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Abbreviated pundit round-up: Waiting for DJT to order staff to smile when he spews; Charlottesville

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 11:31 AM

By (Meteor Blades)

Here’s something to start out today’s APR that’s nearly 10 weeks old and not really punditry but that still merits notice under our current circumstances.

Gen. Robert E. Lee typically gets a pass even from many liberals when discussing the Civil War. Adam Serwer at The Atlantic points out that this is a false assessment in his excellent The Myth of the Kindly General Lee—The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed:

[E]ven if one conceded Lee’s military prowess, he would still be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in defense of the South’s authority to own millions of human beings as property because they are black. Lee’s elevation is a key part of a 150-year-old propaganda campaign designed to erase slavery as the cause of the war and whitewash the Confederate cause as a noble one. That ideology is known as the Lost Cause, and as historian David Blight writes, it provided a “foundation on which Southerners built the Jim Crow system.” […]

Lee’s cruelty as a slavemaster was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading the Man, the historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families,” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.”

The trauma of rupturing families lasted lifetimes for the enslaved—it was, as my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates described it, “a kind of murder.” After the war, thousands of the emancipated searched desperately for kin lost to the market for human flesh, fruitlessly for most. In Reconstruction, the historian Eric Foner quotes a Freedmen’s Bureau agent who notes of the emancipated, “in their eyes, the work of emancipation was incomplete until the families which had been dispersed by slavery were reunited.”

Lee’s heavy hand on the Arlington plantation, Pryor writes, nearly led to a slave revolt, in part because the enslaved had been expected to be freed upon their previous master’s death, and Lee had engaged in a dubious legal interpretation of his will in order to keep them as his property, one that lasted until a Virginia court forced him to free them. […]

There are former Confederates who sought to redeem themselves—one thinks of James Longstreet, wrongly blamed by Lost Causers for Lee’s disastrous defeat at Gettysburg, who went from fighting the Union army to leading New Orleans’s integrated police force in battle against white supremacist paramilitaries. But there are no statues of Longstreet in New Orleans. Lee was devoted to defending the principle of white supremacy; Longstreet was not. This, perhaps, is why Lee was placed atop the largest Confederate monument at Gettysburg in 1917, but the 6-foot-2-inch Longstreet had to wait until 1998 to receive a smaller-scale statue hidden in the woods that makes him look like a hobbit riding a donkey. It’s why Lee is remembered as a hero, and Longstreet is remembered as a disgrace.

The white supremacists who have protested on Lee’s behalf are not betraying his legacy. In fact, they have every reason to admire him. Lee, whose devotion to white supremacy outshone his loyalty to his country, is the embodiment of everything they stand for. Tribe and race over country is the core of white nationalism, and racists can embrace Lee in good conscience.

The question is why anyone else would.

FFS. Steven J. Hadley, one of the key civilian architects of the Iraq invasion, is giving advice about A new, winning strategy for Trump in Afghanistan. The problem is it’s not new. It depends on a central government that just doesn’t match the socio-political reality of Afghanistan. It depends on becoming more directly involved against extremists in Pakistan, something Islamabad is not keen on. It requires new talks with India and Pakistan to deal with their differences and build cooperation. Uh-huh. Oh, and more troops. Always the siren call. And more years. Just a few more, of course. Always just a few. But only until the Kabul government is stable and broadly seen as legitimate. There is no reason to believe will happen before the Milky Way collides with Andromeda. Read this pile if you must.


Today is scarier than yesterday. The fact that no WH staffers resigned as a result of trump’s remarks shows just how much danger we are in.

— David Hoffman (@atDavidHoffman) August 17, 2017


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Cutting Off Payments to Palestinian Families Won’t Stop Terrorism

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

By Lara Friedman

Lara Friedman

It also might amount to collective punishment, which is illegal.

The post Cutting Off Payments to Palestinian Families Won’t Stop Terrorism appeared first on The Nation.


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White Nationalist Christopher Cantwell Fights Back Tears At Prospect Of Arrest

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 9:18 AM

“I’m terrified,” says Christopher Cantwell in a new video, apparently addressing police. “I’m afraid you’re going to kill me. I really am.”


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‘Art Of The Deal’ Co-Author Tony Schwartz Predicts Trump’s About To Resign

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 6:57 AM

“Trump’s presidency is effectively over.”


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Protestors Illuminate Charlottesville During Candlelight Vigil At UVA

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Days earlier, the University of Virginia campus was lit by white supremacists holding torches.


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Open thread for night owls. Katherine Cross: The Art of the Real—Disinformation vs. Democracy

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 3:01 AM

By (Meteor Blades)


Katherine Cross calls herself a pizza-loving feminist sociologist, trans Latina, and amateur slug herder, working on her PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her blog can be found at At The Baffler, she writes—The Art of the Real. Disinformation vs. Democracy. An excerpt:

THE CONCEPT OF “THE BIG LIE”—a brazen untruth pushed so relentlessly in mass media that it’s eventually mistaken for truth—is hardly novel. As is the case with so many other wretched stratagems of its ilk, capitalism got there first with the PR technique known as FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. FUD campaigns disseminate plausibly deniable aspersions on, say, the safety of a competitor’s products. Such a tactic works because the advent of mass media flooded public discourse with info gluts, bubbles, and echo chambers that can overload a person’s capacity to sort fact from fiction. Contrary to all the Luddite wailing about our social media insularity, biased news streams date back at least to the storied yellow-journalism career of William Randolph Hearst, and have been a fixture of salons and coffeehouses since Gutenberg. After all, there’s a reason some particularly venerable American newspapers are called the X Republican or Y Democrat.

So why has “post-truth” only now become the OED word of the year? Without question, something has shifted in our ever more postmodern world. What the KGB once called dezinformatsiya, and the Reagan administration named “perception management,” has now come to dominate public life. Everywhere we turn in the aborning age of Trump, we see the deliberate spreading of contradictory, misleading, and outright false “news.” The ceaseless fount of counter-information creates a general climate of mass confusion, causing even the most resolute auditors to doubt their senses.

This increasingly influential phenomenon is strangling both the internet and liberal democracy. What separates our brave new world of counterfeit information from the ideologically driven news outlets of the past, or even the late Cold War propaganda initiatives mounted by the United States and the USSR, is that this time, the Big Lies are bubbling up from grassroots internet cesspools—though these are increasingly in cahoots with powerful moneyed interests.

Donald Trump stumbled down his golden escalator at a particularly congenial historical moment. Fake news—the original, Facebook-enabled variety, not the casual slur trotted out against the press on a near-daily basis by the Trump White House—effectively dominated news cycles the week before Election Day, steeped in the same ethos that innervated the alt-right Nazis: chan culture. “Trolling” and online harassment campaigns rely on a brand of perception management that would have made Reagan’s State Department proud: targeting individuals or groups, causing them to doubt facts and reality, or even doubt their senses, but leaving them in a constant state of unknowing terror. These tactics, bred in a nihilistic and proudly apolitical world, were folded back into the realm of activism, absorbed into right-wing media, and have now made their way into the White House. […]

An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events
Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups



“The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.”
Susan Sontag, At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches (2007)



If you have ever had a problem grasping the importance of diversity in tech and its impact on society, watch this video

— Chukwuemeka Afigbo (@nke_ise) August 16, 2017


At Daily Kos on this date in 2006Experts to Bush: Back Off, Iran is “Not a Crisis”:

Apprehensive that Bush’s “hard line” toward Iran is a “prelude” to a U.S military campaign against Iran, 21 former U.S. generals, diplomats and national security officials will release an open letter to the president tomorrow, demanding, according to the Los Angeles Times, a “a complete overhaul of U.S. policy toward both Iran and Iraq.” […]

As Plutonium Page diaried well more than a year ago, these voices are being joined to that of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Hans Blix.

It appears that any action against Iran will not be able to filed under the “Nobody could have anticipated …” category in the Bush White House. When such experts come out so openly and vigorously – and preemptively – against a destructive path, there’s hope that no matter how desperately the president wants to expand the violence, the public and the press will be armed with solid ammunition against the attempt.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: If Jared and Ivanka could really do anything, it’d be an outrage that they’re on vacation again! Then again, so is David Waldman. Luckily, he left us with an all-new show about Nazis in the White House. Not Trump, but his Nazi Sgt. Pepper, Sebastian Gorka.


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Trump Attorney John Dowd Forwards Bizarre Email Rant Defending Robert E. Lee

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 2:42 AM

“There is literally no difference between” George Washington and Lee, email claims, which also attacks the Black Lives Matter movement.


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A Divided Country Is Exactly What Trump Wants

Article posted August 17, 2017 at 12:11 AM

He thinks it will save him. It explains his combative remarks about Charlottesville.


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UVA Employee Suffers Stroke After Protesting White Supremacist Rally

Article posted August 16, 2017 at 11:27 PM

Friends and colleagues say Tyler Magill’s stroke is the result of being struck with a Tiki torch.


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Alabama Sues Birmingham Mayor For Ordering Confederate Statue Hidden

Article posted August 16, 2017 at 10:53 PM

A new state law makes it illegal to move Confederate monuments. But Mayor William Bell contends they don’t have to be visible.


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