Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald Accepts Plea Agreement to Reduced Manslaughter Charge

From Free CeCe:

Press Release

by FreeCece Mcdonald on Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Racism Transphobia in Legal System, Continued Assault, McDonald Survived, Supporters Charge

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network,, (612) 363-757 and Billy Navarro Jr, MN TransgenderHealth Coalition,, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis, MN — Earlier today, Ms. Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the second degree in the criminal case resulting from the racist, transphobic assault she survived last June that left one of her attackers dead. The prosecution had originally charged her with felony murder in the second degree. However, after entering into plea negotiations this morning, the defense and the prosecution settled on the reduced charge. McDonald will be sentenced on June 4th at 1:30pm under Hennepin County Judge Daniel Moreno to 41 months in prison. The executed sentence will be reduced by one third, for “good time” and credit for the time McDonald has served pending this resolution.

The plea agreement comes nearly a year after McDonald was arrested, interrogated, denied adequate medical care for a laceration she suffered during the attack and held in solitary confinement for a month for being a transgender person. During the pre-trial proceedings, supporters raised world-wide support for the charges against McDonald to be dropped. Last month, supporters delivered to Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman a petition for dropping the charges with over 15,000 signatures and dozens of letters of support for McDonald from organizations and prominent individuals from around the globe. Freeman consistently failed to exercise his professional discretion and take a stand against racism and transphobia by dropping the charges.

“Freeman’s aggressive prosecution of CeCe was a continuation of the racist, transphobic assault that led to her being charged and resulted in the tragic death of one of the assailants,” said Kris Gebhard of the CeCe McDonald Support Committee. “We’ve been proud to stand with CeCe as she fought this unjust prosecution and will continue to stand with her as she fights for justice as a trans woman of color within the prison system.”

In a press conference after the plea agreement was accepted in court, Katie Burgess of the Trans Youth Support Network addressed the crowd of supporters filling the steps outside the HennepinCounty Courthouse. Burgess said:

“Over the past 10 months I have witnessed the legal system isolating and attacking another young trans woman of color in our community, CeCe McDonald. And over the past 10 months, I have also witnessed our community say very clearly, ‘You are not alone, CeCe! And we have had enough!’

“With the whole world watching, Freeman’s office consistently chose not to take the opportunity to stand up against racism and transphobia. Freeman himself said, and I quote, ‘The criminal justice system is not built for, nor is it necessarily good at, solving a lot of society’s problems.’

“We know that this system is not designed to deliver justice to young trans women of color. We are going to continue to support CeCe as she goes through this process and continue to stand for justice for all trans people and people of color so that this is the last time a young trans woman ofcolor has to go through this.”

Supporters will pack the courtroom for the sentencing on June 4th and continue to rally support for McDonald and to demand justice for all trans people and people of color.

For further updates, visit and follow @Free_CeCe.

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Transsexual woman cited after using woman’s restroom


Do the HBS Sisters of Transsexual purity who side with the radical feminists and the ultra right wing Christo-Fascists want people in treatment, with Doctor’s letters stating they are on hormones and in transition to be denied restroom access.

Or is this a case of unintended consequences where supporting the bigotry of the Christo-Fascists/Radical Feminists hurts people who have actually done the “right thing with hormones and treatment letters.”

I used the women’s room for three years while I was a pre-op with only a card stating I was in treatment for transsexualism.  But we were a better country before the rise of the right wing/Christo-Fascist/radical feminist axis.

I have a hard time believing just how callous people are and how willing they are to join lynch mobs.

From Channel 9 News:

May 2, 2012

DALLAS – A transsexual woman was issued a ticket for using the women’s restroom at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

Parkland police cited Paula Witherspoon, whose legal name is Paul Witherspoon, for disorderly conduct on April 25.

“It was definitely humiliating, degrading,” she said. “I felt like I was being discriminated against.”

A Parkland representative said the hospital received a complaint from a concerned female patient about a man in the women’s restroom.

“This is 2012, and I’ve been transitioning since 2006, and I’ve never had a problem until I went to Parkland Hospital,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon said she doesn’t even remember seeing anyone else in the restroom until she walked out.

“There was a lady there that said, ‘That’s a man.’ I just ignored her and kept going,” Witherspoon said.


Witherspoon said she offered to show the officer a transition letter from her doctor that states, “She is expected to use facilities consistent with her external presentation, which is female.”

Complete article at:

Addition information has come forth that cast some doubts on the veracity of this story

‘Shame on You’: Why I Interrupted Obama Counter-Terrorism Adviser John Brennan

From Common Dreams:

by Medea Benjamin
Published on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 by Common Dreams

Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC on April 30 to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. It was the first time a high level member of the Obama Administration spoke at length about the U.S. drone strikes that the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command have been carrying out in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

“President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts,” Brennan explained.

I had just co-organized a Drone Summit over the weekend, where Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar told us heart-wrenching stories about the hundreds of innocent victims of our drone attacks. We saw horrific photos of people whose bodies were blown apart by Hellfire missiles, with only a hand or a slab of flesh remaining. We saw poor children on the receiving end of our attacks—maimed for life, with no legs, no eyes, no future. And for all these innocents, there was no apology, no compensation, not even an acknowledgement of their losses. Nothing.

The U.S. government refuses to disclose who has been killed, for what reason, and with what collateral consequences. It deems the entire world a war zone, where it can operate at will, beyond the confines of international law.

So there I was at the Wilson Center, listening to Brennan describe our policies as ethical, “wise,” and in compliance with international law. He spoke as if the only people we kill with our drone strikes are militants bent on killing Americans. “It is unfortunate that to save innocent lives we are sometimes obliged to take lives – the lives of terrorists who seek to murder our fellow citizens.” The only mention of taking innocent lives referred to Al Qaeda. “Al Qaeda’s killing of innocent civilians, mostly Muslim men, women and children, has badly tarnished its image and appeal in the eyes of Muslims around the world.” This is true, but the same must be said of U.S. policies that fuel anti-American sentiments in the eyes of Muslims around the world.

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Maryland Cardinal Mandates That Marriage Discrimination Letter Be Read Aloud at Mass

From Huffington Post:


Is it just me, or are these news items becoming a daily occurrence?

Here’s the latest, courtesy of popular LGBT blog Joe.My.God: The office of Baltimore Cardinal Edwin O’Brien required that a pro-marriage-discrimination letter authored by the cardinal himself be read aloud at Mass this past weekend as part of a petition drive to collect the signatures needed to ensure that a statewide referendum to overturn Maryland’s new marriage equality law makes it onto the ballot in November.

The cardinal addressed Catholics directly in the letter: “Today after Mass, you will have the opportunity to sign this petition, and I strongly encourage you to do so.” Later, he falls back on the anti-LGBT fear mongering that seems to have become a number-one priority for Catholic leaders, saying that the “Church’s understanding about marriage” is being “deeply threatened” by the specter of marriage equality. (Funny, I thought the only thing being threatened by marriage equality was the ability of churches to write their religious dogmas into civil law, but I must have missed something…)

Complete article at:

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Immortal Technique on May Day protests

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Occupy May Day protests across US as activists and unions link up

From The Guardian UK:

Occupy Wall Street movement regroups for largely orderly demonstrations in New York and skirmishes elsewhere

in New York, Tuesday 1 May 2012

The Occupy Wall Street movement has attempted to breathe new life into its campaign against inequities in the global financial system with a series of May Day protests around the United States.

Thousands of people turned out in New York for a day of action that culminated in a confident march down Broadway in the evening sunshine towards Wall Street, the crucible of the protest that began last year with an angry backlash against banking excess.

The stated aim of bringing business in the commercial capital of the US to a standstill went unfulfilled, but as rain gave way to a bright spring afternoon, traffic ground to a halt around Lower Manhatttan as the Occupy movement‘s most anticipated day of action in months took hold.

There were some clashes with police as officers clamped down on perceived violations, and the NYPD confirmed were 30 arrests by the early evening. There were flashpoints also at protests elsewhere in the United States.

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Extremist Personhood Initiatives Prove To Be a Losing Strategy. Help Us Continue to Win the War on Women

From The ACLU:

by Talcott Camp
May 1, 2012

In the midst of endless attacks on women’s health, there have been a few recent victories worth celebrating. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a group calling itself “Personhood USA” cannot use the ballot initiative process to ban abortion (and contraception, in vitro fertilization, and miscarriage treatment as well). Intent on granting legal rights to fertilized eggs, these anti-choice activists sought to strip women of their right to determine when and whether to access those critical health care services. The court correctly reasoned that such a ban is “repugnant to the Constitution of the United States,” and that allowing it on the ballot would therefore result in nothing but “a costly and futile election.” The ACLU and the ACLU of Oklahoma, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, challenged the initiative in March, and on behalf of the state’s women and families, we are enormously grateful and relieved that it won’t be on the ballot in November.

And just last week, a similar piece of legislation — S.B. 1433, the “Personhood Bill” — stalled in the Oklahoma House, and so cannot pass the Oklahoma legislature this year. It had passed in the Oklahoma Senate, but then the extremists overplayed their hand in the House. Asked repeatedly by representatives if the bill would ban abortion, they claimed it would not, but then refused to support amendments that would have protected women’s access to abortion care, showing the true purpose behind the bill. In a stunning loss last Wednesday, one of the sponsors sought just 15 other politicians to stand up with him — not to vote for the bill, but just to force the full House to vote on it. Even for that limited purpose, he couldn’t get 15 colleagues to stand up. That is an unprecedented victory in a state that has passed just about every other extreme, anti-woman bill imaginable. Did Oklahoma representatives feel lied to? Did they respond to the mass outrage the bill generated, summed up in the now celebrated poster, “If I wanted the Government in my womb, I’d f#%k a senator”?

Whatever the exact reason, something has shifted. Politicians are beginning to realize that extremist positions such as criminalizing abortion care will win them some votes, but will cost them more. As the “war on women” marches on, a critical mass of women and allies have stood up, spoken up, and changed the political winds.

Complete article at:

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OWS May Day NYC Protests

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Why Are We Striking?

From Ad Busters:

Or to put it another way – what’s wrong with the world?

Mike David ,
30 Apr 2012

Of course, most of us know what’s wrong with the world. We know about the poverty, war, violence and disease. We’re conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we’ve come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life – prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we’re striking.

Our growing sense of isolation and disconnection, whether from ourselves, from those next door to us, or from those producing our food and products halfway across the globe, is why we’re striking. Our forced support of perpetual war waged for and by the 1% – whether explicitly with speech, or implicitly with inaction and tax dollars – without ever paying mind to the true causes and motives behind it, is why we’re striking. Our failure uptil now to connect the dots and realize that the benefits of a cheap iPod, lovely as it may be, would be far outweighed by the benefits of a truly just world free of exploitation, is why we’re striking.

The fact that most of us are too busy being exploited to realize we’re being exploited – too busy greasing the cogs of our economic system to notice how the fruits of our labor never fail to float up and out of our reach – is why we’re striking, as is the fact that most aren’t able to do anything about this exploitation even when we do notice it. While some of us are lucky enough to have jobs and careers that give real meaning to our lives, allowing us to take full advantage of our talents and fulfill our destiny, most of us have jobs devoid of meaning and dignity, yet full of the feeling that we are fulfilling someone else’s destiny. Our recognition that the ruling class’s seat at the top of the pyramid is prepared and propped up by the working class is why we’re striking. Our knowledge that it’s actually the CEO who is the most dependent among us, and that the ones truly indispensable to our society are not bankers, lobbyists and politicians, but workers, teachers and engineers, is why we’re striking.

Indeed, the fact that we have an economic system which functions in the same manner as a virus is why we’re striking. Just as a virus’s only reason for existence is to expand, without regard or awareness of the effect of its expansion on its host body, our economic system pursues its infinite expansion without regard or awareness of its effect on human welfare or the environment. Though the earth is finite, it is sustainable, so we reject, in the words of Michael Nagler, “the inherent contradiction of an economy based on indefinitely increasing wants – instead of on human needs that the planet has ample resources to fulfill.”

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Catholicism and the GOP: An Awkward Tango

From Truth Dig:

By William Pfaff
Posted on May 1, 2012

A novel aspect of the Republican campaign for the party’s presidential nomination has been the importance placed by some candidates, their admirers and some voters on the Catholic religion and certain claims to formal academic certification or endorsement.

Begin with Newt Gingrich, who for a time was a leading figure in the race for the Republican nomination. Like the president himself, Congressman Gingrich possesses academic credentials, his in modern European history from Tulane University. He makes the double-barreled claim that America under a continuing liberal Democratic administration will become “a secular atheist country … dominated by radical Islamists.”

In Washington, his Ph.D. degree in history earned him—according to his account—$1.6 million as an adviser on historical matters to the government-sponsored Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation—Freddie Mac. As the value of the agency’s possible concerns with European history seemed unlikely to justify such a sum, Washington opinion assumed that his connection with the agency was closer to that of a Washington “fixer.” In this he seemed more successful than in his well-publicized marriage entanglements, although the latter left his religious admirers apparently unperturbed.

The “bunkum” artist is a familiar figure from the folklore of the American 19th century who makes up “facts” as required in the sale of the all-healing snake oil liniment he sells (the vaudevillian and film star W.C. Fields made a career from his impersonation).

Another familiar American figure is the earnest swot who knows less than he thinks he does, but does know more than a lot of voters, and indeed in the following case, and in a sensitive matter, more—apparently—than most of his Republican campaign-trail cohorts, as well as some serious national commentators. He has dazzled them with economics and moral theology as well.

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Police clash with protesters in Oakland and Seattle on May Day

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Richard Grenell hounded from Romney campaign by anti-gay conservatives

From The Washington Post:


Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman recently hired to sharpen the foreign policy message of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has resigned in the wake of a full-court press by anti-gay conservatives.

In a statement obtained by Right Turn, Grenell says:

I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Grenell decided to resign after being kept under wraps during a time when national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.

Pieces in two conservative publications, the National Review and Daily Caller, reflected the uproar by some social conservatives over the appointment. [UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: Although Grenell also raised the ire of liberal commentators with now-deleted tweets about certain prominent women, none of the sources I spoke with mentioned the tweets as a factor in his resignation decision.]

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Organising against the enemies of internet freedom

From The Guardian UK:

There are powerful state and corporate interests ranged against an open internet. We need a global movement to check them, Friday 27 April 2012

On 24 April, a group of internet entrepreneurs sought to get the future into a single conference room in Chelsea, and have it talk. “Hacking Society” was hosted by Union Square Ventures – the venture capital firm that was an early investor in Zynga, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Etsy, and Kickstarter. The mission:

“[To] discuss how the economics of networks might help solve challenging social and economic problems; examine how incumbents use their influence over the current policy process to stave off competition from networks; define a proactive, network-friendly ‘freedom to innovate’ policy agenda; and examine how ‘net native’ policy advocacy works and how it can be harnessed to promote a positive agenda as well as overthrow bad policy and bad regimes.”

A tall order but desperately needed: in an era when revolutions start on Facebook but are ended by internet surveillance; when activists in China connect by tweets but are stalked and arrested by tweets; and when we are seeing copycat legislation in democracies around the world, from Australia to Britain, to Canada and the US, to grab the internet in the hands of the state … many people around the world would want this group to hammer out a successful self-defense agenda.

Present were all sectors needed for lift-off: internet freedom champions John Perry Barlow and Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; network theory gurus Clay Shirky of NYU and Yochai Benkler of Harvard ; commercial success stories such as Craig Newmark of Craigslist and originators of Mozilla, Reddit and Kickstarter; campaign finance reform champion Larry Lessig; even the Hill was represented by Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee, and a trade aide for Representative Ron Wyden of Oregon.

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Neo-Nazi Texas Republican Attorney General Compares Planned Parenthood To Terrorist Organization

It’s time to stop pretending the Republicans haven’t become the Nazi Party of America. Their hatred of women and LGBT people makes them completely un-American

From Huffington Post:

05/ 1/2012

Just two hours after a U.S. district judge stopped a Texas law that would have eliminated Planned Parenthood’s participation in the state’s Women’s Health Program, Federal Appeals Judge Jerry E. Smith issued an emergency stay that lifted that order.

In the appeal for the emergency stay, a team of attorneys led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott compared Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization.

“Planned Parenthood does not provide any assurance that the tax subsidies it receives from the Women’s Health Program have not been used directly or indirectly to subsidize its advocacy of elective abortion,” Abbott wrote in his motion to stay the injunction. “Nor is it possible for Planned Parenthood to provide this assurance.”

“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies — even if ‘earmarked’ for nonabortion activities — free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions … (because ‘[m]oney is fungible,’ First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to ‘humanitarian’ activities performed by terrorist organizations).”

The “federal material-support statute” that Abbott mentions makes it a felony to give money to a terrorist organization, even if the funds are specified for nonterrorist activities. Abbott makes the argument that giving Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, pap smears, STD testing and birth control is akin to giving a terrorist organization money for humanitarian activities.

Planned Parenthood responded Tuesday to the terrorist comparison in a statement to the Huffington Post.

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Occupy London: OWS fight has only just begun

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Freeing the University: Education Occupation on May Day

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Monday Apr 30, 2012

Pop quiz: what’s the value of an American education? To some, it’s a booming industry that preys on debt-crippled students. But to the educators, youth and workers who keep the system running, school increasingly seems like it’s just not worth the struggle. This May Day, working people everywhere–and students who are working to build a future for themselves–are converging in New York City to rethink education and test those ideas in the real world.

Everyone understands that merit and hard work should pay off somehow in the economy. But the narrowing and commercialization of education at every level, from preschool to postdoc, has drained people’s academic aspirations and bank accounts.

On May 1, following the massive 1T Day rally against the “student debt bubble,” the Free University of New York City will bring together various Occupy-inspired grassroots education experiments. Combined with other May Day-related Occupy demonstrations, the program of workshops and talks aims to put theories of “horizontal pedagogy” into practice by inviting regular folks to learn about and question the systems surrounding them: the economy, politics, and school itself.

The planned program, centered in Madison Square Park, will include:

over forty workshops, classes, and collective experiences during the five hour educational experiment. Attendees will be introduced to movements such as Take Back the Land, which has been occupying foreclosed housing; radical student organizing within the City University of New York (CUNY); and indigenous environmentalism. Other workshops focus on creating new ways of living, from permaculture to open access academic publishing, from nonviolent communication to immigration relief for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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Imperialism didn’t end. These days it’s known as international law

From The Guardian UK:

A one-sided justice sees weaker states punished as rich nations and giant corporations project their power across the world, Monday 30 April 2012

The conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.

While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg tribunal’s definition of a “crime of aggression”, which it called “the supreme international crime”. The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor’s conviction “demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions”. But the international criminal court, though it was established 10 years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over “the most serious of crimes”. This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished.

In this respect it corresponds to other global powers. Despite its trumpeted reforms, the International Monetary Fund remains under the control of the United States and the former colonial powers. All constitutional matters still require an 85% share of the vote. By an inexplicable oversight, the United States retains 16.7%, ensuring that it possesses a veto over subsequent reforms. Belgium still has eight times the votes of Bangladesh, Italy a bigger share than India, and the United Kingdom and France between them more voting power than the 49 African members. The managing director remains, as imperial tradition insists, a European, her deputy an American.

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Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

From Alternet:

The author offers one of her periodic assessments of America’s potential to go fascist. And the news is better than it’s been in years.

By Sara Robinson
May 1, 2012

America has never been without fascist wannabes. Research by Political Research Associates estimates that, at any given time in our history, roughly 10-12 percent of the country’s population has been bred-in-the-bone right-wing authoritarians — the people who are hard-wired to think in terms of fascist control and order. Our latter-day Christian Dominionists, sexual fundamentalists and white nationalists are the descendants — sometimes, the literal blood descendants — of the same people who joined the KKK in the 1920s, followed Father Coughlin in the 1930s, backed Joe McCarthy in the early ’50s, joined the John Birch society in the ’60s, and signed up for the Moral Majority in the 1970s and the Christian Coalition in the 1990s.

Given its rather stunning durability, it’s probably time to acknowledge that this proto-fascist strain is a permanent feature of the American body politic. Like ugly feet or ears that stick out, it’s an unchanging piece of who we are. We are going to have to learn to live with it.

But it’s also true that this faction’s influence on the larger American culture ebbs and flows broadly over time. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with them much at all, because the far-right fringe was pushed back hard during the peak years of the New Deal. It broke out for just a few short years in the McCarthy era — long enough to see the rise of the Birchers — and then was firmly pushed back down into irrelevance again.

But the country’s overall conservative drift since the Reagan years and the rise of the Internet (which enabled the right’s network of regional and single-issue groups to crystallize into a single, unified, national right-wing culture over the course of the ’90s and ’00s) reenergized the extreme right as a political force. As a result, history may look back on George W. Bush’s eight years as the “Peak Wingnut” era — a high-water mark in radical right-wing influence and power in America.

Now, things are changing again. Every year or so for the past five years, I’ve written about the future prospects for America’s would-be fascists on the far right. And it’s time to take another look, because the political and cultural landscape they’re working in now isn’t at all the same one they were working in even three years ago.

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