of courage to the apocalypse, why would I be writing about courage in a newsletter that is devoted to the Apocalypse Aversion Project?

You may ask: But isn’t apocalypse aversion largely about international politics—avoiding wars, building structures of international governance to tackle problems nations can’t tackle alone, and so on? Yes, but:
It’s hard to build coherent international governance on a foundation of incoherent nations. An America lacking in cohesion, divided along red-blue lines, won’t have the political will to do ambitious, politically difficult things. Such as: crafting and then participating in new forms of international cooperation designed to prevent things like pandemics, environmental calamities, and arms races in space or in bioweapons or in AI.

To get a little more granular: Doing these things will require convincing some skeptical Americans—definitely including some who are right of center—that these things make sense. And these Americans will be hard to convince if the people trying to convince them come from a tribe they hate—all the more so if one reason they hate the tribe is because it can’t be trusted to gets its facts straight (like when it accuses cops of racism or murder even when there’s no good evidence of either).
In short: standing up to your own tribe can strengthen its ability to argue persuasively for important policies, including anti-apocalypse policies.

There’s another sense in which courage can aid in the building of good international governance. It takes a little explaining, but the explanation begins with a simple, almost self-evident premise: It’s hard to build coherent international governance on a foundation of international division. Obviously, the more time nations spend at odds—whether fighting actual wars, engaging in tense standoffs, or enduring chilly relations—the less likely international cooperation is.

Now, sometimes being at odds with other nations is the only real option. If a country invades another country, or egregiously mistreats its own people, pushing back against that, sometimes forcefully, can make sense.

But in some cases we overdo the pushback, and one common reason is that we overstate the transgressions we’re pushing back against. Often the way this works is that people who are deeply invested in hostility toward a country exaggerate its transgressions, and hardly anybody has the courage to challenge the exaggeration.

The exaggeration isn’t always, or even usually, intentional. Often people who agitate against, say, Russia or China feel (like LeBron James) that they’re just telling the truth. And sometimes they are. But various cognitive biases make it quite possible that they’re wrong—that they’re unconsciously exaggerating how menacing a country is or how cruel it is to its own people. Depending on the nature of their claims and the prevailing zeitgeist, it can take courage to challenge them.

For example: During the runup to the 2003 Iraq War, it took courage to challenge the claim that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction. And by “challenge” I don’t mean denying that he was building them—I just mean saying, “Are we really sure about this?” It’s hard to explain to people who are too young to remember those days why it wasn’t easy to ask a question like that. But the mass psychology of a moralistic rush to war is a strangely powerful thing.

Some kinds of pro-war narratives are especially hard to challenge. In the runup to the earlier war against Iraq, the Persian Gulf War of 1991, a Kuwaiti teenager testified before a congressional committee that while she was volunteering in a Kuwaiti hospital she had watched as Iraqi soldiers “took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the children to die on the cold floor.” President Bush repeated that story 10 times in the coming weeks, as support for invading Iraq grew.

Who wants to challenge a Kuwaiti teenager who tells a story like that? Who wants to be called an “apologist” for baby killers? Nobody. But it turned out she was lying. Two years later we learned that she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US and had been coached by the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton.

But that’s all in the past! And the past is where it’s easy to find examples like that. Finding them in the present is harder. One reason is that it takes courage to sound a note of skepticism about such claims in real time, when emotions are running high. So they tend not to get investigated until after they’ve done their damage.

Right now there are good examples of this—claims about bad behavior by foreign actors that may, for all we know, be exaggerated or even flat-out wrong. You can find examples having to do with the governments of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria. Want to hear about them? Sorry, I’m not feeling that courageous at the moment. But I’ll get back to some of them soon in this newsletter.
Meanwhile, I close on a note of hope: After a period of reflection, LeBron James deleted his tweet.

Who gets a second chance?

Original Post Here

In theory, second chances are a good thing. I mean, we all need them. Many of the ancient religions counsel mercy, and second chances are the natural consequence of that. Situations are not identities. Your worst deed is merely a situation. You should have the chance to become more than that deed, to transcend it.

But as the Trump era fades and a new wave of second-chance-seeking gets under way, I have been wondering: Who gets second chances and who doesn’t, what must you do to get one, and how is that connected to all the people who don’t even get first chances in America?

After President Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, what we’ve known all along was confirmed once again, and flagrantly: that certain people, especially if they are rich and powerful and white and male, enjoy total impunity in American public life. There will be no consequences for Donald Trump. Maybe some prosecutor somewhere will find a spine, but I wouldn’t bet my coffee on it.

So now, with a kind of constitutional sanction, Trump will get his thousandth second chance. Just as he got after every business failure, just as he got every time he crossed some supposed red line in office. And is this surprising? Is this second chance to resume a role in public life all that different from the impunity of every police officer who has shot an unarmed Black person? Is it different from the impunity of every Republican who laid the ground for Trumpism, then bailed at the last minute, only to reinvent themselves as a democracy-is-fragile guru? Is it different from the impunity of the speculators who caused the 2008 financial crisis? Is it different from the impunity of those who brought us Guantanamo and torture and Iraq and Katrina and climate change and voter suppression and suffocating plutocracy and more?

Not only are these powerful figures who maim or defraud or starve or oppress other people immune from accountability in America today. They come back better than ever. The 21st-century second chance is a flashy, well-publicized, flex of a reentry in which one expects more than a chance to be back in polite society. One expects to lead, to become an expert in the problem one caused, in the vanguard of the search for solutions to the problem that one is, the fire chief of the department investigating the arson one has set.

See, for example, how many highly culpable figures of the George W. Bush presidency have now become well-published writers on the topic of saving democracy — saving it from the totally predictable consequences of everything they once worked toward. Or how the Lincoln Project guys, before the organization imploded, became media darlings, despite having somehow had no problem with the pre-Trump Republican Party of “welfare queen” slander, the Southern strategy, trickle down, WMDs, Sarah Palin, and more. Or how the Wall Street speculators who brought you the 2008 crisis around the world now run “impact” and “social” funds, promising to solve through their investing genius the problem of poverty to which they helped contribute. Or how Jeff Bezos is now donating money to fund free preschool for children from low-income families, which is another way of saying the families Bezos and his friends underpay and thwart from unionizing.

If you play your cards right, you don’t even need to atone for one of these second chances. You can go straight from the arson to the firefighting, straight from causing the problem to leading the search for solutions to it. You can do this by starting a foundation, or writing some attention-getting magazine cover, or, as Kellyanne Conway did the other day, dancing on “American Idol” to begin the reputation-laundering process that will surely get her a cable explanatory job soon.

This oversimplifies it somewhat, but I imagine a certain older arc of atonement that went something like: Sin>Accountability>Redemption. What we often see now is a very different arc, more like Sin>Sin-related expertise>Leadership of sin prevention. It will not be long before some of the most craven collaborators of Donald Trump are teaching seminars and leading panels on how to guard against future autocracy.

So one of the problems with this kind of second chance that so dominates our public life is that it isn’t really a second chance, because people don’t atone, don’t seek mercy, don’t show they’ve changed. They just clean their stink, which is different. And they go right to the helm of supposed solution-seeking, cutting in line everyone who was right all along, in fact battling them all along.

But another, more fundamental problem with these costless second chances for those at the top is they entrench a reality in which second, and often first, chances are withheld from most people. There is a zero-sum relationship between these second chances at the top and the chances people enjoy below the stratosphere. Because if bankers who wreck the housing market get costless second chances, bankers keep doing what they did, and people down below don’t get second chances to own a home after losing one to foreclosure. If people who lie the nation into war get costless second chances, there will be more lying into wars, and more young men and women who, meeting an IED on some dusty road, get no second chance. If people who enable fascism get costless second chances on cable and reality TV, it reduces the price of enabling fascism, and that makes it that much more likely that a refugee from violence won’t get a new start here. If the tax avoiders and union busters get costless second chances through reputation-laundering philanthropy, their workers will see their chances of ever experiencing a day of economic security withering and dying.

Their second chances, high up there, are the reason you perhaps often feel you don’t have a first one. Not everything in life is simple. This is. Either they keep getting second chances they don’t deserve — or you start getting first chances you do.

The Rise of White Nationalism in America

USRESIST NEWS OP ED

The Rise of White Nationalism in America

By Erika Shannon

January 22, 2021

The recent attack on America’s Capitol has certainly confirmed what many have worried for a long time – that white supremacy is on the rise here in the U.S. With recent events, it can be seen that this is a fast-growing problem. These far-right extremists are often disillusioned Trump supporters who want nothing more than to create chaos and for Trump to remain in office, even though he lost the election fair and square. One of the problems is that we live in a world of social media heresy, where people are able to get others worked up with a few keystrokes and the click of a button. In fact, Facebook in particular is often used by right-wing extremists as a way to recruit, and sometimes train, new members. While social media websites attempt to take down groups or pages with white supremacist or extremist views for fear that they may be used to incite violence, it is impossible to make sure that people with these views do not find their way onto social media and share their hate-filled opinions. There are people who feel that occurrences like this are indicative of a free speech violation; however, it is legally up to websites to create their terms of use and handle violations as such. One thing that’s clear is that when people are given a platform to express hate, other like-minded individuals will find them; because of this, something must be done to ensure that they are unable to recruit new members or incite violence.

A burning question for many is who are these people? Often times, they are those you would least expect: your neighbor, mailman, doctor, or barber. People of all ages are involved with the white nationalist movement. Many members are associated with the alt-right and have conservative ideals. According to research by the Institute for Family Studies, white people with no college degree make up a large chunk of these white nationalists. This suggests that members of these hate groups are less educated, which means that education may be a powerful tool for fighting racism in America. Their research also indicates that white males in the lowest income group ($0-$29,000) are more likely to have a strong sense of white identity and solidarity. The research by IFS also shows that while a large chunk of white nationalists are 65 and older, there is not a huge age gap; this means that the amount of white nationalists across age groups is fairly uniform, and it can be inferred that children of white supremacists are being taught white pride ideologies by their parents.

The reason why people get involved with white supremacist groups is not exactly clear-cut. The attitude carried by members of these groups is one of superiority. Often these extremists have a strong sense of white identity, as well as a sense of white victimization for fear that they will one day no longer be the majority. According to the US Census Bureau, all racial and ethnic minorities are growing faster than whites here in America. By 2044, it is projected that the white non-Hispanic population will no longer be the majority. With that looming fact, there should be no surprise that white nationalists are coming out of the cracks to regain a sense of power. Other reasons for people becoming white nationalists can include a desire to feel significant, a need to blame their lack of success on another race, and of course, a sense of belonging among their white nationalist group members. These reasons seem to overlap with reasons why young men would join a gang, and to put it bluntly: white supremacist groups in America ARE gangs However, without the threat of police violence looming over them, gangs of white supremacists feel brave and emboldened enough to march our nation’s capitol with their faces exposed, and the names of their family business proudly emblazoned on their clothes. This boldness is what we, as American citizens, have to worry about. Members of white nationalist groups have a skewed view of the world, in which they are the biggest victims in society. With that mentality, we cannot be sure what they are capable of carrying out in order to give themselves a sense of significance and power. With hate crimes on the rise over the past decade, it is clear that more effort must be put forth to put a stop to the spread of white nationalism in the U.S.

Engagement  Resources

TRUMP SUPPORTERS BECOME INSURRECTIONISTS: SOMETHING MUST BE DONE

USRESIST EDITORIAL
January 8, 2021

TRUMP SUPPORTERS BECOME INSURRECTIONISTS: SOMETHING MUST BE DONE

On Wednesday of this week a mob of Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol wearing MAGA hats and waving Confederate flags. They desecrated the Senate chambers, took over offices of members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi, broke windows, smashed furnishings, and overran the Capitol police. Their actions were inspired by conspiracy-driven words of President Trump, on Twitter for the past several months and at a kickoff rally on the Washington Mall.  Trump has been falsely insisting that the 2020 Presidential election had been stolen from him and urging his supporters to “stop the steal.”

Commentators have called this an “attempted coup, “an “insurrection “and a “dark day in American history”, all of which are true; but the question before us now is what are we going to do about it? We cannot let this attack on our democracy continue. We do not want to go through 4 years of Trump rallying his followers to take similar seditious actions and delegitimize our electoral process. We cannot let the country fall apart because of the ego and misguided psychological makeup of a man who cannot admit that he lost an election.

USRESIST NEWS recommends that the following actions be taken:

  1. A High-Level Bi-Partisan Commission should be established to make recommendations for ensuring the integrity of our electoral system going forward, and considering the possibility of getting rid of the electoral college..
  2. The FBI should undertake an investigation into the January 7th protests with the ability to prosecute wrong doers.
  3. The effort to track and prosecute home-grown white nationalist terrorism should be given highest priority.
  4. Any effort by President Trump to pardon himself should be legally challenged by the new Attorney General.
  5. State level efforts to prosecute President Trump for his attempt to change the vote-tally in Georgia should be implemented.
  6. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites should take down any tweets or posts from President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others that claim the election was stolen. (Notably Facebook has recently banned Trump from posting on their platform.)
  7. Efforts by New York State and other local authorities to prosecute crimes committed by President Trump should be accelerated.
  8. Congress should consider impeaching President Trump and barring him from future office-holding because of his role in instigating the January 6th break in.
  9. Republican lawmakers should review the leadership of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to ensure that Mr. Trump has no role with the RNC once he leaves office. This will help to ensure that his rhetoric and ideals become separate from future Republican policies. The RNC can still be the RNC but with less “Trumpism” in the policies they stand for.

We realize there are risks involved in taking these actions; that they may further polarize our political environment and make Trump appear as a martyr to his followers.. But to do nothing at this point would be a greater risk. We would be turning our back on injustice, and the criminal and seditious acts committed by President Trump and his followers over the past 4 years and allowing them to continue.

The Stars Aligned to Enable a Biden Presidency

An extraordinary set of events, circumstances and people came together at the right time to enable Joe Biden to become the 46th President of the United States. This Editorial is a shout-out to those who made Biden’s election possible, including.

Joe Biden himself, a dark horse candidate who towards  the end-of-the-race came from near last place, got a great endorsement, and with the wind at his back went on to capture the Democratic Party’s nomination. Biden succeeded in identifying himself  more with basic character issues ( empathy, honesty, integrity ) than with specific policy ideas and that enabled him to appeal to a broad group of voters from both parties.

Jim Clyburn, Congressmen from South Carolina, whose last minute endorsement  enabled Biden to capture the South Carolina primary, and gain momentum first  from African American voters, and then  from others, that carried him to victory in  almost all of the remaining Democratic primary contests.

The Other Democratic presidential candidates ( Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) who put their differences aside and endorsed the Biden candidacy once it was become clear that Biden had enough delegates to win the nomination. The other candidates recognized that defeating Trump was the paramount election issue, and that required a unified party.

Christopher Krebs, the former Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Project (CSIS)  in the Department of Homeland Security, who worked tirelessly to help states set up voting systems that could not readily be hacked and  withstand rigorous recounts.

Stacey Abrams (Georgia) , Cindy McCain (Arizona), Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan) and other swing-state leaders who endorsed Biden’s candidacy and worked tirelessly to get out the vote in their states.

Trump himself who refused to lead the country, and ran a terrible campaign focused on voter suppression, conspiracy theories, lies about himself and fear mongering about lawlessness in US cities that didn’t exist.

There also were important political and socio-economic factors that helped Biden win, including  huge voter turnout, the highest in 120 years; the worsening pandemic and the economic downturn that many voters saw caused by  Trump administration mismanagement.

It is not easy to vote a sitting President out-of-office. Lots of events need to happen at the right time, and the right people need to do the right things. Although we at USRESIST NEWS are not in the astrology business we wouldn’t be surprised to see an astrological chart of how the political stars aligned over our country on November 4th to enable a Biden Presidency. Thank God.

How Best to Protest

Across the U.S., in cities large and small, protesting increasingly is a popular way for ordinary Americans, especially young adults, to make their concerns and causes known.  The First Amendment  grants Americans free speech and the right to protest.

Motivating many young adults in the U.S. and Europe to organize rallies, demonstrations and marches has been administration and policies of President Donald Trump. The uptick in civil rights protests began in 2016, with Trump’s campaign for president. They have yet to stop – and address an increasing variety of issues and campaigns, most notably the “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu, the South African human rights activist, famously said.

Understanding your rights and how to stay safe is essential. Here are five tips on how to make the most out of a protest — and protect yourself and your friends.

  • Go prepared: Bring water to drink and to wash off your skin or eyes, in the event police are called and tear gas or pepper spray is used. Bring snacks. Check the weather forecast. The protest may go on for hours. Make signs with simple messages. Plan your exit if you need to leave the protest quickly, if activities become violent.
  • Safety comes first: Wear protective goggles over your eyes. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to move in. Attend with a group of friends and/or colleagues you trust. Know your surroundings. If you are pepper sprayed, stay calm. Change your clothes. Don’t touch your face and other areas exposed. A baking soda solution mixed with water is best for removing it. When things get dangerous, the best advice is to leave and to protect yourself.
  • Understand your rights: If you are injured, for example, you have the right to obtain medical assistance without delay. You have the right to attend a peaceful assembly and the right to be told the reason if you are arrested. Be sure to carry ID.
  • Interacting with police: The police are there for everyone’s protection and to maintain order. That said, if a police officer becomes threatening or violent, get his or her badge number. Keep your hands where officers can see them. Try to film or record the encounter, or ask someone else to do it. If you’re arrested, ask to see a lawyer and stay silent until you have legal help, according to the ACLU. Follow instructions given to you. If you witness an arrest, do not try to intervene but you can try to record the event.
  • After the protest: Follow up. Learn about other ways to engage to make sure the campaign or advocacy does not end with the protest.

 

RESOURCES

  • ACLU discusses the right under federal law to assemble and protest.

https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/protesters-rights/

  • Wikipedia gives a thorough explanation of the right to protest.

https://bit.ly/3bLcwOf

  • com offers a state-by-state look at protest laws.

https://civilrights.findlaw.com/enforcing-your-civil-rights/protest-laws-by-state.html

x
x

Join the Resistance---Your donation helps support the work we do to bring you news and analysis of government policies and the organizations seeking to resist them.

Pin It on Pinterest