Robert Reich : Folks, there are just 21 days until the midterm elections.

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Right-Wing Media Isn’t Happy That Women Are Out There Protesting

From The Huffington Post:

Women continue to protest the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Right-wing media belittles them.

By Andy Campbell

Conservative media has found a new boogeyman to froth over: civically engaged women.

Last week, women all over the country left their homes and workplaces to protest the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice who they believe represents an ongoing crusade against their rights. They marched by the thousands. They screamed in the faces of their elected officials. They gritted their teeth and, once again, told horrifying stories of sexual abuse, so that their friends, family and colleagues might be heard too.

They were still doing so Wednesday.

This worries the right-wing media and the politicians who read it. Even after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, conservative news is trying to downplay, belittle and flat-out lie about protesters. Fox News, The Washington Times, Town Hall and The Daily Caller, among other outlets, latched on to storylines about “paid protesters” attending various anti-Kavanaugh rallies. The Blaze called the demonstrators “unhinged” and said their numbers were padded by “liberal celebrities”; a Fox News contributor called them “screaming animals” who should be “tasered, handcuffed and dragged out of the building”; Town Hall even published a column comparing the Kavanaugh protesters to Kermit Gosnell, a doctor who was convicted of murdering three infants.

“The darkness of evil infiltrated the nation’s capital during the Senate confirmation process of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh,” Town Hall columnist Rebecca Hagelin wrote. “You could feel the vitriol in the shrills of protesters interrupting the hearings and the confirmation vote.”

The list goes on. To conservative media, liberal women are rabid in their efforts to take down Kavanaugh; the wider point about the Me Too movement and the reproductive rights at stake are lost in the outrage. For some of the more extreme, Infowars-style websites on the right, fear-mongering headlines aren’t a surprise. But the content pipeline between those sites, Fox News and the president’s Twitter account is extremely short.

With each day comes another round of stories portraying peaceful protesters as either violent or part of a bad-faith campaign funded by liberal donors. President Donald Trump thinks anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators were a little of both, calling victims of sexual assault who cornered their congressmen “paid D.C. protesters” and “screamers”:

Donald J. Trump

The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious – less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!

Trump has been using this tactic against protesters since his presidential campaign, and he often gets his ideas for such rhetoric from the media he consumes. This particular outburst likely came from a Fox News segment, in which Wall Street Journal writer Asra Q. Nomani said that protesters are “waiting for their check.”

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The Soros Myth

Recently I had to correct some one who asserted Jews control the world, the banks, the media/Hollywood.  It amazes me how many Nazis and Nazi symps believe this sort of bullshit.

From Jewish Currents:

Dove Kent
October 11, 2018

FOR DECADES, the right has undermined Black protest and resistance movements as “violent,” “dangerous,” and “un-American” and has responded with militarized force. Under this administration, Trump and his allies are replicating and amplifying this strategy, using misogyny and antisemitism to further erode the basic foundations of political participation.

In response to weeks of women and trans protests demanding that Judge Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault, be removed from consideration for the Supreme Court, Donald Trump tweeted out:

The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers

This was quickly followed by a retweeted antisemitic message from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and a longtime Republican leader, calling Soros the enemy of Christ:

Follow the money. I think Soros is the anti-Christ! He must go! Freeze his assets & I bet the protests stop.

Trump and his allies’ deployment of misogyny and antisemitism in this moment are attempts to  undermine our movements, echoing ways the right wing has long attacked protest movements on the left. The power of protest lies in its credibility as the voice of public opinion. If women and trans protestors can be dismissed as pawns or operatives rather than agents of social change, then the power of protest is weakened. If a single Jew can be blamed for orchestrating the whole affair, then the power of protest is further eroded.

This antisemitic rhetoric from the state echoes among white nationalists. In the days following Trump’s tweet and Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, fliers (created by the Daily Stormer) appeared on college campuses and in cities in California and New York. The fliers blamed Jews for orchestrating the assault allegations brought against Judge Kavanaugh. They read: “Every time some anti-white, anti-American, anti-freedom event takes place, you look at it, and it’s Jews behind it.” The Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center (the community center I grew up in) was vandalized with dozens of swastikas.

Trump’s white nationalist audience knows what he means when he points the finger at Soros—he’s invoking a time-tested antisemitic strategy for undermining social movements. According to Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) Board Member Dania Rajendra:

Antisemitism and the idea of “outside agitators” is the right’s most effective tool for delegitimizing both the message and messengers of social justice. If protest can be blamed on those outside of the state, then both the message and the messenger are untrustworthy. Delegitimizing both is necessary to eventually repress or expel said “troublemakers” by the forces of “law and order.” And in fact, we saw the president say exactly that to a conference of police the same week as his post-Kavanaugh-protest Soros tweet.

We know that we need a strong, vibrant, awake electorate holding elected officials accountable. Undermining the credibility of protest is an extremely effective tool of protecting those in power.

Right-wing regimes have long broken down the fabric of political protest by using the antisemitic notion of rich Jewish financiers as the “puppet masters” of social unrest. During the Russian Revolution, the Tsar’s secret police disseminated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fictional account of a meeting of rich Jews plotting to break down the society of their “host countries” and rule the world through the promotion of social upheaval. For a period, the Protocols did its job to undermine and destabilize the revolution against the Tsar. Because of its success, it’s been translated and promoted by right-wing ideologues around the world ever since.

The Protocols gave us dog whistle terms like “globalist,” a slur associated with Jews that paint them as untrustworthy, ready to betray the nations of their residence in service of an unseen authority. The general idea, from JFREJ’s resource Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering to our Movement, is that “Jews are a powerful, corrupting influence on otherwise good, pure people—insidious troublemakers with a nefarious agenda at odds with that of the good, ‘true’ citizens of a nation.”

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Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the Rule of Pampered Princelings

From The Intercept

October 10 2018

“Boring.” That was Donald Trump’s instant verdict on the New York Times’s blockbuster investigation into the rampant tax fraud and nepotism that undergirds his fortune. Sarah Huckabee Sanders heartily concurred, informing the White House press corps that she refused to “go through every line of a very boring, 14,000-word story.”

Welcome to a new political PR strategy premised on the shredding of the American mind — you don’t want to even try to read that interminable article; check out my Twitter feed instead, and this viral video of me saying rabid things.

The Times investigation, published as a standalone supplement on Sunday, is about as boring as a car accident. It shows in lavish detail that Trump’s creation myth is and always has been a work of fiction. No, he did not take a “very, very small” million-dollar loan from his father and use his deal-making acumen to parlay it into a $10-billion global empire, while paying the original loan back with interest.

Trump has been sucking on a spigot of his father’s cash nonstop since he was in diapers, becoming a millionaire by middle school. According to the Times, when all was said and done, “Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.” Moreover, “much of it was never repaid.” As for the rest of the mythology, not only was he spending his father’s money, he blew much of it on disastrous deal after disastrous deal. Only to be bailed out by his father’s millions time and time again.

Rather than bothering to deny any of this, Trump and his surrogates have simply spun a new creation myth. No longer the scrappy, self-made man, Trump is being reincarnated in real time as the chosen son, with he and his father acting as partners in wealth creation. “One thing the article did get right,” Sanders said, clearly reading from notes, “is it showed that the president’s father actually had a great deal of confidence in him. In fact, the president brought his father into a lot of deals and made a lot of money together. So much so that his father went on to say that ‘everything [Trump] touched turned to gold.’”

This shift is more significant than it first appears. After a couple of years of hobnobbing with Saudi monarchs and Queen Elizabeth II, the president appears ready to embrace his true identity as a scion of a dynasty who did not build his fortune by himself, but who is, instead, the product of an especially blessed family that passes a magic touch through the generations.

What makes the Times’ revelations more important is that they are a rare window into an even larger story about the growing political and economic role of inherited money in the United States — the culmination of decades in which a handful of sons and daughters of bequeathed wealth waged a fierce and relentless battle of ideas against the very concept of equality and majority rule, all based on the same corrupting belief in their own inherent superiority.

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The World Was Just Issued 12-Year Ultimatum On Climate Change

From The Smithsonian Magazine:

Leading climate scientists paint dire portrait of years to come if we maintain carbon-emission status quo

By Katherine J. Wu
October 8, 2018

Today, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on the forthcoming impacts of climate change. The consensus? It’s not looking good. As Jonathan Watts of The Guardian reports, unless the world makes some drastic and immediate changes to combat the damage already done, hundreds of millions of people may be irreversibly imperiled by drought, flooding, extreme heat and increased poverty in the decades to come.

Three years ago, nations in the Paris agreement issued a pledge reduce greenhouse gases with the stringent goal of limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, circa the 1850s. But scientists and climate researchers alike were quick to vocalize their doubts about the practicality of this cap. In fact, this goal felt so infeasible that a second was proposed in tandem: aiming to stall at a 2-degree-Celsius (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) rise, which scientists then considered the threshold for the most severe effects of climate change, reports Coral Davenport for The New York Times.

But evidence in the new report, in which a team of 91 scientists from 40 countries analyzed over 6,000 scientific studies, shows that the future is bleaker than once thought. A 2-degree-Celsius rise in temperatures would spell widespread disaster. Even if the world manages to shave off that extra 0.5 degrees, we’ll still be well on our way to flooded coastlines, intensified droughts and debilitated industries. A seemingly small 1.5-degree-Celsius bump in temperature would also alter weather worldwide, wreaking havoc on agriculture and natural ecosystems, and cost about $54 trillion in damages, according to the report. Because agriculture is the leading source of income in already poor countries, it’s likely that a crippling wave of poverty would ensue.

To make matters worse, the world is already clocking in at 1-degree-Celsius warmer than preindustrial levels, which means we’re more than halfway there. At the rate we’re going, global temperatures are set to hit the mark by 2040—unless a lot changes, and fast.

“Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics,” energy policy expert Jim Skea of Imperial College London, one of the authors of the report, explains to Christopher Joyce at NPR. “But doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Among them would be a 40 to 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030—a mere 12 years from now—and a completely carbon-neutral world by 2050. Usage of coal as an electricity source would also have to take a significant plunge to make room for renewable energy, such as wind and solar, Davenport reports.

Climate scientists warn that these goals probably won’t be met without some serious new technological firepower designed to suck greenhouse gases back out of the air. Considering that such techniques could save us even in the event that we overshoot the 1.5-degree-Celsius mark, this route sounds pretty appealing. There’s just one problem: We still have to invent and conventionalize some of these tools before we can actually put them into use, Joyce reports.

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If You’re Not Scared About Fascism in the U.S., You Should Be

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Helping Pediatricians Care for Transgender Children

From The New York Times:

A new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics tries to guide doctors and dispel myths about growing up with gender identity questions.

By Perri Klass, M.D.
Oct. 15, 2018

We’ve all seen news stories about schools attempting to grapple with gender identity issues in children and adolescents, from name changes to restroom policies. In many cases, educators have found themselves making it up as they go along in trying to serve these children — and so has the medical system.

This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out its first policy statement to guide people providing medical care for children and adolescents who are transgender or questioning their gender identity. It arose in part as a direct response to queries from pediatricians, parents and patients, said Dr. Cora Breuner, a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington, who was one of the authors.

The goal of treatment is “understanding who each individual child is, and supporting them on that journey,” said Dr. Jason Rafferty, a pediatrician and psychiatrist at Thundermist Health Center and Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, who was the lead author on the statement; he spoke of “creating a system where all children feel they have access to supportive and nonjudgmental care.”

Dr. Breuner said that “many times, when there are gender issues, we don’t have a road map.” The statement puts forward a model of “gender-affirmative care,” based in the idea that “variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity,” and that mental health problems in these children arise from stigma and negative experiences, and can be prevented by a supportive family and environment — including health care.

The term “gender diverse” describes those whose gender identity does not match the sex they have been assigned, or the norms that are expected to go with that assignment.

“Gender identity is a brain thing, it’s your sense of whether you’re male or female in your head; it is independent of your body parts, it is independent of who are you attracted to,” said Dr. John Steever, an adolescent medicine specialist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“People can have a sense of being male, female, both, somewhere in between, all of these are normal variations,” he said. “Just because they’re not very common doesn’t mean they’re abnormal, and my job is to help patients and parents understand all this.”

The new A.A.P. statement tries to dispel a variety of myths about growing up with gender identity questions, Dr. Breuner said, such as the idea that parents should assume this is only a passing phase. “And still, colleagues look at me askance, say, ‘Isn’t this something they grow out of, I was taught that in medical school,’” Dr. Breuner said. “So was I. It’s incorrect.”

And these issues sometimes emerge in relatively young children. Children may say that they don’t feel right in their bodies as young as 4 or 5, Dr. Breuner said, or may say more specifically something like, “even though I look like a boy, I feel like I’m a girl.”

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